Archive for August, 2007

Inner North Blackout For 40 Minutes

The suburbs of Reid, Ainslie, Braddon and some of Civic suffered a power failure from about 11:50am to 12:30pm today. Traffic lights on Ballumbir Street were also affected.

I spoke to a representative from ActewAGL about the blackout. He said that it was a “general blackout” but would not comment on the cause. I, sadly, was not in the affected area at the time, which was a pity as it was one of the few newsworthy things to happen around here for a while (and I haven’t been involved in a decent blackout for a while).

Samuel

4 comments August 30th, 2007 at 01:57pm

Nattie clocked at 2.2km/h

This morning as Nattie and I were walking along Limestone Avenue we passed Campbell High School where some students taking part in the “Road Ready” course were using a handheld speed camera to measure the speed of traffic travelling along Limestone Avenue. As we walked past there was a break in the traffic so they turned the camera on Nattie, and clocked her at 2.2 km/h.

Whilst it is a good thing that she was not exceeding the 60km/h speed limit, I dare say that, had she been travelling on the road, she may have been the lucky recipient of a not-quite-random breath test.

Samuel

2 comments August 30th, 2007 at 10:02am

Lunar Eclipse Photos

“Better late than never” is a phrase I use far too often.

I have finally uploaded the photos of the lunar eclipse that I shot from the top of Mount Ainslie. They are available on the photo gallery at http://photos.samuelgordonstewart.com/lunar07

As the shadow of the earth was moving across the moon I took photos every five minutes…unfortunately the moon was too bright (and I don’t have the appropriate filters) to get a decent photo of the moon prior to the eclipse, but I did get some good photos of Canberra while I was on Mount Ainslie.

Some highlights include:

Canberra from Mount Ainslie
Partial Lunar Eclipse
Full Lunar Eclipse

The full set of full size photos are available using the link above.

Samuel

3 comments August 30th, 2007 at 02:14am

Lunar Eclipse

Firstly, thank you to those of you who noticed my extended absence. It’s a long story and I won’t go in to it right now (and it’s not very interesting anyway). I do have a number of posts to catch up on, however I don’t know when I will get to them at this stage.

What I do know, however, is that I will be taking photos of tonight’s lunar eclipse, and I intend on putting those photos online for your enjoyment.

Samuel

4 comments August 28th, 2007 at 05:17pm

Petrol Discounts

Good evening Stuart,

A couple months ago I received a shop-a-docket with a voucher for a free cup of coffee on the back, and a 4 cents per litre petrol discount on the front. The coffee was worth about $3, whereas 70 litres of petrol discounts is only worth $2.80

Needless to say, I chose the coffee.

Regards,
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra

14 comments August 21st, 2007 at 09:23pm

APEC Protest

Good morning Lawsie,

Well you're an awful lot more patient with Alex, the organiser of the APEC protester, than I am.

I found his answer to your question about taking responsibility if the protest turns violent to be very interesting. Based on his logic, Earth getting two degrees hotter in the coming years as a result of climate change is a hypothetical thing which hasn't happened yet, and therefore nobody can take responsibility for it. I'm sure he would love to blame the current government for climate change, and yet he refuses to give you a straight answer about the protest.

Alex, you can't have it both ways.

Regards,
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra

6 comments August 21st, 2007 at 09:53am

Pressing "5" to identify your location to 000

Good evening Stuart,

You just had a caller who said that if you pres "5" repeatedly when you dial 000 from a landline, it will reveal your location to the 000 operator. This information is incorrect.

000 has access to a caller ID system which is more useful than the one the public have access to. When you call 000 from a landline, the number you are calling from, along with information about the address the service is connected to, and probably some other information about the customer in charge of the phone number, is displayed to the 000 operator.

The "5" button is used for another purpose on the 000 service. When somebody calls 000 and the operator can't hear them, they put the call through to an automated system which asks the caller to press "55". This is used to confirm that the call is legitimate, and not a prank call. This was implemented a few years ago due to the sheer volume of prank calls 000 receives.

Have a great evening,

Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra

August 20th, 2007 at 09:53pm

Samuel’s Musicians Of The Week

On Tuesday night Stuart Bocking, without knowing it, solved one of my personal mysteries by playing a song. There are a number of songs that I recognise when I hear them but don’t know the artist or title…some of these drive me nuts because I desperately want to know the artist and title but don’t recognise enough of the song to find out this information.

On Tuesday night, Stuart played “Too Many Times” by Mental As Anything…needless to say this is one of the songs on my “need more information” list. So, now that I finally have the information I need about this song, Mental As Anything are the musicians of the week, and Too Many Times is the feature song.

