click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Thu 26.02.2009 18:04 | filed in interests/au | ]

should you ever have any excess baggage to ship overseas, use anybody but they're bumbling fools and waste time left and right.

after one primary mistake on my side (not realizing that the qantas freight office is n/a on a saturday, when conny left a month ago) i was in need of getting her second suitcase to vienna, somehow.

qantas would have wanted $1300 for sending it with her as excess baggage (that's for her ticket cost $1500 i conclude that the humans themselves are treated as worthless encumbrances while their baggage is worth qantas). pack and send quoted a ridiculous $550, and qantas themselves would have charged $350 airport-airport (as the unaccompanied baggage discount is only available when you submit your unaccompanied stuff before you leave yourself) - and you'd have to pick the stuff up at the vienna airport, home of truly obnoxious customs bureaucrats.

worldsnails looked fine, at $305 or so for airport to door and so i booked the suitcase with them, hoping for speedy delivery for my good money.

that was on the 19.1. as an aside, they shafted me nicely with insurance fees (their online calc doesn't reflect what they really charge and the fine print was suitably badly worded to trick me out of a nice extra $ own mistake).

on the 21.1. i learned they had lost the paperwork, so i resubmitted that. on the 22.1. i finally got the rotten bill.

and then...nothing, for a very long time.

on the 9.2. the first signs of life reappeared, as in "the suitcase is somewhere around amsterdam". after the customary wrangling with the fucking austrian customs the suitcase was finally delivered on the 13.2.2009.

19.1. to 13.2. - even carrier pigeons would have been faster! not even australia post needs four weeks for airmail from oz to at.

[ published on Sun 15.02.2009 23:42 | filed in interests/au | ]

cheddar rubber: from $7.5/kg
the absolutely cheapest camembert: $21/kg
blade or rump steak: about $8.5/kg
whole rump: about $7/kg

As you can see QLD is a good place for carnivores and a bad place for cheesivores (or at least not for people on a reasonable budget). Fortunately I like meat, and so does Conny - if it comes in the right form. This is about one such form: dried meat goodness.
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Thu 15.01.2009 13:46 | filed in interests/au | ]

...of blue bread here in Oz, it seems:

"AGB International...has recalled 13 brands of garlic bread after learning that the bread turns blue when heated."

Come on! Finally you've got at least some fun bread in this dreary place (dreary where Real Bread is concerned) and you do what, recall it?!? Spoilsports.

[ published on Fri 22.08.2008 12:17 | filed in interests/au | ]

What a pity, it could have conveniently lost the Christian Chief Tosser out that nice, big hole. Instead they had to make do with losing some luggage, when the aging 747 lost a fair bit of its fuselage structure in a Earth Shattering Kaboom.

[ published on Fri 25.07.2008 23:06 | filed in interests/au | ]

Rob gave me some promising (i.e. ring of fire) chili seeds a while ago, for planting behind my house. I successfully got them to sprout (I have anti-green thumbs and can kill off most types of plants, without meaning to but still easily), and a few days ago I planted them in 14 or so small batches.

 chili plants chili plants

This is how they looked like before I planted them. I'll keep you updated on how this planting experiment fares.

[ published on Sat 14.06.2008 18:04 | filed in interests/au | ]

As mentioned a few days ago I've just escaped the clutches of our telco monopolist - successfully I should say. Here are my experiences with the Telstra Elimination Project.
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Fri 13.06.2008 00:15 | filed in interests/au | ]

The complex I live in has been slightly beautified over the last year or so (think property values etc.), and finally, this week, the guys doing the work on the common areas got around to redoing the flower beds in front of my place.
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Tue 13.05.2008 23:43 | filed in interests/au | ] rule is: you don't throw away good computer books, period.

Most folks at my palace de ork are...odd, to put it nicely: today I strolled over to the "Dispose Me!" desk in the hallway which is often stacked with orphaned books (today: loads of Flash, Dreamweaver and other less interesting stuff) and there I picked up this Absolute Gem: the 1977 hardcover edition of Donald Alcock's Illustrating Basic. (I very much recommend checking out the PDF excerpt. 134 pages of hand-lettered and -drawn illustrated goodness.)

Picture this: the person who dumped it, has had it since 1978 and nevertheless decided to toss out this classic.

These are people who'd throw out a full Knuth to make space for "Vista for Dummies"!

On similar occasions in the past I did inherit/adopt/reverently provide a new home to: Tanenbaum's Structured Computer Organization, Sterling+Shapiro's The Art of Prolog, one of the compiler bibles, The TCL/TK book and sundry Lesser Goodies. But enough of that; their (unfelt?) pain, my gain.

One of the cool things about the Basic book is that it's well written, and actually had enough appeal for Conny to spontaneously start learning how to program today. She did her first few experimental programs (with bwbasic and emacs on my/her Debian laptop) just this evening and so far is pretty much thrilled by what one can do. Pretty cool, and I hope she gets something of lasting value out of it.

