A Daily Diatribe by a Pompous Git

Who is that fat bastard? A Sturm's Eye View, Guaranteed Free of Harmful, or Potentially Harmful Chemicals -- but Watch Out for the Ideas! Some of them are Contagious! 

A journal of sorts to record Jonathan Sturm's (and others') thoughts and observations on things worth thinking about. Feedback welcome, but be aware that unless you prominently say you want your communication kept private, I may publish it.

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Monday 21 January 2002

Well I had the best night's sleep for many weeks. Maybe it was the extra stubby of stout at beer o'clock! Or maybe it was just the feeling of satisfaction that several jobs were well and truly out of the way and I can relax at last with no feelings of guilt. Today is to be a day of total relaxation in our new home. There are many things needing my attention, but my last day off was Christmas Day.

My thanks to the many readers who emailed their congratulations on our moving into The House of Steel.

Thought for the day:

The time to relax is when you don't have time for it.

Sidney J. Harris

Current Listening

Bob Dylan -- Desire


Tuesday 22 January 2002

Fred Reed is always a fascinating read and his latest column pretty much sums up my own conclusions about political freedom: Democracy. Sort Of. Kinda. Maybe, Anyway.


Fred Langa has a stern warning for the unwary Windows XP user here

"If Windows XP reaches the end of its one-month grace period without being activated, it simply locks you out, period. After login--even as Administrator--instead of seeing the normal desktop, you're shown a message:

"This copy of Windows must be activated with Microsoft before you can log on. Do you want to activate Windows now? (Yes/No)" If you answer yes, you're taken through the activation process, after which--if your system successfully completes its activation--you can resume computing normally. But if you answer No or if your machine is unable to complete the activation process, you can't continue. You're stopped cold, completely locked out of the operating system."

I'm definitely sticking with Win2k!

Thought for the day:

Most vegetarians look so much like the food they eat that they can be classified as cannibals. 

Finley Peter Dunne

Current Listening

Taj Mahal -- Take a Giant Step/Dem Old Folks Back Home


Wednesday 23 January 2002

My friend Allan Moult is a gifted writer and photographer. You will find an eclectic look at life with an Australian twist and a photograph or two here.


Rick who has a second-hand/antiques shop in Franklin brought a rug for the floor of The Great Hall yesterday. It's a perfect match for the furniture and a bargain at $A150. I am taken by the design -- Persian/Aztec -- you will see what I mean when I post some photographs later this week. The furniture and rug have partially tamed the reverberation problem and I set up the stereo properly. Unfortunately, two problems are evident.

The first is television reception. I wanted to place the aerial where the signal was likely to be strongest. We are 40 km from the transmitter, though its aerial is clearly visible on Mount Wellington overlooking the city of Hobart. Unfortunately, She Who Must Be Obeyed and the architect wanted the aerial at the back of The House of Steel so it is invisible from the front. The loss of signal on the long run of coax means we have noise and a slight amount of ghosting on our favourite channel. Reception on the much higher frequency of our second favourite channel is almost perfect, despite the lower power transmitter. I suspect that an amplifier will need to be installed to boost the signal. Thomas's TV works perfectly on its "rabbit ears"! Of course a decent size indoor antenna in The Great Hall would probably do the trick, but also be aesthetically displeasing placed where it could "see" the signal.

While FM reception is perfect, AM is unlistenable. The receiver has a small loop antenna about 100 mm (4 in) square, but the lead of twisted pair doesn't allow it to be placed where the signal is unobstructed by the steel wall of the house. When I extend it with a piece of figure eight flex, the signal is still very weak and the signal is far too noisy. It's a pity as ABC's Radio National has Robyn Williams weekly Science Show and that's still broadcast on AM here, though it's on FM most other places.

Prior to the move, I purchased some extra heavy duty figure eight for the speakers (VAF DCX) and much to my surprise, it has affected the high frequencies rather than the anticipated effect of providing better bass. The speakers definitely sound brighter, though they are of course in a much less absorbent room. I eagerly await the arrival of my friends with more expertise than I possess to give me some sound advice. My ears are far from golden and the quality of the sound is far better than that provided by my old homebuilt Playmaster amplifier and SEAS 60 speakers.

Thought for the day:

Do you know what a pessimist is? A man who thinks everybody as nasty as himself, and hates them for it. 

George Bernard Shaw

Current Listening

Laurie Anderson -- Strange Angels


Thursday 24 January 2002

Yesterday, this website passed 40,000 page reads since September 2000. It's far more than I ever expected when starting, so thank you gentle readers. I will attempt to keep up what you apparently find of interest. 


