Saturday, December 06, 2014

Maniac day

You know you are getting old when your day goes like this...

  • Son wakes up and wants to play the new dance game you stayed up late installing for him the night before.
  • Go to swimming lessons. Assessor says your son is ready for the next level.
  • Have a quick lunch at McDonalds to celebrate and it's not even 11 am.
  • Then head off to Chinese School in Miranda for a presentation day where your son performs along with the rest of his class.
  • Half an hour later you are at a birthday party at Monkey Mania in Bankstown 
  • Two and a half hours later after he's been running, dancing, sliding, driving and screaming you step outside into a torrential downpour and your shoes get soaked.
  • Come home and cook miso steak stirfry.
  • Your son keeps dancing in front of the PS3 until it's his bedtime.
... And you seem more tired than he does.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Heat and fog

One of those odd November days with temperatures in the high thirties. A pity the pool was ready. Thanks to quite a few days of high winds, the flowering gums and unusable pool vacuum pipes the pool has taken on a greenish tinge. I bought replacement pipes and $250 worth of chemicals and managed to suck up the leaves on the bottom. But after scraping the algae the suction ceased and the pump kept shutting down. So now the pool looks even worse.

Alex fell in while helping me. He got quite a shock, but seemed more disappointed in himself that he made a mistake and couldn't help further.

I fell asleep watching cricket. It was cricket weather and indeed why cricket is the perfect spectator sport for a hot day, background entertainment for brains slowed by the heat.

It cooled down with the arrival of a breeze in the late afternoon. Low cloud skidded along across the river, an unusual sea fog according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Higher cloud seemed to threaten storms that never eventuated, as aircraft passed overhead in the golden light. Quite beautiful, but the weekend is not long enough.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Of Hiroshima and war

While we are on the topic of Hiroshima I recently read one of the books we bought from that city's Peace Memorial Museum on the atomic bomb.

Shortly after the conclusion of the Second World War American journalist John Hersey visited Hiroshima and interviewed some of the survivors of the devastating nuclear bomb blast that destroyed the city. His account was published in The New Yorker and then as a book, Hiroshima, which is still in print to this day. It is freely available online.

I urge everyone to read it, so that they may understand the horrific consequences of using nuclear weapons and of war itself. And if you can visit the museum in Hiroshima so that you can see it with your own eyes.

I cannot regard war as noble and glorious. Soldiers should be seen as firemen, not tools of politics and power. People we respect for risking their lives to defend us from an event that the sane among us would never wish to occur. Just as nobody should unleash a destructive fire so too should we condemn those that would inflict war upon the world.

From Hiroshima

Something old
Something new
Nothing borrowed
Something blue

And blessed by a bird

Friday, November 21, 2014

Eucalyptus flowering

The valley walls of the Georges River have puffy cream clouds interspersed with their usual dark green. After each windy day the surface of the pool is covered with thousands of filaments, the stamens that make up the flower of a eucalyptus.

I don't recall a season where the flowering is as prominent as this. Throughout the bush and suburbia that makes up the local area, this one species of gum tree is in flower. The air is scented sickly sweet, almost like the smell of a rubbish bin.

I think the season is coming to an end, the stamens turning brown and stripping away, the night air infused with the pleasant scent of flowering gardenias as the days turn as hot as summer in the turbulence of late spring.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Rollercoasters and Dodgeball

I swear my birthday parties were never this big. In this first year of school it seems like you have to invite the whole class and then some. But when you watch them play or at school it's really like a big family. Maybe better than a family, or at least less troublesome!

On Friday I managed to catch the weekly school assembly and it was amazing how Alex's class have grown over the past year. So confident with their public speaking and I'm very impressed by how they seem to get on with the older kids as well.

We booked a supervised session at the local sports centre and the twenty or so kids played a variety of sports, from the planned dodgeball, to touch football and "stuck in the mud" where you have to crawl between the legs of any tagged player to "unstick" them.

After selecting the sports centre I had glimpsed a bit of the Dodgeball movie, inspiring the choice. When some wheelchair basketballers entered an adjacent court I thought Patches O'Houlihan had arrived to throw spanners.

