Thursday, November 30, 2006


As a fitting end to National Blogging about Parrots Month*, I finally got a photo of a gang-gang cockatoo to add to the collection. Unfortunately the light was pretty crappy, so the pictures aren't very spectacular, but still it makes me happy, in an "I went up against the parrots and I won" type way.

There will now be a break from parrot blogging until I have recovered. (I'm guessing this will take at least, oh, five minutes.)

* A nation-wide event with participation of approximately... one person.

Appropriate or not? Let's take a poll.

Comment from an older faculty member during the question period after a grad student's presentation of her fieldwork results:

"You're starting to become a real academic now."

He thought it was a compliment; I think it was insulting---suggesting that her work up to now has been substandard (including, presumably, her peer-reviewed publications).

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Asking for trouble

Dirty little secret

Sometimes my office mate doesn't come in for days or weeks on end, and always leaves a half-full cup of tea sitting on her desk. I don't rinse it out for her. When she comes back, I tell her I didn't see it, over there, hidden in the corner like that, when actually I've inspected it every day to see how much the mold has grown.

I pretend to myself that I'm training her to wash her teacup every day before she goes home. But really I just like to see the pretty colours growing.

Does anyone else want to share a confession?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Look at what you're missing out on!

In honour of National Blogging about Parrots Month (NaBloPoMo), I decided to pull out a book on local birds that my mother-in-law gave me a couple of months ago. And hey, look at all the pretty parrots that can supposedly be found in my area:

So what I want to know is why I have only ever seen six of these twelve different types. And why you, my beloved readers, only got to see photos of four (or five, depending on whether you count yesterday's link back to old gang-gang pictures) during this NaBloPoMo virtual parrot festival.

Don't you feel like you deserve your money back?

The book claims that four of the six types I haven't yet got photos of can be found in urban gardens around the city, but the black cockatoos and the little lorikeets prefer to hang out in the bush. So that's their excuse.

As for the four missing urban parrots, three are "very rare", so I guess that explains them. But what about the red-rumped parrot? (That's the pair on the bottom right in the picture above). They are supposedly urban, and classed as "common", which the book defines as "expect to see them on two to five visits out of ten." (Visits to what, I don't know: my back garden?)

I feel cheated. Where's my red-rumped parrot?

He says I have a warped concept of "fun"

Geekman is going to a conference on Friday and will be away for nearly a week. That means I can eat vegetarian every day and stay in my office working until midnight. I'm so excited!

*cackles with glee*

(I'll miss him, really.)

Updated to say, I can't believe I forgot to mention the most exciting thing of all: I'm going to alphabetise my files!

Attention all dissertators!

Over at Parts-n-Pieces there is a call for people who want to join an online dissertating self-help-group-type-thing. (My, I'm articulate this morning.)

After initially saying I'd be interested, I realised it sounds like it will be much the same as the group that I'm already part of, so I probably won't play after all. But I can highly recommend groups like these for their ability to add motivation and accountability to what can otherwise be a lonely process.

So if anyone feels like this is what they need right now, head on over to Parts-n-Pieces and sign yourself up!

Monday, November 27, 2006


On the way home today I thought I heard the creaking of a gang-gang cockatoo. So I stopped my bicycle and wheeled it to one side of the bike path so I could try and spot it. But a whole lot of people were walking towards me, giving me an Interrogative Look*, and I couldn't bring myself to give the real explanation. I mean, what was I supposed to say?

"Didn't you hear it? There's a common local bird up that tree and I absolutely MUST get its picture!"

"Look! A gang-gang! They're so cute! I'm just going to stand here and watch it for a while."

"My name is StyleyGeek. I have a blog. And a parrot addiction."

So instead I pretended to be inspecting my tires and bicycle chain in the hope the passers-by would do their passer-by thing and hurry up and pass me (by). Unfortunately, Australians suffer from terminal needing-to-be-helpful syndrome, so rather than being a convincing way of not looking like a maniac while I waited, my feigned bicycle problem was like honey to the proverbial thing that likes sweet and sticky things.**

Five people descended on me.

"Got a problem with your bike?"
"Is it a puncture?"
"Can I help you fix it?"
"Are you okay?"
"Do you need a lift home?"

I only managed to escape by pretending to be a dumb blonde*** and acting surprised that my tire wasn't flat.

"It's not? How silly of me! I could have sworn I felt it burst! I'll be off now, then."

