Thursday, February 18, 2016

Great ideas © me, 4am

What if a dystopian future society (think Bladerunner / Mad Max) that had mastered time travel, decided to enter a side in, say, the Ovens and Murray Football League 2016. Could it work?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tasmania's 12 Endemic Birds

I have something I am supposed to be doing today. I feel so much NOT like doing it that I have just whistled up a project from nowhere to fill in some time. One bird half done, 11 and a half to go.

My other job is sticking 8 boxes on a board. I have done 5.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The commute to high school

This is a companion piece to the whinge below about my day of driving, for a bit of perspective. I never really mind driving down to Taroona. Outside of rush hour when traffic lights are actually helpful, you can avoid them altogether. And the view is pretty stunning. The schoolbus takes the same route. Here are a few highlights.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Backyard cricket

I am at home with Winston at the moment, and as I walked past him I just thought how nice it would be if I could teach him to bowl a good line and length at fast medium pace. Marcus and I played a lot of cricket on the deck over the school holidays, and we are still having a hit in the evening most days.

Elf bought us a cube of tennis balls, 64 of them! So that brings an end to the old problem of having to suspend play when the 2 or 3 balls we had were lost over fences or into bushes.

This has ramifications for our neighbours on both sides. In the past they would toss back a ball when they found it. Now its more likely to 3 or 5 balls. Yesterday Sharyn politely lobbed seven balls back to our side. They are mostly from Marcus bowling short and wide enough to miss the lattice screen behind the wickets, but one came from a mis-timed hook shot that came off the toe of my bat and went high enough to hurt when it came down. Fortunately the yard next door was deserted at the time and there are no prize orchids or porcelain garden ornaments to suffer.

I will keep working on Winston because if I could train him to drop them regularly on a good length just on middle stump I could perfect my leg glance.

A day on the road

A recurring theme of this blog is that we are very proud of our boys. They are both pretty tremendous kids and its a privilege to be able to watch their progress close-up. I hope my pride in their achievements and abilities doesn't come over as smugness. As Elf can confirm I am liable to burst into tears when anyone's kid is trying their hardest and doing their best in music, sport, chess or whatever.

Yesterday was Marcus's first day at Hobart College where he's doing Grade 11 maths twice a week this year. Every Thursday I'll pick him up there at lunchtime and ferry him 11km to Taroona High, back to his Grade 9 existence, and on Tuesdays I'll do the same in the other direction. He is going to miss some of his other subjects here and there, but his teachers all feel that he'll be able to keep up regardless.

Hobart College is part of Tasmania's unusual senior secondary system; separate state schools that are just Gr 11 and 12. The campus was built in 1972 as a tertiary institute, and I actually knew the architect, Brian Hardcastle - I shared a house in the 80s with his daughter Jan. She told me the whole place was built to make it easy to contain riots! There are over a thousand kids enrolled, mostly aged 15-17 these days.

The college is an island in a sea of bush, and feels like an outpost of Canberra in that regard. Copper must have been cheap when it was built as the amount of copper panelling in the admin area is mind boggling, and straight away brought Pete Smith to mind.

The main thing is Marcus fit in well, his teacher and the head of maths there are lovely, the kids were curious in a pleasant way, and most importantly he found the maths stimulating.

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Yesterday turned into a major road day, as besides the school transfer Marcus has soccer practice over the river, which coincided with the welcome barbecue for Michael's Grade 7s at Taroona.

This will seem boring and feel free to skip it, but as part of the blog's purpose is to provide a personal record, here is the day's car log. I know it pales into comparison with the driving parents do in bigger cities and with more kids involved in more things. It was 115km all up, and included 15 mins stuck in Sandy Bay Rd beside St Davids Park.

8.30 - take Marcus to HC.
12.15 - take Marcus from HC to Taroona.
[boys come home from Taroona by bus]
16.10 - pick up Elf in town.
16.45 - drop Elf and Michael at Taroona for welcome BBQ and take Marcus over the river to Warrane for soccer practice. [The only route is through the CBD]
17.33 - arrive a tad late for soccer practice after detouring to a drive thru for thick shake and nuggets. Turn around and head back to Taroona, get petrol en route.
18:15 - collect Elf and Michael at Taroona, turn around and head back to Warrane.
18:45 - arrive with 15 mins to spare.
19:00 - collect Marcus and teammate Leif and head back to South Hobart.
19:15 - drop Leif off to his mum at the roadside.
19:17 - home after 3 hours in the car.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

New Town namaste

A few weeks ago I went for a stroll around a bit of the New Town/Moonah border that was new to me. I am on a non-profit board now (!) and I had to be dropped off for a meeting 40 minutes early for logistics reasons. Its near the New Town High School so I just wandered up through it along what is probably the New Town Rivulet.

