Friday, May 29, 2009


29th of May, 2009 and on the 29th of April, 2009 I faxed my Power of Attorney and the two AGL accounts I am supposed to have access to.

The call centre IN ADELAIDE hasn't been notified.

Would I fax through the PofA again?

It's already cost $6 of my pension to do this once but says nice call centre person, "we will give you a credit on the account".

Which would be fine if the call centre ever gets the faxes I'm sending there.

Now I'm going to email the file with an appropriate letter which I'm still trying to write without the blasphemies.

I'm wondering what happens if Mother drops off the twig, between them not getting the PofA and me becoming Executor of her estate.


The fossil cave part of the Naracoorte site is more developed than when I saw it way back when.
Information about all the caves is
here .

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


This is the interior of Britain's biggest known cave chamber named Gaping Gill.
The main chamber is 476 feet long, 82 feet wide and 115 feet from floor to vaulted ceiling.

Cave enthusiasts were winched one by one down the gigantic pothole in Ingleborough, North Yorkshire - a descent that takes a full minute to reach the floor.

The cavern was formed by the action of a stream, Fell Beck, which flows from the flank of 2,373ft Ingleborough, the second highest mountain in the Yorkshire Dales, on to limestone rocks and roars down a dizzying 360ft drop in a natural fault line which makes it Britain's highest unbroken waterfall - twice the height of Niagara.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I've blogged about using RAMAN spectroscopy to analyze ancient Mayan paint pigments here .

Professor Vandenabeele also used this method at another Mayan site in Yucatan. The little know temple complex of Ek'Balam which variously translates as 'Black Jaguar', Bright Star Jaguar' or 'Star Jaguar' is near the more famous Chichen Itza.

Thirty three samples were studied from room 23 of the acropolis, the brilliantly carved facade is shown in the image below.

These samples were analyzed using RAMAN spectroscopy and several pigments were identified.

Haematite (reddish brown), Calcite (white), Carbon (black), Cinnabar (red) and Indigo (blue).

Indigo is an inorganic dye obtained from the plant of the same name and combined with Palygorskite clay makes the famous "Maya Blue" pigment which was sacred to the Mayans and I'll bore you to tears about it in another post.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


It's three posts down.

I forgot to change the date.

Blogger does not forgive mistakes.

Friday, May 22, 2009


A very interesting program to watch especially after seeing "Angels and Demons". That Church aligned with State could think of wiping out a culture by burning not only their written and illustrated books but also the thousands of Maya in what was ethnic cleansing was not just a vision of the Catholic missionaries, all conquering nations did it. The Maya had a good go at knocking themselves off in the name of religion. The miracle is that from fragments saved and temples uncovered, researchers have opened up the Mayan world for us to appreciate the wonders worked without the aid of the wheel, or it seems, 'peace in our time'.
The image above was shown in the program. It's of a high-born lady piercing her tongue with a stingray barb then pulling a thorny vine through to give her blood as an offering. David Stuart was interviewed for the show but while it made mention of one of his major breakthroughs in translating the glyphs, another wasn't mentioned.
He re-interpreted a particular symbol at Copan which had been believed to mean "blood" to mean "clouds". As the program pointed out, many symbols could mean the same but here was a
subtle refinement in regards to the offerings to the Gods.
Bloodletting, usually by the Mayan nobility or elite was regarded as the most valuable gift they could give. This aspect of Mayan culture coincided with the evolution of a highly stratified class system. It was the express duty of the nobility to perform the rituals that kept the natural and supernatural worlds in balance. The Gods bestowed life, humans returned acknowledgment of the gift.
They pierced not only tongues but earlobes and in the case of males, genitals. After the piercing, the blood dripped onto sheets of bark paper which was then burned, transformed into clouds of smoke that the Gods took in as sustenance and returned as life-giving rain. Now you can see that subtle refinement of meaning.
And if you think I would take pleasure in the thought of some bloke shoving a stingray barb through his crown jewells followed by a thorny vine, well, shame on you.


Everyone is familiar with the other Horsehead Nebula, the one with the black horse head shape against a red cosmic cloud, but this is the Blue Horsehead Nebula in the constellation Scorpius.
The last suttle mission to keep the Hubble up and running was worth every penny/cent when we get so much information from the telescope, better than planning manned flights to Mars or building bases on the moon.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I watched the movie "Angels and Demons" and while not a world beater, I thought it was better than the "DaVinci Code". At least Tom Hanks' forehead was able to wrinkle and express itself without the gallon of botox he had last time. Female lead, forgettable or had a badly written part or Ron Howard doesn't like women. I liked the lace on the Cardinals.

