Bellingen floods – when do bridges close?

There’s lots of information available from the Bureau of Meteorology website about river heights but I find that it doesn’t really answer the important question most people have: when can I get across the bloody bridge(s)? Below is a quick summary table pulling together in one place

  1. the main four bridges in and around Bellingen – in town, Thora (if this one’s under no-one can get in our out of the valley and/or Chrysalis and Orama schools), Glennifer and Kalang
  2. what river height they close at, and
  3. live river height data from the Bureau of Meterology website (click the small picture to see full size graphs)
Locality Bridge
where it is/river
Closes Live Data
from BOM
Bellingen see on map Lavender’s Bridge in town Bellinger River about 4.9 metres
Thora see on map Hobart’s Bridge near Chrysalis School Bellinger River about 3 metres
Gleniffer see on map Gleniffer Bridge near Gleniffer Hall Never Never Creek anyone know?
Kalang Moody’s Bridge Kalang Rd Kalang River about 3 metres on the Kooroowi gauge

Any feedback or corrections welcome, please leave a comment below.

If the little graph images in the table above look urgghy you need to update your web browser (try Google Chrome or Firefox. If you must use Internet Explorer get IE8 or above).

Bridge locations on the map

Click the little blue markers on the map for more information on each bridge

View Bridges around Bellingen that flood in a larger map (in new window on Google Maps)

Min Pip Bunya Smiley rock The Zoo, Ky’s Birthday

September 18, 2010 @ The Zoo, Brisbane

On the road 2010

My partner Annette and our two daughters – aged 14 and 11 – will be on the road through England, France, Malaysia and Laos for the next two months. Woo hoo!

We’ll all be writing about our experiences as we go.

Follow our adventures at On The Road 2010, our travel blog →

House in Bellingen for rent – September to November 2010

August 12 Update – we’ve found a tenant so the house is no longer available. Gotta be quick in Bellingen!

My house in Bellingen is available for rent for 8 weeks from September 19 to November 14 2010.

  • fully furnished
  • 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
  • huge covered deck and outdoor living area
  • short walk or ride to main street
  • quiet cul de sac
  • four friendly chooks
  • close to a great swimming spot in the Bellinger River with cool rope swings

Rent negotiable.

Contact me using the form below to find out more…

Luscious Juicy Delicate Ceramics Exhibition, Bellingen July 3 2010

Bellingen-ites – don’t miss this fantastic group exhibition, opening at Infusions on Saturday July 3. Ceramics by Nicole Stenson, Jennifer Chadwick and Annette Rogers, paintings by Beth Gibbings.

Here’s some shots of Annette’s work from this morning’s photo shoot. (Had to get some pics before they all get snapped up!)

Skype Spam

Has anyone else noticed an increase in Skype spam via instant messaging  of late? I’m getting lots of instant messaging Skype spam now as opposed to the calls/contact requests that seem to have been the first generation of Skype spam.

What I’m talking about is unsolicited Skype chat messages that pop up offering links to the usual types of spammy websites – viagra/cialis/wonder herbs, ‘male enhancement’, stock market stuff, porn, dating.

The penis enlargement/sexual stamina spammers often make use of Skype’s animated chat emoticons to, um, ‘enhance’ their spam.

There’s not a great deal you can do to stop getting spammed on Skype but if you do I recommend you immediately click  ‘Block’ and then tick the ‘Report abuse from this person’ checkbox to stop the person from contacting you again.

(More detailed instructions for both Windows and Mac versions of Skype is available on the Skype blog).

Are you a professional journalist? You write very well | Sneaky blog comment spam

Another kooky type of spam I’ve been getting a bit of lately is blog comment spam. This is where comments are left on a blog in the hope that they’ll be published and will then leave a link from the commenter’s name – which will always be keyword-heavy, something like ‘cheap viagra’ – to their dodgy website.

By writing meaningless, vaguely legitimate sounding and usually mildly flattering wording (“You write very well”, “I’ll add you to my favourites”) in their comments these spammers try to trick comment spam filters like the excellent Akismet (34, 769 spam comments caught on my eeny little blog in the past six months).

Here’s a sample of some of these spam comments left on this blog recently (all caught by Akismet). Of course I’m not going to publish the links but I will put the names left with each to give you an idea.

I read blogs on a similar topic, but i never visited your blog. I added it to favorites and I’ll be your constant reader.
singulair generic

Are you a professional journalist? You write very well.
cipro side effects

There’s a wealth of information here. I’ll be back again.
Business Man

Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!
physical therapist

If he doesn’t know what he is doing, mutual fund is the way to go. That might be counted as cheating in the class though.
reports from CEO

and my favourite so far:

Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!
School Grants

These are so transparent, lacking in imagination and clumsy in their attempts at flattery that I kind of like them. Sometimes a new one will come through in the spam comments list and give my day a little lift. Sad but true.

