This image was taken near the summit of Mt Wellington. It shows a rock covered with lichen Placopsis ‘flowers’ behind a small mountain (actual) flower. The picture came out rather nice, but when I took it, it was a bit of a throwaway effort.


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A while back I completed my Doctorate, and as a reward to self I had decided to get a tattoo. I spent a long time thinking about the meaning behind a design, and even longer finding a tattooist who would be competent at doing it for me.


That’s my mock-up, above. It’s a mashup of a few images I have found on the ‘web. The basic idea is full-sleeve, with the ship on my upper arm and the kraken on my lower-arm, with tentacles wrapped everywhere. As I flex my arm, the kraken is fighting the ship.

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That’s not my body, too bad. But I’ve overlaid a version of the tattoo over it to give some idea about the size and layout. Pretty big, and for someone who is deathly afraid of needles it will be an interesting challenge. ?I’m told it is many hours’ work.

Well, over a year ago I plonked down a deposit. I’m still waiting. That doesn’t bode well for the tattoist’s reliability, but nonetheless I do like his work – a lot – and I now have an appointment set for 24th this month. ?Now that’s happened twice before (that is, an appointment date was set). But this time it’s pretty much all or nothing for me, as I’m going to abandon all hope if it doesn’t go ahead.

I have a lot of meaning in my design…

First, there’s a quote from Sir Isaac newton – famous scientist from a few hundred years back going something like…

I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
so, the ship itself – it represents “The Beagle” as used by Charles Darwin on his voyages where he came to his theory of evolution. visited Hobart in the early 19th century…
The flag flying on the mast is the “pirate fish” flag – it’s a well-known atheist symbol (of Flying Spaghetti Monster fame).
The ship is effectively the ship of knowledge?and it’s sailing on the great ocean of TRUTH, as per the Newton quote. And the kraken represents the great unknown
The basic meaning is that no matter how well you think you know how things are, how you are confident of your fate, there is always the great unknown (kraken) bearing down on you. And the moral/story is this…
1) be thankful for what you have; you never know what’s coming for you, and
?2) never give up
so that’s the basic meaning
The reason for the tattoo is a reward to myself for sticking with my studies and achieving a goal. It’s also a strong statement of my atheism and belief in science and knowledge as being important.

Slide Rules

Back in about 1995 I was in the USA and visited a pawn shop in Iowa near the border with Illinois. I think. In the window I spotted what I kind of knew wasn’t a ruler, kind of new was a mechanical calculation device, but didn’t know much else.

I recall my grandfather had one in his desk. Not of much interest to me, but then again I do remember it, and that would be some 40 years ago now.

So, I bought the thing. It was a slide rule, of course. I searched the internet and didn’t find much about them. Since I was relatively new to this interweb thing – I first signed on somewhere in 1992-1993 – and wanting to understand how web pages worked, I started writing about the slide rule. ?I created a handcrafted site I called “the Slide Rule Trading Post” – known as SRTP for short.

You can find it on the wayback archive

Over the years that site expanded, and I wrote a couple of Java-based slide rule emulators. The web’s very first one was “JavaSlide” which was online for 4 years or so, until I got a nasty “cease and desist” letter from the fucking idiots protecting the Java trademark. Apparently I was in breach by using the word Java embedded in the name of the thing. I had the option of changing the name, or getting sued. I chose a third option – remove the program completely and, basically, fuck ’em.

This wasn’t the only time I ran foul against intellectual property lawyers. I also had a run-in years later with Atari – for I had registered (and still “own”) the domain – I sold my soul to the devil to keep that one, and much to my enduring disgust I lost a lot of content because of the “take down or else” letters I received. Still a rather bitter feeling, as there are limitations on what I can put on “my” site. So it’s basically “empty” but still “mine”.

I did end up creating another java-based slide rule, which was kind of a configurable build-your-own version. ?I mostly got it working, but eventually lost interest. That one was called UniVirtual and I note that it is no