Now That is Odd


So I was surfing last night and the following add caught my eye – not so much because I was looking for “someone  special”, I already have someone very special, but rather the location and numbers caught my eye.

be2 is extolling its virtues for Singaporeans to find their perfect mature partner (I guess that means 30-over in Singapore speak) by simply registering. It noted 43% male members and 57% females (there is something in that itself).

The classic number was 29,131,886 registered members. My goodness, that is huge especially as Singapore only has about 6,000,000 people living in it and I am sure that some of those are under 30. I guess everyone joins here 6 times to get the numbers up!


Japanese Fart Scrolls

image Yes, dear reader, it is difficult for me to describe these any other way. Had they not been so ribald, perhaps I could have found gentler words … but they are not. Waseda University in Japan has a wonderful collection of these. So, in the tradition of the Bayeux Tapestry, I bring you the full set of screens.

The full archive of the Fart Scrolls can be seen here at the Waseda University website, although be warned, some of the images are, as you can imagine, quite ribald and a little explicit.

These scrolls do, apparently, have some value. On 8 October 1992 Christies in London sold

a collection of twelve small Japanese prints depicting ‘He-gassen’ (The Fart Battle) with officials in combat in interiors, possibly by Kyosai — each 4in.x 5¼in., paper wrapper; a double sided album containing twenty-four prints by Watanabe Seitei (Shotei) and other artists variously depicting figures at leisure, birds, animals and flowers; another double sided album by Ikkei with thirty-six prints of scenes around Edo; three further albums; and a large print divided into three sections with a procession of figures travelling through a river landscape

for £935 when they were expecting a figure of £200 – £300 to be realised.

This adds a whole new dimension to wargaming Samurai battles. 😆

Door Lock Codes

For the last four months I have been trying to have the automatic door to my condominium repaired. The theory was that you tap a few digits into a keypad next to the door and with a quiet reassuring shhhhh sound, the door opens, closing again automatically after 5 seconds.

It never worked.

After several attempts it was finally repaired this week, a new motor was installed, the controller, PCB, power supply and coding were all checked and voila, tap, tap, tap, tap, shhhhh, door open! The only thing missing was the quiet reassuring voice thanking me for using Sirius Cybernetics as I walked in.

The guys from the builders then said “you’d better change the code now as we all know this one”.

“OK” says I, “how do I do that”.

“Simple” says the builders, “press the hash key, key in 101055 ((not the real code I hasten to add)), star, then 3, then the new four digit code followed by hash, star.”

“Right” says I, “let’s do it”.

We did it and the code was changed. The builders moved away a respectful distance whilst I tapped in the new code so that they did not know what it was.

It then occurred to me – the problem with these locks is that as a security thing, they are a failure. After all, the builders know exactly what codes to use to change the door code and get access. So will all my neighbours with the same locks on their doors.

The only positive is that if I come home and find I have been robbed after I can’t get in the door because the code is wrong, I’ll know it was the builders who did it … or anyone of my neighbours with the same lock on the door, or any of the guys in the factory in China making the locks, or anyone who lived there before …. sigh, back to the manual key and some security I think!

Thomo Attacked up the Punjab


I logged into Facebook this morning and a Facebook security warning came up. Following the prompts I was told that there was a suspicious account access – namely from the location on the map. Facebook then asked me to confirm whether or not it was me.

Well, it was an access from a mobile somewhere up in the Punjab. I’m in Sydney. Yep, definitely not me.

Of course, the thing that had me most confused (and therefore cautious) was that I travel and I have accessed Facebook from Manila and Singapore in recent weeks. This message did not appear then. Does Facebook keep track of the MAC number of the machine you normally access from and when the MAC Address and location do not match, it then looks at the error? I wonder. I will need to consider this more over coming days as I am still feeling a little uncertain ((and if any of you get a shed-load of emails from me offering quick winnings, anatomical enlargements, other anatomical shrinkages or such, let me know as it will mean I have been truly hacked)).

Of course the remarkable piece of timing with this is that yesterday my partner went to the cinema and watched “The Social Network”, a Hollywood interpretation of the Facebook story. Bizarre!

One Flat White and a Ristretto

We have a coffee machine in the offices we rent. These are serviced offices and the coffee machine is provided as part of the rental package – albeit a part that is charged at $20 a month per person whether you use it or not ((this is real nickel and dime stuff as the office rental is like thousands a month but the cheap buggers insist on charging $20 extra for tea and coffee)).

We have had a number of coffee machines through here and numerous breakdowns over the 18 months we have been here. I fondly recall the coffee machine mechanic who was here a year ago fixing the then machine. His comment was “I don’t know why you guys bother with this machine when an electric jug and a jar of Nescafe is more efficient, quick, hot and doesn’t breakdown every 5 minutes!”