Scientists are carrying on because they say there's no way that anti-matter could be contained the way it is in the movie. See that word there, MOVIE, not real life but make believe or suspend belief. I mean no single man could take the punishment that John McLean does in "Die Hard" the franchise but who complains about that. Same thing with Harry Potter, make believe, movie, entertainment, full stop. By the way the trailer for HP and the Half Blood Prince looks like the movie will be a ripper.

Moving on, I went to the early session and there were very few people in the theatre but they couldn't have made more of a pigsty of the place if they tried. I'd like to thump the bloke who left his popcorn packet (large) right in the middle of the steps going out, couldn't even put in on the seat. He couldn't have put it on the carpet, his popcorn was there. He had his mobile phone on several times, lit up like a Christmas tree, so how could he possibly miss his mouth.
Same with the two birds to the right of me, the only clear space near their seats was where their feet had been.

Mobile phones to the left of me, phones to the right of me. Why can't people sit for two hours without checking to see if someone loves them or is it a test to see how much I can hate them?
The first thing I do is turn off the mobile, really turn it off. That's what I'm there for, two hours of un-interrupted motherless enjoyment. And talk, shut up to the tarts in the back row or move down to the front where 10 rows would give me a buffer zone of silence.

And how desperate do you have to be to need a pee in the middle of two hours?

Roll on July 15.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Researchers found that at least three major previous conservation treatments were inside the chapel. In 1913, Ernest MacKay replaced a number of plaster fragments and fittled the ceiling with three light iron girders.

In 1914-1915 shows the plaster fragments set into the black muna (bottom pic from Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford). The top photo from 1966 shows the white repair plaster over the muna substrate to stabilize the fragments. In the 1980s/90s, polyvinyl acetate (a synthetic binder) was mixed with sand and clay to form a mortar in the existing white plaster areas. B72 (Paraloid) was also introduced to stabilize the paintings.

Over the years, the plaster and pinkish PVA had cracked becoming unstable and visually distracting. The previous fills also resulted in the creation of 'haloes' or yellow tidemarks around the losses. Samples of sand and sandstone powders were analyzed to see if they would produce adverse chemical changes in the lime plaster or with the original black muna plaster. After testing and examination with polarized light microscopy they were found safe to use. The colours of different sands were tested and a mixture of lime putty, local sandstone powder, light building sand and a local pinkish sandstone were decided on. The top photo shows the previous repairs being removed.

The loose materials of the fill have to be removed and the surface wetted with a brush to aid adhesion and to slow the drying rate. The sand and limestone putty mixture had to be applied quickly, taking care to avoid contact with the original edges.

The repairs were then cut back under light to ensure an even surface and that the mortar followed the plane of the wall. Then mortar was pushed into the edges of the original plaster to ensure good contact and mimic the original plaster surface.

It could be that in another 40 or 50 years or even less, these repairs will be removed to make way for a better conservation project. It's certain not to last the 3 thousand years the paintings have. All this stuff is probably copyright but sueing me will do you no good but since thousands read this blog, I won't charge you for the publicity.


Monash University will be hosting the 5th International Conference on Advanced Vibrational Spectroscopy in Melbourne, July 12th to 17th. One of the invited speakers is Peter Vandenabeele who is Research Professor in Archaeometry at Ghent University.

Archaeometry is the science of archaeology, using analytic chemistry, spectroscopy, (bio) organic chemistry, electrochemistry, physics, conservation science, museology, anthropology, history, history of art and archaeology. In other words all the post-Indiana Jones stuff.

The analysis of precious artefacts or art works which cannot be taken apart or damaged or even moved and micro samples of pottery and paint flakes are being undertaken by scientists using several non-invasive methods.

In 2007, Professor Vandenabeele worked on the Menna Tomb Project. Menna was a high official who served as an overseer of the Cadastral surveys during the reigns of Tuthmosis IV and Amenhotem III between 1419 - 1370 BC. His tomb at Thebes is one of the finest painted, non-Royal Egyptian tombs open to the public and the paintings decorating the walls are marvellous examples of what Egyptians could do with pigments and plaster.

