I took these photos of Amanita muscaria on a large estate near Berrima, New South Wales, in April 2003 with a Olympus D-450 1.3 megapixel compact camera.
I drove to Kiama on Wednesday 19th August to photograph the famous lighthouse and blowhole, and came away with half the job done: the blowhole was inactive because the wind was blowing in the wrong direction.
The day was otherwise excellent: the drive was very pleasant, the sky was mostly clear, there was a light breeze and the winter’s day unseasonably warm. I dined al fresco on john dory and chips at the Saltwater Café in the main shopping precinct.
At the time of writing this post the video has been viewed 1.7 million times.
BBC News Online notes that the video is #1 on UK iTunes chart and #2 on the US iTunes chart. Day reports on her blog that it has also reached #1 on the Amazon chart.
ETA: The song has become a freaking earworm. Gah.
The Sydney-to-Gold Coast trip of 2008 turned, in part, into a treasure hunt. The treasure in question was lighthouses: fascinating structures that before the advent of high-tech navigation made the difference between life and death for many seafarers.
Cape Byron Lighthouse, New South Wales, S 28° 38.352′ E 153° 38.156′, built 1901.
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Some years ago I kept mice as pets. They were lovely, affectionate creatures — but oh so fragile and short-lived. None of them lasted for more than one and a half years, and apart from Nugget who died of a respiratory infection all the others had to be put down to spare them from a ugly death by cancer. Here’s part of their legacy.
I had the greatest of luck on a visit to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary last October: a chance to watch a bird training session and a TV filming. It was, I think, my second day at the Gold Coast (Qld), and being on holiday and having driven up from Sydney (NSW) I’d forgotten the time difference. We ended up, exhausted and thirsty, at the free-flight show an hour early on a hot and sunny day.
About half an hour in, a keeper appeared with a little raptor on his wrist and with clicks, soft whistles and a handful of treats put it through its paces. We were silent and the man didn’t invite us to leave, a mutually satisfying situation.
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This blue-tongue lizard showed up in my backyard in March 2007, narrowly escaping injury or death at my feet. I’d been getting so annoyed at the increasing tendency of a large, floppy sheet of 4mm plywood (originally left leaning against the wall) to be blown over by unusually strong winds that I pretty much gave up and left it on the ground for a week.
The sheet had to be picked up eventually unless I wanted a large patch of dead grass, so out I went early one morning, and resisting the rabid desire to take a running jump and stomp on the thing, I picked it up by one corner. And there the beast was, looking back at me. I turned around and returned to the house for my camera.
The lizard was still sitting there, lethargic from the morning chill, when I emerged and started clicking away — but it hissed and disappeared slowly down a hole in the base of the fence when I touched it lightly on the back.
“Stumpy” — that tail termination is abnormal and probably the result of a run-in with a cat or a dog — returned to the yard a few months later and hid behind the rainwater tank. I haven’t seen it since.
I’m an avid reader with a lifelong aversion to Romance for no other reason than that there were piles of Mills & Boon and Barbara Cartland books in my house back in the mid-70′s and when I leafed through a few of them in a desperate effort to find something to read I came all over ick.
It wasn’t until 2007 that I came to the realization that there was more than bodice-ripping and near-porn in the genre when I wandered over from Making Light to Dear Author during the Lanaia Lee plagiarism wanksplosion. I found Smart Bitches, Trashy Books later, probably through DA.
I still don’t deliberately read Romance, but now it’s more a matter of priorities: My limited book budget goes almost entirely to SF and Fantasy, with an emphasis on Urban Fantasy. I still follow DA and SBTB for the industry news and book/hardware reviews.
In March this year, Jane of Dear Author posted a hilarious, snarktastic, spoilery review of Knight Moves by Jamaica Layne. It had me crying with laughter from beginning to end, and I cackled intermittently for the rest of the day as memories intruded. Nothing that I can write will ever do justice to the post, so:
Oh, and those three links above? Definitely Not Safe For Work.
PVA and RWS statistics for July 2009
Back in 2006 I installed a 4000 litre rainwater tank. As part of a government water-saving initiative (we’d been in drought for many years and dam levels were at a historical low) I received a $400 government grant. A year later I added a pump and connected a toilet and the washing machine to the tank, bringing my reticulated water usage down to 110 litres a day (the average single-occupant household uses 249 litres a day).
IN 2007 I installed a grid-connected photovoltaic array with a 6KVA battery backup to offset part of my daily power requirements. I received a government grant of $8000 for this project.
I’ve been keeping daily records ever since, just for hell of it. So, without any further ado:
Photovoltaic array: grid-connected, 1.5KW with 6KVA battery backup
Commissioned: 21 Jun 2007
Power generated (July 2009): 129.10 KWH
Daily Average: 4.16 KWH
Long-term daily average: 4.71 KWH
Total CO2 saved: 3824 Kg
Total power generated: 3628 KWH
Value of power generated: $442.67
Rainwater storage: 4000 litres
Commissioned: October 2006
Additional capacity: 2200 litres (2 x 1KL IBC), Feb 2009
Volume drawn (July 2009): 2725 litres
Daily average: 87.90 litres
Total drawn: 66,172 litres
One-line background: I have been donating unused CPU cycles to the World Community Grid, which runs grid computing projects for public and non-profit research institutions on the condition that all results are released to the public domain.
I’m concentrating on getting an Emerald badge for the Clean Energy Project at the moment. For this I have to accumulate one year of CPU runtime, which will soon become a problem as the project is going to end very soon, possibly within the next month.
As of several minutes ago I have:
Target runtime: 365 days
Average runtime per WU: 6.5 hours
Reported runtime: 163 days
Required runtime: 202 days
Pending validation: 13 days (50 WU)
WUs in queues: 30 days (113 WU)
Total unhatched chickens: 43 days
Still short: 159 days
I need CEP to run an additional 16 days if I’m to make my target.