Sunday, November 27, 2011

Black Belt Grading

Two years and one month ago I took up taekwondo. It was one month prior to my son gaining his first dan black belt. I've found it to be a very enjoyable pastime and sport whereby lots of friends of all ages have been made. It's certainly never boring at training as there is always something happening.

Today The Boy and I took part in a black belt grading. Him for his second dan and me for my first. Thankfully it wasn't a really hot day like The Boy's last grading. The higher dans went first, then The Boy and finally the red threes (first geup). I was in the last group. Found it a little difficult to hear the head instructor calling out at times with the shouting going on so looked a little bit slow. Think I only made one wrong move in my five patterns so that was a huge relief. Sparring was a different story though - I did a turning kick to one of my friends and connected quite strongly with his elbow. And this was in the second of about eight spars. A couple of spars later I did the same thing to another opponent and that really hurt. Perhaps that was the loudest that I yelled all afternoon. Once the sparring was complete we had to break two boards. Well, even though it was my right foot that was sore that was the one that I used - successfully.

Man, you'll have to call me Bigfoot from now on. The foot really ballooned. Don't know if a blood vessel was burst but I suspect that it's going to be pretty black by tomorrow. And it's very difficult to walk on. Had to drive home using only the left foot. Good thing that I have an automatic.

Best news for the day was that The Boy passed well and I passed also. Two black belts in the family. I'm a happy boy myself.

Note: I get quite nervous prior to grading and on the morning it is pretty bad. After lunch I had a bit of food stuck in the back of my mouth and used my finger to try to get it out. Whoops, involuntary reaction by the stomach. Managed to stop it just in time. But then I had to have a deep cough and up came lunch. Or about half of it. Oh, well. Didn't ruin things but I could've done with a bit more energy during the grading.

Black Belt Grading Photo Album on Facebook.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Book Review - Everest from sea to summit by Tim Macartney-Snape

At the last Save The Children Book Fair at UWA I purchased Everest from sea to summit by Tim Macartney-Snape. Turns out that it is an autographed copy, although with my name not being Margaret its' probably not worth quite as much as it could be, and not a bad buy for $6.

As soon as I saw the title I knew what the book was about. It's the personal account by New Zealand-born Australian Tim Macartney-Snape's trek from sea level in India to the summit of the world's highest peak. Without oxygen. On foot. Wow!

I like his style of writing and found it to be quite engaging. Not that I'd say as though I felt that I was a part of the journey but he has a lovely way of describing his experience and you find yourself wanting to be there to share the experience. India was a bureaucratic nightmare, maintaining a team of personnel to help was eventful and the wait around base camp prior to his summitting the mountain was painstaking. Even the journey to the summit had me hanging on during his struggle. And I knew that he'd made it beforehand!

It's a great read and Tim Macartney-Snape is a bit of a philosopher who wanted to examine the human condition. What more reason do you need to scale Everest with the start point being 1000kms away?

I picked out a number of quotes from the book that I'd like to share:

p11 - Heroes provide role models and encourage lesser people to strive harder - Richard Cashman.
p45 - To a certain extent the probability of an accident is determined by the caution and judgment you exercise.
p52 - I believe the path to a greater spirituality is through self-knowledge and understanding, not resignation to mysticism; through mastering consciousness, not blocking it out.
p94 - The danger faced is mostly the result of one's own mistakes.
p105 - ...on any journey the only way forward can sometimes be backward..
p129 - We can only look forward to the time when the cause of human upset has been eradicated by an understanding of our condition.
p130 - By making the object of the journey the destination rather than the journey itself, we rob ourselves of an important element of living.
p155 - There is pleasure in hard physical work, a celebration of the remarkable and perfect teamwork of the body's individual parts.
p167 - ...even our greatest mountains are but the tiniest crinkles on the Earth's surface and it is only because we are so small that we perceive them as grand.
p169 - Comfort should not be gained from an airy promise of some mystical afterlife but from the certainty that we are inextricably part of the continuum of life.
pp169-170 - Caring for the environment is a question of education and common sense. The more we are alienated from nature, the more that sense is hidden.
p172 - "to rought it you've got to smooth it".
p212 - Impatience is an easy attitude to cultivate, and it tends to be blind to future possibilities.
p220 - Nothing has ever seemed as lonely and desolate as leaving that wreck of a camp at 3.30 in the morning to head up an icy slope that seemed never to end.
pp224-225 - Criticising others is a natural thing for us to do; it offers us relief from our constant, subconcious self-criticism.
p229 - Even the most insignificant act can help realign the mind in a positive direction.
p245 - One should not go to a famous place if one seeks solitude, even the top of Everest.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Day 6

Even after an early night it was difficult to get out of bed. The night was cold and I had to put more clothes on. Coco Pops for breakfast - you know that you are on holiday when that is on the brekkie menu. Found our way up to Cataract Gorge Reserve without too many problems - thanks to the assistance of my human GPS.

