IN SUPPORT OF OUR BRAVE FRIENDS IN BURMA: MAY ALL PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD WEAR A RED SHIRT ON FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 28.
I didn't know about this until my housemate (who was wearing a red shirt) told me about it this morning, as luck would have it I was already wearing a red dress.
I hope the dress counts too.
Friday, 28 September 2007
Thursday, 27 September 2007
I just like it!
We are all aware that gender can influence many aspects of our lives (nurture/nature/sociology is beside the point for the moment) including how we walk, colours we are drawn to, and some would argue the way we throw balls.
There is also a website that claims it can determine the gender of your writing from your word usage. For example the song writing of Axel Rose was deemed have a female structure of word usage.
Here is a little bit more about it:
In 2003, a team of researchers from the Illinois Institute of Technology and Bar-Ilan University in Israel (Shlomo Argamon, Moshe Koppel, Jonathan Fine, and Anat Rachel Shimoni) developed a method to estimate gender from word usage. Their paper described a Bayesian network where weighted word frequencies and parts of speech could be used to estimate the gender of an author. Their approach made a distinction between fiction and non-fiction writing styles.To check out the gender of your own writing using the Gender Genie, click here
Wednesday, 26 September 2007
Illustration: Edward Lear
My father is a great story teller. When I was a little girl; despite my ongoing disgust at the injustice of being told when I had to go bed; I always enjoyed being read stories and nursery rhymes.
The Owl and the Pussycat was a particular favourite; it involved singing; and I still remember the dread when we got to Wee-Willy-Winky as it was the signal that story time was over and I had to go to sleep. My adamant protests that I was not tired and that we should read more always fell on deaf ears.
Now that I am all grown up and living in Canada, I speak to my parents frequently using pre-paid phone cards that have set limits of minutes that can sometimes expire without warning.
Last night I was talking to my father when I was happily taken back to the story time days. I sat there, all comfy on my bed, while my dad told me a story (the plot - scene by scene - of the recent film Ratatouille). I was so taken back to my childhood I even reverted to asking typical 'child questions' like..."if the rat is locked in the drawer how can he see to read the piece of paper?"
So given my idyllic temporary return to childhood you can imagine my horror when my phone card abruptly ran out of minutes and the line went dead just as Dad got to the really good bit. I was shocked and disgusted, where did my story go?
It was infinitely worse than childhood, where at least I had Wee Willy Winky as a warning sign that the end was near.
Perhaps I should suggest to the company that they take up Wee Willy Winky as their warning?
Tuesday, 25 September 2007
www.youdeparted.com is a web based service that allows people to communicate with departed loved ones. Though it initially sounds like a crock, the concept is actually quite practical.
I came up with the idea for a website where I could store my personal details so that in the event of my death (my departure if you will), vital information and instructions would be available to my family.This way people can access information that others won't necessarily know about a person such as:
- Collin Harris, President of YouDeparted.com
* digital copies of important documents for reference.
* Final letters and emails - Final messages for family and friends.
* Final wishes - Funeral arrangements, eulogy, obituary, notifications.
* Instructions - To help settle your estate, to-do's, when to pay bills.
* Locations - Where to find important documents, insurance policies, keys, etc.
* Secret Info - Passwords, hidden accounts, lock combinations, etc.
It is certainly an original idea and much more reliable and less labour intensive than trying your luck with a ouija board...
"Aunt Murtle.. the next letter of the password.. was that an 's' for 'sugar' or 'f' for 'fred'?"... see what I mean!
I first encountered; Australian-born-but-London-based; artist Don Mueck's sculptural work in the Sensation exhibit at Royal Academy of Art in 1997.
The piece was 'Dead Dad', pictured above. There is no way to explain, and no photo can every really capture, just how incredible this artist's work really is.
I remember being amazed at how 'perfect' the work was and how it was so realistic - right down to the hairs on his legs - that it was hard to believe that it wasn't real. Hence, why it was also a little creepy.
His phenomenal attention to hyper-realistic detail partially is partially explained when you discover that Mueck comes from a family of toy makers and that his early career was as a model maker and puppeteer.
The work is utterly remarkable and if you ever get an opportunity to see it 'in the flesh' you really must do so.
Monday, 24 September 2007
I secretly enjoy watching America's Next Top Model occasionally but I've LOVED French and Saunders for as long as I remember.
So putting the two together is just toooooo good!
Friday, 21 September 2007
Design Sponge, as I have mentioned before, is one of my favourite self-indulgence websites for looking at beautiful things.
Recently the site had a contest to see who can lay claim to owning the ugliest pillows. The entries featured everything from photo-images of white horses galloping, the expected animal-print horror, and patchwork monstrosities.
I've attached the 'winner' above and agree it truly is very disturbing.
I think all-in-all the contest shows the potential dark-side of D.I.Y home-crafts.
To view more eye-damaging examples of ugly pillows, click here.
Thursday, 20 September 2007
Everyone here in Canada is going 'loonie' because for the first time since 1976 the Canadian Dollar is equal in value to that of the American dollar.
I don't have a economics background so I know little and have a limited understanding of how the par value of currencies work.
Living here in Canada; not working in the export market where the high loonie is bad for business; to me it means that the idea of going shopping in the US on the weekend has never looked like such an attractive proposition as it does now.
Wednesday, 19 September 2007
Kazimierz is close to the centre of Krakow. It was named after King Casimir the Great in 1335 and from the 15th century was known as the Jewish town.
Its certainly had a checkered past including tragic events during WW2 and years of neglect.
In more recent times the area has experienced a revival and it's currently the hippest part of town for the artistic set with fantastic, atmospheric bars and other nightlife offerings.