Too many times, too many times
Too many times, too many times

Too many times I’ve seen the sun come up through bloodshot eyes this week
No matter what I do since we broke up I find it hard to sleep

The room is spinning from too many drinks I’ve drunken by myself
I know that stayin’ here and drinkin’ beer is no good for my health

What is there left to do
But to drink and watch the view
I think that it might rain this afternoon

Too many times, too many times
Too many times, too many times

The doctor that I went to couldn’t do any good
He gave me pills for sleeping,
I took more than I should, than I should.

Too many times I’ve seen the sun come up through bloodshot eyes this week
No matter what I do since we broke up I find it hard to sleep

What is there left to do
But to drink and watch the view
I think that it might rain this afternoon

Too many times, too many times
Too many times, too many times
Too many times, too many times
Too many times, too many times
Too many times, too many times

Samuel

1 comment August 19th, 2007 at 05:38pm

Was John Laws being racist?

A lot has been said in the last few days about the comments made by John Laws on Friday morning about Chinese drivers, and in particular, a Chinese lady by the name of Helen who had driven through the Cross City Tunnel multiple times without ever noticing the prominent signage saying that it uses electronic tolling. Helen was calling because she is shocked that she has to pay for driving through the tunnel.

Anyway, as I was saying, a lot has been said about John Laws’ comments, but it would appear to me that the majority of people who have commented did not hear the entire segment, and instead heard (or read quotes) various bits of the segment which make up less than 30 seconds, and were therefore used out of context, at least to some extent. I have been asked for my views on the matter a number of times now, and I will outline it below, but first, I would like you take take six minutes and listen to the segment, and then make up your own mind.

I believe, and I’m sure ACMA (the Australian Communications and Media Authority) would agree, that you can only come to a reasonable conclusion if you have heard the entire segment. For your convenience I have included it below.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Download Audio

So, were John Laws’ comments racist? I don’t think so. I think he was generalising and I disagree with most of what he said, but the bottom line is that it was his opinion and based on his own observations. I personally think that there are a lot of very good Chinese drivers, and some pretty poor ones (like the one I met one night who was driving a taxi and thought that the lane markers were supposed to go through the middle of the car), and the same can be said for pretty much any other race.

If you do think John Laws was being racist, then please let me know, and tell me where you draw the line on racism. For example, if I were to witness fifteen robberies in the space of a year and 11 of them were done by people of a certain race, would it be racist of me to be a bit more wary of people of that race than people of another race? And would it be racist of me to come to the conclusion that people of that race were more likely to commit robberies?

As I said, I disagree with Lawsie’s generalisation, and to be perfectly honest I usually have better things to do than take notice of the race or age of the people driving cars in a manner that annoys me (I do notice the vehicle though, which is much easier to get a good look at than the occupants), but what he said was based on his observations, so I don’t think he was being racist.

And for what it’s worth, his caller, Helen, really shouldn’t be driving if she managed to miss all of the rather prominent signage about the Cross City Tunnel being electronically tolled on multiple occasions, and now wants to complain that she has been charged an administration fee for the time that various staff have spent reviewing footage, tracking down her number plate, putting together the list of fees for her number plate, and sending her an invoice, and the time they will have to spend processing her payment or chasing it up.

The Cross City Tunnel even has signs which say something along the lines of “Did you pay your toll? If not call (phone number)”. I don’t expect her to remember the phone number, but surely that would be enough of a reminder to find out who to ring. Helen, please read the signs or get off the road.

Back to Lawsie’s comments for a moment. I heard the comments when they went to air and it was instantly obvious to me that they were going to generate a lot of controversy. Personally I think Lawsie is taking advantage of the fact that he will retire soon in an effort to get some of his more controversial pet peeves off his chest, in which case his final few months should make for some very interesting and very provocative listening.

It is also interesting to note that it only took a few moments after Lawsie made the comments on Friday for people who didn’t even hear the comments to start berating him. If I had written the exact same things here as an editorial I would probably have received an angry email and a handful of angry comments, but it certainly wouldn’t have started a national debate. This, to me at least, proves that John Laws is still one of the most influential people in the country.

Samuel

12 comments August 19th, 2007 at 03:54am

Bus Speeds

Good morning Clinton,

Your question about how fast can a bus travel caught my attention and I thought I should answer it for you.

A number of your older buses in Sydney are ex-Canberra buses and slightly older than Canberra's current oldest buses. I'm not sure of the rated maximum speeds of Sydney buses, but I can tell you that Canberra's older buses supposedly have a maximum speed of 83km/h…some struggle to reach that and others will easily eclipse that, especially when going downhill.

Canberra's newer buses, which are somewhat similar to Sydney's newer buses, could easily reach some very fast speeds, however they are electronically limited to 85km/h.

