Evicted possum

Posted by jerry on February 14th, 2007 — Posted in Journal

For a couple of weeks now, we have heard movement on the roof. But when we went outside we couldn’t see the culprit. The footsteps were heavy – this was no rat, we thought possibly a cat on the roof. Then I went up on the roof to investigate. And there I found a large hole in the eves and a tile nudged loose. The noises, coupled with their timing – just after dusk and around dawn finally pointed to one thing – a possum.

Not wanting to hurt the creature – they really are cute – we called the Possum Man. Yesterday he arrived in the early morning and made lots of noise scrambling around the roof. The end result was a one-way door that would let the possum out, but wouldn’t let him back in again.

Last night I heard the noises. Possums are creatures of habit, and we had sealed off his usual route in and out – and we were warned that possums get upset when their habits are frustrated. At three and four AM the possum was clearly disturbed, stomping around in his hobnailed boots.

And this evening I heard footsteps on the tiles. Not on the ceiling, but outside, on the roof. I grabbed the camera and tripod and a flashlight and hurried outside. By this time the possum had given up on the roof and marched huffily up the wires to the top of the telegraph pole in our backyard.


I shone the torch, and he just stared back forlornly. Tonight the realisation was setting in that he had been evicted, and would have to find a new home at the top of a tree, rather than curled up in our cosy roof among the insulation batts. And so I took a couple of photos of the artful lodger.


They are about the size of a large rabbit, with the agility of a cat – possums can climb anything, and make use of telegraph wires like a seasoned tightrope walker. They make it look so easy waddling along the wires as though they were on firm ground. Occasionally they’d stop and look intently at something with those keen eyes, then carry on as though nothing had happened. Tonight, though, our lodger just curled up and sulked, looking accusingly at the flashlight and camera.

Sharon has a great picture of another possum that used to live by the roof of her office at the University so you can see what these gentle creatures look like in daylight


Time travel and hypertext

Posted by jerry on February 13th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media, Theory, Writing

Having just read the remarkable novel The Time Traveler’s Wife I got to thinking just how common time travel is. So common, in fact, that you have to think carefully to realise you are doing it every day. There are hints, of course, like when your Partner looks at you strangely over the coffee and says ‘have you heard what I just said?’ and you realise you were thinking about the sound of a violin you heard last week, or a funny email from your daughter.

As Mark Marino notes, time travel is a common theme in literature and film. But these narrative devices work on safe constrained parameters – the film maker or writer supplies the context against which the time travel is juxtaposed for its effect.

Time travel narrative

He makes the claim that perhaps hypertext is different – and he may be partly right. The thing about hypertext is that it can have many more variables than linear fiction – whether novel or film – and may be constructed in a ‘writerly’ way by making it wiki-like with multiple authors. But real time travel is far more complex.

We time travel all the time, but have little control over where it takes us – the scent of a rose takes you to that garden in Leeds Castle in the UK ten years ago, or the sight of some wrapping paper takes you to the gift you are thinking of buying your partner next week. The thing is, it is only by exception that we actually experience narrative sequence in an ordered linear sequence. We are constantly steered by connotations and overtones of meaning.

It makes me wonder then, why some people seem to get hot under the collar about the time and resources that go into spaces like Second Life – real life experienced in a virtual world. Don’t people get that we are always embedded in a multiplicity of virtual worlds? And to think the authorities were worried about novel-space, like the court case surrounding ‘Madam Bovary’.

Angela Thomas, a New Media researcher from Sydney explores Second Life and uses that space for teaching new media literacies – you see, it’s all about real human interaction, it’s just the space that’s virtual. Perhaps that is more healthy than sharing a real space and daydreaming off somewhen else!


WordPress Directory

Posted by jerry on February 12th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media, Writing

Some good news- Mindsigh – this humble blog has been added to the new WordPress directory of blogs – under the category of Humanities – performing arts. In an era in which spammers are severely muddying the waters, these directories will become a major part of the search strategies used by people wanting to get to real content providers quickly. Bouquets to WordPress for
getting this service up and running 🙂

Wordpress directory


Restoration – large timber beam

Posted by jerry on February 12th, 2007 — Posted in DIY, Journal, Woodwork

At Historic Home Repairs dot com you can see a series of videos and images with text on restoration techniques for historic homes. These include the ‘reports from the field’ videos – rough and ready but that clearly show how to do the job. This one is about the restoration of some 1920s wooden beams that had badly deteriorated. The video shows how the damaged part was removed and the rest mated to new timber, and the checks and cracks filled, then the new timber shaped to simulate the adze marks on the original timber.

repairing a timber beam

Thanks to The Wood-Whisperer for the link 🙂


Writer Response Theory – social bookmarking

Posted by jerry on February 11th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media, Writing

The concept of referencing is ancient – and goes back at least to Akkadian times on cuneiform tablets. Between notions of body-as-text and and the emergence of social virtual worlds, like Second Life, it is perhaps not too surprising that Web2 provides a whole new dimension to social referencing – and social bookmarking, whether through shared possessions via Amazon or LibraryThing or through the varieties of online community that emerged in the last decade of the 20th century, through to YouTube and Flikr.

One aspect that characterises the new web is the increasing capacity to annotate or edit socially written texts – through wikis or collaborative projects, such as those referenced in Mark Marina’s ‘Marginalia in the library of babel‘ project. Diigo software adds a further dimension to social bookmarking:

If social bookmarking allows us to share our library catalogs, social annotation sites allow us to share our libraries complete with their underlinings, highlights, and marginalia.


Web2 has been with us for some time increasing possibilities for social transparency transforming notions of privacy and ownership into a new form of social space and cultural intimacy. This is beautifully illustrated by the short video Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us by Michael Wesch


Many thanks to Angela Thomas for pointing to WRT and for WRT pointing to Professor Wesch’s site – see what I mean?!!