Friday, September 24, 2010

My pregnable soccer team

My soccer team have been promoted after winning the grand final a few months back. However we are struggling in the big league. We have lost every game, and the nadir was two successive weeks when we failed to score. And I don't mean 1-0 or 3-0, try 11-0 and 17-0. Last week we conceded 25 goals, but finally got on the scoreboard ourselves, losing 25-7.

Both my big toes are just about worn out, the joints have only got about 25% of their flex left. On Friday night this guy on the other side twice did an interesting manoeuvre when I was trying to tackle him - he blocked me with his spare foot and managed to bend back my toes. He got both big toes and the toes next to them. They are now purple, and I am probably going to lose one of my big toenails. They were up something like 13-2 at that point, so it's not like it was desperation time.

The team is getting older all the time - our newest addition to the team just turned 45. When we get hurt it takes us a lot longer to get back to playing than it used to. Over the weekend as I hobbled around I certainly thought a lot about retiring. Each roster follows on immediately from the the one before, and that seems to make it harder to get off the roundabout. My bruises have mended enough over the last few days that I have already offered my services to keep goal if required this week. It's really very hard to stay away.


This week I've had a few bus trips home from work. I have badly bruised toes from my last soccer game, so I am taking a break from the long uphill walks home in the dark. And I've been loving the bus, I have to say. Here are my top 4 reasons why. (I aimed for 5 but fell short. I guess it is just a bus trip after all).
  1. I have been catching the 6.15 bus. Downtown Hobart empties out pretty much immediately at 5.30, so much so that I am usually only sharing the bus with five or six others. It's a boutique public transport experience.
  2. The evening light at that time (in September) is very nice, and as we head west out of town the foothills drift across in front of Mt Wellington in a cinematic way. Being high up in the bus, the lighted first floor windows we pass reveal little mundane scenes, one after another. The whole experience of being on a bus is like being in a German movie, especially if you have headphones on - your own soundtrack. Less so if the bus is crowded and if someone behind you is breaking up with his girlfriend on the phone - but that doesn't happen on this bus.
  3. The bus stop is right in front of our house. It is not a long trip, but its long enough that disembarking right at our gate always comes as a little surprise. The bus door whooshes shut behind you, and the bus wheezes off up the road as you go up the front steps, somehow with an air of a departing magic carpet, after its job is done.
  4. I used to associate bus travel with book reading. Waiting for the bus bored me to tears, and I actually couldn't stand to leave the house without a book. Sometimes choosing the book took so long that as I stood there by the bookshelf with my head at that book-choosing angle, I would hear the whoosh of my bus would going past. Now, I am listening to podcasts on my journey - which also allows you to look up and out and absorb the cinematic blah blah I waxed lyrical about above. While listening to amusing people talking about topical things happening in California.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

OK Go - new video

 I hope you guys like OK Go as much as I do. I am going to reblog their videos each time they release one, because they just make me happy.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Peek, Freans and Flegg

 Do you think this clerk usually helped with the flour bags, or just decided to when the moving pictures crew turned up?

At work last week I was looking at a DVD of very early silent films, and there was a promotional film from 1906 of Peek Freans biscuit factory in England.

The film was amazing in various ways, but mainly to me as I'd completely forgotten that Peak Freans existed. The name got stuck in my head when I was very young, and we were on holiday in Sydney staying with my mum's parents in Burwood. Nearby in Ashfield there was a Peak Freans factory with a big clock tower,  and I guess we must have driven past it regularly. (I have Googled it and pinpointed where it was - it's now a Bunnings hardware).

The name Peek Freans is so weird, but at that age you just soak things up as they are. I probably found all kinds of things in Sydney very strange, and Peak Freans just crowded into my mind along with ferries, iced doughnuts, and calling suitcases "ports" as "Sydney things".

