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Friday, October 29, 2004

Statue in Hyde Park, Sydney

Yeh baby!

They chose one of my photos!
How awesome.

Day is going well, lunch is sausages, eggs, rice with carrot, peas and red capsicum.

REGURGITATOR The Marquee, 128 Pyrmont Bridge Road, CamperdownThursday and November 5, 8pm
$22Bookings 9557 0221
They play Caringbah Bizzo's on November 7. There's a free midnight gig in Pitt Street Mall the following night. And they play Homebake on December 4.

This is also my 3rd day without a cig. Did I say that Mick and I are going to go to the Food and Wine expo in Hyde park on Saturday? yeh, I think I did.

till then, 'au reviour'.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

structure Near StMarys Cathedral

I've just submitted 20 photo's to Sydney Morning Herald for consideration for an online gallery called "built environment"... wish me luck! I'm not expecting them to use any of mine, but I'll make a certainty if I don't submit any I guess.

Off to the supermarket now for some late grocery shopping (the idea is to beat the rush, hopefully not everyone elses idea too)....



...Home from work... been for a quick run around the block to shake the cobwebs out of my head, two cammomile teas, watered my garden, took the above photo, about to get into some more painting.
Today was a fairly undramatic, uneventful day. That means that nothing disasterous went wrong, but it would be nice if something a bit more interesting happened. Keeping things running BAU (business as usual) doesn't exactly reek of pizzazz.

Aaah.. there's something about Thursday mornings isn't there... you can almost smell the weekend.

Started work at 7:30am this week, started at 7am for the previous 2 mornings due to being an hour late Monday morning because my battery in my car died. $144 later and I'm back on the road.

Got up at 6am this morning... first coffee at 6:10am, iron my shirt and pants (had my shower and made todays lunch the night before) got dressed, get to work about 7:15, have another coffee and 3 weetbix.

The calls don't really start until 8am anyway, so it's generally a fairly chilled start to the day.

I did some more work last night on my latest painting.... I'll post a picture here when it's finished.

ALso check out Air Freshener, an awesome ambient sounds program for yur PC: http://peterhirschberg.com/dl/aire20setup.exe (thanks Dave). I've installed it on my work PC, we're having rainforest sounds and thunderstorms and crackling fireplaces and ocean surf on call.

Mick and I played squash last night... some awesome rallys were had. I won overall, but gee, there were some great gameplay.
We were a bit late to get there as I was picking him up. Apparently a tree fell across the railway tracks at Normanhurst and there was so much traffic on the roads.. it took 45mins to get from Epping to the squash centre in North Ryde, normally a 10 ~ 15 minute tops. The traffic still hadn't cleared up (was actually worse) by the time we left at 6:30 so we went and had dinner at the chicken shop on Cox's Road.. aah our old haunts! The traffic had improved substantially by the time we left to go home at 7:30. It was either eat out or site in the car for that time, so the decision was not that hard.

no cigs yesterday, woohoo.... had about 3 coffees, 5 green teas, 2 camomile teas. A couple of litres of water. Health-kick!

Spoke to Matty on trillian too, he's moving to Sydney from Avoca next week.
Coined the phrase 'metronomad' : one of the fashionable set who do not live at a fixed address but rather wanders from lounge-room to lounge-room of their friends.

Lunch today: Panang curry tuna with peas on white rice: pretty boring but delish.

Oh yeh, Lisa just called, she wants to go to the falls festival for new years. Sounds pretty darn kool methinks.

Take it easy. more soon.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Last saturday night we went to Phil Duke's wedding out at the Nepean Rowing club. Was good, fun was had. Got to catch up with Dave Rule and Luke Sullivan neither of which I have seen for waaaay too long... probably years if I think about it hard enough. Anyway, a great time was had by all, and As far as I could see, everything went down without a hitch.
~ Good on you Phil and Sarah, all the very best.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

from www.smh.com.au...

Animation nation

October 23, 2004

It is a realm with engineered people and no limits. And it's reshaping global pop culture. Deborah Cameron examines the billion-dollar anime phenomenon.

Sex, they insist with absolute courtesy, is what it's about. Violence, too. Look at history and you see war, look at life and you see sex. Be honest. It's what we want; we're programmed that way.

