The Irrepressible Gekko

The fourth incarnation of the Glasgow Gekko - an epic saga of life, love... and penguins
Volume 4 Issue 2 June-May 2002

NEWS FLASH: Gekko late as Jase's books go international



Gekko Editorial Bit
& The Bayeaux Tapestry
by Jase

   No big changes to the Gekko website or newsletter this time - except that there are a lot more handmade books (more about that later) and a couple of story submissions to the Reading Room - Love at First Sight and God Only Knows.
   Here are the standard links to the Gekko website again, so you don't have to go looking for your old newsletters:

   The Follett family tree is gathering momentum (which is my word for dust) and now reaches back to Somerset around 1540. The Folletts (then Foliot) were half-brothers to William the Conqueror (Battle of Hastings, 1066) though I have yet to gather enough information to form a direct lineage.
   Odo, Bishop of Bayeux ruled England for William after 1066 when William was in Normandy. Odo was given the bishopric of Bayeux by his brother William, a political move, as Odo was below the required age of 30. In 1067, Odo became William's deputy in England, assisted by William fitz Osbern, until Osbern's death in 1071. Odo also became the Earl of Kent and his wealth and land became considerable. He commissioned the Bayeaux Tapestry which was first shown at the dedication of his new cathedral on 14 July 1077. The Tapestry shows the three brothers, William, Odo, and Robert of Mortain before the battle of Hastings. Odo is talking, while William is listening, possibly showing Odo as the architect of the battle plans. Odo was imprisoned by William in 1083. Odo was planning to become the Pope. He had bought a palace in Rome and had bribed several Romans, recruiting many knights to fight his cause. William intervened as Odo prepared to leave England, and brought Odo before a council. The council was slow to convict Odo and so William had Odo taken to Rouen and imprisoned there. Odo was released on the death of William in 1087 and attended the funeral.
   For a really good description of the entire Bayeaux Tapestry go to http://members.tripod.com/~mr_sedivy/med_bay.html
    The Follett family tree and the Reading Room areas of the website will both be updated in 2002.
   Again, if you would like to e-mail Kristie or myself, our addresses are:

Follett's on the Bayeaux Tapestry

Bishop Odo, William and Robert - at left holding council of war
(click picture for better view or here for a better explanation)

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Leonid Meteor Shower 2001Leonids, Solar Eclipse,
Free Trip to Mars
by Jase

   On November 18, 2001, Kristie and Max and I sat outside and watched the Leonid Meteor Shower (see November 1998 article).
   It was cold at 3am, and we decided that our backyard was a good place with its big sky (and proximity to bed) - no driving to shiver on remote hilltops this year.
   We saw at least 30 shooting stars, much better than previous years, and Max the dog saw at least three - he ran around to the front of the house to check if one landed in our yard.

   Kristie has already booked our campsite in Ceduna for the total solar eclipse on 04 December 2002 - pretty exciting. The eclipse will be just before sunset, so it should make for some interesting photos. Traveling will be Kristie, Joe, Max and myself.

   And the Mars Rover 2003free trip to Mars?

   Well, in 2003 NASA will launch twin Mars Rovers. The Rovers will be able to travel significant distances and use several instruments to help determine Mars' climate and water history. NASA will include a Compact Disc on one of the Rovers, and the names of Kristie, Max and myself are on that disc. If you would like to send your own name to Mars go to the NASA website at http://spacekids.hq.nasa.gov/2003/ - free and open to all ages.

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2002 - Chinese Year of the Black HorseChinese New Year
2002 - Year of the Black Horse
by Jase

   Everyone, prepare yourselves for work because that's what the Year of the Horse is all about. The horse is also the strongest fire element in the Chinese zodiac, but this is a water year so expect plenty of steam - major and minor conflicts everywhere. A good year for business and hard work, probably not so good for politics.

