Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sizzling New Year

Just one hour left before sundown and it is still a sweltering 39 degC (with 12%RH). Today, Adelaide had a maximum temperature of 41.5 degC! New Year's Eve is promising to be sizzling - 41 degC! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for that cool change on New Year's Day - a forecast of 35 degC.

As seen at ScienceWoman:

Happy New Year!

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas-New Year Weather

The Australian Christmas season is not White. Almost always the weather DownUnder during Christmas is with blue skies and recently the temperatures on the mainland ranges from 30-40 deg C. However, seasonal variations of summer have also been experienced - floods, electrical storms, hailstorms and bushfires. My first Christmas here in 2001 was perhaps one with the most variations on record - floods in northern Australia, dozens of bushfires in southeast Australia and I experienced my first hailstorm in Melbourne on Christmas Day! I also remember that summer to be cool-cold in Adelaide. I went to the New Year's Eve celebration at Victoria Square wearing a jacket.

I've spent the last four Christmases in Australia and the weather has certainly been unpredictable. Last year's Christmas was spent in Wagga Wagga, NSW and I remember both Christmas and Boxing Days as windy and cold.

However, in my experience, the eve of the New Year is always sweltering. In 2005, my mother was unfortunate to experience the dry and scourging heat firsthard - 40-42degC temperatures! I tell you - she complained incessantly (I don't have air conditioning in my flat).

Today, Adelaide's maximum temperature was close to 38 degC and 6% RH. The temperature outlook for New Year's is a dry, 41 degC ... phew!

Checking the weather forecast for the Philippines, it is a lot cooler - 31deg C. How's the New Year's Eve weather looking where you are?

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Peanuts: The Meaning of Christmas

I grew up with Charles Schulz's Peanuts. Charlie Brown, his pet beagle Snoopy, Woodstock, Sally Brown, Linus, Lucy, Schroeder were memorable characters. Their adventures (and misadventures) are forever etched in my memory. I remember watching the animated TV specials in beta tapes with my siblings. Among my favourites are: Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (1975) and A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965).

I recently came across this clip where Linus did a monologue on the meaning of Christmas:

Linus was my favourite character largely due to him being unusually smart and also he is never without his blue security blanket. Hence, I named my first pet cat, Linus. A clip I also remembered from Be My Valentine, was Sally's (who was in love with Linus) recitation of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnet 43 (Sonnets from the Portuguese). This got me interested in reading poetry.

In hindsight, the appeal of Peanuts was that somehow the characters understood how serious childhood is to a child. It is a time of pleasure and secret anxieties, of hope and dread, of fun and hurt and of friendship and cruelty. It's a pity that kids nowadays do not get to enjoy the company of the likes of the Peanuts gang (or Calvin and Hobbes, Asterix and Obelix). As with Charles Schulz, who understood how childlike most grownups feel inside, we should never let go of our sense of childhood.

P.S.(02 January 2008): Funny post as seen at Fortify Your Oasis on the Spirit of the Season:

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Opening Boxes

Today is Boxing Day DownUnder. I never really understood this public holiday. The first time I heard of it, I thought it referred to a dedicated day for some boxing match (considering that this country is really into sports). But looking it up, this next weekday after Christmas, celebrated in the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other countries in the Commonwealth of Nations, is a traditional celebration which consisted of the practice of giving out gifts to employees, the poor, or to people in a lower social class. Eventually, it evolved into a day of post-Christmas shopping, where many retailers hold Boxing Day sales.

Interestingly, Boxing Day is not formally observed in South Australia, instead what would have been the next working day after Christmas is officially titled Proclamation Day and a public holiday is observed. However, it is still referred to as Boxing Day.

Talking (writing) about boxes, I have been opening big ones myself leading up to Christmas. Joy! I gave myself "huge" rewards this Christmas - a 40-inch Sony Bravia LCD HDTV (D Series) and a Sony ultra compact DAV home theatre system (DAV-IS10).

Naturally, it goes without saying that much research (Sony Bravia LCD and Sony DAV-IS10), was made before finally deciding to get them.

Certainly, the change in size of TV screen (from the "postcard size" screen of my old analogue TV - a hand-me down from the residential college) plus having a remote control (finally) are reasons to be happy with the purchase. Of course, much more so with the five tiny satellite speakers of the DAV-IS10 home theatre system, each one the size of a golf ball with powerful sound quality offered by much bigger speakers. As with everything else when it comes to these electronic gadgets, half of the fun is setting them up. I am proud to say, even though I am not a techie, that I set the whole system up myself (bravo!).