After a sweaty hour they were led back to the tables for a party meal of chips, sushi (supposedly for the adults but the kids hogged most it), cocktail sausages in pastry and fruit.

The piece de resistance was, of course, the cake. We had said we were going simple this year, but Alex requested a rollercoaster chocolate cake and we couldn't resist going to the fondant again. Not that impressed with the result, but it did the job and made for a lot of bright blue tongues (after they were first turned red by raspberry slushies).

Absolutely exhausted as usual. Don't know how to start the week when we've barely had a weekend. Maybe next year it'll just be family and a few close friends... maybe...

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Sculpture, sea and storms

A week of beauty and boredom, of portents and pretence. A week worth remarking on for its many facets.

It started on Sunday with a trip out to Bondi Beach to view the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition. After catching the train to Bondi Junction and seeing the queues for the buses we decided to walk down to the beach. But first a stop at the Authentic Chip Shop for lunch.

We only chose it because it was open and on our (slightly mistaken) path. It served fried food from the United Kingdom. Fish, chips, burgers, haggis, black pudding. We were not adventurous enough for the last two.

The coastal path between Bondi and Tamarama was crowded and it was difficult just to stop and admire the varied beauty and meaning behind the sculptures. I found myself particularly liking the numerous Japanese contributions, amused by that. Alex was too tired to enjoy much, until he came to the counting gate on the sands at Tamarama.

On Tuesday and Wednesday I returned to the coast, though sadly I could not make it further up to the exhibition. I was attending a two day workshop at Coogee Bay, staying at the Crowne Plaza, about working together in the new organisational structure. If I actually had time to do some work together with the other members of my immediate team, normally based in Canberra, it would have been useful. Sadly, much of it was wasted in team building exercises that only management seems to love.

Coogee Beach itself was very beautiful and the weather perfect. After dinner I joined a couple of other members of the team and we walked northward in the night along the promenade. At the bluff we looked back down along the beach and wished that we had brought our good cameras, for the view of the lights shimmering off the gently rolling waves was magical.

So after we returned to the hotel I retrieved my camera from my room and returned to the bluff.

Despite the late hour, about 10 pm, the park and beach were still busy with people of all ages taking in the warm night air. There was no drunken belligerence, just happy sounding barbecues, joggers and strollers, beach fishermen, even children giggling.

I returned to my room and discovered free on demand movies were available, selected Pacific Rim and quite enjoyed it.

Naturally I was very tired the next day, but in the gap between breakfast and session opening I took a stroll southward and discovered yet more stunning views as the Sun shimmered off the water. I should like to do the entire coastal walk one day.

Upon my return to my normal office I had to pack up and move to a new building. I am sad to go from a very quiet, very modern, location embedded with mathematicians and statisticians, where I had great views of the south and west, of aircraft flying over, as I stood upon the balcony, to a dingy shared workspace with fellow communicators, people always on the phone or chattering away. I was happy alone. Real communicators tend not to be, but I am a developer.

It is storm season and already hot. A couple of weeks ago I had arrived at Padstow station late in the day to see a great rolling storm front to the west, lightning flickering jaggedly down. I thought I still had enough time to reach home before it possibly struck, but no, maybe ten minutes later the bus shook in the ferocious gusts, lightning flashed and heavy rain pelted down.

Fortunately I was able to cross to the shelter of our local shopping centre and wait the short time until it passed before walking home.

Then today we ended the week with another storm. Again sheltered in a shopping centre, this time Miranda, we noticed little of it, except that half the lights switched off as nearby suburbs lost power.

But the wind today was strong until the passing of the storm. A hot wind in the morning, making me think of the Terry Dowling books I am reading right now, where he names the desert winds of a future Australia.

And so the week comes to a close, heat and storm, turmoil and memories blown away to be replaced by a plain and uninteresting normality returned.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Interesting conversations overheard
Shh, I want to hear that word
Sentences fragments, a strange sound
Random ideas thrown around
Some like actors in a jumbled play
Others with secrets they should not say
Whispers, murmurs, sometimes a shout
I wonder what it's all about.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Mist greets the traveller
No future, no past
Only now

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Rapunzel, Rapunzel!

