Thursday, July 31, 2008

They love their liquid chicken fat!

Close inspection of the American Dehydrated Foods site reveals they also produce Spray Dried Squid, "Typically used as an attractant for trout, salmon and other aqua farming."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Laying down a groove

Michael was really getting into it - if you look closely he has lips pursed in authentic "white boy gets funky" expression. The yellow thing is an upside down potty - that's his snare.

For all your owl decoy needs

Pilot/Statistician 1st Class Michael Lean has done some excellent dtetctive work on the Mice Device© mentioned earlier. He Googled for more information about it, and my blog came top of 3,567,435,786,234 web pages. I am the front line of Mice Device© promotions. I am going to try to protect this premium position by mentioning it at least weekly.

However, Michael found a British website where you can purchase them online. They also carry the following (spot the made up item as usual);

Bird Scaring Decoys
Chimney balloon guard
Cockroach Trap
Cray Fish Trap
Duffus Mole Trap
Family Rat Trap
Feral Cat Traps
Feral Pigeon Trap
Ferret/GlissGliss trap
Folding Rabbit Trap
Fox Trap
Gauntlet gloves
Goose baffle
Gull spikes
Hawk decoy
Mink Traps
Mole Traps
Owl decoy
Pigeon spikes
Run Through Mink Trap
Scissor Mole Trap
Slug & Snail trap
Stoat Trap
Tunnel Mole Trap
Wooden Rat Trap
Wood pigeon trap
Weasel trap
Wind up mouse trap

Note: "The Glis Glis is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. Their cry is unique and can only be described as, woofle, woofle, woofle! They can also make a noise which sounds like a lawn mower." - thanks also to Michael for that footnote.

Mouse listeners

The programmers at work are so funny. Mostly they communicate around the building by MSN Messenger or email, but occasionally they gather in a little group and speak, audibly. Yesterday they were complaining that "the mouse listener is giving us nothing". I will explain what this means, but if you prefer to just preserve the mystery of what a mouse listener is, stop reading now. If you want to think its kind of like a horse whisperer who has to bend down a lot, that's just fine, I like that idea a lot.

The programmers were trying to solve a bug in an interactive learning object. The mouse listener is a line of code that provides a list of all mouse clicks, where the user clicked and what happened next. Its a diagnostic tool.

Mice - they have so much to tell us. Mostly stuff about our shoes.

Michael says...

"Your mouth is the basket of your face"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

DIY Documentary

Anyone who is interested can now check out DIY Documentary on our development site, at

It isn't actually live on the Scsreen Australia site yet but who knows when they will egt their act together, so here it is. Broadband essential i'm afraid. Note to the future: that URL will probably stop working some time during 2009.

Montagu Bay Primary School oval, 22/8/08

Monday, July 21, 2008

South Hobart 6 d Taroona Blue 5 (u/6 soccer)

Marcus' team have only lost once this year, and this was the rematch. It was a pretty high standard, and a thrilling finish. At one stage South led 4-1. Tony made a mass substitution, and things went a little downhill.

There are players who are very competitive, who defend grimly and attack creatively, who know the score and are playing to win. And they were mostly on the sidelines at this point. Taroona had some talented players including a big boy named Angus who hoofed a couple of goals from the halfway line. Before long they were ahead 4-5. Sometimes the Taroona players would be gathered in front of the open net debating who would kick the goal, while our players were up the other end, wondering what they were supposed to be doing, or maybe what would be for lunch.

Tony pulled his masterstroke and brought back on the more competitive boys. After a goalmouth scramble three South boys combined to force the ball in to level the scores. Then Oliver came to the fore and won the game with his first ever goal.

I had goosebumps! It goes without saying I am a sad case and a bad influence. I do yell my head off during games, but I applaud goals for both teams, and encourage a lot of the other kids whose parents seem to be more inhibited than I. I only have a small window of opportunity before Marcus starts to get embarrassed, and I am using it to the full.

Indoor Astroturf Glory!!!

I have stopped writing much about Knackered's exploits, as I understand it can get boring. We are back in the lower league now, and not having quite as many tough matches worth writing about. Anyway, we made it to the finals, where we met the only team who had beaten us, in a knockout semi-final. We beat them 8-4 and went through to the final against a team just called Head, who we had luckily and narrowly beaten once before. They have an excellent keeper.

