Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Seasonal somethings

I have started running in the mornings again. I give it about another week, until it starts to get proper cold, and the whole finding-shoes-in-the-dark business palls.

But for now, I have a new route, up the hill behind us to the soccer ground, where I run 2–5 laps depending on the time. Its nice to run on grass, and on average each morning I see one human and one point five dogs. And I can daydream about great goals I scored and/or will score in the future if I ever play outdoor soccer again.

On the way back, this is the view I see when I am nearly home. As remembered last night just before going to the supermarket. I got a few things wrong but hey. Someone has a photographic memory in the family but it's not me. Our house is in the centre.

The warm dark walk home thing is definitely over. Now we are into the bitter windy walk home. Tonight there was a wierd factor when I got in the front door, and thought "what is casting that unearthly light in the boys' room?" It was the Moon (unearthly geddit?), which had been behind me all the way home. So something something seasons and orbits something something! Eh?

Graffiti at the school

Lets learn Luxembourgish!

Here is the entire list of handy Luxembourgish phrases and words provided by Wikipedia.
  • Jo. Yes.
  • Neen. No.
  • Vläicht. Maybe.
  • Moien. Hello.
  • Gudde Moien. Good Morning.
  • Gudde Mëtteg. Good Afternoon.
  • Gudden Owend. Good Evening.
  • Äddi. Goodbye.
  • Merci. Thank you.
  • Firwat? Why
  • Ech weess net. I don't know.
  • Ech verstinn net. I don't understand.
  • Watgelift? or Entschëllegt? Excuse me?
  • Metzleschjong. Butcher's son.
  • Schwätzt dir Däitsch/Franséisch/Englesch? Do you speak German/French/English?
  • Wéi heeschs du? What is your name?
  • Wéi geet et? How are you?
  • Politeschen Anstand. Political Decency
  • Sou. So.
  • Fräi. Free.
  • Heem. Home.
  • Ech. I.
  • An. and/in.
  • Mäin. my.
  • Iesel. donkey.
  • Mat. With.
  • Kand. Kid/Child.
  • Wee. Way.
  • Gromper. Potato.
Now - your homework is to translate these ordinary sentences into Luxembourgish.
Hello. How are you? Potato! So please have the political decency to free my donkey. Potato! I am on my way home. Potato! Excuse me, I don't understand what the butcher's son has to do with any of this. Potato! Potato! POTATO!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Anzac Day

Anzac Day fell on a Sunday this year. I didn't get to the dawn service so I was very keen to get to the parade in town. We had a bit of resistance from the kids. "This is the worst day of my life!" - Michael. When its a public holiday you can use the "this is why we have the day off" argument, but it doesn't quite fly on a Sunday. So we fell back on the "do what we say and there will be treats" gambit.

We arrived downtown too early so we got the treats out of the way first. On our way to a good vantage point we came across the Light Horse enthusiasts, assembled on their steeds in the bus mall. We had a chat to one of them who was patiently answering questions from the unmounted public. Some of the leather gear they were wearing was 100 years old. Nothing kinky though. Marcus had never seen a horse up so close and couldn't get over the size of the hooves.

We got in position opposite the GPO and whiled away the time waiting for the kickoff. The boys were actually very good. Despite themselves they are quite interested in the military history, the flags and banners, the strange old military vehicles and so on. In that category, there was a DUKW amphibious vehicle, a boat with wheels. Printed  clearly on the side was ALWAYS INSERT PLUGS IN HULL BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO LAUNCH VEHICLE - from the same school of American military copywriting as POINT THIS SIDE TOWARDS ENEMY which I saw on Claymore mines when I was in the Army Reserve.

The most amazing vehicle was a Ford Thunderbird or something like it - a real Batmobile with fins, wings, chrome everywhere and about thirty feet long. I know it was a Ford because the next vehicle was also a vintage Ford, and the next, and the next. Dozens. A few of them had veterans in them, but most of them carried just a grinning Ford enthusiast, and possibly his kids. Why were they there? Don't know.

During a lull, I was telling Elf about a conversation between Marcus and Lana yesterday about who was going to play school basketball. They agreed Evie certainly would. "She's in everything. She's in soccer, netball, used to be in chess, she's in the choir and the choral group, she did the recital thing at the eisteddfod, scottish country dancing...." As I was relating this to Elf, Marcus interrupted - "there she is!" Briefly released from her other duties, there was she was, marching with the Scouts.

