Thursday, October 27, 2005

Life. Be In It 

Sit on the bottom - I want your bottoms to touch it - blow bubbles, and wave at each other.

Ahh, swimming lessons. I'm so glad I'm not taking them. I wish I could swim better but I'm really glad nobody's trying to teach me how, even if I was tempted to sit on the bottom and blow bubbles with the kids today.

Now that summer's closer, half the pool is overtaken with kids learning to swim. The other lanes today mostly contained strong male swimmers. Where do all the crap adult swimmers go? Lucky for me, an attendant must have sensed my dilemma and opened another lane. I hope I can keep this up.

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GMail and Opera 

My GMail messages wouldn't load last night. Very annoying when I'm trying to quickly check messages when I'm supposed to be chatting in IRC. I use GMail with Opera all the time but I guessed it could be a browser-specific glitch. Sure enough, it GMail loaded in Firefox. Then I read Hallvord's post at Miscoded about GMail loading problems. I have now emptied my cache and all is well. I don't understand why but it is.
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Monday, October 24, 2005

Public Transport Slambook Questions 

Today I deleted my public transport Slambook, which was hosted by Skazzle. The Slambook invited visitors to answer five questions about their public transport experience, as well as to leave their names, locations, e-mail and Web addresses. Only ten people ever signed the Slambook and very few people now sign my guestbook. Three spam signings caused me to reconsider the value of the Slambook and decide to delete my Skazzle account. I'm not sure why I started the Slambook - maybe to add something different and interactive for visitors. In addition, Slambooks became part of Skazzle, a network for teenagers, and I have never been a teenage Internet user.

I've kept the old answers - I hate throwing stuff away. Here are the questions and my current answers.

Why do you catch public transport?

I like it.

What is your favourite public transport route and why?

My favourite route is the same as when I first signed - the Perth to Fremantle train line, especially between Mosman Park and Freo and especially in the early evening when the weather's warm.

Describe the most memorable character you've seen or chatted to on public transport.

Visitors to Melbourne from Papua New Guinea, dancing in traditional dress on the 57 tram.

What was your most maddening public transport experience?

A train stopping only long enough to allow passengers to alight, leaving those of us wishing to board standing on the platform. I'm usually not to fussed by public transport mishaps. I do become frustrated when there are no convenient services.

Would you rather observe the other passengers or check out the scenery?

I like to observe passengers, check out the scenery, stare into space, daydream, read a book, write in my notebook and check that I still have my purse and camera.

Add your own answers, if you please.

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Friday, October 21, 2005

Choices and Getting Ripped Off 

If you live in a small country town then you're encouraged to shop locally. Today we went out of town and discovered one reason to shop in a bigger town, and a few good reasons to shop at home.

First - the big slap-in-the-face realisation that shopping locally can be a rip-off. We discovered a dinner set on sale in Bunbury for less than a third of the price we paid for it here. When the set isn't on sale, it's at least $50 cheaper in Bunbury than here. Ouch.

On the other hand, oranges in three kilo bags were cheaper at Augusta Supa-Valu this week than they were today in Woolworths at the Bunbury Forum. Juicy oranges. Shopping in a different supermarket is frustrating - we didn't know where to find anything and Woolworths doesn't stock some of the brands we buy at Supa-Valu or Dewsons in Margaret River. If Woolworths and Coles successfully knock off all the competition, will the choices available dwindle?

The West reported recently that even the pub where we meet for blogger meet-up is owned by Woolworths. I wonder - if I drink enough beer will they let me buy my lift some fuel at 4c less a litre? I noticed information stuck to the shelves in the supermarket about how I can be rewarded for shopping at their liquor outlets today.

Woolies' specials were worthwhile, given that we had to go to Bunbury anyway, and the staff members are friendly. We used our docket to buy fuel before we left. We bought fuel before we left Augusta this morning too.

Dog food is cheaper at Dewsons Margaret River this week, so we stopped there on the way home and bought a few extras too. The staff is friendly there as well, and so are the customers.

So we didn't learn much really - except that it pays to shop around provided you can afford the fuel.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Headache Headaches 

Whenever I have a tension headache, I make it worse by worrying about what I've done to cause it. A glass of wine, too much tea, eye strain, sunlight, not enough water, poor posture, unknown allergies ... tension... ? I can't help but go over all the possible causes in my aching head.

If I have a stomach ache, I think d'oh, must be something I ate. If my wrist hurts, I think to the future and the day when we won't need to use a mouse. But if my head hurts, I just don't know and it bugs me. The Alexander Technique helps but whenever I have a tension headache, I have too many thoughts in my head to fit the Alexander thoughts.

On the positive side, I'm not cursing my vision every time I have a headache, even if it is the cause. I think I'm cool with it now - and it's only taken nineteen years! I'm okay! Which is a relief, because I don't think light sensitivity or eye strain have caused half as many headaches as me considering the effects of RP on my self.

