Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Two Kings

King Marcus and his buddy King Adrian from next door. Elf had the idea for a party activity to get the kids making crowns. Marcus has teamed his with his new, very large and floppy South Hobart Primary School hat.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Marcus' 4th birthday bash

We had a big party for Marcus yesterday. He will actually turn four tomorrow, but as he is tall for his age and has swallowed a dictionary, we have been thinking of him as four for a while.

We hired the South Hobart Community Centre again. We invited our friends with kids plus some of Marcus' mates from school, and ended up with 22 children to entertain and feed, plus parents. We were keen to avoid competitive games so Elf organised a craft table, and I organised a treasure hunt, and it went off very well. As always there was too much food. I think all the kids had a nice time.

My Mum and Dad made the trip down to be there which was terrific. The boys love having them around, and it was very helpful to have another two pairs of hands to keep the party on the rails.

Some of the attendees are from the Mothers Group Elf was assigned to when Marcus was born, so those boys always have their birthdays around the same time as Marcus. In fact Liam had his party later the same day, so after going home and getting the boys to bed for a rest, we had to haul Marcus out to attend. I am always spared from going to Liam's, so I fell asleep in from of the soccer on TV. Ah, bliss.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Marcus' first day at kinder

Marcus enjoyed his first day. He was very happy when we dropped him off. A soon as we hung his bag on his peg, he started madly flapping his hands at us and bellowing "bye mum, bye dad!"

We havent been able to glean a lot of details, but he said he likes it more than daycare. The class painted paintings and sang songs. Lana, the four-year-old from next door, also had her first day, and Marcus and Lana hung around together I think. Marcus believes he is a superhero at the moment and has got hold of the idea that he has to "protect people". So I think he spent some of his first day "protecting" Lana.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Refreshing honesty

A little promo for the Books and Writing show on Radio National last night was refreshing in its honesty. "Have you got a book in you? Well leave it there, and tune in to Books and Writing. We've got books coming out our ears..."

Bowling Shanes 18 d Sisters of Sincerity 6

The regular Shanes lineup was back together to take on the old sparring partners, SOS. The girls were bowling beautifully early in the evening, and at 6-5 we thought we might be in for a tight finish. We needed a big end or two, and we got them with a couple of fours in a row. The Sisters struggled for confidence from there on and when the bell rang they were keen to get off the green.

I had a good night generally. It was very blustery and it actually seemed to suit my old bowls which have a lot of swing. I threw them way out wide ("gave them a lot of grass") on to the neighbouring green, and with the big bias plus the wind they always came back. I collected the kitty three or four times, but not always to good effect.

I overheard parts of the following conversation at the bar.

"... I said 'you'll be giving back my hundred dollars then'. I said 'that was damned sneaky the way you arranged that'. I said 'you could get fined for that you know. You could get suspended for that'. He's the president down there, he should know better than that. He said 'But I played for Tasmania'. I said to him I said "I don't care if you're the bloody prime Minister..."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

What Not To Crochet

Thanks Sally for this tip. Revolting crochet crimes exposed.

Piñatas aplenty

I had the day off yesterday due to a dearth of work. I played tennis with Nick, and triumphed 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. It took a lot out of me and all the rest of the day I just wanted to sleep. I am really unfit.

Later I was sent to Spotlight to buy "sequins, sparkles, little sequin pompoms" for craft activities at Marcus' birthday party. trying to find "little sequin pompoms" at Spotlight is every man's nightmare. I eventually found the stuff I was after. Spotlight is a large two storey shop staffed by mumsy ladies. There are loudspeakers broadcasting the ringing phone every thirty seconds. It is quite a headache-inducing place. I waited in line with my craftsy purchases for ages.

On my way out I noticed that among their wide range of piñatas is one of a woman. Just an ordinary woman. Who would buy a woman piñata? Is it legal to line kids up to beat the crap out of an effigy of a woman? I did have an unworthy thought about buying one and putting it in a Spotlight uniform, but that's all it was, a thought.

My Grumpy Day

For some reason I was in a bad mood most of Saturday. After putting up with it for most of the day Elf invited me to go for a walk or a drive and give her a break. So I went up to North Hobart and had a walk around my old neighbourhood just to have a look. I actually felt like a tourist, and I even had a flowery shirt on.

I parked up the end of Mary Street. It's quite bohemian (for Hobart), with lots of cats and kids. Some of the houses are quite ramshackle, but in a raffish and groovy way. There is a substantial brick house on the corner that has a huge yard full of sheds - each one more tumbledown than the last. There is a great view from this corner, over lower North Hobart, the Glebe, and down the river. The bells at Holy Trinity were ringing.

I walked up through the main drag of Elizabeth Street, and then up Commercial Road where I used to live. Nº 20 is looking quite tidy, and it's now cream and green, rather than white and brown. I walked around the back up Commercial Lane where I used to park the car. The lane used to be very rocky and rough. Its been graded and it's obviously used a lot more now.

At the top of the lane I walked back down Commercial Road. The old entrance of Friends School has been snazzed up quite a bit. For some reason they have nine flagpoles. Nine? Can't think why.