Update: May 30 – this very post has to date received 10 of these spam comments, about one a day since it was published. Thanks Mr Cialis, penis enlargement guy (no, I don’t take it personally) and friends…

The Curious Incident of Swindon in Popular Culture

I grew up near Swindon, a humble town about 120km west of London in the UK. Actually, I grew up in Wroughton, a village just out of Swindon but when you live on the other side of the world – as I have since the early 1980s – and people ask what part of England you’re from you say Swindon. (If that draws a blank you zoom out a bit and go for “sort of near Stonehenge”).

Even as a child I suspected there was something fairly unspectacular about Swindon. I don’t mean that in a nasty way – I just knew it didn’t have the exoticism or historical monuments or tourist drawcards of other parts of the world. For example, for a long time the most interesting things I knew about it were

  • The town’s most favoured son is Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a 19th century railway man. Isambard was important enough to have the shopping centre name after him.
  • There is a crazy ‘multiple roundabouts’ roundabout in Swindon locals call The Magic Roundabout. Family lore has it that Nanna used to take the long way around town to avoid it. It was apparently voted ‘the fourth scariest junction in Britain’ in 2009 (putting it’s tagline in the same class as The Flight of the Conchords’ ‘fourth popular folk parody duo’).
  • Kind of well-know 50s and 60s actress Diana Dors was from Swindon
  • Something whacky and complicated happened with Swindon Town Football Club in the 1990s that saw them move up and down the divisions in the league

In recent years however this has all changed. It seems that no matter where I look in popular culture Swindon’s there, giving me a “and you thought I wasn’t cool” kind of glance.

One: The Office

It started with comic masterpiece The Office. In the Season One veiled references were made to the Swindon branch. In Season Two the branches are merged and the Swindoners become part of the team. Neil Godwin who becomes David Brent’s superior is heaps cooler than Brent. (That’s Swindon blood for you).

Two: Jasper Fforde and Thursday Next

Not long after this I started reading Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series of novels. For those who are unfamiliar the five six novel series (The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, Something Rotten and First Among Sequels and One of Our Thursdays is Missing) are a bizarre mix of comedy and fantasy peppered with literary and other high- and low-culture references. They’re set in an alternate history version of today’s world. No prizes for guessing where most of the action takes place – the books are full of locations in and around the big S. Like Fforde’s books his website thursdaynext.com is a world unto itself, and includes a section called The Seven Wonders of Swindon.

Three: The Curious Incident

My third random brush with Swindon in an unexpected context – and the inspiration for me writing this post – came when I read Mark Haddon’s excellent 2003 novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time a few weeks back. Yep, set in Swindon. In a pop will eat itself bonus the main character Christopher even discusses another literary reference to Swindon to add to the list – in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Boscombe Valley Mystery Sherlock Holmes apparently stops for lunch in Swindon town.

Where it all happens.

Feel free to add to the list in comments below.

The curious case of the two Brut 66es

From 2005-2009 I played guitar in a cool band called Brut 66. We were a bunch of thirty- and forty-somethings who’d all ended up in the same country town and discovered we shared similar – some would say impeccable – musical tastes and had played in similar bands in our younger days.

What’s in a name?

When we first started playing and went through the usual brainstorming process bands do when they need to come up with a name we ended up settling on the quite unique – or so we thought – Brut 66. I can’t remember who came up with it but I do remember that at first it wasn’t taken as a serious contender (unlike some others: Dead Leg, The Nits and Red Motor, um hello?). It didn’t take long though. For me personally it was a great choice because it was stupid and kind of clever at the same time and had three big selling points:

  1. It referenced the famous blues standard Route 66, famous to me via Chuck Berry and the Stones. Aside from being a great song I’ve always loved the song because of the several layers of meaning between the lines of it’s favourite lyrics. I knew that it symbolised the dream of a better life in utopian California for many poor black Americans who travelled it (check out Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath) and that it “celebrate[d] the romance and freedom of automobile travel” (Wikipedia).
  2. It also referenced the ubiquitous and totally cheesy Brut 33 aftershave that was a part of life (and found under many a Christmas tree, chosen by hapless Aunties) for any male growing up in the 1970s and 80s.
  3. It was a great bit of wordplay that mashed these two great pop culture references together. Puns, especially ones like this, have long been a favourite of my bandmates.

So anyway, off we went. We wrote some songs, practised them in Greg’s shed, played to our friends and families and occasionally ventured further afield. We recorded a couple of CDs. We didn’t change musical history but we had lots of fun.

Our style? We had dollops of 60s garage and Detroit rock, a bit of Australian underground in there. We were loud and messy, usually in a good way. As well as our originals we did some covers by the likes of The Sonics, Ramones, Patti Smith, God.

What 66?

