Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Further cattle news

I was just reading a story about the "Angus beef" being trumpeted by the Scottish family restaurants. Maccas did some polling: Joe Average thinks Angus tastes superior for some reason, although there is no real evidence for that. Angus breeders seem pretty happy to agree that it is so.

Anyway, my actual point is that the journalist listed the winning breeds in this year's Sydney Royal Easter Show steer and carcass competition: Limousin, Charolais and in third, Square Meaters.

In the interests of full disclosure, I can state that it appears that Seacrest Chubby Dominator TX23475 is a Hereford.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Michael Stipe / Bull in a fishtank

I did not get this book for Christmas, it just so happens it was Christmastime when I finally discovered it looked quite good wearing my glasses.

This is my prize bull, Seacrest Chubby Dominator TX23475. He has spent the last three years in a fish tank, in case you are wondering about the green face. He is a magnificent specimen otherwise, and if I can scrub off the algae he stands a good chance of bringing in some ribbons at the Royal Hobart Show in the Plastic Toy Cattle category. Look out for his exclusive tell-all revelations, "My Three Years of Hell in a Fish Tank", in next month's Womens Weekly.

Christmas roundup

The boys didn't get up until after 6am on Christmas Day - a record for recent years. They got into their stockings, upended them and dealt with the contents pretty quickly. By 8am they had already reverted to building pyramids from mah jongg tiles.

Marcus was given a couple of different electronic sets. One of them required someone to wrap about a quarter mile of copper wire around a cardboard toilet roll in a very precise way, to ultimately produce a "radio". The toilet roll needs to be grounded on a metal pipe or wire fence, and the electronics buff then has to squat beside the pipe/fence as the supplied earphone, attached to the toilet roll, has a very short wire. While the kids played elsewhere and their tinkling laughter drifted on the breeze, a succession of adults wrestled with coils of wire and sweated, angrily.

Pictured below is the other electronics set. The boys can just click the various components together in different configurations for instant circuit-based gratification.

The other main Christmas action: Marcus received a pair of tennis rackets, and Michael a scooter. We have been down to the local tennis court to try out both - my phenomenal footspeed seems to have deserted me since last time I played. Michael's scooter is one of those tiny fold-up Razor types with very thin solid wheels. We hoped he'd have hours of fun out on the deck with it, but it turns out the wheels stick between the planks.

Mum and Dad are here for Christmas, and seem to be enjoying drifiting about with us with no particular plans. They gave me a fantastic book, The Great War by Les Carlyon. It is roughly the size of a loaf of bread. I have just started it and will possibly reach the Armistice in time for Armistice Day in November.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A table with a name

Closely following the new floor, we now have the new table. I have always wanted a big recycled timber table. Elf found a man at Salamanca Market named David making beautiful things from old timber and commissioned him to make one. It seats 8-10, its mostly made of oregon pine from the old Roberts woolstore. One side features part of an old apple grader, named The Lightning - it's such beautiful lettering. One minor flaw is that its about 10cm too high - David is going to scoot back one day with his saw.

My Mum and Dad arrived yesterday to spend Christmas and New Year with us. Do not they, the boys and the table make a fetching group?

We will have a quiet Christmas mostly at home, but it should be great to just flop horizontal for a while, admire the table, eat cherries, watch cricket, play cricket and see all the ex-Tasmanians who fly home at this time of year.

Thanks to everybody who stopped by and read the blog this year. Have a good Christmas, stay safe, see you in the New Year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A few beers

I went out to have a few drinks with Rob and Manuel last night for Rob's birthday. It was a Tuesday night but at this time of year every night is Friday night, down along the waterfront drinking zone. I have very rarely ventured down there since having kids - a) not many nights out and b) distinct lack of a sense of adventure.

At 7.30 there were already legless people of all ages (and fire twirlers) out and about, and a very muscular police presence. Outside Knopwoods, [where people used to spill out like cheese from an overcooked toastie], there was a front-row-forward type with an earpiece moving people about like chess pieces to keep the footpath clear.

