Monday, February 28, 2011

Go, Shaun Tan, Go!!

The man I am proud to call 'The Tanster' has just won a Noscar for his film The Lost Thing! I have always loved his books, and look on his career with fascination and envy. He seems to be a pleasant and humble person despite his immense gifts and incredible work ethic.

Well done, Academy, you got one right. (He says, not having seen any of the films in question). Below, a little sampling of Sean Tan's illustrations. The third one down is the actual titular Thing. The first book of his I saw was Rabbits, written by John Marsden. Subsequently he started illustrating his own marvellous stories.

From The Red Tree - a book about depression. I think this is such a perceptive image.

From The Lost Thing
From Rabbits, written by John Marsden

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Marcus among the marsupials

Today was Marcus's 9th birthday party (his actual birthday is tomorrow). Elf had the idea of taking everyone to Bonorong Wildlife Park, one step beyond last year's very succesful visit from the Reptile Rescue people. The only difficulty was getting a dozen kids out there, about 40 minutes drive from town. Imp and Ed came to the rescue with their immense 4WD, and a few parents organised to share drop offs/pick ups. It all worked out well.

Once the kids are past a certain age, I find working out what to do with them at a party is the hardest thing. The good thing about going somewhere like Bonorong (or the YMCA as we did a few weeks ago for Michael) is that you simply feed the kids and keep them under some semblance of control, and the rest just happens. For lunch we just barbecued sausages and onion and put them on bread, and set out some carrot sticks etc with dip, and avoided cutlery and plates entirely. Elf also sidestepped the giant cake transport problem by making about 40 beautiful chocolate cupcakes.

The ranger who took us on a tour was excellent. She introduced us to a blue tongue lizard, baby wombat, a koala (pretty much just a vertical wombat, apparently) and four lady devils. The devils were hilarious - they were attacking her with evil intent. All four of them were seizing her boots in their powerful jaws while she chatted calmly to us, prodding them away and shaking them off. They are approximately cat size, but they have the STRONGEST JAWS IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. After a while she sat up on the wall, so her feet were a bit out of their reach. One of them got a grip and hung on as she lifted her foot, until the devil fell to earth from about half a metre up. Then she pulled her feet right up on top of the wall, for the good of the devils who are not very good at falling.

This was not as funny as when she fed them (dead chicks if you must know) and the first one to grab it would set off at pace, always anti-clockwise around the pen, with the other three chasing like keystone cops.

The ranger said their eyesight is so bad and their brains are so dim that every time she goes in there to feed them, they assume she is a devil, and attack. Once they have established that she is really big and top of the pecking order, they back off. Presumably when she starts feeding them they vaguely remember that this is what happened yesterday, too.
The boys were not exactly rough with the kangaroos, but certainly casual.
Nom nom nom.
Can run faster than Usain Bolt. Allegedly.
On the drive out to Bonorong we had Avon and Reuben in the back with Marcus. At some point we were talking about Shakespeare - Avon and Marcus competing to be the biggest know-all about his works. Marcus has recently read and memorised one of the Horrible History series dealing with The Bard. Reuben said he had heard of Shakespeare, I think mostly through a cartoon called Gnomeo and Juliet.

Marcus: At the end of the real Romeo and Juliet, Juliet pretends to be dead. And Romeo is really sad so he kills himself. The she wakes up and sees that he's dead so she really kills herself too.
Reuben: That's really stupid.

FebuChristmas™

Yesterday we had the postponed Fullagar Family Christmas. Chonk and Irma had originally planned to be here from Switzerland for conventional December Christmas. Elf suggested they delay until February, for various complicated family reasons, but with the bonus of cheaper airfares and accommodation.

So we have them and their beautiful kids Bea and Eric here in Tasmania for a week. They are staying down at Imp and Ed's a) because we had them last time and b) Chonk is allergic to Hattie. Also the little Swiss are a bit nervous about dogs, but they seemed to make great strides with Winston over the last two days.

Bill and Felicity and Uncle Fred are here as well, and everyone piled in around the two tables for a big lunch yesterday, preceded by a Kris Kringle-style present exchange. I received coffee beans and cheeses. which of course I used as an excuse to make dadjokes about the infant Cheeses in a manger etc. Michael was given some fantastic giant stuffed hand-gloves. They have a little pocket in them for a battery-operated movement-sensitive noise-maker. The idea is that you punch on with them and the noise-maker goes thwack, pow, kerrang followed by some ogre-style growls. Michael initially wasn't too thrilled with this, but once we took out the noise-maker, he seemed quite pleased with the now-silent gloves and the now-free noise-maker. This afternoon he was quietly and happily reading a book while tapping his noisemaker on the floor, generating all the sound and fury of a classic ogre v. werewolf battle to the death.

