At last! Our Census is going electronic

24 07 2006

Australia has a Census every 5 years. Usual stuff. An army of census people deliver tonnes of census booklets to every household in Australia over the next couple of weeks, we fill in the forms on the night of Tuesday August 8, then the army of collectors comes back and picks up all the booklets and off they go for scanning and analysis.

I remember back in 1996 and again in 2001 questioning why they didn’t offer an online option for the census. 1996 would’ve been too early as the internet uptake was pretty low at that time and speeds were achingly slow compared to today, but it would’ve made a lot of sense in 2001.

Well, here we are – it’s 2006, and this year Australians will be able to take part in the census electronically! Cool!

On reading the FAQs on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website, it looks like they’ve got the “I’ve already filled it in” situation covered ( So I hope it works well. It would be good to save a few trees and to get this data written straight to the database. Over time, this should not only save a lot of taxpayer money but provide more responsive feedback to city planners and the like as I’d expect that the demographic trends etc. will be available much quicker.

The good Dockers came out to play yesterday

24 07 2006

I tossed up whether to go to the footy yesterday. It was another gorgeous winter’s day – sunshine, almost cloudness, warm-ish (compared to Saturday when it was BLOODY COLD) – but Paul wasn’t playing and two of my nieces and nephews weren’t going to go. If Michelle and Craig had pulled out too, I wouldn’t have gone. Going to the game is a shared experience for me; I don’t think I’d enjoy it too much if I was sitting by myself surrounded by 4 empty seats.

So anyhow, I went. And Michelle and Craig turned up. And we had a great time. This time ‘the boys’ played like a team – you could feel their spirit, and the crowd responded in kind. It was a much more up-beat match than the one two weeks ago against Essendon which the Dockers won by 40 points, but which was as flat as a pancake emotionally.

Oh, and the Dockers won too, by about 30 points. So we keep our position in the top 8 with only 6 games to go. ‘Carn the Dockers!

Martha used “discombobulate” correctly!

22 07 2006

So, there I was last night, surfing the cable TV channels in the few minutes before turning out the light and drifting off into the Land of Nod… when I stopped in on the “Martha Stewart” show ‘cos she was doing some great stuff with a big old roast turkey. The stuffing looked and sounded sublime and I’ll have to hunt her website for it. (Found it! video here; turkey recipe; fruit and nut stuffing recipe)

Now Martha’s show is not one that I watch – I’ve seen maybe 5 or 10 minutes of her in my entire life. But this turkey roast thing was terrific. She had a guest (one of the guys from “Desperate Housewives”?) and the conversation about the turkey and what they were doing to it was full of double entendres. Martha was getting all flustered and finally said that she was becoming “discombobulated”.

I nearly fell over! It’s not often I’ve heard that word, and usually it’s come from the mouths of software developers. So I was surprised that Martha used it – and correctly too!

I wonder how many of her audience and viewers took a little trip to the dictionary after that episode.

(Oh, and the episode was part of her “30 Things Everyone Should Know” series.)

Someone wants to use my photos in a presentation

20 07 2006

I had a neat request the other day from someone from the University of Ottawa in Canada. They saw my pictures of the Ksan Village in British Columbia on Webshots and requested permission to use some of them (with acknowledgement, of course) in a presentation they were doing in China!

That’s not bad – a Canadian in Ontario requesting permission to use pics taken in British Columbia by an Australian for use in a presentation in China!! I love the internet!

BTW, if you’re interested, the pics are at: and were from the trip I did on my way home from the STC Conference in Baltimore in 2004.

Chittering Wine Trail

16 07 2006

We’d been meaning to try the wineries just north of Perth for a while, and today was it! It was an absolutely glorious winter’s day – and warm enough for just a T-shirt for most of the time. Off we went with another couple and headed north to Bullsbrook, then Chittering Rd where we followed the wine trail and tasted the wine at all bar one of the wineries.

First stop was Kyotmunga wines where the Classic White and the Grenache took our fancy, then on to Western Range and Stringybark where nothing stood out as being worth buying. We though of having lunch at Stringybark but the day was too nice to be inside in a dark dining area.. and besides the prices were fairly steep. So instead we drove on to Bindoon where we had the most fabulous pies (REAL steak in them!) at the bakery. We got extremely well fed for around $20 for the 4 of us… entrees at Stringybark were around $18 each and mains were close to $30 each, so I think we did well with the pies!

Next stop was Briery Estate just west of Bindoon, where we sat on the verandah in the sun enjoying the wide range of wines, talking to the owners, and feeding the lamb!


Next we lobbed in at Riseborough wines, which, unlike the others so far, was very high tech/modernist. And just look at the colour of that Rose!


Finally, we stopped at Jylland Wines about 30 minutes before closing time at 5:00pm. Another place where you could sit out on the verandah and enjoy the winter sunshine. So we did.



And here’s where we went…



Comfort food 1: Chilli

15 07 2006

I did some batch cooking today – chilli mince, a favourite! Cheap meal with LOTS of goodies in it… and a lot of chilli. Here’s a sort of recipe, but it’s one of those home cooking/comfort food dishes where you put in a bit of this and a bit of that – whatever you have to hand at the time.

  • 1kg lean beef mince (2lb ground beef for the Americans)
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 or 2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 4 large-ish mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 red capsicum (red pepper), chopped
  • 2 cans kidney beans
  • 1 can chopped/diced tomatoes
  • 1 packet chilli con carne mix (I use “Old El Paso”)
  • 1 good shake of McCormick’s Spicy BBQ spice
  • 1 good shake cajun spice
  • 1 big dollop of a fiery chilli sauce! (if you’re not a big chilli fan, leave this out)

In a large pot (I use a soup pot), lightly fry the diced onions in a squirt of olive oil. Add the carrots and celery. Crumble in the mince and brown it. Stir in the can of tomatoes and the cans of red kidney beans. Add the mushrooms, zucchini, and red capsicum. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often so that it doesn’t stick. Add all the spices and the chilli – mix in well. Simmer for about 40 mins, stirring every 5-10 minutes.

While it tastes good straight away, it tastes even better after a day! I usually put the mix into takeaway containers and freeze it in meal size packs. This recipe above created at least 5 meals for the two of us.

Serving suggestions:

  • over pasta as a Bolognese sauce
  • with rice
  • as the base for Shepherd’s/potato pie
  • as the meat part of nachos

Chilli mince

Commuting by ferry

14 07 2006

This morning I had a breakfast meeting in a cafe on the edge of the Swan River near the ferry terminal. I could’ve driven in to town and hassled with paid parking (even though the meeting started at 7:30am and parking shouldn’t have been a problem), but instead I decided to do something I haven’t done in ages – catch the ferry in to the city. At that hour I was able to park for free in a South Perth street close to the ferry terminal, then take the 7 minute ride across the river to the CBD.

It was glorious! The sun came peeking over the horizon as we left the South Perth terminal and with the ducks, pelicans, gulls and even a black swan or two in the distance, as well as the early morning sunlight bouncing off the windows of the fancy apartments on the South Perth esplanade, it was delightful. I realised how much I missed the stillness of the river, and its ever-changing nature. A few times when I’ve had contracts right in the heart of the CBD, I’ve commuted by ferry, but these days, my work takes me further afield, so public transport is not a realistic option.

But if I was working in the CBD again, I’d do that ferry trip every day in a heartbeat. It’s a great place to meditate on the day ahead, or the one just finished.

The breakfast meeting finished just before 9:00am, so I walked the one minute back to the ferry, hopped on, repeated the process back to South Perth – then jumped in my car and drove to work :-(. That ferry trip was darned good for the soul.