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User Journal

Journal Journal: man made climate change???

Over the past few months my scepticism at the reality of human induced climate change has increased. I own no stocks in oil or coal companies, drive a small fuel efficient car. I generally try to reduce my usage of resources, not out of an environmental fervour, but out of an effort to not waste things. As an engineer, a designer of things, I spend all day making things efficient and cost effecitve. I reduce waste without reducing the utility of the thing. I do the same in my personal life as well.

I might cop a flaming for this, but the climate has changed in the past. It has been warmer when coal wasn't being burned in the furnaces of industry, and it has been cooler as well. What piqued my scepticism about anthropomorphic climate change was the almost religious fervour that people were beating up a frenzy about all the ills that would happen, and how mention of climate change was in the news on an almost daily basis. A lot of mentioning that "the consensus of scientific opinion" says certain things. Science is not about finding a consensus but about having a scepticism and seeking to find the truth, however unpopular it might be.

When any dissent gets shouted down, you move from science to religion.

User Journal

Journal Journal: long hours seeming to work (for now) 1

been putting in long hours at work - getting there before anyone, leaving after everyone. Getting the desired effect, namely that a particular project has no charged time accrued against it, despite it needing about half my time in a given week.

I do hope this gets recognised when salary review time comes round, as it's pretty draining to spend all the light hours of the day inside, and having to balance time in "office hours" on this project with hours out of "office hours" that actually get charged onto my timesheet.

Upside is that unpaid overtime does get registered on the timesheet so the hours (about 15 a week) do get logged somewhere. It may not be massive hours compared to the mad hours that IT / law / medical people do, but it's enough to make a big difference to your day.

Getting frozen meals to eat at work courtesy of my girlfriend. it makes it easier to eat properly and avoid the junk food if you have a proper meal.

User Journal

Journal Journal: reality of work

i've started putting in lots of unpaid overtime (directive from boss)so that i can put an entire job into unpaid overtime. it's been a struggle, as i'm getting in to work well before anyone, leaving after anyone, and barely keeping my head above water with project work.

I'm hoping it is only for a month or so. I'm only into my second week and already my sleep is getting disturbed by working so late that my mind doesn't disconnect from work while asleep.

I'd not mind much if i got a little gratitude or thanks, or even just a little acknowledgment from anyone in the project team. I'm taking one for the team (inspecting concrete pours at 6am, lodging inspection reports before anyone else is in the office) and seemingly nobody notices or appreciates it.

Effectively i'd like to work on this project totally out of hours so i could put in the profitable hours when i am most productive, but this project generates about three crises a day, which HAVE to be resolved in that day. I have no idea if it is my causing that the crises pile up like that, but nobody comments on the tidyness of the solutions, or even that i've dropped everything to work on their particular crisis.

i make it a personal habit to be thankful when somebody helps me out, even when i'm stressed out and not in a happy space, but man it is hard going when you just get flack and you don't get much time to relax.

This too shall pass.

User Journal

Journal Journal: of the joys of others providing when you're in need

Work his recently required some long hours (overtime is rare and often only needed for short periods). Starting at 6am and going through to 8pm. My girlfriend noted that I am unlikely to find time or inclination to cook after a very long day. She then set about planning, cooking and Subdividing into meal sized portions. I now have a fortnights worth of meals frozen down. I could have readily subsisted on what I could prepare (Subsist being the key) but was deeply touched at her thoughtfulness. Both in seeing an area where she could show love as well as taking the effort to do it (better than I would have done in normal circumstances).

It makes me feel much more encouraged in doing these hours of overtime knowing she is on the sidelines barracking for me.

User Journal

Journal Journal: on evangelism at deathbeds 3

My grandad is in his mid 80s, not too frail, but not saved either. Being a christian, there is a desire to see all people saved, but there is a personal desire for those close to you to be saved especially.

I heard early this week that he was in hospital with heart pains, and was being kept there for observation. The hospital is a distance from Grandma, and she can't travel (has never held a drivers license). I'm in a different country to him, so i couldn't pop by either. I thought that i would do what was next best.