Karri and Miah received bright blue and cerise velour jumpsuits with hooded tops, from Felicity. Immediately the girls pulled the hoods over their heads and said "Look - we're Dementers!!" Those of us not au-fait with Harry Potter asked the obvious question. "They're evil black soul-suckers!!"

We had fifteen at the table for FebuChristmas lunch, which I think is a sit-down-meal record. Ed picked up a couple of hot chickens from the shops to make the whole thing easier, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. We finished off with one of Felicity's amazingly decorated fruitcakes, and Imp's pavlova. Splendid. I highly recommend choosing a weekend at random (preferably sometime in summer), and calling that Christmas. Shopping is easier and cheaper, food is not so hard to come by, and people can fly in from wherever at half the price.

Bill and Felicity however, tend not to fly. They like to have their car with them, so they drive 8 hours from Canberra to Melbourne, cross Bass Strait on the ferry, then drive 5 hours to Hobart. Very often these trips (and others they undertake across the continent) are for a birthday, Christmas or a wedding, and Felicity has a large cake for the occasion. I was nearly going to ask yesterday what is the longest trip they have made in the car without a cake, but I thought that might sound rude.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Christchurch

Pic by James Reader © 2010 Fairfax New Zealand Limited
I am feeling so stunned and sad about the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand yesterday. Like many in the blog community I thought of Ally immediately, a fellow blogger who is the only person in Christchurch that I know. She and her family are safe, and hopefully will remain so as aftershocks continue and normal life is totally disrupted. I will let Ally tell her own story when she gets the chance and feels like sharing.

New Zealanders are such wonderful, resourceful and no-nonsense people. I was really touched and inspired by the few bits of footage I have seen of the chaos, with people rescuing each other, looking after each other, and people calmly just taking on jobs that need to be done.

Australians ignorantly give Kiwis a lot of crap. From listening to some people here talk you might think NZ is some sort of little Australia, just with mountains instead of deserts and Maoris instead of Aborigines. And ten years behind the times. I visited in 1995 and discovered how wrong that is. There are many similarities, but the people are so switched on, energetic, aware and alive. There was a lot of talk here in the 80s and 90s about making Australia the "clever country" - I came home from NZ thinking we had a long way to go to catch up to them, despite having four times the population.

Elf and I chose NZ for our honeymoon in 2001, and started in Christchurch. I took Elf to see Lyttleton, a really beautiful old port town perched on a slope over the hill from Christchurch. I think much of what we saw is just dust now. We saw a wedding in the Cathedral - unusual because there was no congregation. We bumped into the happy couple the next day on the train to the West Coast. They were from Texas, and had come to NZ to get married as far away as possible from their difficult families, and because the fly fishing was excellent.

Sadly the Cathedral is now a ruin, like many other buildings around the centre of the city. Others look OK but are unstable and will be demolished. Christchurch is going to need to be totally rebuilt. This happened years ago to a town on the North Island called Napier. It was destroyed by an earthquake in 1930, and totally rebuilt in the current Art Deco style. It is now a magnet to people from all over the world who go to see the architecture. I don't know if we in the 2010s are capable of building a beautiful new city that people are going to admire in eighty years.

Maybe one reason that this is so shocking is that Christchurch is so English in a lot of ways - tidy, conservative and reserved. It's just not very 'Christchurch' for buildings to be collapsing, roads buckling, sewage and gas spilling, people trapped, screaming, panicking. It's the sort of thing that happens in Japan, or America, or Indonesia. The fact is that Christchurch is a very English city set down on a sandy silty plain, sitting on the edge of the Pacific "rim of fire". It's a volcanic place. It might look like Sussex but deep down its more like a big misplaced Hawaiian island.