Bought some veg at a new place called Fresco. Tiny aisles, had to keep going round the long way to get to things. Pretentious mum in the queue ahead of me. Her little boy was wailing and she said to the checkout lady "He'll do anything to get attention. He's a real little Stelarc, he'll be hanging himself up by a meathook one day". She name-dropped a performance artist and predicted self-mutilation for her child in one sentence! Neat work.

Friday, February 17, 2006


Elf reported this from Tuesday.

Michael: I like bread all the time!
Michael (later) Everybody likes bread!
Elf (tiredly): Yes, everybody does like bread.
Michael (brightly): Exactly!

When i did a work experience at an ad agency in 1988, they were putting together a campaign with the slogan "Bread: Because Its Good". This and other experiences that week convinced me that this was easy work that required no deep thought. My boss that week is still my boss now.

Speaking of slogans - don't you find "TRY OUR NEW TOAST" from McDonalds a bit bizarre?

Position description

I was ticking off Marcus for ripping leaves off a young plant in the garden at school.
Me : "I think if you see the gardener you should apologise to him".
Marcus: "He's not a gardener - he's a horticulturist".

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Bowling Shanes 22 d Macquarie Maulers 2

The new-look Shanes took to the greens intent on erasing last week's debacle. This week Marcus Murphy, advertising guru and surf hippie, stepped into the Dave Slot, and Dean's mate Richie filled in for Hunter. Richie has just taken delivery of a set of blue Dreamline © bowls and they went very, very nicely.

The Maulers were on top of the ladder before this poor result. I suggested to them after the game that they may have come in unprepared, feeling a bit smug. They denied it.

Richie was best afield for the Shanes, but the Peter Garrett Medal for Handy Newcomers definitely goes to Marcus. He had nailed the caper thoroughly by the sixth end and contributed four or five of our points. I contributed only one or two, and my position might come under pressure with the return of the full Shanes squad to the greens.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Thirst for knowledge

Marcus explained to me the reason for his incredible thirst for knowledge yesterday. We were looking at a giant section of log in the park at Campbell Town. He asked me lots and lots of questions, most of which I couldn't answer. The explanatory sign talked a lot about the old days of logging but had very little to say about this particular big log. After a round of "i don't know"s and "sorry, it doesn't say"s Marcus said "Do you know why I want to get everything right? Because I want to be like a grown up".

The rest of the car ride home took about two hours, and it was an almost uninterrupted stream of probing questions from Marcus. Could we dig up our late cat Claude from the back yard and look at the bones? When I grow up can I shoot a gun? Where was I before I was born? When you are his captive audience he is determined to make every minute count. By the time we arrived home I felt like I had had my brain scrubbed vigorously with a loofah.


I saw two wallabies on my way to work this morning. I have no smart-arse comment to make or analysis to draw upon. I wonder if they eat blackberries?

Just got in from the coast

It always sounds nice to casually mention you have "just got back from the coast" - ideally said with a bit of a tired, windswept air, maybe while pushing your sunnies up on your head. Of course, as Tasmania is an island everyone has just got back from the coast.

We are just back from Turners Beach on the northwest coast, staying at Mum and Dads for a few days. We had no plans for the long weekend so on Saturday morning we decided to drive up there after lunch. We are lucky the boys are the right age for such spontaneity. In a few years we won't be able to go as Marcus will miss lacrosse and Michael will miss an accordion lesson, or something.

It was very relaxing up there. We had one outing, to the Imaginarium in Devonport. Its like a mini version of the Science and Technology centre in Canberra that the boys liked so much. They were very happy to scamp about the Imaginarium for something like two hours, and the grown-ups found it quite interesting too.

Dad and I had a kick of the footy in the yard. He's turning seventy this year, so he's doing pretty well to still execute a fair drop punt. Mum is also looking very very well, but declined to make any leads for the football. There is lots of room inside and out at Mum and Dad's, and the boys seem to unfurl when we are there.

Big news was that the folks have decided to move southwards. Jacki and her family are is moving to Sydney (Tim and Sam are there already). Mum and Dad have decided to be closer to us and Sally. It will be marvellous to have them nearer, particularly for the boys. They could hang out with grandparents without anyone needing to drive five hours each way.

I am a little sad that our link with the north-west coast will be broken when they move. Since they moved east from Burnie I have hardly been there at all, though I am still very fond of the place. Once Mum and Dad are even closer, will I ever drive all the way up there again?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Foxy Morons 15 d Shanes 5

Dean was sick of being skip, so Muggins got the job. Being skip means you bowl last, and if you are up against quality opposition like the Morons, it's a tough gig. My first drive (where you hurl it down the green really hard to try to blow away your opponents' good position) was a failure. My second drive was just the same. My third was a little better but still sailed though without achieving anything. My last go was more of a firm draw than a drive and it did the trick.

Its lonely being a skip. Especially when you lose.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

My New Blog

Tines of Wolfram is now open for business. Its where I will put stuff I make for work, stuff I make for fun, stuff I scan, and stuff I pinch from elsewhere on the www. It's my scrapbook.