Another weird Sydney thing is Flegg. The former junior rugby league competition was called the Flegg Cup. If the season was on the rocks, a club might look to the future and "bring in some kids from Flegg". I used to think it was a made-up name for some kind of modified rugby, like Minkey for hockey, or Auskick for Australian Rules Football. But it's just named after a man named Mr Flegg.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

If you love the Wiki...

Then you ought to keep an eye on bestofwikipedia - there are some excellent pointers for those wishing to amass more and yet more probably useless information.

For instance, although I have heard of the 70s Aussie rock band Tamam Shud (who I think made a comeback in the 90s) - I had never heard of the Taman Shud Case - a fascinating mystery involving an unknown dead man found on an Adelaide beach in 1948.

Sorry to freak you out with a picture of a dead guy. He looks pretty peaceful though. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Toilet paper planes

"So, what's been happening?" asked an old friend at the weekend. Hmmm - not much, I had to answer. I haven't blogged for a while, as things are just drifting along in that humdrum way that they do when you are middle class, middle-income, middle-aged and your lawnmower is broken. Everything is pleasant enough, but there are not many actual events worth taking up storage on a Google server on their secret island in Lake Geneva.

Our big dog is getting bigger. The weather has been wet. The toilets at work are as far away as ever, but they have been innovating - today there was new toilet paper, a bit like that typing paper from the old days. Really crisp, and I think it would take a fineline pen pretty well, without bleeding. When you scrunch or fold it, it crackles. You could probably make fine paper planes with it also.

I have been continuing to draw houses hunkered down below the road, with the dark steep bushy hill behind them, and their chimneys up like periscopes.

We had a very nice get-together with some old buddies at Nick and Anna's on Saturday. Our privacy-loving friends X and Y are moving back to Tasmania from steamy Queensland. X is slowly driving all their stuff down to Melbourne to bring it over on the boat, while Y and the girls have flown ahead to Hobart, to stay with her mum and dad and have tea with pals. They are actually settling in the tiny town of F in the far north-west, where X will be teaching at the district high school, starting pretty much immediately.

They are really sweet people and we have missed them since they've been away. They have been on the lookout for jobs here and something finally came up. The heat has been killing them. Y, also a teacher, described how the only room in her school with air conditioning was the computer lab, so she booked it for every single period  she could get her hands on. Mostly she didn't need to use the computers, but she sat each kid in front of one anyway, with strict instructions to get typing if anyone looked in.

I have just finished a book dad gave me called Imperium by Robert Harris. It's a novelisation of Roman history, which I'm pretty sure is an established genre now. Didn't Colleen McCulloch do three or four of them? I have never been attracted to them, but I really enjoyed it, and I feel like I have caught up now to Michael, who at six is the family Roman expert. The other day he was telling me something about the Parthenon in Rome - I started to butt in that I think it's in Athens, when he corrected himself. "Pantheon - the Pantheon I mean. That's in Rome. The Parthenon is in Athens". The kid seeks out his own books at the library, brings them home, reads them, remembers the stuff, and can then lecture on it. (As does Marcus, but he is still hooked on the Horrible History series, so much of what he is memorising is to do with maggots. He's pretty strong on the Tudors though.)

Anyway - Imperium. It follows the early career of Cicero, with cameos from Julius Caesar, Pompey, Cato and Crassus. Also it's chock full of Marcuses. Near the end of the book, after many ups and downs, election day has arrived. Cicero's secretary and slave Tiro is the narrator, and he describes matter-of-factly the standard procedure for getting an election underway.
...the entrails were inspected, the skies were checked for suspicious flights of birds, the blessings of the gods were invoked, all epileptics were asked to leave the field (for in those days an attack of epilepsy automatically rendered proceedings void), a legion was deployed on the approaches to Rome to prevent a surprise attack, the list of candidates was read, the trumpets were sounded, the red flag was hoisted over the Janiculum Hill, and the Roman people began to cast their ballots.
 Maybe our last federal election would have been over in less than two weeks, if someone at the AEO had just thought to ask the epileptics to take a raincheck.

