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Stopping to smell the tech roses every now and then, thanks to #UARS

I admit, there is a long list of toys and next best things I am waiting for. Everything from the Nikon D4 to a holodeck, neither of which I will ever be able to afford mind you. This list goes to even more simple things, and by simple I mean cheaper such as the next great Android phone, or that Android Tablet that I really want, but thanks to the #wolfcatcubs will never get.

In this headlong rush to the next great thing, it pays to stop, catch a breath and reflect on some seriously awesome stuff that I and a lot of you have.

Saturday 24/09/2011 was that moment of pause for me.  At 2:45pm I jumped in my car (2000 model AWD Subaru) to head down to on a winning lotto kind of chance to get a photo.  The photo I was prepared to take was of the UARS satellite as it came crashing back down to earth. A Satellite launched via the Space Shuttle ( Retired 2011 )

It got me thinking on the 15 min drive to what kind of tech was I using. It started with the IVF #wolfcatcubs  (1980 for Australia )I had left with mrs wolfcat at home. Amazing tech and science right there before I had even left the house. Now sure IVF had been around prior to the launch of the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) in 1991, but it has taken leaps and bounds since then.

So I listened to my 80’s mixed CD in the car. Sure, CD’s were around before 1991, but the recordable CD had only been around since 1990. As for the fact I was listening to a collection of MP3 format songs, well they didn’t come out until around 1993. At least all my music was pre UARS launch.

Waiting for #uarsI get to my location which is my fav place to shoot from at the end of North Road, and grab my camera gear out of the car.  A Nikon D7000 ( Sept 2010), a 16.3mega-pixel DSLR (with full HD video), drop on my 150-500mm OS Sigma lens (2008) and turn on my Solemta Geotagger Pro GPS (2009) for my camera. So in under a minute I have turned on and got ready a swag of technology, most of which people in 1991 wouldn’t have even dreamed off.

I have two GPS devices on me at this point, one for the camera the other built into my phone, HTC Incredible S (2011). Note that GPS didn’t become fully operational until 1994 and it wasn’t until 2000 that GPS ‘Selective Availability’ was removed.  That is the little thing that saw GPS move from 50 meters of accuracy down to a few meters for you and me.

Being at a location where I am “the mayor” I of course used my 3g phone  (2003 in Australia) to check in on Foursquare ( 2009 ) to my location.  Then I fired up Twitter (2006) to follow in near real time the @UARS_Reentry account to get the info I need. Info I was able to get in near real time with no wires as it were.  But then I did check on the WWW (1990) on my home computer using ADSL 1 (8mbits) (2006) to get the info I needed before I left.

I fired up Google Skymap (2009) on my phone to check compass headings and location on the interactive realtime star map just to make sure I was looking at the right bit of sky and waited. I also checked real time weather satellites to check that the cloud cover would remain clear in my location for the time frame I was after.

Of course like all long odds, I didn’t succeed.  But I knew where to look when UARS had passed overhead and that it was time to go home.

Stop and think about just how much cool tech you have you right now…

I am still waiting for NASA to work out where it crashed of course, but it wasn’t over me, but I was thanks to the tech in my pocket prepared for it.


An Open Letter to my Local Member over Offshore Processing.

As sent to Simon Crean, my local member.

Dear Mr Crean

Now I know that we don’t live in Western Sydney and that your seat is about as safe as it gets in our current parliamentary system, so my letter and more so my vote is not of major concern.  However the actions of the Labor party in the last few weeks have seen me increasingly outraged.

I am referring to the issue of “Off-Shore Processing” for refugees.  Having seen the draft legislation that was announced today I must say that even if the Liberals had introduced this legislation I would have been as outraged.

Not specifying minimum rules for a country and then announcing  “in the national interest” will ensure that this legislation will ensure that people, those that are some of the most down trodden are treated even worse.  If the outrage over onshore processing is already at this point, what it to stop “national interest” being twisted to see valid refugees sent to places like Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, or Burma.

Any legislation that contains “The rules of natural justice do not apply” is inherently flawed. Australia not only has international obligations, we have the ability to be a world leader when it comes to showing how to be a good and moral country.

Why the Labor party feels that is not only O.k, but reasonable to waste billions of dollars on offshore processing, when countless studies have shown that onshore processing is cheaper, more cost effective and has the same result on people smuggling.  That is those that are not refugees are sent back, those that are stay.

It is a sad day for me, when Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison can claim the moral highground compared to Labor.