I hope this helps.

Regards,
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra

August 18th, 2007 at 12:24am

Samuel’s Footy Tips

NRL Round 23
Broncos v Bulldogs
Storm v Eels
Sharks v Tigers
Cowboys v Dragons
Raiders v Warriors
Titans v Roosters
Knights v Panthers
Rabbitohs v Sea Eagles

AFL Round 20
Magpies v Demons
Bombers v Blues
Saints v Dockers
Eagles v Tigers
Lions v Swans
Hawks v Power
Kangaroos v Cats
Crows v Bulldogs

Samuel

August 17th, 2007 at 02:49pm

Enjoy your trip

Good morning Lawsie,

Just a quick note to wish you all the best for your trip to Hamilton Island.

I hope your week over there is a wonderful week.

Regards,
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra

1 comment August 17th, 2007 at 11:54am

Finally Simon Replies

Last month I wrote about the peculiar spammers who were sending out spam which claimed to be from a bored female who wanted to chat with someone.

I decided to reply to a female by the name of “Simon” to try and work out why the spammers had bothered to send out these emails which seemed rather pointless due to the fact that there wasn’t any obvious opportunity for them to make money from the emails.

Well, after nearly a month, Simon has finally replied, but with a different name:

From: Margarita <ritulia@freemailserve.biz>
To: Samuel Gordon-Stewart <smoothwallsamuel@gmail.com>
Date: Aug 14, 2007 10:34 PM
Subject: Re: Hello Simon

Hi my new friend
Im glad to see that you have decided to reply,I see it is very short letter.
It is all right because you are astonished to get my letter.
I want you to know that I have only good intentions and I have not any secrets.
The thing is that I will work in your country for three months or so and
I would like to meet a nice man to fall in love or just be closest friends.
I don’t want to live in Russia because I have not any chances here,
it is hardly possible to explain from first time but I want you to know my plans.
I will work in any shop, bar or restaurant the agency that i am going through will suggest me some locations.
It will be my choice in the end as to what option to go for.
So I will have a simple work till I improve my English. And I can choose any
town of your area,agency will only help me to get a visa and all travel documents + some suggested placed to work in.
My best friend last year met the man from the USA when she worked there for three months, too.
She had two jobs. From morning till 4 pm she worked in amusement park and after it she worked as a waitress in some bar till midnight.
She was very tired of course but made very good money there.
It is special programm for young people who wants to work abroad and I think it is the right way for me ,
I am lost here,and I think that I look pretty enough to find a better place .I want to repeat the same way,it is
only my chance to meet a nice man.I want to work in USA or in Europe or any
nice country. I am full of plans and different dreams and I want to share my
life with good man because I’m also full of love and tenderness,I know that
I am not so beautiful like Hollywood Princess but I do hope to meet my Prince and
I am sure he will be not be disappoined to meet me in the real life! This is why I am going to go through the same way.
Well,I will close this letter and I do hope to get your reply.
I will leave russia in two weeks or so (I can’t tell you everything exactly
right now) and I would like tobe sure that I have the man who waits for me there. I will work all day and I want to find a man to spend all free time
together to get to know each other better.if you have any interest to meet me I will be more than happy to meet you too.
I will tell you all details about me and my life if you like my pictures and
want to meet me! please send picture of you too!!!
I write to you with my new mailbox ritulia@freemailserve.biz, please write
letters now only on this mailbox.
I will wait your next letter.
Kiss you , Margarita (this is my name)!

Following this Margarita remembered to send through some photos. I won’t publish them here as I don’t know where they were stolen from, but they are fairly modest photos of a mildly attractive female who doesn’t look even remotely Russian.

I waited a couple days before replying, but I have now replied.

From: Samuel Gordon-Stewart <smoothwallsamuel@gmail.com>
To: Margarita <ritulia@freemailserve.biz>
Date: Aug 17, 2007 4:06 AM
Subject: Re: Hello Simon

Hello my dear Margarita,

What a lovely name you have. I must say that it is much better than the name you originally emailed me with…out of interest why did you call yourself Simon? Was it to protect your identity? If so I think that is most marvellous and clever of you.

I must say that your plans do sound most interesting, and I’m sure that you will be a most welcome addition to this wonderful country that I live in, Australia.

Right now it is raining but it will be sunny again soon. The sound of the rain on the roof is most delightful, and I’m sure that we will be able to share many nights listening to the rain on the roof.

We also have wonderful radio stations in this country, and I’m sure that you will enjoy listening to wonderful people on the radio with me.

As requested I have attached a picture of me. I hope that it satisfies you. It was done before I started to wear glasses, but I’m sure you will like it anyway.

I most eagerly look forward to hearing from you again.

