Bad Naming Ideas

Some notes on names for children:

  • Alliterative first and last names are bad. Larry Lawler will know no school-yard peace.
  • Rhyming first and last names are worse. Gary Parry had better find an awesome nickname, and sell it hard.
  • Australian girls should not be named Dianne or Dianna, unless their parents want every social encounter in their children’s lives to begin with an exhoration to “Die!”. (“Hey Die! are you free this Saturday night?”)
  • Family planning: A boy who may be an only child should never be called “Bob”. It would be a terrible shame for “Bob” to never be anyone’s uncle.

Trains, buses and automobiles

So here’s the problem:

Starting point: In Springvale, on Sunday afternoon.

Destination: At Linux Conf 09 in Hobart, on Monday morning.

Solution #1:V-Line Bombardier Train

  1. Travel with E to Ballarat on Sunday night (desirable; I am addicted to E).
  2. Catch the 5:33am train to Southern Cross station, in Melbourne.
  3. Catch the 7:00am Skybus to Melbourne Airport.
  4. Allow the recommended hour for domestic check-in and boarding.
  5. Catch my booked 8:25am flight to Hobart.

Win: More E + Train==comfy.
Fail: 5:33am is a deeply disturbing time of morning.

Solution #2:An airport shuttle bus

  1. Travel with E to Ballarat on Sunday night.
  2. Catch the 5:50am airport bus from Ballarat.
  3. Allow almost the recommended hour for domestic check-in and boarding.
  4. Catch my booked 8:25am flight to Hobart.

Win: More E + less steps (and less connections) + 5:50am > 5:33am
Fail: 5:50am is still less than wholesome.

Solution #3:A Taxi

  1. Stay in Springvale on Sunday afternoon.
  2. Get an expense-claim-able Taxi to the airport at about 6am.
  3. Don’t get caught in Melbourne’s unpredictable roadwork spaghetti.
  4. Hopefully allow the recommended hour for domestic check-in and boarding.
  5. Catch my booked 8:25am flight to Hobart.

Win: Invisible Win.
Fail: Less E.

What to do? In all likelihood, sleep will be the first victim. It usually is.

Boredom makes for strange blog posts…


Mododrum, shameless purveyor of contagious memes inflicted this  one on me…

1. Did you cry today?

No, although I nearly howled with rage at one point, at work no less!

2. What were you doing at 8.00am this morning?

Sitting on a train, reading Iain M Banks’ Matter and enjoying it immensely.

3. What were you doing 30 minutes ago?

Readin’ mah smokin’ feedz in Google Reader.

4. What was something that happened to you in 1992?

I achieved the greatest efficiency and productivity as a VCE student that I probably ever will.

5. What is your Mum’s Mums name?

These days? Gillian Annwn, or possibly Briony, depending on who/when you ask. Edit: Oops! That should probably be the late Thelma McMahon.

6. Words to explain why you last threw up?

Food poisoning, I think it was. It was bad; these things happen to me very rarely.

7. What color is your hairbrush?

My What? You mistake me for someone with a use for such a thing. 🙂

8. What was the last thing you bought?

Breakfast & coffees for myself & workmates.

9. Name 5 things you want to do before you die?

  1. Travel through the UK and western Europe.
  2. Live some infinitesimal, tiny part of the future envisaged in Diamond Age.
  3. Be a better father than mine was.
  4. Be honestly, completely alright, at least once.

10. What did you eat for breakfast?

Eggs benedict and a croissant in the cafe under my office to cheer myself up.

11. Where did your last hug take place?

In the kitchen, with E, waiting for the kettle to boil.

12. Are you ticklish?

If you need to ask, the answer’s ‘no’.

13. Are you typically a jealous person?


14. Favorite animal?

The Cat.

15. Last gift received?

A Genki Inversion Table, a terrifyingly cool early anniversary present from E.

16. Who’s the last person to call you?

My Dad, although he got my voicemail, and obviously didn’t want to talk badly enough to try my mobile. *shrugs*

17. Do you chew on your straws?

No. ABOMINATION! I get disproportionately annoyed by imperfect straws.

18. What makes you sad?

The news.

9. Where did you go today?

From Springvale North to Springvale Station, in a little blue car driven by E, from Springvale station to Melbourne Central in a Connex train, then up a lift to my floor.

20. What is something you say a lot?


21. Who was the last person you said “I love you” to and meant it?


22. What should you be doing right now?

Explaining extremely silly things to the South Australian Government.

23. Do you have a nickname?

Apart from what E calls me, no, not really. My brother calls me ‘Dude’, but this is also what I call him.

24. Are you a heavy sleeper?

Only if it’s already loud while I’m falling asleep.

25. What are you listening to?

A streamripped copy of this morning’s Triple J Breakfast show.

26. What was the best movie you’ve seen in the past two weeks?

Iron Man. Trashy, wonderful movie. Like some of my favourite novels, it touts ideology I could hardly be more at odds with, but it is also full of Toys, so I can forgive.

