The Rum Diary

(or The Sydney Diary of Jonathan Scott, Part 2)

This page written between September 11 and October 20, 2010.

I got back to Sydney Sunday evening, and took the train to Cronulla. Monday I was at Uni, and in the afternoon I put the smoke alarm into Chelmsford Street. It's a Scott characteristic to hit the ground running.

We discussed replacing the stove elements too.

I have been analysing the Mechatronics curriculum. Mechatronics at SU is apparently a very successful department. A number of MTRX1xxx and MTRX2xxx courses seem to teach as much digital electronics as control/mechanical stuff, though analog electronics comes in ELECxxxx courses. Engineering as a whole pulls no punches, with a full semester of circuit theory up front, not just reactive power and phasors, but mesh analysis and frequency response, so complex numbers are assumed. Ross tells me that there is about 30% failure rate there.

Had lunch with Peter Single at Cafe Ella. He recommended "Underground" by Suelette Dreyfus and Julien Assange (of WikiLeaks fame). Great book!

I read, in an obituary, that there had been a large push a few years ago to put a med school into Waikato Uni. The late doctor had been a great proponent of it. I can understand the motives: There is a large teaching hospital nearby, and a med school carries a lot of prestige... much the situation at UWS. Hearing about the state of UWS, I can understand why it did not happen. Then watching a current affairs program the other night I noticed that the regularly-appearing medical commentator was actually a vet. It occurs to me that vet schools have much the same technology with vastly less ethical constraint and human risk. Perhaps the smart way to step into a med school is via a vet school. Vet schools can almost grow out of biology schools. UoW has a good one of those. It is also surrounded by animals and companies with livestock interests. If UWS can do it, UoW could too....

Lunch Thursday with the Old-Farts Club. I had met with Hugh Durrant-Whyte in the morning, and I was abuzz with the magnificence of his Mechatronics Research organisation, ACFR. About 200 people, 80 post-docs(!), and all on research, no undergraduates at all.

Thursday evening I flew to The Gold Coast to visit Nick in the coffee agricultural zone behind Byron Bay. Nick met me in Coolongatta with Max and we drove to his place in Newrybar.

Max starts school at 09:30, so he leaves after 9AM. He cooked poached eggs and bacon for Nick and I before he left. He and Nick finished up making a snare drum, school project, before breakfast. Libby has long thick hair, and is acknowledged as "turning into a teenager", attitudinally. She has blown almost all of the 10Gb of this month's internet allowance already this month. This is in spite of the fact that they have "screen-free Saturday", no TV or PC one day a week, and internet that automatically shuts down at certain times of the day. I hope we never have to go to such lengths with our kids!

Friday Nick took me to Zentvelds Coffee where I met John and Rebecca. We had marvellous discussions about grinders and roasters and the theory of roasting coffee They were good enough to let me video them doing a couple of roasts with their 25kg Diedrich machine.
They love the application of good science to the process, and we had a long discussion about what is actually going on. It seems to me that the roasting process really consists of moving between certain way points, and the "art" is in recognising when the process reaches the way points, and setting how fast one moves between them, and where one finally stops. Moving too slowly, even if you get all the points, results in "flat, dull" beans. I take this to be indication that the bean is NOT uniformly roasted throughout, but is to some extent like a good steak, browned on the outside and less cooked inside.

At any rate, the waypoints we identified are "yellow" (named after the visible colour), "cinnamon" (colour likewise, less critical a waypoint), "first crack" (identified by the sound or by temperature, but the read temp is not the same for all machines because it is not certain of what your thermometer reports the temperature), "brown" (colour, not so critical a way point, suspect exhaust smoke changes colour as well), and "second crack" (named after the sound). A problem is that Rebecca aims for a roast that stops just short of second crack, so the problem becomes one of detecting this... temperature is +/-1C and is not reliable. Rebecca seems to use sight of a sample of beans---I have seen others use this too---but she can instantly see things in a sample of beans that all look identical to me!