We started at Bar Celona (why anyone thinks that's a clever name is beyond me) where I was ignored at the bar for an agonisingly long time. Apparently I was standing to the left of an invisible line, and this was impossible for the sulky bar staff to convey with words. The sulky bar staff and I performed a Samuel Beckett-like agony of longing, thirst, denial, regret, guilt, shame, fury and cleavage. I am too polite to shout "hey", so I would still be there now if an older gent had not pointed me out and insisted that someone walk two steps down and serve me. I enquired if I was standing in a Service Area (I have learned this term from the large helpful signs other bars deploy). Was told no, although I was bang in front of beer taps. To my suggestion "Maybe you need a sign?" I got a shirty "What do you want?"

But, as I was able to drink up and walk out of their dive, while they were stuck there for the night, [not to mention probably stuck in bar service forever as they seemed pretty dim and probably have no other options, plus once they lose their looks they will end up crazy cat ladies and harmless flashers] I didn't really mind too much.

I did have a non-bitter-and-tetchy story about the night but I can't remember it now. Manuel ducked off home for dinner, Rob and I had an over-sophisticated pizza and six or seven more beers. By the time we felt ready for a good espresso all the bars with coffee machines had turned them off.

Friday, December 18, 2009

E-Learning for High Lamas. Heee-onk.

Each year we (Roar Film) have a stand at the BETT education trade show in London. To be precise it's probably in a very large shed somewhere on a ring road in Hampshire, but as far as we are concerned out here in the peripheral Commonwealth, let's say it's in London.

At this time of the year there is lots of talk around about going to BETT, sending disks to BETT, emails to BETT, how many laptops are we taking to BETT etc.

In my mind I am now picturing the whole thing happening not at Slough or Staines, but up in the Himalayas, in Tibet. Steve and Craig will be trekking over mountain passes with a number of yaks, wearing traditional cloaks. Their destination is a precipitous monastery. Over a ceremonial dish of tsampa and butter tea they present their e-learning webinars to the yellow-hatted lamas. In response the lamas bow low, play their long mountain horns and chant rhythmically for fourteen hours.

While the lamas chant, the novice monks painstakingly create a mandala on the floor with coloured sand. When completed it reads "Thanks for the webinar. It was really nice".

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Brett Geeves : Mayonnaise

While I was painting the fence on Sunday I listened to the entire first innings of a one day cricket match, Tasmania v Western Australia. Fellow blogger Brett Geeves was playing for Tasmania. Peter Newlands described him as, "the flamboyant and somewhat charismatic Geeves". The amount of fence I actually completed over these 4 hours looks pathetic - that's pickets for ya.

In other major news, last night I made the first mayonnaise of my life. A simple lemon mayo to dump into some bacon n' lettuce wraps. Which turned into bacon n' carrot n' celery etc when it transpired we had no lettuce, after all. In any case my mayo was a triumph. Not a slimming food choice, though.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Trying to think while a puppy rolls at your feet

It is hard to make major life decisions in the presence of puppies. People who work in the puppy industry must develop puppy resistance, to be able to decide what to have for lunch, how much copy paper to order etc etc. I would just be hopeless.

At the Dogs Home yesterday we met a delightful 6 week old labrador cross named Florence. She was friendly but calm. We had been looking for a dog aged about 12-18 months, but I could feel my mind changing as Florence mercilessly beamed her puppy forcefield of cute at me. If someone had tried to sell me timeshare apartments on the Gold Coast with Florence rolling at my feet I would have said yes.

I thought it best we get out of there and discuss Florence over lunch. We agreed there were some good reasons to get a little puppy instead of a big one, mostly to give Hattie the cat a chance to set some ground rules. I rang the Dogs Home to put a hold on Florence but she was taken already. Sigh. However I think we have clarified what we are looking for, and there will be dozens of puppies available for adoption in the next few weeks.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New floor

As a side-effect of our Get A Dog 09-10 campaign, we decided that the upstairs timber floor needed to be resurfaced. The original tung-oil polish has generally handled human traffic reasonably well, but dog claws would be a different story.