Dave Graney and the Lurid Yellow Mist, Republic Bar

Today is Anzac Day. I usually go to the dawn service, but last night I went out to see a band. So dawn went by without me this year.

Last night Dave Graney and the Lurid Yellow Mist played at the Republic Bar. I knew they coming to town soon but it took me by surprise to see them in Friday's paper, suddenly here. So rather than ring around the Graney fans network, I just trundled along thinking I would run into one or two of them.

In the event the only people I knew in the room were Dave and the Mist. They took forever to come on. The support band started at about 11. I did a few large circuits around the dark streets of North Hobart, occasionally passing the pub and checking out the stage.

I don't know the name of the first band - they were a kind of interesting twosome.

EDIT - I have looked them up and you can read about them here. But I have not corrected anything below because that would not be very "rock".

A cultivatedly unattractive guy played bass while a weedy younger guy sang, played some melodica and programmed something about the size of an iPhone. The vocals and 'tude were remniscent of Joy Division. One track ended with a the iPhone on its own emitting a discordant wail - on and on, until the weedy guy touched it and it stopped. [Applause]. He went back and forth from the iPhone to the microphone with a stoned stagger, but I could tell by his keen focus on the tiny screen that the stagger was all show.

Dave, in head-to-toe black leather, was checking out the support act, with his wife/drummer Clare by his side. He didn't look that impressed. I will have to read his blog and see if he has recorded his thoughts.

It's a small venue, and the Mist walked past me and back again various times. I'm not sure why the lateness, but eventually they all were on stage at once, and launched into the show. After a long walk and some pretty challenging indie-rock I was ready to go home.

Stu Pereira plays lead guitar in the Mist, and he is so fluid compared to Dave that its almost laughable. Dave's guitar style is pretty studied. He likes to get front and centre, strike a pose first and then play the note, while looking meaningfully around the audience. Stu has got notes to spare and so much energy that while he is playing on the beat, his body is bopping about to something else entirely.

So, long story short - I enjoyed them a lot but by 12.30, only about 6 songs in, I was feeling old and tired, so I walked out on them. Sigh.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


This bit of writing is terrific - it just sums up perfectly how a kid's mind works. At least how Michael's works. As an amateur copy-editor I am hugely proud that he has correctly used a semi-colon.

I love scorpions because they live under a bucket at my house! I built a bridge of blocks at daycare once and it was half a metre long; and I went on stage and discovered a tunnel to the sports gear. I'm intrested in brains too. I live in xxx Cascade Rd 7004.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Definitely my favourite Super Wizard

(Found here)

The old school tie

Apparently the rich kids' secret of success is a Burnie High School tie. Ha! Now, what did I do with mine?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Warm and dark

The weather has been odd - quite still and warm. Forestry Tas have taken the opportunity to burn off, so the sunrises and sunsets have been lurid orange, to add to the weirdness. On Mondays and Tuesdays I knock off at 6pm and walk home. Since daylight savings ended, this has meant a walk in the dark, but I have been really enjoying it. It feels so nice, like I am in a cocoon. I usually listen to a good podcast, and I almost feel like I am in the radio equivalent of a cinema, even though I am walking. Does that make any sense? We supposedly have three or four more days of this, then there will be a reality check. For now, I am still employing shorts.

The joys of sitting down! / Birth imminent! / Larks in parks

We went to a cocktail party for Greta and Michael's combined 40ths on Saturday night. It was at the same venue as a wedding we attended in January, and we were a bit concerned that we would be standing up all night again. As we drove past looking for a park, we were thrilled to bits to see through the window chairs! And tables!

Michael is effectively a property developer. He has built and sold a series of houses and units. We always feel sorry for Greta and the kids, who obediently move on from one project to the next with him. On Saturday they announced they are building a place for keeps, or at least for ten years. And its just down the road! When they said they had bought a block in South Hobart I guessed it right off, as there aren't many.

We got a table with Nick and Anna and hung out around it all evening, sneaking off at about 11.30. The kids were nearby at Imp and Ed's and we stayed the night there too. The next morning we got up, scoffed some fabulous fat pancakes with lemon butter, and scooted home for the next thing.