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Have a Merry Christmas!

I just remembered this line from an episode of The West Wing which I think is fitting this festive season:

"FAITH is [t]he substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)

Merry Christmas everybody and good wishes for the coming New Year!

*Adelaide Arcade, Rundle Mall

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Two years ...

Today, two years ago was graduation day. Just thinking about it, still puts a smile in my face and tingle down my spine.

Pretty heady, Doc.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Travelling solo

Discovering new places is always fun. Staying in hotels with the 'right' room amenities would make trips less stressful. I always look forward to the downy soft white bedlinen. The last couple of trips I made overseas and interstate made me more aware of how hotels take care of women travellers. In Singapore, I stayed overnight at the transit hotel in Changi Airport. In Geelong and Melbourne, I booked hotel rooms at Mercure hotels.

It was comforting that these hotels were aware of the needs of women travelling solo, particularly showing assurance of security. I especially liked that the hotel clerks were discreet when I was pointed my room number rather than saying it out loud, mindful of the presence of other hotel guests in the reception.

I was likewise pleased with the bathroom amenities - full length mirrors, better lighting - not the dull glow of fluorescent bulbs, counters with depths that make it easy to lean over when applying makeup, hair dryer, ample and quality bath products, trouser/skirt hangers, an iron and ironing board.

Hotels are now attentive to the needs of women travellers that they offer all sorts of women-friendly comforts in everything from room design to room service. Although not without criticisms, some hotels even offer women-only floors. The top floors of a small, 28-room hotel in Zurich, the Lady's First, a boutique design hotel, are for women only. The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Bloomington, Minnesota, has an all-female floor. Yet other hotels are incorporating amenities and improvements that cater to women travelers.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Wonderful night at the theatre

Side trip via Melbourne allowed one night of pampering. I was able to catch the Friday night show of The Phantom of the Opera at Princess Theatre. Joy!

Having seen the 2004 movie, being able to watch the musical on stage was a wonderful treat - I fell more in love with the music and was in awe with the production.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Discovering Geelong

Geelong is the second largest city in the state of Victoria (Australia) and has one of the country's most dynamic city centres. The city's landscaped foreshore, The Waterfront is absolutely beautiful. It is one of the few facing north in Victoria, overlooking Corio Bay. The attractions along The Waterfront include The Cunningham Pier, the Baywalk Bollards and restored historic buildings.

Deakin University's School of Architecture and Building is in an historic woolstore building along the waterfront, located along Western Beach. The building was smartly adapted and re-used to house the School. Old wooden beams were left whenever possible and thus became architectural details enhancing the School's studio ambience.

The School's Gallery on the fifth level boasts of a magnificent view of the Waterfront and Cunningham Pier.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Architectural Science conference

Early last month, I had the chance (yet again, time off from work) to attend the annual Architectural Science Association ANZAScA conference which was hosted this year by the School of Architecture and Building, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria. Though I did not prepare and submit a paper this year, it was a good opportunity to update myself with what is out there on the subject area of architectural science.

Hopefully, the ideas I got from some of the papers presented would result in papers for a couple of conferences next year. Wish me luck!

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Lifestyle Statistics ... Happiness Index

The numerous definitions of happiness out there have been my subject of interest lately. I guess it will always be a question that all of us would ponder on at odd points and junctures in our lives.

It is interesting to note that tabulated figures published by NationMaster show that the Philippines ranks high on the Happiness Level (#5) and Happiness net (#12) by country. The Philippines hobnobs with the most of the affluent nations and is in fact the only country from Southeast Asia. [Australia ranks #5 in Happiness net and #7 in Happiness Level.]

What defines Happiness for the Filipinos? This is a country where 40% of the population is below the poverty line (according to the CIA - The World Fact Book, 2007). A recent post by Salve Duplito provided answers with figures from the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) which show that Filipinos " are most happy when our family life is going well, when we are not sick, when spiritual connections are not rusty, when we have good relationships with friends and, in fifth place, when we have income and financial security".

Further reading: Article by Kate V Pedroso.
Image from Money Smarts.

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