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Friday, February 23, 2007

안녕히 가세요! Kim-Wrong-il

Goodbye Kim-Wrong-il. Really good getting to know you these last 5 months...wait- I don't know you, actually.

I've been living with a flatmate for the last 5 months, with which I have had about 10 sentences worth of dialogue. He just moved out tonight. Obviously, his name is not really Kim-Wrong-il, but names have been changed to protect the weird innocent.

Backing up 5 months, I had a spare bedroom to fill. The first week of advertisement brought a suitable candidate. Great, this will be easy, I thought. This person expressed an interest, I pulled my ad, an then they backed out. The second week was a poor batch. The third week had a promising candidate, but since my place was the first they'd seen, they couldn't commit. (They did call back weeks later...)

Pretty much the entire time I was getting gaggles of backpackers who were looking for short term accommodation for multiple people, despite the fact that my ad clearly stated 6-month minimum, one person only. The three Brazilian girls were tempting flatmates, but common sense bathroom math put a stop to that fantasy.

Rent on this place runs pretty high, so each week was costing me a good bit. After 3 weeks of party-packers turning up, Kim-Wrong-il (KWi) was a relief. He was an extremely nice visiting student from Korea who was studying Hotel Management. He didn't speak English very well at all, but you could tell he was a Nice Guy. He called 10 minutes after his visit and expressed a definitive interest. No suitable candidates arrived in the next few days, so I gave it to KWi.

It immediately became apparent that he doesn't speak English well at all. How he manages in Australian school I'll never know. Maybe if I spoke more Aussie he'd do better with me? But what made conversation so hard was his extreme shyness. Every bit of body language indicated that he wanted to get away from a conversation AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. And indeed, when you broke off conversation, he would almost literally run away. He would get very frustrated at trying to find an English word he was searching for, and would start smacking himself in the head pretty vigorously and stammering. This had the effect of making me want to cut the conversation short out of concern for his well being.

All this time, and in fact all 5 months, he almost never came out of his room. I tried to coax him out by indicating over and over that he could use the living room and television any time. No luck. I offered him food when I was cooking meals - always declined and fled the scene. I offered him a beer, and he accepted after a long pause looking scared to death (you could just see the calculations taking place in his head...is it rude to decline? is it rude to accept? is this a cultural thing? do I decline once and accept the second - or is it third - time that it is offered?). He accepted the beer, bowed a very deep thank you, turned on his heel and went into his room shutting the door.

After about a week, when he had figured out my general schedule, I ceased to even see him. He timed his trips to the bathroom and his comings and goings to avoid any contact whatsoever with me. If we did actually see each other, a "good morning/evening" and a bow was all I ever got.

He didn't cook at all, so there was no meeting in the kitchen. Eventually I noticed that he bought a full gross of ramen noodles, but I never saw him cooking - I would only get the whiff-o'ramen lingering in the kitchen as I made breakfast.

He kept extremely odd hours. I would get home after work, and his light would be out. Gone, I'd assume. Then, around midnight as I went to bed, I'd see that his light was now on...he'd been in there in the dark the whole time, and was now getting up. Some weekends I'd wake up late, make breakfast, read the paper, etc. all with no sign that he is home. Clean the house, run the vacuum, read a bit (obviously there's no surf), and then suddenly at two o'clock, his light comes on, and the first sounds of movement. Crap, thought he was gone. Sorry bout the vacuum bro, but I thought noon was a safe bet.

I considered that KWi might have a secret exciting life elsewhere, but he was ALWAYS home. Didn't leave.

I pay for internet access, and when he moved in I offered to let him use it for free. On occasion I'd get up in the middle of the night to stagger to the toilet, and would find him there in the living room at 4:30am on the computer, looking up at me like I just caught him eating my cookies. He would immediately unplug his laptop and run for his room. I'd say "please, internet ok, please use" but he would be in his room again.

He came to me once when his light bulb burned out. I considered telling him to go buy his own dang light bulb, but I had a few so I got one for him. I handed it to him, and he held it gingerly with a panicked look. After some of his stammering I deduced that he didn't know what to do with it. There's just gotta be a lightbulb joke that fits this scene...