I emailed a local church and asked them to arrange a pastor to visit him. I figured that being in hospital may have driven home his mortality, and made him more receptive to the gospel. I've heard back that they're arranging it. Really pleasing.

If nothing else, a pastoral visit will give him some company.
I can only do so much. Beyond taht it is up to him to choose. We all have free will.

Found in my signature file (you don't often look at your own sig) a verse from 1 John in the bible. Reread the book of 1 John, and rediscovered that in it John spells out clearly and succintly the case for christianity. Not a big book at all, but a good read.

User Journal

Journal Journal: "beer, wine and seafood festival" - yeah right!

Went to a seafood festival at Paddington on Sunday. Superbly Sunny weather but the majority Of the stalls were selling a limited range of beers, and the height of imagination is seafood seemed to be baby octopus. Prawns by the ton. A few Morton Bay bugs and the ubiquitous fish & chips but nothing like seafood curries or things that people would not have seen a hurdled times before.

It was billed as a beer, wine, and seafood festival, and on all fronts it flopped. The beer was narrow in its range, the wine was "white", "red" or "sparkling". The food, while edible certainly pushed no boundaries. As a day out, it was relatively nice, but there were not enough chairs for the crowds, and so many people would have been more squeezed and less comfortable than would have been nice. It was not as if there were a grassy area you could sit down if you wanted to. It was run in the middle of a road.

were it not for my girlfriend, and her workmate being pleasant to be with, it would have been a complete write off. The same effect could havebeen had in a park with a packet of fish and chips, a six pack of beer, and all for less stress and less crowding.

Something to miss next year.

User Journal

Journal Journal: avoid the HP ipaq rx1950 1

I bought an HP rx1950 in october/november last year to help organise my life. I love HP gear as they make the ultimate in rock solid calculators for engineers. their consumer lines leave a lot to be desired though. One of the main things which i wanted in a PDA was that it would synchronise my calendar, email and contacts from the PDA onto my desktop at work.

Problems I have had:
1. microsoft XP, service pack 2, closes out many ports and programs with its firewall settings, and our corporate IT guys had to specially open up those ports just for me, as i was an early adopter of the model of PDA which got blocked by it.

2. The synchronising bit of software is very temperamental. Some days it will synchronise, and other days it will not. this is the ultimate in frustration as problems are harder to diagnose if they are only sporadic ratehr than an ongoing problem. HP know well about this (it is logged extensively on their inhouse forums from other users), but between them and Microsoft, have done nothing to date. I have emailed their support system, and their CEO to express my frustration at this, but have yet to get a real solution which works every time. this is my biggest annoyance with the rx1950, as this is the one thing which you would expect to work perfectly first time every time.

3. The operating system is very unstable. On a daily basis, i have to soft reboot my rx1950 two to three times as it will lock up, and this only gets cleared when you soft reset. On a PDA this is the equivalent of having to reboot your desktop PC several times a day. Something which would have been kind of OK back in the dark ages before later versions of Windows, but something which should not be needed any more.

4. The bible study software I use (e-sword) will not work properly on the windows mobile 5.0 that the PDA uses. The program runs well enough, but some bug in the operating system prevents you from cutting and pasting from the bibles into your own notes. I have spoken with the developer of the software, and he has no idea why or how windows mobile is breaking his software. That it's a bit of religious software is beside the point for the atheists among the readers. Operating systems should accommodate backware compatibility well enough to not choke on software that used to run without drama.

All in all, i do like it when it does work, but it doesn't work far too often. It is not the delightful piece of kit which just sits in the background of your life, and is more like the bit of kit which works only jsut enough to stop you from hurling it out the window in frustration.

HP have inflicted the beta testing of the rx1950 onto the public, and I would be very reluctant to buy another ipaq based on how buggy this one is, and how slow HP have been to fix it up.

