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Year View| Summary| Highlights| February 2004 (Month View)

01.02.2004Sunday 1 February – Very Hot

It was an incredibly hot day, and I sweltered uncomfortably all day long.
Mum and I watched “Rush Hour Ⅱ”, which I have seen before, but is quite amusing. I then stayed up late online, updating my links page and a few other similarly exciting things.

02.02.2004Monday 2 February – Lightning

Joe phoned up and left a message for me to call the uni dentist, which I did. I now have an appointment to see the oral surgeon – something I’m not looking forward to.
Mum woke me up to see if I wanted to go to town with her, but I was too sleepy and the only reason I had for going was to buy chocolate – something I haven’t eaten in ages now – so I went online instead, and I’m still here.
The usual evening storm began to brew and move across towards us, so I shut down and unplugged the computer, and went inside. The lightning got closer and closer, thundering all around us, before it passed over towards Home Rule and the rain began. Then, just when we thought the worst was over, there was a loud hiss and a bright flash, followed immediately by a huge, rolling thunderclap and then an ominous silence – no thunder, no lightning, not even any rain. This lack of ferocity was scarier than the lightning, but not for long – a huge spark, with its own huge spark noise, hit down just outside somewhere, which was the worst. Another closer raging thunderstorm followed, the highlight of which was when we had a spark from within our inside meter box, and the smell of burning plastic.
  Once the storm had passed, the power tried to come back on. The lights were a dim orange for a while, then some fellas from Ergon turned up at the power pole up the road and did their magic, and the power worked. Surprisingly, after resetting the core balance breaker, everything seemed to work again, so whatever plastic melted obviously wasn’t too vital.
  Once the power had been on a while and seemed to be staying on, I reconnected the computer and went to go online – but there was no modem found. After a bit of fiddling around, it became evident that the modem was fried. The phone would work when the computer was off, but turn it on and the phone stopped working. Now that I think about it, it was pretty stupid – but I used to unplug the phone line from the wall jack inside, but leave the other end connected to the modem, so it had fifty metres of buried extension lead joined to the modem. I would probably have been better off leaving it plugged into the wall, where at least it would have been connected to some lightning protection.
  I walked up to Shan’s to ask if I could borrow his modem. They were about to go over to Home Rule for dinner, and said they’d pick up the modem while they were there.
Mum and I watched “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?” – which is very stupid, but so stupid it’s almost funny. Not long after we’d finished watching the DVD, Shan arrived with the modem, and I tried installing it. The computer won’t even boot with it in the same PCI slot that the old modem used. Sometimes it will initialise the graphics card and fail on memory test, other times it won’t even initialise the graphics. I’m guessing that means either that slot is dead, or, probably less likely, the BIOS still thinks the old card is there. I couldn’t be bothered resetting the BIOS or ESCD. The borrowed modem will detect and seem to work properly if I put it in another PCI slot. It will even pick up the phone, but won’t dial. It simply fails to dial, saying no dial tone is present until I told it to ignore dial tones, and now it just dials for a while, and after a few attempts gives a generic 777 hardware failure error.
  After a while, I got sick of it, and plugged in a trusty external modem and used that instead, but storm circled around and came back, so I had to shutdown, unplug and go to bed anyway. I’ll try to borrow another internal modem tomorrow and test using that.
  I slept hoping the tree above me doesn’t get hit by lightning and fall on me.

03.02.2004Tuesday 3 February – Rocks, Rapids and Vampires

I vegetated, suffering slightly from hay fever.
Shan and Kylie picked me up and we drove out to Home Rule, where we walked up to the Blue Marker and went swimming. The creek was stronger than last time, having flooded and been over the bridges some time during the night, which made for fun, although sometimes painful, swimming. I strained a muscle in my right leg, was battered and bruised, and rather nastily scratched by Kylie – who is quite vicious, even though she’s just playing. It was good fun though, and good exercise and I enjoyed it.
  After our swim, Shan and I played around with the network, trying to figure out what, if anything, had been blown up by the lightning and why nothing worked. We spent ages messing around, eventually admitting defeat. It’s a bit hard with someone else, every time I would go to do something, Shan would do something different – so I said I’d come around tomorrow and have a look while Shan was at work.
I installed Jade’s modem into the same PCI slot that my modem was originally in, and the computer booted up fine – even detecting the modem. However, while I can communicate to the modem, I can’t get it to dial. I took the network card out, and swapped the modem into its slot – and voila, it all works. I haven’t got around to testing anything more, but it’s a bit confusing. My modem doesn’t detect in either of the two lower slots, Shan’s modem detects in one of them but won’t dial, and prevents the BIOS from initialising in the other one, and Jade’s modem seems to work fine in both of them, but won’t dial. They’re all reasonably cheap software modems, so they should really work. I’ll have to play around with them a bit more tomorrow.
I walked up to Shan’s, and we watched “Blade”. It’s not actually scary – in fact, I wouldn’t classify it as a horror movie at all, despite its horror rating. I enjoyed watching it, although a fifteen-inch monitor isn’t the best way for three people to watch a DVD.

04.02.2004Wednesday 4 February – Stupid Girls, and a Little Water

Well, that was an annoyance. I walked four kilometres, in extreme humidity, out to Home Rule to troubleshoot their lightning-struck network. Only Kylie and Ella were there, and Ric down in his van. I went and installed a few games and things on Ric’s computer, which, apart from one game that has exciting fatal errors, mostly went well. Kylie and Ella came down after a bit to tell me Mum had phoned and that they were going up to Kylie’s place. Considering that I’d come over specifically to fix their network, which is a huge pain in the posterior, and I am not being paid for it, I thought them leaving was a bit rude. The other problem is that I don’t know Ella’s password so can’t really reboot her machine – very handy when trying to fix it.
  I used Ella’s computer to ask her, via MSN, what her password was, so I could reboot her computer. Not only did she not tell me, but I was rudely ordered to go offline immediately because their limited download quota was nearly up – and when I didn’t go offline right away (ironically, I was actually offline because their satellite dropped out due to the inclement weather, but MSN didn’t register it), I was yelled and sworn at. I was a bit surprised with how rude they were, considering I’m not obliged in any way to help them out, but Kylie has been consistently rude and offensive to me – I can actually tell when it is Kylie using someone else’s MSN because the level of conversation degenerates. Perhaps as Shan’s friend, I’m still posing some kind of threat to her even though they’re now married – I don’t really know, but if Ella wants me to fix her computer again, she’ll be paying and I’m hoping it breaks down. Unfortunately it is Ella’s computer that has the internet connection out there, so when the network is down, it disadvantages Jade and Ric and doesn’t really affect her, so I’ll probably end up out there again trying to fix it for Jade’s sake.
I am very, very annoyed – the power just failed, and if it weren’t for Word’s auto recovery, I’d have lost half my rant, and all of yesterday’s journal entry. I’m glad Word managed to recover the bulk of my rant, but I’ve now decreased its auto-save time from ten minutes down to three. I am not having a good day, it’s horribly humid, hot and sweaty, Sarah isn’t coming out after all, and my leg hurts quite a bit – I guess it’s one of those strained muscles that are supposed to be kept off, not walked on.
I need to get to bed, but first I must write this: I’ve just finished watching the demise of a certain family of vampires, and the continued existence of Blade, and his friend Whistler, in “Blade Ⅱ". The DVD was scratched, so I couldn’t copy it and had to watch it tonight. I’ve installed PowerDVD, which is better than WinDVD on slower computers like this one.
  Earlier in the night it rained – and rained, and rained, and rained. Tropical downpours – the sort that would drown a weak Melbournite, have been sadly rare up here recently, so it’s very nice to get some rain. Unfortunately, not long before midnight, Shan came over and dropped off some DVD’s for me to take back to town tomorrow, and said that Joneses Causeway was over. I got him to check the Home Rule Bridge on his way home, which he did, and told me via MSN that it’s about two feet over. The inexorable law of cause and effect took hold of Mum, and she walked down to the pump to check how high the water was. Twelve feet below the pump, and worryingly high she reckoned – statements which are mutually exclusive, as twelve feet below the pump would put the water lower than its normal level, if anything. We then did the only logical thing to do, and disagreed. I pointed out that if the water was twelve feet below the pump, not only do we have nothing to worry about, but there’s obviously no flood either. Mum pointed out that if I weren’t so lazy, I would have walked down with her. I wasn’t impressed, seeing as how I’d offered to walk down with her, several times, but she had said she would be Ok, and in fact had rudely walked off.
  Several disagreements later, Mum came back out and suggested we go move the pump anyway – which we did. Sliding down the cliff, sludging through the mud and flooded gully – at midnight in the dark and pouring rain isn’t my idea of fun, although I can think of worse things to do. The water was around five, perhaps even less, feet below the pump – who knows how Mum estimated twelve. After painfully removing the stupid hoses and spraying water everywhere (not that it made any difference in the rain), I lugged its awkward weight up the hill a bit and out of harms way, covered it in plastic, and fought my way back home. Sheets of almost solid water were falling from the sky by this time, and that’s the end of my story.
Comment by chrisj – Wednesday 4 February 2004, 9:36 PM
Comment by Ned – Wednesday 4 February 2004, 10:34 PM
  I have always thought that sometimes when women wear less clothing, it solves problems, but that doesn’t apply to men. As for the wig, it’s an admirable idea, but I’ve no idea where I could buy one up here.