Go Conny! :-)

[ published on Tue 13.05.2008 23:21 | filed in interests/au | ]

...if you like stereotypes, that is. Here goes:
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[ published on Tue 13.05.2008 12:37 | filed in interests/au | ]

After chatting with friends who always bake their own bread (plus cakes and other market goods) I decided that having a breadmaker Would Be Nice, as I don't like white soggy sandwich bread.
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Sun 27.04.2008 22:48 | filed in interests/au | ]

Tonight SBS will run Silentium, as usual in the original language (Austrian) with English subtitles. The above is a quote from the Tv guide.

[ published on Mon 17.09.2007 20:54 | filed in interests/au | ]

Just came back from a trip to Ikea, and I'm pissed: They have discontinued 60cm wide Billys. WAAAAAH! The most essential size for a book shelf and they just dumped it (40 is too narrow, 80 is too wide)...Dimbulbs.

[ published on Sat 09.06.2007 01:06 | filed in interests/au | ]

This fellow seems to have been pretty close to Taking Drastic Measures.

[ published on Wed 10.05.2006 17:28 | filed in interests/au | ]

I've been planning to buy a small dishwasher for my kitchen for some time. Here in Australia most washing mashines come with hot and cold connections to use the main house heater which is more efficient than lots of small heaters everywhere. Makes sense.
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[ published on Thu 23.03.2006 21:05 | filed in interests/au | ] this one: "Three sharks suspected in fatal attack" (I wonder who's going to read the suspects their rights when apprehended...). The story is that of a woman who got dismembered by sharks just outside of Brisbane on this weekend. It's not sure if Darwin was at work here or whether it was just plain bad luck, but I'm sure the konspiracy kooks will find it most interesting that the place of the accident is called "Amity Point". Anywat, there goes the perfect record of the shark safety program (and most of my interest in going for a dip in the ocean).

[ published on Mon 09.01.2006 13:12 | filed in interests/au | ]

A few weeks after doing the first part of the ceiling fixes, I've finally added the lighting I was looking for. The room height is only 242cm, so my big rice paper lampions were cluttering up the ceiling badly and I wanted to replace them with some indirect lighting.
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Sat 03.12.2005 23:39 | filed in interests/au | ]

This fellow was growing last week in my back yard. I'm not tempted to sample it, though: 'the edibility of most Australian species of fungi is untested'.

The last few weeks were pretty wet and occasionally miserable. A week-and-a-bit ago we had some big storms and the gutter on the northern end of my house ripped loose. I heard a bang, thought some tree branch must have fallen onto my roof but it was the trough hanging down crookedly. Turns out the bastards building this house had only put in a single small pop-rivet per bracket. No surprise the thing came down eventually.

 2005_10_28-gutter-repair.jpg  2005_10_28-gutter-repair3.jpg

Note the safety footwear :-) But he did a good job, put in enough rivets to be certain that the gutter will hold up.

This weekend Rob and I and possible a few others wanted to drive out to Killarney, for a fly+work weekend. Guess it's not to be; the forecast for the area in question has this to say: "Saturday: A few showers or drizzle in the east overnight and morning. Isolated showers and thunderstorms developing throughout Saturday afternoon and evening. Light to moderate E to NE winds. Moderate to high fire danger. Outlook for Sunday ... Isolated showers and thunderstorms."

Bugger. While, as most of the time, the farmers are grateful for every drop, my mood doesn't take gloomy non-flying weather too well.

[ published on Fri 04.11.2005 17:40 | filed in interests/au | ]

Melbourne Cup Day really makes this place slow down a lot; here at the office not two in ten were working these last two hours. Instead everybody was clustered around the telly. I wasn't; feeling rabidly antisocial today.

I'm so waiting for a plague to take care of all the useless, overpriced, spook-prone stupid creatures (and maybe their rich bastard owners on the way as well). Pferde Fleischkäs! or foal goulash, mmmmm...

[ published on Tue 01.11.2005 15:13 | filed in interests/au | ]

snort! The quote is from a newspaper article on some fellows taking a bus for a joyride (after the driver had gone for a pee and forgot the keys in the ignition).