For these two Japanese men, rated among the world's most influential animated filmmakers, sex and violence are inescapable.

Tokyo-based producer Mitsuhisa Ishikawa and director Mamoru Oshii prevail over an animated world where "people" are re-engineered. Not necessarily reborn as robots, but biologically altered to be more obedient, less moral and more unfeeling. The bodies are harder as well and, handily, they can be rebuilt from spare parts and recharged when the arms get wrenched off in fights or the chest cavity explodes.

Dark doesn't begin to describe the worst bits of these movies. And yet Ishikawa, the son of rice farmers, talks of restraint. He test-screens his movies on his daughters, who are 15 and 8. "I would never ever produce works that I cannot show to my girls," he says. "That's my policy."

Certainly, the influence of Japanese animation filmmakers runs deep. Anime, as it's known, has emerged as one of Japan's most visible cultural exports. In 2002, royalties from worldwide sales of anime, video games, films, art, music and fashion contributed $US12.5 billion ($17.1 billion) to the Japanese economy.

In fact, according to research published this year by the Tokyo-based Marubeni Research Institute, 60 per cent of the world's animation output comes from Japan. Think of Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Digimon, Powerpuff Girls and all the rest, then throw in the world's stockpile of Game Boys, Playstations and Xboxes.

Animation - at least that made with an adult audience in mind - has become a big drawcard at film festivals and international retrospectives, of which the Japanese Film Festival in late Sydney next month is just one. But the interest in anime isn't confined to cinema screens. Next month a special DVD containing all 51 episodes of the classic Astroboy series from the 1980s will be released in Australia.

Opening in Sydney early next month is an exhibition focused on the Japanese animation studio Production IG. The exhibition, Revolutionising Anime: IG's pursuit of ultra-realistic fantasy, is being staged by the Japan Foundation and will feature original anime cells, digital images and storyboards from Production IG's films.

And for serious cultural endorsement, it is hard to go past the Booker Prize winner Peter Carey, who writes about anime in his new book. In Wrong About Japan, Carey's encounter with anime is part of the subtext of a meditation on his relationship with his 12-year-old son, Charley.

From Mamoru Oshii's animated film Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.

From Mamoru Oshii's animated film Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.

Mamoru Oshii, in his films about hyper-modern societies, including the highly successful Ghost in the Shell series, is an arbiter of a world of boundless technology. Thoughts arrive telepathically, the brains and bodies of cyborgs recharge from the mains socket, their muscles and tendons look like fibre-optic cable.

The tug is always to be more graphic, to use bigger special effects, to make it startle, Oshii says. Imagination is his opponent and he's always wrestling it back. Yet, privately, Oshii has retreated to an earlier time. He has no mobile phone, no email account, not even a wristwatch. It delights him. For the rest of us, however, it's too late. Infatuated with our computers, electronic organisers, mobile phones, internet favourites and junk email, and in relationships with the digitised voices that answer our phones, we are well on the way to cyborg citizenship. Depressed? Wait, there's more.

"There is a very tiny difference between whether those tools are inside of your body or outside it," Oshii says. "Really, it doesn't matter. You have already become part of the machine; you have become a device."

Ishikawa thinks that Oshii, who keeps a basset hound and always includes one in his films, would be happier as a dog. "Not right," Oshii says, "but, for sure, life would be simpler." And then, as he tilts his head and scratches it, he wonders aloud about the ears and tail. Momentarily, it looks like he might change his mind.

It is all a bit surreal inside the world of Japanese animation. Given the power of a team of animators (often up to 30 people to work on one character) and computers the size of office buildings to drive the design along, truly anything is possible. Got an inkling of yourself as a cyborg? Plug in. Want to be a dog? Just bark.

Almost without seeking the role, Japan has found itself cast as a counterweight to the United States, the traditional powerhouse of popular culture. "In fact, from pop music to consumer electronics, architecture to fashion and food to art, Japan has far greater cultural influence now than it had in the 1980s, when it was an economic superpower," wrote the Washington journalist Douglas McCray in his influential essay "Gross national cool", published in Foreign Policy magazine last year.

The handful of big Japanese studios to have found themselves at the forefront are there without much marketing effort of their own. And now with money sloshing in from Hollywood, it is an international mainstream phenomenon.