And now I'm left with two questions:

Why would I rather be thought of as a bird-brain than a bird-lover?
Are public denial of an addiction and surreptitious behaviour signs of a serious problem?

Bring on the end of November.

(Oh yeah, and that link to the gang-gang photos from August? It totally counts as today's parrot picture.)

* Like this :?
**Like me.
*** Yes, pretending.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

One parrot to rule them all

More about the RSS feeds

Okay, so I contacted Bloglines and they replied within 8 hours, which is pretty scarily good service.

For those not following along with the story, my RSS feed stopped working, and I found the format of the nice new Blogger Beta feed to replace it with, but I can't "claim my feeds" in Bloglines to redirect one to the other, because it won't accept my Blogger Beta username and password for verification.

So anyway, Bloglines says this is a known issue for Blogger Beta users and they are working to sort it out. But meanwhile, they offered to redirect the feed for me. So hopefully the feed you are all subscribed to will start updating again in Bloglines pretty soon without you doing anything yourself. And if you are having the same problem with your own feeds, I recommend contacting the Bloglines help people, since they seem very efficient and friendly.

Of course this doesn't solve the problem for anyone reading the RSS feed through a service other than Bloglines. Is there anyone out there doing that? Is the feed updating? Do I need to come and use my 1337 5ki11z to sort it out?

The quick fix for anyone with any flavour of feed reader remains, however, to subscribe to me via the new feed instead:

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Places to go, people to see

Friday, November 24, 2006

Still eating my foot

(Yeah, I cheated. This is another picture from yesterday. But I'm not quite so far gone that I'll spend Friday night taking photos of parrots. What? Last week? That wasn't me. Honest, guv.)

RSS feeds not updating

After a few comments from people about my RSS feeds not updating recently, I decided to look into it. And lo and behold, they haven't been updating in my bloglines subscription, either, and I just hadn't noticed.

I've solved the problem for me, and you can solve it for you too if you can be bothered, simply by unsubscribing to the feed that you currently have for my blog, and subscribing instead to this one:

In Bloglines you just stick that into the "Blog or feed URL" box and Bloglines will let you subscribe to it. I don't know how it works in other feed readers, but I'm sure you can work it out.

This is the format of all new beta blogger feeds, so if you are having problems with your own blog feed updating (and I can see from my subscriptions that a lot of you are), you could suggest that your readers try the same thing. You can use the same URL I give above, but replace the numbers that come between /feeds/ and /posts/ with your blog ID# instead of mine (unless you want all your readers to get a big surprise).

You can find your ID# by logging into Blogger Beta and clicking on "compose new post". Then look at the URL in your browser and you will see blogID= plus lots of numbers.

Good luck. And I'm sorry that there isn't (as far as I know) something that I can do to make my feeds start updating again for you all without you having to go to this extra effort. If anyone does know a better way, please pass it on!

Reading is hard

Three times in the last few weeks I've had phone calls from people who've said something like, "I got your email, but didn't have time to read it so I'm calling to find out what it was about." Variation: "I got your email but just read the first line and was confused, so I thought I'd call and clarify." (If you'd read the rest you wouldn't NEED clarification.)

In each case the email I had sent was around the length of this post. It all fitted on the screen without scrolling down. I can't imagine thinking it would be easier or quicker to call someone up than to read that sort of thing.

Or maybe I just write really impenetrably. (Asking for reassurance here, people).

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Flock o'toos

To make us all feel better after the sad story.

Having only seen one or two a day since... hmm... the start of November,* I was relieved to come across a bigger group again at last. I was fast coming to the conclusion that they must all be disguising themselves as ducks.


* You can't tell me that's a coincidence.

My heart is breaking...

...for a family of choughs that lives just outside our apartment.

Only three of them are in this photo, but I think there are four adults in the group. This spring they have often been accompanied by three little fledglings, presumably their own, although not necessarily, since choughs like to steal babies from other groups. It's been fun watching them doing their communal parenting thing.

Until Tuesday. On Tuesday one of the baby choughs got run over. I saw it happen. And the others in the family were inconsolable. They wouldn't leave the dead baby and were hopping around on the road next to it making mournful noises. Eventually the inevitable happened and one of the other baby choughs who was nestled up next to the dead one got hit by another car and killed too. I left then, because I couldn't bear to watch them all get killed one by one, and couldn't see how I could get them to leave the road.