I came to a small path and bridge that led from the sports grounds of the school into a back street of industrial Moonah, and there I saw this.

I took some dull photos on my phone and put them on Facebook asking for information. Matt Kirkcaldie piped up to say;
That's the Newtown Cool Store where my friends Laura McCusker and Peter Howard have their furniture workshop. The walls are insulated with human hair clippings!
So I was back there for another meeting today at a more photo-friendly time of day; but the good camera's battery was dying so I just got these two pics. This is some kind of van, and written on the side is  PEANUT BUTTER    MAYONNAISE    SUPER SPREAD.

As I was approaching to take the pics, a tiny man and lady appeared from the other direction, possibly they just crossed the little bridge. Although its a hot day they had a few layers on - the lady trailed a little way behind the man. I said hello to him and he gave me a lovely smile and said 'Good day'. I said 'Good morning' to the smiling little lady and she gave me a perfect 'Namaste' with praying hands. I quickly namaste'd in return. Let me tell you I am not a guy who'll start a namaste on the street but if one breaks out I am quite prepared to join in boots and all.

Anyway, that quite made my day. Here are the phone pics. The strange round rusty thing by the gate, according to Jan Dallas, is a "plough disc adapted for reinforcement of brick wall, re- hinges, I reckon."

Monday, February 08, 2016

Paddle at Taroona High

This is Taroona High School, where both boys are now. As you can see it has a fantastic location on the Derwent River, about 10km downriver from the city. Out of shot to the left is a little beach with about eight boatsheds, which is a great spot to launch the wave ski. I don't know why I haven't set off from here before.

My aim was to paddle upriver to the point on the left, but it was hard going. I was getting pushed by a swell from behind, but the current was going against me. Is that possible? I don't know anything about the water. I know even less than I thought I knew before I started occasionally paddling on it.

Anyway I adjusted my aim to just getting far enough out in the stream that I could see past the point to my old pals the Tasman Bridge and Mt Direction. This is the first time I have taken our camera out on the water rather than just use my crappy phone.

The paddle back was with the current but through the swell; again I don't really understand this. It was really nice to not have the sun in my eyes (forgot my hat), and the paddling was easy at first, the waves were very smooth. Then they started to get little parallel ripples, and paddling became a bit harder. Then the steady pattern broke up and it was hard work then until I got to a patch of smooth water closer inshore.

The wave ski wobbles about a lot, its a very inefficient way of going anywhere compared to the sleek sea kayaks we did the Sullivans Cove paddle in. But it certainly is a good workout. I look half-crazed here but its mostly relief at stopping paddling.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

The fascinating world of cancelled monarchs

Its a shame our camera is a not a bit better at this scale. First one to nominate the two who were NOT heads of state wins a soft drink.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Sheep audio

It is a lovely thing to hear a sheep. I don't mind seeing a sheep, especially at a reasonable distance. But a bit of baaaa floating on the breeze can really lift my mood.

There used to be some over at the green house above the Tara Street Gulch. Every now and then I think I can hear them, but this office chair makes some very unusual squeaks and I can't rule out that it is behind the apparently ovine sound effects.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Wasp news

My preferred method of dealing with wasps is to give them a smart smack with an open hand, ideally straight out an open door or window. If they are stunned and lying prone, I will often crunch them dead; they are wasps after all. The less of them the better. But mostly if I can paff one to the outside I feel like I am living in harmony with nature, and quite the Dan Daring at the same time.

For the first time today I started to think that the same individual wasps are returning to the kitchen, and learning from their experience with me. One definitely saw me and turned around, making a beeline waspline for the open window. "This bloke is going to paff me and although unharmed I will lose face" it was thinking. "I shall take myself outside and buzz stupidly around the cat bowl later when he's not here".

A wasp, yesterday.

Two high school students

Michael started high school today. Here the boys are explaining to Winston that they will be out for most of the day; he has become very used to them lying around like he does, all day every day throughout summer. Except with added electronic devices.

To be fair to Marcus he has worked quite hard on his Maths Olympiad problems over the holidays and has spent quite some time on his French - he is jumping into a class of kids who have mostly got one year of it up their sleeves already.

They will be home soon and I hope Michael will fill me in on his day; in recent years I struggled to get more out of him than 'good' as a description of a day at South Hobart Primary.

They were both very keen to head off this morning; I think Marcus was excited for Michael. Marcus is revelling in being the Wise Old Hand who can teach Michael the ropes.

This morning Michael was stowing his combination lock and Marcus said 'OK, do you know the combination?' Without missing a beat Michael said '4 0 5 4 6'. Marcus said keenly 'OK, MEMORISE IT'.