I have changed ISP again, back to DingoBlue. iPrimus must be the worst ISP I have had. Like Telstra's BigPond, their mail servers frequently insist that either there is no such person as me, or that my password is invalid! Unlike Telstra, they can be very difficult to connect to at times, the connection times out, and that's a local call fee each time. My bill for local calls doubled under iPrimus. As usual, I expect this to leave a few spammers behind.


I find myself accused of repeated put-downs of Americans. Again. Bizarre! For the record:

I am an unabashed admirer of the American Republic; my favourite artist is Andrew Wyeth; my best friend and best man at my wedding was brought up in Louisiana and until recently was a US citizen; my favourite film director is Robert Altman; my favourite actor is Eliot Gould; my favourite actress is Shelley Duvall; my first son's second name is Duane in honour of guitarist Duane Allman; my hero is the American physicist, Richard Feynman; my favourite Blogger is Mark Zimmerman; my favourite sport in high school was baseball; my favourite fish dish is gumbo; my favourite lamb dish is a recipe from a San Francisco restaurant; my favourite science fiction writer is Jerry Pournelle; my favourite recipe book for meat is called America's Favorite Recipes; my favourite Internet journalist is Fred Reed; my favourite opera singer is Jessye Norman; my favourite photographs are by Ansel Adams; five times as many Americans have been invited to my housewarming than the percentage of Americans living in Australia; my web server is American; my computer operating system is American; even my fsking French windows are American!

The rest of this Blog has been deleted following legal advice.

Thought for the day:

We always love those who admire us; we do not always love those whom we admire.

Francois De La Rochefoucauld

Current Listening

Lou Reed -- The Blue Mask


Friday 25 January 2002

Later today, I will be visiting the dentist. The fall I had several weeks ago has left the two teeth that were bent at right angles to normal, quite painful on occasion. Mostly when I am breathing cool air rapidly. It's some 15 years since my last visit to the dentist and my last required filling was in 1970. It was extremely painful. My feelings are of dread and loathing and I assure you this has nothing to do with the fact that the dentist is American.


My friend Mike Barkman across the Tasman Sea writes:

<snip> Yesterday, this website passed 40,000 page reads since September 2000. It's far more than I ever expected when starting, so thank you gentle readers. I will attempt to keep up what you apparently find of interest. </snip>

I recently looked at my year's stats for 2001 and was astonished to find that I had 53,852 page reads over the year. As you say -- we must be doing *something* right...

Cheers ... /Mike

-- Web site and daynotes at http://www.icarus.gen.nz



The House of Steel is as ready as can be for the housewarming celebration on Groundhog Day, 2 February to which all my readers are virtually invited. It will start around the middle of the day here, GMT +11 hours and run for as long as it takes -- possibly until Tuesday if some of my friends have their way! I am hoping to have a webcam to stream some images to this site, but since I have no experience of such beasts and it will rely on computers and my ISP, don't be too disappointed if it doesn't eventuate.

Thought for the day:

Fear is excitement without breath.

Robert Heller

Current Listening

Joni Mitchell -- The Hissing of Summer Lawns


Saturday 26 January 2002

Well, now I know what a root canal is. For around an hour, two delightful young ladies fussed around my Novocain numbed mouth. Does anyone know why dentists ask one questions while doing this? Let's face it, there's not a lot of meaning in "Nga, gu ga gl ul!" I must say, the use of a numbing gel on the gums prior to the injection was welcome. My last such experience was in 1970 and the pain of the injection and the drilling were excruciating.

After that I felt a pressing need for a few refreshing chardonnay and sodas at The Victoria Tavern. First though, I dropped my film off for processing, expecting it to be ready in a couple of hours. Unfortunately, there's a huge cruise ship in port and they can't run E6 until late, by which time I'd be completely legless. I won't have time for posting the pictures until Sunday anyway.

The tourists are easy to spot among the native Hobartians. Locals tend to saunter, rather than stride about purposefully as the tourists do -- intent on gaining the maximum amount of experience per second from their "relaxing" holiday.

At the Vic, Guy, Rod, James and myself, later joined by John, then Cam, sit at The Judges' table adjacent to the windows. The publican, Big Al, asks us to be as fair and impartial as possible in our deliberations. James and I cheerfully ignore the No Smoking sign on the wall and Big Al, himself a smoker ignores the fact that we are ignoring it. And the rest of the judges ignore James and myself's smoking. Because of course, we are there to judge. And what, you may ask, are we judging? -- girls and women. To be more precise, the various parts of their anatomy and the harmoniousness of them. It is a pleasant way to while away the middle part of a sunny day.