At the Venice Film Festival last month, Japan's biggest and most successful film company, Studio Ghibli, scored a standing ovation for its latest movie, Howl's Moving Castle, scheduled for release in Australia next year. The film's director, Hayao Miyazaki, won a technical-achievement award and is being spoken of as a contender for an Academy award next year. His first Oscar came in 2002 for Spirited Away, a feature-length animation.

When Oshii's film Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence was screened at Cannes this year, it followed the success of the first movie in the series, Ghost in the Shell, which in 1998 surprised everyone by becoming the biggest-selling video in the US.

Conventional filmmakers have found it impossible to ignore the trend. Quentin Tarantino included a long animated sequence in Kill Bill and the groundbreaking film The Matrix was anime-inspired, as was James Cameron's Dark Angel. Not surprising, then, that major Hollywood studios including Disney, Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks and Pixar are involved with investments, collaborative deals and distribution arrangements.

Anime first appeared on TV in Japan around 1960 and started gathering a wider audience about 15 years ago. But the origins go back further. To see where it really started, a short Tokyo train ride is recommended.

Between catnaps, passengers eyes drift to advertisements strung in groups, like neat rows of flags, from the carriage roof. Livening up the pitch everywhere are cartoon characters. Credit-card firms, sake brewers, off-the-plan real estate brokers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, face cream companies, everyone actually, uses them.

The elements of anime itself - fast-moving plots, a world spelled out in plain old good and evil, easily digested in small bites - can be traced from the comic book, known in Japan as manga, which comes in dozens of themes from murder mysteries to tender romances, warrior robot wars and explicit porn. And even before that, to the centuries-old tradition of wood-block printing, which combines artistic interpretation and precisely rendered drawing with a sense of graphic design that looks modern and alive even today. Transferred to film, anime entered a new zone.

While it can easily match the pace and brilliance of Hollywood, its producers have nowhere near the glitz or the ego. There is no bus to take you on an MGM-style backlot tour.

Production IG, for example, which made Ghost in the Shell and the animation for Kill Bill, has its head-quarters on a backstreet. There are so many bicycles lined up under the veranda and parked inside the front door in the small lobby that it looks like a pitstop on a triathlon course.

On the top floor, Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, the president and chief executive of Production IG, who last year was a finalist in the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year contest, describes how he fought and beat Disney and Studio Ghibli for top billing on a recent collaboration. But Ishikawa would prefer to say it another way. Making a flat line through the air with his finger, he says: "We sit on the same level."

As business executives go in conservative Japan, he is unusual. First, and fittingly, he is quite animated, and he waves his hands and cranks up the pitch of his voice during the most telling parts of his stories.

As a filmmaker, particularly with Oshii as the director, Ishikawa has had to suppress at times strong reservations about whether audiences would be interested in what they made. Without fail, he says, the preview screenings always leave him deeply nervous that his latest film will be a flop. Oshii is the confident one.

A couple of days later, Oshii is sitting across the table smoking the third of what will be seven cigarettes in an hour. He's describing the way it works in an animation studio. Unusually for an anime director, Oshii does not draw. Instead, he conveys his ideas - some of them weirdly complex and abstract - to illustrators who bring them to life. The characters and the turns in the plot all start inside his head.

The "star" of the cast of Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence was distilled from the work of 30 animators, all separately drawing the Oshii vision.

"I had to unify them," he says, rubbing his eyebrows at the memory of it. Understandable, then, that Innocence took four years to make.

In that infinite process, the director's skill is to control the story-lines and inject discipline into the studio.

The greatest modern advance of filmmaking - digitisation - has added anarchy as animators continually dip back into the film, fiddling and refining frames. They won't let go, e complains. No one ever shouts "Cut!". And on a film set where actors never tire or flounce off to their trailers, the animators keep going.

So when it comes to the question about which is harder to make, Oshii, who has also directed live action films, is emphatic: "An anime character is much more difficult than a living actor."

Revolutionising Anime: IG's pursuit of ultra-realistic fantasy opens on November 4 at the Japan Foundation's gallery at Chifley Plaza in the city.

