Saturday, March 31, 2007
Friday, March 30, 2007
An interview that had me laughing was from the DVD extras which unfortunately wasn't shown in the movie. Borat is in a doctor's office explaining various sexually-transmitted diseases he has had. Link to video.
Borat: I once catch Herpes from my sister.
Doctor: That means you had sexual relations with your sister?
Doctor: And is that usual in your country?
Borat: Only on the Feast of Shurik.
Doctor: Did you have sexual relations with any other family members?
Borat: No, I am not sick.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Here is an example of Alexander's sheer force of will to attain what he desired from The Generalship of Alexander the Great - J.F.C. Fuller 1960.
The Persepolis Campaign
Persepolis lay some forty-five miles north-east of Shiraz, near the present town of Kinareh, a few miles east of the Palvar river, an affluent of the Kur, and some 370 miles to the south-east of Susa. To reach it Alexander decided to pass through the land of the Uxians, a pre-Aryan people who inhabited both the plains and the mountains. The plainsmen were ruled by a Persian governor, but the hill tribesmen had never been subdued; they lived by brigandage, and hitherto rather than subject them, the Persians had found it more convenient to pay them a toll for free passage through their mountains, much as centuries later the British at times paid the tribesmen of the North-West Frontier of India.
When Alexander set out from Susa, he first crossed the river Pasitigris (Karun) and then entered the land of the Uxians. Those who lived on the plains at once submitted to him; those in the mountains, who expected that he would follow the Persian custom, demanded the customary toll. In reply he sent a messenger to them to meet him at a certain pass to receive it; then with the royal body-guards, the hypaspists and 8,000 other troops he made a night march by an unfrequented track, fell upon the Uxian villages, and slew many while still in their beds. He then advanced swiftly to the pass at which the Uxians had gathered in force to exact the toll.
While still at the villages, he must have questioned the captured headmen on the nature of the pass and its vicinity, because on his way to it he sent Craterus ahead to seize certain heights that commanded the probable line of retreat the Uxians would take when he had dislodged them. He pressed on with utmost speed and occupied the pass before the Uxians could man it, drew his men up in battle order, and led them from a commanding position against the Uxians, who were ‘astonished at Alexander’s swiftness’ (Arrian, III, xvii, 3) and fled in panic to seek refuge on the heights which, unknown to them, Craterus had occupied. Some were killed by Alexander in his pursuit, many, we are told, lost their lives by falling over the precipices, and many more were destroyed by Craterus.
In twenty-four hours Alexander settled a problem which for two centuries the Persians had feared to tackle. The Uxians were permitted to inhabit their territories in peace on payment of a yearly tribute of 100 horses, 500 oxen and 30,000 sheep. These, we read, ‘were the “gifts” they received from Alexander (Arrian, III, xvii, 6).
I had to laugh when I read this. The Uxian hill tribesman had expected Alexander to continue paying them a toll as the Persians had done for 200 years. However, he turned the tables on them. Not only did Alexander force them to allow him free use of the mountain pass, but they had to pay him a yearly tribute for the privilege of doing so! Classic Alexander.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Lister has just awoken from 200 years of Deep Sleep and can't remember who he is or anything about his past life. Kryten, the mechanoid, attempts to help him remember.
[Kryten sets a box in front of Lister]
KRYTEN: Perhaps these will help. Your personal artifacts. You asked me to keep them safe.
[Lister takes out a photo]
KRYTEN: Kristine Kochanski. You dated her for three weeks once. Before she discarded you for a catering officer.
LISTER: She's beautiful.
KRYTEN: It's your ambition, sir, somehow to get her back and lie on top of her and move up and down rapidly in that curious way that humans find so agreeable. Personally, I prefer partnership whist.
Monday, March 26, 2007
It was a beautiful, crisp November day as we hiked past Silbury Hill, which is the tallest prehistoric man-made mound in Europe. As we walked we had to cross several fenced fields. We did so by stiles. A stile is a pair of steps or ladders that is accessible to pedestrians but generally inaccessible to animals. I'd heard of them but had never seen them until that day.
We eventually came to the barrow. It was getting on in the afternoon by that time and we were the only people there. The barrow was built about 3600 BCE which is around 400 years before the first stage of Stonehenge was constructed. The size of some of the stones were quite large. I'm about 6' 3" to give you an indication of the size of the stones in comparison to me.
Inside the barrow were several chambers used by these Neolithic people to bury their dead. Archaeological excavations in the past have found at least 46 burials, ranging from babies to elderly people. It was a strange feeling to be in such an ancient tomb, standing where people so long ago mourned and buried their loved ones.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Saturday, March 24, 2007
The first game we played was Money Money Money. We played this game for the first time last week and we all enjoyed it. In this game players draw plastic coins of four different colours from a bag and stack them on top of each other in coloured stacks in front of them. Each turn you must guess if the coin you will draw will be higher or lower than the top coin of the matching coloured stack. If you guess correct you go again, if you guess incorrectly you put the coin back and your turn ends. There are some 'wild' coins that change things a bit by telling you to draw more coins, lose coins or exchange coins. It's a guessing game using probability as a guide.
