Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Al's birthday

*kneels in confession*

Well, it's been more than a week since my last posting. I haven't reflected on anyone else's blog or flickr posting and I've barely thought for myself.

Last week was dull. The weekend was almost entirely indoors, with rain sometimes drizzling; and the last two days have not been astounding. I'm also recovering from a cold (which is not, repeat NOT, a Mexican flu). Tomorrow night I was going to see the Choir of Hard Knocks but instead I'm going to Footscray instead, to explain a Very Big Plan with my two Ministers. I'll let you know how that goes.

Tonight, at least, is Number One Son's birthday, and we celebrate with a number of quasi-goth-metal-Pixies-punk-alt-Velvet-Underground-Kinks-Skyhooks-loves-the seventies(?)-clash-styled gifts. At Mr 14's request, dinner was a celebratory paella and a jug of sangria.

Other than that, I don't have much worthy of putting into written words, with one possible exception. Number three child was reporting on his child care experience, explaining his views about his new carer Niaz (who is a Muslim):
"Well .... she has green eyes. And she's got brown skin. She also wears a sheet on her head. But she wears a sheet on her head because she likes it; not because she's a ghost."
By the way, I can confirm Niaz is not a ghost - she is one of the wonderful and many suffering carers ("Gumnutters") to whom we owe our sanity. Thank you Niaz, Jess, Michelle, Max et al. You are not paid enough. You are not thanked enough. Even if we tried really hard; even to a sycophantic and weird degree; even to the point where you'd feel uncomfortable enough to call the police, we still could never thank you enough. So thank you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Holga visits the Merri Creek

Still love me Holga, I do.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

History Men Meet Twitter

I feel your pain, history men...

Friday, April 17, 2009

An evening of discovery and Tour de Frank

Thursday night we went out straight after work. Several discoveries were made that advanced the sum of human knowledge. Or mine, at least.

Discovery Number One

The Orange Martini at the Gin Palace is fragrant, bitter, pungent and, well, orange. If we'd had time I would have had a second. Good thing we didn't have time - all that sugar can't be good for you.

Discovery Number Two

The Duck and Beer Hotpot at Post Deng is unbelievable.

Dinner was had at Post Deng on Little Bourke St and it was fantastic. I've been there a couple of times and it's always been pretty good, and the chili oil dumplings were as good as they usually are. The dumplings themselves were ok, but the oil/sauce mix is what makes the dish - rich and with an instant heat. The salt and pepper squid was good but wasn't particularly light or extraordinary. So far, so ordinary.

The duck in beer hotpot, on the other hand, was extraordinary. Small pieces of duck on the bone and fresh cucumber with lots of chili, but with a creeping heat rather than a fresh chili slap-in-the-face. Add a mix of fragrant spices including black pepper and star anise and it was just perfect; add tea and Tsingtao and it was perfecter (or maybe even perfectest...).

Discovery Number Three

After years of scorn and upwards-nose turning, F has discovered that Frank Zappa's music may not be so bad after all. I saw Dweezil Zappa at 2007's "Zappa plays Zappa" tour, and at this year's "Tour de Frank" tour, Dweezil played at the Palais Theatre in St Kilda.

The first set included "Echidna's Arf (Of You)"; "Illinois Enema Bandit"; "Village of the Sun"; and the highlight for me, "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?" The latter pushed hard up against the limits of the band's cohesion, and there were a few moments that weren't as tight as they needed to be for what is, to be fair, a madly complex piece.

The second set was a bit more self-indulgent, with everyone getting at least a couple of solos, which is a struggle even in full health, but I could feel myself slipping into the first day of a full cold. So, feeling feverish and listening to the second bass solo for the night, we didn't stay for the encore.

I may need to expand my "Relativistic Drum Solo Theory" to incorporate bass. The Theory postulates that, any observer subjected to a drum solo of more than 8 bars will noticeably feel time slow to the point where they can imagine all eternity stretched out in front of them, and will wish that drum machines had been invented before jazz.

The Artist Formerly Known As Johnny Diesel, And Then Just Diesel, But Who Was Born Mark Lizotte (TAFKAJDATJDBWWBML) came out and sang "Bamboozled by Love" with the band. When TAFKAJDATJDBWWBML was introduced, I wasn't particularly thrilled, but he's got a surpisingly big blues voice and the song choice worked. So while I'd been disappointed that Ray White hadn't made it to Australia, (DZ announced it was more likely we'd see this Ray White) the Dweezil and Diesel Show worked really well.

The Palais is still beautiful, by the way. Even if the ceiling looks like a cheap extra from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Relaxed weekend

Relaxed Easter weekend. Much housework (in a casual kind of manner); Saturday breakfast out; and a number of walks around the Merri Creek, which will be documented in future Holga-related postings (ie, when the films come back from the processing folks at Heidelberg).