05.02.2004Thursday 5 February – Cooktown and Drama

Mum woke me up, and Dad, her and I drove into town. We had a late breakfast at the Mad Cow with Sarah, did some shopping, and then drove home again. The creek still looks like it’s pretty flooded, but I haven’t been down to check. I should probably go down and have a look now.
The modem I bought seems to work fine in the same slot the old modem was in. This is strange – I’ve tried four modems now, including my old one. My old one doesn’t work anywhere – simply isn’t detected. Shan’s modem, when in the same PCI slot that my old modem was in, prevents the machine from booting. The BIOS has major problems – actually stalling halfway through writing the POST messages onto the screen, and that’s just if it actually gets around to initialising the graphics. I tried it in another slot and it detects and installs and responds, but won’t dial – and similarly with Jade’s modem, although it did actually dial and work in one slot, and then this new one I bought (which I believe is identical to Jade’s) works just fine. Strange, yet typical.

06.02.2004Friday 6 February – Rain and Car Sales

I added the capability to my journal to authenticate users, so that I can allow certain people to view private entries, based on specified levels of privacy. So far, it seems to work well.
It has been raining a lot – it seems like proper wet season weather at last. I hope we get enough rain to make up for the dry years.
Adam came and wanted to buy the old Mazda for parts. He’s gone up to see the car and Dad about it now.
  Rory came and tried to buy the old Honda. He said his parents knew, but Mum phoned his Mum, who said she hadn’t heard anything about it – so he was sent on his way.
Shan, along with Kylie, Jade and Ella dropped in for a minute to pick up his and Jade’s modems. Telstra reset his satellite account and he needs to re-authenticate it.

07.02.2004Saturday 7 February – Voting and Flooded

I slept in, and then spent most of the middle of the day online. The new modem I bought still seems to work quite normally in the same slot the old modem was in, and due to power failures, I’ve had to reboot several times since then, so I guess it’s ok.
The power failed, and I lost most of what I’d written here – which is annoying. I’ve decreased the auto-recovery period to one minute now. I’d written how I walked down to Home Rule Bridge, and it is considerably flooded. I’m not quite sure how high the water is, but much too high to walk or drive across. I estimate it is five feet over the bridge but it’s hard to tell – it has been so long since I last played around in a flood down there. I met Rory on the way back and he asked if Mum had mentioned anything about the car, and if “thingo” had come to fix it yet. I don’t want to get involved, and didn’t know anything about it anyway, so said I had no idea what was going on.
I’m actually in a bit of a mood. I’m not entirely sure why – I guess there probably isn’t any logical reason for it. I think it’s because it is flooded – I should be tubing but I’m not, because I don’t have anyone to tube with. Neither Shan nor any of his sisters are online, and I feel abandoned I guess – but that’s not really true either. I know they’re most probably offline because their satellite connections won’t work through the heavy cloud cover, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Home Rule had no power – and it is voting day so they could be in voting. Nevertheless, I am in a mood. I wish I were tubing and having fun, but instead I’m here wishing I were tubing.
Apparently Mandi, Jade and Ella are stuck up at Shan’s place. They went in to vote and now it’s too flooded for them to get home. Shan says he was there up until around lunchtime, and back by about three o’clock, so I’m guessing the bridges weren’t too flooded at lunch but were by three.
Someone from [], port 2263 keeps wanting to send UDP datagrams to port 1026 owned by ‘Internet Information Services’ and 1027 owned by ‘SYSTEM’ on my computer. The strange thing is, I have a dynamic IP, so I wouldn’t expect the same host to keep trying after I’ve been disconnected and changed my IP.
Comment by Soren – Tuesday 24 February 2004, 7:39 PM
  This person keeps doing a port scan on my PC, very annoying.
  You talk about home Rule, is that the place near Gulgong?
Comment by Judy – Monday 1 March 2004, 3:26 PM [] I keep getting this annoying message (very regularly)and decided to type it into Google. Yours was the only link that appeared. What one earth is this message all about? I am sure it not your "job" or even interest to answer this so please feel free to ignore and I won't feel at all rejected.
Comment by Dirk – Tuesday 2 March 2004, 1:35 AM
  Same here, Also got a dynamic IP¨but he keeps showing up. IP is anyway of finding out who it is ?
Comment by Raul – Tuesday 2 March 2004, 1:22 PM
  You are all hack by devnull nederland power!!!!!!!!!! especially you dirk!!!!!!!!!!!!
Comment by Ned – Tuesday 2 March 2004, 7:46 PM
  I’m not “hacked”, but I am quite curious – especially as it has now happened from two computers across two totally different internet access accounts.
  And no, “Home Rule” is the name of a mine, or what used to be a mine, now a resort, in north Queensland.
Comment by Dirk – Tuesday 2 March 2004, 9:14 PM
  You mean "hacked" ?
  Strange... you have not showed up today :).
Comment by moses – Tuesday 9 March 2004, 6:49 PM
  ok me too just last night. i strayed over a couple of porn sites, and whether it was a co-incidence or not, now the bastards have messed up my internet explorer, cause i can't load google (neither or This really wants to hook into my ports !!!
  btw - you can get around it temporarily by using the ip address of google, - has anyone worked out how to get rid of this nuisance
  and restore Iexplorer (for at least access google) ?
Comment by Ned – Wednesday 10 March 2004, 1:46 AM
  It’s highly unlikely being port scanned is going to affect your browser in any particularly long lasting way.
Comment by Ned – Wednesday 10 March 2004, 1:47 AM
  Try either Adaware or your favourite virus scanner, or preferably both.

