writing companions

I commented earlier that my current job seems to require a lot more physical, actual pen on paper, writing. I’ve slowly, very slowly, adjusted to this. Last year, I bought a pretty Lamy ballpoint pen which I have to say has worked out rather well. Writing with a good pen does make a difference and has a much happier hand-feel.

Recently I bought a Lamy fountain pen as the ballpoint version in deep violet didn’t fit comfortably in my hand ie my desire for the right sort of fit and the right sort of colour meant that I’ve ended up migrating to the fountain pen world. I’ve taken to it like a duck to water and from the start it’s felt good…mostly. I have to be a little careful as writing feels a little like scratching the paper rather than flowing across it. However it dries quickly and otherwise feels nice, and forces me to take more care. I have a suspicion that longer term it will strongly encourage me to write with improved clarity. This is not a bad thing.

That’s the pen part sorted. The other part of this equation is finding the right sort of pad. Both Kate and Con have commented on their love of Midori pads., Indeed, I too love the look of them and suspect they otherwise would work well for me. However I have discovered that I don’t like the book style approach to pads. Come to think of it, I don’t like it for ereaders either and prefer flip over covers. So the Midori traveler approach of books held together with elastic growing ever larger doesn’t quite work for me. Alas.

27304110624_752acfebce_nFor a while now, I’ve been buying cheap spiral based based notebooks from Officeworks as they’re about the right size and form that I like. The feel not so much. Thankfully, I have recently discovered that Moleskine make a notepad they call Reporter-Large. This is just about right though I suspect I’d like a slightly fancier version. The feel of the moleskine is lovely but I think I’d like something a little more leathery. It’s tightly ruled which means my writing is shrinking to fit the space yet remaining legible.

I suspect I can categorise this post under things I never expected to write. I’m a tech boy afterall, and a keyboard dedicated tech-boy at that. Oh well, perhaps that means I can still change my ways in new and interesting directions.

Posted in flotsam, june | 3 Comments

i bought a red car

After finally putting all my thoughts down around buying a car the other day, I bit the bullet and bought a car I’d had my eye on for a while. It’s one thing to look at a car online and another to look at it in person. Prior to heading out, I mentally went through the pros and cons of buying a car and almost talked myself out of it. Ultimately it came down to the fact that I wanted to keep going with a second car, and my current car is almost dead.

My partner also has a car but it’s automatic and family oriented. My replacement car is more family oriented than my previous car including the inclusion of back doors. In 2001, I managed to buy a new car, my only new car, a Peugeot 206XR, black. My replacement car is a 2007 Peugeot 207XT, red. Unlike my old car, the aircon works, the tacometer works, the gears change smoothly, the cd player works ie everything works. It does have some hail damage and a few other scratches, but it’s only done 68,000km compared to the 150,000 or so of my current vehicle and it must be said is in better condition than my old car was at the same age. I’m not good at looking after cars. Unsurprisingly.

8196156606_bcfab70eee_nI did my research, reading up on the model, it’s slightly larger than my old car but not too much. I took it for a test drive and it was nice and easy with the same gear stretch that my old car has. Geez I sound like an old man…my new car is the same as my old old car but better…and red. I set myself a budget and this was the best value car that came close. The sense I have is if it wasn’t for the hail dents (not badly so), the car would have been significantly pricier. I’ve kept an eye on it online and it hasn’t sold for a couple of months so I was able to negotiate a cheaper price. It was on offer for $5,950, I offered $5,000 and they came back with a sharp $5,250 which I thought was a good outcome. It was a fair offer and I didn’t need to be hard-nosed about it. I paid a deposit, will do an EFT on the remainder during the week and pick it up after I vote on Saturday.

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five in the evening

Had no mood to blog the last few days and have been using pre-prepared efforts. I have found it useful to write multiple posts when I’m in the mood, which covers me for when I’m not in the mood. And this one is just another list of interesting things:

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My car rego is due for renewal in a few weeks. I got a bit of a shock when the renewal cost turned out to be around $150 or so higher than anticipated. I bought my little pug new in 2001, a black Peugeot 206 and I remain very fond of it. The duco on the roof has all but gone, it has a few dents, the aircon doesn’t work but engine-wise it’s still excellent and is fun to drive. It’s the first car and only car I ever bought new.

