Monday, June 30, 2008

Knackered 17 d DOTWS 3

I have not been reporting the soccer matches much lately as I suppose it gets a bit repetitive. There is only so much variation in the basic plot of eight blokes running around with a soccer ball. I might be wrong but I doubt anyone is on the edge of their seat wondering if we have been winning or not.

In fact we are on top of the ladder. Our last two games have been very good tight tussles with a one goal margin, a win and a loss. This week against a notoriously soft team we scored a good win, just about par I reckon. We have a bye this Friday the then the finals start.

The twist is that the ladder awards bonus points for paying your registration early and things like that, so its a bit misleading as a form guide once the knock-out finals begin. We are probably the second-best team on a head-to-head basis. But we are the earliest-paying team, and we can hold our heads high on that account.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Netball team names

This is the ANZ championship for teams from Australia and New Zealand. They are really pushing the boat out these days with team nicknames. As usual I have made one up - see if you can spot it!

Queensland Firebirds
Central Pulse
Melbourne Vixens
West Coast Fever
Scope Canterbury Tactix
Southern Steel
Rotorua Steam
Adelaide Thunderbirds
Northern Mystics
New South Wales Swifts
Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic

Madagascar DVD menu

Michael spends ages on these "writing drawings". He has written in all the DVD navigation options as well as the characters' names:

Madagascar Back Left Right Set Up Activitys Main Menu Alex Marty Gloria Melman

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lindy's birthday

We all went up to Launceston on Saturday to attend my old schoolfriend Lindy's 40th birthday shindig. She decided to relive the crazy days of her youth and have a bush dance. It was actually good fun with an experienced caller who knew what he was on about getting everyone heading in the right direction. The evening had a wholesome youth-group type feel to it that is very Lindy.

Michael did his own mysterious but funky balloon dance all night. Marcus was terrific - he really embraced bush dancing, and had an unselfconscious good time. He got a bit rowdy at one stage, and was ticked off, and started in on a bit of a sulk, but managed to get himself out of it. That's a very good sign.

We stayed with Joe and Jill and baby William in Invermay. Before we went out to the party Joe and Marcus and I gathered around the radio with our heads in our hands as Richmond hung on to beat Port Adelaide by 4 points. We were outscored 5 goals to 1 in the final quarter. Hope springs once more that we might sneak into the finals. There to be poleaxed by a serious contender like Geelong, no doubt.

William is looking much more grown up now, and has more hair than his Dad. Joe and Jill are in the midst of adding on a studio out the back of their house where there used to be a couple of sheds. I can't quite see how the studio is going to be a huge improvement over the sheds, but that is entirely due to my lack of imagination.

On the way back to Hobart yesterday, I gave Marcus the part of the newspaper with the footy match reports to keep him quiet. Michael wanted some newspaper too, so I gave him a bit that happened to have some business news and financial world stuff in it. After a few minutes Michael asked "Dad - Is the Australian stock market going to keep falling?" We cracked up. It turned out he was directly quoting the headline of a large ad.

This is a "word cloud" made from The Age's Richmond v Port Adelaide match report. Make your own word clouds at

Friday, June 20, 2008

Jewish sabbath rules (3) The Fridge Door

Though most Shabbat observant Jews permit opening and closing a refrigerator during Shabbat, some authorities require that the door only be opened when the refrigerator motor is already running. Otherwise, the motor will be caused to go on sooner by the increase in temperature indirectly caused by the flow of heat from the outside. Most refrigerators and freezers automatically set the motor to turn on and blow cold air whenever the thermometer registers a temperature that is too high to keep the food cold. However, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and most authorities permit opening the door because this result is indirect, and because there are additional grounds to be lenient.

Additionally, any incandescent light which is triggered upon opening the door must be disconnected before Shabbat. It is not permitted to open the door if the light will turn on because, unlike with the motor running, the light turning on is a Biblical prohibition whereas the motor running may be a Rabbinic prohibition, and also, the light is turned on immediately as an effect of opening the refrigerator whereas the motor turning on is an indirect effect. [So says wikipedia.]