So we got a man named Alan in to give it a light sand and put down polyurethane. We put all the big upstairs furniture out on the deck wrapped in plastic, and stayed down at Imp and Ed's for the night. We are back now, and have started moving stuff back inside and back upstairs. Alan asked us to be kind to the floor for the first ten days so we are doing a lot of gliding about in socks.

We are shortly heading off to the Dogs' Home to inspect spaniels and so forth.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Spare 6:47 for this, it will make your day

I was just on YouTube collecting some music for Lost Cassettes, when I found this.

When you believe in things
That you don't understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain't the way,
No, no, no
I don't think you're allowed to sing that on kids TV any more. This is from 1973 I think, the year before we got colour TV. I probably watched it (aged 5), I just wish I remembered it. I like to think I was breaking it down in the old sunroom like the kid on the fire escape at about 0:39.

It's a great song, but what a performance - it just gets better and better and by the end, I was just wishing they would keep going. Sigh.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Ferntree and Moonah social roundup

Yesterday we were invited to morning tea up at Scout's house at Ferntree by her parents Phoebe and Paul, who had made us a large chocolate cake. They have a classic Ferntree house, one of the very few in their patch to have survived the 67 bushfire. Beautiful dark oak panelling everywhere, and those metal doorknobs that are ribbed like beehives - (google tells me they in fact are called beehive doorknobs.) They have an ideal scruffy dog named Ramjet, and a big, beautiful rambling yard with a garden swing.

They also have many lovely collections of things, notably fossils and books, Scout (who is 6) has decided she will be an archaelogist. Here is a bad photo of Paul's J. Bond paperbacks - I always feel self-conscious taking pics in people's houses and rush.

We left the Newell's and had some down time at home before heading out the other way to bbq dinner at the McKinnons - the family with hereditary Ns. CameroN, SusaN, SaffroN and ImogeN McKiNNoN. Nnnnnnnn.

I have no pictures of them, however. Here is Cameron's handsome woodpile;

and here are some of Susan's handsome poultry featuring some fake depth of field.

Susan and Cameron's food was fantastic as usual. They also have a scruffy dog. Big yards, great food, scruffy dogs. That was Sunday.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Debate at the high jump

Michael was off having fun inside a giant pine tree. I was reclining against the Fat Mat - the one they bring out once the bar gets up towards a metre. At this early stage the athletes were leaping onto the Flat Mat.

Someone else's 4 year old, on top of Fat Mat, to me: This will be finished soon.
Me: Well, it might not. Usually the high jump takes a long time.
SE4YO: No it doesn't.
Me: Yes it does.
SE4YO: No it doesn't.
Me: Yes it does.
SE4YO: No it doesn't.
Me: Yes it does.
SE4YO: No it doesn't.
Me: Yes it does.
SE4YO: You're not the prime minister
Me: No, I'm not.
SE4YO struts away triumphantly.

[25 minutes later]
SE4YO, back on top of Fat Mat: You were right.
Me: Yes, I was.
SE4YO hugs my head.

Scorpion Knowledge

Brought to you by Michael, here is more information than you really wanted about the insides of scorpions. Plus - how to draw them.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

South Hobart this morning

I love the window display at the South Hobart Butchery. Usually empty egg cartons, some receipt books and half a jar of paprika.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Unsettling shopping list

  • Fish oil
  • Cheese
  • Gladwrap
  • Shaving Cream

Monday, November 30, 2009


I have been flicking through my 1997 work diary. It was mostly for work but I drew in it and wrote personal notes as well. Brooded about my 7 or 8 relationships with women that were all not going quite how I wanted. I am amazed looking back at it how many lunches and dinners with friends there were, three or four every week. I fished pretty regularly. I was hard at work on the big pencil drawings that turned into my last real exhibition in 1998. I played soccer, and coached an under 13 team. I actually retired from outdoor soccer at the end of that season.

I also quit my job of five years at an ad agency. There are lots of rough drafts of memos to my boss. He was a mega-rich Sydney ad man who retired to Tasmania, then took over the terrific place where I worked and used it as a plaything.