Regards,
Samuel (This is my name…isn’t it interesting that we have different names? It surely proves that we are destined to be together!)

I think I’ve worked out the scam. The next step this spammer will take will be to get my financial assistance in travelling from Russia to Australia.

To that end, I wrote that email in such a way to make any sane person disinterested in being my partner. A spammer however won’t care how insane or ridiculous my message is, they will continue with their scam due to the fact that I am actually replying to them.

Would you like to know what picture I sent to Margarita? Well I took advantage of the fact that she said “picture” and not “photo”, and sent her the following picture of myself:
Picture of Samuel
(Click to enlarge)

I cut the copyright line off the bottom of the image that I sent to Margarita, but I’m sure you would agree that any sane person would not reply to me again after seeing that picture attached to that kind of email.

I eagerly await the spammer’s reply.

Samuel

2 comments August 17th, 2007 at 11:22am

The Diagnosis?

It’s been a while since I’ve run any Friday Funnies, so I thank Jason for sending in some doctor jokes for your amusement.

A man goes to his doctor for a complete checkup. He hasn’t been feeling well and wants to find out if he’s ill. After the checkup the doctor comes out with the results of the examination.
“I’m afraid I have some bad news. You’re dying and you don’t have much time,” the doctor says.
“Oh no, that’s terrible. How long have I got?” the man asks.
“10” says the doctor.
“10? 10 what? Months? Weeks? What?!” he asks desperately.
The doctor continues “9…8…7…”

A man walks into a doctor’s office. He has a cucumber up his nose, a carrot in his left ear and a banana in his right ear.
“What’s the matter with me?” he asks the doctor.
The doctor replies, “You’re not eating properly.”

A young woman went to her doctor complaining of pain.
“Where are you hurting?” asked the doctor.
“You have to help me, I hurt all over”, said the woman.
“What do you mean, all over?” asked the doctor, “be a little more specific.”
The woman touched her right knee with her index finger and yelled, “Ow, that hurts.” Then she touched her left cheek and again yelled, “Ouch! That hurts, too.” Then she touched her right earlobe, “Ow, even THAT hurts”, she cried.
The doctor checked her thoughtfully for a moment and told her his diagnosis, “You have a broken finger.”

Do you have something you would like to contribute to Friday Funnies? If so, email it to samuel@samuelgordonstewart.com. All contributions welcome!

Samuel

1 comment August 17th, 2007 at 09:36am

If Play School Produced Weather Reports

They would probably be very similar to Mark Carmody’s dreadful attempts at presenting the weather on ABC TV News in Canberra.

By all accounts Mark Carmody was very good at presenting the gardening show on 666 ABC Canberra, but he is really quite dreadful when it comes to the weather…it really does come across as an audition for the book reading role on Play School. He talks down to the audience, and insists on cluttering the weather reports with useless information about which newspapers are produced in which towns, and what movie he was reminded of when he woke up this morning and looked out his window.

Mark has taken over as the weather presenter from John Ringwood. John retired on the same day as WIN Television’s newsreader Peter Leonard, and I commented in the linked article that:

Rumour has it that 2CN’s (666 ABC Canberra for those of you not familiar with the callsign) garden expert will take over as the weather presenter. That might sound odd, but considering that last night they presented a five minute editorial from federal political editor Jim Middleton as news, no change in that place would surprise me.

Clearly I was wrong because Mark Carmody retired in April last year and his return to the airwaves did surprise me. It would appear to have split the ABC audience as well, as his return has prompted a mixed reaction on the ABC Canberra guestbook.

I personally found John Ringwood’s style of presenting the weather with the facts, and only the facts, as quite mundane, however I liked it. When John read the weather, it was clear and concise. Unfortunately Mark Carmody is being given free reign over his script and is producing garbage. His interactions with Virginia Haussegger are forced and completely unnatural, his weather presentation is cluttered and unclear, and the ABC would have been much better off doing the same thing WIN Television have done…have the newsreader present the weather from the news desk. I’m certain that Virginia would do an excellent job presenting the weather.

And if they must have Mark Carmody on the air and can’t ship him off to the Play School set…well they could easily move him to Stateline and give him a two or three minute weekly gardening segment, similar to the one David Young presented on Ten Capital News before it was axed. I’m sure Mark’s scripts would work much better in that kind of segment.

Incidentally, in case you didn’t spot it towards the end of the video embedded above, take a look at the following image. Does anything strike you as odd?
Virginia Haussegger on ABC TV News in Canberra

On the left of screen is a 2CC microphone.
Radio 2CC Microphone on ABC TV News in Canberra

I suppose it’s not really odd, but it was rather amusing.

Samuel

4 comments August 17th, 2007 at 05:51am

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