Monthly Archives: May 2007

A tale of a full weekend

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about my Oz experiences, and quite a lot has happened. Settle back: this one’s big.


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Rest in Peace, Glynn

I received very sad news this morning: Glynn Ayers, the guy who set the quiz I’ve been going to for some time now, passed away of a heart attack yesterday. His quiz brought me great entertainment every week for more than a year, and he will be sorely missed.

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I would never have thought I’d be happy to be working…

I actually got some work to do today – so things are looking up there a bit. Odd to admit, but not having to work at all is quite boring. Well at least, having to sit in an office but not having anything to do is quite boring 🙂

I went to a different church in the city itself on Sunday, at the odd time of 11.30. I chose that over 8.30 and 15.30. 10.30 was also an option – but it happened to be in Cantonese. I thought perhaps not. 8.30 was most decidedly out of the question ,since I went to a nearby bar to watch the FA cup final on Saturday night. It only started at midnight though, and I got home at about 3AM, so 8.30 church wasn’t going t happen. The game was okay, but not great – I was glad I went though.

Talking of bars, I’ve tried a range of beers while I’ve been here – the Aussies have a lot of options in their taps. I’ve had good lagers and a very nice dark malt beer – Guinness-like, but quite different. The red ale I had yesterday though is something I won’t be repeating – it was hideously sweet. I must still try a few of the wines to see if they’re any good.

One of the friends I met last weekend sent me an sms when I was leaving church yesterday to ask if I wanted to go to the Circular Quay, which is where the opera house is. I agreed, so I met her there after a short bus trip and she showed me around the area. Because I went straight from church I didn’t have my camera, but I will most certainly return and take some great photos. The area also has a wonderful park attached, which I’ll also take photos of. I’ll probably do that Saturday morning, after which I’ll take a ferry to the Taronga Zoo, which is apparently very good. I’m not sure what I’ll do on Sunday – maybe go on a wine country tour, which is apparently a great day trip. Or maybe I’ll do a Sydney tour – there’s a bus which stops at all the good places and you can hop on or off as you wish. That could be quite good, especially as the driver tells you about the places as you go around.

I have been watching some tv in some of the evenings, and three things have struck me about their tv, which is very much like the American stuff: they advertise relentlessly, and insidiously. In South Africa the broadcaster will put in a few minutes of ads between shows. Here there are no ads between shows. No, they put the ads in 2 minutes before the end of the show, so you watch those ads to catch the end of your show. A little ridiculous of me, I know, but it seems quite distasteful and sneaky to me.

What also gets to me is how much hype is attached to their tv promos. I’m watching numbers tonight, and the promos for the show I’m watching make reference to how every kid who goes to a particular playground disappears, with appropriately spooky sound effects. The actual story – two kids fall into a sink hole at the start of the show. There are other examples – in two weeks I’ve already started ignoring and distrusting the promos, knowing that they have a very tenuous connection to reality. The final straw is that they don’t provide a splash screen when the ads end – so you can’t run though the ads with as much ease and know where to stop. I only hope our own tv companies don’t catch on…

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Another weekend is upon me

The weekend has arrived, and it’s been a very lazy Saturday’s. I woke at 11 or so, and made my way down to the Market City mall ,which happens to be attached to my block of flats. It’s marketed as East meets West, complete with a Chinese supermarket. I had a look around – interesting, if a little odd. It also has a whole range of factory shops with low prices – but almost exclusively women’s fashion and shoes (surprisingly therefore, I didn’t buy anything). I then made my way down to Paddy’s market to experience what is marketed a a range of crafts and so forth in a big hall – but it really turned out to be a flea market, with tons of Taiwanese junk. I wandered around for a while, and bought a cheap Sydney golf shirt, but I left – I can only take so much junk at any one time 🙂

As I left Paddy’s there was a busker playing his guitar brilliantly well, in a classical fashion. His CD was A$10 (R60) so I bought it, and have been listening to it. It’s really very good. Melodia by Rod Alexander has 10 tracks of his own composition, and classical guitar interpretations of Für Elise, Moonlight Sonata, and my favourite, Pachelbel’s Canon. I’m really enjoying this CD.

I also did some grocery shopping, since I have a flat now. I bought some odd things while I was there: individual slices of garlic bread, so you only heat the ones you want, which I thought was nifty. A cookie dough Kitkat (very tasty) and a Café Latte Kitkat which I haven’t eaten yet. Then I made the hideous mistake of buying what is touted as “The Word’s Favourite Wood-Smoked Beef Jerky”. I didn’t expect it to taste like biltong, but I still thought it would be quite nice.


It tastes like old shoe. How do I know what old shoe tastes like? Truth be told, I don’t – but if you try to imagine what it would taste like, this beef jerky is much worse. It’s protein rich and 97% fat free, but sadly also 99% taste free and 100% satisfaction free.

I’m off now to have a bite at a nearby hotel (most bars are in hotels, and if people talk of going to a hotel, they normally mean its bar) which will be showing the FA cup. I have more chance of seeing that than seeing the rugby, and I’m more interested too.


