_____________________________________________________________________________Volume 9 Issue 4 Madison Valley History Association, Inc. website: www.madisonvalleyhistoryassociation.org--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- From the Wagon Seat It looks like fall here. The leaves are turning yellow,
Ifost.org.auwas some long seconds before she started fiddling further with the equipment and it transpired that the major problem was with the scanner and notthe baby. Babies don’t have a tendency to freeze For those of you that don’t already know, this will up and crash all that often as far as we know yet.
probably be the last year that it’s just two of us If there is an equivalent of Murphy’s law for puns writing to you. In early May we are expecting to (i.e. that circumstances turn out in order to max- give birth (actually, we’re expecting Karen to do imise the number of bad puns in the universe – so – Greg’s pot-belly is just a pot-belly). Despite Greg certainly holds to this belief), then one of our best attempts at identifying the sex of the Karen’s friends pointed out that the baby would baby, we still don’t know as the baby has being have to be born on May 1st (International Labour demurely crossing its legs thoughout every ultra- sound examination we’ve had. We worked out agirl’s name within minutes (with the Chinese partof the name coming from Greg’s favourite Tai-wanese singer), and spent the better part of five months coming up with a boys name. (The chal-lenge here is that in a Chinese family all the male For Christmas last year, Karen bought Greg a children’s names have to begin with the same syl- telescope. As you are probably aware, neither of lable so you have to be careful not to cut off your us have any ability at things mechanical. Greg spent about two weeks trying to look through theview finder, wondering why it didn’t ever match up with what you could see through the telescopeitself.
Karen’s pregnancy has gone well but we had a One of Greg’s school friends provided us with the few scares early on. She was suffering from morn- answer in early January that you actually have ing sickness for the first twelve weeks or so and to align the viewfinder – it doesn’t happen au- was unable to eat. Actually, Greg believes that tomatically. Thus inspired, he pointed it at the both reactions were mostly caused by his doing brightest thing in the sky and was most surprised to see four little dots around it (Jupiter). Every- Karen was bleeding initially, so we had ultrasound one gathered around and we re-lived that moment number one, which indicated that we should be of discovery and awe that Galileo must have had.
expecting in the last week of April. Carefully ig- Then, he tried the second brightest, and clearly noring the “Confidential, only to be opened by a saw the rings around it (Saturn). Finally for an doctor” message, we were relieved to find that it encore, he looked at the third brightest, and saw was pretty much unrelated to the pregnancy.
Ultrasound number two was the standard 13-week Later in January, when the international space one (around 4 weeks after the previous one) and station was visible in the Sydney skies, we all indicated that the baby had only grown for three traipsed down to the local baseball pitch (the weeks out of the previous four, and that we should darkest nearby place) to try to find it. Between a CSIRO researcher, ourselves and two of our Ultrasound number three at 19 weeks failed to StarTrek-obsessed friends we managed to make clear up the date, but did give us a small scare.
out a fuzzy hash pattern, and thought that we Half-way through the scan, the sonographer sud- might have seen its solar panels. It was later when denly said in a quiet voice with dread “oh, no!”. It we were packing up that it dawned on us that we 1Both the number of people that stare at us and our were probably looking at the mesh of the baseball late at night, we used a large hand-made dome.
At the time, Mars was very nearly at its closest Those of you not in Australia may have missed a approach to the earth – it was so bright (!) that wonderful Australian movie “The Dish”. It is the it was hard to make out any detail beyond seeing (true) story of the Parkes Radio Telescope’s role in receiving the signals for the first lunar landing.
But we discovered some interesting factoids – it is Inspired by the publicity that this movie gen- possible to see Venus with the naked eye during erated, Sydney University organised a tour in day-time if you know where to look and the air is July to visit the Parkes dish, the telescope facili- clear; radio telescopes only listen on one tiny fre- ties at Narrabri, the many instruments at Mount quency band at a time; meteors (shooting stars) Stromlo and a private observatory in Gilgandra.
actually happen all the time, but city lights block This constitutes about twenty hours of driving in one long weekend, fortunately by coach.
a professional astronomer as a guide, we had a behind-the-scenes look at some of Australia’s topastronomical equipment.
