Sunday, December 30, 2018

I manage to not drown

Elf and I took the wave ski to Sandy Bay for a paddle on the Derwent the other morning. Well, I was going to paddle and she was going to read on a park bench. I left the life vest in the car – I paddled out then remembered it so I came back in, and Elf had it. I put it on and went back out.

This was the day the first yachts were finishing the Sydney Hobart race, so there was a fair amount of action out on the water, and a helicopter or two overhead. It was pretty choppy, and reasonably hard work going against the swell.

I decided to just paddle out to the last mooring buoys, about 500m, then take in the view of the yachts coming upriver. After a while I turned 180° to enjoy the view back to the shore – this is when you are likely to get flipped over but I did it quickly and successfully.

After a while I decided to turn 180° again and this time – flip. I was in the water. We have a tether on the paddle, so that was one bit of good preparation. And I had the vest (not on as tight as it should have been though – it went up around my head straight away). I got hold of the strap on the side of the wave ski and just hung on for a bit while I considered options. I quickly realised that climbing back on was not going to be easy.

The good thing about a wave ski is they are very simple things, you sit on top of them and they are very buoyant. They are sealed, and won't fill with water or capsize. I needed to get back onto it but I didn't need to get back into it.

I started sidestroking towards the shore just to make some progress. I was staying calm fortunately. A motor yacht went past in the distance with a few dozen people on it, some looking my way. I thought I could wave to them, but things seemed to be under control – so I would save myself the embarrassment and just keep slowly swimming and hanging on.

Once I got to the next set of mooring buoys I grabbed on to them and had a little rest. If the worst happened and the wave ski got away from me while I was trying to climb back on, at least I had the buoys. Then I started trying to get on.

I have done this once in shallower water, (where you can get some purchase on the seabed) and I remember ending up with my head at the bow end. You can sort of roll over sideways OK if you are face down, but if you are oriented the wrong way its hard to fix without falling off.

So I got my head to the correct end towards the stern, and pulled my top half aboard, and grabbed onto the elasticated luggage straps right at the back. Then getting my legs swung aboard took so long. I really thought I'd be coming off it again at least once, but eventually I was face down on the thing, out of the water.

Another little rest. Then I did the roll over thing and I was face up, but sitting much too far forward. I managed to scooch my butt back into the seat, pulled in the paddle and ta-da, I was on my way back to shore. They really are very stable and forgiving craft, and it just underlines how incompetent I was letting myself get dumped out.

All through this I imagined Elf had seen me and was having conniptions about my safety. As a full and frank record of the events I must reveal that she was actually entranced the whole time by a great dane puppy.

2 days late I am a bit muscle-sore from all the struggling, but none the worse for wear.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Tuesday Night Soccer 27.11.18

Since I last played a month back, I had x-rays of my hips. Now I know why those joints hurt so much. There are bone spurs on both sides around the ball joints where the top of the femur slots into the pelvis, and so there is bone inflammation or osteitis flaring up when I overuse these joints. I am doing tons of repetitive stretching morning and night, to try to build up my core strength, which will hopefully relieve these joints.

White: Steve, Cam, Anthony, Rick, ?
Black: Adrian, Me, Pat, Hazel, Ben

Memorable moments;

  • Early on I carried the ball up the middle, just dummied with body shape to get past Anthony and then no-one came to me so I kept taking the space and toed it past Rick. Cam not happy.
  • I was lurking in the left corner and Hazel had possession over by the door – he placed a perfect magnetic pass into the box that pulled me towards it for a tap-in.
  • I was in a similar spot on left, Hazel in goals hit me with a perfect throw. My first touch took me inside and across Steve and with my next touch I (unusually) clobbered it properly with my right, it went under Anthony in goals.
  • Stuck in the back left corner, I passed to Hazel who was marked but who can work in a phone box. He couldn't get free so I called for it back, squared it to Pat in goals, and he sent it out the other way to Adrian on the right. Hazel had gone up the left wing, Adrian found Ben who found Hazel who scored. textbook play out from the back.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Charity solicitations

Like most people, I give to charity. Not heaps but regularly. I share it around although the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre is my fave.

A thought I had while washing dishes: a percentage of what we all give to charity goes towards fundraising. The appeals to which we respond are partly paid for by those who responded to earlier appeals. And so on back through time.