The 2004 Japanese Film Festival opens on November 29 at the Dendy Opera Quays cinemas. The Animania festival runs this weekend at Sydney Town Hall.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

from the Neal Stephenson interview on Slashdot

"In a fight between you and William Gibson, who would win?


You don't have to settle for mere idle speculation. Let me tell you how it came out on the three occasions when we did fight.

The first time was a year or two after SNOW CRASH came out. I was doing a reading/signing at White Dwarf Books in Vancouver. Gibson stopped by to say hello and extended his hand as if to shake. But I remembered something Bruce Sterling had told me. For, at the time, Sterling and I had formed a pact to fight Gibson. Gibson had been regrown in a vat from scraps of DNA after Sterling had crashed an LNG tanker into Gibson's Stealth pleasure barge in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. During the regeneration process, telescoping Carbonite stilettos had been incorporated into Gibson's arms. Remembering this in the nick of time, I grabbed the signing table and flipped it up between us. Of course the Carbonite stilettos pierced it as if it were cork board, but this spoiled his aim long enough for me to whip my wakizashi out from between my shoulder blades and swing at his head. He deflected the blow with a force blast that sprained my wrist. The falling table knocked over a space heater and set fire to the store. Everyone else fled. Gibson and I dueled among blazing stacks of books for a while. Slowly I gained the upper hand, for, on defense, his Praying Mantis style was no match for my Flying Cloud technique. But I lost him behind a cloud of smoke. Then I had to get out of the place. The streets were crowded with his black-suited minions and I had to turn into a swarm of locusts and fly back to Seattle.

The second time was a few years later when Gibson came through Seattle on his IDORU tour. Between doing some drive-by signings at local bookstores, he came and devastated my quarter of the city. I had been in a trance for seven days and seven nights and was unaware of these goings-on, but he came to me in a vision and taunted me, and left a message on my cellphone. That evening he was doing a reading at Kane Hall on the University of Washington campus. Swathed in black, I climbed to the top of the hall, mesmerized his snipers, sliced a hole in the roof using a plasma cutter, let myself into the catwalks above the stage, and then leapt down upon him from forty feet above. But I had forgotten that he had once studied in the same monastery as I, and knew all of my techniques. He rolled away at the last moment. I struck only the lectern, smashing it to kindling. Snatching up one jagged shard of oak I adopted the Mountain Tiger position just as you would expect. He pulled off his wireless mike and began to whirl it around his head. From there, the fight proceeded along predictable lines. As a stalemate developed we began to resort more and more to the use of pure energy, modulated by Red Lotus incantations of the third Sung group, which eventually to the collapse of the building's roof and the loss of eight hundred lives. But as they were only peasants, we did not care.

Our third fight occurred at the Peace Arch on the U.S./Canadian border between Seattle and Vancouver. Gibson wished to retire from that sort of lifestyle that required ceaseless training in the martial arts and sleeping outdoors under the rain. He only wished to sit in his garden brushing out novels on rice paper. But honor dictated that he must fight me for a third time first. Of course the Peace Arch did not remain standing for long. Before long my sword arm hung useless at my side. One of my psi blasts kicked up a large divot of earth and rubble, uncovering a silver metallic object, hitherto buried, that seemed to have been crafted by an industrial designer. It was a nitro-veridian device that had been buried there by Sterling. We were able to fly clear before it detonated. The blast caused a seismic rupture that split off a sizable part of Canada and created what we now know as Vancouver Island. This was the last fight between me and Gibson. For both of us, by studying certain ancient prophecies, had independently arrived at the same conclusion, namely that Sterling's professed interest in industrial design was a mere cover for work in superweapons. Gibson and I formed a pact to fight Sterling. So far we have made little headway in seeking out his lair of brushed steel and white LEDs, because I had a dentist appointment and Gibson had to attend a writers' conference, but keep an eye on Slashdot for any further developments."

Rain boosts Sydney dam levels
Sydney Morning Herald - October 21, 2004 - 3:12PM

currently raining in Sydney

NSW Premier Bob Carr today said overnight rain had provided a 0.3 per cent increase in Sydney's dam levels, but warned NSW was not out of the woods.

Mr Carr today told parliament combined dam levels were now at 42.2 per cent.

He said in the last 24 hours a week's worth of water, equivalent to 1,800 Olympic swimming pools, had flowed into the catchment.

