There has to be a better way

Having spent the better part of the last two and a half decades struggling with my weight I’m looking for a better solution.

I’ve been through Weight Watchers three times and reached my goal to become a life member as well as being a NSW finalist in one of Weight Watchers diet contests.

A few years ago I became aware of an alternative that is growing in popularity, the Ketogenic diet made famous by Atkins. It has been drifting around in my head for a while now and the only way to get it out is to, as they say “Shit or get off the pot”.

I’ve started reading up on Keto via the internet and a couple of books I downloaded through the Kindle Store. I’m formulating a plan which I hope to Kick off on July 1, partly due to June being a busy month with too many disruptions and also for the symbolism.

New financial year, new plan.

A rough cut of my TODO list

  • Visit Doctor to get a full examination and blood work to establish a baseline for comparison
  • Write out meal plans to cover the first month.
  • Generate shopping lists for food and other items I’ll need.

Based on my previously established goal of 85kg I only need to lose about 6kg so I could go strait onto OWL or even pre-maintenance, instead I’m going to start from the beginning and do the 2 weeks of induction then another 2 weeks (or more if necessary) on OWL and then go from there.

There is value to starting from scratch and making sure you fully understand the process in order to make the switch permanent.

I hope to write more about it as I go along, I’m great at making plans and sticking to them but crap at talking about them.

Some resources I’m using at the moment (Thanks to @Tarale for the web links)

The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable by Stephen Phinney

New Atkins For a New You by Eric C. Westman

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Religion in Scouting

Recently we enrolled Seth in Joeys (Scouts for young kids), I used to be in cubs when I was young and really loved it.

Almost immediately we ran into issues concerning our religion, or lack of one. Viv was told that there was a process in place that she could go through to become a leader if she so desired, later that evening Viv raised some objections to Seth having to write in a prayer book and asked if he could write an affirmation rather than a prayer, at that point she explained that we are atheists and were not comfortable with the children writing a prayer. Shortly after that revelation the offer to become a leader was withdrawn with the explanation that atheists were not allowed to be leaders in the scouting movement.

Back in the distant past when I was a cub I vaguely recall the “G” word appearing in the pledge we all said each meeting, at the time I was attending sunday school (and later fellowship) so it didn’t really register that this was unusual.

I hit up Google with the query “Religion in Scouting” and found a page devoted to it on wikipedia.

From what I read the founder of the scouting movement Robert Baden-Powell was of the belief that “spirituality and a belief in a higher power were key to the development of young people” he codified this belief in the rules of the scouting movement. Initially spirituality meant Christianity but in later years the growing popularity of the scouting movement lead to a softening of this stance to include non-monotheistic religions such as Hinduism and those that do not recognise a personal God like Buddhism.

Viv and I have been agonizing over what to for the last week.

I sent an email to the scout leader to see if my understanding of the situation was correct, text of email below (names withheld) ….


My name is Daniel Drysdale, my son Seth has recently started attending Joeys.

Last week my wife Vivien was told that she could become a leader if she was interested but upon disclosing that she is an atheist the offer was withdrawn.

I spent some time researching the issue of religion in scouting and found that Robert Baden-Powell held that spirituality and a belief in a higher power were key to the development of young people and that this belief forms the core of the scouting movement he founded.

My wife and I are atheists and have made sure to shield our children from religious beliefs so far, we do not have any issues with people of faith but we do not feel that exposure to religion is appropriate for children at such a young age.

Given all of that my question to you is simple.

Is there a place in the scouting organization for a member who is an atheist?

and to extend that a little..

If my son continues attending Joeys and moves on to cubs and later scouts, if he chooses to be an atheist will there come a time when he is excluded or discriminated against within the organisation due to his atheism?

I would really appreciate a prompt response as I am seriously considering pulling him out of Joeys before he gets too invested in it.


I received the following response


A core Principle of Scouting, is that a member of the Scout Association, whether youth or adult, must have a belief in a God.

My understanding of the rules, is that there is no place in Scouting for a person who does not have a belief in a God, because that person would not be able to adhere to this Principle.