We were 0-1 down about twenty seconds in, after a bit of slack defending from Brett. I pulled one back but they got another from a penalty. Brett made a lovely solo run to score an equaliser just before half time. The second half was very tight, with no score for about ten minutes. Paul was in goals at this stage and he stopped a fusillade of shots. We finally broke the deadlock when Paul rolled it out to me, I found Brett in a bit of space and put on a burst of something like speed to get the pass back. it was perfectly weighted for me to toe into the net, giving the keeper no chance to do anything. It was possibly our best team goal ever, so easy did it seem.

I got the sealer a few minutes later. Some goals are a bit like waking up in a burning building and getting out no matter what. I started out boxed in a corner, 1 against 3 with no help in sight, and the next thing the ball was in the net. I try to recreate in my mind what happened in between but I have no idea.

We rode out the last deperate minutes and pretty soon it was over. I felt massive relief and I know Paul did too - we both suffer a lot from pre-match nerves. I had been very edgy and snappy all day, and even the day before. I enjoyed the feeling of calm all weekend, more than the elation of winning.

The indoor centre invested in a shiny silver cup this season, which was nice of them. We have won the league twice before and each received large, ugly individual trophies. This time we all got weighty medallions, but to have an elegant team prize is much better.

Mouse of the Mountains

We had a small mouse problem last week. I cornered one of the little fellas behind the piano, and after a thrilling chase, caught him in a towel. This is a technique I developed for removing bees from the house - they are taken to an open door/window and released to fly away. The mouse was taken to an open door and surprisingly did not fly - just sort of arced through the air and went =fap= on the ground then ran away.

It occurred to me then that he might come back. Next time, I would be decisive, and take the mouse at least to beyond the end of the bus route. Elf had invested in a MiceDevice©, a painless trap that encapsulates the varmint in clear plastic. A few days later Marcus spotted a mouse in the boys' room, just as we were heading out the door for school. We popped the Device in the room (as well as conventional kill-the-mouse trap) and shut the door.

When Marcus and I got home that afternoon, a different mouse was inside the Device. He had eaten most of the peanut butter and sultanas and looked a bit bored. He had also eaten the bait in the kill-the-mouse trap, and walked away - a lucky and deft rodent. The three of us got in the car and went for a nice drive in the afternoon sunshine, up Mt Wellington as far as The Springs. The mouse sat on Marcus' lap. We walked him some way up the Organ Pipes track to reduce the chance of a road accident. Marcus opened the Device and he scampered off into the snow-dotted undergrowth, without a backward glance.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Michael's Online Map

Michael did a little drawing of a rainbow at daycare on Wednesday. All the way home in the car he chattered about how he was going to "draw a map to the rainbow". The map is tiny and doesn't reproduce well, but this is the title. He wrote on the back (in light blue that won't scan) "www.michael'".

Friday, July 11, 2008

Up to the front door in nineteen easy steps

Our landscape man Rob has finished our beautiful steps. There are a couple of hmm, idiosyncracies, but we are very happy with them and the difference to the front yard is amazing.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Michael's vocal stylings

Michael has an engaging habit of making up and singing a little song about whatever drifts across his field of vision, or pops into his head. As we drive around town he will sing: "Crazy John's, Crazy Johns, Highfield Hou-ou-ouse, Sports-girl, Spor-or-or-ortsgirl" etc. What is strange is that he sings in a kind of Rod Stewart mid-atlantic accent. This morning a song about clouds in the sky was rendered as "clads in the skah". When I have asked him about why he does this he becomes irritable and evasive. We have not subjected him to very much FM radio or 'Hits and Memories' so I really don't know how he has assimilated that "this is the way to sing with feeling".

He was at home with Elf the other day, happily singing as he sat at the table drawing.

Michael: Old people that have died, old people that have died, old people...
Elf: That's a bit of a scary song Michael!
Michael: Hmmf - scary for you but not scary for me.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Sausagey chess excellence

Marcus took part in another chess tournament for the school team yesterday. He played seven games against various ages, but it is organised so everyone is as evenly matched as possible. If you win your first game your second game is against another winner and so on.

Marcus had his best result at a tournament yet, with 3 wins, two draws and two losses. His two losses were pretty quick - he reported matter-of-factly "they were both four-move checkmates". The 1st time he fell for an old trick. Then his conqueror showed him how it worked. The next game while he was carefully looking out for "the trick", his opponent employed "the other trick".

He was given a very nice certificate for being in the top 25% of players. I can see that my days of beating him are numbered.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Traditional Basque cuisine

Michael has got an unusual idea in his head that he would like to eat eels. He expresses this idea every two weeks or so, at the strangest times, by asking plaintively "Can we have an eel for dinner?" It is possible that as well as being part puppet, he is part Basque.

