August 2005 Archives
As if you couldn't guess from the last post, I'm back from Brisbane.
It's nice to be back in the humidity - Brisbane is pretty dry. And not just from a weather point of view. What's with those odd pub closing hours? It's worse than being in England - the pubs are closed whenever you're thirsty!
I've upgraded the site to Movable Type 3.2 and it was a complete pain in the neck to do so.
I've basically had to rebuild the entire site from scratch (and my daily backups). I had problems with importing templates or creating new templates and thus rebuilding any part of the site. This made doing an uprade impossible. I suspect that this is because I've had this blog in MT for a few versions and it's been upgraded quite a few times already.
I installed the MT-3.2 files in a new cgi-bin directory and did a completely fresh install. I then imported the entries I'd exported before I started this whole sorry mess. Now I just have to rebuild every single template I made. While I'm doing that, commenting probably won't work.
Lucky for me that I linked them all to files and edited them outside of MT anyway.
Moveable Type 3.2 is not ready for primetime. Or, at least the upgrade process needs a lot of work. Do not upgrade your blog to it. It's better to do a clean install and then export your blog from the old system and import it into the new system.
UPDATE: The old templates have now been restored and some small changes made to the stylesheets.
LOCATION: Over Manila
I usually fly with Cathay Pacific when I travel for work. After some bad experiences with BA (motto: "we don't care."), I'll stick with flying with the local lads and lassies, thanks.
One thing which seems to be new on Cathay flights is live radio. On Channel 47/48 — the screens normally showing the aircraft's speed and position — you can now listen to the BBC World Service, if shortwave reception conditions permit.
It's noisy, comes and goes a lot and reception seems to vary depending on what you're flying over, but, hey, you can get live news from the BBC while you're inthe air!
LOCATION: Over the South China Sea
For a news junky like me, this is great. I used to listen to the World Service under the blankets as a lad and the strains of Lillibullero creaking out from a tinny radio followed by the news is very reassuring.
We're half an hour from Manila now, over the South China sea, and the quality of the signal is very good. There's still the characteristic coming and going effect, but we're at 41,000 feet, travelling at 563 mph, so it's pretty good, considering.
Reviewing someone's first novel, it is customary to be polite about it, to find things to praise in it. So let me say straight away that James Thackara's The Book Of Kings is printed on very nice paper; the typeface is clear and readable, and Samantha Nundy's photograph of the author is in focus
Yet another letter from the unlinkable SCMP
Issue a rainstorm warning that we can understand
I write regarding the disastrous rainstorm last weekend resulting in mudslides, floods, more than 100 people made homeless and at least one casualty. I am perplexed as to why this was classified as an amber rainstorm, with no emergency warnings. There were also strong monsoon and thunderstorm warnings. Most of us do not have a degree in meteorology, to figure out when it is safe to venture outside, so we rely on our Observatory to give us guidance.
On Saturday morning, I was completely soaked in five seconds. I stood in disbelief as my umbrella collapsed. I mustered enough courage to begin the treacherous two-minute walk to work. As I went along, the whole 55kg of me almost got blown off the street three times by squalls much worse than in any No 8 typhoon I have encountered in this city.
I then called the Observatory for an explanation. All I got was a standard technical answer as to what constituted an amber rainstorm warning and why they could not lift it any higher. At no point did they actually attempt to find out what the conditions outside were really like and what extra emergency measures ought to be taken immediately.
I really do not care what constitutes a yellow or red rainstorm. All I care about is safety for myself, my family and fellow citizens. What good are warnings if they do not reflect reality? The Observatory ought to be much more vigilant about our safety. This type of bureaucratic complacency just breeds incompetence.
L. LI, Mid-Levels
So, let's just get this straight:
- There were three warnings hoisted:
- the Amber Rainstorm warning;
- the Thunderstorn warning; and
- the Strong Monsoon warning.
- It was the height of summertime in Hong Kong, (also known as the rainy season.);
- You presumably have windows in your flat, to use to look outside and see if the weather is good or bad;
And you still think you should blame the Observatory for the fact that you got wet when going out in the rain?
You know, most people don't need a degree in Meteorology to figure out when it's safe to go outside. My own children appear to be capable of looking out the window and deciding if it's worth going out, despite not even going to primary school yet.
And as for your mustering enough courage to make the two-minute walk to work, that is one of the most pathetic things I have ever read. You had to spend two whole minutes in the rain? What are you, some kind of spoiled Hello-Kitty Princess?
I mean, I currently have a ten-minute walk to work with the constant threat of poisonous spiders, venomous snakes, man-eating sharks, ockers, bludgers, and drop-bears. (And my landlady looks like Pauline Hanson.) Do you hear me whinging about it?
Close to my apartment building is the Grey Street bridge, which was opened in 1932. In 1955, it was renamed after the first Lord Mayor of Brisbane, William Jolly.
Mundy-Turner are a folk duo who are nominally based in Brisbane, but who tour around the world. I thought that I might be able to see them down here, but unfortunately, it looks like they're on a bit of a world tour at the moment. Unfortunately for me, of course, not them. It's great that they're so busy.
(I've seen them twice in Hong Kong. They do a great show, with an amazing amount of music for only two people playing. If they play near you, go see them.)
Anyway, one of the songs from their album Naked: "Walking The William Jolly", was running through my head when I stepped off the plane in Brisbane. After listening to the song, I was expecting the William Jolly to be a light, airy and delicate structure. The reality is that it's a solid, slightly plain structure. The way the roadway is suspended up near the top of the arch is reminiscent of older railway bridges in England.
The arches are solid and heavy, in stark contrast to the lighter arches of the Merivale rail bridge to the west.
The Brisbane Skyline framed through the arches:
One of the very noticeable differences between Melbourne and Brisbane is the constant searching of bags. When you go into most large department stores (K-mart, Woolworths, Target) and you're carrying a bag, the bag will most likely be searched when you leave the store.
This searching sends a very simple statement: "We don't trust our customers."
I don't remember ever seeing the bag searching in Melbourne. It's certainly something you'd never see in Hong Kong. Any shop there which insisted on searching customer bags would never survive. I first encountered this in Walmart in Shantou, and thought it was just a reaction to excessive pilfering.
This theme of distrusting the customer extends to other places too. I went over to the South Bank yesterday morning to see the Art Gallery. One of my clients here is a patron of the Gallery and recommended that I see the 'Water Room'. As usual when I'm out and about, I had a back pack with me, holding my little digital camera, a map, etc. I wasn't allowed into the Art Gallery with a bag. A woman who appeared to be in charge insisted that I had to check my bag in the cloakroom before entering. She wouldn't give a reason for it.
(The Art Gallery is a stunningly ugly building, by the way.)
Interestingly enough, the two big Australian department stores, Myer and David Jones, don't do this at all. Maybe they realize that not treating their customers like criminals will encourage them to come back.
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