Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mornings Vic-Style Part I

The alarm starts going off for the morning. The sound begins as a totally foreign one that you can't identify. Actually, you have so much trouble identifying it that you have to lift your head from the pillow, squint your eyes at it and pull your lips back into a peculiar half-mouth grimace. You continue to stare at it until the light materialises from a bleary smudge into almost-focus.

Then, you feel compelled to utter in that high-pitched mostly-asleep voice whatthefuckitstooearly and Idontwannagetup. The alarm is on the other side of the bed, is actually your phone as well, and is actually attatched to the wall via power cable so the thing can charge. In between you and the noisy target is your partner.

You really didn't want to wake her up. It just took you a while to comprehend what was going on. As you gingerly raise yourself up on an elbow to reach (lunge, really, but it doesn't sound so delicate) over her and retrieve it she reaches out, swiftly unplugs it and flips it over her shoulder in your direction. It's still ot over, though. That sound will continue until you can figure out how to hit Dismiss on a touch screen that changes orientation every time you wobble your sleepy hand and is so bright you have to squint at it even more than you did when you first tried to wake up to it.

Next up: Raising your sorry self from under the covers.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Smart

"I feel it's just some sort of game if it's just abstract." - Jeffrey Smart

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Arena

I've mentioned a couple of times before (here, here, and here) that I have a fascination with graffiti.

Here's some of my favourites from "The Arena" in local Cardiff - a section of storm drain totally covered in graffiti.


Asyou can seee by the paintovers, there's generations of artists who have painted here.

Faded Out

There's places for the grass to grow.

Grass In the Arena

Silent Urthers

Block Wall


And after you finish your stroll through this burst of colour, climb on out.

Drain Ladder

Monday, May 23, 2011

Joining the Treasure Hunt

What a self-indulgent weekend. I went treasure hunting both days, but a different way for each day.

Saturday saw the headlong dive back into the world of garage sale goodness. I used to indulge in this delicacy almost every Saturday, back when I lived in the one-suburb Farmerdale. Since moving to Planet Newy I've only done it once. It's either been too daunting to take on a particularly unfamiliar city armed with a newspaper and a map from the phone book, or I've been working or tired or hung over or something similarly destructive to early Saturday morning motivation.

Oh, but the treasures! Troves of seventies goodness laid out on plastic tables. Exercise equipment with layers of dust, rust and cobwebs. And the old guy with the bum bag. There's always got to be one! I'm back in the game. Addicted. Because somewhere in between those Women's Weekly cookbooks, the knitting patterns and the old rusty tools, there will be the hidden goldmine of music resources for fifty cents each. There will be the perfect knock-around kids guitar in the corner at five dollars because it's only got two strings. Oh yes, there be treasure!

After a slightly hung over start to Sunday morning we embarked on a treasure hunt of a different kind. Since I got an android phone with GPS, the world treasure hunting game of Geocaching has captured my interest. All over the place, unbeknownst to the "muggles" -that is, the nongeocaching folk - there are hidden containers. You search for them following the coordinates given, find the hidden cache and leave a note that you've been there. Sometimes the caches have things to swap in them - treasures, of a sort. You take an item, you leave an item in exchange. And it's all supposed to be done in secret, so that the muggles don't find out.

So yesterday my caching tour took me to an old part of Planet Newy. Originally built in 1856, it was a light tower for navigational purposes for the harbour. It was rebuilt in 1877 because the Wesleyans built a bigger building in front of it (nobody thought about that one, did they?). The bearings of the entrance channel to the harbour were altered in 1918, so it was no longer necessary. For once, this is a historic part of town that hasn't been left to crumble and become forgotten - or too messed up to bother fixing! A real treasure indeed.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Smart

"Sometimes I'll drive around for months despair, nothing, nothing, then suddenly I will see something that seizes me.. a shape, a combination of shapes, a play of light or shadows and I send up a prayer because I know I have the germ of a picture" - Jeffrey Smart

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Have to admit I'm tempted

Oh, all those things about getting older. The kilos stay on, the eyesight gets worse, the price of beer becomes outrageous, and suddenly you realise you have no idea what all the kids are talking about.

Luckily, Google and Wikipedia are my friends. I can cheat a little. I don't have to pretend that I know any more because I've read the articles and I've clicked the links.

What am I on about? Planking.