Sally is getting verrrrrry close to having her baby, and we are giving her the cot that Marcus, Michael and Millie next door slept in. Does this mean their baby will be another M? Merhaps.

Nick and Anna and the girls came around in their ute for morning tea. Nick and I took the cot up to Sal and Matt's, and Matt and I wiggled it into what was Matt's studio, and will now be the nursery. It's always a moment of truth, when a room that is going to be the nursery actually acquires its' cot. Its one of the little steps that says "OK, this really happening - we are soon going to have a noisy, messy flatmate about a foot long". This matters much more to dads - by 39 weeks mums are in absolutely no doubt that something is going on.

Sal and Matt live behind an old shop, which is now a shared studio space, and a vacancy came up just at the right time for them to move their stuff there from the house. Their kitchen is bare, a paddling pool stands by deflated but proudly ready to serve - one day pretty soon there's a gonna be some natural birthin' round these parts.

We came home, morning tea snudged along a little more, then Nick and Anna and the girls left us. I went out to paint and sand the front railings a little more - this project is now into its' fourth month. While I worked, some yahoos drove past and yelled something - I couldn't make it out but it was directed at me.

An hour or so later the yahoos came to the house - turned out it had been Imp and Ed and the girls, and their buddies Lousie and Ashley and their kids Freya, Will and Max. Although they all live down at Kingston, they are big fans of the Cascade Gardens just downhill from us, and they had just been there. We had afternoon tea, and then took everyone for a walk up to Wellesley Park behind our house.

I can't really write objectively about the spot where we live - it's just superb. We live in a great place. And we enjoy taking people around and showing it off. The best thing about W Park is possibly just that it's right there, we go out the back gate and we're in it, and it's just a big space, really. No fences, not much in way of amenities, kind of lumpy and scruffy, but it's got a lovely outlook up to the mountain and over the river. There's usually no-one else around, and we simply love it. Louise and Ashley thought it was pretty good too.

School soccer resumes

This season Marcus is playing seven-a-side on a bigger field, with larger goals and goalkeepers for the first time. His team is even stronger than last year, and they had a great win first up on Saturday, 13-1. They looked like a competent under 14 team (they are under 8) the way they passed the ball around, spread out, and backed each other up. The score was about 10-0 when Mt Nelson finally scored, and all of us barracking for South Hobart gave them a very relieved round of applause - its actually no fun at all watching other kids getting a shellacking.

It was sunny and warm. Elf and Gina wheeled out the Saturday Soccer Sausage Sizzle barby for the first time this year. Their back-to-basics approach (nothing but sausages, tea and coffee) is very popular with the punters, and they raked in over $200 for the P & F on Saturday. Elf's sister Imp is now Treasurer of the P & F - the sisters are little by little getting the school in their clutches, one sausage at a time.

Leaf insect

I was sitting opposite Elf the other evening talking to her, when a strange movement caught my eye. Walking across the wide expanse of timber floor behind her, on his way somewhere, was a leaf insect. I'm sure they can fly if they want to - it's their wings that give them the leafy look isn't it? They probably walk up and down a branch or stem, safe in the knowledge that although they are moving, they still fit in well enough to get by. However this guy was strolling, as brazen as you like, his bright green-ness standing out from the brown floor like a neon sign. When I got closer I could actually hear him whistling.

Pizzicato abuse

Desperate Housewives - have you seen it? Elf watches it occasionally and I love to hate it. Even being in the same room with it, I find it offensive. Since our living area is just one big room, I sometimes resort to headphones to get away from it.

The synopsis is: affluent neighbourhood full of people stealing each other's money, adulterising and plotting to murder each other. Pretty standard really, pretty Melrose Place. Except - every time someone is up to no good, looking in someone else's rubbish bin or slipping off their wedding ring on their way into a bar, there is a little 8 bar vamp of pizzicato strings. Someone has asked themselves "what is the sneakiest music there is?" and that's what they came up with.

I put myself in the shoes of the session violinists. Granted, some of them may believe that the end justifies the means. Some of them may be proud of having slept their way to the top in the incidental strings world. Some of them may believe everything is relative, you've got to look out for number one, and there's no free lunch.