User Journal

Journal Journal: perils of acting as guarantor

A housemate moved out last weekend. Did so quickly to move into a new place. The landlord wanted assurance that the last couple of weeks rent would be paid so i said that i'd pass on the money and if the guy was a day or so late, i'd cover it til then.

Big mistake.

The guy left his room a bit messy as he was intending to come back during the weeks rent of notice and tidy up then. The landlord found a new chap to move in tomorrow, and wants the room "bond inspection" tidy. The housemate doesn't want to pay rent if someone else is in the room already, and the landlord is at the end of their tether after the guy habitually paid his rent late to them. Mention of lawyers was made.

Sigh. I really didn't care much, except that i didn't want to have to carry that rent if the guy didn't pay me, and as a man of honour I paid the landlord.

Lesson for the day = don't guarantor for anyone who isn't a blood relative. It may end tidily or it may end messily, but only family will owe you enough loyalty to not leave you carrying the can if it goes bad.

User Journal

Journal Journal: the joys of small things

Had my hair cut this morning. nothing too eventful in that - i can tell the barber what i want in a single sentence "number four on the sides and back and tidy up the top".

Had the option of a hot or cold towel afterwards. never had a cold towel before, and it was amazingly refreshing. The joy of small things, indeed.

User Journal

Journal Journal: games games and more games 2

discovered that a cheap coffee table i thought belonged to one of the other tenants belonged to the landlord. Cold drinks of any sort will sweat and gather condensation when left anywhere, and coasters are only so good in terms of stopping flat surfaces from getting wet. some wetness had affected the varnish of the table. a sheet of paper had got stuck to the table (tv guide improvised as a coaster that had (surprise surprise) got wet, and had largely come off but a couple of bits of paper left. nothing which a minute of elbow grease couldn't have fixed if we'd known it was an issue to anyone.

Came home last night to find the table gone.

Not sure if it's related to the kitchen table going as well, but decided that i was happy for a cheap table of mine to cop the minor damage of furniture which happens without any malice or neglect, so have put in a bid to get a new table on ebay. $25 for a new table is easier than having to deal with petty mind games. no note or explanation of why the table had gone. felt much like a kid would feel if punished by parents without explanation. i'm past that sort of game. happy for a table to get glass stains on them as it's difficult to avoid without elaborate table cloths which aren't really my scene.

furniture in share houses i've owned lots of before. it's never flash as stuff seldom matches and is never new.

kinda disappointing, but given how some of the thinking of the people is i shouldn't have really been surprised.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Fun of church hunting

Fun of Church hunting

(names of churches not mentioned to protect the various parties - email me if you really want details)

I moved from my last long term church as I had failed, After two years of concerted effort , to make a friend I could count on for regular social contact. Not having people I had grown up in this city with, my pool of social contacts was smaller than most so put more weight on finding friends at Church than most others.

I checked out a couple of small Churches nearby to my house. Ones with a more lively and Pentecostal bent than my previous Church. Neither clicked with me as a place I could settle in. The thing which moved me from one was that they were about to embark on a six week mid week course on the vision of the church. If the vision was clear and simple it should take maybe an hour or so, but it spoke to me that the direction of the church was about to be steered into a new direction, one which required considerable convincing to get the church to follow it.

I then moved on to a larger church and made better social contacts. I knew people from this church from different contexts which eased my transition into it. After nearly five months I found the focus on prosperity theology to be crass and disturbing. Of all the things that Jesus said about money, he did not say, to my recollection, that we needed more of it, even if it allows us to do more good (as if 99% of people use the more money they get primarily for the good works rather than a more comfortable lifestyle).

I fully support the need for churches to get the necessary funds to do whatever they do. Churches should not need to put the hard word on the congregation on a weekly basis to give. More traditional churches rely on the integrity of their people and have a low pressure sermon once a year or so to remind them of this need.

