Friday, August 29, 2008

Mr Sunbeam

It's becoming a bit like a kidsie photo album around here. If we weren't meant to document every moment of our children's lives, why did God invent megapixels?

The 4.30 Wednesday Cello Lady

There is a cello lady in Cascade Road. Twice now, as Marcus and I have left the house to fetch the rest of the family on Wednesday afternoon, we have seen and heard the cello lady. She sits on the tailgate of her station wagon, just up the road from our house, playing the cello, beautifully. For those who don't know it, I should point out that Cascade Road is not some inner-city bohemian rabbit-warren laneway, with street cafes and laundry hanging overhead. This is not Florence or Rio. This is not a Visa card TV commercial. It is dusty and wide and trucks rumble up and down to the tip and the brewery.

So I say - hey, well done cello lady. Keep it up!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Work in progress

Imp commissioned a drawing of Kingston Beach, featuring seashells. It's just about done - when it is I will try to get an overall picture of it. Here are a few details.

Michael c. 1858

Before the cap and braces went back from whence they came, Michael was very keen to have a chance to wear them. "I want a turn with the bracelets" I think was the quote.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Old-timey day

This year is the 150th anniversary of the founding of the boys' school, South Hobart Primary. Last week was the designated week of celebrations, with old scholars and staff invited back for an assembly, and special receptions on Thursday and Friday night. The school was open for tours on Saturday. It that all sounds worthy and a bit yawnsome - think about 1858! Transportation of convicts ended in 1853. The place wasn't even called Tasmania until 1856.

Thursday was Re-enactment Day, and all the kids dressed in short pants and caps and bonnets and so on, the teachers wore dress up too, and they did fingernail inspections. Here is Marcus - looking ready to pick a few pockets.

I went along to a morning tea in Michael's class, and there were grandparents there who attended the same school. In the school hall there is a great display of old photos of sports teams, duces of the school and so on. I spotted the mum of one of Marcus's friends - she was dux of 1B in 1969! I pointed her out and said "who does that look like?" Marcus said "BLAKE!!" They still live about 10 minutes walk up the rivulet from the school.

Monday, August 25, 2008


I have long wanted to publish a book titled I Can Hear Your Nose [Can You Smell My Ear]. I do not know what it will be about, but look out for it. It might be a coffee-table book, or possibly a billiard-table book.

The other night at 3am I woke up with an idea for the title of my autobiography, a title that sums up my essential ordinariness and will ensure no-one actually reads it. Now out in hardback at $55.95, He Sleeps By Night.

BMX in Beijing

There is SO much I want to write about the Olympics. It is the most massive regular event on earth (except perhaps the Jagganath hindu festival in India - must look that up) and so always turns up all the extremes of human behaviour;
  • a man running 100 metres in 10.69 seconds
  • Georgian and Russian athletes embracing while their armies pound each other at home
  • Officials using their short moment in the spotlight to advertise their mind-numbing stupidity
  • China refusing to issue ANY permits to protest in their specially set-up Protest Parks
More on all that later. I just wanted to quote the Coodabeen Champions who on ABC Radio last night reflected on the inclusion of BMX riding in the Games (the synchronised swimmers must be enjoying some respite from ridicule).
Billy: Well, with BMX riding in the Games they'll have to include Graffiti next.
Ian: How about just Hanging Round the Shops as an event?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Baby girl for Alex and Suparna

A little girl arrived yesterday morning! Her name is under wraps for six days in accordance with Indian tradition, plus also they haven't made up their minds. Everyone is well. She is a beautiful little baby, but I won't start plastering her image all over the internet - I've got my own kids to do that with. I am so happy for A and S as they have been through a lot in the quest to have kids. Cigars all round!

Old news, new pic

We won the last soccer roster, as I mentioned at the time. This week has been my turn to have the shiny trophy at home. We have started the new roster (in a higher division) with three straight losses - so a bit of shiny trophy action is good for lifting the spirits. And by the way - look at these excellent boys!