Upon investment to the Movement a promise must be made by a Joey ; I promise to love my God….. and by a Cub and Scout and Leader ; On my honour I promise to do my best to do my duty to my God……….


I then replied


Thanks for the prompt reply.

I was expecting exactly this response but was secretly hoping I was wrong.

Sadly we will have to remove Seth from Joeys and cancel our plans for enrolling Callum, it is a real shame as aside from the religious issue we love the idea of scouts and we know it would have been fun and rewarding for the boys.


I understand that this is a clear case of “Their club. their rules” but it seems a crying shame that such a small issue should ruin an otherwise excellent organization.

We could of course either let Seth embrace a personal God or have him lie and pretend to be one of the group, neither option is palatable to us.

I find it interesting that Buddhism is allowed, with no concept of a personal God, is ok but that my own worldview of Secular Humanism is not.

Sadly without a Bill of Rights and legal protection from discrimination on religious grounds there is nothing we can do about it.


Now we have to break the news to the boys and there will be tears…

If anyone knows of a secular equivalent to scouts please let us know.


[UPDATE] While typing this post I was contacted by someone further up the food chain in the scouting movement and told that the definition of “my God” is very loose and can accommodate virtually any belief.

It feels a bit dishonest but we are going to see how it plays out, we are going to write “Humanist” on the application form for religion.






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iOS 4.1 adds HDR to camera app

One thing that piqued my interest from today’s Apple Event was the addition of HDR photography in iOS 4.1, being an iOS developer I grabbed the 4.1 GM and loaded it on to my iPhone 4, see an example of a photo taken in my home office

Click the images to see them at full resolution…

You can definitely see a big improvement in the HDR photo, the original photo is overexposed all over the place, granted neither image is spectacular but I certainly can’t see a downside in enabling the feature.

I was talking to one of my brother-in-laws last Sunday about image stacking and HDR and today I get HDR built into my phone…. Sweet!!

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It’s Facetime

Early today I received my payment for renting my soul to Optus for another 24 months, a brand spanking new iPhone 4.

The phone is gorgeous, everything about it is magic.

Now I am coming from an iPhone 3G which was getting a little long in the tooth and for the last couple of months I have been running various builds of iOS4 which on the 3G is just terrible.

There are hundreds of reviews of the iPhone 4 from people with more patience and better writing skills than I so I won’t even attempt to review the phone here.

So far, and I’ve only had the phone for less than a day, I have not been able to cause the phone to lose signal. My house gets ordinary coverage on Optus, somewhere around 2 at most 3 bars, and even doing the “Death Grip” I can only get it to drop to 1 bar. Suffice it to say I am not too concerned about “Antennagate”. I’ll keep you posted on how it performs over time.

Just for fun I decided to try Facetime, it looks cool in the ads but I figured it was one of those features that demos well but is largely useless, I called one of my IceTV ex-colleagues down in Melbourne and I will say Facetime rocked!!! The feature only works over WiFi and we have ADSL2+ (capped at 8MB down/1MB up), the video quality was great, audio was fine and it was much more engaging than I thought, it’s well worth taking it for a spin.

[Update: Since I started writing this post I found out that one of my sisters also got an iPhone 4 today so I “Facetimed” her as well 😉 it’s fun, give it a try…]

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Play it again Sam…

Yesterday in the wee small hours of the morning the latest addition to the Whyte family arrived

Samuel Alexander Whyte

He was born around 3:00am, weighing 7 pounds and approx 50cm long

(Sorry about the vagueness of the stats but that’s all I was given)

Sam continues the tradition of an all-boy family joining his brothers Michael, Lachlan, William and cousins Seth, Callum, and Jack and cousin-in-law Toby.

We’ll be popping down to visit Rachel, Ged, Sam and the gang on the weekend.

Well done Rach & Ged….

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Opt-in or Opt-out

A few weeks ago we had a situation at school that made me think about the topic of defaults, i.e. should people be opted in or out by default.

