Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Dorpering at Paskeville and the Laptop Laugher

Now I know what a dorper is. It's a hybrid breed of sheep originating in South Africa seventy years ago as a cross between the DORset and PERsian breeds. The display stand at the Yorke Peninsula Field Days (27-29 September) at Paskeville, was full of info. Tonight ABC TV's Poh's Kitchen featured... dorper lamb!

I was at the Field Days all day today browsing around, a bit of a lost sheep myself, bemused by the weather (potential for a pun here with wether, the sheep), the monster machines such as headers and even the comb trailer (go on, ask me what one of them is), and even an unnerving laugh encountered while hearing a saleman recite details of a laptop computer. My companion and I were spooked by the fact that the nearby screechy laugh-er did not seem to need anything funny to provoke the noise.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Waving not drowning

OK, so yesterday's Buckyball posting was too mind-bending. Here's more light relief. I photographed this young seal at Edithburgh. It swam for an hour in the vicinity of the sea pool, and in this image is obviously pretending to be a shark... or perhaps just holding a left flipper in the sunlight in order to warm up.

Monday, 26 September 2011


Here's your thought for the day :) Thank you, the amazing Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983)

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Worry-free jellyfish

Well, that bus-sized satellite fell to "earth" in the Pacific off the coast of California according to calculations ('cos nobody saw it). That would be roughly in an area where there are now giant jellyfish in plague proportions, for all my fellow compulsive worry-warts. It will be a sad day when we run out of stuff to worry about.

As light relief, here's a pic from my visit to Sydney's Darling Harbour. Is this the new look of watercraft?

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Falling satellites and scary stats

Now we've passed the spring equinox, maybe the silly season is over for dumb media talk of the stats for being clobbered by a 20-year old communications satellite falling out of orbit and breaking up in the atmosphere. Did you see the number bandied about? One chance in - what was it? - 3,200 of being hit. Some reporters even said that's a bigger risk than being in a car or plane accident (no doubt they had referred to insurance company figures).

Look, guys, that was someone's calculation of the probability of an item of space debris landing in the vicinity of SOMEBODY on the planet! So, people, for you or me to be the unlucky clobber-ee, take that thirty-two hundred number and MULTIPLY IT BY SIX BILLION. Whew, had me worried there.

PS And now they're saying the poor old sat. might come down over Africa. Still, remember that a Skylab chunk descended in Western Australia couple of decades ago. Maybe don't emerge from your bomb shelter just yet.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Wot no casino?

Well, it's blowing half a gale today, with a hint of the summer heat to come. But it's from the west, usually a cool direction from over the Spencer Gulf waters. Hot is when it's from the north and the inland of the Australian continent.

Yesterday I enjoyed an hour's beachcombing walking on the beach from Port Moorowie at Flat Reef

and going a bit further westwards than I normally would. I met only one couple on the pleasant walk, and THEY seemed surprised at encountering anyone else. It was a reminder that we are unusual, in this part of the world, in having literally miles of easily reached beaches where you might not encounter another person. For this lifestyle I can put up with not having a handy casino, racetrack or golf resort.

Friday, 16 September 2011

One of those weeks. Tennis and a Perfect DIY edit

A remarkable week... beginning with that grim 10th anniversary of 9/11; then bad floods (again) in Pakistan. Today we hear of a mine flooding in Wales but no news yet of the trapped miners, rescued or lost.

We mostly prefer sports news: a happier note for Aussies when Sam Stosur became US Women's Open Champion (but then today's 3-1 Davis Cup defeat of our lad Lleyton Hewitt by Roger Federer to make it one match all in the contest). Rugby, cricket, footy. Yes, all the important stuff.

I recovered from my jetlag returning from Sydney - hey, it's a half hour time difference! The 5th National IPEd Conference was OK. That's "Institute of Professional Editors". The 6th such conference is down for April 2013 to be held in Fremantle, known as "Freo" to many. Is it too soon to pack? Yes it is.