Still looking for a pentocostal church I looked online to the websites of churches nearer to my girlfriend. Checked out one that seemed to be an interesting one. First Sunday there and nobody really chatted to us, and we managed to miss out getting greeted properly as the newcomers section was in a poorly marked room at the rear of the auditorium. It looked promising, and the sermon seemed ok enough so we went back the following week. That following week the sermon was on God's higher calling on your life. That in itself was ok, as we should seek to give God glory in all we do. The problem came in this chap saying literally "you need more money, so you can do more good", and that when Jesus told us to take up our crosses he didn't mean we would be suffering or anything uncomfortable. He also made no mention of why you needed salvation at the altar call other than to join in Jesus' purpose for your life. Nothing about sin, that Jesus is the only way. A soft option.

In the last two Sundays we went to two smaller churches in the evenings. The first looked interesting based on articles they had on their church website. The singing was thoughtful and considered and I liked it. The talk before communion wandered on for a long time (ten minutes or so), and lost me halfway through it. That should have been a warning. The sermon lasted for at least 80 minutes. It meandered and wandered, and lost focus, and didn't seem to go anywhere. Didn't bother heading back the next Sunday.

Yesterday we checked out another church in the evening. It looked interesting again based on its website. I like my music loud and lively. I am also wise enough to carry ear plugs with me at all times as hearing loss is no joke. The music was painfully loud, and I got deft at slipping my earplugs in during the singing. The focus of the service was a debrief by youngsters back from a conference. This was a good thing, but dragged on for a long time, without much being added by subsequent youngsters (heh - I sound old talking about "youngsters"). The congregation seemed to be people of school age, and their parents, with seemingly nobody in their 20s or 30s present. It was one large gap, which my girlfriend and I slotted into being mid twenties folk. Based on the volume and that the songs did not appear to have any spiritual depth, we probably wont be paying a return visit.

One thing I have learned from my surfing is that many churches have elaborate websites but do not seem to use them themselves, as they are painful to use (black text on dark blue background, anyone?). some basic interface thinking would not go astray.

Where to from here? I've become disillusioned that Pentecostal churches exist in Australia which are not empire building for the glory of their ministers, or have more financial scruples than a tele-evangelist within grabbing distance of a full wallet. I continue to really want to head that way, but may look further afield at the evangelical and charismatic ends of the more mainline churches. They must exist as I've been to some fairly wild Anglican services back in New Zealand.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Share house is in turmoil.

Landlady's younger brother (nice guy, no problem with him) moved in at midnight on Friday to one of the empty rooms in the house. A heads up would have been nice, but things will shake down ok no doubt.

Saturday when I got home from a day out I found that the kitchen table had gone. No idea where, but just gone. Have got some other table we can call into service, but again, a little communication would have been nice.

Sunday night a note goes up on the communal notice board that communal cooking is off. No explanation why, and a day before it was due to start again for the year.

The location and house is good, so I'll stay, but organisational stuff needs to be tidied up so people feel included in what is going on.

O well, the price paid for having company and people to live with before you get hitched.

User Journal

Journal Journal: sad news from a friend

A girl i chatted with on irc a few years back in Mississippi just passed on news that she'd left her husband. Always sad to hear of things not working out, even more so as they're both Christian. I've never met her or him, but had short bits of their courting relayed on to me, as well as their marriage and moving around.

I don't have any deep insights into how this was anything but a sad event for all concerned.

Hoping and praying that they both come through this, and that the scars do not cut too deeply for them.

User Journal

Journal Journal: cairns in review

Cairns is an excellent city for touring around, and within a short distance of it, you can get to very many great tourist related activities with enough variety and quality to keep you amused at least until your bank account runs dry.

For me it has been a mixed blessing being up here. The project I have worked on has been challenging in a good way. I have got to refresh myself on details and construction methods that I honed back in NZ, and helped bring colleagues up to speed on them.

I have enjoyed the little exploring that I have done. There is enough left for a proper holiday up here at some later date.
I have seen a wild crocodile, snake, small green frog.
I have eaten lots and lots of REALLY good seafood.
I have seen pippis being washed up by the hundreds on a receding tide all move themselves vertical so that they can wiggle into the sand. Like little bivalve synchronised swimmers.
I have visited a place that makes banana liquer, and a mango winery. I have failed, though, to find a brewery this far north.
I have gone to my first country concert, and enjoyed it.