My brother in law died in December 1996, and that overshadowed 1997, probably more than I realised. I drove up to the coast to spend time with Jacki and the kids as often as I could through the year.
Jan 4 Bought Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. On the way home ran into Robbie. Walked down to Taste of Tas, had beers and seafood, perved [...] Then pool and beers at Freemasons. Up to Manuel and Nadia's for tea. We made a movie - cutting out heads, hinging mouths, trolling eyes, moved them around with wire - filmed on a video strapped to stroller sitting on top of coffee table.

Jan 12 [Writing in Scots dialect due to reading Trainspotting] Up breet and early to work on the car. Went and played tennis with Sonny, Phil and Bugs. Served like a champion but court coverage pretty piss poor. Painted some more the evenin', Robyn the alky came and watched for a while - bled all over me. Hope she's no got HIU or Hep or anything. Fetched her a bandage.

Jan 22 [From memo to boss] ...Tranny arrives. It was not shot in such a way that it will slot into existing layout. We do our best with it, it is presented. Client hates it.

[I liked to leave post-it notes on people's cars.]

Jan 29 New theory, or new metaphor: girl problems are like a flock of sick sheep. You need to do an autopsy on one [relationship, not girl] to understand the problem. Which one to autopsy, that's the choice.

Jan 32 Caught 3 cod before work at Shag Bay. Used steak as bait, handlines off rocks. Late for work of course. Barby tonight. [...] Barby v. nice. Cod mushy. Made mussel kebabs.

Feb 14 [Manuel's birthday party, weekend in the country]. Caught biggest fish of my life off Southport Jetty.

Feb 15 Played tennis dressed as Capt. Bligh, with Manuel, Mark and Robbie (dressed as witch doctor).

Feb 22 Sam [niece then 6] woke me up every 20 minutes, with drawings. Dad was bitten by ants at Henrietta, five times, pretty crook.

Mar 2 Up about 6am to get at the fish. Nick caught 3 small whiting and threw them back. Both hungover as hell [...] Walked around Dodges Ferry for about an hour. Favourite house: 3 Three Street.

Mar 8 Totally fish free trip with Nick to Cradoc, Lymington, Woodbridge, Kettering. Took Brin [nephew then 5] to Robbies, watched footy and ate marinara with Rob and Manuel.

Aug 6 Melbourne job offer from Mark Grey.

Aug 20 Reasons for quitting [...] Current volume of work is probably not profitable but enough to cripple the studio working at full capacity. Expectation that we will work unpaid overtime for ordinary heavy workload is unfair. Lied to and patronised on issue of computers.

Aug 21 I quit.

Sep 8 1st day at G3 [where I work to this day, for the same boss, after a few name changes and ownership revolutions]

Sep 20 3-0 loss to Phoenix in my last game [...] Disappointed in the result, but also in the effort of some of the guys and in their mental toughness, lack of it. They gave me 3 cheers for my retirement.

Dec 19 Drove up to Devonport with Damo and Leigh for skydiving debut. Lovely warm evening, watched Devonport do blockies in their Commodores.

Family update

Marcus has been in 2 national maths competitions this year. He was given a distinction in the first one, and the other day we heard he pinged a High Distinction in the 2nd one! That puts him in the top 1% in the state for Grade 3. And he's the youngest kid in Grade 2. His teacher showed me a Grade 5 maths test she gave him this morning - he got 98%.

Down at the Gifted Association they say that a truly gifted child is not simply capable of managing at a higher level; give them work from a grade or two above and they will knock the ball out of the park.

So I have taken a few steps back, looked at Marcus with fresh eyes, and said to myself - he is gifted and we have to stay awake to this, and keep bringing him fresh challenges.

Michael said he would only get out of bed and come up to breakfast this morning if I carried him. I was happy to do this as I will take any chance I get to give him a good squeeze. Halfway up the stairs he said I also had to say our phone number. After I reeled it off, he repeated the last 4 numbers and said "that's the chorus".

My younger sister Sally is about to do something that the boys will never achieve - she's giving birth in April! It's really exciting news, we can still hardly believe it. Sal and Matt are dedicated contemporary artists (picture computers, latex, gravel and guitars - not so much the palette, easel and beret) and up to this point their total frugal dedication to the Big A has seemed incompatible with parenthood. But they have lots of friends who are artist/parent equally, so I know they can do it too.