While wandering around the area I also discovered a cornucopia of excellent stencil art. I'm told the majority of the stencils have political commentary or significance, but unfortunately I wasn't sufficiently in the know to gleam this information, I just loved them as images. I've attached a number of my favourites above.
Tuesday, 18 September 2007
The digital smiley emoticon celebrates its 25th birthday tomorrow.
Smiley was 'invented' by Carnegie Mellon professor, Scott E. Fahlman, during a discussion about the limits of online humour and how to denote comments meant to be taken lightly.
Happy Birthday Smiley, you brighten my day on a regular basis, even if half the time I accidentally make you wink.
I firmly believe the universe conspires and works in patterns.
Today is my Remembrance of Things Past Day, it even unfolded in a backwards-moving chronology!
It started this morning on the way to work when I ran into one of the first friends I made when I moved to Canada. A girl I think is absolutely wonderful, but as happens, I don't see or speak to anywhere near as much as I would like.
I got to work and received a message from a girl I went to high school with, who I haven't spoken to for well over a decade.
Half-an-hour later, I received a message from my brother that included a link to a website of photographs taken by a guy I went to elementary/primary school with, a lonnnnnng time ago. I remember Shane playing air-guitar on his ruler in Grade Five, who knew he would go on to become such a talented photographer! To see Shane's truly beautiful photos, click here
To make the day complete I just need to hear from the friend I have know longest - our mothers knew each other when they were pregnant with us - though that would be cheating as I never lost touch with her in the first place. That said, I always like hearing from her.
I just hope that's where it ends, not sure how I would feel about 'long-losts' from past lives contacting me.
Monday, 17 September 2007
On my recent trip away I added many 'firsts' to my life-list of accomplishments. One of the experiences, that I enjoyed the most, was mushroom picking or "grzyb" picking ("grzyb" is mushroom in Polish).
Grzyb picking requires patience, an excellent eye, water-proof boots, and an Uncle Roman.
Uncle Roman has the keenest eyes for grzyb imaginable; his magnificent white moustache and stylish hat; made the experience totally fun and chic.
Whenever he found a grzyb he would proclaim "ahhhhhh ha!"... it sounded so cool, that we took to imitating him whenever we made a find too, but we didn't sound as good.
Unfortunately, my ability to find grzyb that weren't Nie dobry (not good) was a bit pathetic but Uncle Roman was very patient.
Later on I asked Uncle Roman if any 'special' mushrooms grew in his forest and if so, if he had tried them. He said no, the 'special' ones are small and white and don't grow there. He laughed with a twinkle in his eye when I asked "if you haven't tried them, how come you know what they look like?"
Regardless, the mushroom scrabbled eggs we had for breakfast the next day were extra delicious because we'd found the mushrooms ourselves.
Thank you Uncle Roman!
Photo Above: Uncle Roman in action.
Thursday, 13 September 2007
I've been a fan of the Chaser for ages and have written about them before. However, it didn't stop me from being surprised when while watching CNN International in Poland I saw a news item on a stunt The Chaser pulled during the recent Apec summit in Sydney.
Although the news piece focused on how outraged all the officials were it also included the finding of a newspaper poll showing that the majority of Australians thought the prank was hilarious. I found it particularly hilarious because part of the prank involved them using a Canadian flag in their 'disguise'.
Despite being arrested it looks like the stunt has paid off, as an average 2.3 million viewers tuned in to watch the program this week, making it the the fifth most popular show screened on Australian television this year.
Wednesday, 12 September 2007
The Salt Pine in Wieliczka, Poland has operated since the end of the 13th century and was placed by UNESCO on the First International List of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.
Even though tourists only get to see 1% of the mine during their two-hour tour it's absolutely amazing. The tourist route includes salt sculptures including Goethe, a lake, shops, a cafe and a cathedral.
I am very excited to add 'ate lunch 125 metres underground' to my life list of things I've done.
The two things I was most enamoured with were: the chandeliers (pictured above) that are made of salt instead of glass; and the legend behind how the mine was found that I will attempt to retell.
Poland's Queen Kinga married the Polish king Boleslaw the Modest in the 13th century. Originally from Hungary the legend says that before leaving Hungary to go to Poland Kinga threw her engagement ring into the Hungarian Maramures salt mine. When she got to Poland she instructed people to dig in particular spot. When they did they not only discovered the salt mine but Kinga's engagement ring. The salt mine was Kinga's wedding gift to Poland and she became the patron saint of miners.
Not a bad gift given that at the time salt was more valuable than gold.
Tuesday, 11 September 2007
Sunflowers are my brother's and one of my closest friend's favourite flowers; they've been immortalized in paint by Van Gogh; and are nifty in the way they turn to follow the sun.
They are not my favourite flower but I've always liked them. I'd also never thought of them as being a gift beyond a floral arrangement.
While I was away in Poland recently we spent a day in the countryside. One of the other guests brought as a gift to the hosts the biggest sunflower bloom (would you say bloom?) I have ever seen.
It took me a while to catch on but I eventually understood that the flower wasn't for floral decoration but to be eaten. During the course of the day everyone picked at the sunflower's core, extracting and eating the sunflower seeds within it.
I thought this was the most amazing thing since slice bread. Now, I want to take sunflowers to everyone I know as a gift. Eureka!
Sunday, 9 September 2007
I'm used to doing the Australian long-haul 24-hour flight from Australia to Europe, so you would think that a time difference of a mere six hours would be a piece of cake.
Although recovering from such a short time difference is no way near as arduous as long-haul time adjustment, it still makes me light headed and somewhat aware of the gibberish my thoughts descend into.
Therefore for the next day or so I will wait for the gibberish fog to clear before I attempt to write anything else.