The next day I was glad to see that the other birds had all survived. The remaining fledgling was hopping strangely, but I couldn't get close enough to see if it was injured.

Today Geekman found it, trembling on the doorstep to our apartment. The parent birds were watching from a few metres away and they were all calling back and forth, but it looked like the baby was not going anywhere. On closer inspection, its leg was hanging funny, so I think it must have been hit by a car on Tuesday after all.

So I called the RSPCA, and they asked me to catch it and bring it in. Which has got to have been one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. You try stealing the one remaining child from a family which has just lost two. Those birds were MAD. But I got it wrapped up in a towel, shielded myself from the attacking adult birds, and managed to prevent them following me inside.

I put the baby chough in a box and drove across town to the RSPCA. The poor thing cried the whole way.

The vet there diagnosed a broken leg and said they will splint it and call me when it's healed. They say bird's limbs set quickly and it may be ready for release again by Monday or Tuesday.

But what is totally making me cry every time I think about it is that when I returned home a couple of hours later, this is what I found:

They saw me take their baby through that door, and they are waiting at the door until it comes back. The one on the right is even holding food in its mouth like a coming-home present (or, given that the "food" is an enormous huntsman spider, perhaps it's meant to be some sort of sacrificial offering). And the others are making this soft keening sound that sounds like puppies whimpering.

Taking that photo, I wondered where the fourth adult had got to, but then I turned around and found it had decided to employ a hostage-taking strategy.

Poor little birdies. I wish I could explain to them that I'll be bringing their little one back again. They only have to wait a few days.

Update: That last bit isn't true anymore. The vet just called to say she had to euthanise the baby chough, because it turned out s/he had a broken wing as well as the leg and the wing was too damaged to fix. Sigh.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Altogether now

The problem with parrots is that they like to do all their frolicking at sunset. Just when the light is getting awkward for taking good photos.

So instead of quality, I thought I'd go for quantity in today's parrot post. The three pictures that follow (and the 40-something others I'm not going to inflict on you) were all taken within 10 metres of each other on my way home today.

"Don't look now, but that guy? The one on your right? He doesn't have any friends."

"Can't talk. Eating... my... foot."

"Hey, you ever thought about trying out white-water rafting?"

Giving reasonable advance warning

I just overheard a faculty member in the corridor talking to the Head of Department:

"That settles it. I'm going to underperform for the next two years. Okay?"


I know I'm one day out of kilter for the Wednesday Whining/No Whining Thursdays, but here's my antiwhine for yesterday's car complaint:

I am in love with my mechanic.

Not only did he take care of my car so quickly that it was ready on the day I took it in (although I couldn't pick it up until this morning), he charged me only half as much as I had expected and didn't charge at all for a couple of minor things.

Also, when he told me that the driveshaft and the rear shock absorber need replacing, and I asked how urgent it was, he actually gave me an answer, rather than a mini-lecture about how important it is to keep everything in your car in perfect repair and why would you want to drive around in something that could break down at any minute, you freak.* His estimation of the shock absorber problem was, "She'll be right, mate,"** and if the bumpiness of the suspension isn't bothering me I can leave it for another year or so before I need to worry. The driveshaft isn't urgent yet either, apparently, but I should think about having it done within the next year. And he quoted me a totally reasonable price for it.

So unless he is WAY smarter than I give him credit for and playing games with me, I think this guy can be trusted.

A mechanic I can trust. How bizarre and unlikely.


* So maybe that isn't precisely what other mechanics have said. But it's what I've heard.

** He offers not only good deals on mechanical services but an ethnic Australian experience, too.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Any picture is improved by parrots

Note to self

Time to reorganise your computer files. File names like thing_to_read.pdf, thing_to_read2.pdf and stuff_to_write.sxw are not a sign of good information management skills.