Elf's 40th birthday is coming up. She is planning a cocktail party, and has been in touch with a Cocktails Contractor. This interesting older lady (who admits she likes to combine work and play) left this rather racy book with us, from which to choose a few recipes. At some point one of the nieces drifted off downstairs with it, studied it carefully and left this note nearby.

Obviously, apologies to all family members mentioned in the same post as this lurid though dated bit of soft porn.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wet Saturday (no.1 non-exciting headline of all time)

Elf gave permission for the boys to wear pyjamas all day. The cricket is on TV, the puzzle books are out. I'm going to do a little bit of sewing.

Friday, November 27, 2009

We need to kill some baddies - let's have a webinar

I don't usually blog about work, mostly because my work is pleasant (can't whinge) but not very funny (can't turn into humorous anecdotes). Today however, I am mocking up a webinar! Which is ridiculous. I am just taking a break from mocking it up to spend some time plain mocking it.

What is a webinar I hear 98% of you ask? It is a web seminar, a live conference on the internet, usually with one presenter and a number of participants. We are going to be making our e-safety material avail... zzzz. Oh, sorry. I fell clean asleep there for a second.

Anyway. It uses an Adobe software product, and I am trying to learn to use it. The demos mostly have bright sensible businesslike meetings between pleasant Americans of all colours and creeds, working out how to leverage sales or what is the difference between romanesque and gothic architecture. And so on.

One of the demos, however, is a virtual meeting on a battlefield in Iraq. The meeting notes pod includes "request airburst fusing on all targets" and "AAA being supressed by friendly forces". The live chat pod features a discussion about blowing up a car with a missile.

Reaper 11: roger

Apparently, this is how killing actual enemy humans happens now. Nice euphemism in there too.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I name your netball team

I once discussed "netball team names" on the blog. Ever since, this has featured very high in my Google search hits. I just Googled it myself and the Diary is currently 26th in line. Still pulling in a lot of visitors though. many of the top hits are discussing a team from New Zealand that was forced to change it's name when someone objected to The Master Baiters.

Obviously there's a relentless worldwide (or at least Commonwealth-wide) search for good, non-smutty, "different" names. Netball is of course played by womens', mens', and mixed teams. A good list of names will need to appeal broadly. I give you then a list of 25 names I (as a popularly elected netball team name expert) think will equally bemuse people of both sexes and all ages. Of course you can also take these to use for your rock band or racehorse.

Please drop a note in the comments if you are adopting a name for any reason. Oh - I'll even throw in a free logo.

Barcode Barney
Captain Spout
Cold Whelk
Float Spokes
Easy Wizard
Ink Suds
King Edwards
Little Whigs
Mouse Listeners
Norman Mayday
Normal 9
Princess Parsley
Sack of Rome
Shark Padres
Spool Whippets
Soda Doubles
Teacup Pigs
Thought Balloons
Tooth Dentists
Towel Tigers
Valve Magnet
Weddell Seals
Windscreen Gypsy
Yurt Demon
Zebra Cheese

Motivational plod music

The plan was that at least four of us from work were going to do the Point to Pinnacle together yesterday. Our boss, Steve, had a heart operation earlier in the year. He is now a new man, walking everywhere, a bit like a hobo - a fit, tanned film-making hobo. Some of us underlings were going along on this challenging walk to encourage, needle and if necessary, carry the great man.

In the end no-one but me managed to get their application lodged in time. Was this "plan" just a big con to trick me into struggling up a mountain alone on a Sunday morning? Possibly. Anyway, once I found Marcus's iPod that had been missing for months, I was quite pleased to be doing the walk without company, just a few podcasts to pass the time. No-one to try to keep up with or try not to leave behind.

It all went fairly well. I aimed to get to the top in 3hrs 40mins, and missed that by about 12 minutes. The last 2km were a bit painful. I knew there was a good chance one of my soccer injuries would come to the fore at some stage, and this is when it happened. It's actually a flattish part of the course, so I never felt like I wouldn't finish, but I wasn't able to surge at the end like I'd wanted to.