 


The Books of Dawn
by Jase

   My handmade books are generating interest world-wide, and I am now making as much money as I was when I supplied my books wholesale to a shop in Adelaide. Eight sales to the US, eight to Australia - and money on its way from Norway. The main reason for the Gekko being four months late is because of the extra time put into making books and securing international sales.
   I was also approached last year by the editor of the UK Pagan Federation magazine called Pagan Dawn - http://www.paganfed.org - who loved my books and wanted me to advertise. I decided to hold off until I gained more international sales, but now I have a better idea of book prices, postage and payment options.
   I also made books for the Medieval Festival at Carrick Hill in April 2002 - http://www.folk-sa.asn.au - and Kristie made a number of gemstone necklaces and pewter jewellery items [sold $92 worth of necklaces and bracelets, and a further $60 at work the following week - Kristie]. I am also going to offer gothic jewellery on my website later this year - http://www.gekkoweb.i-p.com/books

Book - Egyptian IIIBook - Spider Cross XVIIIBook - Celtic Cross XIIBook - Destiny's Key II



Book - CthulhuBook - Pygmaelion

(click any book for a better view)

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Other News You May Not Know
by Jase

   My work at the PIRSA Bookshop - Roseworthy Information Centre - ended abruptly with a migraine, and I found myself back at DETE sooner than expected. My old DETE spooty boss was gone (to PIRSA oddly enough) and life was a quiet, pleasant and well-paid place again.
   I was asked back to DETE to update the website that I created for Records Management - http://www.dete.sa.gov.au/rmp/ - but stayed longer to help with software upgrades and procedure development (riveting stuff).
   Slammed/locked my finger in the car door in July, and eventually lost the fingernail after it went black (because the nurse at the hospital didn't pierce the nail) - pretty gruesome. It took about three months to grow another nail, which looks OK but is actually split.
    Had a birthday - thanks to everyone who remembered - Joe made a book/penguin birthday cake (kudos for Bluff).
   And I got my car license (under pressure) to secure a job I didn't eventually get. The interesting point here is that I got my full license as soon as I passed my test - no probationary period because I've been riding a motorcycle for so long. I still ride my bike for environmental reasons - and it's more fun, cheaper to run, and parking is free...
   Kristie and I also celebrated our *9th* anniversary at Lenzerheide - but I'll let her tell you about that.

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Our House
and some climatic theory
by Jase

Zoe - little cat hunting for mice in the garden   Well, we finally replaced our bale of hay air conditioner with a real one - not like we need it yet because of the weather. Adelaide experienced the coolest start to summer since 1964 with the first 18 days of December averaging a maximum temperature of 22.8°C - a nice change from the record-breaking hot summer we had last year. Even in February we only had a couple of days over 30°C. March and April have remained cool - but very dry
   My theories are: (1) The Leonid meteor shower was very impressive this year - perhaps the extra dust in the atmosphere has contributed to cooler conditions. (2) There is a solar eclipse on 04 December 2002 - there was also a cool summer around 1975 with a total solar eclipse on 23 October 1976 - perhaps a solar eclipse is preceded by a cool summer.
   The cool weather has been ideal for our vegetable garden - lots of work (and pea straw) to establish but we'll never want for lettuce again, that's for sure. Chillies, tomatoes (yellow variety very successful), zucchini (doubling size each day), cabbages, broccoli, carrots, celery, pumpkins, born-again onions from the fridge, potatoes from the compost - although the corn went to seed early and is only about a foot high. Zoe (pictured) likes to hunt for mice in the tomatoes.
   It has been nice weather to walk the dog at night -except when Max sniffed up two grass seeds and had to stay at the vet's overnight - and summer is spider season so there were lots of Arachnoleptic fits: (n.) The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web. Autumn is much nicer - still very dry until the rains came in May. The creek finally had fresh water in it again and Max was allowed to go for a proper swim - 'my favourite!'.