Greg went to Melbourne for a week to help induct Karen was fascinated particularly by the spec- new graduates into HP. Since this was just around troscope that Sydney University was building at the time for our anniversary (five years!) we de- cided to extend it to a weekend and Karen came in progress. It was designed to work out what for Friday through to Sunday. On the Saturday chemicals exist in distant stars based on the (the actual day of our anniversary) we went for a tiny fragments of colour that they each produce.
Spread out over what could easily constitute a Most people choose a walking tour to see tourist model trainset table, we were only allowed in the attractions, but we had better ideas – we found morning (so that by evening the air disturbances a suggested tour to see famous Melbourne book- we made would have settled down). The mea- surement equipment was a mass of badly laid- prowess, we managed to get lost and confused al- out tangled wires and half-assembled computer most immediately – the first destination was “the parts, which distinctly reminded her of Greg’s site of” a famous store, now mostly office build- ings, but in ignorance we kept searching for some- Greg had actually minded the Narrabri telescope between Christmas and New Year in 1994, and Eventually we sorted ourselves out, and later went to great pains to show Karen where he had found a second-hand bookstore (the only thing spent his time (mostly playing SimCity and com- of interest was over $1000, so we decided against pletely failing to understand any of the data being it), a children’s bookstore (lots of purchases for nephews and nieces) and a language bookstore, Mount Stromlo had some particular delights – au- tomatic, remote-controlled astronomy (if one par- ted some interesting finds – Greg bought Asterix ticular satellite receives a burst, it sends a mes- in Esperanto (which constituted the store’s com- sage down to a detector at Mount Stromlo, which plete offering in that language) and Karen bought opens up as quickly as it can to photograph it an adventure novel in Bahasa (simply because before it goes away. After all, a telescope is just it would not have been available in any Bahasa- a large camera, and we have had remote-controls We then stumbled upon a fairground, where Out in the Australian outback, the skies are very Karen got vertigo from a ferris wheel and Greg clear, so we took Greg’s telescope. The tour group found himself wedged into a roller-coaster because also had one, and in the freezing cold of Gilgandra it was never designed for someone his size.
We caught up with some of Karen’s Malaysian ing projects to do – a satellite internet connection, friends living in Melbourne and then, after taking synchronising servers across the internet and de- Karen back to the airport, Greg had the fun of veloping some new questionaire software.
confusing a Melbourne taxi driver who took himto his hotel that he had in fact been in Melbournefor several days now, and had not in fact got off Greg only managed six out-of-town trips this year,including Singapore and Bangalore. Karen was unable to come on either of the overseas trips –which is ironic because she is the one that actually Just to prove that we can’t go an entire year with- likes curries and would have enjoyed the many out going to Brisbane, Greg had two-and-a-half weeks of work to do there. Karen went up with For those of you who have never been to India, him for the weekend of the first week and we here are a few of Greg’s observations.
stayed at her sister’s place. We didn’t actuallydo anything much there other than play with our • It’s impossible to recognise any of the cars on the road, since they are all locally made, Greg spent the following weekend cycling around and all look like 1950s Austin Minors (and Brisbane (it was very flat, so it suits his fitness level). The work itself proved frightening beyondimagining as he discovered the actual state of one • Cars don’t actually stop at traffic lights, but of Queensland’s most important pieces of criti- they will if there is a cow at the junction.
cal computing infrastructure. He also helped a • The IT training centre Greg was at had a newly-met friend set up a computer network, the permanent internet connection, but no mains result of which was enough boxes of chocolates to feed every visitor for the next six months.
