Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Think of a number

I was trying to get the kids out of bed and into the shower.

Me: Alright, think of a number. Marcus?

Marcus: Mine is very, very large.

Michael: Mine is absurdly small.

Me: *after nearly choking with laughter* OK. My number was 5. In the shower, Marcus.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016


It's suddenly a busy time at work, and I have got some interesting and varied things on. 

I am doing a website for a fire protection company - sprinklers are their main thing. While I was meeting with the GM he took a call from one of his blokes out in the field; a solid brass fitting had somehow broken. "See if you can sweat a brass nipple on to it. Yeah. Nah. Yeah, its only an outlet, we are only after the orifice".

I am also doing some animations and graphics for an online education video about brain pathology in dementia. One of the top men of the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre is an old friend of mine, so it was a real pleasure to go and talk business with him, then get 20 minutes just shooting the breeze. His office is at the top of one of Hobart's architectural landmarks; unfortunately the building doesn't work that well in some respects . The offices with windows get so hot that everyone has just been issued with electric fans. 

While there I stuck my nose into the office of friend-of-the-blog Matthew K who works down the hall from James. I know these guys are super-smart and well regarded in their field but I tend to take it for granted. James said quietly at one stage "Yeah Matt is pretty much the go-to man in Australia now on brain anatomy".

James has been filmed talking off the cuff about dementia - he has a terrific command of his subject, I guess naturally since he runs an institute devoted to it. As there was no script I felt like I had to transcribe what he said to have a basis for editing and matching graphics to his comments. 

As its over 20 minutes worth, I googled how to convert speech-to-text; not that hard if you are speaking into the microphone on your computer, but a bit fiddly to organise if the source is a recording. But I did it, and the result (although it needed cleaning up) was outstanding. Without any training in understanding James' voice, it correctly transcribed "neurodegenerative", "neurofibrillary", "cytoskeleton", and "proteinaceous". "Symptomology" it got right most of the time but in a few spots that came up as "supermodel".

I am also filling in for a friend who works as a designer at Tourism Tasmania for two weeks. They will throw work to me that can't wait for her return - although we are two and a half days  in, and nothing has come yet. I am sure she knocked herself out to get ahead of the curve before she left; and everyone will probably prefer to have the Key Woman work on their stuff if possible.

Another job I just finished was logos, banners and packaging for Cashew Creamery - they make non-dairy ice cream from cashews.

I just realised I haven't mentioned the Tasmania Advertising and Design Awards that I attended in February - the House of Fudge packaging was a finalist in the Print Graphics category. I'll blog that whole experience separately; I was actually also on the jury.

OK, time to go and animate some brains.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Marcus turns 14

Our big son hit 14 two days ago. He shot up over summer and had a few back problems as a result, but that seems to have settled down now. His main problem is that he is too busy.

Monday after school is flute ensemble, Tuesday and Thursday he has maths at college then soccer practice after school, and on Wednesday he sees his maths tutor for an hour to kick around scary advanced trig and calculus. Friday we have dinner with my mum and dad. For now the weekend is pretty free but practice matches will start soon.

This year Marcus did not want to have a party (probably because of exhaustion) so Elf's genius idea was a surprise midnight feast. We had dinner with Imp and Ed and the girl cousins, and it was supposedly going to be just a fun sleepover. Everyone else was in on the surprise though.

Elf prepared nacho makings, chocolate and marshmallows for roasting. After the kids were in bed, Ed and I moved the trampoline and I dug a little fire pit and arranged logs to sit on around it, while he hung christmas lights in the golden elm. Then he and Imp went home and we went to bed.

At 11.55 the alarm went off quietly, and I took out a bucket of kindling and got the little fire going. Michael and I had sourced long green twigs for the marshmallows. Once it was all crackling away Elf went and woke the kids. Marcus was genuinely surprised and delighted. It all looked wonderful and I took NO photos. Here is the setup by the light of day, however.

It was a lovely calm night, a bit too overcast for many stars though. We whispered Happy Birthday To You (next door's kids were sleeping not very far away) and just as we finished Winston chimed in with an appropriately quiet howl.

I was soon grumpy and keen to go back to bed. Michael was the last butt to be shifted, as he was on his haunches just loving poking various things into the fire. Eventually we got everyone back to bed.

After the midnight shenanigans Sunday kicked off surprisingly early, and we opened presents. Our gift to Marcus was a very nice leather Sherrin footy. It's a dream to kick, and unlike last time we got a new footy, Marcus didn't sprain his thumb right away.

So, happy birthday to our first child, dear boy that he is.