Our name was often misspelled and that was part of the fun. On posters done by other bands we played, occasional newpaper ads, the memorable cover of a street press magazine and blackboards outside dodgy pubs we were sometimes ‘Brutt 66′ with two ts, at least once ‘Brute 66′, sometimes ‘Route 66′. It was fitting that for our very last gig at Sydney’s Lansdowne Hotel the blackboard announced ‘Brut GG’.

At the end of 2009 our singer moved away and the band ended.

The plot thickens

A couple of months later an email landed in my inbox

hi there,
played in a band called Brut 66 from Düsseldorf-Germany in the late 80´s.
sounded maybe like 70´s english styled punk rock or something else.
released only one 7 inch on a small local label called Teenage Rebel Records.
have a few copies left. if you are interessted i can send you 1 or 2.just for fun.
see you on tour in düsseldorf!
Michael

I nearly fell off my chair. Another band with exactly the same name had existed well before we thought of it. Their musical style even sounded not a million miles away from ours. I know that it’s hard to find a unique band name these days but hey, Brut 66?

Yesterday a package arrived from Michael with four singles from the ‘other’ Brut 66, recorded in 1988 in Düsseldorf. They look very young and – as I did in those days – eager to look as tough and hard as possible. In keeping with releases from the pre-digital age the single includes a photocopied A4 sheet with some cut and pasted pictures and typewritten lyrics. After the band members names it says “No thanks to anyone”.

Looks we’ve been well and truly outpunked!

(I’m ashamed to say that my record player is out of action right now so I haven’t been able to listen yet).

Pics of old and new Brut 66 singles and CDs below.

Stay tuned for the dual Brut 66es Germany and Australia reunion tour in another 10 years…

Footnote for fellow grammar and spelling pedants: I struggled with the correct way to write the plural of Brut 66: should it be Brut 66s or Brut 66es? None of the online sources I checked could tell me definitively. I know if it was written as Brut Sixty-Six the ‘es’ plural would be correct so I’ve gone with that. Further dicussion welcome, if anyone cares.

Google Chrome is great but for developers it’s not quite up to Firefox’s standards. Yet.

Since Google’s Chrome browser was released for Mac in late 2009 it’s become my default day to day browser, mainly because it’s so fast. It’s fast to start up and it’s fast to load pages and that’s what we all want for browsing the net.

For developing though it’s not quite up to Firefox‘s standard in a few key areas and I almost always find I have to switch back when working on sites.

Like many people I’ve long been a Firefox user and like many people, I’ve noticed Firefox getting slower and slower and choke on loading things that Chrome seems to breeze through. However there are still so many things it can do that no other browser can match right now – partly by its design and partly to the myriad of extensions available. Remember life before Firebug?

So why isn’t Chrome there yet as a developer’s browser? Here’s my list of niggles…

1. Chrome’s status bar isn’t wide enough to see full urls

This is incredibly frustrating! It looks like the status bar has a maximum width of around a third of the browser window. So with a browser open to an average width of 1000 pixels or so you just don’t see full urls of anything over 50 characters or so. To the average user this may not matter but to anyone who’s developing not being able to see where a link is pointing without having to go there is soooo frustrating.


Status bar in Chrome truncates urls


Status bar in Safari (top) and Firefox shows full urls

2. Chrome doesn’t show full page titles

This is a similar issue in many ways – perhaps Google’s aim to keep the interface clean has driven both of these? You only see each page’s title on its tab, which is not very wide (even if you only have one tab open). This means you can never  see a pages full title, and when you’ve got a number of tabs open at once (which let’s face it is is how things always are) you’re lucky to be able to read the first word. Firefox and Safari show the full page title above the tabs.


Page titles in Google Chrome are only shown on tabs and are truncated


Full length page titles shown above tabs in Safari (top) and Firefox

3. Chrome doesn’t have some of Firefox’s useful menu options

Being able to right-click and choose ‘View Image’ or ‘View Background Image’ and get an image in a tab with the filename, type and dimensions in the title bar is so simple browser makers should be forced to include this feature. Safari and Chrome doesn’t. Yet.

4. Firebug (lite) in Chrome has scrolling issues

Firebug is such a useful tool, particularly it’s ability to allow live css changes to be tested on a page. Firebug Lite was released for Chrome on mac early in 2010 and was the the one thing I was waiting for before making the switch. There is a small issue with scrolling though, in that you sometimes can’t scroll to the bottom of a page with Firebug pane turned on.

I understand this is something that is currently beyond the control of the Firebug developers but it pretty much makes it unusable right now.

5. The Chrome icon in my dock looks too similar to the Firefox icon

Maybe it’s habit but I just can’t help clicking the wrong icon because they’re quite similar. I’ve moved them away from being side by side but it’s not helping.

OK, this is stretching it…

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