Looking at all advertising, beyond charities – some it is about a new product or service. (Of course sometime the 'new'ness is fake). Maybe it's trying to get you to try mint flavoured milk instead of chocolate or strawberry. In charity terms it's trying to solve a problem no-one else is solving. If it is successful and can motivate you to donate to help fistula sufferers in Rwanda for instance – that's going to make a difference to those people.

But often advertising is trying to get you to change brand. Virgin wants Jetstar's customers, and Coke wants Pepsi's customers.

It has just occurred to me that this brand-switching must be a big part of charity advertising too. And from the point of view of people who the charity is meant to help – I cannot see how that money benefits them.

I might have been giving to Red Cross, who are working at earthquakes alongside Medicins Sans Frontieres, Oxfam, Unicef etc. If MSF come out with a very convincing and sincere ad, it might sway me to give to them next time not Red Cross. It benefits MSF and helps their work.

Does that money MSF spend on getting me to change, benefit the people I care about in any way?

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Hobart trains

This leads on from the subject of the last post. I am fascinated with what it was like in Tasmania just before and after I was born. These are times that I can't or don't remember, but which aren't all that different in many ways to now.

I have mined the Tasmanian Archives for photos, and now I have found another great source, Mr Langford took photos, mostly of trains and bridges and other infrastructure, but also landscapes and of tourist attractions, between 1960 and his death in 2014. This site has over 38,000 of his photos taken in every state and also overseas.

Commuter train north from Hobart passing the Royal Hobart Regatta grandstand,
24 May 1963
The beauty of the train pics is that suburban train services stopped in Hobart in 1978, eight years before I came here to live. In a short time the central rail terminus was demolished and tracks began to rot. So to find these pics with familiar and recognisable places still populated with trains is wonderful and strange.

The pic below with the little red and cream train particularly grabbed me. That bridge is still there spanning the Brooker Highway, and I had no idea it was a rail bridge. 
or that a line ever ran in that direction. This train is taking workers to the Zincworks, early one morning in 1965. I only recently spotted on an satellite photo that a line must have run in that direction.
7:10am passenger train from Derwent Park to Zincworks at Risdon
10 January 1965
Same spot last week.
I am honestly NOT a train nut although I can see why people are captivated by them. But it's true I am obsessed enough with these 1960s images to have made these 2 animations yesterday.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Guns, Boots, Money

Look at this mad old shop from olden days Hobart. GUNS BOOTS MONEY.
It's on the corner of Bathurst and Murray Streets. Looks like a country town.
The same spot today (well, last week).
The Playhouse Theatre at far left is just about the only survivor visible.
St David's Cathedral at far right of the middle pic is still there but obscured.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A pool of drool

The crime scene: Hattie's dinner dish.

I had been out for a while, and came in busting to go to the toilet. Animals were going nuts, so I put off relieving myself to feed them; Winston outside, Hattie inside. Hattie often nibbles half or less of her meat and bikkies then wanders off.

A few minutes later from inside the bathroom I heard alarmed miaows. I came out, to see Winston walking through the house trailing a huge rope of drool (we have timber floors, its OK). Hattie was by the door, giving periodic loud aggrieved miaows.

An astonishingly large pool of drool surrounded the cat dish. My forensic recreation of the scene is this.

  • Hattie nibbled half her meat then wandered off. But not far.
  • Winston ate his dinner and edged past Hattie, who terrifies him, and came inside.
  • Winston noticed the uneaten meat and thought about doing a bad thing.
  • Winston came closer to the dish and watched Hattie intently while thinking about doing the bad thing. He stayed there long enough to drool about a litre of drool. Hattie is quite deaf and was busy washing her paws, with her back to the house.
  • Winston did the bad thing.
  • Hattie finally noticed and raised the alarm.
I asked Winston straight out: did you eat Hattie's meat? He looked very guilty indeed. The burden of proof in criminal cases is high; I have reluctantly decided to drop the prosecution due to lack of firm evidence. But I am privately urging Hattie to sue.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Another letter to The Mercury

I have not yet learned to just skip Charles Woolley's column. The last one featured what feels to my ear like a made up quote and it lit my blue touch-paper.

- - - | - - - 

In his column in Tas Weekend 10/11/18 Charles Woolley admiringly quotes Norfolk Bay anti-fish-farm activist Mark Duncan saying “Mate I’m not a bloody greenie tree-hugging feral. I’m just a knockabout bloke … protecting my patch. I’m a local”. Woolley goes on to disparage the Greens as a voting option for people like Mr Duncan.