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   We traditionally celebrate Chinese New Year at the Lotus Restaurant in Melbourne Street, North Adelaide. This time there were 10 of us - Riff, Bec, Joe, Annette, Belinda, Adam, Moira, Steve, Kristie, and me. The silver lion from last year was back - early - and this year leapt around inside, off pillars, onto tables, and spat lettuce over nearby guests. The martial arts display was very quick, but the swordwork was nice and I appreciated the backflip. The banquet was plentiful, though we were still able to walk (not like last year) - Riff & Bec took home what was left.
   Everyone seemed to get along and enjoy the night - we might have more people next year. The proprietor recognises us now.
   Riff, Bec, Joe, Kristie and I played in the city afterwards - looking at midnight jewellery stalls off Rundle Street, stopping off for coffee - it was a good night.

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Toyota Prius Test Drive
Hybrid Petrol/Electric Car
by Jase

   We first heard about hybrid cars years ago when trials were being done in Europe. The idea was to have two motors - one electric, one petrol - increasing fuel efficiency by using half the energy. We waited and , eventually, rumours began to surface in Australia.
   When Toyota announced its own electric hybrid car, Kristie and I were the among the first in South Australia to see and drive the Prius - we got to play for an entire morning, here's what we thought.

Toyota Prius

(click car for a better view)

Size...
   The Prius appears to be a small to medium car, but there's plenty of room inside. The handbrake is gone (replaced by a foot version) and the gear lever is on the dash to the left of the steering wheel - this leaves the floor in the front empty and roomy. The back seats have plenty of space and headroom. Compared to a car of similar size you certainly get more space in the Prius.

Comfort...
   It's a luxury car - comfort is not an option. Seats are superb - except the head rests seem hard and strangely positioned. Ultraviolet and infrared tinted windows mean that you don't get sunburnt (or even hot). The air conditioning is climate controlled for whatever temperature you prefer, and the six-stacker slot-loading CD player is sheer happiness. Combine that with a very quiet car - absolutely silent when stationery - and you have a very, very nice driving experience. Braking can be sudden and unnerving, but more about that below.

Economy and speed...
   Here's the selling point - the Prius uses half the fuel of a normal car and can easily get 1,000km to a tank. The Prius switches seamlessly from the electric to the petrol motor depending on driving conditions - electric to move off, petrol to accelerate, electric to coast, both to overtake, petrol only when the battery needs recharging, and no motor at all when stopped - which means no idling and silence.
   The car has two batteries, one for general electrics and one for the motor. The battery for the motor is located behind the back seat and stretches the width of the boot - and is fully insulated so no heat can be felt. The heating system actually makes use of heat generated from the electric battery.
   Charging the battery occurs during any deceleration. One interesting point here is the use of the 'B' gear which applies a kind of dynamo that recharges the battery and also slows down the car - useful for steep descents and approaching corners or intersections. The other point is the electric brakes. These also work like dynamos and convert the car's movement into electricity which is then fed back into the battery. The brakes are far more solid than conventional brakes and take some getting used to; however, the car also comes with ABS so you're in no danger of locking the wheels.
   Speed? Well, this car is designed for fuel economy and doesn't do sudden bursts of speed. It offers an interesting delayed 'wind-up' experience and you'll soon be at the speed you desire - and top speed should be at least 165kph. High speeds use both motors and the electric motor will eventually run out of juice, asking you to decelerate so that it can recharge. Drivers will also notice the fully variable ratio automatic gearbox - no detectable gear changes.

Gadgetry and driving skills...
   Driving this car will make you happy. There are lots of things to play with, most revolving around colour LCD touch-screen in the centre of the dash. This shows you how you've been driving, which engine you're using at the moment, your fuel economy and how good you are at charging the electric battery - this car teaches you how to drive more economically, and it's a fun game.
   The LCD screen also controls the CD player and sound system, and you can also pay extra money to get a DVD based satellite navigation system that will show you maps of where you are and will talk you through where you want to go.
   The driving display is also located centrally - and a long distance away - in the centre top of the dash. Numbers are clear and bright and you can see this in your peripheral vision when you're driving. The only problem is the angle of the windscreen which can cause some distracting reflections.
   Everything is worth touching. There are drink holders, huge storage areas (central compartment is high enough to hold 600ml cartons of milk), and electric mirrors and windows.