Guy cheerfully recalls being the only Judge present when the recent Great Downpour turned the passing parade into an instant wet T-shirt competition. Big Al, being of a more serious bent, placed a 10 oz glass on the pavement and timed how long it took to become half full -- three minutes.

Libby, The Most Beautiful Barmaid in the World, is on holiday in Perth and her young niece Anna is working the bar in her place. Anna is most definitely The Second Most Beautiful Barmaid in the World and her hipster jeans reveal part of the top of a butterfly tattoo both front and back. Were the top of those jeans low enough to reveal the rest of the butterflies, one suspects attention might be drawn elsewhere! And like her aunt, she is wonderfully efficient and has obviously been well tutored by Libby. My spritzers start one third soda and are made gradually weaker, rather than stronger. I do dislike becoming too pissed to walk straight.

So, it was a relatively sober Fat Bastard that caught the bus to Franklin, getting off at Arthur's to grab a lukewarm Cornish pasty to eat on the way to the local pub where I await Marguerite to take me home. Not that The Fat Bastard is quite so fat. Today he noted that the 20 year old belt is back on the hole when he first wore it, three holes tighter than when it was at its loosest. Perhaps the ladies comments on my becoming quite slim are fact, rather than fancy!

Afternoon at The Lady Franklin is time to chat with the old men, learning the eclectic history of this beautiful backwater of the world, but this afternoon's conversation is entirely too salacious to relate here. Pity!

Thought for the day:

Paradise is exactly like where you are right now... only much, much better.

Laurie Anderson

Current Listening

Paul Simon -- One Trick Pony 


Sunday 27 January 2002

It might seem strange after all my moaning about how cold it's been until a week or so ago, but yesterday was unrelentingly hot and humidity around 95%. Even though the Subaru has an air conditioner, Marguerite prefers not to use it on the grounds of economy. "Bugger the economy," I said, but we still needed to turn it off on several long hills coming home as it severely degrades the performance of the motor.

We needed several essentials for The House of Steel, including the latest photographs and a client needed some hands-on support. Marguerite had put a new slant on money laundering by failing to remove their last cheque from my shirt pocket, so rather than have them cancel the cheque, I handed it to Allan to tear up. It was so fragile on the fold, gravity tore it in half!

We had left Fran to finish off several small bits around the house, including the persistent leak adjacent to the flue. Fran had left by the time we got home, and Thomas assured us that Fran had tested the leaky area and declared it waterproof. Half an hour later, a vigorous thunderstorm broke and for a brief period the rain bucketed down. The leak is still there and illustrated that my own test of pouring a single bucket of water on the roof was far too feeble. Water dripped not just from the corner of the steel surround where it had previously, but also down the outside of the flue itself and the wall behind! Later today, I will have to fix the problem.

As I write this, I am recovering from a slight excess of alcohol imbibed during dinner last night. We dined with Sue Jenkins, the lady who took over Michael and Gail's house. She is a delightful conversationalist and while a teetotaller herself, encouraged us to drink two bottles of fine wine between us. Sadly, the red wine leaves me somewhat hung over as I am allergic to histamine. We learned much of events overseas from someone who was there, particularly Bangladesh where Sue has been working lately. And Sue learned much of what she needs to know locally as she wants to impress herself on the landscape; wallabies and possums eat plants, Tasmanian devils eat chooks!

We recommend Ralph, the lunatic fencer. When Ralph purchased his property, it was infested with blackberries. He expressed his intention of burning them out and the neighbours warned him that would destroy all of his fences! "Oo, ar!" said Ralph, "Oi loiks fencin'!" He charges more than other fencing contractors, but there's no doubt that he makes the best there are.


Mat Lemmings writes:

"Today he noted that the 20 year old belt is back on the hole when he first wore it, three holes tighter than when it was at its loosest. Perhaps the ladies comments on my becoming quite slim are fact, rather than fancy!"

Yeah, or perhaps you just stretched the belt over 20 years of hard labour ...

I much enjoyed your tales today - I think we spend our time down the pub undertaking very similar research.

If the belt stretched, so did tape measures, you strange and English person! And you are far too young to be a Dirty Old Man!

Thought for the day:

I have been photographing our toilet, that glossy enameled receptacle of extraordinary beauty. Here was every sensuous curve of the "human figure divine" but minus the imperfections. Never did the Greeks reach a more significant consummation to their culture, and it somehow reminded me, in the glory of its chaste convulsions and in its swelling, sweeping, forward movement of finely progressing contours, of the Victory of Samothrace.

Edward Weston

Current Listening

Leonard Cohen : I'm Your Man


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Jonathan Sturm 2002

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Jonathan Sturm 2002