I got sick of podcasts after a couple of hours. I chose this song to play on repeat (to get me from The Chalet to Big Bend) because it is a real march. After a while I realised the lyrics were quite appropriate, although there was no "ice and snow" this time. I had to can it after about 6 repeats, not because I was sick of it, but because I just couldn't keep up with the beat any longer.

Beirut - The Gulag Orkestar - Postcards from Italy
< Click here to buy the track or album on iTunes. Its ace!!!

We were squeezed into buses to take us back down the mountain. I was terrified my legs would cramp and I would have no space to straighten them out, but that didn't happen. I had had to park some way from the start point, and probably the hardest part of the day was dragging myself and all my stuff through the rain, uphill (again) back to the car. Sort of a preview of being really, really old.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Michael looms over Tasmania

Michael asked nicely if I would get the relief map of Tasmania down off the wall. He then played with it for about an hour. Note: even when it is face down he can name the lakes and islands by the inverted flat bits/bumps. Hey - do you like what I'm doing these days with the little writing?


This morning I walked (with about 800 others) from Sandy Bay to the top of Mt Wellington, about 21km, all uphill. Its called the Point to Pinnacle. Took me nearly 4 hours. I might have more to say about this when I have regained the use of my legs.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Quotations from MJR

Michael: I know what 365 plus 365 is. It's six thousand, one hundred and twenty ten.

Michael: Do pirates drive cars made of wood?

This morning Michael got into bed with us, and at some stage he put his hand over my mouth.
Michael: Say "hello"
Me: Huhluhf
Michael: Say "bed"
Me: Behff
Michael: Say "croissant"
Me: [undignified but muffled sniggering]

Disclaimer: The croissant is not a frequent visitor to our table. It was not what I was expecting from the 5 year old at 6:15am.

Recent works by Marcus

Marcus has been drawing more often lately. I really like these very bright, slightly Aztec looking ones. He describes them as "just things that are in my head". When pressed he offered "alien", "face" and "not sure".

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pants of truth

A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on - Attributed to Winston Churchill

For what reason would truth have been sitting around without pants? I think truth was about to go out, noticed a sauce stain on the pants, sponged it off, then threw them in the dryer. Truth probably gave them five minutes on Hot, just reading a magazine to kill the time, then put them on all hot and steamy. Youch.

What kind of pants would truth wear anyway? I think perhaps a no-fuss lightweight flannel peg-top slack. In summer, creased shorts with walk socks.

Obviously the lie is able to steal a march on truth for this simple reason: lies don't wear pants.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hobart, 4:59 Thursday

See Hobart from the point of view of a bored kid in a classroom on the top floor of Rose Bay High School.


I am very excited to have sold a drawing from my 1998 exhibition, 11 years on! Its a surprise birthday present. In case the recipient is tuning in, I can only reveal weeny snippets.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Disappearing the back fence

Stuck on black paper circles. I can tell you its very therapeutic to walk around putting "holes" in things. Try it.

Holes cut, and fence painted dark green. Also the beginnings of grassy camouflage pattern.

A bit more grassy camouflage. Still definitely a fence. I will continue to work towards a fenceless look. Maybe we should consider a moat, or even a ha-ha. They are due for a revival.

Bird news

This magpie walked in the back door the other day, and started eating bits of cornflake under the breakfast table. I think in another life he did real estate valuations - he gave the whole place a good going over, pretty much like he owned it. Ignored Hattie the cat in a fairly haughty way. After about five minutes he'd seen all he needed to and wandered out the front doors.

These guys stayed outside, thank goodness. They are pretty destructive, so I don't particularly want them around the house a lot, but it was very amusing to watch Hat's reaction to having three cat-size birds trying to psych her out.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Having it both ways

I don't know much about utes or small business. But I thought this was suss.

Saw an ad on telly last night. Starts with a bloke sitting in a chair, pretending to answer the question "What do you want for Christmas?" One of those genuine, I'm-not-an-actor-at-all, regular looking guys. Honesty - the whole thing was just dripping with honesty. In a self-effacing way with a wry grin he said "Well, less work... more fun".