"It is great to report that rain has arrived - and importantly arrived in the right places," Mr Carr told parliament.

"Mother Nature has smiled on us this week with a very welcome drenching."

But Mr Carr cautioned the community's efforts so far to curtail water use must not stop because of the rain.

"This is just a small respite from the grip of the worst drought in more than 100 years," he said.

"We are still not out of the woods by any means. For our dams to get back to 70 per cent capacity, we need 40mm a day for seven consecutive days."

How you'll lose $790,000
Sydney Morning Herald October 21, 2004 - 1:38PM

The average Australian stands to lose up to 22 times their median annual income over the course of their life through bad financial management, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission said today.

Speaking at the launch of ASIC's financial management guide Your Money in Sydney, Commonwealth Financial Literacy taskforce chairman Paul Clitheroe said average income earners were wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars through bad decisions.

"Taskforce research modelled the effects of bad financial decision making," Mr Clitheroe said.

"(It) discovered that a person on a salary of $36,000 per annum stands to lose $790,000 in lost wealth over the course of their lifetime."

These included ill-informed investment, superannuation and mortgage choices, misuse of credit cards and bad management of debt, ASIC chairman Jeffrey Lucy said.

"Average income earners can potentially save thousands of dollars by the time they retire," Mr Lucy said.

"To avoid lost opportunities it's crucial for everyone, especially those not on high incomes to get the most out of their money and to plan for the future."

Australian Consumers Association chief executive Peter Kell said financial awareness was important for any income bracket.

"Anyone can start now, no matter how little money they have...to make a real difference to their finances," he said.

Your Money details a range of financial strategies and issues, including investment, insurance, superannuation and managing mortgages and debt.

It can be found online at http://www.fido.asic.gov.au.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


The interesting thing I find about things like blogs & flickr is how it enables you, over a period of time to almost get a top-down view on your own life... The essences of what you feel and what you deem important and aesthetic enough to write about and take photos of can essentially explain the essence of you.

For example... I've always been a bit of a gardener.. It's a nice antithesis of my technology-based work life.. but over the last year I've noticed that I've started growing flowers... nothing too major in that, but I know I never used to. Within time, this tidbit of information about me will fade.. I have no photographic evidence that I didn't used to grow flowers, as without a facility like flickr I never took so many photo's, now I have the ability to share this visual documentation of my life easily, I'm more keen to document it. It's quite cathartic.

Assuming I'm still using flickr and also blogging over the next few years it will be interesting to note the flow of changes that takes place that normally wouldn't even be noticed, even by me, let alone published for others, including myself to view and review in the future.

Heya, how's it going? I've been busy then some more toy dinosaur silliness
...as you can see...
I've got just over 500 photos up on my flickr site now, so why not shoot on over and have a look, maybe even leave some comments. That'd be grande.
I've recently discovered these two sites and i thought I'd share them with you:

It's currently raining here in Sydney, it has been for the last couple of days. Such a dramatic change from last week where we had 38degrees C. Balmy in every sense, I was glad to be in the office airconditioning.
Hmmm... what's been happening lately...
My friend Link has recently moved up to Townsville.
Lisa has finished and submitted her script (you go girl).
Our friend Kristin has had to leave the country back to Sweden, hopefully she will get her visa sorted out and get back here asap, we all miss her.
I've taken up painting again... and, as frustrating as it is, I'm really enjoying it.
I'll post a photo of the final product.
If you want to see some of my other art, please go here.

I've been to two bucks parties in a month.. the first one was for Pete, one of the guys I met through Mick. Pete lives up in Newcastle. We went 14 nautical miles out in a boat for a little sea fishing... terrific. Here's Pete and the catch of the day:
man 1 - beast 0
... The second was last Saturday night, for Phil, one of my work colleagues. I have no photos of that... and even if I did, I couldnt post them on here.

Also Lisa celebrated her 26th birthday on the 29th of September, I hope she had a great time (I think she did).. It really threw out my plans as I had to work in the city that week (and therefore staying at her place), so I suddenly only had half the time to prepare that I thought I did. Ahh, all's well though.

high-speed flowers

high-speed flowers

high-speed flowers

high-speed flowers

high-speed flowers

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