Australians seem to like public transportation only if they can drive themselves, as evidenced by the final paragraph of said article:

"The trio resisted picking up passengers during their short trip, say police, unlike in Melbourne a month ago, when a 15-year-old boy was caught after picking up passengers in a tram he had taken."
[ published on Thu 12.05.2005 14:35 | filed in interests/au | ]

Bolero Large Yellow/Red/White, DHV 1, 90-110kg. 3 years old, 63 hours. No beach, in perfect condition, just inspected: 130+ seconds on the porosity meter. Comes with glider bag and stirrup. $1400 ONO.
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Thu 05.05.2005 23:53 | filed in interests/au | ]

(snarfed from the Earth Edition of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or short H2G2)

Australia is a very confusing place, taking up a large amount of the bottom half of the planet. It is recognisable from orbit because of many unusual features, including what at first looks like an enormous bite taken out of its southern edge; a wall of sheer cliffs which plunge deep into the girting sea. Geologists assure us that this is simply an accident of geomorphology and plate tectonics, but they still call it the "Great Australian Bight" proving that not only are they covering up a more frightening theory, but they can't spell either.
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Thu 28.04.2005 23:21 | filed in interests/au | ]

...the legend for some false-colour relief goes only up to 800m.

The Bureau of Meteorology, source of often misleading weather forecasts but otherwise providing a lot of very good services IMHO, now has a height relief for the live weather radar images. Very nice. This is the one for the immediate surrounds.

[ published on Mon 14.03.2005 14:44 | filed in interests/au | ]

"Go to the supermarket and buy two home brew kits. ... Also buy at least a couple of bottles of Coopers Pale Ale, more if you like. Ignore the instructions. Cool and pour the Pale Ale, being careful to leave the yeast sediment behind. Drink the beer."

click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Tue 01.02.2005 22:03 | filed in interests/au | ]

...lousy chlorine taste of the Gold Coast water. The Hinze Dam is just not on par with the Eastern Austrian Alps where Vienna gets its water from.
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[ published on Mon 17.01.2005 22:50 | filed in interests/au | ]

Medicare, the basic medical insurance for every citizen and permanent resident, doesn't cover dental stuff (except emergency procedures in a hospital), so it's PAYH.

Fortunately private health insurance isn't very expensive (yet), especially for higher income earners: you have the choice of paying an extra levy for Medicare for no extra benefits or you can take out private hospital cover.

For me, the extra levy would be about $650 p.a., and full-blown private insurance (not just hospital but also extras like dental, optical etc.) costs me about $900 p.a. Given the $200 I get for contact lenses every year and factoring in just one or two other doctor visits a year, my decision for private insurance was obvious.

Still, even private insurance leaves you with a gap between the benefits and the actual cost: for hospital stuff there's a safety net capping, but not for extras. So the visit to the dentist this week left me $50 poorer, still a lot better than paying $210.

It wasn't too painful (despite me being scared of dentists and their surprises) and didn't uncover any unexpected problems. I'll have two teeth taken out in a month but both were known candidates for 15 and 7 years respectively, so no real worries.

[ published on Fri 14.01.2005 00:18 | filed in interests/au | ]

My father asked me to put some pictures and maps on the web, so as to show the lay of the land better. Well, stitching together panoramas by hand^Wgimp sucks so I didn't find the time to do it - until today.
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Thu 13.01.2005 01:39 | filed in interests/au | ]

Rob knows a butcher somewhere on Brisbane's south side who makes Gselchtes, Kaminwurzn, Landjäger and Speck.

A small excurse for the colonials: This is "Speck". "Speck" translates to "bacon". But the "bacon" you can buy in the supermarkets around here is not Speck - and vice versa. At most they share the species of deader. Speck is fine for consumption as it is (raw but cured and smoked). "Bacon" is good for ham & eggs - at best.

Rob also transported the good stuff in a bag befitting the Austrian/German delicacy. That piece was actually a good 3kg, and cost me $53. Not bad at all, considering that it's almost as good as the one my grandmother made herself.

Apropos the nice bag, Aldi/Hofer stores finally have made it to QLD. Yay! I just checked: the closest store is at the north end of the Gold Coast. That place is called Labrador. I'm on the mid-southern end of the GC: in Miami. Whoever came up with the suburb names here was a horrible punster.

[ published on Mon 03.01.2005 23:40 | filed in interests/au | ]

However, how to make Vanillekipferl is important in AU, too, even though christmas is in the middle of the warm (and this year, wet) summer.

So the Sydney Morning Herald, one of the few almost readable newspapers, ran this article with recipes today.

[ published on Tue 07.12.2004 20:50 | filed in interests/au | ]

Two days ago I sent the churn request. This morning there was a five hour outage, then I got my notification via SMS and email and now the new ISP does the bit-shuffling: Westnet.

As it turns out, I had to ring their support for some fine-print info; less than a minute of waiting, a reasonably competent fellow on the other end and now things just work.

Their service is pretty good; things like port blocking (mostly of MS-junk and backdoors) can be disabled via the customer care webform, their status email list allows to select plain text or HTML crud, etc.pp. Connectivity is also better than with the other provider, and I've got free PIPE access again (mainly important for mirrors and usenet).

My reverse dns request (via email, close to the end of normal business hours on a friday) got answered and fulfilled within 20 minutes.

And they even have a kickd, so I feel very much at home :-)

[ published on Fri 19.11.2004 18:48 | filed in interests/au | ]

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