But what about that one straight-edge, clean living, upright citizen, who turns up at the office with his viola every day, plays the sheet music he is handed, with care, energy and brio - perhaps he's a pizzicato specialist, flown in to LA from the East Coast for a big job lot of pizzicato work. Calls his wife and kids every day while he's away. Dedicated. Caring. A moral beacon in this increasingly Paris Hiltonised world.

How is he going to feel when he sits down to watch Housewives and realises that his dedicated plucking is the soundtrack to ugly suburban depravity?

Fun Fact: In Vietnam the show is just called Những bà nội trợ kiểu Mỹ - American Housewives.

Blog burst

I have been blogging rarely of late, but don't worry, I have been saving up some burning issues. Should I put them all in one bumper post, or give them each their own little headline, and moment in the sun? I think the latter.

As this little post is not itself about anything, this is where I'll put these drawings I have been doing recently. One of them looks like a laughing alien that has disguised itself as a hill. One of them looks like those mega expensive Coogi jumpers that used to be for sale only in airports.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Great Italian Drought

Despite the title, this is actually a (fairly accurate) description of the eruption of Vesuvius and destruction of Pompeii, in 79 AD. I borrowed this from Michael's desk at school.

PS - I asked him about the title and he said it was a mistake. It was meant to be the Great Italian Flood of Lava.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Does education kill creativity?

Very interesting. About 10:00 he starts talking about an education system that produces as its highest achievement, university professors.
"There's something curious about professors … typically, they live in their heads. They live up there, and slightly to one side. They're disembodied, in a literal way. They look upon their body as a kind of transport for their heads. It's a way of getting their head to meetings".

Monday, April 12, 2010

Les Jackson: not an actual monarch, as such

North west Tasmania, slightly before I was born. If I had a time machine, that's where I would be heading first.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

New constellations

Michael says "I made some new constellations." I interviewed him but that is all he wants to say. They each have a scientific name and a common name.
  1. Saturrisesines, "the Spear"
  2. Portus, "the Crocodile"
  3. Proximi, "the Box"
  4. Cezaninas, "the Dartboard".

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A person named Person

A selected list of New Hampshire Governors, featuring my favourite, Person Colby Cheney. As I have always said, you don't need money or family connections to run for Governor of a United State - just a really strange name.

Governor Person C. Cheney

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The classies

Our newspaper is fairly small, and on weekdays the classifieds are not very full, so they kind of all run together. The classifications into which they have been classified probably need to be made a bit more prominent to keep them apart a little. Here is a sampling from today.

Barry 28.1.72 - 5.4.2008
Beautiful memories of a precious nephew.
Forever in our hearts,
Wayne, Leanne and family.


GENUINE Cougar, brunette,
looking for that something on the side.
Txt Barbara to 0418 ΘΘΘ ΘΘΘ

lovely Asian, busty, sz 7,
0418 ΘΘΘ ΘΘΘ


10 for $20 Pullets 12 wks $10ea

POODLES, MINI, brown females,
ready to go. Vet checked.


MASSAGE, casual spots avail,
topless non-sexual studio.
Training provided.

Work move on the cards [sigh]

I heard last week that Roar Film will be moving out of South Hobart when the lease runs out in June. We are going down to Salamanca Place apparently - the artsy craftsy touristy strip down by the water. We will be in a heritage-listed sandstone ex-warehouse somewhere in the Arts Centre.

My boss is in his late fifties, and had a heart scare last year. Our current office is smack bang in the middle of a giant home for the aged, and I think that's the main reason he wants out. I will be sad to go - the school is just five minutes up the road, and home another ten-fifteen minutes after that. I have jokingly said I will have to get another job to stay in South Hobart, at the newsagents or post office. Possibly I can flog spangly harem pants at Bizarre Bazaar, or I might become a loam specialist at Males Sand. As long as I never have to leave South Hobart, I'll be happy.

Wiki work

I have been putting in quite a bit of time drawing maps for Wikipedia. It started when I wrote a couple of articles, and felt they needed maps to make sense. One of the articles was about Arnold Potts, one of the heroes of the Kokoda Campaign in World War II. One of the old hands in Wikipedia insisted I write about Potts' time at the end of the war in Bougainville. It's very much a minor part of his story, but he was quite adamant. Turns out he is an authority on the Bougainville Campaign in 1945, which is generally seen as a sideshow to the main action of Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, the reconquest of the Philippines and and so on. So now I have drawn a bunch of maps of Bougainville, and I am starting to get general requests from further afield in Wikipedia.