Alex conceived and constructed "Rapunzel" all by himself while I was busy working. I am so proud of him!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Menzies' Child

Go to war says the Menzies Child
The cause is just, it cannot be denied
Mind your daughter, send your son
To join in with this glorious fun
While I shall stand here full of pride
But do not expect me to risk my hide
For leaders are bought and not made
Sons for whom their parents paid
War is built for younger men
Not scions of society who must then
Serve our nation on a board
Wielding their financial sword
Why do we fight? Why do we go?
Sorry, that's only need to know
Suffice it to say, Menzies would
And that is why we must and should
Stand with our friends in a fight
Never minding what is right
A looming loss says the polls
And so I must commit your souls
To pass away in a distant land
For democracy, you understand
Like Menzies so many times before
That is why you must go to war.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sci-Fi Classics with the SSO

I got a call the other day from the folk at the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

"We've noticed that you've been to a number of concerts this year. We have a great range of concerts coming up in our 2015 season and we are wondering if you are interested in any packages?"

"Do you have any concerts with film music?" I reply.

"No, we are alternating between film scores one year and world and contemporary music the next. Are you interested in world music or jazz?"

Err, no, not really. Sure, they have some classical concerts that I might like, such as Holst's Planets, but not four concerts that I would shell out for right now.

Truth be told I've felt very lucky for the past couple of years and my bank balance could do with a break. This year alone I've been to the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular in Melbourne, the brilliant Robertson Conducts Williams concert with the Sydney Symphony and the same orchestra playing Gladiator live to the film.

And then there was tonight. The Sydney Symphony Orchestra plays Sci-fi Classics at the Sydney Opera House.

This was billed as a populist concert rather than Serious Music, but that's fine as I was in the mood for some fun. I've had issues with the SSO before, but then I heard just how well they can play under the baton of the current artistic director, conductor David Robertson.

Tonight's conductor was Guy Noble, who I've heard a number of times before and who is also an announcer of ABC Classic FM. You may have seen his face in the inflight audio section of the Qantas magazine as well. He's a bit of a showman.

I attended the concert with my brother Jon who has also developed a love of film music, though not quite at my obsessive levels.

Free programs were available in the foyer. The concert didn't quite follow the program, as there were some rearrangements and additions.

We were seated in the wings about the middle of the orchestra, level with the brass section with the small choir on our left and the conductor on our right. Most of the cheaper seats were filled, but I noticed a number of the pricier premium seat empty. Too expensive SSO!

Although our seating meant that the sound wasn't quite balanced it gives a great view of the orchestra itself, especially the energetic percussionists.

Unfortunately, it also meant that we could clearly hear the issues with the French horn section. It is obviously a difficult instrument to play. But their playing was, at times, atrocious.

As an aside why does the SSO so often hold night concerts? For those of us who have to catch public transport home it means we have to put up with drunk psychos who talk to themselves and complain about footy, toilets, Poms and Romans. Like the bloke sitting next to me just then.

Anyway, back to the horns. One horn player in particular hit a number of wrong notes, including during a solo. And it's not the first time either, I've heard this before with the SSO. I suspect that without Robertson's firm and respected hand that certain sections of the orchestra get lazy with music that they don't consider "real". I expect better from an orchestra that lauds itself as "world class".

The concert started with Goldsmith and Courage's wondrous and energetic main title from Star Trek: The Next Generation, complete with a tacky voiceover spoofing "Space, the final frontier..."

John Ottman's music from X2: X-Men United was somewhat lacklustre in comparison. Not in the same class as some of the other composers featured tonight.

Then followed a couple of classical items from 2001 - A Space Odyssey. Ligeti's Lux Aeterna consisted simply of otherworldly singing by the choir, quite interesting and 20th Century. Strauss' famous Blue Danube Waltz was well played by an orchestra which probably respects him more than the other composers of the night, but I hate Strauss. All of them. All the bloody waltzes. I hate waltzes.

More Goldsmith now with the End Title from Alien. I find the Alien soundtrack not the most pleasant listen, but I quite enjoyed hearing it here.