But here's a tip for freo (bad pun). While I'd love you to come to me for any editing work you have in mind... you know, that 900-page novel you're working on... you can now get hold of a fr*e 30-day trial of a software which is like a D.I.Y. editing tool. It's called PerfectIt and is just the job for cleaning up aspects (you select them) of that brilliant manuscript or document. Costs nothing to check it out.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

New NASA plans for space capability

Sept. 14, 2011

David S. Weaver
Headquarters, Washington

Michael Braukus/J.D. Harrington
Headquarters, Washington

RELEASE: 11-301


New Heavy-lift Rocket Will Take Humans Far Beyond Earth

WASHINGTON -- NASA has selected the design of a new Space Launch
System that will take the agency's astronauts farther into space than
ever before, create high-quality jobs here at home, and provide the
cornerstone for America's future human space exploration efforts.

This new heavy-lift rocket-in combination with a crew capsule already
under development, increased support for the commercialization of
astronaut travel to low Earth orbit, an extension of activities on
the International Space Station until at least 2020, and a fresh
focus on new technologies-is key to implementing the plan laid out by
President Obama and Congress in the bipartisan 2010 NASA
Authorization Act, which the president signed last year. The booster
will be America's most powerful since the Saturn V rocket that
carried Apollo astronauts to the moon and will launch humans to
places no one has gone before.

"This launch system will create good-paying American jobs, ensure
continued U.S. leadership in space, and inspire millions around the
world," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "President Obama
challenged us to be bold and dream big, and that's exactly what we
are doing at NASA. While I was proud to fly on the space shuttle,
tomorrow's explorers will now dream of one day walking on Mars."

This launch vehicle decision is the culmination of a months-long,
comprehensive review of potential designs to ensure the nation gets a
rocket that is not only powerful but also evolvable so it can be
adapted to different missions as opportunities arise and new
technologies are developed.

"Having settled on a new and powerful heavy-lift launch architecture,
NASA can now move ahead with building that rocket and the
next-generation vehicles and technologies needed for an ambitious
program of crewed missions in deep space," said John P. Holdren,
assistant to the President for Science and Technology. "I'm excited
about NASA's new path forward and about its promise for continuing
American leadership in human space exploration."

The SLS will carry human crews beyond low Earth orbit in a capsule
named the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. The rocket will use a
liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen fuel system, where RS-25D/E engines
will provide the core propulsion and the J2X engine is planned for
use in the upper stage. There will be a competition to develop the
boosters based on performance requirements.

The decision to go with the same fuel system for the core and the
upper stage was based on a NASA analysis demonstrating that use of
common components can reduce costs and increase flexibility. The
heavy-lift rocket's early flights will be capable of lifting 70-100
metric tons before evolving to a lift capacity of 130 metric tons.

The early developmental flights may take advantage of existing solid
boosters and other existing hardware. These flights will enable NASA
to reduce developmental risk, drive innovation within the agency and
private industry, and accomplish early exploration objectives.

"NASA has been making steady progress toward realizing the president's
goal of deep space exploration, while doing so in a more affordable
way," NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said. "We have been
driving down the costs on the Space Launch System and Orion contracts
by adopting new ways of doing business and project hundreds of
millions of dollars of savings each year."

NASA elected to initiate a competition for the booster stage based on
performance parameters rather than on the type of propellant because
of the need for flexibility. The specific acquisition strategy for
procuring the core stage, booster stage, and upper stage is being
developed and will be announced at a later time.