He had conjunctivitis on Friday so Elf and I took half a day each off work. He is great fun to spend time with, and quite self-sufficient most of the time. He is not old enough yet to get bored (Marcus is), and has very little interest in games for more than one person, (Marcus thrives on them). Michael will be digging, or building with Lego, or creating amazing linguistic drawings at the table, and one is free to work, read or sit and watch him as the spirit moves. He uses a lot of energy dancing, wriggling, climbing over the couches and doing physical things that just actually defy description.

Michael told me he was a chicken, and to prove it he would fly. When he climbed up on the arm of the couch and leapt off, he plummeted to earth in a solid nuggety lump so much like a genuine farmyard chicken would that I guffawed heartily.

Soccer on ice

On Saturday the sports ground at the primary school was spectacularly iced over. The sun was doing a fine job where it reached, but two thirds of both fields were white and hard as concrete, as the school sits in a valley shaded by a steep rise on the north side. Tony the coach had the fine idea to move the goals south, into as much of the sun as possible, and extend the line markings with orange cones. The resultant field was pretty small but the game went on.

I was very proud of Marcus this week as he took things in his stride that had upset him a few weeks ago. He was substituted, slipped over and hurt himself, copped a few kicks and even scored an own goal, without letting it ruffle him.

South Hobart had a good win. One of my favourite players is David, who is a natural defender. I really admire the way he goes about it, and I said so to his grandfather a few weeks ago. On Saturday David's mother came over while Marcus was having a spell on the bench to talk to him, and I was delighted with what she had to say. Although Marcus is by far the main goalscorer, she said they love to watch him play because his anticipation is so good, he really knows how to get the ball, and really knows what to do next. He will always get praise for scoring, so I really value the praise that the other parts of his game receive.

After the game we had a sausage in bread each and watched the end of the u/9s. Unfortunately South Hobart were thumped by the Cygnet Seadragons. The Seadragons were very happy, got in a circle and launched into their club song. There was a rousing verse I couldn't make out followed by a chorus that ended with "...and our is aim is to win!" No objections there. The second verse commenced. Chorus. A third verse. I marvelled that they all seemed to know the words. The grown-up coach was enjoying it as much as anyone - I guessed he may have been the composer. Finally we had the chorus one more time. I was starting to question the healthiness of their aim by that stage.

Gaps between the squares

After lights out the other night Marcus started trying to tell me about something he had worked out with numbers. I asked him to hold it over to the next day. We forgot it about it until it was bedtime again, when I promised I would look at it with him on paper, the next day. At five to seven the next morning he was waving a pen and paper at my head. I rose reluctantly.

What he had worked out, while lying in bed, was this. The sequence of squares (starting with 0 x 0) goes 0, 1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, 64, 81 etc. Marcus started thinking about the gaps between the squares. These increase steadily by 2, so their sequence is 1, 3, 5, 7 , 9, 11 etc. I thought this was a really wonderful bit of pattern-finding. Having talked about it with a few people, I know that this is a very well known fact, but it had never occured to me.

It's probably time to look up that gifted children's organisation we heard about and get Marcus bumping brains with some other junior Einsteins.

Quiet moments at work

One of the things I love about Roar is the bathroom. I like to read on the toilet, and I like to share interesting, thought-provoking and unusual reading material. So I appointed myself years ago as Toilet Librarian. When we were based in Hill Street in an old church, the toilet was actually a fully functional bathroom, with shower and bath. There wasn't much room for literature, and it often got soaked as it was within splash range of the sink.

In our Gore Street premises the bathroom has floor-to ceiling frosted glass, facing west, so in the afternoon especially it is a fine place to read. The toilet is safely housed in a stall. Every now and then I change the selection of 90s design magazines, art books, antique football annuals and atlases. Very popular at present is the almanac of false facts Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman which is having a second run, by popular demand.

What moved me to actually blog about the facilities was the Atlas of NSW which is in there at present, open to a page of street maps of NSW towns starting with W. Each day (three times on average) I look over at the map of Woy Woy and think "This is a fantastic place to work".

Sally comes to work at Roar Film

My younger sister Sally has started work at Roar Film on a nine month contract, to project manage our commitments to the 2009 10 Days On the Island festival. We are producing TV and web stuff like last year but also all the print material. The program is the main thing - a big fat compendium of painfully alteration-prone text and troublesome artist-supplied photographs.

When I heard we needed someone to do a kind of arts-world-liaison-cum-organisational-champ role I suggested that we talk to Sally. She recently left a fully entrenched job in a contemporary art organisation to concentrate on her own artwork,. The old money catch-22 meant she finally had to take up my long-standing offer to attempt to wangle some work for her.