So basically I've been living alone, but with free rent money and ramen air freshener. Not such a bad thing, as far as things go. I'd have preferred a friend, but this was far better than a jerk or thief.

Well its over now. He told me Wednesday by text message that he was leaving on Friday. I just returned his deposit - well most of it...minus the broken lamp (trying out his new bulb skills?) and that's that.

Alone for real this time - I wonder if I'll notice the difference?

Public Service Announcement

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Thought you all should know.
(thanks Jege!)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Couple 'a Queens

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Not since Priscilla Q.O.T.D. has a couple of queens created such a stir in Sydney.

Today the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ships arrived in port on the same day, and Sydney went mental. People lined the Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay, and the shore in all directions, rows deep. The ferry to Manly was packed with all kinds of extra people who rode it just to get out into the harbour and see the boats. People on the ferry swarmed to the windows and decks, first to one side, then the other, literally climbing over each other - and me.

The fire boat paraded around shooting plumes of water. Fireworks exploded in the sky. And the boats...there was watercraft everywhere. I think I could have skipped to shore from deck to deck. The ferry, which has traffic priority in the harbour, was stopped dead in the water for a good 15 mins because there were too many boats to move.

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Cruise ships dock at Circular Quay on a regular basis - I hardly notice them on my way to work anymore. And why was Sydney so ga-ga? Your guess is as good as mine. I guess that ex-colonials have a weak spot for royalty.

Map of the Critters

Prior to practicing Architecture in Australia, I've never had to check a "Little Penguin and Bandicoot Map"for planning purposes.

Now I have.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

This Protest Intentionally Blank


So much to protest, sometimes its hard to choose.

(NodeBerlin via VVORK)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Challenging Retirement

Here's a new concept in Retirement Homes:
Make them "anything but comfortable and calming".

Kids Toy?

Leave it to wacky Japan.
The concept is to continually challenge and stimulate the mind and body, to help prevent decline.

To that end, this building has:
- bright colors and odd shapes (like a kids toy)
- erratically sloped and or concave floors (can you say 'broken hips'?)
- electric switches in odd places to make the user search for them (so you have to think about it)
- no closets (to present a "challenge")
- a door to the veranda that is so small that one has to crawl to get through it.

Perhaps even stranger than the design concept is the reality that these are actually selling - for twice as much as a normal apartment in that area.

(via Sushi & Sensibility)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Video where the 3 guys from the British car program Top Gear paint slogans on each other's cars and attempt to drive through Alabama without getting beat down.
Slogans include:
"Hillary For President"
"Nascar Sucks"
"Man Love Rules"

Remember Reverend Ted Haggard?
This guy has crusaded against gay people for years-- including while he was going down on a hooker named Mike. He had President Bush's little pink ear while his community equated homosexuals with murderers and thieves. He told his wife he was going on spiritual writing retreats while he was getting laid in Boys Town, dreaming about twinkie-orgies and scoring meth. His sex worker couldn't take it anymore when the Good Reverend started campaigning against gay marriage for the Colorado state ballot, and came forward to spill the beans. (Susie Bright - Huff Post)
Well he has recently taken a 3 week "homosexuality cure" and is now, by his claim, perfectly straight.
Believe it? Great.
And for those skeptical, here is the Ted Haggard Betting Pool.

Bush on Health Care Reform - follow the logic in this:
In order to provide health care to uninsured very low income people - yes, people poor enough to fall below the threshold so that they don't pay taxes - he proposes...giving them a tax cut!
Well you gotta cut him slack, its the first he's thought about a domestic agenda.
(Healthy Link Insurance)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bunny Trifecta, le tiers

Bunny Beuys: (thanks Forest!)

Stop Them! (thanks Jason!)
Stop Bunnys

The Fearsome Skvader
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Australia Day in Perth


A friend sent me this picture, and I was instantly skeptical. It's just too good to be true. That's apparently a comet there in the middle between the fireworks and the lightning...

