Wednesday, March 28, 2007

My first duty:

Well, as you may or may not know, I am an official Australian citizen. As such, I am required by law to vote in all elections (my state and federal). Or else I get fined. Yay for me. I am actually happy, in a way, about this. I deplore politics as an inherently flawed system, with many flaws found in party politics in particular. This is mainly due to the petty bickering that goes on between parties, and the feeling (and reality) that politicians try to further their own carrier as opposed to genuinely trying to improve the well being of their populace. I know what you may be thinking... If the politicians don't help their areas, then they will be forced out.. But I don't believe that this is actually the reality, or that the reality is significantly more complex...

A politician only really needs to be perceived to be trying to helping his constituents. The system IS party politics; you agree with the party you're in by default. You need money to run for office. Money comes from donations, which, if enough money is "donated" helps to ensure that the group that donated the cash's interested are protected by their preferred member of parliament... Enough about that though.... I am writing for a different reason.

Ya I know, all that crap above for nothing! You'll learn to live with, and ignore it. Trust me. Ask Bec.

Ummm.... Oh ya, the voting ballots. INSANE!!!! I measured one of them, and I am not joking, if you hold one end of it to the floor, the other end will reach my hip bone, and for its width, it goes from my finger tips to my elbow (roughly). How's that for big. And the name of some of the party's that were running, "the Shooter's Party", "The Outdoor Recreation Party" (weren't they some club in University populated by long haired granola eaters?), and a scary one called "Australians Against Immigration". You can guess from their name their standpoint on certain issues, kind of against multiculturalism if you get my drift. I obviously did not vote for them though, as I immigrated to this great country of Australia, so to you "Australians Against Immigration":

I fart in your general direction! Your mother was hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!

(if you don't know the source of that quote, click on it and you'll find yourself confronted with something of utmost humor and comedic genius)

Anyway though... I thought I would try to post a picture of the biggest ballot paper (there were two, but the second one was tiny, about the size of a small pamphlet that the Mormons would give you as an introduction thing). But the only picture I could find was one from 1999 (I think), but you get the size issue correctly out of it.

Crazy Australian politics.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Shameless... I know (Office 2007 review)

Well, to my loyal readership, which seems to have dropped considerably as of late.

(In tune:) Where oh where have the bloggers gone, oh where oh where could they be? I wish they would come back and write!!! hint hint ... mom, and the list at right!So, what I am about to do is a kind of shameless plug, for Microsoft no less, particularly Office 2007. The reason I am doing this is two-fold, mainly because it may not be as shameless as you are thinking. .. While I was trialing the beta version (pre-release) which was given out free mid-last year, I actually blogged about it (here), and said that I liked it and that I may consider buying it when it came out. Well, it came out, and was a bit expensive. at over $200 bucks for the student version.

The second reason that I am going to plug it, is because for students at Universities in Australia, you could buy the most expensive version of Office 2007 for $75. I couldn't resist this purchase partially on the ground that the retail cost is $679 US for this package!!! Yup, $679!!!! Or $989.00 Australian! I paid $75, Australian dollars. I did this because while trialing the program, I really liked the ribbon menu system at the top. When I was using Excel (2007) to sort, filter and do a few other things, I learned how to do it easily on the 2007 trial, after which I went and looked for it Excel 2000 and learned how to do it there too, but the buttons were buried in sub-menus etc. I uninstalled the beta because I found that the error bars on graphs would not work correctly. Since I am a hard-core scientist, I need correct error bars. So I sent in a complaint to Microsoft, and in the released version, they work fine.

In all honesty, I do like Office 2007. I can publish to PDF, save files to be compatible with earlier Office versions, and to me at least, the ribbon bit with organized functions etc is intuitive. I was previously using Office 2000, tried later versions, but didn't like them for one reason or another. I think Office 2003 was a tragedy. Does it make me that much of a geek to be able to honestly believe that a program could be a tragedy? Don't answer that! Office 2000 was gold for me. A price of anything over $100 would not have been able to entice me to upgrade from Office 2000. But by offering Office 2007 Ultimate (with all the bells and whistles attached) at 75 bucks, I could not resist.

This is a smart move by microsoft as it stops pirating, and strengthens Microsoft's monopoly on Office suites. But the problem is, is that I think they deserve this monopoly. They make a good Office suite. It's simple to use, does what I want it to do, and doesn't crash. What more do you need or want? Even in an article that appears anti-Microsofy, Office 2007 is called "slick". You can read the article here. It does take some getting used to, but worth it.

For your info, Office Ultimate comes with these programs:
Access, Excel, Groove, InfoPath, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, and Word. That's 9 programs. Several of which I may never use, but I will likely at least learn what they can do. I do like the idea behind OneNote and Groove though. OneNote is kind of a digital post-it note book where you can write little notes to yourself, jot down ideas etc and keep them in some kind of order. I will be using this alot as I frequently have ideas for experiments to do in the future and it'll be nice to not loose my scraps of paper anymore. Groove, because it keeps documents updated on several different computers... so during collaborations with other departments, when person "x" modifies it on their computer, it will get modified on my computer so that I am not stuck trying to figure out which draft I am looking at. Believe me, this is a major pain in the ass. The only problem at the moment, is that my supervisor (or Boss) uses a Mac and 1: I don't know if Groove works on a Mac, 2: He doesn't have this program, amd 3: He modifies both paper copies AND digital copies to the point where he gets lost himself and I am left trying to deal with it... But the idea behind Groove should work well for people with even rudimentary organizational skills!

