Rachel's Blog

Mon, 27 Feb 2006
Asphalt Paving Machines and Vibratory Rollers
Diagram of a Paving Machine

(image from John Wainwright and Co. Ltd)

We had no concrete plans for today, but that didn't prove to be a problem as a team of road builders came by and resurfaced the road right in front of our house. Of course they used asphalt, not concrete, but you can't complain. We spent the greater part of the morning watching them work. Abbey was fascinated by the machinery, of which I could confidently identify the dump truck. Fortunately, once again, the internet provides all the answers.

Sun, 26 Feb 2006
Schooner Rusts

I started creating an anagram train map for Melbourne, because that's what all the cool kids are doing, but it proved too hard. I got all the way along the Pig Pen Line, via the Typo Coil, (Flat Gaffs, Cerebral Nut Lemon, Inapt Realm, Mojo Lint, Mince Th' Words, Morn Orchid Nth, Gold Owl Icon, Avoir Patrick, Collin Filth, Slur Hal, Re Mir, Torch Note, Torn Cox, Byron Hurt, L L Be, Ten Pros, Green T, Sore River, Rev Hunt, Kane Pork, Ow Not Maths, All Or) but then I was spoilt for choice. Which one for Flinders Street; Settlers Friend, Renters Stifled, Drifters Nestle or Let's Rest Friend?

Which reminds me, I must head into the city soon and see how the new Schooner Rusts Station is looking.

Fri, 24 Feb 2006
Trailer: 5-25-77

You absolutely must see this trailer for 5-25-77.
Our last hope is that the film holds up to the promise.
There is another - an Australian big screen release.

(via roberthoge)

Thu, 23 Feb 2006
Rampant Individualism

How much is the rampant individualism encouraged by the Howard government responsible for the current delay and decline in childbearing or wanting that they are now trying to counter? A lot I suspect.

Wed, 22 Feb 2006
Haussegger's Wonder Woman

I was going to write a review of Virginia Haussegger's Wonder Woman; The myth of having it all, but it turns out Leslie Cannold already wrote one and there isn't much to add.

Wonder Woman is the follow-on from that infamous article Haussegger wrote in 2002 lamenting her own unanticipated childlessness. In the book she further explores the "creeping non-choice" of post-Baby Boom women and how the loud voices of career-promoting feminists of the 70s and 80s drowned out that other "choice" of personal relationships and children to the point of firm exclusion. The stories of many middle-to-upper class women are related throughout the easy-to-read book and, as is to be expected, they are engaging and wildly varied.

Haussegger has another article in today's Age commenting on the truth that Australian women dislike debating feminism (I would extend that to say Australian women won't debate feminism), but again she has the problem that Cannold has pointed out; that

Haussegger lacks the tools to extricate herself from the circular path of self-blame and DIY solutions that have characterised her journey, and to cut a clear path forward for her female readers.

Today, amongst her "Me too!" cries in defense of Maureen Dowd, Haussegger's less than helpful comment is

...the women of Australia need a lot more petrol, and a lot more grunt, to move the lead in our boots.

I will say though, that the best part of reading the copy of Wonder Woman I borrowed from my local Liberal-voting-heartland library is that it is worn out. Cracked spine and thumbed, yellow pages. Clearly it has been very well read, despite its being less than a year old. Heartening indeed, perhaps we will debate yet.

Tue, 21 Feb 2006
Lawer threatens ritter

The best part of this exchange between Cory Doctorow and a mystery "lawer" regarding a post about a case of Bad Samaritanitis, is the invention of the word "deflamorty".

Mon, 20 Feb 2006
Underworld: Unevolved

Underworld: Evolution provides an interesting study in what happens during a film when neither a plot nor character development are evident. The story becomes a string of MacGuffins to take the audience from previews to end credits.

Tue, 14 Feb 2006

The final version of the nanotech book is currently elbowing its way toward the inboxes of my learned reviewers. (Yay!) Now for a drink** and a short break to work on l'histoire du vampire.

* Would that be mosquito?
**French sparkling, hence the nonsense.

Make them notice: child care and feminism.

Sonja Hood has an opinion piece in The Age today, What's being done about the lack of child care? She asks

[W]hat about the skilled women who are waiting at home for someone to notice that they are missing from the workforce?

The response is: what about them? No one is going to notice. Women are not wanted in the majority of workplaces and certainly won't be missed if they aren't there.

The extreme apathy of Australians has allowed, not only the rise of these human-unfriendly local, state and federal governments, but a reversion to post-WWII gender attitudes across the board. Government may claim that the marketplace will provide adequate child care places if there is a demand for it. But there is a demand and it's not being met. Perhaps this is due to the perceived femininity of caring for children. (Clearly an opinion held by people who have never looked after a screaming, sick toddler. One of the least feminine things I have ever done.) What group of money-hungry entrepreneurs is going to start a child care centre for goodness sake? That's not to suggest that what childcare needs is a wisecracking marketing team to make it more "macho". What it means is that the care of the young befalls to the community. Which should equal government. The trouble is that these governments, instead of taking care of Australians, have turned their sights to money-hungriness themselves.

In Port Phillip, fees in council centres are set to rise to $73 a day, as the council withdraws all direct and indirect funding to child-care centres, passing on all costs to parents. This is an increase of 71 per cent in the past two years.