The verdict...
   If you can afford to pay over $40,000 for a car, then get this one. It's fun to drive, saves you money, uses standard Toyota parts, and you're saving the environment - and every passenger you have will be amazed. The South Australian government and other car fleets are lotting at the Prius with keen interest - imagine how much a Taxi company would make if they charged the same fares but used half the fuel?
   Unfortunately, we don't have $40,000 and Kristie is very happy with her Hyundai Accent - for a comparison between the Toyota Prius and Hyundai Accent click here.
   For more information, visit the official Toyota Prius website - http://www.prius.toyota.com.au/ - and you can read other reviews at - http://www.epinions.com/search/?search_string=prius

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Royal Adelaide Show
Cows are Horses, Helicopters are Dogs!
by Kristie

   Jase was working at the Show this year, so I could go whenever I felt like it. And I did.
   The weather was miserable, cold, wet and windy. This seemed to keep the crowds down a bit. HOORAH. There was the usual stuff in the big sheds where people bring their wares to show off. I had my face painted this year.
   Being able to wander around on my own had it’s benefits. The only thing worse than standing in line is waiting for someone who is standing in line. You see Jase was at the Roseworthy Information Centre book stall all day everyday and I took the opportunity to wander aimlessly without separation anxiety. When I had my arms full of show booty, I could walk back to Jase and leave all my things there. By the time Jase was able to take an afternoon off spend show browsing time with me, we knew where all the free samples were, the good displays, the free cheese, the free daiquiris and the best Dagwood dogs.
   The events in the main arena this year were good. Clary the Clown had a head piece so that he could speak and be heard, until he broke it that is. I found myself laughing at him for a change.
   The highlight of the night’s entertainment is a toss up between The All Australian Stockman and Spot (?). The Stockman rode into the arena on a brahmin cross bull and he had it do tricks. He had trained it as a Stock Bull, so it responded to the same signals that a stockhorse would. We got to see a Duck Muster with 3 ducks, they where rounded up by two eager and somewhat uncooperative border collies. The nature of the dogs was a bit of a relief to Jase and I in that we have normal border collie. He only does what he is told sometimes, only does it to well enough so that he won’t get in to trouble and not well enough to be perfect every time. I had to call Mum and tell her about the bloke riding the bull. It was so funny, especially the bit when he had the bull teetering on a 1 foot block, similar to the way elephants stand on the rostrum at the circus.
   Let me tell you about Spot, I think that was his name. On the arena I watched several 44 gallon drums being placed, a ball - I think that it was one of those Swedish exercise balls that one can roll on – and large bone about 4 foot across. On the back of a trailer was a little helicopter that had floppy puppy ears and a pink floppy puppy tongue. Talk about laugh ! The puppy had to chase and bring back his ball. He positioned himself so that the ball was between him and the bloke that was his “owner” and the helicopter tilted forward slightly so that the wind from the top blades blew the ball forward. Spot wagged his tail and the long bit at the back of the helicopter moved left and right. As he was doing obedience exercises, sneaking across the other side of the arena was a black and white pantomime kitty. Of course the puppy chased him and got into a lot of trouble. It was funny.

 

Cars and Christmas Lights
by Kristie

   I expect the biggest thing to happen in my life for the past few months was the purchase of a new car. I had taken the Honda in for a service in preparation for the Christmas Interstate trek. A $200 full service ended up costing me $100, pistons losing compression, muffler holier than the Madonna of Guadeloupe, suspension lacking suspense, O rings going crusty. Rather than spend several thousand dollars on getting all that fixed, the following day I went out a bought a car. I am really happy with how much I paid, I haggled really well and nearly made a man cry with my hard-ass line, got the colour (yellow) that I wanted AND managed to get a $600 trade in for the Honda. I love air conditioning and the CD player.
   Before going to Victoria, I needed to clock up 1000kms on my car for it's first service. I got to spend a great deal of time driving and listening for odd noises. Actually it was the second day after purchase that I noticed a bit of a rattle in the back. After some speculation, I decided that it was a wheel bearing and took the car back to the place of purchase and requested that it be fixed. It needs to be asked why do mechanics feel that women know nothing about cars? I said to the man, it's a wheel bearing noise can you please order me in a new bearing. Not able to take my word for it, even after going for a ride in the car and shaking the offending wheel, I was pretty much told that there was nothing wrong with the wheel. Another week or so went by and the rattle got worse. I took it back to the mechanic, made some lacky get in the car and he agreed with me that the wheel bearing was probably flat on one side and needed to be replaced. Mechanics, I tell you.
   While at Mum's house, I took Nan for a hoon in my new car. I used the excuse that I was going to show her Christmas lights. I did do that and we had a great time together with the bonus that I got to be in my new car (again). Both Nan and I were impressed by the trouble that residents went to for Christmasness. One man very kindly let me drive the car into his drive way so that Nan could get a good look at his Christmas display. Gee I love Christmas lights.