Next time I have a headache, I'll try to think about what'll fix it. A Panadol, gardening, lots of water, the Alexander Technique and (although I'm not good at it) cooking. But I won't think too much.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005


It's 10.30pm and I have sunscreen in my eye. I rubbed way too much onto my face becaue I planned to go for a walk, then remembered that the magpies are swooping and the tiger snakes are waking up. So I walked around the block and then sat out on the verandah instead.

Megan's back from holidays, Cal sent us postcards, Rori's walking, Erin and Rod attended a wedding at Meelup, Dad's now 60 and Mum's celebrated a birthday too. Did I mention I have sunscreen in my eye?

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Accessify Vs Life 

AccessifyForum is the place to go with questions about accessibility and Web design (as well as accessible design in the physical environment). Very occasionally I'll go there to lurk and see if some of my accessibility questions can be answered. A few days ago I decided to register and I hope to visit more often. So far, I've asked about marking up initialisms with abbreviation and/or acronym tags. Do I use abbreviations with initalisms that aren't acronyms? What about initialisms that may or may not be acronyms?

Is there something more important I could concern myself with?

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Monday, October 17, 2005

Desert Delta Blues 

Last night Sixty Minutes reported a proposed hydroelectric power station that threatens the Okavango Delta in Botswana ('Pride of Africa' by Peter Overton, Sixty Minutes, 16 October 2005).

The Okavango River floods into the Kalahari Desert at the delta each winter, attracting millions of animals. Across the border, the Namibian government's power company, NamPower, is planning to dam the river for a hydroelectric power station, which will affect the flow of sediment to the delta. Without the sediment flow, the freshwater wetlands are likely to become salty.

Sixty Minutes concentrated on the beauty of the delta and the wildlife, with Overton duckdiving to see the marine life and interviewing a woman who survived a hippopotamus attack. A male tour operator is seen at peace in his boat, hands folded serenely in front of him as he glides over the water. Does he have such a spiritual connection with the wetlands that his canoe takes him, magic carpet-like, to where he wants to go? No, of course not. He has another man stand at the back of his boat and steer. If you'd like that kind of safari experience, Mike Penman's Wild LifeStyles could be for you.

Professor Fred Ellery, a wetlands ecologist from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, is also interviewed about the how the delta ecosystem works and how the development in Namibia threatens to destroy it. Later he answered viewers questions in a moderated chat at ninemsn. The
transcript of the chat with Fred Ellery gives more background on the reasons Namibia needs power stations and the concerns of locals. Ellery suggests that people interested in learning more or volunteering should contact Conservation International. He also provides his own e-mail address for people wanting information about the impact of the hydroelectric development.

I visited John Bock's Okavango Delta Peoples to find out more about the people who live in the delta (which is 15 000km2) and found it a good starting place for information about the delta and Botswana.

Fact 1: So many elephants visit the delta that Botswana has an over-concentration of elephants (according to Conservation International).

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

One, Two, Four, Five, Seven, Eight, Nine 

If you like counting to nine a lot, check out the daily Su Doku puzzle at Fingertime Free Games. A time counter starts when the game loads, so if you want to know how long it takes to complete a puzzle, don't wander away and watch Home & Away after you've clicked on the link.
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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Reading Instead 

Arj Barker appeared as a guest on The Glass House tonight. I thought, hey, if he comes to Perth, I'll see if I can go. Only he's not coming to Perth. Wagga Wagga, yes. Perth, no. D'oh. I haven't seen a stand-up gig in ages. I'll either have to fly to Sydney and see him at the Newtown RSL, or read Barker's blog instead.
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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

How Old Is Spring? 

Reading The Purist, a poem by Ogden Nash, made me laugh today. Then I read A Lady who Thinks She Is Thirty, also by Ogden Nash, after hearing about my sister's best friend lamenting her upcoming 30th birthday.
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Monday, October 10, 2005

Wake Up, Dee 

Telstra gave me a wake up call recently. Not a phone call, like you might expect, but a realisation that I could make a small change for the better. The wake up call came in the form of a freebie I found in the bottom of my BCA conference bag - a business card-sized plastic wallet with a bendy plastic magnifier inside and the Disability Enquiry Hotline number printed on the outside.

Only two months ago I reassured a member of my book group that the small print in our monthly read wouldn't be a problem. My central vision's fine, I said. 'Fine' meaning about half as good as the vision of people with normal sight. If the print's too small I can always bring the book a bit closer was my thinking. In practice, I didn't read that month's novel.

My central vision (the tunnel of vision referred to in the term 'tunnel vision') is quite narrow, so narrow that I can no longer read the headlines on the front of the West. At least, not without leaving the paper on the kitchen table and slowly backing away towards Broome. Large print is not my friend and so I've dismissed magnifiers as useless large print-making tools.

And maybe I thought magnifiers are for old people too. Old people and people who are vision impaired in a different way to me.