I haven't mentioned the death toll. It's far from finalised, but it is said to be over 200. If you know anyone who died, I am so sorry.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Today's quote

"All that I know most surely about morality and the obligations of man, I learned from football" - Albert Camus, novelist and goalkeeper

Sunday, February 20, 2011

My son Marx

We had a charming but odd encounter with a Chinese family at the library yesterday. I had been wandering around the serious novels, and the boys were up the opposite end looking at Horrible History paperbacks (Marcus) and large DK nonfiction hardbacks about lizards and comets (Michael). On my way back through I spotted Marcus in the kids' picture book nook, waving. I went over and he had a buddy, a 2yo boy named William. Marcus had been reading to him.

Marcus is great with smaller children - he suddenly becomes relaxed and gentle. I had a chat to William, and his mum translated for me - it turns out they only speak Chinese at home, so he doesn't understand English. They were visiting for the day from Launceston - I think both parents are studying. William's mum introduced herself as Maggie. She was full of effusive praise for Marcus - so gentle, so patient, so SMART, look at this book he is reading, goodness, its full of big words, so clever, so patient. Maggie's mother was in the background nodding and making the same noises but in Chinese.

Marcus was squirming and so was I - neither of us are good at dealing graciously with praise. I told Maggie Marcus' name - she found it hard to say both syllables. Mostly it came out as 'Max' but after a bit more coaching from me it became 'Marx'.

Granma chimed in at this stage with another smiling volley of Chinese with much nodding. Maggie translated "My mother says it is not surprising that your boy is very smart. Chinese people think very highly of a man who was born in Russia, and his name was Marx too. He was very, very smart, and that's why your boy is as well".

Marx was German, but we took the compliment on board anyway. They were lovely people, and I appreciated very much what they had said, but I realised at that point that I had a big sweat patch on my chest, from the sheer effort of keeping up one end of the conversation. I said something lame about finding some CDs and wandered off to evaporate.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Jumper Pants!

Long ago on the Get This radio program, Greg Fleet made up the concept of jumper pants. When you need something to keep your legs warm, and nothing else comes to hand, try jumper pants. You might think 'Hey - that's OK at home, but can I go down to the shop for the milk like this?' Yes, you can. Fleety even made up a Jumper Pants Theme:
  
Turn that smile into a frown/
turn your wardrobe up-side down/
Jumper Pants!!

Now it appears that jumper pants are a thing! And they come in varieties! And you can RATE THEM.
[This is just a screenshot. Don't try to click on it, Mum]

Monday, February 14, 2011

MONA - not actually for kids, in my opinion

We decided that this long weekend was the perfect time to visit MONA, David Walsh's brand new Museum of Old and New Art. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was sick of people talking about it - it has started to simmer down now, so I felt ready to go and see for myself. It has billed itself as "subversive" and "adult" with lots of sex and death, but everyone I have spoken to has insisted that kids would love it, and there is nothing really offensive on show, unless you go into the "Gallery of Sex and Death". That sounded easy to avoid.

Now, having been there, I would actually say do not take your under-tens unless you have been there before and have a route planned to avoid the confronting stuff. Or you are a hipster with hipster kids who are exposed to sex and death pretty regularly - they will, I agree, think the whole place is a hoot. There is "15 and over" material all over the place. It is marked on the black map in red, but that is actually hard to consult in the dark. One large space was full of Egyptian antiquities, with a room of vibrant contemporary portraits opening off it - fantastic stuff. A tiny bit of nudity here and there. However on the end wall of the big space was a painting by either Juan d'Avila or someone similar - a painting of the last camp of explorers Burke and Wills, interpreted as a lurid gay sex scene with added bestiality. Observe the brilliant play on words. All you can do is steer your kids away, and stand where you hope you can block the part where the kangaroo is behind Burke who is on all fours and ... Sigh. David Walsh is so determined to offend people, and I guess I was offended. So well done Dave. I had to distract Michael by getting him to tell me all the names of the Egyptian gods painted on a nearby sarcophagus.

I agree with everyone who say that it is a wonderful place. A lot of what is there is not my cup of tea, but when I go back on my own there are heaps of things I want to have another look at, and I have no idea how much that I just didn't see. Both my kids were delighted with some things and actually quite upset by others.

Each visitor is given a top-of-the-range iPod (pretty much an iPhone that doesn't make calls) and headphones - you press a button regularly as you move through the museum - which gives it your location automatically. Then you can scroll through the thumbnails it gives you, to find the piece you are standing in front of. Then you can find out about it by navigating through various kinds of content. At the top level is a summary - the bare bones. Other stuff is under the icons Ideas, Artwank, Gonzo and Media. The icon for Artwank is a graffiti drawing of a cock and balls. Pretty subversive.