I believe that there is a paper in simply expounding this idea of waypoints. One of the main variables in the roast process is the %-by-mass water content of the beans. When it is larger, or a greater mass of beans is put in a roaster, the roaster is limited by the power it delivers to raise the sample temperature, so "time to first waypoint" reflects this "bean loading". Knowing the "bean load" the roast master adjusts power to set a desired thermal ramp-up rate (setting the beans to become "medium-rare", to extend the steak analogy), or equivalently in Eric's high-tech machine he sets the required dT/dt into his process controller. Then further way points confirm the rate. Finally there is the decision on stopping, the quench needing to fall just short of a waypoint (second crack?). This is of course the hard bit to automate... Rebecca uses very subtle appearance via examination of beans... we'll not automate what she does by image at all easily. This is the hard part, where I hope precise bean surface Temp measurement or FID may do the trick. (That will be IP worth protecting!)

There was a lot of discussion of the "exothermic" part of the process where things seem to happen quickly even if the power is turned down. I share Eric's skepticism, I think the thermal mass of the roaster is so large the lowering of power is not having an impact. I think there may simply be "chemical way points" that are close together and all happen quickly. It will be VERY interesting to look scientifically at the energy release as a function of temperature, using a calorimeter.
Nick shares a lot of my scepticism with coffee lore. Baristas are particularly noted for spreading lore (read pseudo-scientific drivel). However, Nick agrees that roasting is key, and he tells me that roasting for plunger is QUITE different from roasting for espresso use... for plunger you stop well short of second crack, so that the coarse grinds used therein still extract well, while the fine grind of espresso needs more burnt a starting point to wind up thick, sweet and creamy.

Nick and I went shopping and then met Kerry at a cafe in Byron.

On Saturday we went to Max's school fair. Like most fairs it was pleasant but unspectacular. However, they did have this cupcake holder. Now there was a time when one could regularly expect to return from overseas with something that few people had seen and that could not be obtained locally, but somewhere in the globalisation of the 1990s that stopped being the case. Here, however, was something I have not ever seen before, and that I am damn sure you cannot get locally... well, not any more. Not only that, it is simple enough for one to make. I feel a project with E or M coming on.

Nick and I had a seafood lunch at his "river house".

When we got home after picking up the kids from the fair, one of the rodent officers, a 2m python, was blocking the driveway. Nick asked him to politely move on. One communicates this by tapping the snaky fellow with a LONG stick, they do not seem to like this but it is not too aggravating.

The TopCat paper I wrote with Tom has been accepted to JMTT with only cosmetic changes. Excellent. I got the changes out within a day.

My draft of the book prospectus has changed radically. It now visualises a book of 200 pages concentrating on the science and software engineering of ultramicrocontroller firmware. Much more tractable.

Merinda will leave tomorrow morning, circa 3AM, for her Japan excursion. We said goodbye on Skype on Monday afternoon.

I got a "personal broadcast" email from Ian Oppermann saying that CSIRO has a bunch of jobs going, around professorial salary or above. There are a couple I might suit. I barely make the "above professorial" criteria such as averaging 3 journal papers/year, but then I have lots of patents and I have only been at UoW for 4 years. I guess I really do not want to work at Marsfield, not sure if that is a good reason for not applying.

Had a great lunch yesterday with Graham Brooker, a pleasant South African fellow who has been at Sydney U in Mechanical Engineering teaching Mechatronics and doing research in radar for the last 10 years. Why is a radar guy in Mech Eng? Well, it is officially work on "sensors", and his radars are used in mines and on robots, and let's face it, EE is not appealing. He has some students who may visit Waikato, we feel like we ought to connect more. Can't hurt.

We were discussing the teaching of Mechatronics and I passed a comment to the effect that we were having a bit of trouble getting what we needed from our CS department. He responded at once to the effect that they had had the same problem, so now they "pretty well teach it all themselves". It is not all that demanding, he said, "just C, Matlab, and a bit of Java". Snap!