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Jewish sabbath rules (2) - CCTV and motion sensitive lights

A passerby who walks within view of a surveillance camera may allow himself to be photographed for the benefit of the property owner, even though the photograph is not a benefit to the passerby, if he must pass by a surveillance camera to enter the building. This is called a pesik reisha delo nicha leih (Aramaic: פסיק רישא דלא ניחא ליה, loose translation: "an inevitable resultant action that does not benefit the one who indirectly caused that action").

However, it is prohibited to walk past a motion-sensitive light on Shabbat if the street is dark and because the turning on of the light substantively benefits the person, and it is a pesik reisha denicha leih (Aramaic: פסיק רישא דניחא ליה, loose translation: "an inevitable resultant action that does benefit the one who indirectly caused that action"). One is advised to avoid walking past the motion sensor or to close one's eyes when doing so if he or she knows that the motion sensor will activate a light switch. [So says wikipedia.]

Jewish sabbath rules (1) - the Blech

A blech (from the German by way of Yiddish word for tin or sheet metal) is a metal sheet used by many observant Jews to cover stovetop burners (and for some, the knobs/dials too) on Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath), as part of the precautions taken to avoid violating the halachic prohibition against cooking on the Sabbath by stirring the fire.

An unblech, or K'Deira Blech (water blech), is also used to heat up pre-cooked food on the Sabbath, but utilizes different halakhic mechanisms than a standard blech. An unblech consists of a shallow metal pan filled with hot water and covered by another metal pan, and thus is akin to a pot of warm food for halakhic purposes. As such it may be more flexible than a standard blech for halakhic purposes. However, the temperature of an unblech is limited by the boiling point of water and is not as hot as a typical blech.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fullagar Siblings v The Platypus

So, Elf and the boys and I all came back over from Melbourne on the same ferry as Imp and Ed and their girls and also Fred, who took the economy option of an "Ocean View Recliner" in which he slept very little.

After disembarking at Devonport on Tuesday morning with Fred squeezed into our car, we headed off south for home. I very rudely forgot that I had arranged for us to drive along to Mum and Dad's at Turner's Beach for some breakfast. Mum sent an SMS which wasn't enough to jog my custard-brain, then called us when we were at Campbell Town, over an hour late for brekkie, with a plaintive "Where are you?" Even then, I said "Campbell Town - why?" I hope in time she and Dad will forgive me, but it will take a bit longer for me to forgive myself for the completeness of my amnesia. It had even been my idea. Oy.

The convoy finally made it to Hobart and we caught up again with Chonk, Irma and Bea, who had flown ahead to stay at our house until Saturday. Fred was to stay with Imp and Ed down at Kingston. They were already hosting Ed's parents Liz and Chris (spooky) from Canberra. Over the next four days we had a more or less continuous rolling get-together, with the table set for 13 plus highchair for Bea. Ed did most of the cooking - even when we were the hosts Ed and family turned up with a soup tureen or some such.

Here is Chonk with Bea and her four Australian cousins. I didn't think to ask if she has Swiss/Texan cousins as well. (A quick recap: Irma was born in Switzerland but raised in Texas, and now again lives in Switzerland where she met and married Chonk, Elf's brother, who took an engineering job there in Winterthur. She says "y'all".) Chonk is an engineer all the time. He loves to ask "why?". He can fix anything. He is enormously practical. Like his grandfather after who he was named, he also thinks Australia is going to hell in a handbasket.

This is actually an old pic from Christmas 2005, the first time we met Irma - I didn't wave the camera in her face this time. That's nearly-4 year old Marcus in the hat. I really enjoyed getting to know Irma better on this visit - we spent all ages pretty much just hanging around shooting the breeze. She is a pretty relaxed mum and that it made it easier to offer to look after Bea. I didn't get a (proper) picture of Bea either, but she's a cutie.

Fred is a massively popular uncle. He is physically popular, actually colonised by children hanging off him much of the time. He gave the boys a mud clock, which we put together on the last day of school holidays. It's still running but we have to occasionally dampen the mud. Here he spins the globe for Marcus - I like how this pic came out.

We had one mass outing to the Salmon Ponds. The trout were lively and the kids all enjoyed their leapings and gulpings. There were plenty of platypi in the Plenty River - well at least three I think. Here is one going a) to and b) fro.