Took the Zig-Zag-Track, designed for hikers, to the top. The view was pretty good. Bit of work to get there. Back down and we took the (expensive) chairlift across the gorge. Great view from the seat. Spotted a potoroo upon our exit. Wandered down the Cataract Walk before turning around to go over the Alexandra suspension bridge. Saw another potoroo when going to the lookout. The chairlift is the world's longest single chairlift span. A very pleasant spot to visit.

Next stop was Tasmania Zoo. So many different creatures to see and feed. We arrived at 12pm which was an hour before the Tasmanian Devils' feeding time. The wedge-tail eagles were magnificent and the Australian Dogs were beautiful. Great to feed the emus, calves, pony, parrots (except for a cockatoo that bit The Boy) and wallabies. Certainly the highlight of the visit was the feeding of the devils. There was a rooster that chased The Boy around the zoo a bit which was funny. He really enjoyed feeding the wallabies. We bought some souvenirs and left at 2pm to head to Beaconsfield. I had thought that the entry price was a bit steep but changed my mind after all of the animals that I had seen.

Our plan was to visit the Beaconsfield Mine & Heritage Centre but, unfortunately, it didn't include a tour of the mine as it is still a working mine. So we had a look around the ruins of the old mine and the exhibition to the trapped miners, Scott Russell and Brant Webb. That was interesting. Sorry to say that it wasn't what I'd hoped to see and I left a bit disappointed.

Wanted to grab a bite to eat in town but, as it was Launceston Show Day, most shops were closed. The Club Hotel was serving meals from 6pm which didn't help us as it was 4:30. Popped across the road for a hamburger and chicken schnitzel burger at Pot of Gold. I rang Shirley at Low Head Penguin Tours and she said that we needed to meet her at about 7:30pm.

It only took half an hour to reach Low Head Penguin Tour area - just keep following the road and you finally reach it although it isn't signposted really well. Had about half an hours sleep, or so, before venturing out. Shirley was there and said we should go to the pilot station whilst we were waiting and we did. There was a plaque to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the sighting of the Tamar River by Bass and Flinders in 1798. Nice little time filler.

There was supposed to be about another 10 people show up, but there were only two more, and they'd probably been put off by the rain that had been falling since 4:30. Taylor (girl) was our guide, must have been 19 or 20 years old, and Shirley popped down afterwards. Almost as soon as we arrived at the viewing platform we spotted four penguins who had come ashore. They were preening themselves first before heading to their burrow. We had a chance to walk up the track where they would be headed so that they walked straight past us. You had to wear dark clothes, watch out for the South African box thorns and the guide used an orange light so that the penguins didn't become frightened. The fine for touching one is $3,000. On this tour you are still allowed to use a camera but no flash. Other tours have banned the use of cameras altogether. Shirley, who runs the information centre in town has been doing the licensed penguin tours for 16 years and she told me that she expected that rule to come in here as well. We must have seen 12-15 penguins in all, in an hour, with the last couple under a bush quite some way from the beach. They did make a few calls. Two penguins were spotted heading out to sea.

On the way back to Launceston, the rain got heavier the closer we got, during the 57km drive. In bed by 10:30pm.

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Photo Album - Photos 91-151.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Weekly Golf Comp at Burswood Park Golf Course

Some of the guys at work have decided to start a weekly golf tournament. Tee time is 6am and nine holes are completed before work. I've decided to join in as I love golf and don't have the time to play otherwise. It's not far from work so not too difficult to join in.