I've never considered that if text is in small print, then a magnifier will increase it to a regular print size. That I could read a book or the paper without having it half as close to my face as most people - that if a book could be read a little further away from my face that I might see more of the text in advance (maybe?). At the very least, there's the possibility that I could read smaller headlines and then use the magnifier to read articles without bobbing in and out of magazines and newspapers like I do.

The free Telstra magnifier isn't going to do the job, designed as it is for the White Pages. But it's given me reason to look into (yes, get it?) magnifiers that might help me to read.

If you think Telstra could give you a disability-related wake up call (or perhaps you have a disability-related wake up call for them), you can visit the Telstra Disability Services site.

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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Jackson Holed 

Sometimes while I'm reading a novel, I find that places or people or odd words and phrases also pop up in some of my other reading. I'd never heard of Jackson Hole in Wyoming till Friday. On Friday I clicked on a news article link that took me to an article on a Jackson Hole media site. Today, while reading Colum McCann's Songdogs, I went with his characters to Jackson Hole. I know it's a trivial coincidence, it almost always is, and yet it keeps happening.
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Saturday, October 08, 2005

NaNoWriMo All Over Again 

The NaNoWriMo people have sent out invitations to previous participants for this year's event. NaNoWriMo challenges people to write a 50 000 word novel in the month of November. Last year I signed up late and wrote almost nothing so I've signed up again in the hope I can do better. I can't start writing until 1 November but I can start planning now. To remind me of my plans to plan, I've added the NaNoWriMo icon to my blog and personal home page. Some people will even blog their NaNoWriMo novels but I figure if it's not good enough to publish, then it's not good enough to publish. Last year's blogged novels are listed at Na-No-Blog-Mo.
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Friday, October 07, 2005

Notebook and Pen, Luggage to Attend 

Here's a photo of my luggage in Bunbury's Jaycee's Park, across the railway tracks from the Bunbury Railway Station. Why is my backpack in Jaycee's Park? Because there isn't anywhere in Australia where you can leave your luggage unattended. I'd hoped to somehow cross both Picton and Sandridge roads and grab a quick coffee at The Forum during the hour or so between the bus from Albany arriving in Bunbury and the bus to Augusta leaving. After huffing off to the park I realised that perhaps one shouldn't complain if the vending machine yields a Toblerone and you have an hour to spend lying in the park on a sunny afternoon. backpack, calico shopping bag, open handbag, camera case on grass

In Perth over the weekend I noticed Transperth's signs asking telling us 'See something, say something.' For some reason I didn't equate this with security - I thought maybe I could make a suggestion or, should my vision loss be reversed, tell somebody. As if I wouldn't be cartwheeling around the platform, crying, whooping and hugging strangers if that should happen. Okay, so I realised Transperth's signs aren't specifically painted up for my benefit should a miracle occur. But only when I could read the small print (fortunately, this didn't involve crossing the tracks) did I realise they meant if I saw something suspicious, I should let them know.

I saw unattended luggage on my second last trip to Perth and asked a lady if she knew whose it was. She told me she didn't know but that whoever owned it had probably gone to the toilet. Ye-eah! I love that we're so trusting we'll leave our bags on a platform while we nip off to the loos. I worry we're so trusting. I'm sure I'm not the only Australian hoping that any visiting terrorists will check out the lifestyle here and decide to learn how to surf instead.

According to VICSIG, there's a similar campaign to 'See something, say something' in Victoria. People are asked to report seeing anybody taking a particular interest in the public transport system - people taking notes or photographs, for example. People like me but with less focus on the tactile ground surface indicators. Now my backpack and my notebook could cause people to freak out.

Agent FareEvader talks more about the potential for rail enthusiasts to help, rather than hinder, security efforts in 'Not in the Current Climate, Sir' (Hecho en Mexico, 4 October 2005). I hope the rail enthusiasts (or gunzels, as Agent FareEvader calls them) can make a difference. Most other public transport users are pretending they're somewhere else, just to get where they're going.

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Too Many Competitions, Not Enough Stories 

The Age Short Story Competition closes tomorrow (Friday 7 October). If you have 3000 words lying around in an orderly story-like fashion you might want to e-mail it to them quick.

Raspberry and Vine have a short story competition open till 28 October 2005. Winners receive $300. Entry is $10 or $8 for students. Raspberry and Vine hope to encourage new Australian writers with their twice-yearly competitions.

Cheryl Wright is running a free contest at Writer2Writer Contests. The latest contest asks writers to submit a complete story of 285 words or less that's based on the photograph provided (a description is available for writers who have a vision impairment). The competition closes at midnight 15 October 2005 (wherever you happen to be) and entrants must be subscribed to the free Writer2Writer Ezine.

Gillian Polack's Jewish Honeycake Recipe looks good too - for those of us short on ideas and in need of some cake.

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Sounds Like Perth 

Just as I went to log in to Blogger, I noticed Perth Sounds appearing on Blogger's scrolling 'Recently Updated' list. Yes, Perth in Western Australia. Yes, sounds as in music, not sounds as in excavators digging train tunnels.
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