08.02.2004Sunday 8 February – Happily Drowning

I had a bad morning – doing nothing online and in a mood.
Shan picked me up, and we drove out to Home Rule where we went swimming at the Blue Marker. It was considerably flooded – much higher than the previous time. I nearly drowned – or at least I think I did. I am not sure how easy it is to drown, but being caught at the bottom of a waterfall is probably a good way to find out. Each time I managed to come up for air, I was sucked back down to the bottom again.
  When I wasn’t drowning, I was being smashed against rocks, logs, or fighting my way against vicious undertows and currents. It was great fun, but very, very tiring. Kylie, Jade and Ella nearly drowned too – I think Shan managed to escape.
I watched “Bare Witness”, which I’d borrowed from Shan and Kylie. I didn’t mind it, as I managed to get engrossed in the plot, but the acting is definitely poor.
I’ve downloaded the latest version of ACDSee, which seems to have major bugs – it crashes every time I change directory. It does, however, allow me to add EXIF metadata to images without existing metadata – something I needed and something the previous version did not allow, so that’s good at least. I’m trying to upload some pictures to my web server, but it’s being very slow. I am suffering mild shock from the time. I thought it was around 2 AM. I can’t believe the time has gone so fast. I had planned to get up relatively early, and perhaps go over to Home Rule and have a look at Jade’s PC, but all that’s in doubt now because I’ll probably be asleep all day. At least it’s raining a little now – not very heavy though. The more rain we get the better really, to a certain extent anyway. I wish these uploads would hurry up so that I can go to bed. I suppose I could go lie down and leave them going.

09.02.2004Monday 9 February – Uni Enrolment

After a measly six and a half hour sleep, I woke up to find people in the uni channel saying sign-on had opened for university courses, and I hadn’t even enrolled in all my subjects yet. I did a quick and complex comparison in Excel, and have now selected:
  INFS2200 — Relational Database Systems
  COMP2301 — Systems Interface Programming
  COMP3601 — Software Specification
  COMP3300 — Operating Systems
  They all sound bad and I’m now traumatised. On the bright side, sign-on for my subjects doesn’t actually open until early Thursday morning – so that gives me a bit of time to figure out my immensely complex timetable.
I went for a walk just on dusk. It was very beautiful; very clean after all the rain. I walked down to the Home Rule Bridge, dangled my feet in the icy flooded water, and enjoyed the peacefulness. The mountains formed a lovely backdrop. I met Shan and Kylie walking their dog, and went up to their place to pick up a DVD to take back to town.
Comment by Tjousk – Monday 9 February 2004, 3:17 PM
  Ooh, I can comment!
  not that I have anything useful to say...

10.02.2004Tuesday 10 February – Cyclone

Jade and Ella drove over and picked me up, and Kylie on the way back. I messed around with her PC, eventually getting it to work. It was a typical stupid problem. Her onboard network interface is dead, and the PCI network card simply does not work. Another PCI network card I took over worked fine, and, crazily enough, the other PCI network card would also work after I installed my other one. After installing my network card, then her modem, then swapping my network card for my other network card it all worked – and that’s the only possible way to get it to all go. Logic need not apply.
  I disabled Word’s auto-list conversions for Ric and cleaned up a document he was writing. Word can be so hard to use sometimes.
My new modem seems to be working: Dodo Internet via ESS ES56H-PI Data Fax Voice Modem @ 31200bps for 1d 16h 14s (13.02MB up, 46.78MB down). I also got this message: “ISP does not support modem on hold. If you accept incoming call, your internet connection will be terminated. Do you want to accept the call?” Unfortunately, I was asleep at the time so I couldn’t click “yes” and see what happened.
I watched “12 Monkeys” – a good movie really, but with an annoying end. It was also scratched in several spots, which is annoying.
  I was informed of a cyclone threat. We are currently under a Cyclone watch. While waiting for the 2 AM advisory, the power failed so I left the lights on and went to bed.
I’ve woken up and the power is back on. It’s still raining quite heavily. I hope it’s not flooded. I still have hay fever too, which really isn’t pleasant.
  At 2 AM Tropical Cyclone Fritz, Category 1, with gusts to 100 km/h, was located 52 km east of Cape Melville moving west at 22 km/h. Cyclone Fritz should cross the coast between Lockhart River and Cape Tribulation just south of Cape Melville in the next 2 to 3 hours. Gales are likely to persist mostly just south of the cyclone for the next few hours then gradually ease as the cyclone moves inland.
  Heavy rain and local flooding are expected over the Peninsula and Northern Tropical coast.
Comment by Lucas – Friday 13 February 2004, 12:24 AM
  funny, i have a friend named fritz....