More Sikorsky (by popular demand)

The Ilya Muromets (Sikorsky S-22) was designed and constructed by Igor Sikorsky at the Russo-Baltic Carriage Factory (RBVZ) in Riga in 1913 [...] (It) was first conceived and built as a luxurious aircraft. For the first time in aviation history, it had an isolated passenger saloon, comfortable wicker chairs, bedroom, lounge and even a bathroom. The aircraft also had heating and electrical lighting. [...] If it had not been for World War I, the Ilya Muromets would have probably started passenger flights.

With the beginning of World War I, Sikorsky decided to change the design of the aircraft to become the world's first purpose-designed bomber. Internal racks carried up to 800 kg of bombs, and positions for up to nine machine guns were added for self-defense in various locations, including the extreme tail. The engines were protected with 5 mm-thick armor.

But of course they kept the comfortable wicker chairs.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My hero Igor

I have become quite interested in Igor Sikorsky, the helicopter man. There is debate about whether he "invented" the helicopter or not, but he certainly got the helicopter industry going. And, he liked to fly around in them wearing a dandy hat.

Sikorksy emigrated from Russia to the USA after WW1, as he couldn't find any interest in helicopters in Europe in a time of massive disarmament. Many other Russians escaping the civil war flooded into America at about the same time. Who put up the money for Sikorsky's first big venture in the USA? Rachmaninoff!

Taking Fred for a walk

Fred came over from Melbourne to spend the weekend with us. We did a lot of Boxing-Day-style flopping around and eating, with Imp and Ed and the girls as well. The kids adore Fred, and he takes his role as science guru to the under-9s very seriously.

Yesterday we broke out of the endless rounds of coffee and sandwiches to go for a short walk on the mountain. It has been snowing on and off for a week, but not until yesterday did the clouds part. The road was closed at The Springs, but as often happens, the snow had receded to a long walk up from there.

We contented ourselves with a stroll to Sphinx Rock. The view up to the pinnacle from there is superb, and we can look directly down on our house as well (if you can find the tiny arrow on the picture, that's it)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Walk in the snow

Tuesday was a big snow day, and by the evening it was settling on our deck. Elf and I stood out in the snow and let it go "paff" quietly on our faces. The sky behind the house was illuminated in an odd way - so I rugged up and went for a walk to investigate. It was just the lights from Wellesly Park soccer ground glowing on the falling snow - I had never even realised that they had lights.

It was beautiful up there. The snow had settled on the flat part of the park, and especially on the soft piles of bark around the play equipment - I walked through it and left black footprints in the white. The smell of malt from the brewery wafted through the falling snow, and it was so quiet.

Kids at the beach

These are from back in May - I'm pretty sure I didn't put them in. Apologies if you have seen them already.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Is there no end to his talents?

Michael (who has a heavy cold): "Dad – my nose is making music … I have MUSICAL NOSTRILS!"

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Alans and the Normans (and also de Tony)

When we think of Alans and Normans nowadays, our thoughts turn to lawn bowls, cardigans and comb-overs. But in centuries past, these were the names of powerful tribes, who played lawn bowls with the skulls of their enemies*, and wove cardigans from their hair**.
"The written sources suggest that from the second half of the 1st to 4th century the Alans had supremacy over the tribal union and created a powerful confederation of Sarmatian tribes."
"The legendary religious zeal of the Normans was exercised in religious wars long before the First Crusade carved out a Norman principality in Antioch. They were major foreign participants in the Reconquista in Spain. In 1018, Roger de Tony travelled to Spain to carve out a state for himself from Moorish lands, but failed."

* I made this up.
** Not substantiated. (I made this up).

Mice in the news again

I have been reading about the Dogon tribe of West Africa. According to a well-known online encyclopedia;
Dogon villages have different buildings:
* Male granary: storage place for pearl millet and other grains. Building with a pointed roof. This building is well protected from mice. The amount of filled male granaries is an indication for the size and the richness of a guinna [large family grouping].
* Female granary: storage place for a woman's things, her husband has no access. Building with a pointed roof. It looks like a male granary but is less protected against mice.

The same article describes the Mono cult.
The Mono altar is at the entry of every village. Unmarried young men celebrate the Mono cult once a year in January or February. They spend the night around the altar, singing and screaming and waving with fire torches. They hunt for mice that will be sacrificed on the altar at dawn.