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Rock Bottom and the Web – by Justyna

6 May

Kazek has a CD with Aussie songs on it, sent a couple of years ago to him by my cousins Marcin and Gosia. It is appropriately called Dinky Di. It has some awesome songs on it like the Disgruntled Wombat and the Kookaburra song (a favourite). It also has classics like Click Go the Shears. He puts it on and does wild dancing to it almost daily, usually after breakfast (his other top two CD is the Fun Loving Criminals). I now know I have hit rock bottom in terms of missing Australia, when the other day the CD was blaring, Kazek was dancing and Men at Work came on with their Down Under rendition. I was swaying to it with Julian, my gut clinching tight, tears were pouring down my face. Great big sobs followed. Kazek was a bit puzzled. I tend to be a mad Dinky Di dancer most days. Imagine what happened when I Still Call Australia Home came on next…

What makes this re-immigration bearable is the web. As much as smart phones are responsible for destroying marriages and face-to-face social skills (Michal and I have a ban on using our mobiles and laptops in bed – books are permissible, although Michal claims they are just as anti-social as staring into the screen of your phone), they are life saving for people who cry to Men at Work songs. Thanks to the What’s App application I am totally in the loop with my cousins in Sydney. We actually have a contact group labeled ‘Cousins’ and discuss everything from cooking preferences to sending pictures of what is currently standing on our bookshelves. The other day Nat and Annette sent me a voice message, being total spazmos, making me piss my pants before I even managed to eat my morning toast. Had a warm buzz for the rest of the day. The spontaneity is what makes such communication excellent and as close to real time as possible, albeit minus the facial reactions. Juliette and I, for example, are in constant contact comparing baby stories and experiences and when having a shit day I know I can get her support and a sympathetic ‘ear’ almost immediately, making this whole mothering thing less lonely and weird. I hate being away from my close people who are now also mothers, not being able to see their kids or them not seeing mine. But this constant exchange of even the shortest of sentences, means I have yet not gone mental.

The fact that this form of communication is quick and more importantly free, is an amazing feat when compared to the immigration of my parents who wrote long letters to my babcia and dziadek every couple of weeks, or made phone calls that had cost then something like 8 bucks per minute. No one at either end was ever satisfied. The communication infrequent, lacking detail and never at an appropriate time of the day. Depressing moments that signified only all the more of how far away you were from your loved ones. The web, fortunately, has made me a happier-terribly-missing-home re-immigrant. And has forced Kazek to master the skill of Skyping at the age of two.


Web – by Karen

4 May

Sometimes when I’m searching for inspiration for a Far Flung Four post, I enter the topic word into Google Images and see what pops up. I didn’t do this with “bottom”. This week it seemed safe,  and I got this:

Is that not the most boring visual array? The web is so boring! And so blue! Interestingly, this proves correct one of the utterances of one of the psychopathic publishers I once worked for. He maintained that the majority of IT magazine covers should be blue, because blue is the colour of IT.

When I entered that search, I was kind of expecting to see all kinds of beautiful lacy organic things, but I guess if I wanted that I should have typed “web” into Flickr:

Even editors of blue-covered IT magazines learn to make the prettier picture bigger.

I would like to spend more of my time looking at lacy, irregular, organic webs, and less of it looking at blue vector graphics. But in real life spider webs are sticky and crooked, and sometimes not nearly as shimmery as the ones on Flickr. A more analogue life requires discomfort beyond the dreams of the coddled Singapore expat.

Do you like Jack White? I’ve never been that into his music, but nevertheless I sometimes enjoy interviews with him. I watched a documentary about four guitarists, of which he was one. He was explaining how he makes guitars by hand out of inappropriate materials, so that they won’t sound as good, and how he plans his moves on stage so that he needs six steps to get there, but only has time for four. You know me, I dismissed this instantly as wank. But I do keep thinking about it. And it seems he does too.

Web – by Tabitha

2 May

When my grandmother, Nannan, was at the end of her life, and choosing to subsist almost entirely on cheese Twisties and Country Cheese biscuits, she would say some funny things. Maybe she was suffering from artificial cheese flavour poisoning, but more likely, she was just old and a bit senile.

Like most old people, she was concerned about where the World Was Heading, and many of her stranger comments were on this theme, informed – although I use that word loosely – by alarming things she had seen on television.

Around the time of Dolly the cloned sheep, I remember a conversation in which she expressed concern about these kind of genetic modifications. She said she had seen on the television that they were crossing goats with spiders to make goats that produce spiders’ web wool. This was obviously ridiculous. And actually pretty gruesome.



Fast forward ten years, and bugger me sideways, it’s actually happening:

Professor Lewis and his team at the University of Wyoming have successfully implanted the silk-making genes from a golden orb spider into a herd of goats and are now, finally, producing one of nature’s strongest products in useable quantities.

It’s not quite as Nannan envisioned, but it’s actually just as freaky:

“(The splicing) turned out to be relatively easy as there are known gene promoters that only produce expression in the mammary gland during lactation,” he said.

“Those were hooked up to our spider silk genes.”

After the milk is collected, it’s taken back to a laboratory where the silk protein is filtered out. It solidifies when exposed to air and is wound onto a roller.

Prof Lewis said the team collected about four metres of silk for every four drops of protein they gathered.


There’s a lesson here, kids: listen to your elders. And eat more Twisties.

Web by Beth

1 May

Hey ladies. This isn’t really the sound of my voice talking to you… actually, it is, but it’s a post that’s been written in advance because I’m on screen free week right now. April 30 – May 6. So…..the only access to the web I’m going to have is when I’m at work. I guess I’ll keep my phone on aeroplane mode so that I can’t be tempted. Podcasts from mobile are permitted. But no computer usage, no email (only at work). I’m allowed to talk on the phone, and texting is allowed too. That’s the rule we went with last year.

I’ll keep a note of any observations. Last year it was like withdrawing from caffeine or something. All I could think about was internet, I felt jittery and lost, and then I got into the swing of it, and I found that my computer usage was much more responsible for a week or so afterwards. I wasn’t just logging on to get that Pavlovian fix of email or social networking. Interestingly, there was a study done about Facebook getting its users to experience “core flow” – a really optimal state of mind that’s both challenging and positive. I totally fit in this category – that feeling of logging on and checking the top stories and feeling that everything is OK with my peeps, and there’s interesting stuff out there.

Leo watches “shows on the pooter” with Jeff in the mornings, so it’s going to be “interesting” to see how he goes with lack there of.

In other news of the web, this wet weather Sydney has been having over the past 6 months or so has made for lots and lots of spiders. There are webs all along the river and stretching from house to house on our street. It’s pretty.