I really love being able to draw a simple map, that just locates half a dozen places in relation to a major landmark and provides a scale. It can make an article suddenly so much more comprehensible. The latest map I have done is for the Battle of Bita Paka in World War I, when Australian troops invaded German New Guinea and captured a couple of radio transmitters. I had never heard of it until I was asked to do it.

Fred builds a doorbell

I haven't been blogging very regularly of late, so I will try to recall what we have been up to that bears retelling.

Fred arrived the day before Good Friday, and we have been noodling around with him all Easter. He is extremely scientific, interested in the world around to him to an astonishing degree. If something is broken he is compelled to fix it, whereas I am compelled to lie down. When Fred is in town we have an amazing burst of experiments. He made us a beautiful doorbell yesterday from wire, meccano and an alarm clock. Or perhaps it was a bomb. He said it was a doorbell.

Today he made a radio transmitter, out of the doorbell. And so on. Marcus loves the end result, but is too busy out climbing trees or reading to sit in for the process. Michael loyally sits through the process talking nonstop and making ingenious but impractical suggestions. Fred has the patience of a saint, and listens to all this without putting Michael in a sleeper hold (which is what I want to do when I am busy and he won't shut up).

Today we drove to Snug and went for a walk to the falls there. Snug of course is a funny name for a place, and it has certainly not gone to waste. There is the Snug River, Snug Falls, Snug Beach, Snug Primary School, Snug Tavern and of course the Snug Butchery. The walk in was mostly downhill, through fragrant bush - quite peppery. We are not sure what "mountain pepper" is but possibly this is it. There were a few parked toddler strollers on the way in - the track was much too rocky and rooty for them. We passed the family carrying their littlies out. There was not a lot of water in the falls but it was a very pretty spot. Popular too - we had to wait a few minutes for a parking spot to open up. Marcus and Fred went off to explore the lower reaches of the river with strict warnings and threats of direness if Marcus got his feet wet. When they returned he had fallen in a puddle but heroically got only his shirt, hair and the top of his pants wet. On the way out we passed the family with the toddlers again, still struggling upwards.

Yesterday we also went for a walk, around the Risdon Brook Dam. We went over that way to check the puppy situation at the Dogs Home - once again, no suitable pups in residence. We are always promised that there is a puppy tsunami just around the corner. Sigh. So we went for a nice long walk around the dam - it's about and hour and a half I think. Very pleasant when you have nothing particular else to do. By the end I was very hungry and wished I was the resourceful type who had packed sandwiches.

I have been nibbling away at the front deck railing, sanding a bit and painting a bit each day. We suspect the builders used an interior wood finish, as the more exposed parts have weathered down to a cracked and blistered mess in two years. When I started the job I was listening to cricket while I worked; now it is football. I hope to finish it before we are back to cricket again.

Bedtime reading

Elf reads to the boys at bedtime, nearly every night. She reads, and reads, and reads. I usually use this time to get on the computer and blog, or fix my Supercoach football team, or work on Wikipedia stuff.

Once in a while Elf has to work or is away, and I get the reading job. Whatever she is reading to the boys nearly always turns my stomach. She has simply run out of good boys-y books to read, so at present she is reading the Anne of Green Gables series (that title was followed by Anne of Avonlea, Anne Sits On A Tuffet and Anne's Bonnet Gets Eaten By A Pony.

I decided to go for a similar historical period, but different subject matter: Basic Physics Volume 3.

Here is a typical extract from our respective books.
  1. Gilbert drew her close to him and kissed her. Then they walked home in the dusk, crowned king and queen in the bridal realm of love, along winding paths fringed with the sweetest flowers that ever bloomed, and over haunted meadows where winds of hope and memory blew.
  2. Musical notes are heard whenever a sufficiently regular and rapid succession of impulses reaches our ears. If, for example, a tapping key is operated at regular intervals, say four times per second, the noise resulting from each tap is heard as a separate sound. When, however, the rate of tapping is increased to twenty or more times per second, a continuous humming sound of definite pitch is heard and the greater the rate of tapping the higher the pitch of the hum.
The funny thing is the boys enjoy them both just as much.