However, I looked around online a bit and found it published on the NASA "Astronomy Picture of the Day" website. (But then again, they faked the moon landing, right?)

Hmmm...can't help it. I'm still skeptical. But its an awesome picture, even if fake.

Click here for full size. (j kemppainen photography)

Tactoo You


I don't tend to wear rings much, but after seeing some of these exquisite titanium numbers, I may have to start.
Rings by Tactoo

(via Core77)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Forget the Colonel's, Go with The General

General Tso's Chicken.
The NYT has the story, and the recipe, for this most delicious of earthly delights.

Something for our military men and women to strive for.
(via digg)

Load Bank

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Ever find yourself involved in something that turns your stomach?

Here’s one of mine - the very short version of a long saga:

Project I worked on is way out in the country (two buildings).
The power company tells us initially that plenty of power available from nearby substation, but midway through construction decides that there is not enough capacity in their lines to support the buildings.

[Insert disparaging remarks about power company here.]

Big hubbub, spare you the details, but basically no power available for the buildings for many months after completion date of building.
Owner's solution after consultation with engineering professionals: install a very large diesel generator - 200kVa.

Generator uses 45 litres per hour of fuel; approximately $7000 a week's worth of fuel.
Generator must run all day and night to support minimal but important electric load: locks, freezers, fire and security system, etc.
Generator only needs to idle to supply the night time power, BUT must be kept running at a minimum of 30% capacity or it will void warranty and eventually fail.

So at night we are supposed to just leave everything on and running in two empty buildings.

But we responsibly designed environmentally-minded systems to monitor and shut down the buildings to prevent waste.

So the solution is to install a "load bank" – a piece of equipment whose sole purpose is to consume electricity.
It just burns fuel to blow useless hot air into the sky, all night long.

And it was my job to make this happen.
I’m so sorry, Planet.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Moon or Reef?


Very cool photograph of Saturn's moon Hyperion. From NASA (via Warren Ellis)

Reminds me of coral formations I've seen.
It fascinates me to no end when the micro and the macro seem to be following similar rules.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


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Cool and crazy Soviet bus stops. Cyrillic Link (via SprayGlue)

Boston freaks out over glowing cartoon figures. Arrests 2 people and presses charges. Meanwhile, two pipe bombs (non-functional) are found attached to bridges - perpetrator identified but NOT arrested. Huh? Boing Boing has it all in lurid detail, including the press conference about 70's hair styles. L(ink)EDs: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Conservative pundit O'Reilly is not so conservative in the bedroom, or when it comes to harassing female subordinates. O'Linkage

Teacher preaching in classroom is recorded by student. School board responds by...banning recording devices. Linky

This week in Bush Ridiculousness: White House forbids Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte to use the phrase "global warming". Becomes a game on Capitol Hill to get him to say it.
Globally-Warm Link

And similarly: "Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today. Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasize the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)." From The Guardian

A Song of Ice and Fire

I like castles. That is all.

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Lots more in HDR photography surrealness here.
Lots of writing with castles in A Song of Ice and Fire.

VW Phaeton Factory

Who knew a factory could be such a nice place?
Heck, I can't even keep my house this clean and I'm not doing any manufacturing.

This is the Dresden, Germany, factory for Volkswagen's Phaeton top-of-the-line automobiles.

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Awesome rotating car lift.

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Lots of light and space on the manufacturing line.

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Check the maple floor. The maple floor that moves, rotates, and lifts, that is. I'd sure hate to be the guy who spills the bucket of grease.
Note the factory workers wearing WHITE.

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Glass boxes in the landscape. This factory is apparently near the center of Dresden, and on a light rail line for commuters. Is this what Detroit looks like too?

More great photos and descriptions and info at VWvortex.

Very very impressive. The logistics of putting these buildings and custom machinery together is simply mindblowing. A simple auditorium is almost enough to send me over the edge...this is nuts.

I'm keeping these photos to show to Contractors who tell me something "can't be done". (...in response to those totally unrealistic requests like "please make the corner straight")