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Convivial Christmas
and the search for old friends
by Jase

   Christmas began early with the hunt for Christmas lights - first locally and then out to Port Adelaide and Lobethal (where the entire town lights up for Christmas).
  Kristie, Max and I travelled almost 10 hours to Victoria on the 22nd of December. We stayed with Kristie's mum at Heathcote, shopped in Bendigo, ate basically everywhere, stayed with Kristie's dad in Kangaroo Flat, visited my family in Campbell's Creek, more shopping, more food, visited my sister in Kangaroo Flat, friends Kathryn and Paul in Axedale, my brother in Newstead, and drove around and around in an endless cycle of conviviality.
   We even tried to contact old friends Tamsin Whaley and Rachel Legge - but they never seemed to be home (well, I guess it was Christmas).
   After a lengthy stay (for us) we travelled back to Adelaide on the 30th, ready for a New Years Eve BBQ with our friend Joe, and a quick visit the following week to Riff & Bec's plague house to exchange gifts (the kids had chickenpox). It was good to catch up with almost everyone - well, almost everyone.

Map of route from Adelaide to Bendigo, Australia

   On a similar topic - I've been swapping e-mails with some old friends from high school that I haven't spoken to for years (Mellissa Johnson & Rachel Chapman). There is a website at http://www.schoolfriends.com.au where past students and teachers can register and find people with whom you went to school - and there are more people registering every day. Very real and worthwhile - you can find old friends even after marriage/surname changes, and exchange messages while keeping your personal e-mail details anonymous.

   My 14-year-old nephew, Jonathon, visited after Christmas. We all played lots of PlayStation (SSX Tricky), went to the St Kilda Beach adventure playground, walked the dog on Anstey Hill and saw a gekko (at night), and watched the Haunted Castle 3D movie at IMAX. (The IMAX cinema in Adelaide closed at the end of January 2002 - see article)

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Movies (collage)

The Allure of Movies
by Jase

   Here is a list of movies we've seen lately (and a few odd ones we forgot to mention last time) ranked again according to re-see-ability. The Others deserves special mention for sheer quality (saw it twice and it was still creepy), and you should demand to be paid real money before seeing Jurassic Park 3 - truly woeful. Each movie is linked to a decent review.

The Allure Lounge Cinema

   It's a Uni bar situated in Hindley Street with assorted share-house furniture and a projector. We saw The Exorcist (in 10 minutes) and Dr Jeckyll & Mr Hyde (the old one with John Barrymore). Movies one particular night were:

  • THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958) 10 mins
  • CHESS FEVER (1925) 20mins
    A comedy about how chess fever has overtaken Moscow during an International Chess Tournament, threatening to end a romance - the scene with kittens in the man's clothes was funny
  • THE SEVENTH SEAL (1956) 105mins. Considered to be Ingmar Bergman’s masterpiece. A knight challenged to a game of chess, his opponent "Death"
  • THE ROOK (1975) 11mins animation - remember that it's always good to hide in an elephant if you're being pursued
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Kristie (as Naga the Serpent Girl)

Kristie (as Naga the Serpent girl)
'My tidbits are tintinnabulating' - by Kristie