No wonder hackers hate Telcos. Telstra Mobile Broadband is about to change its rules---fortunately just after I leave---to bill in MB increments rather than kB increments. Wonder how much more that will get them? Too many of us careful users, I suppose, just checking their email!
The Prices here are the pre-change rates. The $130 level is a gem. I wonder if the new structure will benefit any customers?

The completion of TopCat prompted Tom to Skype me. The connection was excellent, and we had a great chat. It feels like Tom must be quite enjoying life just at the moment!

Macquarie Uni on Wednesday 22nd. There always seems to be so much to say when we chat, Z, FIEE, videoed mini lectures, what content is needed for a degree in Mechatronics, etc. Macquarie contines to boom. Yet another new building is in the pipeline, next door to Cochlear's new manufacturing building, mostly for Cochlear R&D but with a floor of 400m2 for "microelectronics R&D". Tony is talking about screened rooms, clean rooms, and the like, all with an auditory/electronic theme.

We touched on the fact that "the system" has recognised that EE staff are all at the ends of the age range, all young or old. There is expected to be a crisis when the older end falls out of the pipe, as there will not be enough young people to sustain it. (Thinks... the world has this problem, not just EEE.) I mentioned IanO's CSIRO jobs, infrastructural ones at that. I do not think they will constitute a unique opportunity.

Thursday: Old-Farts lunch.

Edwin is coming over on Saturday, unaccompanied on Emirates. There is a significant process to set this up. Vicki tells me that there is a great deal of paperwork just to be able to take your own kid out of the country with you. This would be hard to believe if you did not know what a tight-arsed and paranoid place Australia is becoming. Vicki had Bryn's child allowance cut off when they simply changed flight dates. Warwick's accusation of Australia becoming a ``police state'' gets easier to defend as time goes by.

I think I have pretty much completed my book prospectus. Final workover this week before sending it off to publishers.

The IQ^2 debate on capitalism finally reached the web site: Only Capitalism Can Save The Planet.

Friday I had lunch with Ian and Vicki, just back from their petite chateau in Continvoir, Indre-et-Loire, near Tours. They are renovating this shell into what amounts to a gallery and two-story residence with two huge underground cave/cellars, from the roof to the caves by way of drystone garden walls... no mean project.

I had dinner again with Jim and Rose. They are delightful people. I think it is not a secret that Jim will finish at Sydney U at the end of the year, which puts the Embedded Programming Book whose proposal is the main work of my study leave, at risk. Perhaps he will carry on, much as I did at Macquarie through a lot of my long service leave in 1996.

Stayed with Andrew & Di Friday, in anticipation of picking Edwin up at the airport on Saturday... trains to Cronulla are disrupted because of trackwork this weekend.

This is Di's "tin air force", she collects these tin toys. Think of these guys like china ducks about to be put on the wall.

This is Edwin arriving at Sydney Kingsford-Smith airport, wearing his "unaccompanied minor" (UM) badge.
Edwin had a small problem, in that his in-seat entertainment system did not work for much of the flight. He did discover that you can ring other seats, very useful! He also found that the kids' pack comes with a toothbrush and toothpaste... he cleaned his teeth three times... just goes to show you that there is an upside to not having TV all the time.
Kay tells me that she "proved (inadvertently (blush) ) that one can get there <3 hours before, because for some reason I thought departure time was 7.25 not 6pm, so got there at 4.25pm. Just as well I went for the full 3 hours - and in the end he did have check luggage as it was too tight a squeeze in the small suitcase and I thought he might need room to bring stuff back - like my b'day presents :)" There were no less than 11 UMs on this flight!

Having Edwin is killing me. Fun, yes, but hard on the brain and the karma. I have updated his web page four times in the last four days. Oh yes, and then again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again. That made 11 times in all.