I did a couple of short babysitting stints with Bea, so Chonk & Irma could tour the Brewery with Fred and Ed, and then visit Mt Wellington with Imp. She was very good and I even got her to sleep! It was so much easier than it used to be with our kids.

Chonk & Irma had to limit their touristry on this visit but when Bea is older we hope to see them again for extended trips to Port Arthur and so forth. Marcus and Michael and I did take them for a walk down to the Female Factory - it was a cold grey day, and I felt it lacking something as a fascinating attraction. We popped into the Visitors Centre (formerly the fudge factory) and were further underwhelmed by the visage of the person on duty. Her face said eloquently "I can't wait for you to go away".

On Saturday after another large communal brunchfast, we did a few shuttles to the airport to send first Fred and then Chonk, Irma and Bea on their way home. Fred is now resident in Melbourne, doing improbable things with X-rays, so we should see him again before too long. There is a new particle accelerator being built at Monash that is pulling a lot of heads, but just quietly Fred thinks his X-rays are more interesting. Chonk and family are now back in the Alps, and we don't know quite when we will lure them out again.

Lads on the street

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bill turns 80

I have just started back at work after a two week break, and its no coincidence that the blog also went on holiday.

We had a couple of days of regular school holidays at home, then set off for five days in Melbourne, to attend Elf's father's 80th birthday celebrations. We drove up to Devonport and went over on the ferry, so that we could get around the massive eastern suburban sprawl to the various functions.

Mum and Dad were just returning home at the same time from their own van/ferry adventure up into NSW, and we had a strange rendezvous with them under cover of darkness in an East Devonport side street, before driving on to the boat.

The crossing was very flat, but none of us slept well all the same. Sometimes the cabins are just very hot. The ferries were originally built in Greece, and the thermostat offered a choice of krio or zenith. I set it to to krio in the hope that it would not literally freeze our heads. It didn't seem to affect the temperature in any way.

We arrived very early and found our way to Scott and Sally's house at Brighton. I lived about 2 minutes down the Nepean Hwy from there in my Melbourne era, and allowed myself a few brief draughts of nostalgia over the coming days. Scott and Sally have a place close to the enormous highway, with quite a bit of traffic noise, and also close to Gardenvale Train Station, source of periodic clatters and honks. After we had dumped some gear and freshened up we set off again for the 90 minute drive down to Point Lonsdale, where Elf's grandparents live. This took us though Geelong. Michael, the Geelong Football Club fan in our family, has only just twigged that Geelong is a place. He was over the moon, surrounded by signs he could read that all said "Geelong". I was startled by the futuristic shell that has been grafted onto the old Kardinia Park footy ground.

Elf's family's thing about names should be pretty well known by now. Her grandparents are Marki and Dwantwa, although I find that so hard to say I usually go with "Dr Ware" - he's a retired dentist. They are both very sharp, in full command, with plenty of firm views they like to bring out for discussion. Dr Ware thinks we are all going to hell in a handbasket, and we need to bring back Latin and Greek. He smokes a pipe, and the boys were wide-eyed at the pipe, the blue smoke, the matches, the coughing - the whole performance. I like them both very much. Marki (92) is practically blind and Dr Ware (90) little better - the day we were there they had just sold their car after hanging on to it for years. Elf's Auntie Bud lives with them now and looks after them a little, but she works elsewhere 3 days a week and they seem to manage OK. The boys drew beautifully when we were there. All through our trip they were great about settling in a corner with pencils and paper when required.

On Friday we abandoned the car for a trip to the Botanical Gardens, to visit the Childrens Garden there. This was something Elf had been looking forward to since Susan and Cameron tipped her off about it. It was pretty good, and the kids and I especially enjoyed the bamboo forest. We caught a train and tram each way, and for the boys the travel possibly outweighed the destination in excitement value.