Then it turned into an ad for the new Ford Falcon ute. Hey! Whoooo! Loads of V8 fun! Zoom! Zoomy zoom! Great if you like that kind of thing. Look at this guy, wind in his hair, he's left his troubles behind and he's just gunning it down a country road. Good on ya, fella!

Then a big graphic drops in and a matching serious voiceover says "Hurry - 50% government rebate when you supply an ABN number, runs out soon!". So how does a business-only deal on utes equate (legally) to less work/more fun?

Australia's biggest scam - busted.

On the left, Kevin Rudd - supposedly Australia's Prime Minister. On the right, Tony Jones, supposedly Australia's leading hard hitting political interviewer. Any night of the week, you can see them supposedly debating issues, supposedly getting a little bit cross with each other, getting "with all due respect"-y with each other. Except "Kevin" is always on a screen on the wall. never face to face. He's in "our Canberra studio" or he's live by satellite from "Tabekistan".

Come on everyone. Wake up! It's the same guy! And there's no such place as Tabekistan - I checked. It's a big scam - well "Kevin" - you're busted!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dogs' home visit

Yesterday we went out to the dogs' home to see who was in residence that we might want to adopt. It's out at Risdon Vale, past the jail. It's a fascinating place, actually. The dogs live in rows of outdoor enclosures. Each row is built into a bank of earth with grass growing on top (they were mowing them while we were there). The enclosures are very sheltered from the weather and insulated by the bank.

The mutts were very lovely, mostly pretty placid. There are tons of volunteers and a few paid staff, by the looks of it. Lots of signs everywhere instructing the volunteers "DO NOT LET KIMMY'S FEET GET WET" etc. I was really surprised by how strict they are with the adopters. First, it costs $250 - $270 for an average dog - if they are older there is a special price to make them more attractive. The prospective home is inspected for suitability, height of fences etc. I don't know if they do a background check on you but I wouldn't be surprised, they are very thorough. All of this is great for the dogs, of course. As Elf said, it ensures that anyone who walks out with one of their dogs really wants one of their dogs.

I was very impressed with the girl on the front desk. She was professional, that's all. She knew her stuff, no nonsense, no luvvy-wuvvyness. I think she said at one stage "there's not many out there now but this time last week we wuz chockers", but this was a smart cookie. Well done Dogs' Home I say.

We did not find the dog of our dreams. We will try again in a few weeks maybe. We also dropped in to the RSPCA to see what they had. Their dogs are either boarders not for adoption, or real tough cases, for people with tons of space, time and patience only I would guess.

The RSPCA is also the home of Jim the Donkey (sponsored by George Self Real Estate). As we were leaving, Michael was in a bit of a strop for for some reason. Elf had just the thing to distract him from his worries. "Hey Michael, look at the donkey's penis!" she said. Well, it was impressive.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Soccer / discus / fence hijinks

Indoor soccer resumed last night after a three week rest. Last roster we played in the top division, where we don't belong. We won 1 game from about 10 and finished second-last. We are now back where we belong in the softy division. Last night we conceded the first two goals then came back to win 8-3.

Marcus did very well at Little Athletics today, with PBs in 70m and 200m sprints and the discus. His previous best discus throw was about 8m, and today he launched it 3m further, a big effort. Michael is now too old for the toddler race (scene of occasional glory last season), but so far he has not been interested in signing up for the Under 6s. Despite this, when he is there with me, he is constantly asking me to race him here and there. Today after the competition was over he wanted a go with the discus. At home this afternoon he was practising his long jump into a patch of dirt. I will keep the cajolage going and just see how we go.