Things that make me want to cry already and it's only 9:30 am

  • I had to take the car into the mechanic this morning and that always makes me anxious.
  • I slept really badly because I spent all night dreaming of huge mechanic bills. And radioactive goldfish.
  • I'd taken my bicycle in the boot of the car to the mechanics so that I could get back home, and when I pulled it out, the chain had come off and got horribly tangled. I spent nearly 20 minutes trying to untangle it before some boy who looked about 12 years old came over from the bicycle shop across the road and, blushing furiously, sorted it out in about 30 seconds.
  • That made me feel incompetent and grateful and shy. And stupid for not having seen that there was a bicycle shop right there.
  • Then he offered to let me into the back of the shop to wash the grease off my hands. And there was nowhere to lean my bicycle against, which meant I had to use the stand, which I try to avoid doing because I haven't ever got the hang of folding it back up without kicking it solidly five or six times. And I was embarrassed to do that in front of people.
  • But I had to. And the older woman behind the counter intervened on the third kick and showed me a lever I hadn't noticed that made the stand fold up. And behold, I felt stupid again.
  • Then just now I stood on a patch of thistles. In open-toed shoes. And it hurts more than I thought it was possible to hurt from something as wimpy as a thistle patch. At first I looked around to see if there was a snake I might have been bitten by: that's how much it hurt. But no, just a wimpy clump of thistles. I had to dig out five big-ass prickles from my toes, though.
  • And finally (I bet you thought this was never going to come to an end), it's going to be 34 degrees today (93 F). In fact, it's already 27 (81 F) and it's only 9:30 am. The climate seems to have complete disregard for the fact that this time last week we had a high of 14 (57 F) and sleet.

The day can only get better, right?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Not parrots

Ducks are surreal and slightly ridiculous at the best of times. More so when I look out my window onto a patch of grass that is nowhere near any sort of water whatsoever and see this:

I have no idea where they came from or where they are going. I have never seen ducks anywhere near my house before. Yet they are unmistakably there.

And they made me laugh.

Feeding time

This unexpectedly turned out as a silhouette due to a combination of weird lighting and that strangely pink wall. But I think I kind of like it that way. Especially since it lets us all pretend that that gross regurgitation thing mother birds do is not really happening.

It would have been pretty cool to have a clear photo of the cute baby rosella, though.


Is everyone else having an excessively bad Bloglines experience today, or is it just me?

Bloglines claims that not one of my 101 feeds has updated today, but I know from random clickage that they have.

You'd think it might at least reduce procrastination a little, but no.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

More graceful than yesterday's

My family is insane. Episode #2159

A couple of months ago, Geekman and I got an invite to a good friend's wedding in New Zealand at the end of January. My mother's birthday is on the 12th of January, and it's a big one this year, so she is planning a huge party. We really can't afford to go out twice in one month, but neither can we really justify taking the necessary time off to stay out there for so long (more than two weeks) right after Christmas/New Year, with me being six months out from my thesis submission date, and when Geekman will have just started his new contract.

So we called my mother and asked her about the possibility of holding her birthday party one week later. And there were tears. And accusations. And we couldn't possibly imagine how important it was to her to celebrate on the actual date and have her family around her for her first birthday since her marriage broke up. So we thought a lot about how important the wedding was to us, and finally decided to bite the bullet and take the two and half week trip. At least it would mean we could spend a nice long time in Christchurch with my mother, and she wouldn't feel abandoned at such a stressful time of the year.

A couple of weeks ago, my mother announced she would be going away a few days after her birthday. She has been invited to a cousin's wedding up North (which Geekman and I am not invited to), and although she usually can't stand that side of the family, she would like to go. Turns out my father is going on holiday around then too. So our extra couple of weeks in New Zealand are going to be useless in the sense of accruing family brownie points to be redeemed next time we don't want to come over.

This made us grumpy for a while. When you are traveling in from overseas for an inconvenient period of time at someone else's insistence, you expect them to make an effort to be in town. But we got over it. Decided instead we will set off a lot earlier than expected to the town where our friend's wedding is being held, and will hang out with all our old friends who will be coming from all over the globe for the event.

So we double-checked dates and arrangements with my mother,* and on the Thursday just gone, we booked our tickets. We got a good deal, but with the corresponding restrictions on date changes or cancellation. Last night I called my mother to tell her I had booked the flights.

"That's wonderful, darling. And the plans for my party are going ahead well too. Except that we've changed it to the 14th, instead."
Stunned silence from my end of the phone.
"Your brother couldn't make it on the Friday night. Something to do with work."


"You really have to hold your birthday party on the 12th?"
"Okay, okay."

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Crash landing

I'd make a really bad undercover agent

At afternoon tea the other day I had just finished telling a fellow grad student a funny story about something one of my ex-students said. In the lull in the conversation that followed, and in front of almost the entire staff of the department, she replied, "That's hilarious! If you had a blog, you could post about stuff like that. I'm sure it would be popular."