I didn't like having to carry the technology. I hid my headphones and Michael's behind a pillar, and kept my iPhone in my pocket most of the way. I suppose it was nice that there weren't labels and interpretation panels everywhere, but as I am not an iPhone person, it wasn't something that got me closer to the artwork - it was just this heavy thing I had to carry. iPhones are the hottest thing in the world, and I can see that it's an effective way to communicate to a lot of people. It does feel odd when you are looking at some amazing thing, and everyone else around you is looking at their iPhone.

Part of the idea is that as you are looking at something, you choose a Love or Hate icon and give them feedback. Elf and I didn't bother but Marcus was doing it enthusiastically. Afterwards it mostly said "76% of visitors also love this" or something like that. At some point it gave him a message that really upset him - we didn't see it but it involved the F word, he said. At the end he said that although there were things he liked, overall he did not like the place. I would recommend that kids under 10 not be given the iPhone.

There is a video piece that we all loved, projected on to the floor of the lowest level. A Korean artist filmed a busy intersection from a high angle - many pedestrians crossing to and from a large traffic island, and lots of traffic. The artist's hands fill the foreground and move around acting as though they are organising the cars and people - holding back the cars at the red light, ushering people safely across the street and then giving the cars and buses a little push as the light goes green again. It's light-hearted, gentle and beautifully executed.

After a little more the kids were pleading to leave - which is standard for any museum. We left and had lunch. We did not go to the brasserie, the cafe or the wine bar. We did not partake of the fine Tasmanian ingredients manipulated by world class chefs, or the micro-brewed super-beers or wines created on the premises (the whole thing is built in the middle of a winery). We drove to the Hog's Breath Cafe, home of giant steaks and extreme sports enthusiasts - mainly to offend David Walsh.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The past week, minced and served cold like a meatloaf of words

If you don't like meatloaf, imagine this as an impressionistic film montage, in black and white with some tasteful Norah Jones backing it up.

Spent all Friday copy editing something that actually needed a re-write. Written by a very nice lady who I couldn't bear to upset with this news. Why do people think that really long sentences are better than a couple of short sentences? And why does no-one ever use commas anymore?

I have just realised that the huge tub of Nutella on the counter at deli is real. It looks like about 5kg, and it has a $70 price tag.

Now I have realised that this post is going to be mostly about the Wooden Boat Festival. So - the black and white bit ends here really. Geez, I am a crap director. If you are going with the meatloaf metaphor, here is where you realise "Ah - this is mostly Budget Mince".

We went along to the Wooden Boat Festival yesterday. It coincides with the Royal Hobart Regatta and Navy Week, so things were about as boaty as they could be. As we arrived from a behind-the-stage direction, a lively funk-jazz combo was belting out tunes. The roadies behind the stage were all in crisp white. Gradually it dawned on me that they were naval personnel, not roadies, and in fact the musos on stage were in uniform as well. It was an Official Naval Tactical Response Funk-Jazz Combo. As we walked in they were tearing apart The Kinks’ You Really Got Me

Featuring electric bass and guitar, trumpet, trombone, rock drums and a number of singers, it was like a cross between Earth Wind & Fire, and the Battle of the Coral Sea. The fully naval girl singer (who was probably a Petty Officer or something) was leaving nothing in reserve - she was like Chrissie Amphlett meets Captain Stubing. As we licked our ice-creams, they kicked into Play That Funky Music, White Boy.

Meanwhile, a man with two kids walked past, moved aside a piece of the head-high security fence, and just walked out. His car was parked just outside (we had walked about 15 minutes from ours). While the boys sat by a bollard, he brought over an esky. From it he produced a glass preserving jar, and a fork. The kids looked uninterested. He proceeded to eat things from the jar. The first thing was green and drippy. The next thing was grey and squishy. The 3rd thing was white and ... OK, now I couldn't stand to watch. He seemed to have an assortment of wet, cold things in there.

Our own lunch consisted of Potato Tornados! These were new to us but may not be to you. I am told they were a big hit at the Falls Festival. A regular sized potato is popped into a doodad and then a handle is cranked - the doodad cuts it into a spiral. This is then threaded onto a stick and, of course, deep fried. The spiral is only 3 or 4mm thick, so it gets good and saturated in fat - probably slightly less than MacDonalds fries, but that's not saying much. They were delicious.