The first hole, the 10th, wasn't a great start with three 4-iron shots to start with. Hit a double bogey and considering that it's been twelve months since I've had a hit that wasn't too bad. Another bogey, double, bogey, bogey followed by three straight pars and I wasn't looking too bad. Hm, that put the mozz on myself. Couple of balls in the drink for a quadruple bogey on the last. At least I broke 50, with my score of 48, but I would have been much more satisfied with a 45 or so. Second best score off the stick for the eight of us so not too bad.

Drove to the car park near work and heard a thumping sound from outside the car. As I slowed so did the frequency of the thumps. As I checked my tyre, check the photos, another guy drove into the car park with the same sound. As I crossed the road to go to work a 4WD went past making the same noise. Somebody dropped a few on the road - bastard. As I left work that evening I noticed a woman with a flat rear passenger side tyre. She stopped for the traffic lights and I attracted her attention. She had no idea that she had a flat tyre. I'm a little amazed by that, in fact. How can you drive a car and fail to notice?

Strange scene in the car park when I noticed a bra on the rear dash of a car. I know that you need to be careful around people who leave a hat in that position but what's the concern with someone who does that with a bra? Bit of a worry.

Burswood Park Golf Course photo album on Facebook.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lolcat - With Our Dog

I made a Lolcat - with our dog.


Not Quite In The Same League As "Hot Enough To Boil A Monkey's Bum"

As you know, I like to point out journalistic errors. They're even funnier because the journalist has made the error and it may have been an oversight on behalf of a sub-editor and/or editor to allow it to pass. I found a rather strange expression, although it has to be said that it's not in the same league as Monty Python's "Hot enough to boil a monkey's bum in here, your majesty" from the Bruce skit, in an article the other day.

It begs the question, "'What are dead ears'"? Perhaps the journalist meant "deaf ears".

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chemfest 2011 At Curtin University

Attended Chemfest yesterday. No, it wasn't about a group of druggies getting together and shooting up, snorting powdery substances or popping pills. It was about some companies, a few of the local universities and Scitech putting on an informative display to get school-aged children excited about studying chemistry.

We saw displays for memory metals, how different household cleaners contain chemicals that would destroy your eyes, fingerprint viewing and everybody's favourite - slimy goo made out of different polymers.

Scitech's own presentation whereby they used liquid nitrogen, fire and made elephant's toothpaste was great. It had the kids', and many of the adults', attention. Check out some of the photos.

Chemfest Photo Album on Facebook.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

When Does Manslaughter Get Relegated To The Entertainment News?

Looking at the news headlines on Google News yesterday and noticed an article about a manslaughter trial posted underneath the Entertainment News section. Thought that that was a bit weird. But there was a connection - it was Conrad Murray's trial for the death of Michael Jackson.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Day 5

Headache receded somewhat but still feeling a bit out of it. Difficult to get out of bed. Had brekkie and a shower before storing our larger bags at the hotel. Caught the train into Flinders Street Station and grabbed a no. 35 City Tram (free) on which we circled the city once. Not really impressed with Docklands which is still being built. Walked around Federation Square for a bit before catching a tram back to the Shrine of Remembrance so that The Boy could buy a souvenir.

Had an ice cream before grabbing our bags from the hotel and catching a train back to the city. Tram to Southern Cross Station for the SkyBus where I wasn't able to upgrade my single ticket to a return. Gotta try. Arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare. Had a yucky gnocchi - neither of us felt like eating junk food. Found out that our gate changed and the flight had been delayed by 30 minutes to Launceston.

Uneventful flight with Qantas AirLink, with better service than Jetstar, to Launceston in a pink plane. Got a bit of sleep on the way. After obtaining our luggage I went to pick up the Avis hire car. Just before signing I was hit with an insurance bill of $34.12/day to remove a $3,348.90 excess for any damage regardless of fault. To say I was not happy would be an understatement as the hire car cost had suddenly doubled. And I had to read the lengthy insurance paperwork - I'm sure this made the hire car representative uneasy too. Then when I finally got to the car there was some damage to the number plate and wing mirror that wasn't on the initial paperwork. Back to the office to inform them.

Driving from the airport to Launceston posed no difficulties and we parked the car near the street where the Batman Fawkner Inn was situated. Not knowing where we were headed it was a bit of a fluke. Actually getting inside was more problematic as no-one was on reception although they were supposed to be. And when they opened the door they wanted me to pay twice for the room which I think had more to do with the booking being made for two adults instead of a child and an adult - the booking process hadn't allowed me to book properly and I'd sorted this out, or so I thought, by email before arriving. The girl on reception promised to provide sheets on about three occasions before finally doing so. Towels cost $1 each. No problem with that.