I saw dollar signs (on Sal's behalf) when I saw the job description they had to fill. I tried very hard not to oversell her abilities, as that would have make her life hell on getting the job. I was delighted when after a brief preliminary chat with Sal, Roar pursued her with zeal, and in the end fashioned the specifics of the job to fit her. She got the job purely on her own manifold merits.

All I said to Roar about Sal was that she was very nice, and very smart. And what business doen't need people like that? I enjoy having her at work. I am not involved in 10 Days On the Island at all, and Sal isn't involved in my projects, so we have a purely 'Hey how ya doin?' relationship at work. But I can tell that everyone is very impressed with her, she fits in effortlessly, and she complements and extends further our good-humoured and relaxed yet industrious work culture. I hope Sal will get as much out of her 9 months as Roar does.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Carlton 17.16 (118) d Richmond 12.16 (88)

I went over to Melbourne for the day, to join in Richmond's centenary celebrations. They joined the VFL in 1908. Apparently they wore insipid striped jumpers in the first two seasons, which made a comeback for the occasion on Saturday (with 21st century advertising superimposed of course). They were playing the old enemy Carlton, in a game with a lot of genuine importance for both sides' finals aspirations, over and above the centenary guff.
The morning before the game there was a merchandise-fest at the Punt Road oval, beside the MCG. Joe went over for the day too, and I met up with him and his Launceston mates there, where they were queueing for something or other. There were a range of queues to join. Some tired looking older gentlemen were signing autographs - I didn't actually recognise any of them, so I bailed out of that queue. After I had soaked up some more Punt Road atmosphere I thought it was time to move on.

I met Alex, John, Carmen, Michael and Cooper, (all Carlton fans) at a pub in Swan St for lunch before the game. Alex was tardy, Michael and John have a running punt on how late exactly he will be for each event. We wolfed down some very good pub food (even pricey pub food is much cheaper than AFL prices) - then got moving. We had tickets just along from Joe in the new Ponsford Stand, roughly where I had sat with the family at the Adelaide match 3 weeks prior.

We flowed into the MCG among a massive crowd. Soon after we got settled the Tigers ran out onto the field, and the huge atmosphere went flat. Their jumpers! Holy hell, they looked terrible. The sound was that of 73,503 people turning to the person next to them and saying "Oh - they look like Hawthorn don't they?" I just hope the marketing geniuses were there to see it too. Something that looks great when paraded up close in front of the media might be worth having a look at from a distance, next time.

The foolishly stripey Tigers were the better team through the first half, as they were against Adelaide. Kelvin Moore was having a blinder on Fevola, who had no impact at all. Richmond goaled after the siren at the end of the first three quarters, but going into the last only led by a point. Carlton kicked 7 goals to two in the final quarter, with big fat Nick Stevens getting 12 touches. At one stage he smothered a shot on goal, then gathered and passed out of defence, to set up a Carlton goal. Alex remarked Stevens has been bulking up on burgers to become a smother specialist.

I have now seen Richmond play maybe ten times, for a total of one win. Obviously I should stop going. For some reason, it just didn't bother as much as it should have. I actually found the inevitability of their failure somehow soothing. I was among friends I don't get to see very often, and they were being fairly gentle with my feelings. And I only had to squint slightly to imagine it wasn't happening to Richmond at all - it was actually Hawthorn on a bad day.

We went to a different genteel pub after the game, where we were the only football fans. It was quiet and dark. I took off my scarf and slurped a flat white. The MCG seemed a very long way away. John and Carmen dropped me off in the city where I rejoined Joe and his pals. I thought the 4 of us could share a cab to the airport as they were flying out just before me. But they had come in on the Skybus, and had return tickets - those muppets. I don't know why anyone catches the Skybus unless they are travelling alone. So I shelled out for the Skybus too.

I had ages to wait at the airport, and the place was practically all closed. I had nothing to read except the Footy Record. Its always such a mind-numbing read, as everything is the official AFL opinion. Guess what - everything's great! It's pretty sad having to read about what a mouth-watering prospect a game you have just seen was. After an hour or so of reading very obscure stats in an enormous half-empty airport, I realised I am actually a bit sick of football.

Roo stoush

We have a family TV date with David Attenborough each week. Last week was the world of bears. This week it was marsupials. As with all documentaries featuring kangaroos, the time came to show the males fighting for supremacy, up on their hind legs.

Roos: Biff, thud, paff, thwack.
Marcus: He kicked him in the nuts!
Roos: Thwack, biff, biff, thud.
Michael: He kicked him in the nuts!