11.02.2004Wednesday 11 February – Flights, Floods and Fear

Horribly Early
Mum woke me up to tell me that it is flooded. I didn’t have a very good night’s sleep, staying up until the power failed some time after midnight, then going to bed for a while and waking up when the power came on again around 3 AM, getting back to bed sometime around four o’clock and then being woken up before six by Mum. The 11 PM cyclone advisory put us in a warning zone, so I was staying up to check the 2 AM advisory when the power failed – or rather my fan stopped. I turned on the light to see why the fan had stopped, but it didn’t – only glowing a dull orange instead. I pulled the plug on the PC, turned all the lights on, and went to bed. The power tried to come on a few times, glowing orange and then dying, before I fell asleep. After a while, I began to have funny dreams about bright lights ala “12 Monkeys”. I then woke up to find the power, and lights, were back on, so I checked the cyclone advisory, saw we weren’t about to be exterminated, updated my journal, and went back to bed.
  I walked down to look at Joneses Crossing, and it is indeed flooded. I believe we could drive through, but Mum doesn’t and she’s not going to risk losing the car. I went online and contacted Shan, who had already been down to the bridges and taken a photo, which he sent to me. Not bad considering it’s before six. The creek is high, the bridges are deep under water, and Mum needs to be at the airport by eight o’clock.
  Mum phoned up everyone she could think of – not what you really want to do early in the morning, but no one was home, or willing to risk getting to town. Eventually, I went back online and arranged with Shan to get a lift in – or at least as far as the next bridge and see if it was passable. He actually drove through Joneses crossing without being washed away, so there’s a reasonable chance we could have too. Each crossing we came to, we expected the worst – but they were all just under. The water was almost lapping on the Mungumby Bridge.
  After what turned out to be a rather uneventful drive into town and out to the airport, we were told that Cairns Airport was closed and to come back at ten o’clock, so we dropped Mum at Vince’s and bought breakfast at the bakery.
  An apple turnover (with fresh cream) and milk drink later and we were actually awake. Once the supermarket was open, Shan and Kylie did some shopping and I bought a few emergency supplies just in case I can’t get back in for ages, went and fuelled up and did some hardware shopping. The hardware has its Chinese imported motorbikes now – and they’re very cheap. $1,299 for a Coyote, from memory. We then hung around down near the wharf until the video shop was open, took back our old DVD’s, got some new ones – two lots of five, and drove home. I (randomly) ended up with “Gone in 60 Seconds”, “Dungeons & Dragons”, “The Truth about Cats & Dogs”, “Pitch Black”, and “The Quick and the Dead”.
I went online, felt tired, and decided to have a little lie down. An hour or so later I was awoken by Shan at the door, wanting to go out to the Blue Marker. We arranged with Jade and Ella to get picked up from other side of the Home Rule Bridge, and drove down there and waited, and waited, and waited. It was just low enough that we could struggle our way across without having to walk miles upstream and swim. While we were waiting, a young girl jumped in, went under water, came up, went under again, and managed to swim her way across to a tree and sat there screaming. Shan and I were on the other side of the bridge, and we weren’t quite sure if she was just screaming as girls do, or screaming for a reason – and it was too hard to tell if the redness on her face really was blood. Kylie went down to her and seemed concerned, so we struggled our way back across. She’d hit an underwater rock or something and cracked her head open by the looks – but it was a bit hard to tell through all the blood. Someone ran and got her Mum, and we continued waiting.
  After waiting half an hour and still no Jade or Ella, Shan and Kylie drove back up to their place to go online and see what was happening. Of course, as soon as they left, Jade and Ella arrived. Apparently there’d been six small trees across the road and they’d had to stop and clear them off before they could get through. We drove up to some person’s place to drop off Jade’s power steering pump, then crossed the creek again and, after Shan took their dog back home, drove out to Home Rule. The silly dog turned up on the other side of the creek just as we were about to go. Kylie freaked out that it would try to follow us, and be swept away, and Shan had to get across to it as fast as possible and take it home.
  After pumping up my tube with Joneses compressor (so much faster than a bike pump), we walked up to the Blue Marker. It was huge. Jade, Kylie and Ella weren’t game to go in. Shan and I carefully made our way across to the other side by swimming flat out while being washed downstream, and moved some sharp and dangerous logs that had fallen in the water, before trying to get close to the rapids. It was too strong – we had very little control, having to go with the flow. There was a calmer spot close to a waterfall, where the rush of water came up, and we could just manage to stay in there. It wasn’t too bad really, because when we were sucked under we’d be thrown out further down where we could swim to safety – but it’s hard to override the body’s natural instinct to try to stop itself from drowning.
  After we’d declared it semi-safe, Ella came in. We told her that she had to go with the flow – when she was sucked in, she had to wait until it spat her out again otherwise she’d get sucked in over and over again and die. However, the self-preservation instinct is quite strong, and everything in you says it’s bad to let yourself drown down to the bottom at the mercy of the water – so she struggled. We could see the look of panic in her eyes, and she weakly said “Save me” as she floated past me – Shan and I were both about to jump in and try save her if she went under again, but the water spat her out and she managed to float ashore where she sat crying for a while.
  I then got my tube, and played around on that, which was more fun but probably harder – there’s a bit of an art to staying on a tube when you’re being buffeted from all sides by rapids and a waterfall – flipping over and hitting your head on the rocks behind the waterfall isn’t a good idea either. We managed to get Ella back into the water, to her credit, provided one of us was with her and she had the tube, but we didn’t swim that long – we needed more than one tube, it was just too strong, and we were too much at the mercy of the water.
  After out swimming adventures, we set up Ella’s computer so they could play DVD’s through their television, got a lift back to the bridges with Jade (they’ve gone down a bit, and are now easy to walk across) and walked home.
I’m defensive of too many things – it sucks. A bloke in one of the forums I read was ranting on about Internet Explorer is a “pile of sh**” compared to other browsers, so I felt obliged to point out that it isn’t really, even though it is in some ways...
  IE is, in my opinion, the best browser – however, that’s arguable so I won’t argue it. Firefox is not the most standards compliant browser – Mozilla itself is slightly more standards compliant than Firefox (it shouldn’t be, but it is, who knows why) and Opera supports more CSS than Mozilla. However, the “standards compliant” title, while admirable, fails to take into account anything realistic. Don’t get me wrong – standards compliance (which really only means HTML/XHTML and CSS standards compliance in this case) is a great thing, and both Mozilla and Opera have much better standards support in this case than IE. In IE’s defence – when the current version was released it had much better standards support than any other browser – by an order of magnitude, however it has not been updated since (except for some security bug fixes). However, back to what I was going to say – while this is great for people who use cutting edge XHTML and CSS positioning (like me); it isn’t actually very useful in any real world sense. IE renders most sites more accurately than Mozilla, and supports a lot more “things” – Mozilla didn’t even support vector images last time I looked (which pisses me off) and they’ve only just got any decent type of XML support now (which still falls behind IE).
  Anyway, enough rant – but IE is definitely not “a pile of sh**”, and it’s dinner time
I’ve finished the gruelling task of going through all the possible options and selecting the best out of my university timetable. Now I just have to hope that it doesn’t change (at least not for the worse), that I can sign-on to the right things in the morning, and that enough other people do so they’re not cancelled due to insufficient numbers. I also have to eat this cup of mixed lollies, do my fangs, and go to bed so I can actually wake up in time to sign-on.

12.02.2004Thursday 12 February – Class Sign-on

I was supposed to get up at 5:45 AM – I even set the alarm, but somehow I didn’t wake up then. It was nearer eight o’clock by the time I woke, and rushed to sign-on for my “COMP3300 – Operating Systems” tutorial. Last semester, I meticulously planned my timetable, but by the time I went to sign-on, the times I wanted were full. It ended up it didn’t matter, I just went to the full ones anyway, but I’d rather be signed up for the right things this time. Out of the thirty places available for the tutorial I want, fifteen were already gone when I signed up. There’s only seven left now.
  After the exertion of getting up early, I felt sick. Actually, I think I felt sick before I got up. Either way, I felt sick so I went back to bed and dozed, waking to check the time every ten minutes. That’s not a good way to get a restful sleep, so I didn’t feel very good when I finally got up at eleven o’clock either. Sign-on for “COMP2301 – Systems Interface Programming” practicals opened at eleven. It wasn’t open when I logged in, but was open when I refreshed the page and I was the first to sign-on. By the time my sign-on had been submitted – not more than a minute after it opened, there were five other people who had signed up, so I’m glad I got in early.
I’ve just finished watching “Gone in 60 Seconds”. I’ve seen it at least once before – but really enjoyed it again. Now I’m going to eat some lollies and ignore the dishes and various other things I should be doing.
I went for my usual walk out to the halfway spot – the water is just level with the bottom of the bridges now.
  I watched “The Truth about Cats & Dogs”, which I didn’t really enjoy as much as I should have – as it’s not a bad movie, I just wasn’t in the right mood for a romantic comedy. By about halfway through I began to enjoy it, and towards the end, I was curious to know how it finished.
After doing the dishes – something I’ve not done in a while now, I made vegetable pasta for dinner and, needless to say, ate it.
I just watched “The Quick and the Dead”, which I hate to admit did engross me, although I can’t say I enjoyed it. I’m a simple person who enjoys movies with a clearly defined “goody” who clearly wins, but when they’re all doing bad things, it ruins the nice moral effect.

13.02.2004Friday 13 February – Earwigs and Acronyms

I’ve spent a quiet day mostly in my van online. It’s about as relaxing as possible now. No one is here – even Mum is down south at the moment, which means I have to cook my own food, but also means I can just relax without having to consider anyone else.
  Graeme from the Big Shed phoned up and I said I’d go do some more on their website on Wednesday, as I need to pick up Mum then as well.
While cooking dinner, I saw an earwig sort of thing. A very large earwig sort of thing, to be precise – it would be longer than eight inches. They’re not particularly rare – I’ve seen this one, or one similar, several times in the kitchen, but something about it tonight gave me the creeps. When bugs and things are so large that they begin to do animal types of stuff – making footstep noises like that huge spider Ric and I saw, or scuttling noises like this earwig thing, for example, they give me the creeps. Speaking of that spider, it was bigger than the biggest ever recorded spider – so I wish I could see another one when I had my camera with me.
Well, it’s somewhat early. I didn’t mean to stay up this late. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to automatically get lovely acronym tags into my journal. It sounds simple – I have a file with a list of acronyms, and another file with my journal data. I use XSLT to transform the journal data into whatever format I happen to need at the time – in this case XHTML. Surely it would be simple to incorporate something that finds any acronyms and replaces them with the appropriate acronym tag, but no... it isn’t simple – either that or I’m stupid. It seems that I’d have to check every single word in my journal against every acronym in the acronyms list, one by one. That doesn’t sound very efficient to me. I thought about ways of checking blocks of text for occurrences of any acronym and only parsing individual words if there’s an acronym present and various other schemes to increase the efficiency, but I couldn’t really think of a way I’d be happy with or that I could get to work nicely, so I signed up for the XSL mailing list again, and asked them. I wish they used a newsgroup, mailing lists suck.
  I then got chatting for a while and now it’s nearly light outside! I’m glad I don’t need to get up early.
Valentine’s Day
Hallmark’s website is still down, so I still can’t send any Valentine’s Day e-cards, which is roughly equivalent to the end of the world as we know it – or perhaps not, maybe it’s the thought that counts, ha. Besides, Valentine’s Day sucks – another silly excuse for commercialism. I guess it’s not actually Valentine’s Day yet anyway, seeing as it’s about five o’clock in the morning. I wonder how it all works with time zones and stuff. They confuse me.
I am so tired. Hallmark is still down. The first insane birds are beginning to sing – they need counselling. I am going to bed. I probably need counselling too, but then again, I don’t eat worms.
Comment by DM – Tuesday 17 February 2004, 1:52 AM
  I guess this would be a good time to learn about some advanced search algorithms if you could be bothered. I was thinking about how to do something along similar lines today, as well (checking ip addresses visiting a site against a list of stored ips).