I have this theory. I think the stress arises from not being able to get to things I know I want to do, things that require hours of uninterrupted thinking in order for anything to be achieved.

On Tuesday night Edwin and I went to Godfrey's place in Wentworth Falls. It is quiet and beautiful, much like Bywater Grange, but it is an awful distance to Sydney. As Godfrey says, it is OK if you only do it one day per week, but it's not on as a commute, I do not think it would even work on a Monday-Friday sched, you would lose Monday mornings and Friday afternoons. The Mountains-based week-to-weekend commute plan just does not look right to me.

On Wednesday night Edwin and I got home with my new Wireless Broadband Dongle and his new Meccano RC car.

Thursday he went to the Aquarium in Darling Harbour with Denis. That night, Leo and Tony came to Cronulla. Leo stayed the night, and the boys took the train Friday to Pymble to spend the next night at chez Carnovale.

Saturday I went to the SMRE to meet Prof Klyzlr, a fellow microrailroader, and to pick Edwin up after his stay with Leo.

It was a very good exhibition. Edwin loved it. I loved it. There was a huge number of people per unit locomotive. Nobody sold Tangara or Millennium trains.

The exhibition was excellent, several superb layouts. Klyzlr was involved with Muskrat Ramble, easily the winner on grounds of modelling detail, and a layout that totally captured (my impression of) Louisiana-swamp atmosphere.
There were some marvellous Australian layouts recreating actual scenes. Central Station, 1958, N-scale, was so true and evocative it was scary, though no shell-shocked vets camping in the park, a hallmark of the original place, it seemed a bit sanitized.
There was Museum, an N-scale central-Sydney underground station the real version of which still exists and is maintained in 1950s period style. Both the model and the real station looked like a bit of history. This is the first layout other than my Pizza Hill that I have seen with an underground station, but this one was breathtaking in its attention to detail and its accuracy... pic attached, remember this is N-scale. I guess they have the real one to check out if they need to get the exact information.

Interestingly, the exhibition featured a booth effectively recruiting train drivers, with an old real-life diesel loco drivers console and signal set as used for driver training. Had not seen that before.

There was a booth from a Sydney equivalent of Hamilton Model Engineers with ride-on trains on display, ones with 5" or 7.25" track gauge. Another booth was from a company that makes the locos and track for these gauges, curves in various radii, points/switches, various lengths of straight. You could buy a whole microlayout for your yard, loop of track plus siding, for a few $k. Outside a train offered rides for kids. What do you know, ultramicrolayouts!

I sent off my prospectus to Julie at CUP. In the end the book I propose is not at all as I started out envisaging it would be. It is much shorter, and I plan it to contain more "new" material, original ideas, than one expects in a book. Once upon a time books in engineering were the venue for new developments, but journal papers seem to have taken over this role; I propose to buck that trend. In a sense I do not want to write this book, it will be a lot of effort. I am hoping very much that I will be able to talk Jim into being a 50% co-author.

I finished up my analysis of Sydney house prices by saying that there was a 2x bubble, but that certain factors would prevent it bursting soon. I have been saying that a significant shift in circumstances would be needed as a trigger. Today I read this article in the SMH saying "A prominent US economist who tipped the US housing market collapse says Australia's house price bubble would likely be popped by rising interest rates. Center for Economic and Policy Research co-director Dean Baker said a significant rise in interest rates in Australia would result in a 'sharp drop in house prices'.

The article goes on to say: "Mr Baker's views put him at odds with the Reserve Bank and a number of private sector economists who argue that Australian household debt-levels and home prices, while high, are sustainable and driven by a structural shortage of available homes, healthy migration, as well as a tax structure that favours investment in housing". They have a point, and I think it will take more than a small rise in interest rates, but such a rise is certainly called-for.