Relaxed day at work, catching up on backlogs and working my way through old emails. Returned home to find a replacement Diana and Holga arrived. Having spent Friday booking the mid-year central-Australia trip (for which they were purchased), now I can't wait to get them out and take them for a whirl.

There's a possibility that Master 13yo isn't talking to me, but it's only a possibility - it's too hard to distinguish from the everyday silence for me to be really sure.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bike lessons along Merri Creek

Of course, if you want the high-def version, you'll need to go here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Electric Car

This morning I had to get up at the breaking of Sparrow's wind so I could be at Albert Park Lake by 8.00am. Winter seems to have been dumped swiftly upon us, which although means wonderful rain also means reluctant mornings and damp sullenness.

Albert Park Lake

Two tram rides and a confused walk later, (stopping at MSAC to ask directions) I arrived just in time for a pair of powerpoint presentations and a scrambled-egg-in-a-bowl-with-salsa-and-toast-sticks(?) breakfast. Sitting through a third presentation, saved 'till last because it was the interesting one, I finally got tapped on the shoulder for my turn to drive the electronic contrivance.


I then did a comfortable lap around part of the Grand Pricks track (no, that's not a typo) as it was being disassembled. I'm of the, "they can stick motor racing up their arses" philosophy, so trucks moving Grand Stands for Small Penises were a hindrance rather than a source of excitement.

The contrivance was designed to be as dull, car-like and unthreatening as possible. It drove normally, albeit quietly and with a modest sense of suppressed power (which is called "torque", I'm told). I got a go, as did Fiona, Tom and Justin. Then a taxi-ride to the office and back to the world of dreams. Or from the world of dreams - it's hard to tell sometimes.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Frank's Cough Drops

Cough lozenges advert, with a soundtrack by Frank Zappa. And this, dear reader, is why I love the interwebs...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

...Basically About Two Things...

On Friday I had to go and speak at our Integrated Transport Planning division's planning day (because planners need to plan). My task was to explain what my group (Policy and Communications) do. I started with an anecdote:
I know at a planning day you're usually supposed to look to the future with a positive, healthy glow, but I want to start by telling you about a recurring nightmare that I have.

In the nightmare I'm back at university in an English Lit. tutorial. Everyone else is passionately discussing Jane Austin when I'm suddenly put on the spot and asked, "what do you think about Pride and Prejudice". I hear myself stammer and splutter, and eventually say:

"Well, Pride and Prejudice is... ummmm... basically about two things. Ahhh... Pride.... and..."

So, with that in mind.... Policy and Communications Division is basically about two things....
This got a gratifying response, which was especially welcomed as we were in a marquee (at the zoo) and I was shouting above the sound of rain on the tent roof... At one point the noise was so loud I tried to give my presentation by semaphore... Claire (representing the land-use planners) spoke after me and was again interrupted by rain; this time with the added bonus of both LOUD thunder and lightening and a spare rat seen running across the floor.

Added bonus for the day - Claire came back into the CBD in my car and decided that her next car would be a hybrid too. That's one more....

Saturday Night Sparklers

As Blackberried... Testing the new facility.

Really, at some point I have to say "enough sparklers are enough".

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mozart, as the 40th Symphony was meant to be played...

A wonderful Stumbleupon...

Cycling - Bottling the Goodness

As posted, the Cycling Strategy was released to great fanfare and only as a result of a lot of hard work by a few. How to celebrate? By bottling the efforts...

Yup; blood, sweat and tears.... Kaye in the Design Studio at work designed the labels, although the photo was part of the design brief. It was taken in Footscray, and shows a smiling Vietnamese-born man on his bike. Although a lot of us really liked the photo, it was cut out at the last moment from the Cycling Strategy for no real good reason.

A week or so later, Kaye was telling me the photographer had told her about his connection to this photogenic man and his bike. The photographer had been shooting random people on bikes in the CBD and in Footscray when he saw this chap. The man agreed to be photographed and was charming about the whole thing; lots of smiles etc. When the photographer got home, he downloaded the photos onto his PC. His wife, walking past, said, "oh, that's XXXX". "Who?" "You remember, they used to be our next door neighbours..." Ooops...

I bought the wine from Chris, the cleanskin guy at Fairfield. "Blood" is a 2002 Coonawarra Cab Sauv; "Sweat" is a Yarra Valley fizz; and "Tears" is a Pinot Grigio from somewhere.

In 2004 we had some pretty hard rains and much of Fairfield, including the shops, were waist deep in water. Our favourite wine shop owner has a photo of the shop, a meter deep in water, with what looks like a giant transparent fingernail poking out of the waters. I once asked, "what's that?" Wry smile, "that's my Vespa's windscreen"... Ooops...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

All the Kidlets, in one photo

...sort of...

Podcast... Oh.. um, ummmm ahh...

My appearance on 3RRR in December turns out to have been podcast for posterity. God help posterity.

All my .....umms, ahhs and stuff ups...

...and coming to terms with the fact that I sound (a) adenoidal, and (b) unbelievably defensive....