14.02.2004Saturday 14 February – Valentine’s Day

Yesterday was Friday the thirteenth. Lucky I didn’t notice until today when krait mentioned it, or I might have been worried.
I woke up quite late, just in time to find Shan messaging me to ask if I wanted to go for a swim. Shortly after he and Kylie-Anne turned up and we drove out to Home Rule, walked up to the Blue Markers, and went for a swim. It was surprisingly big, considering it hasn’t rained all that much here. I suppose it’s been raining up in the hills somewhere. I managed to bruise myself lots, smashing onto most of the rocks I possibly could. I think because it was still quite strong, but nowhere near the levels the other day, that I wasn’t as careful as usual. I didn’t nearly drown this time, but I’m going to be sore later.
I stopped in here for a minute to brush my hair and get some dry clothes, then Shan, Kylie, Jade, Ella and I all headed off to town. In retrospect, I think there was some tension before we actually left – but I’m too sensitive that way, always wondering what people might be thinking. Shan and I had just begun to play Unreal Tournament 2003 (which, interestingly, we ran without installing on our computers, running it across a network from Ella’s program folder without any problems), when everyone decided to go to town. We didn’t even get to finish our game.
My teeth hurt, my jaw hurts, my ear hurts, my shoulder hurts, my foot hurts, my leg hurts, and my eyes hurt. My jaw hurts lots. I hate people and moths and dust, and everything else too.
It seems I keep getting into “discussions” about browsers recently, which end up with me defending Internet Explorer. This is ironic in some ways, because I probably know its failings and limitations better than most, but someone has to stop the hordes of rabid Linux freaks and their total lack of coherent logic!
  This reply to a forum got so long; I thought I’d include it here:
  “What a lot of codswallop.
  IE won the “browser wars” because it was vastly superior to the competition at the time. IE (when released) has always been more “standards compliant” than its competition. The latest version, IE6, was more “standards compliant” than its competition when it was released. IE has consistently been the first to implement the latest “standards”, web technologies, browser tags, or whatever you want to call them. In fact, this has often caused problems because IE has often supported various “recommendations”, which have then been changed to be incompatible after IE was released. This has happened on several occasions and is the direct fault of the various overseeing bodies such as the W3C.
  Check down this list of standard XHTML tags: Note the columns showing the earliest versions of IE and NN that supported each tag and note that IE supported virtually all tags considerably before NN. The same applies to this list of standard CSS properties: Suffice to say that each version of IE, when released, has been a cut above any of its competition. Many people have this, especially Linux users who seem to hate anything Microsoft, have this preconceived notion that IE is somehow bad, supporting its own crazy Microsoft standards and to hell with anyone else – in fact, IE was the first browser to support the various W3C standards, and Microsoft is an active member of the W3C. A validly coded page should render correctly in the latest versions of IE, and should render better in previous versions of IE than it will in previous versions of any other browser. Various exceptions do exist – certain code trips up certain browsers. The various bugs in IE’s rendering are well known.
  But enough history – fast forward to the present day. IE6 is getting old. Mozilla is constantly updated, and the latest versions of it and Opera therefore support things that weren’t even around when IE6 was released. People somehow confuse this with them being “better”. It would be more accurate to say they are “newer”, and if you happen to be viewing a page that uses any of these new technologies that have been incorporated into Mozilla and Opera since IE6 was released, they will obviously display it better than IE6 is will. That said, it is very rare that you will actually come across a site using such technology and there’s some very sound arguments against using that technology at all. The main aim of the various web standards initiatives was to create an interoperable web – one that was based on common standards, so that any device supporting these standards could be expected to render your content in a standard manner. This is an admirable aim, and one that was largely realised with the introduction of the version 6 browsers – IE6, NN6 and their equivalents.
  If everyone had stopped there, things might have been good. Unfortunately, more and more standards were conceived. New versions of everything were created. The very purpose of the standards was lost. What good is a standard if only the latest build of Mozilla supports it? No good at all – that is no better than the woeful “browser wars” when competing browsers introduced their own competing mark-up. Just because something is codified in some “standard” somewhere does not mean anyone should use it. I would like an interoperable web, where I can code something to a specified standard, and be secure that my code will render correctly in all browsers both now and in the future. I can now do that, provided I code to the current standards that IE6 (and all other equivalent version browsers) support. Anyone coding to suit Mozilla or Opera and any of their “bleeding edge” technologies is, in my opinion, just as bad as those who used to slap “Designed for Netscape Navigator 4” stickers on their sites that wouldn’t work in IE (or vice versa).
  I say, stick to the original idea of web standards – code to a common standard that is currently supported and forget the bleeding edge until such a time that it is commonly supported – anything else makes standards irrelevant and we may as well pick our favourite browser, introduce whatever we want, and use that, ala the infamous “browser wars”.
  So, the way I see it, it then boils down to whichever browser’s user interface and whatever added features it may have suits you best. In my experience, I have found Internet Explorer (using MyIE2) to be more stable, more efficient, and offer more and better features than any of the other browsers I’ve used. Some of this is my personal preference – I don’t like the “clunky” and featureless interface Mozilla and its kin use for example, but IE definitely loads faster (because it’s basically already running anyway), and I frequently have forty or more IE windows open at once – something I can’t easily do with Mozilla, it’s kin, or Opera. Therefore, for me, IE, using MyIE2, is “better”. People not running Windows, who use their browser differently, prefer different styles of interface, etc. may find another browser “better”.”