Behind the inn was a pizza shop where we had a tropical pizza and minestrone soup with garlic bread. Not feeling so well we were unable to finish it.

One thing I've noticed in Tassie, if not a few, you don't really need to do a penguin tour as all of the women are obese and waddle like penguins, homes on the hillside are two levels and every television I saw was a widescreen plasma.

The girl from reception gave me directions to the shopping centre but the other side entrance to City Park was open although a gate on the inside was closed therefore I had to walk up the hill and go the long way around.

The Batman Fawkner Inn was where an historic meeting took place that led to the settlement of Melbourne. And it has a great, hot shower.

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Photo Album - Photos 86-90.

Canning River Regional Park Ride

There's quite a bit of water in the Canning River Regional Park area. This morning I took a bike ride so that I could take some photos. Before you know it the weather will have warmed up significantly and all of the water will be gone. And much of the bird life with it.

The area is quite beautiful and peaceful. Surprising as it is so close to a major shopping centre and not far from the city. Lovely area for a walk or a bike ride. Lots of people walk their dogs there too.

Canning River Regional Park photo album on Facebook.

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Day 4

D, T and M picked us up just after 9am and drove us up into the Dandenongs visit Grants on Sherbrooke to feed wild birds (tres cool) and to the SkyHigh cafe atop Mt Dandenong itself for the lookout and The Giant's Chair. There was a nice view of Melbourne and the CBD looked rather small from a distance. Melbourne is an expansive city however.

Quite a long drive down the Mornington Peninsula and we stopped at Sorrento for lunch at Just Fine Foods - although I wouldn't say the same about the service. Fish and chips x4 off and a chicken and leek pie for myself, followed by the best vanilla slices around (self-boast on their behalf). Weren't bad. We walked down to the beach and out onto the jetty where the breeze was quite chilling. D drove us to Cape Schanck and we wandered down the boardwalk to Pebble Beach after looking at Bushranger Bay.

The Boy and I both had headaches from getting dehydrated the day before. By this stage it was after 5pm so the nearby maze that we'd planned to visit had closed. Back to D & T's house for a rest before going out to Ghin Thai Cafe for a nice dinner. The cafe was very quiet but that was because everyone else was ordering home delivery. D drove us back to our hotel by 9:30pm and we went pretty much straight to bed.

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Photo Album - Photos 65-85.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Damage By Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos

There's a number of red-tailed black cockatoos, Calyptorhynchus banksii, about. Without looking I thought that it was obviously named after Sir Joseph Banks, the famous botanist, as a Latin name ending with a double "i" indicates naming after a person.

Enough language lecturing. These birds are noisy and destructive. They like eating gum nuts and throwing away the branches that were attached to them. If you look closely at the photos around the base of the trees you'll notice a huge amount of leaves and branches. And I think the birds have only been feeding on this particular tree for about a week. When I tried to get a photo up close the birds flew away before coming back to land higher up the tree. Little bit touchy and private.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Early Evening Telemarketer Call - Another Scam

The phone has been ringing hot this evening. Well, there's been three telemarketers call anyway.

One of them, quite rudely, asked me to confirm my name. No, it's my phone so she can tell me who she is. Cheryl Baxter, apparently, from the Melbourne head office of Virtual PC Doctor. Oh really? Then she crapped on about viruses and bugs having been uploaded to the Internet, etc, and how I'd have to check my family PC for this. I wasn't sure what a "family PC" was so she explained that it was the PC or computer that I had in the house. But I hadn't mentioned anything about a computer. So she prompted me to admit if I had a computer or not. Hmm, I wasn't sure. So she asked me to go check if I had a computer. I left her waiting whilst I checked. Even though it only took a minute to work out if I had a computer or not she wasn't there when I returned to the phone. Pity, I was having a bit of fun.

Strange, she didn't really sound like her name was Cheryl. A quick check on Google revealed that this, shock! horror!, is a scam.

Ed - a fourth call before finishing this post.

Did Somebody Get Dressed In The Dark?

Bit of a surprise on the bus in the morning yesterday. No, it's not a new style in clothing. I just reckon that someone didn't have the light on when they got dressed. Funny to sit behind them though, camera at the ready.