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City living

I moved into my flat today – or at least, I dropped my suitcases at it. I’ll unpack properly when I go home after work. The place is very nice, and well beyond my own living standard at home – I’ll take plenty of photos tonight or tomorrow (or soon at least) to demonstrate.

Work continues to go okay – nothing has gone wrong or anything like that, and all is well. It was a colleagues birthday at UEC Aus today, and he brought a choc mint Baskin-Robbins ice cream cake – good heavens was that good!

I made arrangements last week to attend the business meeting of the City of Ryde Lions Club, which is tonight, at 7pm. Somewhat inconveniently, they’re in the area I was staying in, since I anticipated being at the hotel for longer. It’s hardly a big deal though – I’ll just travel for a bit longer. I’m quite looking forward to it – it comes with a meal and a guest speaker. Local meetings in my club (and most in the region) are devoted to getting things done and discussing how to raise funds and use them, as there are few people in the clubs. They appear much larger here, and a lot of the business is handled in sub committees I suspect, leaving the main meeting free to have some business discussed but also a social aspect. I’ll report on how accurate my assumptions were once I’ve been.

I’m even toying with the idea of finding somewhere to watch the rugby on Saturday night – which is odd mainly because I don’t even like rugby! It’s a bit infectious to have a “home” final I guess 🙂

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Living the high life

It’s my first working day today, and all seems to be going pretty well.

I went to look at the flat I’m going to be moving into today though – it looks terrific! See here for a flat very similar to the one I’ll be moving into. The place comes with an indoor pool ,spa, gym and a golf driving range of all things! Will be nice to live for a while in a style that will certainly be beyond my means for years to come 🙂

To round off the weekend, I had lunch at Manly with two friends I haven’t seen in many years. Manly is a beach, which is raved about for its beauty. I’ll admit it was a stunning beach – but if you live in Durban and grew up in the Cape Town area it’s hard to get excited about a beautiful beach, as there are so many around those areas as well. It looked somewhat like Umhlangha’s beach front, for a comparison point.

I also went back to the same church as last week for the Sunday evening Mass – this was much improved, as the youth group doing the music was considerably more lively. I’m admittedly very biased, but I think we’re much better.

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Happy Mothers Day

It’s Mothers day today, so happy mothers day to my mom (and to other readers as well, if you happen to be mothers and you haven’t told me 🙂 ).

It’s the middle of the first weekend I’ve felt awake enough to do things on, so I took a bus down to the middle of Sydney yesterday to go to the Powerhouse Museum. This is a museum showcasing both science and technology, and design. The science and tech was very cool, although the design bored me somewhat. The place is big enough that I didn’t manage to do the lower floor at all, so I’ll certainly return.

The major problem I had with going there was a bit of difficulty I had catching the right bus – I got on one going the wrong way, and had to wait at the end of its stop for about 10 minutes, before the same bus started heading the right way. It dropped me off eventually at the Queen Victoria Building, which appears to be a high fashion mall, targeted mainly at women (or at least, none of the dresses looked like they’d fit me). I had lunch there, then took a taxi to the Powerhouse.

I took a taxi back again when I was done at the museum, intending to look around a little more, but as I walked into the mall I saw the 288 bus loading, which is the one I wanted, so I took it and came back a little earlier. All in all, a pleasant place and day – I look forward to doing that kind of thing with more ease once I’m living in the city centre.

Something that will excite (and probably frustrate) Ross, and other Silverchair fans is that I overheard two young guys who boarded my bus talking about heading off to a festival yesterday, where Silverchair and the Black Keys were playing. I actually even asked them about costs and so forth, because I was tempted to go myself, but it was sadly sold out.

Today I’m off to have lunch with two sisters who are friends of mine from childhood, whom I haven’t seen in at least 10 years, which should be good fun. I also even got news about the rugby here, although it was fleetingly brief – it wasn’t happening in Australia after all. I actually reckon that it wouldn’t have been shown at all if Sky Australia didn’t broadcast to New Zealand, and there were NZ teams in the semis 🙂

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Neglected torsos and other Australian oddities

I’ve been working here for a few days now, and it’s time for another update.

Clicky – hidden because it’s long and has images

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Greetings from Sydney!

Well, I’m here in Sydney, safely arrived and all in one piece. To avoid cluttering friends pages, it’s all behind this cut:

Click here for the gory details


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Warning: Hideous code ahead

The church music group I’m part of has been projecting the songs we do at the Sunday evening Mass for some time now. When we started doing so, I wrote a quick and somewhat nasty system to take a series of text files with the lyrics in them, and turn them into a series of linked HTML files. I then use Opera to show the files, hiding the “Next” link and using full screen mode. The operator then simply needs to hit space bar to go to the next song, since Opera will trigger a next-like link if it finds one and is at the bottom of a page when space bar is hit.

For a long time though, the system has been tricky to use, since the text files that were desired for a given evening were entered into a list directly into Python source (told you it was hacky). I’ve since changed that by creating a small GUI for it using wxPython (but I haven’t reduced the original hackiness at all).

It can be found at if anyone is at all interested. It might take a moment to start up, because the labels and list boxes are being generated programmatically, by reading a file to determine which parts of the Mass will require songs.

As I’ve said, it’s quite hideous – but feel free to take it and use it if you so desire.


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