15.02.2004Sunday 15 February – Unmountable Boot Disk

I woke up (after one o’clock too, I should add) to find the computer with a blue screen error – unmountable boot disk. The first thing I thought, of course, was “Oh no, the hard drive has died”. I then did all the normal things, tried booting into safe mode, ran a RAM check because I’ve had problems with the RAM in this machine before, removed the secondary hard drive in case it had died and had the swap file on it or something odd, and then went to find an XP CD to run the recovery console – and couldn’t. My XP CD must be in Brisbane.
  I walked up to Shan’s to borrow an XP CD from him, but he didn’t have one either, so I had to drive out to Home Rule and borrow theirs. Only Mandi was home, the rest apparently up along the hydropower pipeline somewhere because a tree fell on it last night. After rummaging through piles of lingerie for a while, I found an XP CD – where else would you keep your CDs?
  Once I had the XP CD, I ran the recovery console. I was unable to get a directory listing – it gave some weird error, so I ran CHKDSK, which said it fixed a few errors. I was then able to get a directory listing, so I rebooted into Windows – and it worked. I did a full disk scan, with no errors, plugged the secondary hard drive back in, and connected to the internet. Apart from the modem saying it’s connected at its maximum port speed of 115.2 Kbsp, everything seems normal. I’m very glad, as I was worried the hard drive or something worse had died and I’d have to drive to town tomorrow and buy one, possibly at an exorbitant Cooktown price just so I could get online, and probably more importantly, so I could get the PC fixed and running before I left for university.
  lulu says I pinged out at six past five this morning, and Shan says his computer had rebooted, so I’m assuming there was a power failure, probably right in the middle of my computer writing a change to its file system, which corrupted it.
  Mandi also invited me over on Tuesday night for Ella’s birthday, and I noticed that there’s probably not enough fuel in the car to get to town – something of a problem seeing as I don’t have any spare fuel here and the nearest fuel is in town.
Shan, his wife, and two sisters arrived and invited me up to watch a DVD. Unfortunately I’d just made something to eat, so they left while I ate that and discussed Australia’s laws dealing with the age of consent, and then walked up and saw “Dungeons & Dragons” at Shan’s place. I couldn’t help comparing it to “The Lord of the Rings”, as the plots are mildly similar – but the acting, direction, and realism aren’t even in the same class.
I ended up staying up all night chatting and messing around online. I found a link checker run by the W3C so figured I might as well check all the links on my site. I found a couple of broken ones, and a few that were being redirected, and fixed them.

16.02.2004Monday 16 February – Hot

I try to decide whether to get breakfast, or go to sleep. As part of my decision making process, I lay in bed to see what it feels like. It feels good, so I choose sleep.
I woke up, after my mid-morning sleep. Since then I’ve done nothing – spending all day online. I played around with my site, giving the journal section the same CSS template system that I’ve used on the rest of the site and fixing a few things. Jade and Kylie came around in the afternoon on their way back from town to drop off some petrol. I then spent the rest of the evening online. Not exactly what I’d call very exciting.
  In online news, I’ve been rudely ignored, cursed, offended, and some word I can’t think of – that typical thing women do trying to lay guilt trips on us poor innocent men. If it weren’t for the fact that they’re all delusional schizophrenics, I might think I had a problem myself.
  Oh, and in other online news, shamrock turned up again, wanting to re-link eerie.
I’ve just finished watching “Exit Wounds”. It wasn’t until two thirds of the way through that I remembered that I have seen it before, and that it has a really poor ending. This is a bit of a shame because it’s not such a bad movie otherwise. I’m now quite hot and uncomfortable too – even a bit stressed. Time is running out, I’ll be back at uni before I know it.
In exciting IRC news, I have access to lulu’s channel again, having got sick of being unable to change boring topics, kick evil bots and lord myself over those less accessed than myself.. Now I can get busy power tripping and making everyone angry again – hmm, now I remember why I was on my self-imposed hiatus.

17.02.2004Tuesday 17 February – Ella’s Birthday

I spent a quiet day relaxing.
Shan and Kylie came around and gave me a lift up to their place. Their dog, Spirit, had gotten out so we spent a bit of time pegging down a bit of the fence where he’d crawled under, and then we drove out to Home Rule for Ella’s sixteenth birthday. After a nice dinner and beautiful Birthday cake, Ella drank some Bacardi and promptly got sick with a fever and had to lie down. It’s not the first time she’s drunken alcohol, and she didn’t drink much, so we’re not sure what happened.
  Shan and I played Unreal Tournament for a while, and then we all went home around eleven o’clock.

18.02.2004Wednesday 18 February – Mum arrives home

I realised, to my horror, that it was nearly morning time – and I had to be awake early tomorrow. I downloaded “Banshee Screamer Alarm”, plugged in some speakers, and set that to wake me up five minutes after my normal alarm.
I woke up. The computer alarm was snoozing. Did I wake up, hit snooze, and go back to bed, or does it automatically snooze after a while? I don’t know. Either way, it failed to wake me up.
I left for town, having tried in vain to wake up while getting ready. I had a milkshake from the wharf, dropped off some DVDs, checked my mail, and then headed up to the Big Shed. After talking to both the Mathew’s for quite a while, I spent three hours finishing off and adding a few more pages to their website, for the princely sum of $100.
I went online in the library for a short while, managing to get told off by Diana for not asking to use the Internet before dialling up. Some women then wanted to use it, so I walked down to Peter’s, and spent a few hours chatting to him.
I drove out to the airport, waited a while, and picked up Mum from the plane. She had a great time and they plan to make this a yearly event. We then drove home, via the bottle shop, picking up Dad from the Den and a hitchhiker from just before the Den.
I talked to Dad and Mum, talked to people online, and generally did normal stuff.
I’m worrying that I’m spending too much time on IRC recently, but it’s so relaxing. Tonight, at precisely three past midnight, jeze joined, and said hello to everyone who said hello to her – except me. This was a humiliating crisis, which required a swift resolution. Apparently, she’d ignored me the other day while drunk – or something like that because she can’t remember. So she un-ignored me and quit. How exciting.

19.02.2004Thursday 19 February – Ella may have Leptospirosis

Mum woke me up around eight o’clock after I’d gone to sleep around four o’clock last night, to see if I wanted to come to town. I didn’t, and went back to sleep again. I suppose her and Dad went to town. By the time I woke up again, closer to lunchtime, Mum was home.
I’ve just spoken to Jade on MSN. Ella went into hospital, and they think she has leptospirosis. Apparently she’s on a drip and pethidine, and feels as though her back is going to break in two, with a hot fever and everything aches heaps. Mandi is spending the night with her while they continue to monitor her, and she’ll be sent down to intensive care in Cairns if she gets any worse.

20.02.2004Friday 20 February – Ella returns and I consider privacy

I did very little, enjoying what’s probably my last relaxing day of the holidays. It’s a bit stressful thinking about packing and going back to uni and all that stuff. I’m also a bit worried about the drive down now, because I had a chat to Jade today, and it seems she has a different idea on how it’s going to go than I do. I’d like to, and had assumed we would, drive all day until we got tired, but it seems Jade wants to and has assumed we’d stop in towns and get a room for the night. The problem with getting a room, apart from the expense, is that we’d have to stop in the first town we come across on dusk, which is a real waste of time, and it would be annoying for me to sit around for hours each evening with noting to do when we could be driving. The ideal compromise would be to drive all day until we’re tired, camp somewhere, drive all the next day but then stop and get a room. That way we’d probably not get too tired, still get to shower, but still make good progress. I just hope Jade, and the weather, agrees.
Ella came home. She’s still sick, but presumably not about to die or anything if they’ve let her come home. Apparently, she’s also lacking calcium and phosphor, but they’re not sure if this is because of her sickness now or something else.
I went for a walk out to the halfway spot with a spattering of light rain behind me, worrying about treading in puddles and catching leptospirosis.
Mum and I watched “Hamlet”. I didn’t enjoy it all that much, and I don’t think she did either. Tragedy is a stupid genre for enjoyable entertainment, Shakespeare’s plays suck in some ways, and this wasn’t a particularly inspiring rendition.