Pop quiz:

The correct reply would have been:

A. Yeah, but I'd never blog about students or staff. That would be wrong.
B. What's a blog?
C. Um. Yeah... If I had a blog. Yeah. A blog. [Gives her a suspicious look.] What do you mean? Because I don't. Have a blog. No. And if I did, I wouldn't be telling people about it at afternoon tea.

For extra credit:

Guess which one was my actual answer. Could I possibly have acted more suspiciously if I had tried?

Friday, November 17, 2006

They like me, they really like me!

Because all I got pictures of today were yet more rosellas, I thought I'd cheat and post an older picture instead. This was taken about a year and a half ago at a walk-in aviary just out of town. I've never known such popularity...

The ghost of a telescope

Last night we went to a party up at the observatory where the astronomers hang out. The buildings and equipment up there were all destroyed in the 2003 bushfires, so that we could wander around the ruins while the sun set pretending to be alien archeologists exploring the remnants of some sort of post-apocalyptic future Earth. (Yeah, I watch too much sci-fi).

This is my favourite out of the photos I took. I like how it looks like a double-exposure. That's actually just because it was taken through glass doors, looking into the ruins of the building that used to house the telescope. I love the way you can simultaneously see the zombie telescope, reflections of the trees and sunset from behind me, and the blue sky through the glass (how often can you look into a building and see the sky?)

Another couple of photos of the same building are below the fold, in case you want to get a better idea of what's reflecting off what.

Again, taken from the outside looking through the doors into the building. The telescope and blue sky is really inside, while the trees and clouds are reflections from behind.

This is what the building looks like from a higher, more distant point of view.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Parrot in the Willows

I know, I know, another bloody rosella. But it's so cute! And fluffy! And was totally posing for the camera.

How can you not like cute and fluffy?

Why can't people just believe me?

I know so many things about my topic now.

I know these things. Really know them. They started off as being hunches that over the last couple of years of studying the data and reading the literature have all grown up into big handsome convictions. They are just the way things are. And I know that I am right.

But the thought that I now have to prove it convincingly to other people makes me tired.

Spread the word!

The fourth carnival of GRADual Progress has gone up at My Life, My Pace and is packed full of fun reading.

The host of the next carnival on or around 15th December will be announced on the GRADual Progress website once it has been decided. Any volunteers?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Not happy, John

Isn't this the most pissed-off-looking bird you have ever seen?

(Like I said, it's an honorary parrot.)


"The whole let's-invade-Iraq thing is really dumb."

"I'll say. You know what we need?"


"More anti-Russian sentiment. Back in the cold war there were never any problems in the Middle East. If everyone would just start hating the Russians again, all our problems would be over."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Contemplating the darkness

(I know, not a parrot. But fairy wrens are so cute they deserve to be honorary parrots.)


Running 45 minutes over time on a 1 hour seminar.

Even worse: running that late on a seminar that people are mostly attending for political reasons, rather than because of any real interest.

Even worser still: running that late on a seminar that no one can escape from (because everyone in the universe department felt it politically necessary to attend and had to be squeezed into a tiny venue with no sneaking-out room between the extra rows of chairs).

Worser and worser: looking at your watch, realising you have gone 15 minutes over already, and continuing with your prepared talk anyway, only at double the speed (so that not only are we trapped, but we are trapped in a seminar we can no longer follow).

And worstest of all: giving the entire Powerpoint presentation in "edit" mode instead of as a slide-show, which not only demonstrates technological incompetence, but makes the font too small for anyone to read.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Needs a bigger tree

This parrot was very obliging and I didn't even need to leave my blogging position at the dining room table to take the picture. That is, I didn't need to, but I did end up walking across to the open balcony door to get a better angle. And then Geekman took a few shots, and I think this might be one of his.

But I could have taken it from where I was sitting, and that's what counts. In the great "Can you take pictures of parrots from your chair inside the house? Well I can, so hah!" competition that is Life. Oh yeah.*


* Disclaimer: this was not written while drunk and I have no idea why it reads as though it was.** But it does, doesn't it? Weirdness. Perhaps I was drunk on the great CYTPPCIHWICSH competition that is Life.

** I'm practising for when I have to say that about my dissertation. Do you think the "drunk on the
CYTPPCIHWICSH competition that is Life" excuse will fly? (Fly, hee hee, geddit?)


The next Carnival of GRADual Progress is going up at My Life, My Pace in a couple of days, and there have been almost no submissions so far!