I have just put Edwin on his plane home. It is 8AM on a wet Sunday morning in the middle of a long weekend on the first day after the clocks went forward for daylight saving, and it makes for a marvellous time to be out. I went via Central. The city is clean, quiet, and altogether as good for the senses as a Buddhist garden.

I am now in a position to do a solid comparative review of Optus vs. Telstra as wireless broadband providers! The Telstra system is easy to use, the Optus one not so. Optus is a little cheaper, and their coverage almost as good.

The Telstra modem was easy to get going. Take it out of the box, plug it in, and after a minute or so it is ready. I never found anywhere without coverage, except for the occasional small blackspot that you do not notice because it is brief and does not break the connection. Recharging is easy, you can do it from the connection application window. Finding out your current credit is also easy, even while connected it will tell you with 1 click. This would probably not be quite so easy if they had different credit "bins", such as one for off-peak and one for on-peak data, but Telstra do not, which is fine. The connection ap tells you the up and down data rates, and the total data in each session, so you develop a feel for what you use doing various activities such as email, browsing, skype, etc.

Optus, on the other hand, has a painful interface. You have to go online and fill in forms instead of just connecting. The jargon implies you are a mobile phone customer, it is as if they are piggybacked on that system software-wise, instead of being a broadband entity, which is confusing. If you want to know what credit remains, you have to SMS them and then read a reply. You only find this out once you speak to a service operator. It takes a lot of work to find the number to call to get this (it is 133697). The broadband people have limited telephone service hours. If you do not have access to a phone, you are screwed. The ap does not tell you accumulated data in a session, so you have no idea how you are going. Recharging appears to be possible only via a web page. I have not had to do this, because the modem came with an unadvertised intoductory offer of 1-point-something-silly Gb of data (with 30-day timeout). I am unlikely ever to recharge, I will probably throw the thing away, so I won't get to discover how you recharge once the credit has fallen to zero. Coverage is almost as good as Telstra, nothing to complain about around Sydney. However, there are "dropout spots". These would not be a problem except for the fact that the connection does not always recover and you can be left with the connection showing as there, but no signal strenght and no data flow in either direction, and this does not change as you move back where you know there is signal. Grunt.

On top of the last problem, the Optus driver can get tangled. It will tell you the modem is there and that there is signal, but attempts to connect simply get a "connection terminated" error immediately. VERY annoying. Still worse, it can sit there saying "connecting optus" indefinitely. The only way out appears to kill the process using Task Manager or similar means, and then unplug the modem and go do something else for a while.

I have discovered another problem: The system can in effect "refuse" you. The driver shows no signal. You know it must be there. Then the modem lights show a change and the display goes to "GPRS 98% signal", but in about 6 seconds it flips to something like "WCDMA 20% signal", then it goes blank again. You know there is lots of usable signal. Afer a few more seconds it goes blank and stays that way for about 2 minutes. This cycle repeats indefinitely.

AAAGH! I have accidentally discovered that the driver is actually connected when it shows this:

This Optus WBB stinks! The number of times I have seen this and cursed it... the only way to kill it seems to be using Task Manager or similar. I bet they billed me 1MB every time I killed the process!

Both Telstra and Optus have short timeouts on their data credit. Telstra seems to be changing this to give 30, 90 and 180 day credits for larger sums. Overall, Telstra is more expensive, but not by a huge margin.

Telstra allows roaming albeit at 10x the charge rate. The Optus dongle entirely failed to do anything, including give any error message, in NZ.

If I was about to buy one of these I would go Vodafone. They currently offer 6GB+modem for $99, 94 days expiry, with plans of 1.5GB/$15 monthly, or prepaid recharges of 500Mb/$19/30days, 2Gb/$29/30 days, and upward to 12Gb/$150/365. There is a $49 modem with 3GB and 30 day expiry too.

Tuesday saw dinner chez Taubman with Ian, Vicki and Bryn.

I had a visitor up in room 905.

On Friday night I had pizza dinner with Jim and Rose for the last time this orbit, then back to their place for desert and The Collectors.