Many environmentalists trace their commitment back to some trigger event close to home that affected them and their neighbourhood personally. After this, their empathy for other people and other habitats led them to get involved in wider issues while continuing to advocate for their own patch. This is expressed in the slogan ‘Think Globally, Act Locally’

Whether Mr Duncan likes it or not, he is an environmental activist. He may one day develop empathy and start to care about issues not directly affecting his patch and his business. He may not. Either way, he might get more boats joining his flotilla if he stops bagging people with a genuine passion for Tasmania’s environment. If only knockabout blokes with shacks or businesses in Norfolk Bay are allowed in his group it might struggle.

At least he got a good promotional piece for his fishing charter business out of Charles, although he forgot to include the phone number.

Chris Rees
South Hobart

Wednesday, November 07, 2018


Launceston is a surprisingly interesting place. It had the first electric municipal streetlights in the Southern hemisphere (1895). And the first underground sewer system in Australia – which is still working today. It's got a great range of architectural styles, especially from the 1890s when Hobart was in a depression, but Launceston was riding on Melbourne's coat-tails. Then there's this Gas Board building (a retort I think) from 1930.

A lot of suburbs are low-lying, and they regularly flood. The floods of 1929 were very serious (22 dead) and the photos of it are remarkable. 

And that brings me to what I came here to talk about. One of Australia's great footy grounds, York Park is by the river in Invermay. Across the river is undeveloped floodplain. Heaps of it. So when you look at an aerial photo (this has east at the top), there is nothing, nothing, nothing, fields, the river, a quarry, fields, a road, fields, nothing, the river again, then BAM an established AFL venue. It's odd, no?

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

At the PO in 2018

I just sent off Jacki's birthday present at the local PO. It has always been staffed by the older age bracket of postal clerk – the youngest is over 55 and seems… grim. Next door to the PO is Hobart's largest elder care facility. 

 I formed a 1-man queue behind a nice old gentleman who was withdrawing $500. As I waited I heard the familiar skipping snare sound at the start of Blister In The Sun by the Violent Femmes on the radio. 

When I'm out walking I strut my stuff
And I'm so strung out
I'm high as a kite I just might stop to check you out… 

OK now you'll need your pin number.
Ah, oh that might, ah, that might be a stretch…

…body and beats, I stain my sheets I don't even know why…

Now it should have four numbers, you have only put in three.
Aaah - ooh, I, ah…

…my girlfriend, she's at the end,
She is starting to cry 

No, that's not it is it. OK, you've got another card?
I do, I… here it is

Let me go ooooooooon like
I blister in the sun 

Well do you know the number? This one needs a PIN number too. 

Let me go ooooooon
Big hands, I know you're the one…

* * * *

I stuck on my nine stamps. This was all still going on as I left. Good luck sir and well done to the grim postal clerk for holding it together and being respectful.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Tuesday Night Soccer 30.10.18

Well this was a bright idea - I hurt myself on Tuesday and won't be playing again for a while. But nevertheless I scored three goals (can only remember 2 right now) and did a couple of nice passes.

White: Steve, Cam, Troy, Old Sean, Pat, +1
Black: Adrian, Me, Rick, Hazel, Ben

  • Took the ball up the centre and space opened up so I toed it at Steve in goals. He didn't see it coming and fumbled it in, and it hurt his wrist
  • Little give and go with Adrian, punted it into the corner with my left toe
  • Long looping pass onto Rick's head which he put away
  • Left foot chip over traffic, again to Rick, led to a goal.
I was sore all week and probably shouldn't have played, was just curious to see what it would do to me really. Now I am really sore, had an x-ray on Friday to indicate if its tendonitis or osteitis. I am 50 years old.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Tuesday Night soccer 23.10.18

I love to think back over my soccer career and relive little moments to lull myself to sleep, or pass time waiting for a bus. As my memory is starting to develop small gaps and holes, I am going to record some details for our Tuesday night soccer kickabouts at Rosny college gym. This is extremely self indulgent but I don't know how long I'll be able to keep doing this, and I enjoy the memories so much - it would be a shame to carelessly lose them.

Black: Me, Cam, Adrian, Hazel, Matt
White: Old Sean, Young Sean, Rick, Anthony, Pat

I scored 4.