Your tech reporter

OK. I Am writing this on an iPad. That,s right. I,m in the future now. I have had to bluTak it to the desk as it is ndot very desk=friendly, what with the curved underside and all. Not very typing=friendly either. You may notice I am having trouble finding the hyphen. In fact this is hellish == I am going to save this and resume with a real keyboard.
Hello again from a proper keyboard. Phew. We have a client who isn't sure what he wants us to do for him, but he knows he wants it to look iPad-y. Even though there are many, many photos available of the iPad and its interface, he has bought one and given it to us, so we have a really good idea how it looks.

So far I have installed a few free apps (as we young people call them) on the pad - a chess game, a very simple paint thing, and a handy one that gives you a real time feed from all the traffic cameras in New Zealand. Brilliant.

For an outlay of $1.99 I could get the iPad Horse Name Generator. This is, no kidding, their best effort at selling it:
Want to name your new horse? Now with this handy app you can carry around a source of inspiration in your pocket. If you're an author looking to name your characters' steeds, then this is the tool for you.
 As it happens, I am an author working on a 16-part series of novels about equestrian vampires, and I am totally blocked on the very issue of what to call the ponies. So far I have got "Warren", "Snack Attack" and "The Dude". Help, Horse Name Generator!

The thing that is slightly worrying me is that in the AppShop it says it is rated 9+ for Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humour. I can see how this is going to go. Some netherworld demon is going to end up riding Arse Bandit.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Phone salesman of the Serengeti

Work colleague just bought an iPhone4 at JB HiFi, from a salesman named Ken Zebra.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Don Quixote, Sydney, 1974

The pic came from my Auntie Wendy, who has written on the back;
While his two sisters watch admiringly Chris, accompanied by his two faithful followers sets off to "Clean Up Australia" (Years later someone else will claim to have originated the idea).
Ms White Socks at left must be Sally, although it doesn't look like her. Wearing the very daring stripy number in the doorway is Jacki. In the Sancho Panza role behind me is our cousin Helen. I don't know who the happy guy she's strangling is.

Houses below the road

Cascade Road runs along one side of a valley. Our house is above the road, but all along the other side there are houses below the road. Behind them the land slopes down to the Hobart Rivulet, and beyond that rises steeply up to a hill called Knocklofty. I am trying to capture the strange appearance of the very low-lying houses just peeping over the footpath, with the dark steeply wooded hillside behind.

Working in an arts centre, I am surrounded by exhibitions and artists all the time. I am given plenty of opportunity to ponder what the hell I am doing with my art. I quite like the idea of mounting a guerilla exhibition, without actually organising it with anyone. I will just start taping drawings to the walls in the bathrooms and see how things go. Hopefully the all-pervading reverence for anything that is presented as "art" (no matter how crappy) will protect my work. I will not put my name on them, but the titles will be evocative and the prices will start from about $15,000.

Of course, thanks to the unisex toilets policy, I will have double the audience.

More drawings here.

Chess Success

Twelve of my chess kids took part in another tournament on Thursday, and did really well. The gun team in town, Princes Street Primary, did not attend, and this made our task a little easier. The hosts, Goulburn Street Primary, won pretty comfortably, but we came in second. Our top seven players shown above all collected medals, but we had five others who contributed wonderfully, two of them in their first tournament. I think everyone really enjoyed the day, although for the new kids playing seven games in a row was pretty demanding.

The top eight players at the end of the day were all Goulburn St kids, but next was Marcus. He won 5 of his seven games, and was the only one to beat the eventual champion. Angela (in the centre of the pic) is only in Grade 2 but was equal top girl in the tournament.

One of the dads, Rodney, volunteered to be there all day. By the end he was really fired up, and has announced he wants to help me with the Chess Club next term. Which is terrific because unlike me, he actually knows a thing or two about chess.