It now has it's own Wikipedia definition. Basically we have something that started off small, with the Planking Australia facebook page, but went worldwide extremely quickly because of the whole nature of Facebook (ugh). The Planking Australia page currently has 140,000 followers.

A guy in Brisbane has died after trying to plank on a seventh floor balcony and, surprisingly enough, falling to the ground. Another guy is in a coma after trying to plank on a moving car. Eight people from across three states have been sacked by one retail chain alone for planking at work. Schoolkids have been suspended over it. There are police warnings, statements from the PM, workplace warnings. Though I detest the "fun police" idea and firmly believe it's the stupidity of some individuals that bring things out of control this way.

Really, this one does belong in every workplace safety bulletin. With the plain heading of "Dickhead".

But, I have to admit I'm tempted.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Lunches this week

Monday: Two apples and a homemade salad

Tuesday: Two mandarines and a homemade salad

Today: Same as yesterday

and expect the same for the rest of the week.

Last week? Exactly the same.

Couple this with walking literally kilometres daily back and forth while carrying surveyor's equipment. Have I lost weight? Hell no.

Is it the modern doom to tread water until you go for personal training?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Impending Winter

It's starting to get cold. Not bitterly cold. Not wet and damp cold. Not snow or frost or anything pretty cold. Just I wish I had a fireplace constant cold.

So far it's only morning and evening, but this is enough to kill any desire to keep getting up early. The newly formed resolution to stop pressing the snooze button was going well last week. Today it's colder, so that alluring button won out. I find it funny that there is that connection in the mind between exhausted and cold - it happens as soon as I stick my semi-aware foot out form under the covers. It registers cold... and suddenly I'm so exhausted I couldn't possibly get up before having another ten minutes sleep. And another ten. And another.

The cats - Jonah and Tyla - have also started to realise it's getting cold. For the whole of summer I've been missing Jonah's company at my feet. He would solidly refuse and only come into the bedroom to explore the cupboards at 6am on a weekend, when we're trying to enjoy a rare sleep-in, when he felt he was hungry and knew we'd go feed him to settle him down. Otherwise the pair of cats - the boys - would both camp out at the door periodically and stare, but would not come in.

They've changed their tune now. They are a little pair of sentinels on the end of the bed. Mostly, they start out one on each side. I must be less of a moving sleeper though, because they both seem to end up on mine after a while.

How is it that a six-kilo cat turns into something like a bag of concrete when it's on top of your quilt? And once they've decided on a spot, they turn into feline boomerangs. I pick Tyla up from the position that I'm sure is wonderful for him, but nestles directly between my knees, and I move him over onto flat patch on the other side of the bed. Next thing he's walked straight back onto that spot. Pick him up, put him somewhere else. Nope, back he comes to the one spot that guarantees I can't move around unless he does.

The cold approaching means a few good things, too. The appreciation of the morning coffee grows stronger as my hands wrap tighter around that preciously warm mug. I have a couple of favoutrites just for winter that feel right in my cupped hands.

It also means crisp, beautiful mornings. It means fog with sunlight breaking through. It means gorgeous photographic opportunities. It means positioning yourself in the patches of early morning sun and appreciating the small warmth upon your back as you are heading out to work.

It's time for heaters. For the next few months that peculiar dance, the heater dance will happen. You know it. We've all done it. You know, that slow left-right rotisserie in front of whatever heating appliance is available. Where you start off just a little crouched. You stick your hands out in front of you, palms at right angles to your wrists. And then slowly, you start to twirl, as you realise that the back of your knee area is getting cold too. As you spin, you move your hands to your bum and point them at the opposite right angle direction. Yep, you know the dance all right.

The cold has started, alright. This morning I've hit the snooze button three times, wrapped my hands around my favourite mug and looked outside at the already marvellous day. At least there's some positives.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Smart

“The truth is I put figures in mainly for scale…” - Jeffrey Smart

Thursday, May 12, 2011


I thought I'd better post a few of my photos, even though I've been really dissatisfied with my strike rate lately. Here's the best of a bad lot from a reasonably recent trip to Dorrigo.

Dorrigo is the home of a World Heritage National Park, an old train yard, a somewhat interesting hand-made motorbike called the Ned Kelly bike - more interesting because it's housed in a very terribly cafe - and really not much else. From my older days of living near that area I remember that Dorrigo red soil potatoes are apparently the best you can get. Those must all get shipped out because we didn't see a spud anywhere!