21.02.2004Saturday 21 February – Swimming and midges

Shan, Kylie and my amazing self drove out to Home Rule, where we went for a swim at the Blue Marker. Despite being smaller than most of the times we’d been swimming there prior, or perhaps because of that, we really enjoyed it. Ric, Craig and Mandi came up and went for a swim too. It was good fun and I didn’t hurt myself too badly for a change.
  Ella has a new motorbike, JS125Y-A to be precise, one of the ones from the Big Shed. It’s her birthday present. She rode that up to the Blue Marker – it’s the first time she’s ridden it, as she’s been too sick. After we had finished out swim, we all went down to Home Rule, where some young girl was having a birthday party, but Luke, Rory and Vasco were there, so we ended up sitting around all evening while they took turns riding Shan or Ella’s motorbikes. Shan ran his bike out of oil once a while ago, which must have ruined the oil rings, because it uses more oil than petrol now – huge billows of smoke follow it everywhere. There were huge amounts of midges and I didn’t have much of a good time because I felt a bit left out – I think I’m just too old. Shan and the other boys can drop their maturity down a level to match that of the younger kids, but I’m that little bit older. Still, it wasn’t too bad, although the midges definitely were.
  I ended up having dinner with Joneses, and then being driven back here by Shan.

22.02.2004Sunday 22 February – Packing to move back to uni

I walked down to the pump and had to carry it back down from where we put it to keep it out of the way of floodwaters. I then spent ages trying to get the stupid hoses on – they are very bad, I think they’re slightly the wrong sizes or something. It started first pull, amazingly, but only ran for about a minute and then stalled. After several starts, and several stalls a minute later, it finally ran and I walked back up and had a cold shower. The pump did stall later, but by that time the tank was mostly full so it was ok.
I drove up to Dad’s, but he wasn’t home, so I walked up to Shan’s instead. He was just finishing off copying some CD’s so we talked for a while before I picked up the CD’s and walked home again. Dad arrived not long after I did, followed shortly after by Vince and Sarah and some people they’d picked up somewhere. They came and picked up the fridge, I said goodbye to Sarah, and they left.
I’m writing this, having got all (I hope) of my stuff ready to pack. Once I’ve written this I’ll back it up and burn it to a CD, remove my hard drive, and set up the computer for Mum again.
I’ve just said goodnight to Dad and Mum. I think I have all my stuff packed. I just have to fix up this computer, backup my data, remove my hard drive and pack it, and then try to sleep. I don’t feel sleepy. Not only have I stayed up late nearly every night, but I’m stressed or anticipatory or something now, and don’t feel like sleeping at all. In fact, I feel sad. I have had the most wonderfully relaxing holiday – I’ve done almost nothing, just lazing around doing whatever I wanted to. Now I have to go again, and I feel sad – I’ll miss Dad, Mum, and Sarah. I feel guilty for not spending more time with them, but I guess that’s how it goes.
  Well, I’ll finish off and upload this, and see if I can get to sleep.

23.02.2004Monday 23 February – Depart Home, Cairns, arriving Mackay

Mum wakes me up. I pack, take the computer inside, set it up, and go online. Ella says Jade’s car has a leak so she’s delayed.
Jade arrives. I pack my stuff into her car, say bye to Dad and Mum, and off we drive, up to Shan’s place. Only Kylie is there, Shan having just left for work. We catch up to Shan, along with Craig and Gary, just down the road out the front of Gary’s, where we say bye and head off towards Cairns.
We arrive in Cairns. The drive wasn’t too bad, although the road is – but I had some sort of stupid hay fever style affliction where my nose just ran and ran, which wasn’t much fun. We drove to Jade’s grandparents, talked to them for a while, and then went shopping. It is very hot.
  We left around 2 PM, with Jade driving. After a few hours, we swapped and I drove. The first thing I did nearly got us all killed. We were stuck behind a slow car, with a truck in front, going around a lazy bend. I could see the road for a good kilometre or so in front. There was no oncoming traffic. I pulled out to overtake. Once I was abreast of the car – not something that’s easy to do in Jade’s sluggish 1.5 litre thing, an oncoming car appeared out of nowhere. I am not sure how, it must either have been somehow hidden by the truck or in a dip that I couldn’t see. Happily for all concerned, the road was just wide enough for three cars, and I just managed to slip past. I shall definitely be dropping back a gear before any future overtaking exploits, as I wasn’t game to change down when seconds from collision in case something went wrong and we’d all die painfully – or even worse, live happily ever after but have to spend much time fixing the car.
  The next exciting thing I did was take a wrong turn – or in this case not take a right turn, in some silly little town where the highway turns hard left for no known reason and without enough huge signs. I kept going straight ahead, of course. We both kept commenting on how the road really didn’t seem quite up to the standards required by a highway, as it kept getting smaller and smaller. We began to really wonder when it turned into a one-lane road for a little while, and ended with a “no through road” sign shortly after. After some clever analysis of mailboxes, I figured out we’d driven thirty kilometres the wrong way, and I was right, of course. I even managed to speed past a police car with its speed radar out on the way back to the highway – fortunately I’d just slowed down from 120 to 110, and hopefully they didn’t get us.
  Because of my exciting misadventures, we nearly ran out of fuel – but just when we were about to run out, we came across a funny little service station tucked away in the middle of nowhere somewhere before Townsville. Despite appearing to be open, complete with man at the counter, it was actually shut, or more probably, a mirage or stuck in some type of time warp. Townsville is strange, as is everything surrounding it.
We arrived in Mackay quite late, and tried several “24 Hour Check In” motels, most of which ignored out pleading bell pushes. We finally found a $65 room, the last in that motel, incidentally. It seems they’re all pretty booked out – a lot had no vacancy signs, and I’ve a feeling the ones that ignored us were either full or close enough to that they couldn’t be bothered getting anyone else. I enjoyed the shower and sleep, but had quite a sore throat.

24.02.2004Tuesday 24 February – Rockhampton and Breakdown

We left the motel and Mackay. I feel terrible, as does Jade I think. It’s probably due to having the air conditioner on all night. My sinus is still dripping and annoying me.
About 100 kilometres north of Rockhampton, while Jade was driving through searing heat, the car lost power and stalled. We changed the high-tension leads because Jade said how this had happened once before and Craig had fiddled around with the air cleaner and found a spark plug lead not properly on. After that the car went, but failed again after a few kilometres. After fiddling with everything, it again went. After failing several times more, we figured that it was something overheating and that cooling the car down for a while made it work again. And thus we got to Rockhampton, slowly and painfully, cooling the car for quarter of an hour every quarter of an hour.
  We asked at the first service station we came to, and followed their directions to a garage. The man there wasn’t much help – saying he was busy and recommending we go buy a coil and try that. On the way to finding a coil, we found another garage and called in there. They spent a few hours looking while Jade and I walked up to a supermarket nearby and tried to re-hydrate ourselves. The mechanic couldn’t find anything wrong with the car and told us to come back at 8 AM tomorrow.
Jade and I stayed at “Ramblers Caravan Park” in a $40 shack without air-conditioning and a communal ablutions block, which wasn’t such a good deal considering we’d seen a $43 motel advertised with air-conditioning – but I wasn’t the one making the decisions. Jade phoned home and talked for ages and ages from a public payphone, and I phoned home after her, and talked for a normal, reasonable amount of time until my small change ran out. After that, we went got pizza for dinner, then watched some TV before going to bed.
Comment by Matt – Wednesday 3 March 2004, 9:25 AM
Comment by Ned – Wednesday 3 March 2004, 7:41 PM