When we filled in the paperwork to enrol our children in primary school there was a checkbox on the form to indicate your preference with regards to scripture class. Being atheists as we are we naturally ticked the option to have them not attend scripture.

At the intake interview a teacher checked through the paperwork with us and when they came to the scripture information quizzed us on the reason for our choice. I was somewhat offended by the question as it was my understanding that it is entirely our choice as to whether our children attend or not, I chose not to make a fuss and explained clearly that we are atheists and feel very strongly that scripture class is something we do not want our children exposed to. The teacher explained that she was only asking in case we were concerned about the denomination of the class, it was apparently a non-denominational class in case we were concerned.

This was a little over a year ago and in the intervening time we had made our wishes known verbally to the relevant members of staff, scripture class does not commence until the second year of primary school so we had put it on the mental back-burner.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when our eldest son’s class started scripture lessons… Can you guess what is coming???

Against our strict written and verbal instructions our son was indeed sent to scripture class.

As you may imagine we were not happy to say the least.

At this point it is probably worth explaining the reason for our objections.

We are not against religion per se (well I am but my wife is far more moderate than I), but rather our objections lie in the fact that scripture is taught within the school in a setting that to the children is indistinguishable from their normal secular studies.

In our minds this blurring of religious and secular instruction adds unwarranted weight to the religious material being taught.

Our nightmare scenario would be for the children to accept the religious material as fact in the same way that they would accept subjects like Maths or English.

On the way home from school that very day our fears were realised, our son when questioned about the scripture class told us that “God exists because school says it does”, we couldn’t have scripted it any better ourselves.

That night I drafted a letter to the principal outlining what had happen and how we feel about it, I spent an hour on it trying to make it as clear as possible while keeping it free of emotion, it was not easy I will tell you, I am probably the most even tempered person on the planet and I was really angry.

We had a meeting with the principal a few days later, seeing as the damage was already done I would have accepted a written apology. In the meeting we again explained how we felt about it all and that as far as we were concerned the damage was done but if we ever had a repeat of the incident we would certainly escalate it as far as we could.

It turns out that the list of non-scripture people was not given to the supervising teacher (who was a casual on that day, as was the teacher with the list) which brings me to the point of the post, what should the default position be for scripture?

The principal tells me only about 5% of children opt-out, my understanding was that statewide it is about 20% so I guess we are in our own little “bible belt”, so in the absence of other instructions our son was put in with the rest of the flock.

We talked about opt-in vs opt-out with the principal and he said that the general rule, due largely to apathy on the part of the parents is to opt-in. While this is a reasonable position given the 95/5 split it seems to me that not all choices are equal.

Imagine if the choice was whether to eat a peanut butter sandwich or not and 5% of the children were allergic to peanuts, or if the class in question were sex education (a hot button issue for some people, personally I’m disappointed that our school doesn’t offer it at all), or perhaps if a “Christian” child was made to attend a Muslim class….

The problem in this case is that religion is seen as completely safe so accidentally sending atheists’ children to scripture is “harmless” so there’s no need to make sure the substitute teacher has the list, I certainly don’t think it is harmless and I hope more people come to that realisation.

Posted in Fatherhood | 2 Comments

Core Blimey

Thanks to the magic of salary sacrifice I’ve updated my late 2006 MacBook Pro to a shiny new 17″ Core i7 MacBook Pro.

The old machine has served me well these last three years but it has really started to show it’s age. Lately for work I have needed to spend more time working in a virtual machine, the 2GB of RAM and 140GB hard drive on the old machine were just not cutting it.

Specs for the new machine

  • 2.66GHz Core i7
  • 8GB RAM 1066MHz DDR3
  • 17″ Anti-glare display (1920×1200)
  • Intel HD Graphics 256MB DDR3 + GeForce GT330M 512MB DDR3
  • 500GB 7200 RPM HDD

I haven’t had much time to play with it yet but it is certainly much snappier than the old one.