Back to the bit about the World Heritage National Park - it's part of the Central Eastern Rainforest reserves of Australia. Here's the tourist mini-guide: "Dorrigo National Park protects areas containing plant and animal communities typical of the eastern rim of the New England Tablelands. High rainfall and moist conditions nurture subtropical, warm and cool temperate rainforests. Subtropical rainforest grows in the richer soils and supports huge, buttressed yellow carabeens, black booyongs ahnd bungalow palms. Strangler figs germinate high in the canopy and vines loop from the branches. Elkhorns, staghorns, crows nest ferns, cunjevoi, ferns and mosses create a vivid green forest, splashed with deep red flowers of flame trees in early summer."

I really would love to spend days and days walking around these rainforests. The vegetation is amazing. The greens are so vivid. Theres thousands of little microworlds to learn about, explore and marvel at. And then there's fungi. Keep a firm grip on my hand... because when I stop, fascinated by something, it's easy to leave me far behind!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday Smart

“I find myself moved by man in his new violent environment. I want to paint this explicitly and beautifully… only very recently have artists again started to comment on their real surroundings” - Jeffrey Smart

Friday, May 6, 2011

Things that constantly amaze me

  • Rain. I know the sciencey blah behind it. But seriously, it just falls from the sky. Then it doesn't. Then it does. Then it sniffs out public holidays and stays! Brilliant!
  • The abilty of cats to sense when you wake up and appear just in time to wind themselves in between your legs on the way to the kitchen.
  • My continuing fascination with Matt Preston
  • Auto Electricians. *Snip *Snip *Snip *Twist *Key-click *VROOM. There you go, done. They make a spidery mess make sense in ten secons flat.
  • How I can use a packet mix to make muffins yet still feel like a masterchef at 6am when those little bliss bombs roll out of the oven.
  • The addictive properties of the Zelda series of games.
  • Tourism-driven art vendors.
  • That practising scales to a metronome is the best form of relaxation I know.
  • How much Jonah continues to amuse me. I just watched him bury his nose into the bristle end of an oversize paintbrush and waited for the inevitable sneeze. Cracks me up every time.
  • Touch phones
  • The undiminishing libido of my partner... *grin*

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bin for Laden

I'm feeling like an arse.

In America there's people dancing on the streets in joy that Osama bin Laden is dead, people spontaneously singing the Star Spangeld banner, shouting out USA! and waving flags. Kids who should not know hate waving signs.

Here, I sat in front of my computer and raised my eyebrows. The most I spoke was a comment to my girlfriend - Hey babe. They reckon they shot Bin Laden. Why am I feeling like an arse? I'm not excited at all. I don't think it's a milestone in any way other than to take away the known element - the focus of a name - and bring back in to play the core of terrorism: that the perpetrators are faceless. At least with a figurehead those who felt the need to hate had somewhere to point that hate. Those who felt the need to fear had someone to blame for that fear. Now what?

Just because the guy who was the face of Al Quaeda to the media is dead do we think it's over? Even if Al quaeda itself were to proclaimed eradicated it would not be over. There will always be terrorism in some form because it is a very strong capacity in humans to be terrified.

I can't get excited about it at all.

I can't even decide on which of my ideas I support the best. I'm just not passionate about it at all.

Do I go with theory one: That Obama is coming up for re-election and needs some form of victory to justify that troops are still kicking around away from home? Piss off Pakistan so it can stay in the media for a while? Get some pictures of blood stained trashed rooms together (miraculously no blood on the walls, just the floors... even though there were claims of head shots)? Get some party pictures of everybody in the situation room like they're about to watch a football game. Then dump the body over the side of a boat and say it's out of respect?

Or do I go with theory two? Al Quaeda needs a new face. Bin Laden has been at it for ten years and it's time to give the guys someone new to respect. They'll be taking over from someone who was taken out by the very people they despise - a great motivator to start something new. It'll shut the Americans up for a while, too, because they feel they've made a victory. There'll be more pressure to take the forces back home.

Or theory number three: That it wasn't Osama at all. Just a dude with a beard made to look like him and that he's planted his own death.

Too many theories. Not enough desire to believe them. So I'm settled with this for the moment:

A dude is dead. The Americans are happy because they shot him. It apparently avenges the thousands of deaths associated with the twin towers plane attacks.

Monday, May 2, 2011