What comes to mind as "things I want in a place to live"?
Concerning the abode itself, I want enough space to store stuff, have work space where one can spread out temporarily; a good kitchen, a place to entertain, perhaps one outside, one inside; garaging; a house that rambles or is on three or more levels; room for a spa; pleasant views or walled-in seclusion (not conspicuous neighbours); I like natural, solar and wood-fired alternatives to heating and cooking.
Concerning the locale, the abode should be close to work, 20 minutes or so, definitely not an hour away door to desk; it must not be on a main route, trains and prop planes are OK, but jets and internal compustion engines are right out. It should be walking distance to shops; it should be walking distance to trains. It should be walking distance to a "lively site", meaning cafes, someplace that does not go dark by 9PM at night.
Concerning the city, I like access to quality produce, varied restaurants; I like a climate that does not freeze in winter; I like places to go, gardens, galleries, scenery like mountains or beaches; I want broadband that is reliable and broad. I really like having a TV station like the BBC such as Australia's ABC, wonderful. I want a government that is not made up of screw-ups like Bush and Howard who want to squander pride and dollars.

Sunday I went to an exhibition including some of Vicki's work at, the gallery of Vicki's friend Madelaine on Salisbury road in Camperdown.

I had seen an ad in my favourite patisserie for a lady who cleans. I asked her to do a big clean. Monday she came and did Kirkwood Avenue. The lady is Dianne, and her partner is Victor. They are very fast and efficient. I can recommend her, call 0434-022052, but get an hourly not a whole-job quote.

They did discover a crack in the loo bowl... might account for some of the pong that was hard to eradicate. Denis's next major job.

Denis worked in the garden while Dianne and Victor did the house. Front tap dripping seriously offended Denis's water conservation sense.

The rest of today I have been left alone. I am tying up loose ends, doing my last load of laundry, planning next year's research. It is very pleasant, here in Cronulla, in this house with roots that are not mine but that run very deep. The house is light, and now it is clean. The weather has been classic Sydney weather, short drenching rains punctuating sunny periods. The laundry dried in minutes. This could be a scene from any number of Australiana novels, except that dinner will be tomato, bocconcini and basil salad, Thom Kha Gai, Turkish bread, humous, dukka. Parrots squark. School kids clatter home. It almost smells like my high school smelled.

I could live here. Perhaps not commute, but most everything else is possible. I look back at the section above, and with renovation it fails only in commute distance and being perhaps 1km too far from the station.

Monday 10th saw the new railway timetable start. From the point of view of Cronulla there are more trains, more like a 15-minute service than a 20-minute one from Cronulla to the city. The interesting factor is that there must now be a slick mechanism for trains to overtake between Sutherland and Redfern. There is one very appealing express that departs Cronulla at 08:00, all the others take a little longer than they did on the old timetable. The extra time comes from the change so they stop at all stations in the Sutherland, Janalli, Como... strip and get overtaken. The layout is logical. I am glad I am not coming from Waterfall, these trains now skip Redfern! On the return voyage there is a battery of trains leaving the city around and just after 5PM, less than 10-minute spacing. That will be the main goal of the whole Cronulla line and station expansion, these guys have to get stored there as they have to land there too frequently for the old layout to get them clear, but now with separate arrival and departure lines and parking for four trains they can do it. I got a seat on the 17:10 service on Wednesday.

Edwin is becoming quite the house IT support guy. He had all four of us on a Skype call. Of course, he could hear Merinda from her room, but that did not make the event any less of a tech marvel.

Merinda returned from orderly and clean Japan to Kay's orderly and clean house, and promptly declared that she would clean her room and keep it clean, and so far this is the case. She took the Skype camera around to show it off.

I mentioned the ABC above. Aus TV has some gems. I adored "Spics and Specs" and "The Gruen Transfer", brilliant. They are about to show "Sherlock", a 21st-century version of the great detective that gets stunning reviews on IMDb, and soon after I leave "Rake". I think I am about to get an opportunity to gauge NZ against Oz in the entertainment arena.