The research team of scientists involved in the archeaometry phase used visual analysis techniques of colorimetry (visible, ultra-violet and near infra-red) x-ray fluorescence (XRF) and RAMAN spectroscopy. The aim was to provide a complete analysis of the organic and inorganic materials, that is, the paint pigments, varnishes, binders and plaster in the tomb. The results would show not only the ancient materials but later repairs by conservators that may be degrading the paintings.

This is the XRF machine built especially for this project. After a visual examination of the painting, points were selected for study and analysis. As all archaeometric processes work by using the effect of light wave lengths converted to spectral troughs and peaks, nothing touches the painted walls so pigments or matrix remain intact.

The x-ray fluorescence here has identified the elemental components of the sample of yellow and it's inorganic concentration. The highest peak is As (Arsenic) and the next is Ca (Calcium) with smaller concentrations of Fe(Iron) Sr (Strontium) which indicates the pigment is almost pure orpiment, an arsenic sesquisulphide (As2S3). ( don't ask what sesquisulphide is or you'll be made to google it yourself)
Preliminary findings show that the Egyptian artists worked with combinations of pigments in different mixtures, either mixed together and then applied to the wall, or laid on in washes to create transparency.
And in true Lord Hughes style, I'll be posting about the conservation of the tomb next, with photos.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


There's probably a high-faluting latin word for gardenphobia but that will do.

A beautiful autumn the garden.

Pray for the plants I've just put in. They were so safe in their pots until I came along.

Water crystals, hole digging, watering, back filling (gardeny term that) and I managed to drop both of them.

I think I broke their necks.

I gave up after that and sat in the sun and cleaned the brass goblets and sprayed them so I'll never have to do it again.

Now I have to hide them again.

Who wants to be reminded of their 21st birthday when they're rapidly approaching the umpty-first?

Besides the ex gave them to me. Why did I marry someone who gave me a present that I would have to clean until the day I died?

Saturday, May 16, 2009


This is 'Shell Cottage' from the set of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows'. I think this is what I love about the films, how the setmakers (?) take words and make them into visions. I want it.


Katrina Putker's image of a dinner plate and cutlery won her third place in the Eureka Prize for science photography, 2008.

This time the birefringence was created by using the light passing through plastic which was manually stressed to enhance the overall effect. When light passes through certain types of material, it experiences two refractive indices, slow and fast wavelengths which creates the rainbow effect.

Ms Putker called her work, "Birefringence Binge"

I'm not sure how 'manually stressed' works, in my case it would be belting it with a geologist's pick.

Friday, May 15, 2009


I don't know how Antoine managed to stay hidden at the back of the pastry window but that's the way I look when I see a shop full of goodies. I also get that look when I'm contemplating the fridge door, also covered in goodies. Thanks to Annie O'Dyne for the link.


Imperial Topaz is in the yellow-orange or reddish-orange (sherry) colour range and has been known since ancient Egypt and Roman times.
The name "Imperial" was given to Topaz in honour of the Emperor Don Pedro of Brazil in order to distinguish it from the heat treated amethyst-turned-citrine known as "golden topaz".
The true Topaz colour is natural and not heated or treated in any way and priced way above that of citrine. When viewed under incandescent light, the orange colour of an Imperial topaz takes on a pinkish hue.

Because of the value, the gem cutters will try to minimize the weight loss as they bring out the natural beauty but this also means that most crystals are a non-standard shape, leading to handcrafted settings instead of mass produced jewellery. The piece of loveliness above is a 7.81 carat stone surrounded by fourteen diamonds in a platinum setting. (drool, want, drool)

And all things lovely come from rough crystals like these.


This is a rare example of 'Precious' Topaz as the bi-colour is as it was in the original rough crystal. It is 13.35 carats in weight and measures 27 x 11.8 x 5.42 mm. The yellow pink tone is natural and has not been heat treated. The interior is flawless and it has been cut to enhance the bi-colour.
This exceptional colour is only found near the town of Ouro Preto in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil.
These faceted stones also come from Ouro Preto.

And the post wouldn't be anything without some bling.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I crawl over in the cold on Monday and storm out in a blaze of sunshine. Don't ask, you already know the usual reasons.

Tuesday was slightly better except it was the wrong day for the movie I wanted to see and in my post-mother hysteria, I really didn't need to watch Wolverine.

This morning was quite mind bending.

The BrickOutHouse went to bed at 3 a.m. and mother went to the bathroom and all the lights were out.
Even her torch wouldn't work.
She only made it back to bed by following the white patch on the cat.
Then the top light wouldn't work.
Then the DVD player came on by itself.
Then the TV came on by itself and turned itself off.
She still couldn't get the torch to work.
The room was pitch dark.
But she could see the street lights weren't working.