The one thing about these coffee machines is that they appear to have been manufactured by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation ((with apologies to Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in that they produce something that tastes almost like a cup of coffee. My solution? Take one mug, press the button for flat white. When that is finished, press the button for Ristretto (( After that, top up with hot water. Almost a nice cup of coffee.

Sigh, where’s the tea bag?

Gotta Love the Sydney Morning Herald … at times

Today there was a report in the Herald with the title Cables cut: CBD phone and internet services lost. This referred to fibre optic and copper cables being cut on the corner of York and Erskine Streets last night. This has caused loss of Internet and telephone communications to many people in the affected area. When there are local interest stories like this, the Herald calls for readers in or near the area to send SMS or email with additional pictures, news, comment etc. The request of this assistance today was priceless:

Have you been affected? If you can … text 0424 SMS SMH (+61 424 767 764), email us at or direct message on Twitter @smh_news or send a carrier pigeon!

Someone has a sense of humour at the Herald!

Chicken Wars

“It’s the chickens Mulloes … they don’t like it up ’em” or similar words came from Jack Africa, one of Doug Mulray’s morning radio show character voices from many years ago. I saw Chicken Wars on Christmas Eve.

We’d been to Coffs Harbour with Mum to buy her the surprise Christmas present of Mamma Mia (and more of that later) and were currently on our way back to her place. We stopped at Woolworth’s at Nambucca Heads for the rest of the makings for Christmas lunch (Thomo was cooking and therefore looking for an easyoption or two). As we walked through theFruit and Vegetable section of the Supermarket we noticed that there were no barbecued chickens. None in the hot food keepers or the big display case. There were, however, many birds rotating in the big chicken cooker.

We shopped.

As we had everything Mum said she was going back to the chicken counter to see if the chickens were cooked as she wanted one for Toby. They were cooked and being unloaded to the display case. There was also a rugby scrum of about 20 people wanting chickens. Elbows and shoulders were being used to great effect and more than once was heard, loudly, the expression “I think I was next!”

The classic line came from one woman however who, after managing to shoulder herself to the front of the scrum, got her chicken fresh from the roaster and exclaimed “goodness – it’s so hot!”

Well hello – what do you expect – it was straight from the Roaster after all!

Seems the Co-op Supermarket in Macksville ran out of hams and had to phone around the region to see if they could beg, borrow or steal more. They had also ordered 300 chickens for Christmas Eve – not bad for a town of 7000 people.

Oh, and yes, we got Toby’s chicken as well – although no chicken wings as both Nambucca Heads and Macksville had sold out of them.

The Lounge Lizard’s Guide to Foreign Travel

The big disadvantage of the type of work I do is being away from my family and close friends so much of the time. I love and miss my family and a regret I have is in missing some of the development of the kids as they have aged. A couple of years back the relationship between myself and my then wife changed as well – due partly to the geographic separation over many years.

When I first started travelling, my eldest son was about 5 years old. Bt 2003 he was 21 years old, writing articles for the Linux press and managing to get his own jobs and look after himself (well, pretty much looking after himself). Now he is 25 and facing some of the issues I faced at that age. Where do the years go?

Still, the counter benefit to this loss is that I get to see lots of different places. I also get to meet many different people. A further disadvantage is that having met these people, I then spend time leaving them as well. My life has certainly been enriched by meeting these people and by seeing these places and at the start of 2007, there were over 50 countries I have been to across five continents.

Growing up in Australia I was subject to the usual fears and concerns about foreigners. Whilst they had always been generally welcomed, there was also a fear as they were different, and Australia is one of those countries that celebrates “differentness”. The more I have travelled though, the more I see the similarities between people and as a result, the more global I have become in my attitudes.

One question I do get asked a lot is which country is the best. The answer is that there is no best, simply different. And that is the truth of it! However, throughout Thomo’s Hole from time to time you will find brief descriptions of some of the countries I have visited, my impressions of them and, in some cases, some of the more humorous aspects of those countries. It is, in no way, meant to be derisive at all. It is, however, just my impression of places coloured by my background.

Obviously these items will not leap into life immediately but will grow over time. Keep watching and see it grow. In the meantime, to start, here is a list of some of the places visited or tales from those places. Just to make it interesting, I didn’t bother to put all this in any sort of order.

The items should be active links and take you to some information (from the viewpoint of an old fat travelling businessman who spends way too long in bars and museums). Note that the information contained is my impression of life, the universe and things in that country and may be right, wrong or capable of getting your face slapped. The foreign language expressions contained in here are generally guaranteed to at least get you a beer (except in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, of course), although I must admit that when you are travelling, the most useful foreign language expression you can have is “and another one please” on the safe and sound principal that if you manage to get the first one, with that particular expression you can always get another of whatever it is you have in front of you!

This is, of course, a double edged sword and using, for example, the Korean expression hana do for one more might not only bring another beer, but may also bring another plate of fried grasshoppers or silkworm pupae as the beer snack to go along with it. You have been warned!