Thursday, October 22, 2009

A new home

We received word today that our offer on a new house has been accepted, so we'll be moving in the new year. Have to put our current house on the market.

I'm not sure how I feel about the whole thing. The new house is nice, but it's closer to the relies-in-law, so I hope it doesn't mean more interference in our lives. I like our current place, the sun in the mornings, the view from the study, the closeness to the shops, the library, the bus. Close to parks and bushwalks. I think I'll miss it a lot.

What I don't like is our noisy neighbours with way too many cars. But they won't live there forever. The new house also has a place for guests to stay that segregated from our living space.

I was hoping that our offer would be rejected. Then, at least, I would not be held responsible for the decision by those pushing for it. But they did agree and now my lazy summer will be spoiled by house inspections and paperwork. So I'm not the happiest person in the world right now.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cars are the real inhabitants of our cities

I have come to realise just how much Sydney is ruled by the car. B wants to move out of our duplex, tired of the loud Arabic music and swearing that come through our wall late at night and of neighbours with far too many cars. We were looking at a new development down the road in Barden Ridge. Half of it already has houses, the rest is yet to be cleared.

It was dead. But for one family playing with remote control cars and electric ride-on toy vehicles on the road there was no life in around the new houses. In the background I could hear the distant sound of trailbikes in the surrounding bush. Apart from those sounds, and the odd jet flying overhead, it was silent. Spookily so.

In the little community, segregated off from the rest of the suburb, there is a tennis court, an oval, but no shops or services. None. Want a carton of milk? Drive. Bread? Drive. Feeling peckish? Drive. Sure the nearest shops, restaurants and schools are only ten minutes away, but that's by car. No wonder the suburb is so quiet. Everybody is out driving.

More sad news

I learned today that George Dobson passed away after an accident in India.

I knew George when he was the convenor of the CSIRO Double Helix Science Club's Rockhampton Chapter. He organised a number of events, including a wonderful bush trek and a talk I gave at the Rockhampton Airport terminal about human travel to Mars. As a high school student I had been agitating a number of years for a chapter to be set up in the local area and was delighted when George took up the role.

George was trekking in India when he fell down a mountainside, sustaining injuries that left him a quadriplegic. Hospitalised in India, while his family in Australia struggled to raise funds for his treatment and to bring him home, he eventually succumbed to complications.

You can read more about George Dobson on the Bring George Back website. And please learn from this tragedy. If you are travelling overseas, buy medical insurance because the Australian government can't bail you out.

A question of breeding

My brother in law's Cavalier King Charles spaniel "Monty" died yesterday of probable heart failure. He was six years old.

Monty was a pedigree dog. We purchased him from a show dog breeder as a companion to Michael's other Cavalier, a tricolour female named Meiji. B and I were sitting down at the breeder's house with the litter of puppies wandering around the floor when Monty kept coming up and nuzzling us. He had his father's affectionate nature and he chose us.

The contrast between Monty and Meiji was extraordinary. Meiji, the dominant partner bought from a non-registered breeder, was scruffy but highly intelligent and independent. Monty, on the other hand, had a fine coat and beautiful tail, loving nature but was rather dim. He adored both human and canine company and pined for Meiji when they were separated, though he would always cover up any of her business with a quick piddle of his own.

At nine years old Meiji of unknown descent is still the queen of the rear garden. It was the lineaged Monty that passed away first. Apparently, the vet had previously diagnosed a heart murmur, not an uncommon condition in the breed.

We thought that we were doing the right thing by going to a registered breeder, but it seems obvious now. One dog was bred for looks over brains and health, the other, who knows? It was all too uncomfortably close to the recent BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed. At least neither of them showed signs of syringomyelia.

Maybe there should be two types of registered breeders. One that breeds the canine equivalent of Paris Hilton for dog shows. The other can breed healthy and intelligent dogs for the rest of us.

Rest in peace Monty.

Monty (floor), Meiji and our dog Kita

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Mock Nobody - Television Star

You can catch my (probable) Logie award winning performance as Mock Nobody on ABC television's Catalyst science program or watch the video online. It may not be a speaking part, but my lugging around of an ancient Toshiba laptop computer was crucial to the portrayal of the whole wifi patent case. I'm sure that a movie deal is just around the corner!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Creeping crawling

When I arrived home from work this evening there were Alex and Kita at the door bouncing up and down happily. It was such a lovely greeting.

Alex began his first tentative crawl on Sunday evening. I caught him out of the corner of my eye while making dinner. He had been shuffling around on his bottom for a while, threatening to crawl, but now he finally worked out the process. It's terribly cute, but scary to think about all the childproofing required.

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