   Next time you are in Adelaide and want a really fancy meal, try Lenzerheide on Belair Road. Jase took me out to dinner for our 9 year anniversary. WOW! The food is awesomely tasty, the waiters are silver service trained and the decor is rather apricot. But don't let that put you off - the lamb dish that I ate for mains was so tender and lamby that I nearly cried for joy. If you do decide to go there, take plenty of cash, because it's expensive but SO worth it. Bit of extra advice, make sure that you leave enough room for dessert.
   A few weeks ago, I went with a friend to the Egyptian Bazaar, a belly dance supplier in Adelaide. I finally found a costume that fits and looks fantastic on me. I made the final payment on it a couple of weeks ago and took it for a test drive on a Friday night for the girls in the meditation group. The costume is green stretch velvet with gold sequins. The style is very Mata Hari, in that the belt part of the costume is attached to the skirt and the top rather than being a bra style is like a little top. Hopefully I will be able to get Jase to take a decent picture so that you can see it, rather than me give a confusing description.
   After months of speculation and hints from various magazines Silent Hill 2 was released for the Playstation2 and due to my preorder, I got a T-shirt that says Silent Hill 2 in scary red writing. Finally after many more months of speculation, Soul Reaver 2 was released for the Playstation and due to my pre-order, I got a T-shirt that says Soul Reaver 2 in pretty blue writing. Now I can look like a real game head. Oh and Joe won a Resident Evil pack from a radio station "ring and win" competition, I refuse to listen for that long to commercial radio stations as they tend to trigger an anti-social personality psychosis for me, but I was lucky enough to score the T-shirt and the beanie from Joe (who won). When Jase, Joe and I went to see Resident Evil the movie I, like a true nerd, wore the Resident Evil T-shirt.
   For ages the sound of tintinnabulation signaled the arrival or approach of Kristie. I had a little Hello Kitty bell on my bag. Jason and I called in to Tea Tree Plaza on our way home from work one night, as we were leaving my bag got caught on a sticky out bit on the bike. It was not until I got home that I realized that my Hello Kitty bell had gone! It was really awful. Had to go back to the plaza so that I could check if it was there, we jumped into the car and drove slowly along the road in case it had fallen into the gutter. Back at the plaza, the car park that the bike had been in was vacant. There sparkling white on the ground was the Kitty Bell. I was about to get out of the car to retrieve my treasure when a great white 4WD pulled into the car park. It was a Kenneth Brannah moment, the world did the spinning thing and the universal camera zoomed sickly onto my palid face. There under the hulking white vehicle of DOOM was my tiny Hello Kitty bell, as white as my blood drained face. I made a bizarre comment to the very blokey bloke as I dove under Doom machine and retrieved my beloved Hello Kitty bell. Clutching it to my bosom, I walked back to my car and vowed to Jase that I would return the watch that I had found a few days earlier to the shop closest to where it was found.
   I had a birthday in between Christmas and now, but what happened is a mystery. Oh yes, the girls at work gave me a little party and a card. The actual day was pretty dull unfortunately. The Buffy board game that Jase gave me is great fun. The following day Riff, Bec, Harmony and Zael, Joe and Annette came over for party food. That was fun too. Zael is a small person with a distrust of pets, but by the end of the night Max and the two cats seemed less scary and more interesting than they had at the beginning of the night.
   Some Monday long weekends here, the Proscenium a nightclub in Adelaide has a Goth Ball. Lots of black clothes, fishnet, corsets and stuff. FINALLY I decided that I was going to go to one. I went with a group of five people. Gee it was fun. We all got dressed up in our finest black and had a great time. Jase and Joe heard how much fun we had and want to come to the next one.
   That for me is about it. I get the feeling that there is so much more that I could share with you all, but time dulls the memory and thus the importance of the mundane life events. With the thought of promising a more regular Gekko, I bid you all a Seeyoubye.

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BluffWorld

 

Bluff the Penguin (Secret Agent) escaped Warren's secret base on the moon only to fall foul of the Uberhound's freaky time travel trap.

With Bluff gone, what tyranny does the evil hound have planned for our fragile little world?

 

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