After that we went over to the far side of Sullivans Cove where the HMAS Parramatta was tied up. There were free tours so we toured it. I thought it was a patrol boat but it is (I think) a Fast Heavy Frigate. There were guns you could pick up and wave about! They were pretty heavy though. The kevlar vests were really heavy. None of these sailors were shaking tambourines - these guys were for real.

Apart from things I have related, we looked at 12,504 wooden boats. Wooden boats are nice. Some are very, very nice. I admire the skill involved in making a boat out of wood. I admire the capable, weatherbeaten, often bearded types who make and sail the boats. More than that, I cannot say.

Possibly inspired by yesterday, today Michael has made a boat skeleton out of magnets, and I have paddled the wave ski on Browns River for the first time this summer. We are working on the beards.

Friday, February 11, 2011

"The legs of a fish"


1995, 2nd Semi Final between Richmond and Essendon. 
Six seconds of Bruce McAvaney commentary gold.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Future ministers

This morning I drove the boys to holiday care, at a state school in a swish suburb nearby. The private schools have gone back, but the state kids are still on holiday. We drove past one of the private schools, and past many uniformed kids, mostly big ones, walking to school. The uniform comprises black pants and blazer, white shirt and black tie.

Michael: Hmm - there are a lot of important ministers walking here.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

City of bottles


Michael quietly pinched things, one at a time, out of the recycling tub, and assembled a "city".

Spinach of the future

Put it in your iCal

SORRY - WATER FIGHT POSTPONED UNTIL 12:00

Monday, February 07, 2011

Whatever it takes

Where I come from, this is called cheating.

Weekend roundup

On Friday we became the proud owners of three cubic metres of dirt. Then we had to move it uphill to the new garden bed. Mum and Dad are visiting at the moment, and they, the boys and Elf and I formed a kind of bucket-and-ice-cream-container brigade. I finished filling the bed this morning. Winston has been enjoying his new podium and vantage point, leaving massive pawprints in the loam. It was obvious we would have to fence off the tiny seedlings from the crushing weight of the hound. We happened to have a roll of sheepwire, so I have used that to make an ugly but hopefully effective barrier. This evening we planted spinach, iceberg lettuce, spring onions and leeks.

So, yeah, there's a lot of dirt under my nails and I am pretty much the veg expert. Just ask me if there's anything you wanna know. Just try and get those lettuces in before the Hobart Cup.


Winston has been eating apples off our immature apple tree. The boys said they had seen him munching them, and Elf was concerned, but I assured everyone that they must have been windfalls. As we ate dinner this evening, he mooched in with the evidence hanging out of his immense jowls - apple, stalk, twig, leaves and a little bit of branch. Yes, he's eating them off the tree.

Yesterday Rob, Mel and Livvy came over for lunch. It was originally going to be a Photoshop lesson - Rob brought his laptop, but after we spent the best part of an hour talking about football and art, the laptop never had a chance. The term "footy tragic" has been used, but we just love talking about football. Rob also brought with him a fantastic book, Our Great Game: The Photographic History of Australian Football and that set us off. It's still summer, and the season is still some way off, but I think that just makes us keener.

The book is divided into 7 themes, two of which are Joy and Despair. One of my favourite images is from the Melbourne Herald, a cold Tuesday night in 1951. Young Essendon goalkicking prodigy John Coleman is leaving the tribunal after being suspended for four matches for striking, meaning he would miss the Grand Final. Well wishers are grasping for him, trying to console him, but he looks inconsolable. Even though its just football, the drama is so intense that there are similarities to the famous photo of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald.

Hoovering through the tears

The boys have been getting a bit stir crazy. There are 2 weeks of school holidays to go. Elf has been off work for the last 4 weeks, but she goes back to work tomorrow. They will split the next 2 weeks between a holiday care program and Imp and Ed's place. We gave them a list of chores last week, but as they say at Geelong "there hasn't been total buy-in from the group".

Today Marcus overstepped the mark. The boys live a life of careless ease that a maharaja would envy - it is galling when they complain about how terrible life is, just because they've used their TV and computer quotas, and the kids next door aren't home. Elf told Marcus he would have to vacuum their room, then the boys would have to make lunch, and wash up after.

I came in from gardening to see Marcus hoovering through the tears. Lunch was a strange collection of wierdly torn and buttered bread, ham and lettuce, with leftover rissoles found in the fridge. The washing up went surprisingly well, and was even considered "fun".  [see pic in previous post - I have since pinched myself and it was indeed real]

Sunday, February 06, 2011

A dream I had

I am sure it was a dream, but it seemed so real at the time.