Maddie had several excellent guessing rounds to go on to take the win with 37 coins, with Grandma 2nd on 17 coins and me 3rd on 14 coins. In the photo above you can see how the winner is determined by stacking all four coloured stacks on top of each other.
Grandma and I then decided to play a game of Scrabble together. This was my third game of Scrabble in my adult life and the first since I'd finished reading Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis. I was eager to see if I could get a bingo; that's laying all 7 tiles down on one's turn to get a bonus 50 points on top of the word score.
Mum drew both blanks and got most of the high-scoring tiles like Z, J, X and Q. Her highest scoring word was 27 points and my highest was 24 points. At one stage I had GLOATER sitting on my rack but no place to lay it down. That would have been a cool first-ever bingo. Alas, it was not to be.
It felt a little weird when I laid down VAGINA in front of my mum, but she appreciated the finding of the word. Maddie was watching Grandma's rack and suggested POO (which she'd only learnt to spell the night before) and Grandma accommodatingly laid it down. Maddie was quite chuffed she'd been able to find a word.
I feel my anagramming skill is developing and I was able to make several 5 or 6 letter words, it's just that they weren't necessarily on good scoring squares. Mum skillfully worked off my longer words with shorter ones but in valuable scoring squares. We also used the challenge rule this time with both of us having one successful challenge each. Neither of us were left with any tiles at the end of the game. It was a very close game. Mum won on 252 points and I came 2nd on 247 points.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Monday, March 19, 2007
Our first game was Money Money Money. I bought this game at a garage sale a year or two ago. It was produced in 1987 by Action Games and Toys Ltd and made in Australia and Hong Kong by Crown & Andrews Pty Ltd Sydney NSW Australia under license from A. Eddy Gold Farb & Associates. It hadn't hit the gaming table before because initially it didn't look very interesting. However, I'm trying to reduce my unplayed games so today was the day to give it a go. I was the one who uploaded Money Money Money to the BoardGameGeek database and I appear to be the only user to own a copy.
On your turn you take a coin from the bag. However, before you do this you must first state whether you think the coin you draw will be 'higher' or 'lower'. Whether it is higher or lower depends on the colour of the coin you draw from the bag compared to the colour of the topmost coin of the same colour stack you may already have in front of you. If you guessed correctly you add the coin to the same coloured stack in front of you and draw again. If you guessed incorrectly you put the coin back in the bag and play passes to your left. If you don't already have any coins of the colour you just drew then the coin goes on the table in front of you to start a new stack and you draw again.
Money Money Money is a very simple game of determining probabilities. As there is little reading it is a perfect game for teaching probability to children. Maddie is 5 years old and at first didn't know what Daddy meant when he started talking about 'probabilities' and 'odds'. However, within a few turns she started to grasp the concept and soon shot to the lead. What a wonderful learning tool games are for children! Maddie got so excited each time she drew a coin and realised she'd guessed correctly.
Each time you draw a coin from the bag you must recalculate the probabilities. To help you to do this you can see the number of different coloured coins already drawn and stacked in front of yourself and the other players. Although you can only see the value of the top coin in each stack, if you have a good memory you can try and memorise what coins have already been drawn (which is a beyond me).
I was very pleasantly surprised by this game. Both Maddie and Grandma enjoyed it so I'm sure it will become a regular game for our future sessions. Grandma ended up coming 1st, with Maddie 2nd and me 3rd.
entry where I purchased Pounce. Well, today it also hit the table. It was funny because after finishing Money Money Money Maddie exclaimed "It's my turn to pick a game!" and off she ran to the game cabinet. I tried not to groan out loud as a vision of her returning with Bratz Passion for Fashion flashed into my head. However, my daughter surprised me by returning with Pounce.
In this game players are attempting to be the Cat (the player attempting to catch the mice) for a certain number of times. We chose 5 times as the victory condition. This is a game all about reflexes and I have to say in the first game I totally outclassed my two opponents. In the second game I tried to handicap myself by using my off-hand and resting the cat on the table (rather than holding it right above the mice). I still won the second game but Grandma and Maddie were both close to winning also. This is a game that would improve with more players. It would be a cool game for adults to play with a couple of drinks as well.
Diamant. I bought lovely (cheap) glass beads to represent the diamonds and rubies. I also made the cards myself. My danger cards are simply different coloured exclamation marks (as seen in the image below). Diamant is always a fun game although I prefer it with more players. Maddie was the winner on 41 points with Grandma 2nd on 33 points and me a distant 3rd on 12 points.