  • Carried ball through centre, Adrian called for it on right and I half dummied then went left of old Sean, rebalanced and sidefooted it past goalie on right.
  • Cannoned off me unawares and went in
  • I took it off Old Sean over by the netball pole, then took it to the byeline, worked along it looking to cut it back, noticed Pat was off the goal line and just flicked it in with the outside of my right.
  • Hazel was throwing out from goal, I was zigging and zagging looking for space. He hurled it hard, high and wide out left. It was out of normal reach but I was in tons of space so something made me leap out for it, maybe knowing I had time to recover if I got it. My first touch was in midair, and perfectly halted the ball. I landed and kept going with momentum which meant I swung around with the ball on my right. Took a touch and then buried it. A gem. I felt like Nureyev but probably looked like a flying wardrobe.

Michael's next mountain walk

Our boy had a day off school (Moderation Day, we used to call it) and wanted to walk up the mountain on his own. We were dubious but talked ourselves into it. He's walked most of the planned route numerous times, and we had worked out a new way to the foot of the track without walking up roads without footpaths.

Elf and I were both at work, monitoring his progress by text. He left home just after 9, and made it to the Organ Pipes at 12.37 or 12.38 (he says). Then he sat on top of his favourite Pipe (which slopes back a little towards the pinnacle), had a snooze, then walked home.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Lost World walk

Michael was keen to go for a walk on the mountain today. I suggested a short walk so I could keep him company and not take too big a chunk out of my Sunday. The Lost World track looked like a good one on the map - steep but interesting.

We can see the Lost World area from our house. The small peak is Mt Arthur
(I think I have told people in the past that it's Collins Cap but that is quite a bit further away)
I imagined a track of hundreds of steps, in fact there was not one. Instead, think of large boulders, with arrows scratched on them to keep you going in the right direction.

My guide, the nimble-footed Michael, at the top of the descent.
The Big Bend, Pinnacle Road - we parked the car near the white car in the centre.
The first 10 metres of the track was a peat bog, and after that is a dry rock scramble.
We descended for about 20 minutes. The Lost World Track meets the Old Hobartians track down below, but that is closed still since the August storms. I was happy just to get that far and turn around. In fact it was such a steep and laborious descent that a picked a spot with a good view and told Michael I would wait there for him. He went down to explore.

The 'Organ Pipes' on the eastern face of Mt Wellington/kunanyi are huge dolerite columns.
Here further north there are smaller ones – I always think of these as the Little Organ Pipes.
Michael is at the very centre of this pic. You can see where at some stage of geological time
a lot of the columns fell and smashed. They are distinctly hexagonal in section.

The climb back up begins
I am probably haunted a bit by my near-miss when I got lost walking in India. I just did a search of the blog and I realise now I haven't written about it here, except for this tiny snippet. Anyway it has made me uber-cautious about getting lost or injured walking out in the bush. But now I know the lay of the land here, I'll be happy to come back and push on further.

The amazing part was how fast it was to get back up to the top. The process of choosing foot- and hand-holds on the way down is so slow, that it actually is way quicker going up.

A day in Melbs with the boys

Marcus goes in every maths competition that crosses his path. A month ago he received an invitation to an award ceremony in Melbourne for one of them. He had Achieved Outstanding-ly, without winning the lucrative first or second prize. He was keen to just fly over and back in a day on his own to get his certificate, but we were not ready to give him quite that much freedom.

Michael and I accompanied him and made a (long) day of it.

 I let the boys have the iPad on the plane ( I was sitting separately) and they went selfie-mad.
As an experiment, on the way into the city in the morning we caught a local bus (901 to Frankston) as far as Broadmeadows Station, and trained in from there. On Saturday that costs $6 ea and that is your public transport paid for for the day. [On the way back to the airport (when I am more nervous about being late) we just caught a cab.]

The train station is really just an annexe to the Kebab House.

Our first stop in the city was the National Gallery of Victoria and the first thing we did the was - eat chips. Elf wanted me to take the boys. After an hour of art I was keen take them through the CBD but they both enjoyed the gallery and wanted to keep looking at things.

Marcus loves the collection of 1960s moderne furniture.

This is at the venue at Melb Uni where Marcus was getting his maths prize.
The carpet is patterned with numbers
Marcus is in the background - prize recipients sat in the middle and family at the sides.

Various profs shake his hand. He was one of 18 getting $50 for 'outstanding achievement' - first prize was about $600.
Next door we explored the School of Medical Science, which is where they have preserved these carved desks or benches, which are mounted on a wall. There are also richly decorated pharmacists' jars like the one below.