Friday, February 04, 2011

The simultaneous translation of extremely dire news

I sat up on Wednesday night watching the news channel, as Cyclone Yasi spun towards Queensland. The outlook grew worse as the night went on. The Queensland premier, Anna Bligh, appeared every few hours to give press briefings. She is considered to have done a sterling job dealing with the recent massive floods, and gave every sign that she was the woman for the job of fending off Yasi.

She spoke with only the barest glance at her notes, and the the message she had for Queensland was unequivocal: tomorrow we are going to wake up to a heartbreaking disaster. Lives will likely be lost. Millions of people will probably be without electricity for weeks.

I was very scared for Queensland - the sheer enormity of Yasi on the radar was like something from a disaster movie. I am not a prayerful person but every now and then in life I think: - hmm, situation calls for a couple of Hail Marys. Can't hurt.



At the same time I was transfixed by the simultaneous translator for the deaf. There have been different ones at the various briefings, but this one is the most vociferous. The juxtaposition of a) Ms Bligh speaking plainly about the great dangers on the way, and b) the clownlike facial contortions and flappy hands of the translator was surreal - especially combined with c) the completely impassive man in the middle, who I think was the head of emergency response or something like that.

I understand that there are hearing impaired people in the community with every right to as much information as everyone else. The skills of the translators are very impressive - it's an important job they are doing. But I have never before laughed out loud at the TV while I am being told that I will wake up in the morning to a disaster.

I wouldn't even be mentioning this bizarre moment of extremes, except that thanks to wonderful planning and co-ordination, and a switched-on populace who took the whole thing very seriously, there have been no direct deaths or even serious injuries attributed to Yasi as of Friday night. So, by the very precise rules of disaster-related comedy, it is in fact NOT too soon to start making fun of Yasi coverage.

The funniest email I have ever received

From Ted at Rotary Tasmania;
Hello Reg and Ralph, this is beyond my limited financial knowledge. Could one of you please answer Chris thank you. Best wishes, Ted
God love 'em - the world might have gone crazy but Rotary is still run by Teds, Regs and Ralphs.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Be stunned by a sponge

  video

This is one of my favourite things. It's the skeleton of a sponge called the venus flower basket, and its made of glass! The sponge grows a glass skeleton. It's part of Theodore Gray's amazing collection of the elements, in all shapes and forms. His Wooden Periodic Table Table (and the website documenting it) is one of the best things. Mr Gray himself is a modest, enthusiastic multi-talented wonder. We bought a copy of his book The Elements for Michael's birthday, and we all love it. This is what he says about the above sample, on the page for Silicon:
This is a sea creature, a sponge of sorts, that grows a glass skeleton. That's right, the skeleton is made of what amounts to fiberglass. Isn't that the most amazing thing you've ever heard of? I suppose it shouldn't be any more amazing than us growing a calcium phosphate (actually calcium phosphate foam) skeleton, but it is to me. Not only is the skeleton glass, the fibers it's made of are said to be superior in some ways to man-made fiber optics, and of course they are grown at low temperatures, something people, as of this writing, have no idea how to do. And to top it off, this creature has one of those classically bizarre life cycles one can only stand in awe of. Each Venus Flower Basket is usually inhabited by a mating pair of bioluminescent shrimp. The shrimp entered the sponge when they were small, and are now too large to ever leave, but their offspring can swim out the openings to find their own sponges to set up permanent housekeeping in. Mated for life (whether they like it or not), the shrimp feed on the remains of food filtered by the sponge, while the light they generate is thought to attract more such food to the sponge. Oh, and these things are dirt common, and can even be grown in home aquariums. We really do live on one of the most amazing planets I'm sure.
While I am raving about Theodore Gray, here is one page from his marvellous book which I grabbed from here. If I remember rightly, he describes Scandium as "the first element you've never heard of". Another great thing about him is he takes the photos himself, and has a natty setup whereby he can photograph a sample 72 times and assemble them into interactive spinnable images - which are a hoot.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Dad-joke gets just desserts

Michael: Dad, why didn't you peel this banana for me?
Me: I wanted to see you peel it. You're very a-peeling. Hyuk.
Michael: Huh, you're a-peeling  ...  no, you're appalling.