The BrickOutHouse was going to work and said goodbye. She told him about the lights.
He went to bed at 8 pm.
His electric clock was still working.
The power didn't go off.
He grabs the phone to tell me this and I tell him to check the torch to see if she has put the batteries in it.
Torch works fine.
Front door slams.

Mother says he doesn't know what he's talking about since he was asleep when the lights went out.

Would you like to hear about the egg exploding in the microwave?

Didn't think so.

Okay, I'll go back to working out what diagenetically related minerals mean or maybe I'll just go back to bed and put my head under the pillows.

Saturday, May 09, 2009




A – Age. Young enough not to care who knows it which doesn't mean I'm going to tell you.

B- Bed size A queen size. Room for me, my books, my walkman, notepads, cassettes (there's an age give-away) and the Butler’s tea tray.

C- Chore you hate. Housework, gardening, sex and saving money, breaking in a new Butler.
I couldn't choose one, they're all at the top of the list.

D - Dog’s name. Don't have one now but if I do buy one, its name will be Harold the Elk.
Thank you Lord Hughes.
Memo to self: see if the Butler would go for a name change.

E - Essential start to your day. Apart from sunlight streaming in the window, Earl Grey Tea, black, no sugar, served by the Butler.

F - favorite colour. Mulberry and black. It's the Butler's livery.

G - gold or silver. Yellow gold, not rose gold or white gold.
If you’re going for white gold you might as well go platinum and hang the expense.

H- height. Six foot 2 inches. It’s my meme, I can lie if I want to.

I – instruments. Poker machines.

J – job. Work? That’s what the Butler’s for.

K – kids. I’m allergic to anything under the age of consent.

L - living arrangements. Blissfully alone, except for the Butler.

M - Mum's name. My dad used to call her ‘Angel’.
It’s unprintable what I’ve called her in the last week.

N – Nicknames. Puhleeese, with my height and the Butler trailing behind, no-one would dare.

O - overnight hospital stay other than birth. There’s not enough room on this blog to catalogue. I’ll go with the first one before I was 12 months old. I had a throat infection which obstructed my breathing so the men-in-white carted me off to Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital without my mother in attendance. I was kept there for a week, no contact with family until my mother came and got me. She was never told what was wrong with me or what treatment I was given. And you wonder why I love the X-Files. Unfortunately I only found out after Fairfield was closed so now I’ll never know.

P - pet peeve. Comments about my weight. People smoking near me. People drinking too much and being obnoxious. Kids who barf on me. Football players who can’t keep it in their pants. Sam Newman who can’t keep his gob shut. Men who think women are inferior when we actually rule the world, albeit in secret. Creationists. (I would time travel them back to the dinosaurs to try living with them since they’re so convinced)

The list is endless. I’m a grumpy old woman.

Q - Quote from a movie. “We’re gunna need a bigger boat” That statement applies to everything that goes wrong. I love that film.

R - robot or human. With some blokes you can’t tell.
Pardon me while I go check the Butler.

S – Siblings. Sister but then I can’t be certain. I may have been swapped for an alien at Fairfield.

T - time you wake up. After the Butler arrives and before the tea goes cold.

U – underwear. Commando in the house, Bombay bloomers in the street.
I wouldn’t want to frighten the horses if I fell over.

V - Vegetable you dislike. Besides Sam Newman? Okra, chokoes, eggplant and sweet potato.

W- ways you run late. I am never late or the Butler gets fired.

X - X-rays you've had. Too many, I probably glow in the dark.

Y - Yummy food you make. I used to be a great cook but I’ve lost the knack except for a booze laden Christmas cake that can prove lethal. Fortunately the Butler seems to have been trained at the Ritz.

Z - Zoo favourite. I hate zoos except for endangered species but I love otters. I always head for the otters.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


I can't remember if I said about my 30 year old glasses frames, that OPSM weren't all that happy about putting in reading lens and wouldn't guarantee the work and really were a bit snooty about my gold metal oldies.

Well, I bent over to take off my slippers last night and the new supplied and guaranteed frames fell apart and landed at my feet. I haven't had them six months. It only took 5 minutes to put them back together at the store but keep this date in mind in case they fall apart again.