I ran GeekBench 32-bit on the new and old machines (the 64-bit version of GeekBench is paid only)

Late 2006 MacBook Pro
GeekBench Score 3131
Integer 2547
Floating Point 4749
Memory 2077
Stream 1627
System Information
Operating System Mac OS X 10.6.2 (Build 10C540)
Model MacBook Pro (17-inch Core 2 Duo) Motherboard Apple Computer, Inc. Mac-F42189C8 PVT
Processor Intel(R) Core(TM)2 CPU T7600 @ 2.33GHz
Processor ID GenuineIntel Family 6 Model 15 Stepping 6
Processors 1 Threads 2
Cores 2 Memory 2.00 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Processor Frequency 2.33 GHz Bus Frequency 664 MHz
L1 Instruction Cache 32.0 KB L1 Data Cache 32.0 KB
L2 Cache 4.00 MB L3 Cache 0.00 B
BIOS Apple Inc. MBP21.88Z.00A5.B08.0802291403

2010 MacBook Pro
GeekBench Score 5363
Integer 4124
Floating Point 8487
Memory 3268
Stream 2962
System Information
Operating System Mac OS X 10.6.3 (Build 10D2094)
Model MacBook Pro (17-inch Early 2010) Motherboard Apple Inc. Mac-F22589C8
Processor Intel(R) Core(TM) i7 CPU M 620 @ 2.67GHz
Processor ID GenuineIntel Family 6 Model 37 Stepping 2
Processors 1 Threads 4
Cores 2 Memory 8.00 GB 1067 MHz DDR3
Processor Frequency 2.66 GHz Bus Frequency 4.80 GHz
L1 Instruction Cache 32.0 KB L1 Data Cache 32.0 KB
L2 Cache 256 KB L3 Cache 4.00 MB
BIOS Apple Inc. MBP61.88Z.0057.B05.1003191134

The GeekBench score shows a 58% increase in performance which will definitely make life easier for me.

On top of the obvious advantage of having a shiny new machine I will be passing the old MBP on to Viv so now I will actually be able to use my laptop at night when the kids are in bed 😉

See below for the obligatory un-boxing photos, I apologise for the poor quality, my camera was out of juice so I took these with my iPhone 3G.

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The Pelican Park

Had some fish and chips with Viv and the boys, now it’s playtime.

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Feeling Blu

After years sitting on the sideline watching what will probably be the last physical format war for video I have finally decide to get me some blu-ray.
My setup at home is best described as modest, consisting of speakers I bought about 15 years ago, a receiver I bought second hand from my a/v obsessed brother-in-law at least three receivers ago for him.
My TV is a 50″ panasonic plasma, alas only a 1366×768 panel, but a good performer.
I have a few devices already hooked up including an AppleTV that I use for “Channel BT” content, a TiVo and a BeyonWiz DP-S1 for over the air TV broadcasts.
Prior to this purchase I was using a cheap-ass Tevion DVD player from Aldi, the jaggies it added to my movies nearly made my eyes bleed.
I plugged the new guy in, I had to shut off the TiVo for the moment due to a lack of cables, the BeyonWiz is looking after me, and found that I needed to apply a firmware update, no great surprise.
At the moment I have no Blu-ray discs to try so all I’ve done is check out some DVDs and the in built YouTube access.
I spun up “The Two Towers” and was really impressed with the image quality, the player was upscaling to 1080p.
The player is badged as a region 4 DVD but just for fun I threw in my region 1 copy of “Apollo 13″ and bugger me, the disc played with no problems.
The image quality on “Apollo 13″ was not as good as “The Two Towers” there was a lot of grain but I think that it was always like that.
I tried out YouTube and although it works the UI was pretty craptacular. I can already watch YouTube content on my AppleTV and my iPhone so I can live without the feature on my Blu-ray player.
The player can also handle DivX, BUT, only via USB or off a disc. There is a fraking Ethernet jack on the back, would it have killed then to add an smb client?
My BeyonWiz and my AppleTV can handle DivX just fine so again I can happily live without this feature on the Blu-ray.
I look forward to sampling some Blu-ray content in the not too distant future.
Hint: it’s my birthday next month 😉
I’ll post again later when I’ve partaken of some Blu-ray goodness.

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Cakes for Connor's Farewell

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