24 February 2007

Hitting the books

It's been almost two weeks since I last did a blog entry, so I thought it was time I remedied that.

The university semester started on Monday. As I'm doing three subjects this semester I'm having to make a concerted effort to do some studying when I get home from work, even if it's just for an hour.

The geology subject I'm doing is a second year subject, Field Mapping and Sedimentology. It's easy because it's something I'm interested in. Chemistry isn't too bad for two reasons, firstly I'm finding it relatively easy to understand so far, and secondly the lecturers seem to be really good at teaching the subject.

As I'm studying by distance education everything is done from the textbooks and the study guides that are sent out at the beginning of the semester. Chemistry even included a CD with short videos on. Any practical stuff that needs to be done is done at the residential school in April or September. Most subjects also have an online forum where you can discuss the subject and any problems you might have with other students and your lecturers. This is the case with Geol and Chem.

Now, maths on the other hand, that's the subject I'm having to concentrate on. Maths and statistics are both mind numbingly boring subjects that are compulsory for a BSc. The lecturers seem to have no idea how to liven it up a bit, and it's unusual for them to create a forum to help students out.

Oh, and there's about eleven assignments to hand in for maths. I've finished the first one already, but the next one is due a week after the first one, so I really have to stay on top of it. I think I have about six chemistry assignments and several online tests and only two geology assignments.

I'll be glad when this year is over as far as uni is concerned as that will mean all my first year subjects will finally be out of the way. I'll then be able to concentrate on more interesting subjects like ecology, zoology and more geology. This is of course assuming that I pass everything this year.

I should really be doing a bit of studying now, but Sexpo is on in town and we're going to that today. We went to it last time about three years ago and the stuff we bought then has just about worn out.

11 February 2007


We've had a little visitor to the garden just lately.

Dave, Doddery and Matt from NZ may recognise the bird in the first picture below, it's a Red-fronted Parakeet, or Kakariri. They're a native of New Zealand, but sadly they're becoming rare over there.

What's it doing in our backyard?

We suspect it may be an escapee from someone's aviary because you certainly don't see them in the wild usually. This one was very tame. When I took this photo I was just about close enough to rest the lens on the feeder, and this isn't the closest picture I took either.

It hasn't been around for the past couple of days, so it's either found its way back home (to the aviary, not NZ), someone has caught it (the males are worth about $400 to a breeder), or something has eaten it.


The cute little thing in the picture below is me. The other cute little thing is a baby Brushtail Possum.

My oldest step-daughter Jess, and her fiancee Brett, are wildlife carers. This little girl is an orphan and they've been looking after her for the past three or four weeks.

We were helping them move house yesterday, so I took my camera to make sure I got some photos. I think she saw the khaki coloured shirt and thought I was Steve Irwin or David Attenborough, definitely not Ranger Stacey. Once she climbs onto you and gets comfortable she's very hard to dislodge (the possum, not Ranger Stacey). it usually takes someone with a nicer arm to tempt her off. She seemed to like youngest step-daughter Sarah's arm a lot. It was Sarah that took this photo.

As she gets older she'll eventually be moved into a bigger cage with other possums and they'll be released back into the wild together. Releasing them in a group gives them a better chance of survival as they will look after each other.

09 February 2007

A rant

Uni starts again next week, so in readiness for lots of printing I decided to get a duplexer attachment from HP for our printer so I can do double sided printing easier.

The transport company (who's name sounds like a sixties sci-fi show) tried to deliver the part yesterday. They left a message to ring them as there was no one to sign for it when they came round.

I know roughly what time this particular company delivers in our area as I've had deliveries through them before. I know there's not going to be anyone available to sign for it at that time, so I asked if they could hold it until next Friday as Donna and I both have a day off then.

I could hear the operator hitting a few keys on her keyboard, then she said, "HP won't let us hold it for that long".

So I had a bit of a think and asked if they deliver on Saturdays.


I asked if they could deliver it to my work address instead.

"HP won't let us redirect."

Perhaps an ATL (authority to leave) then.

"HP won't let us do that."

I'm now thinking hard, trying to come up with another alternative and I can hear the keys on her keyboard clicking away. I started to suspect she was typing an e-mail to someone. It certainly wasn't a record of conversation as she was typing a lot more than what was being said.

I suggested they just try to deliver it again on Monday afternoon as there may be someone there then.

"We can't do that just on the off-chance that someone might be there".

In the end I told her to send it back to HP and I'll sort it out with them. During the whole conversation she never once tried to offer any ideas, just left it up to me to come up with something. So now I have to get onto HP and get them to try again, this time with a decent carrier, like Australia Post or AAE.

I make no secret of the fact that I hate my job. The people I deal with on the phone every day at work wouldn't know that by the way I talk to them. I always make an effort to be friendly and helpful. I'd put in a complaint to the transport company, but the only way I can do that is by ringing the same number I rang yesterday.

Incidentally, we use this same company at work to ship network spares all over the country. Not long ago, we had a part that needed to be shipped from Melbourne to Tumut, near the Snowy Mountains in NSW. The part had to be there the next day as we had customers off the air and there was no spare in the area. It went via Perth, on the other side of the country. That's like sending something from say, Los Angeles to somewhere near San Francisco via New York, or London to somewhere near Glasgow via Berlin. That's just one example, there are heaps more.

Anyway, rant over, back into happy mode, it's almost the weekend.

07 February 2007

Inexperience shows

Here in Australia, if you have an open car drivers licence, you can go out and buy yourself a little scooter and ride it on that licence as long as the bike is under 50cc capacity. You don't need to have any instruction like you do on a bigger bike, you definitely don't need to have any experience.

This was demonstrated to me yesterday on my way home from work. We were stopped at a red light and I was watching the cross traffic go by when something caught my attention. It was a guy on a little scooter with his helmet on back to front. I don't mean his face was covered, but the bit that goes around your neck was around his face and vice versa. I have no idea where the strap was, or even if he had it done up.

I had a minor motorcycle accident about two years ago where I dropped the bike at about sixty kilometres and hour and slid for about fifteen metres until I hit the car I was trying to avoid. That hurt and my full face helmet had a lot of scratches on it where my head hit the road. I was wearing all the protective gear even though it was summer. I shudder to think what this guy would have looked like if he'd come off dressed in his shorts and t-shirt and his open faced helmet on the wrong way round.