So please, take a couple of minutes to skim back through your achive for November/October and tag or email any posts that relate to grad student matters. I know I've seen some good stuff out there in the last few weeks, so if it's yours, don't be shy! And if it's not yours, you can still suggest it!

Anyone who can pass on this cry for help via their blog would be appreciated too.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Things I have learned so far this month*

  1. Writing makes me happy.
  2. Taking photos of parrots makes me happy too.
  3. I like to be happy.
  4. It is hard to choose just one picture when you are taking 45 photos of parrots a day.
  5. I can write 2000 words in a morning and still have time to do other work.
  6. If I have written 2000 words in a morning, I feel justified slacking off and not doing other work.
  7. Part of the reason I have been paralysed with procrastination the last few months is that, when I tried to write something, it reminded me of how much more research I needed to do, and when I tried to do extra research, I felt guilty for not writing.
  8. Writing makes me feel like I am making progress. Research allows me to actually make progress.
  9. Writing can be fast. Research is slow.
  10. How come it took me three months to realise that the solution to (7), (8) and (9) was to do both writing and research every day?
  11. Writing takes less time than you expect. Good writing takes more time than you expect.
  12. See (1) and (2). I can't emphasise these points enough.
  13. I think I could spend my entire life writing and taking photos of parrots. Does someone want to give me a job as a wildlife journalist?
* Courtesy of InaDWriMo and NaBloPoMo.

My parrots will go on and on and on...

... until nobody thinks it's funny anymore.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Day 11 of NaBloPoMo and I'm getting desperate

Excuses, excuses

Shortly after we got up today:

"Geekman, why is the ice cream sitting on the bench? And the fish fingers? Are you planning an exciting breakfast?"

"They wanted to be together."

How a NZ accent sounds to Americans(?)

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Northeast

Judging by how you talk you are probably from north Jersey, New York City, Connecticut or Rhode Island. Chances are, if you are from New York City (and not those other places) people would probably be able to tell if they actually heard you speak.


The Inland North

The Midland

The South


The West

North Central

What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

I don't know why the individual results in this table aren't showing up. Weirdness.

Friday, November 10, 2006

It's clearly a conspiracy

I think the parrots have heard about NaBloPoMo and are organising themselves to appear in thematic bursts. First we had our little galah frenzy, followed by "All crimson rosellas! All the time!" And now no matter where I go, the eastern rosellas are out in force.

Enjoy it while it lasts. For tomorrow we may cockatoo.

Bibliographic databases make me happy

And so do user-created content and the ability to tag your posts.

Did everyone know about this already and just not tell me?

Upgedated to say: oh my god, it even generates BibTex entries for you automatically. I am in love.

Reversion to childhood

Fairy bread!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Today I went for a long walk down to the lake, where I know that eastern rosellas like to hang out. An hour and a half later, I was forced to admit defeat and returned to my office empty-cameraed.

Only to find this sitting in a tree right outside my building.

(Apologies for the blurriness and general inability to convey the essence of parrot. I really do need a better camera.)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Crappy bullets of random

  • I've worked three 12 hour days this week. I don't think I want to do that again any time soon.

  • Courtesy of those three 12 hour days I just finished my first ever! real! live! paper! And the more I look at it, the more I am convinced that it isn't a piece of shit. (That's my very special way of telling it I'm proud of it.)

  • I had a chocolate chip biscuit for dinner. But it's okay, because it was quite big.

  • My biscuit broke our department microwave, but no one saw it, so shhh! Don't tell anyone.

  • If you were on campus tonight and saw someone on a bicycle happily shouting "Fuck it, fuck it, fuck it!" to the world at large, that might have been me. I said it once involuntarily, and then it felt so good I had to do it again and again on a louder volume. Do you think that's how Tourette Syndrome begins?

  • Now I have a word or two to say to cars. "Cars," I say, "Fuck off."* If they need more clarification, I say, "When cars have right of way at a crossing, I take that into account by slowing down as I approach on my bicycle. If you keep going, you will be gone by the time I arrive and everyone will be happy. If you slow down, stop and wave me past, there's a moment of confusion and I have to stop my bicycle and then start again. You might forget this, because you are a car with petrol and an engine and all, but it's not easy to stop and start on a bicycle at every damn road you come to." That's what I'd say to cars.


* This post is getting R18-er by the paragraph.