Whereas the last Aliens burst from chests the next piece was about one with a glowing torso. John Williams' Flying Theme from ET the Extra-Terrestrial was typically exciting and was played pretty well by a very busy orchestra, though again the brass section was a little lacking.

It's been years since I've heard Danny Elfman's Theme from Batman. The theme is quite simple and repetitive, but the orchestration and energy is what made this piece a very fun listen.

We had an addition to the program with Princess Leia's Theme from Star Wars. While the strings and woodwind played beautifully it was here that the horns most noticeably stuffed up with off key and double notes and it really detracted from the performance.

Also from John Williams' music from the Star Wars movies was Duel of the Fates, which heavily features the choir. I think the choir was probably too small for a proper rendition, but it was a thrilling way to end the session and go to the interval.

The conductor re-entered the hall to a roar of laughter, walking funnily and wearing the pale blue costume and yellow sash of Virgil Tracy from the Thunderbirds. He proceeded to conduct as if connected to marionette strings Barry Gray's March from Thunderbirds. I grew up watching reruns of the Thunderbirds at 6 am on Saturday mornings and there were many happy memories in this rendition.

Noble then stripped off his Thunderbirds costume to reveal a yellow Star Trek officer outfit. But the next piece predated that series. I've not listened to much of Bernard Herrmann's music, despite his position as one of the original greats of film music. The suite from The Day the Earth Stood Still was interesting, especially for its use of the theremin. This, for me, was one to see live and not for frequent listening.

I've heard a lot of variations of Ron Grainer's (and Delia Derbyshire's!) Doctor Who theme, especially as Alex likes to use it as settling music. None were like this, a funkified 70's band piece. Why they couldn't use one of Murray Gold's mostly brilliant arrangements I don't know, but I suggest they try.

The Doctor is a time traveller and the next rearrangement of the printed program perhaps reflected this with a couple of pieces, including Time from Hans Zimmer's score to Inception. It's very pleasant music, involving mainly the electric guitar and strings, but perhaps not great orchestral music. Noble asked for a show of hands from audience members who understood Inception, but seemed to doubt that anyone did. I will quite proudly then boast that I "got it" the first time I saw it. Well, recursion is a common programming and mathematical tool.

Back to John Williams with one of the decreasingly few pieces of his I don't have in my collection, a Suite from Lost in Space. It dates back to his very early years as a composer and while showing signs of his future sophistication it is not some of his best music.

Another shuffle and we revisited Jerry Goldsmith's Star Trek themes with music from Star Trek: Insurrection. Part of Goldsmith's brilliance is that he could compose wonderful melodies no matter how dire the movie and there is a rich selection to choose from in his Star Trek scores. The gentle melodic beauty of the Ba'ku village theme contrasts wonderfully with the exciting Enterprise main theme. Just a pity that the horn section again made errors.

The printed program ended with a suite by James Horner from Avatar. Some of the "ethnic" sounds were obviously difficult to reproduce and again the orchestra and choir seemed to lack balance, but it was still both fun to listen to and to watch the percussionists at work.

An encore was a given and what could it be (so correctly spotted from the score sheets by Jon) than the main theme to Star Wars? It was a bit hurried, but it served to demonstrate why John Williams is such a great composer. There is such a rich complexity to his music, so many things to listen for.

And so ended the concert. Jon reported to me that he heard some of the performers complaining earlier that they weren't playing "real music" and I think that attitude showed on the night. But despite my complaints, I didn't go into this performance expecting the same standards as Robertson's earlier concert and I did enjoy myself.

That's probably it for orchestral concerts this year, but we've already booked to see The Metropolitan Orchestra perform the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular in Sydney in February. Woo oooh!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Lonely Land

Lonely train through a quiet place
Take your time, no need to race!
Wind whispering through the reeds
Bending to its silent needs

Along the fields made of dust
Past the towns becoming rust
Platforms devoid of people now
Nobody around to tell you how

The trains came to take them away
Children left to elsewhere play
To cities tall and full of light
Never knowing the stars at night
Nor hearing peace amongst the noise
So busy playing with their toys

Yet here I am in their wake
The slow path I choose to take
Wandering this decaying land
I hear myself and understand.