That evening we took the car out to Doncaster to see Elf's old friend Di and her family. The thing about the vast eastern tracts of Melbourne is that every car trip is just long enough [across five pages of the Melways] for the kids to fall asleep three minutes before arrival. Driving directions were generally "Turn left here, then right at these lights, then go straight through the next twenty two sets of lights, then left and you're there." Di and Craig have just sold their house, and are soon moving into a rental nearby while they ponder what to do next. The beautiful old golf course behind their house is up for development into McMansions, and they are getting out while the going is good. Presumably on account of the upheavals, we had Domino pizza and Paddle Pops for dinner, and there were not enough chairs. People who have sat on a park bench or piano stool at our dinner table will wonder if we are really in a position to carp. Di has seen Richo and little Nathan Brown shopping together at the supermarket. I worry about those two sometimes. They get a fuzzy look in their eyes when they have a cuddle after one of them kicks a goal. Di laughs with a genuine country cackle and I like her. Their boys Max and Tom grapple and whine and grizzle similarly to ours. The four of them played together fairly well.

On Saturday we had another public transport day. We caught two trains to get out to Canterbury to see Auntie Val - Marki's younger sister who lives in a "supported apartment" - recently moved from another one at Camberwell. She fends for herself and generally regards the management with scorn. We always seem to have trouble getting through the doors when we visit her. She has scads of great-nieces and -nephews but only a few favourites, which includes Elf. Luckily, having married her I too can do no wrong, and she is highly indulgent with our boys. She has supported Hawthorn for about 80 years, and thinks they just might be Back In Town now. She laid on the biscuits and cake, and we dug in, as we were heading somewhere next where the food is famously expensive.

From Val's we caught a train to Richmond and joined the crowd flowing into the MCG to see Richmond v Adelaide. I had originally thought I would just take Marcus, but Elf thought we should all go, and I'm glad we did, although perhaps we should all have left at half time. Here are some photos of us looking happy, taken before the Crows kicked six goals in a row and blew us away. I had tried to dampen down Marcus's high hopes of Tiger victory, but it wasn't enough to prepare him for the disappointment. We had been 14 points up at half time, and it all turned bad so quickly and brutally (we were sitting behind the Adelaide goalsquare as the goals rained down on us) that the tears welled up and he sobbed. Some would say it's mental cruelty to let a child adopt Richmond as their team - I can only plead in my defence that I gave Marcus every chance to go elsewhere. We gave him a lecture on keeping things in proportion etc and by the end of the match he was in good enough shape to enjoy the train ride home again.

Scott and Sally were excellent hosts over 6 days. They love good food, and provided us lots of it. Of course we love good food too, we are just not so good at getting it on the table. One thing that took me time to get used to is their shower - they have no soap. There were about a dozen bottles lined up containing various unguents. There was some kind of bodywash stuff, and Sorbolene, but neither actually left me feeling clean. I like the feeling of being "robbed of essential oils". I just need plain old soap, especially for my face. I ended up using the "facial scrub with exfoliating beads" (not much Sally, honest). The tube advertises its' "Stubborn Imperfection Action". I love the whole concept of Stubborn Imperfection. The beads were blue.

On Sunday we once again took to the long straight roads that march eastwards from the sea to the great leafy suburbs. There is a sort of invisible cordon centered around Camberwell and Kew that Elf's broader family inhabits. Her Mum and Dad in Canberra are generally considered to be lost souls. Her family are not snobby, or generally super-wealthy, but they have breeding, they are solid, they are well and expensively educated, they have impeccable vowels, and they would no sooner live in St Kilda or Cranbourne than fly to the moon.

Bill's brother Dick ( a Victorian Supreme Court judge, like their father before them) died only two years ago. His widow June turned 80 the same week as Bill, so June's children organised a joint party. It was at a vast house in Kew with a Porsche and a Merc beside the front door, and a tennis court out back, beyond the pool. The tennis court is actually shared with the people at number 83, but there is another pool and tennis court next door at number 79. They have a wonderful view over Melbourne. Imp and Ed were there with the girls. Soon after we arrived Chonk and Irma appeared (all the way from Switzerland) with their 9-month old Bea, and Fred, who has relinquished Sweden to take up a less exciting job at Monash in Melbourne. Bill and Felicity were there looking well. Bill is not a man who likes the limelight, but he was delighted to have all four of his children around him and made a fine short speech in response to some fairly windy tributes from others. I felt smug to be in such fine surroundings wearing a 3rd hand shirt Nick had given me that he bought at St Vincent de Paul (it's too "square" for him now that he's carving out a niche as the "cool" tech teacher at Sacred Heart).