Labor is looking at this legislation for what could be less than 7,000 people per-annum.  This number means that it would take over 14 years to fill the MCG. This is not a flood of refugees, nor is it the major “moral issue” of our time.

I implore you as my local member to lobby internally with Labor to ensure that Australia does not go down this path.

Yours deeply concerned


( Please feel free to copy this letter and send it to your local member )

Tony Abbott thinks Birth and Death are not extraordinary circumstances.

Straight from the Tony Abbott’s website, a transcript of a door stop on 08/09/11 .


Craig Thomson’s wife is heavily pregnant. Will you offer him a pair so that he can be at the birth of his child?


Look, we’ve made it crystal clear that only in the most extraordinary circumstances will pairs be offered for the carbon tax vote. This is by far the most important vote that the Australian parliament will take in the current term of parliament and the first duty of members of parliament is to be in the parliament when critical votes are taken.

It was a question that deserved  a simple Yes answer.  What Abbott delivered was political speak to cover an act that is the lowest of the lows. He of course went on to claim he was taken out of context.  Sorry Mr Abbott, but where is the out of context in the above transcript.

Abbott claims to be a man that upholds family values.  Not allowing a father to attend the birth of their child, shows while he may have family values, they are more say 1050CE values, not 2011CE values.

The issue of who is involved is redundant.  The fact that Thompson’s wife is pregnant, shows that what, if anything that, happened in the past is just that for them. Further it is was and still is a private matter between them, not for I or anyone else to pass judgement on.

Labor granted Abbott a pair so he could attend anti-carbon tax rallies, showing that they can play by the rules. Yet, this form of petty politics is the norm for Mr No.

He said what he said.  If he had meant yes, he would have said it. He is able to say  “no” often enough.  But then given the Turnbull and Crean had a written document for a pairing arrangement for a funeral, this really doesn’t come as any surprise, written or verbal his words can’t be trusted.

This man is going for the top job of the country, he should be setting an example.  Showing us in part what kind of leader he would be.  Here we have a leader that shows that Work/Life Balance is not important.  I’d like to see a list of what other business in Australia could bar someone from being at this special moment.

Any business that attempted this would be dragged through the media as an outrage.  This story as it unfolds is front page on Fairfax and ABC, below the fold on News LTD and no where to be seen on the front page of the Australian. I looked across the Australian and could not see any mention on the home page, nor the national section or even the politics sections as well about this statement. It is almost as of they have an agenda. Once again, the media builds its own case as to why we need an enquiry into media.

Labor will have run the numbers before introducing the legislation.  And like the vote of no confidence that stopped Turnbull visiting the funeral of a close friend, Abbott will lose the vote on the Carbon Tax.  So a man may well miss the birth of his child, just to fit the petty mind of Abbott.


— Update —

When asked directly on Twitter would Barry O’Farrell give a pair to a father to be.. his answer was “Yes”.  Abbott’s answer still remains “Taken out of context”.

— Update 2 —

First thing this morning:

Pyne: “If they are foolish enough to schedule the vote at a time when Mr Thomson can’t be there, then that will be on their head.”  So the Government should stop functioning for a whole month until an event that can occur within a 2 week period either side of a due date occurs? Further it isn’t just one bill, it is 23 of them that make up the Carbon Tax.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. No request has come in,” Mr Abbott told Channel 9.

“Obviously the birth of a child is a very important event, but so is the carbon tax.” ( what like attending a protest or sleeping through the vote on the GFC! )

Abbott has backed down.  Thompson will be offered a pair if the baby arrives during the Carbon Tax debate.  The fact that his first/gut instinct was to block shows his character, even Barry O’Farrell could say yes when asked outright.  Abbott was asked outright and couldn’t.

And in his own words later in the day…

“Finally, on the matter of Mr Craig Thomson, I just want to say that where he is concerned the most important thing is that he should give a complete explanation to the parliament about the misuse of the union credit card. Then the Prime Minister should give a complete explanation to the parliament of what she knew about the Labor Party’s loan or gift to Mr Thomson and what she thinks about the misuse of union credit cards, but if Mr Thomson wants brief absence from the parliament for the birth of his child obviously the Coalition will provide that.”

So where as yesterday it was a whole par about importance of the vote, today to get rid of the issue half a sentence.


( If text is too hard to comprehend, I recommend First Dog on the Moons Cartoon today which explains everything. )


A Rated C+ Video of a #wolfcatcub… C for Cute

Nappies from just this side of the Gates of Hades and lack of sleep all get forgotten when they do things like this….