For Sale. Maddie normally does quite well at this game but I think she was getting a bit tired by this time and also a little distracted by having Mummy game with us. I explained the rules to my wife who had not played For Sale before. The game flowed fast until a single $1000 cardboard coin rolled off the table, across the deck and down into the back yard. It took me about 5 minutes to locate it in the grass. Surprisingly, my wife went on to win the game with $75K, me 2nd on $70K, Grandma 3rd on $63K and Maddie 4th on $44K.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Back in late 1996 my girlfriend (now wife) and I travelled overseas. We visited China, Hong Kong, France, Switzerland, England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.
We spent 8 weeks in a motorhome driving around Great Britain and Ireland. We spent one of those weeks in Ireland. It was early November, it probably rained about 70% of the time we were there, it was cold, but we had a fantastic time.
One of my favourite memories was of our trip to Blarney Castle. At the top of the castle lies the Stone of Eloquence, also called the Blarney Stone. It is said that those who kiss the stone are endowed with the gift of the gab (great eloquence or skill at flattery). It is not as easy as it sounds though. First you have to climb well-worn stone steps to the top of the castle. On the day we were there the stone steps were slick with dampness and the stairways were steep and narrow.
When you finally reach the top you make your way to the battlements where you see the Blarney Stone. It is actually set into a part of the battlements. You lie on your back and hang backwards over an almost 90 foot drop to kiss the stone. Thankfully, they have someone to hold you while you do it.
Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of myself kissing the Stone, but my wife did film the incident. The funny thing was that when I came back up from kissing it, we realised the tip of my nose was red from the lipstick of previous female kissers. Here's a link to someone else kissing the Blarney Stone so you can see what you have to do.
We also spent a few relaxing hours exploring the beautiful Arboretum, the Rock Close and the woodland walks on the estate. The thing I remember most is the amazing shades of Autumn hue of the many trees. That and the greenness of grass. I can see why Ireland is called the Emerald Isle.
Friday, March 16, 2007
I also enjoy racing games. I bought Formula De several years ago but unfortunately I've only played it once (and that was a 2-player game). Formula De comes with plastic cars but I also purchased a set of pewter F1 racing cars and painted them in F1 team liveries. These miniatures are only 16mm in length. The image below shows one balanced on the tip of my index finger. All images are clickable for a closer view.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
"My life is awful," the man says. "Every night, I play Lost Cities with my wife, and every night she beats me."
"Well, why don't you just stop playing Lost Cities?" the bartender asks.
"I love the game," the man says. "I'm brilliant. I never lose."
The bartender is confused. "I thought you just said your wife beats you."
"Well," the man says, "she's a sore loser."
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
An Ibis in Post Office Square
Ibeses ready to snatch any unwatched food
An Ibis searching for bugs and worms with its long beak
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
My interest in this field has been mainly satisfied by reading books and viewing documentaries. However, a year or so ago, I came across an excellent TV series produced by Channel 4 in the UK called Time Team. The series is presented by Tony Robinson who is probably best known for his role as Baldrick in the Blackadder series. The Time Team crew are a team of archaeologists who congregate at a site, usually in the United Kingdom, and uncover as much as they can about the archaeology and history of the site in three days, often in conjunction with the local archaeological unit.
I highly recommend this show for anyone interested in archaeology and the history of Britain. Series 7, which was filmed in 2000, is currently screening on the ABC in Australia on Tuesdays at around 6.00pm.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Sunday, March 11, 2007
I came across this cane toad as I was mowing the lawn today. It is now an ex-toad. No, I didn't run the mower over it. The most humane way of disposing of them is to put them in a container in the fridge for several hours which causes the toad to go into a coma-like state. Then move the container into the freezer until the next bin collection day.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
We decided to play at the table on the back deck as it was cooler outside. The first thing we did after getting the game ready was choose our characters. Maddie chose Hermione, Grandma chose Ron and I chose Malfoy. As there were less than four players, Harry was set aside as a non-player character.
In this game players move around the board which represents Hogwarts School of Wizardry. They attempt to improve their power by collecting spells from the classrooms and magical items from the common areas. Once you feel powerful enough you can move to the dueling room in the center of the board and challenge any of the other characters or non-player characters to a duel.
The board set up prior to play commencingSpell combat in the duel is determined by what spell card is currently sitting in the player's spell book. Each spell card has two columns of numbers and when inserted into a spell book shows how many spell combat dice you may roll. There are two spell combat dice. The green die has hits on 3 of its 6 sides and the blue die has hits on 2 of its 6 sides. Each of the two players in the duel rolls a number of dice according to the spell they are casting to score hits. The person who scores the most hits wins. The winner gets a plastic token of their opponent's colour to keep.