Back at Brighton after the kids were abed we played Scrabble. I used all my tiles on my first turn, and made a word that I now can't recall, taking what we all assumed was an unassailable lead. Sally assailed it successfully, as I followed up with words such as "go" and "it". Sally and Scott are both in the business of Risk Assessment, and are very smart cookies. They gave me cause to once again ponder my lack of drive and ambition. Should I have a string of investment properties by now? Should I be a 7th dan black belt snowboarder? Should I know something (anything) about wine? Should I be erasing my stubborn imperfections?

On Monday (Queen's birthday holiday) we had another party for Bill, this time organised by Felicity, at the Victorian CWA headquarters in Toorak. Bill is a royalist and he's always liked sharing his birthday with the monarch. She was there too in various guises, with royal portraits, porcelain, framed citations and the odd Union Jack featuring in the decorations. As the eldest son, Fred made a lovely speech extolling Bill's virtues. I sat next to one of his old shipmates, and a couple of widows of other old friends. It was strangely more relaxed than the house party, probably because more of the guests knew each other since there was only one guest of honour. Lunch featured nine different types of CWA quiche. Auntie Val was there again and sympathised with us over our hopeless footy team. She had been at the Dome to see her Hawks romp it in against Essendon.

The party meandered on pleasantly as more people wandered in, late as you like, and the familar feeling of a Fullagar event lacking any actual plan manifested itself. Eventually about a dozen of us set off for a visit to the nearby (only about seventeen blocks away) cemetery where Bill's mother Marion lies. She died when he was about thirteen, and he has never really had the full picture of how. Her memorial tablet is very simple, stark even. Marion was unwell for some time before she died, and was attended by a nursing sister, called Sister by everyone. Soon after her death Bill's father married Sister.

After the cemetery we retraced the seventeen blocks to the CWA to collect stuff, then regrouped just down the street at the home of Grace and Tony. Grace is Elf's favourite girl-cousin. They have a six-month old named Allegra who is very beautiful. Her hairless head reminded me of Sinead O'Connor. They live in an amazing art deco house that is in the messy throes of renovation. Unfortunately Tony has just been laid off at the stockbroking house. I met Tony, was apprised of his situation, and then saw his unfinished house all within about half an hour, so I felt very awkward about it. Some of the houses in their street are hotel-sized. I had seen Toorak before but I hadn't really seen Toorak, if you know what I mean.

We went back to slightly more humble Brighton, packed and farewelled Sally and Scott for the short drive back onto the boat. It always impresses me that Our Tassie Boat is the biggest thing in the harbour. It looms over the St Kilda foreshore. The getting onboard business is always fussier at the Melbourne end. You drive out onto a long, long pier, then back onto the land, around a little loop right past the gate you first came in, and then onto the ship. Imp, Ed, Karri, Miah and Fred were all on board as well. Chonk and Irma had flown to Hobart and were already settling in at our house. Fred was on his way to stay with Imp and Ed down at Kingston. We had another six days of sibling-ing around to come.

Monday, June 02, 2008

A window into Michael's mind

That's how I think of these little typgraphically illustrated micro-stories he writes.

"Too Marcus. I love you becuse I want you to like it." Other side - "Michael too Marcus. He's playing football. AFL football games."

On the left a big fat B is burping ("BURP!")and saying "WHAT?" A monster on the right is saying (about the fat B) "HE'S FAT" and (addressed to the fat B) "YOUR NORTY".

This one says "the CIRCUS. The circus is cenchrel [central I think] becuse my mum is the best.". These have an added air of spookyness as they are drawn on scrap paper Elf brought home from GP South. They are forms headed "Other points that are important to me for medical and personal care", with questions like "If I am nearing my death, I want the following (tick boxes and initial lines that would be important to you)" followed by options such as "Keep me warm, dry and pain free". Regrettably, "Take these guns off-a me, I cain't use them anymore" is not included as a check box, although there is "Other" and plenty of space for at last one verse of Knockin' on Heavens Door