25.02.2004Wednesday 25 February – Rockhampton, Rain, and Brisbane

We wake up, pack our stuff, and drive around to heat the car up and find the mechanic again – which was harder than it sounds.
We dropped the car off at the mechanic’s and walked up to a nearby plaza so Jade could join the RACQ – something she should have done before she left, in my opinion.
We went and watched “Mona Lisa Smile”. There were many babies and parents with small brains, children rather, there. They all ran around in the aisles doing things and making noises. It didn’t bother me because I was engrossed in the movie, which I enjoyed although I’m not sure I’d say it was particularly good. Jade, however, seemed distracted by the kids and I don’t think she liked the movie very much – at least she said she didn’t, but you never know with women.
  After that, we walked back to the mechanics, only to learn that they still can’t find any problem, despite, or perhaps because of, all their computerised equipment. At least they didn’t charge us anything.
We left Rockhampton, going inland on our merry way towards Melbourne once again. After about ninety kilometres, we broke down again, just the same as before. A few car-cools later and we managed to limp into a tiny town, where we waited half an hour to let the car cool nicely. Even after this, we only got halfway back to Rockhampton before it broke down again, but the heat of the day was beginning to wear a little thin, and a quarter hour cool down was enough to get us back into town. In fact, the car performed nicely after that.
  We arrived sometime around 5:20 PM, and the mechanic was shut, so we decided to try driving down the coast now that it was cooler, and see what happened. At the worst, we should at least get to the next town and try the mechanic there tomorrow.
The car went fine. We drove into some spectacular lightning storms and huge deluges, which Jade drove through very slowly.
We arrived in Brisbane, my (amazing) self driving. It’s strange driving through a deserted city. There’s no one at all anywhere – not a single car. I can drive in any lane I want, on either side of the road, at any speed I wish, through whatever colour light I fancy, without anyone even knowing – except Jade, and she’s not very adventurous, so I didn’t. It did make it remarkably easy to find the road to Ipswich though, and eventually head out to the Cunningham Highway.

26.02.2004Thursday 26 February – Queensland, New South Wales and then Victoria

I drove all night non-stop, apart from buying fuel and coke. It was quite fun really, although bad edges right on the sideline while trying to get past tailgating B-doubles at 120 km/h at 4 AM when all lights look like huge blurs is a bit hairy.
Jade insisted on driving, worrying that as I’ve been up since 6:30 AM yesterday, and driving for a lot of that time – I might be slightly sleepy or something silly. I was more worried about her, because I’m used to staying up all night, and know what I can handle, but she was admittedly sleepy.
We stopped somewhere or other with a funny hard to pronounce name, and I rang Mum and ate some food and stuff like that.
I am writing this at Jerilderie, at a caravan park. It’s $35 for a caravan. We’re apparently about 3½ to 4 hours from Melbourne now. I’d drive on if it were me, but Jade won’t, so we’re staying here the night. Jade says she feels like she’s falling backwards and everything is big. I feel a bit tired, yet she dozed all night while I drove all night – go figure. I’ve also had stupid sinus/hay fever/whatever it is problems all the way down, which is not fun.

27.02.2004Friday 27 February – Melbourne

Jade woke me up, and we left at a quarter past six, which is a quarter past seven Victorian time, Victorians being stupid people.
Fifty kilometres outside Melbourne we enter the haze™, and what’s even worse – we could smell it, and it was not a pleasant smell. What type of person lives in a city that you can smell from fifty kilometres away? The answer is obvious.
We drove around Melbourne, spending immense amounts of time stuck behind trams. What kinds of people have a modern city with trams down the middle of the road? They’re like buses that can’t pull over, that stop in the middle of the traffic, and spew forth their people into the traffic to be run over. Once again, the answer is obvious.
  We manage to get lost, because we can’t go the right way, as it requires an e-toll thing, but there’s no easy way to buy that. Typical. Melbourne has to have the worst transport and roads of any modern city, and there’s no way they can deny that while they’ve still got trams – not to mention that they’re famous as an example of how not to run your public transport system.
Fortunately for us, after asking directions, we do eventually arrive at Jade’s place. Unfortunately, no one is there so we can’t get in. We drive to Shannon’s workplace, but she’s not there. We walk across to a fish and chip shop where Shannon’s sister works. She tries to phone Shannon, but can’t get through, eventually telling us to come back before 5 PM (silly Victorian time, so that’s 4 PM in human time).
  We take a train into the city, find an internet café where I book a flight back to Brisbane ($139 with Qantas – The Spirit of Australia!), go on IRC and chat, check my email, and exciting things like that, before having a quick wander around Brisbane and then back to meet the sister of the girl Jade is staying with. She says she’s meeting her sister and will drop the key off at ten to seven, which is ten to six in human time.
Jade and I went to a library where I read forums and stuff online. The old PC froze loading my chat applet, so I gave up on that. After the library closed, I went and took some photos of Melbourne from the other side of the toxic effluent, river I mean, and had a milkshake.
Shannon’s sister turns up, over half an hour late as women are wont to be, with the key and Jade and I are able to get inside.
Shannon hasn’t turned up, and Jade and I are both very tired, so Jade has written a note and gone to bed, and I’m going to sleep on the cushions from the couch on the living room floor.

28.02.2004Saturday 28 February – Melbourne, the elimination thereof, and Brisbane

We wake up to find there’s still no Shannon. We go to the train station, where there are trains. They are fat and wide. I had forgot how much wider the gauge is down here. They have five seats across, compared to Brisbane’s four seat trains, and the seats and aisles are still wider.
We catch the 9:52 AM train into the city. Jade continues on to wherever it is she goes, and I walk around looking at things.
I phoned Joe.
I’m on the 3:05 PM train back to Newport from Flinders Street Station.
Melbourne, and Victoria itself, needs to be eliminated, for the good of all Australia. I have formulated a simple five-point plan:
  First, a special tax will be applied to Victoria, to help fund its removal.
  Secondly, a fund will be set up to ease the struggle caused by the aforementioned tax. This fund will provide quick and simple loans to everyone.
  Thirdly, a special levy will be levied on everything possible within Victoria to fund the above fund.
  Fourthly, all loans from the above fund will be called in, immediately, along with an increase in the tax and levy to cover the costs of repossessing Victoria.
  Fifthly, the cold parts of Victoria will be given to Tasmania, so they can have some of the mainland and get to see what normal people are like. The useless parts will be given to South Australia, so they can grow more grapes, or whatever it is that they do – and any good bits can be merged with New South Wales. Melbourne itself would probably make a good indigenous reserve, or perhaps nuclear waste dump.
I arrive at Newport station, where there is no Jade.
Jade arrives, and we drive out to the airport without any problems – it’s an easy drive. Qantas flight QF632, departing Melbourne 18:05 (funny time) and arriving Brisbane 19:10 (human time) is fifteen minutes delayed due to the cleaners being late, and is a Boeing 737-800, not full.
Here I am on the train to Roma Street, back in Brisbane again. The weather is pleasant – it feels the same as Melbourne so far. I can really notice the narrower train gauge.
I arrive at Joe’s place. Liz is here. I have a pleasant chat to Joe, eat some “Chinese” he thoughtfully bought for me, and crash into bed for a great night’s sleep.

29.02.2004Sunday 29 February – Back to normal again

I unpacked all my stuff, finding that my Leatherman is missing. I phoned Qantas, and then Brisbane Airport, and filed a lost/stolen complaint and got a number to follow it up tomorrow. I can’t quite imagine that someone would steal it – it wouldn’t seem like the type of thing someone would find. Perhaps it somehow fell out, there is a minute rip in the bottom of my bag, but the chances of it somehow falling out of that don’t seem very high.
I set up my computer. The hard drive seems to work, which is good. The CPU fan doesn’t though, which is bad. In fact, everything seems to be running just how I left it. I went online, synchronised this data from my backups I made up north, installed the latest versions of everything, and everything seems to be working.
I drove up to Smith Road and bought $6 of chips, a piece of fish, and some scratch-its for Joe. I was surprised at the large amount of chips we got – they came in a large box. Joe had a large assortment of salads, and we had a nice dinner of chips and salad.
I’m sitting at my computer, writing out my journal.
I guess I should go to bed, but hey – this day only comes once every four years!

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