My last lunch with the Old Farts club was a delight as always.

The latest news is that Hugh Durrant-Whyte is to take up the CEO position at NICTA when DJS leaves next year. Good choice I think.

My parrot visitors came back in the afternoon. They seem to like this building. I left them some of my trail mix.

Since I had campaigned for hot water I felt I should make good use of it, so I finished Friday with a LONG hot shower in the shower cubicle on the 9th floor, before going to Glenn and Kate's place for dinner.

Dinner chez Leembruggen was great, it was midnight before I looked at my watch, and 2AM when I got to Cronulla station. I got to meet Kristabella, who is loads of fun. Kate is delightful as always. These are people I would try to see more often if it was possible.

Transport-wise, Glenn's place in Summer Hill and Denis's house in Cronulla are not unpleasantly far apart. There are closer geographical connections that are unpleasantly far apart. It is as if train stations are "jump points" between which the transit cost is negligible; one is only as far from someone else as the distance each is from their nearest station. On that basis we are about 3km apart, virtual neighbours. If only there was a comparably-pleasant jump-point near Bywater Grange I would not consider ever leaving NZ. Shades of "The Mote in God's Eye".

A recent SMH article suggests that Australia is viewed as a "dumb blonde of a country". Sadly I can see this. Beautiful spot, but rich on account of primary resources, and it sure does not look like it is being run by smart people right now.

Another article points out that Australia's tertiary education sector is rapidly losing revenue because of falling overseas student numbers caused by recent racial incidents and the strong currency. Except for UNSW, regarded I understand as "the place to go" by the Chinese community.

Saturday saw me trek up to chez Mills for coffee talk and dinner with Eric and Brenda and Peter and Barbara. I took Eric a copy of McGee, about time, I had intended to give him a copy for his last birthday.

On the train to Cronulla I got a Skype call from Kent in Washington DC. He was tickled to be talking with video to a moving train in another country. Voice fit in 50kbps each way, the video, slow updates of small image, was using 100s of kbytes/sec, but it worked and the voice held up.

Not sure what was on, but Donna and I arrived on the same train to find a bunch of miserable youths sitting about in handcuffs and a bunch of police looking bored.

We walked around sunny Cronulla and ended up having a long lunch at the Spanish paella place, excellent as usual.

Jay and Eve Thomas turned out to be in Sydney for a very few days this week, and we were able to connect. We walked around campus, then through Newtown to lunch in a cafe in Australia street. Jay had a Fujifilm 3D digital camera, it even showed 3D in its LCD viewfinder! We left their phone charging in Bob's huge junior lab.

Going to try using the order-on-web pick-up-on-arrival duty free shopping system at Best prices I have found: Bombay Sapphire for NZ$30/litre or A$23/litre!

Wow, that felt spooky. Today is Tuesday the nineteenth of October in the year of our lord two thousand and ten, and I just handed in the post box key that I have held since December 1976. Box 292 Wentworth Building, The University of Sydney Union, 2006, Australia, is no longer associated with yours truly.

As the lady on the desk said, I have had that key longer than she has been alive. It feels like losing an old friend. I feel the same scary nostalgia that I felt when I graduated in 1979.

I am discovering that the academic publishing business is not open and healthy-looking. Eric directed me to this article. It says that the publishing business is in trouble, and suggests some reasons. They do not exactly fit the academic model, but similar positions exist there. This first article links to another that reflects on e-book prices. Together they say a lot about the book business. Can it be this bad? Worse than music recording?

Said goodbye to Denis and Cronulla with a walk around. Amelia and I fondly remember a walk we took years ago, I swam in a lake caught in between dunes. I think I know where it might be... -34.030078,151.175652. An expedition for next time.

Goodbye Cronulla, for now.

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