Thursday, 25 August 2005

korean spam

For the last year or so I've been scanning my yahoo spam for messages that inadvertently slip through. I've probably found 2 or 3 in that period, but the escalation of volume has continued, and I stopped the practice three weeks ago. There are now 1056 in the box, as in indication of the volume, and I reckon 60% or so are in korean (the rest are loans, fertility drugs, porn and cheap software). This makes for a bemusing sort of spam - I can't read it, and the illustrations are so cryptic that they give no help to deciphering the nature of the product. It was the same at DSTC, and just recently they seem to have found my other webmail account. For the moment, my uni account hasn't been picked up to any great extent.

Monday, 22 August 2005

rennes beach

I'm just back from a ride, the first I've done for a while - I put it down to the distraction (welcome distraction, but distraction nonetheless) of having guests for a month or so. I didn't manage 50k this time - just a shade under 40 - and although it was the same canal, I went in the direction this time, out towards and past what might be generously called the local beach. There were quite a few people out, on bike, on foot, and just sitting and lying around the parklands which form the more notable part of the beach area.

Thursday, 18 August 2005

hot ashes

Its been perhaps 20 years since Australia had a competitive cricket series with England, but they now find themselves up to their armpits. I can remember maybe 2 tests (AUS vs WI in Adelaide and AUS vs RSA in Sydney) in the last 20 years as exciting as the 2nd & 3rd of this series, so to have 2 in a row is just incredibly good for Ashes cricket. Having English cricket back in the media, and rightfully (for August) ahead of the football, is long-overdue and very welcome.

Personally, I lived and died on the BBC online radio commentaries of both 5th days, and am counting the days to the 4th test, the 5th test, and then to boasting about Australia's majestic victory to Laurie Tratt in Montego Bay.

Pointe du Raz

Here's a belated photo looking west from the Pointe du Raz, taken when Lee and I were there a few weeks ago.

Trip to paris

After Brittany, Lee and I headed east for the obligatory visit to Paris. The first afternoon we headed up to Sacre Coeur to have a look out over Paris. The hill itself was bitterly crowded, but a minute stroll over the hill down into Montmartre saw the masses off, and we enjoyed the atmosphere of the obviously very expensive area. After dinner we dropped by the tour eiffel to see it lit up.

The next day we popped into the Louvre, the first time I've been in my half-dozen trips to or through Paris. We checked out the french sculptures, italian paintings, egyptian relics, and arts of africa, the asia pacific, and north america (somewhat bemusing to see an exhibit devoted to 2/3rds of the earth). The french sculptures were really nice, but the Italian paintings were far too crowded to be pleasant. The Mona Lisa bore the brunt of my resentment, since I was unable to properly appreciate the Titians and Tintorettos because the queue to take photos of the little lady took up so much of the room. We joined the queue, as much to say that we had braved it as to see the painting. Shocking.

In the afternoon, already half gone, we walked around the tuileries, place vendome and the obelisk. After a lie-down in a parc on the champs-elysees, we had dinner in a restaurant just of the main drag, then popped down to see the arc de triomphe at sunset.

On our final morning we used the hour before our train left to visit the Musee de Rodin, or at least the sculpture garden, in front of which I appear above. This was my favourite place of the trip: not too crowded, nice sculptures, and a genuinely nice place to hang out.

back to work

I've been back at work for the last week and a bit now. Upon returning I came across a call for papers for the MTIP workshop at Models, so I contacted Mike Lawley and we rustled up a paper together on Tefkat, which I hope to present, since no DSTC (Disbanded, Stopped, Terminated, Ceased) people will be at Montego Bay.

On Montego Bay, things are looking grim for my bank account. The conference hotel is in reality a resort, 16km from the town itself, and I've been told this afternoon that my budget is US$70 per day for accomodation, food, and misc other. This is a little less than half the conference hotel rate, which I estimate puts me in a $1000 personal hole for the week if I can't find some other way to manage it. If I had a license, I could stay in a cheap dive in town and rent a car, but that ain't gonna happen in the next month. Its weird how the french public service is quite happy to throw money about willy-nilly in some ways (tenure), but not in others.

Tuesday, 2 August 2005

photo finish

When Lee and I were in Quimper, we visited the Maritime Museum there. To be honest, its not the sort of stuff that flicks my switch, and a lot of the time I couldn't be bothered labouring through the written french descriptions of the exhibits.

At one point, though, Lee called me over and said there was a piece on a guy who visited the Solomons and Australia in the late 1700s. That struck me as interesting, so I had a read. The guy was La Pérouse, and I was shocked to read that the plaque said the he visited the Solomons on January 1st of 1788 and then Sydney Harbour (then Port Jackson) on the 26th of the same month. Now, being a good patriotic Australian, I noted that as an important date, because its when the first fleet landed at the same harbour. I was a bit shocked, and to be honest suspicious of French revisionism, that a frenchman was there on the same day.

As it turns out, Captain Arthur Phillip (who in fact reached the continent a week earlier, but found Botany Bay unsuitable for settlement) was equally shocked upon seeing French ships in the harbour on the day. La Pérouse had in fact been sent to explore the southwest Pacific in response to Cook's voyage in 1770 (or thereabouts), and had undertaken a massive voyage around the Pacific rim, and was later given instructions to check out the colony while stopping in Russia.

The English he met there (dare we call them Australians? perhaps not) were unable to give him food, and in the end were among the last westerners to see him or his crew alive. His ship was later found wrecked in the Santa Cruz islands in the south west of what is now the Solomons.

Anyway, I found all that jolly interesting.