Greg’s nerdiness is legendary, and can proudly • The hotel lobby shops don’t sell things like proclaim to have programmed on his laptop in power adapters for foreign electrical devices the lobbies of most of Asia’s famous hotels. In (Greg has an unrivalled collection of them Brisbane he expanded his horizons and started programming on his laptop in restaurant malls.
sell computer based training products fordatabase systems. (Bangalore employs thesecond greatest number of programmers in the world after Silicon Valley, which con-tributes to this phenomenon.) Karen successfully stayed at the one job for awhole year, and got promoted to assistant man- • Australian Imodium is no match for Indian bacteria – Greg lasted four days before his months’ maternity leave and then deciding whatto do from there.
The Zoroastrians who live in northern India are Greg’s work started off troubled this year with the only religion other than Christianity that be- him having to lay off everyone except himself, and lieves in salvation by grace (i.e. that as human then slowly picked up later in the year to hav- beings there is nothing we can do to become good ing two casuals. This includes Greg’s good friend or earn God’s favour). Unfortunately, they are Damian who started taking over for his teaching non-evangelical and endogenous (they only marry work. During the year there were some interest- other Zoroastrians, and no-one else is allowed to become one). This does reduce their possibilities for long-term survival. They currently face an-other issue to do with their funeral rites – they Karen had a burst of enthusiasm and bought her- leave their dead on a mountain-top and wait for self a sewing machine this year, with a view to vultures to eat it. Unfortunately, the vultures are making some maternity wear. Unfortunately, it sick and dwindling in numbers. The current plan turns out that it’s not sufficient just to buy it, is to build solar reflectors to help soften the bod- you actually have to use it. This dampened down ies to make for better eating. Greg’s alternative her enthusiasm somewhat and she has been busily option (that no-one is paying any attention to) is taking lessons off all and sundry to learn more.
for people to pay in advance for buying an im- One of the challenges she faces is that although ported vulture for their own (or someone else’s) she supposedly learned to sew at school, all the funeral – he calls this a “pre-paid gift vulture”.
words were in Bahasa. Even easy patterns writ- Photographs with bizarre captions for the trip ten in English have terms that she had not seen www.ifost.org.au/~gregb/Photos/India-July2001. Greg describes sewing as female geekery. In the same way that computing is a male-dominatedfield with arcanery, an incomprehensible vocabu-lary and a never-ending quest for additional pieces and parts, he claims that sewing is a female-dominated field of arcanery, vocabulary and part- We started hosting a Bible study at our house which was in theory for the youth. In actual fact Karen is convinced that it must have a very strong it was mostly people our own age group who came, mechanical engineering foundation because she which has made it a lot of fun for us – there is no finds it unnervingly complex and confusing. She pressure on us to provide any actual leadership.
worked herself up to doing a complete design on We discovered that it’s more fun cooking leisurely her own only by December. It did not turn out for ten rather than hurriedly for two, so quite of- quite as she expected. If anyone is interested in ten we had dinner as a group before-hand as well.
buying a pair of half-upside-down harem breeches(as opposed to harem pants) in purple, just let us We have been playing more regularly at the morn- ing services at Carlingford Baptist. Greg has beenscheduled on to play the organ, for which he al-ways brings a synthesiser instead since he isn’t co-ordinated enough to use his feet and hands atthe same time. We’ve realised that we’re getting A sense of direction is not something either of us terribly old for our youth service – there have been have had much of, so this year we started counting a couple of occasions this year when we were the up the number of times we drove into the wrong two oldest in the band! – but we’re still playing driveway coming home. So if any of you ever want anyway because there aren’t many keyboardists to drop over to our place, you might want to give a second thought about following us, because we Our church finally appointed a new pastor from go to the wrong house at least once a month. But Taree, whose sermons we have been enjoying.
feel free to drop by and say hello any time you Greg took to taking sermon notes, firstly on a Psion, and then later on his Agenda (small Palm-like digital assistant). This has the odd side-effect Karen and Greg Baker – December 15th, 2001 that he appears to be asleep with his head downthroughout the whole sermon, which has provokeda comment or two.
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