27. Do you like anyone right now?

I’ve had enough coffee this morning, so yes, I do currently harbour positive feelings for other members of the human race.

28. What book are you reading at the moment?

Matter aforementioned. Classic Culture. Don’t f*ck with them.

29. Name someone who made you smile today?

E. I sense a theme.

30. Secret guilty pleasure?


Train Tactics

Like anything else that one is compelled to do repeatedly, while simultaneously being starved of cognitive sustenance (i.e. bored), riding public transport breeds odd little eccentricities and optimizations.

Many are about fares, tickets, routes, schedules, and other boring / commute-specific things, and as such constitute some of the most inherently boring-to-others thoughts it is physically possible to entertain.

Others are just Odd.

For instance:

  • The ten-kilo-backpack-head-check-and-swing, usually performed immediately upon alighting from one’s train/bus/tram, in order to minimise the knocking-off of one’s fellow passengers’ blocks.
  • The dubious-looking-seat-fondle, performed ever after that first time one sits in something unsavory on a train-seat, to assess if those black bits will potentially adhere to one’s pants, or if that long brown streak is dry and entrenched.
  • The lanky-kneecap-morris-dance, practised by any two people sitting opposite one another whose cumulative height is greater than 10’8″. I have observed variations on this dance where claustrophobia, religion, laptop computers, narcolepsy, large briefcases, toddlers, malice and alcohol have in their own ways enhanced this awkward ritual.
  • The ‘towers of Hanoi’ full-train-logistics-tango: when a train is standing-room-only, it is profoundly unlikely at any given time that all the people who are getting off at the next stop are nearest the doors. The only way around this is for everyone nearest the doors to get off, then for the people whose stop this isn’t to get back on. The awkwardness of this dance is enhanced greatly by passengers who both refuse to move to let others off and abuse those who are trying to get back on. Thank you folks. You know who you are.

But the best of all is probably:

  • The peak-hour-pole-dance, brought on by the knowledge of all those left standing that the train will soon be negotiating a set of points, and those not clutching a suitable upright or hand-grip will soon be performing an involuntary lap-dance for a stranger. Only so many total strangers can hang onto the one upright door-post, even if armpit odour isn’t taken into account.

With passtimes like these, I really can’t understand why more people don’t take the cheap, environmentally sound option that is our public transport system! Three cheers for Connex!

It’s quiet because I’m on holidays

…and I typically can’t be bothered blogging, as it involves using a computer, using my brain, and giving a stuff.

Also, blogging is easier when your computer works. Mine has decided to become unbootable for the second time in as many weeks, and in the same way as last time, so I am ignoring it, as the process of diagnosing and fixing it reminds me uncomfortably of work.

I still have this laptop, but it’s uncomfortable, and it reminds me even more strongly of work, so I may not touch it much either.

I may blog again between now and 2008, but don’t count on it.

p.s. On a completely unrelated note, I just want to say that desperate, failed, elitist neurotics like Andrew Keen and statistically uninformed doom-criers like Doris Lessing can, how shall I put this most succinctly, go fuck themselves.

As one with the machine

Reading and watching a lot of Fantasy and Science Fiction, one comes across a lot of elegant ideas and no small amount of wish-fulfillment. Some of these ideas are catchy because they’re so elegant or kooky. Space elevators totally rock! Others are appealing because they stimulate our imagination. Nanotech is the scariest thing since Margaret Thatcher! But there are some that stick in my mind (I can’t speak for anyone else on this) like fish-hooks, because they’re just so desirable:

  • The cell-by-cell healing machine.Shipdoc
    If you’re a freaky healthy person who has never been seriously injured, horribly unwell, or even moderately unfit, you won’t get this. The idea as various authors use it is just that one can build a perfect medical-care machine which can look at an entire human body and fix anything that isn’t ideal. The superficial idea is cool because it yields a bunch of traditional holy grails like clinical immortality, endless youth, effortless fitness, and the instant gratification of removing all physical pain.
    In fact, it gives you the potential for a kind of confidence in your own wellbeing that no real-world person can ever have: to know that you’re healthy: no lurking subtle problem, just waiting for the right moment to leap out and ruin your life, or end it.
    What really gets me about this idea though, is the thought of impossibe things like genuinely perfect skin. Even if it only lasted for half an hour, imagine every microscopic fleck of dirt removed, every irritated follicle soothed, every tiniest scar or irregularity gone without trace.
  • TeleportationTransporter Room
    Again, if you’ve never commuted in city traffic, or endured interminable intercontinental air-flight, This may not ring true.
    If, like me, you spend more than an hour (or two) of every weekday struggling through the tortuous tedium of an urban commute, you can probably already see it: You get up in the morning much later and do your normal routine, you kiss your loved-one goodbye and step into that fictional booth by the door… and you’re at work. Instantly. Coming home at night (or for lunch, or to change your shirt, or to take a personal phone call… you get the idea) is just as trivial.
    But again, that’s the superficial view. Instead, consider: is there a restaurant (or a family kitchen) anywhere in the world where you remember having a fantastic meal, and you frequently wish you were there, or reminisce fondly to distract yourself from your packet-soup. Imagine if it was as easy to go there, any time, as to walk from your study to the kitchen. That would of course go for everything. You can visit your friends anywhere at a whim. You can live anywhere you like, regardless of where your friends live, or where you work, or where the kids go to school. Now that’s something to fantasize about.
  • Direct neurological learningHow to fly a B12B helicopter
    This has always been the most desirable idea, for me: Like Neo suddenly acquiring kung-fu, or Trinity learning to fly a helicopter, you just choose the trick you want to master, the topic you want to cram, and stuff it directly into your brain. Imagine: you decide you want to do make a rose-garden, so you take the wall of rose lore from a big library, and you just upload it into your head, like reading every book, but without the hours of tedium, the eyestrain, or the sheer investment of time paid out from your ever-dwindling four-score-and-ten.
    Then think bigger.
    You want to beef up your general knowledge? Upload Wikipedia into your head, complete with reference and commentary on potential bias.
    No, bigger.
    A net-pundit whose name escapes me recently pointed out that a ten-terabyte piece of personal storage is no longer an unreasonable or infeasible thing, and that in such a store, one could keep a complete audio/video record of every second of one’s entire life. In itself, this is an intriguing and quite spooky idea, but taken with the idea of the machine as a natural extension of the mind: Imagine perfect photographic recall of your entire life, even when you were asleep.
    I know Kung-fu You’re a theoretical scientist. You have a complex theory, or theories, from the edge of your field, which synthesize breakthroughs in several adjacent fields. You don’t know enough about the neighbouring fields to really properly test this theory yet though, and neither does any other individual human being. So, you go round the leading minds in those fields, and borrow their life-recordings for their latest twenty years work, including all of their own postgraduate study. You upload it all. Now, suddenly, you’re an expert in all of those fields. Not only do you have all the underpinnings your theory could ever need, you now have the practical experience to empirically test it too.
    Must remember to keep that appointment with the super-synthesist tomorrow to loan her your vastly expanded life-record.
    I’m sure you get the idea.

Life after the bomb

Sometimes I think I’m already living in a post-apocalyptic world, like the worst thing short of death has already befallen us all. The crazies and mutants have already arisen to rule the world. They already bicker violently over the broken remnants of civilization. I’m already dying from one or more of the myriad horrible afflictions that plague the survivors of The Bomb. We all are. Already I toil in the mines, struggling just to subsist in a world without the freedom and luxury I once knew. Already I doubt the wisdom of reproduction for fear of the horror my children would know. Already I crave only surcease, carried forward by survival instinct alone.

Then I go drink more coffee, and everything is fine again.

No, we’re just partners, Thanks.

On Tuesday night E and I were asked if we were brother and sister!!!

The checkout-chick at Bunnings may have had some cause to ask this: we were engaged in that kind of vaguely adversarial humour that might well seem like the sibling thing to the unfamiliar eye.

Still. We were both greatly freaked out by the question:

“Are you two brother and sister?”

It struck me at the time that this person really needed to meet me in the company of my actual brother:

Lawler-spotting for beginners

we are fairly easy-to-spot siblings.

On a mostly unrelated note: I should add to my rave about Skullcandy by pointing out that my Skullcandy ‘buds were a gift from E, who bought them off the ‘net. I don’t know a good retailer to buy them at in Melbourne, sadly.


I seem to specialise in blogging from odd places under odd circumstances…

Today I’m in hospital with (probably) an incarcerated hernia

This is, I am assured, nothing to be worried about, but I notice I’m not being sent home or anything. There is very little to do here, unless one brings it; the TV is diminished from its traditional brain-sucking power by the absence of cable. They screen the occasional DVD, but have put Stranger than fiction (which I quite anted to see) at the same time I’m scheduled for surgery. The food here (Valley Private) is so bad that I am frankly looking forward to being put back on the drip and told to fast again. E (who should be canonized!) brought me fast food, Red Meat comics and my laptop, so all is well.

That’s all really. I have little to say, because I have little to do. In the absence of stimulus I become a potato. Ho hum.

Even more Transformers!

Saw it again on Sunday night with brother-dude (who persists in not having a homepage or a blog or anything I can link to. Dude!) and enjoyed it immensely. Couldn’t help thinking:

Optimus Prime: We learned your language from the World-Wide-Web. Kthxbye!

and even

Bumblebee: I has a lubricant! Let me show it to you!

Agent Simmons: It has a flavour… DO NOT WANT!

Optimus Prime: I saw what you did there.

but that’s because lolcats have fundamentally corrupted my mind… 🙂