Celebratory dumplings and chilli prawns at Shanghai Village in Chinatown [112 Little Bourke for future reference]
We walked down a lot of alleys and lanes working our way down to Flinders St.

 … and arcades. We were lucky to be here just when Gog and Magog donged their bells.
Gog's went 'clang' and Magog's went 'clunk'.
We were too late for; and will return to [notes to self] ; Wunderkammer at 439 Lonsdale St, The Watch Gallery at 337 Little Collins St, the old High Court where Elf's grandad presided at 455 Little Bourke St, and the Immigration Museum at 400 Flinders St.

At Flinders St Station we passed under the clocks, hopped in a cab (spending our savings from earlier) and got to the airport to find our flight was delayed and we had over-abundant time to flop around.

A good day, everyone had fun and Marcus is better off by a $50 voucher.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Woodsdale footy ground

I took Michael up to Buckland, about an hour north, to go horse-riding. he went off on a trail ride so I went looking for the fabled Woodsdale football ground nearby. It was well worth it. Now grazed by sheep, the club is in recess but has not folded. Hopefully the sheep will be shooed away soon and the lines marked for a return to competition.

The view from Woodsdale Rd

The long steep driveway down. Its behind an unlocked gate.

Sheep graze around the 40 metres out from goal.
They have no chance of sinking one from there – they're sheep.

The clubroom, scoreboard and mini-playground.

Practice cricket pitch - they would erect nets around it in season I guess.

The view from the scoreboard. My real reason for coming was to
file a report for Scroreboard Pressure, the blog of record for Australian scoreboard lovers.

I am not a selfie-taker but this is a a special for Chonk in Winterthur. Thanks for the beanie and scarf!

This is the final score from Woodsdales last grand final win, over Mount Pleasant in 2012.

I call the typographic style untutored but confident.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

2018 World Cup

I am excited for the World Cup. Really excited. Everywhere you look there are epic possibilities and echoes of past glory, past ignominy.

Tunisia! Playing England in their first game! They were there in my first time cup in 1978. The prospect of them getting a result against England is quite tantalising, quite naughty.

 Speaking of which - Iceland! Less people than Tasmania! Playing Messi's Argentina first if you don't mind! And managed by a part time dentist!

 I pulled out Senegal in the work sweep. Remember the opening game of 2002 when their journeymen from the French 2nd division beat the champions France on opening night of the Cup? Football, bloody hell.

 My hopes for the beauty and drama of the football are boundless. Australia are quite likely to come home without a goal or a point. But ... what if on Saturday night they stun France, Senegal-style? And go top of the group? Nick a 1-1 with Denmark and then it's a 0-0 staring contest with Peru to WIN the group? Which would send them to a knockout game against 2nd rate Croatia, 3rd rate Nigeria or Actual Minnow Iceland?

 Yes, I dream big. See I've already got us into the Quarters (where we are going to meet at worst Uruguay) but enough of the football.

 My hopes for Russia, for FIFA, for racism, corruption, hooliganism .. are zero. This World Cup won't change a thing. They never do. And that's depressing.

 England's Danny Rose has insisted his family do not come to Russia for the Cup - their skin colour puts them at risk. German sports journalist Hajo Seppelt, who uncovered the story of systematic Russian doping, is not covering the Cup ... German security agencies have advised him he would be at risk if he travelled there.

 It's a collision of sports and politics, mad nationalism, individual brilliance and dogged team-first discipline, lurid despicable cheating, grace and generosity and rusted-on certainties and surprises. I hate it, I love it. Go Australia, go Iceland, go Tunisia, go football.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Opening up old photos

I have been training a documentary film-maker over the last few weeks, showing her ways to make good use of stills in her film. She is getting these amazing pics from the State Library of Victoria archives. It's her project, not mine, so I don't want to say too much about it at this stage. And just for my own clip I have protected the identity of these fellows (pointless really as it's not recorded who they are).

Anyway – this is one of 3 examples I have made for her to use in her film trailer.

  • In Photoshop I separated the foreground layers from each other and the background
  • faked up all the important parts that were hidden in the original (this is the hard part)
  • used AfterEffects to move the layers apart in 3D space so it's like a wafer
  • then rotated that wafer so that the 3D space is visible, with layers moving across each other
It's the most fun I have had at work in ages.