I ran a few comparisons through the green slip calculator and sure enough there’s a steady increase in price the older the car gets. The actual figure is about $80 comparing the same model of a 2001 car ($683) with a 2006 car ($603) according to the current system. I went back and checked what I paid last year and indeed, it was only $544 ie there seems to be a new approach this year and my rego has jumped $140 compared to 2015.

I am currently mulling over whether to carry on and renew my current vehicle or look seriously at purchasing something a little more recent. I have long lusted after a red turbo charged fiat Abarth but have a sneaking suspicion that it might be a little too much of a hoon machine for me these days. Alternatively, spending a lot less and buying a secondhand car not dissimilar to my own is not unattractive. In fact I’ve come across a 2007 peugeot 207 which is in significantly better condition than my 206, has working aircon and is red. On the other hand (is this my third or fourth hand), I drive my own car a lot less than I used to as my partner also has a car. Having grown up in Sydney’s west, the idea of not having my own car sits awkwardly in my head. So much baggage :-)

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it’s all in the cask

Following on from my earlier post on flavour profiles, one of the things that I’ve begun to recognise is the way that different casks affect the flavour of the whisky. Particularly if the whisky has been put in barrels that have been used previously for other types of drinks including bourbon, sherry and port. David Stewart, the malt master at Balvenie, developed a procedure for 2 cask maturation whereby whiskies are moved to a new cask in their final months of maturation. A current favourite of mine is Balvenie’s DoubleWood 17 year old which is initially aged in American oak barrels and finished in European oak sherry barrels.

When I was in Tasmania I sampled a few whiskies from Overeem including their 43% sherry cask and their 43% port cask. I love the sherry cask version but not really into the port version. I’ve just had a look at Highland Park’s website and was amused to discover that they prefer sherry casks too :-) I recently sampled and bought a bottle of Benriach’s Pedro Ximinez sherry cask whisky. My palate seems to be following a very clear pattern here :) I’ve just come across a top 10 sherry based whiskies to try, of which I think the Yamazaki is the only one I’ve tried and it too was yum.

With that said, I need to avoid limiting factors too. There are other barrel options that seem to work well for me. When I was in NZ last year I got to try “The 1987“, 1987 being the year the whisky was put into the barrel. I’m unclear which barrel it was stored in but the notes refer to both american oak and ex-bourbon barrels. It may well have started in American oak and been finished in the ex-bourbon…or vice versa :) Either way, it was a soft, smooth dram that was utterly delish.

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a hacker trilogy

Unsurprisingly I’m into SF movies, and tech oriented stuff generally. I’ve long had an interest in hacking, have read many a book on the subject, watched films and occasionally dabbled though never broken into anything. The worst I got was writing password traps at uni to catch the unwary. There was a great book many years ago, that I devoured at uni and keep a print version on the shelf: Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution. A book full of anecdotes of the early days of computers and the early hackers, people who created new code and established the frontiers of computing.

I’ve long had an idea in my head of what I like to call a cinematic hacker trilogy; three films that portray hacking and engage with its history. There’s been lots of films around hacking and some are good and some not so good but three seem to have stood out in my head:

I love all three though I think the third is my favourite for capturing the sense of history, spicing it with the thrill of the game and a decent soundtrack. I’ve just rewatched WarGames and it holds up well though the acting and dialogue are clearly artifacts of the 80s. However the basic idea of stealing passwords written down remains true enough today, the weakest link is always people. Sneakers features Robert Redford and Ben Kingsley and is very smooth with a hacking group working semi legit but built by an old school hacker. There are other movies in the genre, good and bad, but this trio sits best in my head.

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filmfest 2016 round-up

Filmfest is over for another year, this year I managed 27 films over 11 days, my partner 28 and Ms15 a massive 15 in her first festival. I think that’s about 10 less than when I had a sub but it feels just as exhausting, not to mention running between venues. Trying to escape the Dendy Quays to see anything else at night involves a horribly crowded passage through the Vivid crowds and I would seriously consider avoiding the venue in future years. We started with one 30 film flexipass, then bought a second, then a 10 movie flexipass to finish off. Once again it was fun going though the programme in advance, not to mention having to choose between films either due to overlaps or sellouts. On one of the saturdays I had 5 competing films to choose from! No regrets.

All up of the 27 films, there were a couple of duds, the occasional surprise and plenty of good cinema. Here’s a rough list of the ones I enjoyed, in order of screening:


Not a bad list of interesting things.

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