At the movies, I saw the best ad ever but then I have a rotten sense of humour. Big party, bloke turns up with a box wrapped in ribbons. Says to the girl that he knows she's had a rotten time since Freddy (or whoever) went. She puts her hand in the box and squeals, 'Bowling ball!'. Not a bowling ball but Freddy the gerbil encased in a plastic bauble. Okay, I suppose you had to be there but it was funny. I think they were advertising Cadbury's chocolates but I was laughing to hard to remember.


Stupid stars, I hate it when astrologers are right.

Half an hour after I posted on Tuesday, the phone and internet went off. It came back Wednesday morning and went off Wednesday night. It went off this morning but that was the man up the pole fiddling with the wires again. No internet banking then and call for a taxi on the mobile and pass the man fiddling with wires on a pole round the corner and down the street.

Phone and internet is back, for now.

AGL are now giving me grief. NO, we haven't got your PoA yet, it takes a while to come to the call centre. One more call with that remark, which I'll be making tomorrow, and the supervisor will join David in the padded cell. That belongs to the mother problem.

My problem was spelled out in three letters from AGL for the gas and two for the electricity. Apparently, they've been having billing troubles and have just caught up with the accounts. So if I'm having problems paying for this extra large bill, just ring our call centre and we'll come to some arrangement. Lucky me, I have direct debits which went down in each subsequent letter but I'm still in credit. So I'm waiting for any letters like this to arrive at mother's and then watch the mushroom cloud billow over AGL.

It's a good thing I spent yesterday sniffing a fresh can of brass cleaner or I mightn't be as mellow. Sorry Antikva if I sounded a little spaced out but who reads instructions about doing brass cleaning in adequate ventilation. My last brass cleaner wasn't loaded with LSD. But the brass is looking good and I've got 3 more goblets to go and only half a lung left.

I bought mother a duckdown doona for mother's day with her money. So I didn't shop for food, I can forage, but decided to visit today instead of tomorrow. I took off the bed, one heavy wool blanket, one heavy marcella quilt, two mohair rugs, one patchwork quilt and one bedspread and the thermal blanket, she was using that so her leg wouldn't fall out of bed. They weighed a tonne but lacked warmth which is why I put on the light thermal blanket but the control freak decided that was the one thing that was heavy on her legs. Give me strength.

I decided there must be a reason for her not being able to get to the centre of the bed, apart from sheer bloodymindedness because I make her do it, and somewhere along the line an over achieving housekeeper had removed the wooden blocks from the wheels on the bed so it was moving instead of mother.

With a sweep of the broom I found them and put them back. Made the bed with the doona, thermal blanket and mohair rug and made her get in it properly. She ate a custard tart, several painkillers and a cup of tea and passed out for two hours. I think she heard me say goodbye, all I could hear was, "I"m so warm, why didn't we do this before?" Because I still thought I might be able to find the $200 wool filled doona that's still MIA. I love Harris Scarfe, quilt was $90 off, bargain and a half if it shuts her up.

And the rest of the morning was filled with STAR TREK. Trek nerds, don't miss it on the big screen. Brilliant and I don't care if William Shatner was pissed off that he didn't get a guernsey and Nimoy did because he was part of the film and Denny Crane would have ruined it. The story has multi-layers, the special effects are tremendous and the actors were perfect. Love it, love it.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Telephone is fixed, for the moment, for this year, hopefully forever.

The fixit man could have knocked on the door before cutting the phone line with Ma on the other end of the morning hysteria call.

She thought the power went off and couldn't get her breakfast.

That took some explaining, about the difference between electricity and phone line.

It appears that during the 120kmh windstorm, the connection worked loose and water got in and started to short out the line.

But only my phone line.

There's a moral in there somewhere.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


And on the other hand having no phone or internet since Wednesday night means increased blood pressure, shouting, throwing phones around and moderate to full-on depression.

Telstra call centre must have a large 'be afraid' star against my name by now as I'm treated very gently, WHEN THEY CAN HEAR ME THROUGH THE INSANE NOISE GENERATED BY THEIR PHONE LINE.

It was a dream to have a clear line this morning even with mother on it.

A big thank you to River. I finally got the coffee and vanilla slice, still fresh.

It is depressing to realize that without the internet and blogs, I have no interaction with human beings other than little old ladies in supermarkets and check-out chicks. (No offence River, my check-out chick is lovely).

So pardon my dust as I nick off and catch up with people who have a life.

And you all better be there where I left you. I regard a blog closure as being like a death in the family.