To learn more about the development of the SLS, visit:

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Hi Isobel, this one's for you, by way of suggestion for your next gig :) It was the 1935 movie A Night at the Opera with the famous Marx brothers (you knew that), not just funny guys but remarkable musicians. Double-click the embedded image to get the fullsize picture, then you can also click the little cross at top right of the ad to remove the ad.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Haunted pub Hero of Waterloo

Just got in this evening from the past days at the 5th IPEd Conference - Australia's Institute of Professional Editors - held at one of the Darling Harbour convention venues in Sydney. Over a hundred editors were there from around the nation, a motley bunch; freelance and in-house; academic and other. Accredited, unaccredited, disinherited and just plain disreputable, or worse... too respectable. My unedited highlights were the Thursday night escorted walk at The Rocks which included the suitably haunted cellar of the 1841 pub The Hero of Waterloo: licensee Ivan told spooky tales which may - who knows? - even be true... a piano-playing poltergeist.

On Friday after the day's sober activity I went AWOL to see and hear the musical Mary Poppins on the stage of the Capitol Theatre in Campbell Street, near my Chinatown digs. Could it live up to the 1960s movie? The Julie Andrews & Dick Van Dyke show. Well, damned good. That's the heart of a mini-review of this current Richard Eyre direction of the Disney classic from P L Travers' book. The full house loved it, and although the audience contained a scattering of children, the show was by no means aimed at just a youthful audience. My seat was only half a dozen rows from the stage so I wasn't lost up in the gods. The leads Verity Hunt-Ballard as Mary P. and Matt Lee as Bert were totally up to the task, while the Banks parents as performed by Marina Prior and Philip Quast were no disappointment. Quast even achieved an uncanny resemblance to David Tomlinson's movie dad. The juvenile roles in the stage production rotate among five Janes and five Michaels. Them's the rules. The show goes until almost 11pm nightly. My task now, of course, is to sell to our little singing group at home the notion of the aerial wire work. The Poppins woman, for instance, sails off for her final departure above the heads of the audience from stage to dress circle and ceiling, no mean feat in the delightfully period Capitol Theatre. And Bert, similarly wired, "walks" up one side of the stage, upside down across the top and down the other side, without missing a beat. There are new songs and some other new material such as the return of Nurse Andrews, Nanny from Hell, and her splendid comeuppance. The entire cast manages the lively song Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious complete with choreographed and convincing hand-signing.

Yesterday, Saturday, was nostalgia day. I tripped on the Manly Ferry with pleasant company and walked much of the way to Shelly Beach and, as it happened, past my first school back in... ahh... 1944. Earlier in the day we called again at the Hero pub. I quaffed a Guinness served by an authentic Dubliner (we talked about Roddy Doyle's books which he knew). Then a look inside the historic Garrison Anglican Church, a stroll down through the Argyle Street Cut (convict hand-hewn tunnel) and the weekend street market at The Rocks.

Have to admit I enjoyed getting back into my own car after being collected at Adelaide Airport by the polite driver of the little shuttle bus. It was sent to meet the flight, and then to take (two of) us to pick up our vehicles garaged for the duration at Richmond Road, in premises formerly a well-known bedding warehouse. I think the cars get tucked in at night. Mine certainly looked smug. I drove the longer route down the Yorke Peninsula through Arthurton, and enjoyed the sunset over Spencer Gulf as viewed from the road south of Maitland. Chinatown eat your heart out.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Point Turton and Edithburgh eateries

My guests of yesterday and Thursday enlivened the quiet of the southern Yorke Peninsula arriving in their "mainland" vehicle, a well-maintained veteran Gemini kept at Unley when they are not home in Tasmania. Not only did we enjoy a fine meal, and wonderful sunset with views over Hardwicke Bay, at Tavern on Turton, we also visited Edithburgh to see Edithburgh Lodge on the esplanade where Bill lived as boy. He photographed too the school, which he attended and where both his parents taught.

We lunched at the Location Cafe. Its "outdoor" section is now more indoors than outdoors, and a pleasant environment for a snack or full meal.

Unexpectedly at the salt water swimming pool a seal was seen as it swam around lazily, watched by suspicious cormorants.

Back at home, guests farewelled, I listened to this energetic version of Lonnie Donegan's My Dixie Darling