I also thought that I would drop in some pictures of the ribbon menu bar, just if you're interested. The first one is of Excel 2007, and the one below it is of Word 2007. See, they look different than earlier versions of Office. And I like them. (note: click on them to enlarge them further)

Final thoughts on it: Well, I probably wouldn't rush out and buy it immediately, but I would rush out and at least trial it immediately (as I did last year). At least then you can see what it offers you and if you think it's worth upgrading. For me though, I liked it and thought it worthwhile.

Remember though, this post is not a total sell out, because in one of the opening paragraphs, I said that I would probably try to get it when it came out, and I friggen reported on the beta version. It should have been expected that I would post on the final version. So there, take that.

Anyway though, enjoy your weekend.

This post is brought to you by: Too Much Free Time This Afternoon.

Monday, March 19, 2007

A day of Note

Well, for my long time readers and others who might be reading this... Last year, I seemed to have spent a fair amount of time bitching and complaining about writing my thesis. It was to the point that I even stopped blogging because I hated sitting at my computer.

That time is over now.

I am ready to submit. Why has it taken so long one might ask. And I would answer that it's a PhD thesis. They always take long. Also, my supervisor told me to write a paper in late October which took up some time, then the editing process took time. Then when I handed my supervisor the final draft in January, I was informed that he wouldn't be able to read it until late Feb, after all the grants were submitted. That's a fair enough answer since without the grants, he has no department... But now, it is printed, and bound. All three copies, one for each reviewer, one in the US, and two here in 'Oz (Melbourne actually). I was thinking that I should buy myself a game for the Wii.... It is afterall one of the biggest endeavors (academically and professionally) that I am likely ever to complete. And it's ready to submit.

So off I go to the post-graduate girl person to give it to her.... And in a few months, I will likely have to make a few little (fingers crossed) revisions, and then I am Dr. Amon.

How cool is that.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The difference between good and evil

Just a question, does it make me a bad person if I went to see Rocky Balboa on the weekend, and enjoyed myself while doing so?

The more I think about the movie, the more I liked it, and the more I want to go out and watch Rocky 1 again, and maybe 2, 3, and 4, I never saw 5, but maybe give that a go too...

Me and my brother-in-law, Harry (from Cyprus because I think you all want to know), went out to see it on Saturday while we left the ladies to watch the kids for the afternoon. That was great! Thanks Bec and Amanda. We'll have to do that again sometime soon!! As anyone who's maybe seen any of the movies before, this one doesn't fall short. Sure, there are moments of utter cheese and the like, but it was a true Rocky movie. There was one bit that disapointed me about the movie, and I don't know if I should share it with you because it might, no, it would kind of spoil the ending. OK... let's just say that the movie does not end as all the other Rocky movie did.... It was a happy ending, but just a different happy. I think that if you go to watch this movie with an open mind, ready to sit down and be entertained, you'll like the movie. It's not a best picture of the year, but it worked for me. Which may not say much! But, I'd watch it again when it comes out on video.

And isn't that what the movie business is all about, repeat viewing?

I thought that I would post this last picture to show that Sly is still cut! The guy's getting up there, and he still looks like this! OK, so the Australian customs dept would say that it is due to illegal (in 'Oz) steroid use, but he is still cut and pulled off, successfully, another Rocky movie.

Good on ya Sly, you've got a friend, and fan, in me!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Well, today is the 6th day of the Baha'i Fast. There is a total of 19 days. Day 6 is today. No food/water between sunrise (6:40am ish) and sunset (7:25pm ish). I am now over my caffeine addiction, but don't worry, as soon as the Fast is over, I guarantee that I will be addicted again by the end of the first week I am allowed to have food in the presence of the sun. Yesterday was the first day that I didn't have a perma-headache all day. Pretty happy about that, and I still don't have one now. I try to make my coffee addiction a genuine medical condition, ie coffee as a substitute for panadol (the Australian equivalent of something like double extra strength, muscle bound tylenol). There's a reason you don't get Panadol in Canada, or at least you didn't when I was there.

So now that the headaches are gone, the Fast has become a whole lot easier on me!! Honestly though, so far, this has been the hardest Fast I've ever had to do. Don't really know why though. It's supposed to be a time of spiritual growth where you think about why you are fasting etc... and the whole the body is a temple for the soul not the ruler of it and I'm sure you've all heard that before... even if the actual ramifications of that haven't been thoroughly thought out before. It's a lot easier to fast than it is to diet though. Some people in my office, well one in particular hasn't quite fully understood that so she'll hide her food from me when she's eating because she thinks I'll steal it, no, I'm joking, she just thinks that it's mean for her to eat around me when I can't join in! She's a lovely woman though, and brings a smile to my. So Vera, love ya dearly! Although she never reads this... I bitch about work too much sometime to actually let the people at work know this exists!!! Gotta protect the job that I don't seem to be getting paid for doing.

It all comes down to motivation. Dieting, or watching you diet... actively, not just watching the chocolate cake disapearing from the plate in front of you, but chosing health vs other, is not easy. But fasting for religious purposes. That's a whole different story. You are not eating because God asked it of you. And if you are religious, than you believe that that carries more weight than you ever possibly could. So you do. But not unquestioningly. You should always question things. We were given logic and freethinking as a blessing so as not to be fooled by "false prophets" etc and to learn about and understand who and what we are, our environment etc.... and I drone on and on and on and on and on and on and on.... when will he shut up.... why does he do this all the time? but why can't I seem to stop reading, something about it just lures me into this stupor where I can't seem to turn away from his gibbering gibberish about things that I already know... but then he's family, and I'll support him because that what family does now what is he rambling on about again... It's like how the other day I was given a book by a guy at the train station for a small donation of 70 cents (all I had on me). I read the book and learned that I had just had my first experience with a cult. The Jesus Christians. I read the novel, called Survivors, because I was curious about what it said and I'll write more about that later and devote a whole post on it so that you can chose not to read it because it looks like you're falling asleep.