Sunday, December 21, 2008


Since landing in Brisbane activities have been punctuated by rather unsavoury confrontations with my baser humanity.

The doctors current best guess is Giardia:

but other organisms are also in the running. So of course there's tests.

There's nothing so humbling as visiting Queensland Medical Labs clutching a little specimen jar, with a brown lid.

For some reason my delightful husband has latched onto the idea that its an amoeba, even more quizzical for the fact he'd gotten amoeba confuddled with anemone, and kept asking me if it'd "turned up yet" after every trip I made to the WC.

He had the idea it was sort of lurking in the depths of me, like a sizeable tentacled homunculus (instead of some microscopic beasty).

I suppose its a bit more glamorous to be mortally wounded by some large sea creature, even if it is from the inside, than it is to be struck low by something that is chillingly reminiscent of the Java mascot.

I don't know if he planned to go in there, and take it on, armed with a BBQ fork like a trident, battling it like something out of Herman Melville.

Just for reference, here is a deep sea anemone.

More tips and tricks from my friend Don:
The trick to fighting an amoeba mano-amoeba is to blow its mind with philosophy.
The old "what is love?" gambit works well, but if necessary "this sentence is a lie" is a fan fave from time immemorial.
So its time I think to post this useful guide to determing which of these easilty confused organisms are noxious gastric pests, and which are larger bottom dwelling predators.

An amoeba:

Nasty, green - maybe its just the lighting. I think in society we tend to cast the amoeba in a bad light - no-one ever talks about the great work they do in the community.

Always stained with the stigma of the single-celled organism.

And with that stuff biologists use in their microscopy. What chance do they have.

Not actually single-celled, definitely a pain in the ass.

Be sure to carefully wash hands of any involvement with installing dictators and stay clear of any piles of steaming corporate governance.

Infections can last two full terms if unlucky.

Which reminds me - don't know why - I must go and find an episode of John Stewarts The Daily Show which is of course the only way to get reliable news of the USA, having just departed there and being quite out of touch.

So, I have not been doing much since arriving in Oz. Tho' some friends organized welcome home get-togethers, and I've girded my loins and headed out to these. Can't dissappoint my adoring public.

Plans: still have no good idea what we're doing. Accommodation, cars all that is a bit up in the air. Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

USA retrospective

With barely 24 hours left before leaving for the airport I find myself in a reflective mood.

I have done a bit of travelling in my life and I guess for each major trip I've been at a different phase of my life; a different set of circumstances has conspired to bring about the trip; and (at least partly as a result of all that) the experiences have been quite different.

With each trip tho' I think I have never really remembered to see all that I could see.  There were times on all of them I guess where I recall trading off tiredness, overload or some other reason against the injunction that it behoves one to see the sights whilst one can.

And of course its the same here.

I had great memories, pictures I drew and photographs I took from my trip to London.  There I was on a mission to see as much as I could, but somehow there were still days where I didn't do enough and that precious voice archly chastised me for wasting the opportunity.  

Whai don't chew go an' visit the British Museeum, when you really must know that chew might not get another chance?!? 

Tired, jet-lagged and out of energy I said back.

And here I am at the end of this chapter of my time in Silicon Valley, and I did not go to the Computer History Museum, which is only a couple of miles down the road.  And I did not go to a concert at the Amphitheatre, also just down the road.

Alright-alright-already.  But I have the 'flu.  No, no its true.  I do, have the 'flu.  Hack, koff.

And I might be back.  Who knows?

Last night was a lovely going away party thrown by the women of the Google Women in Operations - thanks Sabrina for this, and your hospitality; and to the amazing Sara for making my time at Google a lot more survivable, with that droll perspective you always seem to have on things; and to Liz, Rachel, Cheryl and others.  

And today was a going away lunch by the fighters of the good fight in the Hiring Intergrouplet - you guys rock!  Mamie, I wish I could bottle your upbeatness, and thanks for organizing this.  Seth, your knack for finding the sanest path in almost anything is an enviable gift - perhaps I will get to work with you again someday.  Manpreet, Chao, Candice, everyone - thanks for everything.

I'm fiddling about with stuff, now, prevaricating in the hope that my suitcases will pack themselves.  They stand waiting now, a row of alligator mouths, maws open and insatiable against the side of the room.  

I foolishly carried my clothes from their hangers ready to pack, and laid them on the floor where in just a short hour of neglect their entropy has increased tenfold.

I'm playing around also with using Qt4 to make a D&D4 character editor - just to keep my hand in on C++.  I've put the project so far on Google code so I can pull it down from whatever machine I have to hand, and nicely enough Qt allows me to compile on whatever platform I have.  Witness the fact that I coded it on Linux and just now pulled it down and built in on Mac OSX.

But I must stop playing with fun stuff and go pack.

And then spend a long time on a plane.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Goodbye hussy

Today I waved goodbye to my Ducati 800SS.

That was a tragic scene, taking her back to the dealership I bought her from - a cold day enough to blow a chill into anyones heart, me standing waiting for a taxi with my riding gear in hand.


From For Sale

This is a photo from a ride Ray and I did a few weekends ago up to the Pinnacles, a national park not too far from Silicon Valley. The background is a store front in Hollister, a town on route to the pinnacles known for its bike meets. The Duc' is on the left - Ray's Triumph on the right. Click the pic for more.

A local came up just before Ray shot this and greeted us and chatted about bikes, just as we prepared to head off.

I have many fond memories of riding in California.

Actually when we first got the Ducati, Raymond used to ride it a lot to get up to Oracle, 14 miles North of our Mountain View apartment along the 101.

I used to call her "The Italian Hussy" because he kept choosing the Duc' over our much more sensible Prius. My commute was short enough to do on a bicycle so I didn't mind (much). :-)

Once Raymond got his Triumph Sprint ST the Ducati was exclusively my ride, and by the time I had to part with it I had really become attached to it.

Uncomfortable, uncompromising and very very fast - it may well turn out to be the coolest ride of my life.

We fly back to Australia in 5 days time, with no real knowledge of what lies ahead, so who knows.

We'll see.