The paparazzi fail again

The parents of this newborn are keeping it very well hidden indeed, and have expressed disgust with photographers who won't let them have even a moment's privacy to enjoy their time together as a new family.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My commute

With apologies to Lucy. I did warn you this parrot-a-day thing would drive me to start playing with Photoshop.

Weekends are for losers

Me: "Is it Thursday today? No, we've had a seminar this morning, so it must be Tuesday."

Committee member: "Is everything okay with you?"

Me: "Yeah. I just get confused easily. One day blends into another."

CM: "Maybe you're working too hard on your thesis."

Me: "Or not hard enough. When you're a PhD student, every day's a weekend, baby."

CM: "That doesn't mean you're slack: it depends on what you do in the weekend."

Me: "I'm generally here in the office, so yeah."

Monday, November 06, 2006

Multi-coloured death gliders

(Yes, I am a big geek.)

And in case you are wondering why this parrot posting frenzy has degenerated into ALL CRIMSON ROSELLAS! ALL THE TIME!, it's because the cuter birds seem to have all recently developed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. And we end up with small blurry pictures that look like this:

Trying to instill a healthy sense of competition

I thought maybe it was time to see how our InaDWriMo participants were getting along. So here's a list.

Anastasia said she was going to participate, but either doesn't want to talk about it or has been too busy being unconscious.

Bobita at These Sisters' Journeys is being coy about her current word count.

Dino at The Dinosaur's Toolbox had 17 words at last count. Don't feel superior yet, though: remember the story of the tortoise and the hare. We'll probably be cowering under our desks hiding from our manuscripts in the final week while Dino breezes past us, refreshed from her extra week's break.

Dr Brazen Hussy at What the Hell is Wrong With You? has gone into excessively competitive mode, written 7090 words and finished her research proposal.

Maryanne at Queen of West Procrastination has come up with a book-a-day studying spin-off. She hasn't been updating us as to how many books she's read so far. (Bad, bad Maryanne.)

Then there's me, of course. Can I link to myself? Why, yes. I have written 8531 words, so I win. Hah. (Except that we should probably take into account that I'm a day ahead of you, so have a time-travel advantage.)

I thought that New Kid on the Hallway was being a big slacker, until I realised she is posting about her writing on her research blog Learn by Going. She made me do maths to work out how much she's written since the start of November, but it looks like 6197 words.

Peri signed up to participate but she doesn't seem to have a blog. Come back and tell us how it's going, Peri!

Propter Doc at Post Doc Ergo Propter Doc is up to 5123 words, and is a big overachiever who is simultaneously participating in NaNoWriMo.

Twirly at Twirled likes to be difficult, so is counting pages instead of words. If we assume she has about 300 words per page, though, she's up to around 7860 words by now.

Weezy at Swan Dive appears to have some weird writers' rivalry deal happening with Dr Brazen Hussy. She made me do maths to work out her total too (people, please!), but I think it's at 7586. She admits to having played the copy-and-paste game with an old seminar paper, though.

Keep it up, folks! And don't forget to pace yourselves. It's early days yet...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Tacky pick-up line of the week

"Taking pictures of a parrot, eh?"

"Yup. Isn't it a beautiful bird?"

"Uh-huh. But so are you."

Polly says, "Fuck off."


Saturday, November 04, 2006

When cockatoos attack

This guy really didn't like me. This photo was taken about a minute before he divebombed me, screeching his head off, all claws and beak and rushing wings -- something I didn't get on camera because I was too busy running away. I've never seen a cockatoo act like that before. Usually they are super friendly. Maybe 'he' was a she with a nest somewhere nearby.

Swimming with the fishes

I have been putting off blogging about this because even thinking about it makes me angry, and I didn't want to write a long, boring rant. So instead I thought I'd post about it obliquely, by reporting conversations I had yesterday.


"Aren't you coming to lunch, Styley?"
"Must go home. Put buckets. Let person in."
"Are you okay?"
"Three hours sleep. On sofa. Must go. Roof repairman coming."
"You always have roof repairmen coming!"
"Because our roof always fucking leaks. Every time it rains."


Roof guy: "I've fixed the problem, mate. For now. But yous have to understand that all it'll take is another big storm. This building is a bloody nightmare."

Me: "But we can't live in a place that's going to leave our bed underwater whenever it rains!"

Roof guy: "Well I can't do nothing."

Me: "No, you can't just do nothing. You have to fix it! Oh... that wasn't you agreeing with me, was it? That was Grammar."