The pics will often be pretty big, but the blog page shows a smaller preview so you can browse it without needing broadband. Let me know what you think of my taste in stuff.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Toot Wins A Gold Trophy In The Sideburns category

Mad props to Matthew K for putting me onto the World Beard Championships. The link above takes you to the blog of Beard Team USA.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Berries, being dead, seafood.

We went to the berry farm again, as it was so good last time. This month its strawberries, strawberries, strawberries. We came home with about $20 worth. Of course - doesn't everyone buy twenty bucks worth of strawberries at a time? Needless to say we've been eating little else since. Elf made a beaut strawberry flan last night - which I can officially confirm was flan-tastic. Yukkity yuk.

On the way to lunch at the Clarence pub Marcus was blabbing uncontrollably. He was told to be quiet for ten minutes. Ten minutes later -
Marcus: "I have done what you told me, can I talk now?"
Me: "Sure".
Marcus: "Blip, blippp, bloppy blip, bluuuuuuurhh...." etc
Me: "Gee that was worth waiting for"
[about ten seconds later]
Marcus: "When you die, I think the world doesn't exist any more".

From baby blather to sophisticated eschatological reasoning in the blink of an eye. Lunch at the pub was very pleasant. I don't know why a lovely seaside pub overlooking a bay full of yachts needs to adopt a "nautical theme" but they have. There is a large mosaic of a compass rose on the floor of the deck where we sat. Michael jumped around it in a circle like a demented potoroo, saying "W! S! E!" (Someone was sitting on the N). I had a big bowl of perfect calimari with aioli. Life is pretty good.


I was assistant manager of a Chickenfeed-style discount store. Who was the manager? Jimi Hendrix. I was trying to arrange a display of pens and pencils and having trouble. Tried to get his attention in a discrete and respectful way. "Jimi? Jimi? Uh....ah...oh.....ah....JIMI?" Then some Chinese dignataries arrived.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Other favourite words

I'm avoiding work. I am supposed to design an attractive poster for the 400th anniversary of the first mapping of Australia, by Janzoon in 1606. I love maps, should be a great job. But - the client has about 20,000 words of copy to fit on there.
So - stuff work, lets think of favourite words!

Defenestrate, Duumvirate,Dulcimer
Hierarch, Heliotrope
Obstreporous, Obviate
X - I do not like any of words that start with X - it annoys me that they could just use a Z.
Zoon ( and of course Zoa, meaning plural of Zoon)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Favourite Words

My very favourite is actually desafortunadamente, spanish for "unfortunately".

My favourite English word is probably defenestrate.

Our block

OK, I've decided Cascade Rd is now to be referred to at all times as "the block". In fact, I've just been doing a bit of work on the block in my time-off-in-lieu and am now covered in scratches and smelling of Dettol.

I propose to refer to the current house as "the shed". Obviously the shed is useful for keeping stuff in, and it keeps the rain off, but when it comes time to take it down to make room for The New House it will be no big deal. Its just a shed, right?

And herewith an artist's impression (this was done by Alberto Giacometti in 1933) of The New House. Down by the letterbox there is an A3 size council notice inviting ridicule or just comments from passers-by. I wonder if applicants for planning approval are allowed to sticky-tape little pictures like this to the notice, or write "its going to be really really nice" on it.

I have been intending to ask someone at the council about these notices. A house in Liverpool Cres has one "displayed" - I happened to see it when I bent down to tie my boots. The best way to describe its deployment is that it has been put in a deep hole. God knows what it says. Fat chance of anyone reading it and raising an objection, unless they fancy a bit of abseiling. I wonder if the owner might work for a well-known local government organisation.

Helmets for bowlers

Marcus asked this morning - why do cricket batsmen wear helmets, but bowlers don't? What if the batsman hit the ball back at the bowler's head really hard? It's a good point. We explained that the bowler had a variety of options (duck, catch) and that it didn't happen very often anyway. But close-in fielders and even wicketkeepers sometime wore helmets. He was happy with this.

Michael always wakes before Marcus. Elf goes for a walk every morning, and she usually plonks him in bed next to me for a while. He lies there in amongst the huge pillows and looks straight up at the ceiling. This morning he said, while gazing upwards, "I can see a frog, in the water". I wasn't sure I had heard him correctly, so I said "Frogs say nedeep, nedeep". He replied "no, no, no, no, no - ribbit ribbit".

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Alas - who can help me manage my grain?

"Additional modules allow GMS Systems to interface with electronic scales and moisture meters". Warning - this is the dullest link I ever lunk.

The Bowling Shanes 16, The Bowling Shanes "A" 5

It finally happened, the Shanes came face to face with our junior spin-off team. They have been struggling, to be honest, but they put up a good performance against us.

Dave bowled well, possibly best on ground for the Shanes. His bowls this week had "giant rabbits" on them. Skip of the "A"s Paul "Robbo" Roberts is welding his charges into a tight focussed bowling unit. But they never managed to pick up the multiple points that you need if you're going to win a match. Promising tyros with their best bowls ahead of them.

We topped off the night by winning the draw for a carton of Cascade Green. Wha-hey.