A thought on self driving cars

I have long been a fan of the idea of self driving cars.  I remain unwaveringly of the mindset that they will be the future of transport, and will change the paradigm of car ownership. So much possible good can come out of them. Less accidents, no worries about parking, the ability for groups of people to share a vehicle, better traffic, easier to get the kids dropped off and picked up, and even extra nap time on the way to work.

But a shower thought the other day, has made me wonder if it will ever happen. Not because the technology won’t get there, it undoubtedly will, but because of the impact on revenue. Imagine a world with self driving cars. Firstly, every private parking group, gone. Tullamarine Airport has some of the most expensive parking in the world, but with self driving cars, no more. CBD parking – no problem, your car will drop you off – almost overnight, a 2 billion dollar industry goes the way of the buggy whip. But that alone wont do it, the real kicker,  in an instant, all traffic fines are done. In a self driving car, nobody ever speeds, nobody runs a stop sign or red light, nobody overstays their parking. What government is going to allow this? With well over a billion dollars in annual revenue coming in from traffic offences in Australia alone, it is hard to imagine laws allowing for self driving cars being passed in a hurry.

Maybe I am just being cynical, but while I am absolutely certain self driving cars will make life safer and better in many many ways, they wont make it in without a fight.

A few words on change.

Something I see often, is that people fear change. I understand it, change is a scary thing. Many of us, and I do include myself, spend a lot of time in our lives building comfortable spaces and ways of being. Change can threaten that. But over the years I have learned something that changed the way I perceive change.

It started with some self analysis of my fear of needles. A common enough phobia, not really one to be embarrassed about, but if you have ever had a stage of life where you required regular blood testing, or had surgery, that needle phobia can really drag you down. So there I was, me, built like an overweight fridge, one time professional wrestler, known to have been involved in a few fights in my teens, and self considered pugilist, but scared of a tiny needle. But if i break it down, what was it that I was really scared of? Examining it closer, I realised that it wasn’t the needle that I feared, I have no problem holding a syringe with needle. It was not the pin prick itself, these pin pricks at worst are not terrible, to be honest, removing the band aid, normally placed after a needle,  hurts more than the needle itself as it tears out some hairs when I rip it off. It also is not the post needle outcome, as the purpose is normally either diagnostic or preventative.

With these thoughts, I realised that I was not scared of needles, what I had a fear of was the anticipation of a needle. The knowledge that something was coming, was leading me to a fear that was significantly out of proportion with the actual event. Strangely, once I learned this of myself, the fear of needles went away. In a puff of logic, I managed to remove what had been at one point a significant phobia.

Coming to understand that anticipation of events causes fear that is nearly always out of proportion to any negative experience that may occur, has taught me much about accepting, or even looking forward to change. This, coupled with a strong sense of personal responsibility, is one of the best lessons I have ever learned. Change happens, sometimes it is good, sometimes it is bad, but it is always inevitable. Knowing that even if the worst occurs, its unlikely to be as bad as the worst I can anticipate, leads me to no longer dwelling on the anticipation. This frees up my energy to put it into embracing the new, giving it the best chance of having a positive outcome, and in most cases it works.


It’s going to be a chili winter.

It all started with a silly idea.

About three years ago, while getting into some excellent hot chilies, discussing with friends where to get some that are hotter than your supermarket variety jalapenos, I decided to try my hand at growing some superhots. Of course, me being me, I did not really think about doing them outside in the garden, because… well, there is no good reason, I was just reading up on chili growing in a forum and they mentioned that superhots do not like to be cold. Coincidentally, I had also recently read about the autopot  and seen that a starter kit could be had for  a measly $108. Additional grow LED arrays use minimal electricity and can be found quite cheaply on ebay.

So, soon after, I had an awesome (in my mind at least) setup in my spare room cupboard and one trinidad scorpion along with a jalapeno plant were slowly growing. How I watched over them, talked to them, and when they started flowering profusely, sang Barry White songs as I hand pollinated them. So clearly, my harvest would be bountiful. Well, dear reader, it was not to be. After 18 long months of growing, where my beloved superhot Trinidad Scorpion plant had grown to nearly 5 foot high, that is not a typo, FIVE FOOT high and yet it only ever produced 1, single miserly fruit. Yes it was rather hot, but one (again not a typo), one fruit.

