Pen making with my eldest son, or how to win at the $20 boss

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Andrew, my eldest son, was enrolled in a competition recently by his school. The competition is called the $20 boss, and is run by the National Australia Bank, which is one of the largest banks around here. The basic idea is that the bank loans each of the students $20, with which they start a business. The goal is to make a profit, with the bank expecting to be returned $21. 10% of money over that should go to charity, and the rest is the student’s to keep.

Other kids seem to have chosen to make muffins, cookies, or drinks. Well, except for the kids who made candles. Andrew on the other hand had a think, and decided to ask me to teach him to make wood turned pens. This was exciting to me as Andrew hasn’t previously shown a particular interest in wood craft.

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The Crossroad

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Written by a Victoria Cross recipient, this is the true story of a messed up kid who made something of himself. Mark’s dad died of cancer when he was young, and his mum was murdered. Mark then went through a period of being a burden on society, breaking windows for fun and generally being a pain in the butt. But then one day he decided to join the army…

This book is very well written, and super readable. I enjoyed it a lot, and I think its an important lesson about how troubled teenagers are sometimes that way because of pain in their past, and can often still end up being a valued contributor to society. I have been recommending this book to pretty much everyone I meet since I started reading it.

The Crossroad Book Cover The Crossroad
Mark Donaldson
Afghan War, 2001-
Macmillan
August 1, 2014
432

On 2 September 2008, in eastern Afghanistan, Trooper Mark Donaldson made a split-second decision that would change his life. His display of extraordinary courage saw him awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia, making him the first Australian to receive our highest award for bravery since 1969. Yet Mark's journey to those crucial moments was almost as exceptional as the acts that led to his VC. He was rebellious even before the death of his father in his mid-teens. A few years later, his mother disappeared, presumed murdered. Mark's lifestyle could have easily led him further down the path of self-destructiveness and petty crime. But he took a different road: the army. It proved to be his salvation. He found himself a natural soldier, progressing to the SAS, the peak of the Australian military.'One of the most impressive memoirs published by a serving member of the Australian military'WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN 'This is not some public relations puff piece, this is a heartfelt work by a substantial man' HERALD SUN'A mature and generous account, revealing of himself and Australia's longest war, still poorly understood at home' Chris Masters, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD'The transformation from zero to hero that Donaldson describes... is testament to what can be achieved through sheer determination' WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN

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Searching for open bugs in a launchpad project

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The launchpad API docs are OMG terrible, and it took me way too long to work out how to do this, so I thought I’d document it for later. Here’s how you list all the open bugs in a launchpad project using the API:

    #!/usr/bin/python
    
    import argparse
    import os
    
    from launchpadlib import launchpad
    
    LP_INSTANCE = 'production'
    CACHE_DIR = os.path.expanduser('~/.launchpadlib/cache/')
    
    def main(username, project):
        lp = launchpad.Launchpad.login_with(username, LP_INSTANCE, CACHE_DIR)
        for bug in lp.projects[project].searchTasks(status=["New",
                                                            "Incomplete",
                                                            "Confirmed",
                                                            "Triaged",
                                                            "In Progress"]):
            print bug
    
    if __name__ == '__main__':
        parser = argparse.ArgumentParser(description='Fetch bugs from launchpad')
        parser.add_argument('--username')
        parser.add_argument('--project')
        args = parser.parse_args()
    
        main(args.username, args.project)
    
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The End of All Things

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I don’t read as much as I should these days, but one author I always make time for is John Scalzi. This is the next book in the Old Man’s War universe, and it continues from where The Human Division ended on a cliff hanger. So, let’s get that out of the way — ending a book on a cliff hanger is a dick move and John is a bad bad man. Then again I really enjoyed The Human Division, so I will probably forgive him.

I don’t think this book is as good as The Human Division, but its a solid book. I enjoyed reading it and it wasn’t a chore like some books this far into a universe can be (I’m looking at you, Asimov share cropped books). The conclusion to the story arc is sensible, and not something I would have predicted, so overall I’m going to put this book on my mental list of the very many non-terrible Scalzi books.

The End of All Things Book Cover The End of All Things
John Scalzi
Human-alien encounters
Pan Macmillan
August 13, 2015
378

Our fate is in their hands. . . The Colonial Union's Defence Force was formed to save humanity when aggressive alien species targeted our worlds. Now Lieutenant Harry Wilson has an urgent new mission, as a hostile universe becomes ever more dangerous. He must investigate a sinister group, which lurks in the darkness of space playing different factions against one another. They'll target both humans and aliens, and their motives are unfathomable.The Defence Force itself is weakening as its soldiers fall - without recruits to replace them. Relations with Earth have broken down and it will send no more troops, even as human colonies become increasingly vulnerable to alien attack.Lieutenant Wilson and Colonial Union diplomats must race to keep the peace, seek reconciliation with an enraged Earth, and maintain humanity's unity at all costs. If they don't, it will mean oblivion, extinction and the end of all things.

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