So all things being unequal, what's to be done? Noise. Lots of noise. We need to teach our daughters and sons, and each other, that feminism is not in the past. It's relevant now. We may need to keep shouting out the achievements of feminists in the 1960s and 70s (and 1900s...), but we also need to shout out the new agenda. And that requires more energy, not less. Stop waiting for someone to notice; make them notice.

Sat, 11 Feb 2006
Abbey's Dictionary (Age 2 years and 85 days)

Bouncerina (noun); an energetic dancer. Usually found with at least one leg in the air.

Fri, 10 Feb 2006
Random Diet Testing

I spent a large part of yesterday driving from one side of greater Melbourne to the other to attend various meetings. By early evening I was so hungry I did something I have only done once before in the last ten years - bought fries at a McDonalds' drive through. So I drove home, scoffing salty evilness, and felt exceedingly guilty. (Also, but not relevant, I was grossed out by the new packaging which is all greeny. I suppose it is to promote their new faux-healthy salady image, but it just made me look more intently at each chip for signs of mould.)

However I did not feel the full depth and intensity of my contribution to global warming, littering, youth slavery and heart attacks until I came to the police breath-testing bus. "Now they've got me," I thought, "I've been sprung eating junk food."

Fortunately I had a zero blood alcohol level, so they let me off this time.

But the man in the green car ahead of me? "I'm sorry sir, you seem to have absorbed an excess of saturated fats today. Please step out of your vehicle and consume this carrot."

And the P-plater in the van behind? "Ma'am, your iron levels are quite low. Here's a ticket for red meat at your next meal and please take this spinach juice with our compliments."

Of course lives will be saved this way. Free jelly beans for people with low-blood sugar! Imagine the positive PR for the police force.

Tue, 07 Feb 2006
10 1/2 Inclinations

The Royal Society of Literature asked authors to nominate ten books they think children should read before they leave school. This is part of an ongoing quest to find a universal list; "a children's canon on which people might like to draw".

Many authors declined to take part, pointing out that the task was impossible or problematic. Other authors seem to have declared an unfamiliarity with children, recommending Ulysses and Don Quixote as candidates.

I suppose the question is, should the included books encourage reluctant readers, challenge experienced readers, reflect a child's world back to them, introduce new worlds, or encompass the whole of human history? Because no list of ten anything could achieve that.

Ben Okri offered the best suggestion, with 10 1/2 inclinations:
There is a secret trail of books meant to inspire and enlighten you. Find that trail.
Read outside your own nation, colour, class, gender.
Read the books your parents hate.
Read the books your parents love.
Have one or two authors that are important, that speak to you; and make their works your secret passion.
Read widely, for fun, stimulation, escape.
Donít read what everyone else is reading. Check them out later, cautiously.
Read what youíre not supposed to read.
Read for your own liberation and mental freedom.
Books are like mirrors. Donít just read the words. Go into the mirror. That is where the real secrets are. Inside. Behind. Thatís where the gods dream, where our realities are born.
10Ĺ) Read the world. It is the most mysterious book of all.

Six other lists, including those by J.K. Rowling and Philip Pullman, can be found at Read Alert.

Mon, 06 Feb 2006
Magic Crown of Elabar

So it turns out I was grouchier about turning thirty than I was pretending to be. Sorry about that. (And to clarify I _didn't_ raspberry to the poor girl's face yesterday, I was mostly baffled and a bit grumpy.) Let us never speak of it again.

Here are five good things for today:
Bruce Sterling is giving a Speculative Fiction Writing workshop in Brisbane in April with the Queensland Writers Centre. I hear places are filling fast.
Cat herding video (via anthony)
Some clues on how to read a book a day. (via coode street)
A page of random generators from the Fantasy Novel Title (or blog post title) generator to the Chinese Restaurant generator. (Anyone up for nipping down to the Jade Express for some take-away? No? The Lucky Phoenix Tea House then?)
And the fifth good thing about today is Press Gang season five in the DVD player. (Including the episode where Lynda gets locked in the vault.)

Sun, 05 Feb 2006
Happy Birthday Toooooo Meeeeeeee!

Thirty birthdays. Quite a lot really. Lucky they spread them out, one per year. So you don't get bored I guess.

And a big fat raspberry to the volunteer recruiter at the shopping centre yesterday who asked me if I was 21 yet. *phttttttttftftftttt*
Yes, I respond poorly to people who grossly underestimate my age. I've earned these crows feet, dammit.

Thu, 02 Feb 2006
How-to-fold-a-t-shirt-you-dimwit videos

I think the internet is to blame for the proliferation of t-shirt folding videos on the internet. No, really. Hear me out on this one.

  • The internet exists.
  • The internet supports the spread of memes. (Or, the internet creates memes, or the internet itself is a meme to be spread, but, whatever.)
  • To take financial advantage of memes, people design t-shirts.
  • Which are sold on the internet. (cafepress, threadless, spreadshirt...)
  • People buy memes, in form of t-shirts.
  • People run out of closet space. (Only one t-shirt can be worn at a time or the meme cannot be seen to be worn.)
  • People are too ashamed to admit that they never helped their parents with the laundry.
  • People make how-to-fold-a-t-shirt-you-dimwit videos.
  • Videos spread. Like memes.

It is a vicious cycle, and one day you will drown in a never-ending stream of .mov and .wmv files demonstrating simple household chores. (Because watching someone else doing the housework is as good as doing it yourself, right? Works for me...)

Hat Bread

Abbey has removed her woollen beret (it was a fashion statement) and her socks and with them is making a kiwi fruit and ham sandwich on flat bread.
Now she's posting the completed sandwich under the door.