I had a plan to cut holes in the new back fence. Elf was about 90% against this for various reasons. I wheedled her back to about 80% against, and that was enough for me. I borrowed Nobody's circle cutter this afternoon. I made 4 quite neat holes in the fence before I broke the shaft of Nobody's circle cutter. (if you are reading this Nobes, I am on my way to K&D right this second). Anyway, this is a minor setback. Tomorrow I will resume cutting holes, then I am going to paint the thing green. Then I am going to get in amongst it with a paintbrush and a variety of darker and lighter greens, and give it an all-over grassy texture. If it doesn't look great, I will just photoshop it and post it here as it was supposed to look. It will be all grown over in a year's time anyway.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Zebra cheese in the news

Worldwide interest in zebra cheese: steady.

Rosalie Gascoigne

I can’t paint, I can’t draw and I can’t weld, but I can see an empty space and I know what to put in it. - Rosalie Gascoigne.

I was just prowling the library for an art book to take home along with my reading, when I found one about the late Rosalie Gascoigne. Wow! I had forgotten how stunning her work is. The really striking pieces like those above are made from sawn reflective road signs. There is a wide variety of materials and colours but generally she worked with discarded man-made stuff found in the landscape, but not part of it.

She is represented by Roslyn Oxley 9 gallery, which has a big web gallery of her work.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Scout and Michael

Michael's good friend Scout and her family came up for morning tea yesterday. She and he have a lot in common, and it was great to get a chance to watch them working off each other over a few hours. Before she arrived, Michael made a "love-o-scope" for her. It was a sheet covered in love hearts and "I ♥ U" then rolled into a cylinder. When you look through it it tells you if someone is lovable or not. Elf passed. Marcus was apparently even more lovable. I was "a bit" lovable.

Scout's parents Paul and Phoebe are illustrator/animators, recently moved to Hobart from Bowral, NSW. They are really nice people, and it was pleasure to just hang out awhile. Elf made florentines, which were delicious but very solid. She had made one giant florentine and cut it into wedges. Each wedge was about the size of a mobile phone, with a solid base of Cadbury Dairy Milk about a quarter inch thick. I think there's one left, I am just going to see if I can track it down.

Postscript: as usual Michael and I, and Paul and Scout arrived at the same time this morning at Prep. Both kids had something for sharing they were really thrilled about - Scout had a caterpillar and Michael had a map of New Zealand he had drawn, coloured and cut out.

Saturday morning jumpfest

At Little Aths on Saturday Marcus had his first go at the high jump. He jumped the low bar very confidently, with a really good technique. Once it reached above 75mm his confidence wavered and his technique got lost. Still, a great start. He was really encouraging to the other kids too, which is always so good to see. After a while I realised the kids were all doing it - clapping each other and geeing each other up. (Which is not usually the case). Something about the physical layout of the high jump, and the last-man-standing aspect of it, seemed to engender a new team spirit in the QLA Under 8s.

There are 10 - 12 boys each week. Marcus sometimes places 4th, usually 6th - 9th, and only once before has placed 2nd. The emphasis is always on personal bests, and there is no fuss made about placings, which is terrific. However, I was thrilled for him on Saturday at the triple jump when he finished 2nd behind the wonder-boy Ben A. Ben holds most of the u/6 and u/7 records and is now starting in on the u/8s. On Marcus's first attempt he jumped a huge PB. His next jump was longer. For his last jump they had to move the take-off mat back, and it was bigger again, but couldn't be measured as he had overstepped.

Jokes : |

On Friday night we fetched up at Imp and Ed's for dinner. Afterwards Karri and Michael were sitting together in one of the big armchairs. Karri is 8 and she likes to mother Michael (5) somewhat. She had decided to read to him, unfortunately from a book of jokes. They sat there with matching solemn expressions as she churned through the classics.
What's black and white and red all over. A newspaper. Why wasn't the teddy bear hungry. Because he was already stuffed. Why did the pony lose his voice. Because he was a little horse.
And so on. As they gravely demolished joke after joke, I was in fits at their perfect stone faces. At last Karri said "Well Michael, that's half the book. How about you go upstairs and play?" His face lit up and he was gone like a shot.

Michael teaches diagramatically about:

"Brain Training" by means of the Nerve Game

The bug food chain

The human digestion process. All of it.

The West Atlas oil spill off the Kimberley coast, Western Australia


How Surtsey [an island off the coast of Iceland] was formed.