When a player has won a duel against all their opponents, including all non-player characters, they may fight a final duel to win. They make their way to the dueling room and fight the final duel against the strongest of their opponents. If the challenger wins the final duel they win the game. If not, they miss the next turn.
The magical item cards mostly affect the outcome of duels so are very important to have. The spells are of varying powers and you are only allowed to have a maximum of three at any one time. As you must always have one of your spells in your spell book it can be a tough decision as to which one to choose. Do you put in a powerful spell now or keep it for later for the final battle?
There are also the Wizarding Games where you can challenge other players when you land next to them. These challenges are determined randomly by three cards. There is a rock-paper-scissors challenge, one where you put the three cards on the edge of the table and attempt to flick them face up on the table, and also one challenge where you have to throw a card as close as possible to the edge of the table. If you win you get to steal a spell from the loser.
Maddie (as Hermione) was the first to win a duel against Grandma (Ron), myself (Malfoy) and Harry Potter. However, when Maddie made her way to the dueling hall for the final duel, Grandma and I chose her to fight Grandma (as Ron). Ron had a really powerful spell ready in his spell book and ended up winning the final duel. That meant Maddie missed the next turn.
I was having bad luck with winning duels. Grandma was the next to get a token from all the other players. She made her way to the dueling hall. Maddie and I decided Maddie was toughest so she fought Grandma. Both of them played magical item cards to tie the first round. They fought again. Grandma just beat Maddie by 1 hit to win the final duel and the game. Maddie came second and I came third.
The game took about an hour and a half to play, which is fairly long compared to most of the games we normally play. I'm sure this was partly because it was a game none of us had played before and I had to spend time explaining what the magical items did during the game. Maddie and Grandma said they really enjoyed it. I had a good time as well. I rated it a 6 on BoardGameGeek.
Georgia awoke around this time so she needed to be fed. We then all had a late morning tea of basil pesto and garlic cheese and crackers that Grandma had brought. My wife had returned from shopping with her dad so they joined us as well. By this time we'd run out of time for any more games so it ended up we just played the one game today.
Friday, March 09, 2007
Boer War (also called the South African War or the Second Anglo-Boer War) was fought in South Africa in 1899 - 1902. As part of the British Empire, the Australian colonies offered troops for the war. At least 12,000 Australians served in contingents raised by the six colonies (or from 1901) by the new Australian Commonwealth.
The Boer War was the first war in which Australians fought under their own flag, as Australia became a country in its own right with Federation on 1 January 1901. The Australian War Memorial lists 598 Australians as having died in the war, about half in action and half from disease. On either side of the sandstone plinth are listed the names of those Australians from the state of Queensland who fell in this war.
The Boer War statue was cast in bronze in England, but wasn’t actually erected in Brisbane until 1919. As Anzac Square had not been constructed at that time, the memorial had stood in front of the Trades Hall. The statue was transferred to Anzac Square prior to Anzac Day in 1939.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
It has been many years since my last reading. Although I've enjoyed reliving the adventure I did find the chapters 'In the House of Tom Bombadil' and 'Fog on the Barrow-downs' to be not that enjoyable. I can now understand why Peter Jackson did not include those parts in his movie.
And so, Frodo and Sam have left the Company. "Then shouldering their burdens, they set off, seeking a path that would bring them over the grey hills of the Emyn Muil, and down into the Land of Shadow." I can't wait to start The Two Towers tomorrow morning.
Below is a picture of my battered Unwin (1979 third edition reprint) paperback version of The Fellowship of the Ring. I think I would have purchased it around 1981 and it has been well-read and well-loved.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Galadriel is describing the lands that they will soon journey through. They will follow the river Anduin as it flows southwards until it falls over the cataracts of Rauros into the Nindalf, which in the human tongue is called the Wetwang.
And this was where I started sniggering like a schoolboy.
Wet - adjective: moistened, covered, or soaked with water or some other liquid
Wang - noun: vulgar slang for the penis.
And the fact that she mentioned 'tongue' in the same sentence just clinched it for me. :)
Monday, March 05, 2007
To me, Brisbane city is a dull and dreary place. It's humdrum. It's where I go to work. Every weekday morning it's a 25 minute train trip with my head down reading a book. I get off at Central Station and then walk across Adelaide Street to my office building. I usually don't venture out at lunch time, and if I do, it's a fast walk to the library or a game shop. In the afternoon I walk out of my building, cross Adelaide Street, and catch the train home, all the while with my head down reading a book.
From now on I'm going to imagine I'm a tourist in Brisbane. I'm going to try to see familiar sights in a new light. I'm going to attempt to learn about, and appreciate, where I live. At lunchtimes I'll go out and explore. I'll take my camera with me to document my findings. In the coming months I'll be sharing my 'postcards from Brisbane' on my blog for those of you who have never visited my city.