Feeling down about the whole thing, I consulted with the proprietor of a hydroponics store, who advised me to move my setup outside. This move outdoors, indeed benefited the jalapeno quite a bit, and the harvest from it went up a bit, but still nary a fruit from the scorpion.

Around this time, I also had finally finished my MBA, and all of a sudden I had spare time on my hands. This, combined with me now spending time outdoors staring wistfully at my plants, led me to decide to build an aquaponics tank and garden bed with which to continue my growing endeavors. Everyone needs a hobby.

So build it I did (and it will be the subject of a future blog post) and more chilies, along with other plants were planted. Many a hot chili and other vegetable were harvested, but the wind and water of the levels were too much for the superhots, and while they grew, they still refused to bear me fruit. However, my potted habaneros, planted in soil due to lack of space in the aquaponics bed, thrived and gave out some awesomely super hot and tasty peppers.

This leads to where I am now. Planning. Planning and scheming for my 2014/15 one man chili festival. While I am still going to try to get some superhots going in my aquaponics, this season, they will be shielded from the wind in a greenhouse giving them a much better chance of growing.

That however is only the beginning of my plan. During the past year, I have slowly amassed a collection of chili seeds  44 species in all, ranging from medium hot, to ludicrous hot. Some, with no actual name, only a CGN designation. From this lot, I aim to get at least 50, if not 100 potted chilies growing in my backyard. So I am preparing – purchasing the pots,  figuring out the layout required, some irrigation ideas, and wind breaks. If all goes well, you will see in 2015 some rare and hot raph brand chili sauce and some damn hot pickled chilies.

This is just the introductory piece on my growing journey, and there will be more later. However consider yourself warned. This winter is going to be chili and next summer is going to be HOT!

So here we are.

So its been a long while between drinks.


Last week when I archived the old blog that was residing here, I had not posted an update since 2009. The blog represented a slice in time of who I was, spanning 2006 to 2009, and then it ended, like most things, not with a bang, but a resounding silence. Things do not just disappear, they get neglected, left alone, and forgotten.

While I knew the domain was still kicking around, I only decided to check what state I had left it in, recently, while doing some tidying up of my various bits of webs pace and domains. It really was an example of what happens to unpatched publicly accessible sites everywhere. My old WordPress installation had been taken over by comment spam, with 6000+ spam-bots having taken residence. Given that this was being kept on some fairly cheap hosting, even loading WP was a slow chore. Trying to do a mass database purge using plugin tools was a futile exercise in timeout frustration. After a bit of experimentation, the magic number that seemed to work was 50 users being purged at a time. So after many hours, I had purged the users, purged the spam comments, and was left with a lot of posts that I did not feel quite comfortable adding to. Five years represents a lot of change in my life. I have changed jobs thrice, gotten married, adopted some dogs, completed a second masters degree (MBA), taken up aquaponics as a hobby, started drinking alcohol again, and generally consider myself a different person.


Which all leads us to this. After updating my installation, taken preventative action to avoid a return of the spam-bots and taking in the status-quo, I decided that it was time for a fresh start. I took a complete backup of all my old posts, in case I decide I ever want them again, and then pressed the reset button.


So what can you expect here? Well, I am not entirely too sure. It will be things I am interested in, or am contemplating. Discussions on food, lifestyle, politics, pets, prose and people. Initially I will aim for at least one post a week, though it may be more frequent, or less. I am open to topical requests, so if you want my thoughts on a topic, feel free to ask.


I will of course be fiddling about with the back end for the first few weeks, so if strange things seem to be happening, or things do not display correctly, please take a moment to let me know. I may also change themes depending on how I like it.

In general, when comments are up and running correctly, I will tend not to do any censoring, unless a comment is directly hateful. My opinions are my own, and sometimes that is a good thing. I do not expect or require agreement from others, I do however appreciate decorum and civility.


So here we are. Welcome to my old – new blog.