It has been great to get to see how i deal with being away from my home support networks. I had toyed with going on overseas disaster relief work, to use my skills for good, but I don't think that I am the type of person who could deal with not just physical separation, but also everything around being in disarray and chaos. I think need some things in life to be stable, and there would be no centre of stability if all the infrastructure of the place I was going to was down. Will chew it over during the holidays.

I have learned how to wash anything in a bathroom handbasin.

At times I have got down while away from home, but I think that is largely an end of year thing. It's been almost a year since my last holiday of a week or more, and I'm seeing the need to schedule holidays even when i don't think i need them midyear.

Would I do it all again? Ask me after Christmas.

If I did it again, what would I do differently?
* I'd bring $50 in shrapnel to feed the laundry washing machines to remove any hassle in wandering down to get clothes washed. Asking the guys at the convenience store for $10 in $1 coins felt odd to me.
* I'd make sure I headed home at least once a fortnight for a weekend to touch base with reality.
* I would try to find a place closer to the office as a half hour walk is fairly long in the heat of the day.
* I would email ahead to a church and see if I could get tied into a small group before I arrived so that there was a social network outside of work to relate to.
* I would force myself to regularly sit still by the pool and enjoy the place. I find it hard to sit still, and it is a discipline I should develop.

What would I do the same?
* I am a hoarder of technical resources, and brought two cds of all manner of useful things for work (hundreds of articles, papers, spreadsheets, technical data) to help out. that was a great move. Would take whole ringbinders of paper to do the same [Any engineers who know me, and want a copy, drop me an email]
* I took all my paper literature, and had it couriered up. Made my desk feel like home.
* used up lots of my accrued free vodafone to vodafone time to get very cheap (20c per call) calls back to my girlfriend. Made it easier to chat for hours when you knew it wasn't going to cost a small (or large) fortune.
* I got the use of a company car for weekends. It was great to be able to explore the area and not stress about how to get places.
* the closest coffee place to our office was superb, and opened very early in the morning. Totally unexpected for a relatively small city to get top class coffee.

User Journal

Journal Journal: the left hand not talking to the right 1

I bought myself an organiser some six weeks or so ago, (an HP1950rx ipaq), and it runs on a windows mobile operating system.

my desktop computer at work runs on windows as well. No problem, i thought. One thing written by windows will surely talk to another without breaking into a sweat, much less breaking into uncharitable language.

Problems started arising before I left Brisbane when the ipaq would synchronise some times but not at others (for some reason it would be fine til about 10am in the morning then would refuse to work for the rest of the day). Rebooting sometimes worked. Removing dongles from the other usb ports sometimes worked. Since getting my secondment to cairns it has been one drama after another in getting my organiser up to date with the desktop.

I have tried talkign to the HP folks on their support channels. I have tried reloading the latest versions of the synchronising software. To no avail. A nice gentleman from India tried to help me on the HP activechat website, but couldn't get me a reliable fix.

The first suggestion I got from HP was to do a "hard reset". this is akin to you mechanic saying when you have a dodgy starter on wet mornings "lets remove your engine and put in a new one and we'll see if that fixes it". I told the fine gentleman from the Indian call centre that I wouldn't be doing that, and could he please suggest something less drastic.

Long story short - HP make fantastic engineering calculators. Microsoft make very good gaming platforms. Neither seem to have got this part of making an organiser sorted out. It is fundamental to an organiser's usefulness that you can get it to reliably and every time talk to it's home computer.

At the moment I'm less that impressed with both HP and with activesync. I've spent the better part of a few hours after work tryign to get this sorted out and I still can't get my computer to talk to my ipaq.

(addenda: in a desperate move to get my girlfriend's photo onto my ipaq, I borrowed a work laptop, moved the photo onto a usb memory stick, and beamed it to the ipaq using the laptop's infrared port. Pretty much everything else can stay on the organiser or my desktop PC until I get back to Brisbane)

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