"Hi, this is StyleyGeek. I'm calling because your repairman left an hour ago claiming to have fixed our roof.


"Well, it would have been 'lucky he got finished before this next storm broke', if his 'repairs' had actually solved the problem... Uh-huh, the same place. Water pouring from the light fitting above the bed. The new plaster is also developing a damp spot again.


"Yes, I do understand that you can't go up on the roof during a storm. But when can you come back and fix things? Monday? Right. You'll find us sleeping on the sofa in the lounge."


Weekend_Viking: "I know some people in the Queensland Mafia.* I could arrange for a concrete overcoat for your landlord."

Me: "Our landlord isn't the problem here. It's the person who designed the building who needs a concrete overcoat. Or maybe the roof repair guy..."

Geekman: "Or maybe your friends could give the roof a concrete overcoat and solve our problem."

Weekend_Viking: "Hee hee. Just say the word and your house could be swimming with the fishes."

Geekman: "It already is swimming with the fishes. It's fucking underwater! Even the possums in the attic are evolving gills."


Finally, a conversation with two people who have been pushing us to move house ever since this saga began (two years ago).

Me: "So even though it makes me cry just thinking about it, we've started looking for a new apartment."

Friend #1: "You know, sometimes you have to make sacrifices if you want to live in a good location. You won't find anything else as close to the university as you are now."

Friend #2: "The rental market's pretty bad, anyway. You're lucky to have the place you do. You'd better be prepared to pay way more than you do right now."**

Friend #1: "Yeah, or move out to the suburbs. And the roof in the new place will probably leak too."

Friend #2: "He's right. I don't know anyone whose roof doesn't leak. But it's only a problem when it rains. Can't you just put up with it?"


* Queensland has a mafia?

** I should note that we already pay well above the average rent for a two bedroom place in this city.

Friday, November 03, 2006


How not to give an academic talk

(1) Begin by explaining that you intend to defend a position that is controversial at best and generally held to be completely discredited.

(2) Apologise that the evidence for your position cannot be shared with us, because it fills 50 files on your computer and cannot be explained in a one-hour talk. Besides, it's impossible to explain the evidence to people unless they have, like you, spent a lifetime working on the data in question.

(3) For the next 45 minutes repeat variations of: "So you'll have to believe me, okay? But really, the evidence is totally convincing. I just can't tell you about it."

Bonus points for using the sentence: "I've invented this data that doesn't exist".*


* To be fair, that one is probably attributable to the speaker's non-native command of English.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Death to stalks of grass and all their kin

Die, miserable piece of grass! Die!

I will crush your measly frame in my all-powerful beak of doom.

What you looking at, punk?


In an abstract being read by me just now, it was written that the phenomena in question "are underlain by" a certain process.

The author should be informed that there are some circumstances where either the passive voice must be abandoned or the sentence rephrased.


The sympathy thing isn't happening today

An ex-student of mine just came by to whinge ask for advice about his Korean* class:

"The exam's tomorrow and it's going to cover all this stuff we never learned."

"Are you sure you never learned it, or could it be you were absent on those days? Have you checked what was on the syllabus?"

"I swear we didn't cover it. And the lecturer never gave out a syllabus."


"Or homework."

"No homework?"

"And there wasn't a textbook."

"Are you sure the class actually existed?"

"Well the exam does."

"It seems to me that it might have been a better strategy to talk to your lecturer about this -- and preferably to have done it earlier on in the course when there was still time for it to make a difference. Like, you could have asked for some homework... yeah, okay, I guess that wasn't going to happen. But did you try talking to the lecturer about these problems?"

"I can't."

"Why not?"

"She only speaks Korean."

"In that case, I do have some advice for you."


"Learn Korean."


* I have changed the language involved here to one we don't actually teach in order to protect the identity of the lecturer involved.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

NaBloPoMo: Day One

As you may remember, I am (mis)interpreting Fussy's NaBloPoMo* as NAtional BLOgging about ParrOts MOnth. Behold, today's photo!

This pair of rosellas didn't want to hold still long enough to have their picture taken, but dammit, I got them anyway.

In case you are fleeing in horror at the prospect of thirty days of parrot photos, I promise this won't stop me blogging about other things as well. Besides, as I am incapable of treating anything with the gravity it deserves, after the first few days of real photos I suspect I might decide to have some serious fun with Photoshop...


* Or as The Other Girl at Lately Bothered refers to it, "NoMoBloJoHo".