Fridge efficiency revisited

A while back I blogged about fridge efficiency and my idea for improving it by creating airflow over the condensors. Lance at the ATA didn't seem to think it would be effective without forced air, though since publication I've received some emails saying it will improve efficiency up to 30%, without complicated active ventilation.

As part of the Food for the Future Fair last Saturday, we took the tour of Michael Mobbs' Sustainable House. We've been there before. The biggest mistake he mentions is his fridge selection and lack of passive ventilation incorporated into the design. With a fairly small gap under the flooring, the layout of the joists meant that when he retrofitted a grill in, there wasn't much airflow.

We don't have the low floor problem, so I think I'll ensure this is in our design. We'll probably also chuck our massively-inefficient fridge and buy a better one, though I'm kinda hooked on the ice maker now.

Mobbs suggested the best approach was to have a cupboard with the fridge door attached to the door, with a grill 25% larger than the fridge on the floor and some way of venting at the top of the cupboard. That way you'll get year-round ventilation without losing room heat in Winter. I like that idea a lot!

Contractor payroll services

I'm about to cut the agency out of the equation with my long-term contract (2 years so far) and reduce the amount they're taking from my wages. I don't want to avoid tax, don't particularly want (or really have) deductions and don't have any other significant income sources, so the company formation route isn't a good idea. I just want someone to do my payroll, insurance and super.

So can anyone recommend such an agency in Australia?

Dining with food bloggers

Food porn shoot

I really enjoy Grab Your Fork but gee, going out for dinner with her must be a bit annoying. Those gorgeous photos of the food don't take themselves! In this post she records a Yum Cha with a bunch of other food nerds. And look at all the lenses!

Much as I appreciate her excellent blogging, and the spectacular photos, it'd be kinda off-putting dining with someone snapping every dish.

In other food news, we went to the Food for the Future Fair on Saturday in Chippendale. It was quite small, but really lovely. Beautiful warm weather and a very relaxed atmosphere. I've always loved the area, and miss living on Rose Street. Now the community has planted loads of edible plants in the streets, and are doing a community composting project.

The fair could have used a few more stalls, but it was pretty cool nevertheless. I would have bought more vegetables if our garden hadn't suddenly jumped into productive mode and we hadn't got our fruit and veg box that morning.

Saturday night we had a few people we'd run into at the fair around for an impromtu spring feast from the garden. I made a couple of bruschetta from garden ingredients. One was blanched baby broad beans with mint and slivers of parmesan. The other was blanched black Tuscan kale (cavolo nero) with sage and feta. Yummy!

I'm looking forward to more from the garden. We also had the first brocolli last week. We've been eating delicious rocket for a month or two now. Next up should be radish, snow peas, lettuces and more broad beans and brocolli.

Tank Stream tour, despite their best attempts

I've wanted to see the Tank Stream, Sydney's first water source, for a long time. While it provided clean water to the original white settlers, it quickly became polluted and these days is little more than a sewer. It was replaced by Busby's Bore in 1830 following Sydney's first major engineering project cost and time blowout, a tradition followed today by all major engineering projects in the state.

Anyway, in February this year I found a form on the Historic Houses Trust site that claimed I would be notified when the next ballot for tours of the Tank Stream were being announced. Except they didn't tell me that there's there'll be tours next month as part of the Sydney Open 08 thing, which sees a bunch of properties open for tours.

Fortunately I spotted it and put today into my calendar. I now have tickets to do the tour on 2nd November. If you want to see the Tank Stream, get in now. We're doing the 15:45 tour.

Guerilla gardening comes to Marrickville

Apparently guerilla gardening has come to Marrickville, with people taking over the grass verges in their streets. There's no grass verge on our street but I've noticed a few people have planted ornamentals around the trees. In our old street there was sage and rosemary around some of the trees.

I'd actually been thinking recently about planting nasturtiums around the tree out the front of our place, because it's a very hardy, attractive plant and both the leaves and flowers make a good addition to salads. I'm also intrigued by the recipe for nasturtium seed "capers" that I found in the River Cottage Preserves book.

Now if the nasturtium seeds I've had sown for a couple of weeks would just sprout already!

Brilliant music review

I love Metacritic's summaries of reviews. This one summarises reviews of an album by The Little Ones. As usual, NME is incoherently raving. For the NME, a band is either the greatest band ever, or an overhyped pile of crap (which is what their great band ever bands often are).

The funny review comes from The Guardian:

By the end of the album, your face will hurt and you'll be desperate for some Napalm Death.

This sounds like previously unaccomplished levels of saccharine! I'll have to check them out.

On a related note, I've always thought that if you worked in a new age shop, with all that whale fart ambient music playing all day, surely you'd have to have some death metal or speed thrash once you got home. To help you relax.

Note about Same origin policy

JavaScript's same origin policy security model means that a script can't (directly... there are sneaky ways aroun dit) request data from another site. It's quite strict. is different to

One thing I'd always assumed, but now I see how it wasn't a sensible assumption, was that the piece of code calling the data had to be served by the same domain name it was going to be calling. I've just done a little test of this, and discovered that's not true.

So if you're dead keen to see it, have a look at this test which loads the script from and actually loads Prototype from somewhere completely different. It has no trouble pulling data from, but won't let me drag data from

Those poor, poor banks

RBA cash rate, 7%

So the banks are crying poor, claiming there's not enough liquidity in the market. You'd think this would mean their savings interest rates would be hovering somewhere around the RBA Cash Rate so they could encourage some deposits.

My bank's "high interest" savings account is currently paying its loyal customers a "huge" (their word) 6.75%. But new customers get 8.1%. Nice way to treat your existing customers!

If getting bought by one of the big four banks wasn't enough incentive to find another bank, this treatment of long-term customers is!

We're all doomed! Doomed I tell you!

Stop me if you've heard this before. It's been around for ages. I keep getting asked to explain how this subprime crap works. Apart from explaining that Lurlene and Jethro, who've never had jobs in their lives, were able to get mortgages to move out of the trailer into a seven bedroom home, there's a slightly more complicated backstory to how this idiocy has happened.

This presentation, while very funny, is also quite a good explanation of how subprime has destroyed the economy. It also explains why we really shouldn't be bailing out the idiots who made this happen. In fact, it already provides a really good practical example for the Wikipedia Moral hazard article.

Update: Des sends this excellent Bird and Fortune video which also does a good job at explaining the mess.