(Originally published at travelling allrite)


Pushing ahead to get a place
Wearing a suit doesn't hide your bad grace
Smoking at the station makes you stink
Reading the Tele shows you don't think
Judgements made on the train
Tonight we'll do it all again.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Look outside

Look out the window,
See what you can see.
A myriad of changes,
Involving you and me.
A world in flux,
While you are stuck,
Commuting to and fro
Look outside, just for once
And then you'll finally know.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The next travel computer...

... Is a phone.
I've long been enamoured with small, highly portable computers, back to the days of a programmable Sharp calculator. My last couple of notebooks have been very thin and light, perfect for carrying around in a normal backpack. So far nothing has been able to beat the flexibility of a full PC.
The notebook serves as a tool for copying and uploading photos from the camera, for looking up information and checking into flights, for typing blogs and fixing up issues at work.
However, with these carry-on luggage only cheap flights ever gram and every centimetre counts. And phones are becoming even more capable. My Sony Z2 has the same number of screen pixels as my ultrabook. The same as my full HD television actually. A USB port, a micro SD reader and many other features.
Sure storage is an issue, to be solved either with bigger or more memory cards (back to the old days of travelling with digital cameras) or using online storage as the only backup. Google's Android operating system integrates well with their Google+ photo service, naturally enough.
Chrome also mostly mimics the abilities of the desktop version.
The problem is the keyboard. Typing thousands of words on the small screen is tough. I bought one tiny bluetooth keyboard from Japan, but it's just too small and requires function key presses to get numbers and popular characters. So now I'm trying the Rapoo E6500 mini bluetooth keyboard. That's what I'm typing this on. So far, so good!

Wouldn't mind a mini bluetooth mouse though. Sure I can find one.

The keys are not as nice as my notebooks, all of which I selected partly for their keyboards (the VAIO P being a case in point - magnificent keyboard for such a tiny computer). But good enough to type quite accurately and quickly.
I'm sure that I'll still be taking the ultrabook on many future trips, but I'll give this setup some further testing to see if it suffices for those situations where space is at an absolute premium.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Japanese homestay

My love of Japan is a well known fact so I leapt at the opportunity when Alex's primary school sent out a call for local families to act as hosts to a group of visiting Japanese students.

Strictly speaking, this wasn't the first time for me. Twice when I was in my Central Queensland high school studying Japanese my family hosted Japanese exchange students. Neither worked out particularly well, but older, hopefully wiser, more familiar with Japanese culture and being a parent, I hoped that this time would be different.

Considering that Alex is in kindy (his first year of primary school) we were somewhat shocked to be told that our assigned students was female and fourteen years old. However upon meeting Miyu any fears were quickly dispelled.

She came across as shy and quiet. Questions were returned as single word responses. But through games with Alex like Uno and Twister her cheeky side, a quick smile and a little laugh, emerged.

The yukata was a gift from Miyu
We quickly discovered that she loved chocolate and she hungrily gobbled up snacks like lamingtons, Tim Tams and chocolate ice cream. She took quickly to Alex and B's new fad of loom bands, even though the instructional YouTube videos were in English.

On the first weekend we took her by ferry to Watson's Bay for a disappointing meal of Doyle's fish and chips. Miyu surprised us during that first week by sleeping for about twelve hours a night. She was kept up late one night by the need to meet a cousin from Singapore in the city for dinner.

Friday saw us meeting up with other host families to go bowling. It was fun to watch the normally placid Miyu chatting away with her friends and in high spirits with them at the McDonalds dinner afterwards.

For the second week we were joined by one of the teachers, the effervescent Machiko. We met up with other families at Stanwell Tops, then drove down to Kiama, stopping to watch the tide flow over the rocks at Austinmere and to get lost in Wollongong. That evening we too Miyu and Machiko to eat Malaysian food at Albee's Kitchen in Kingsford. We've seen very few Malaysian restaurants during our travels in Japan. In fact, I can only think of the place in Kanazawa where they serve "raksa".

Machiko and Miyu at Stanwell Tops

At Austinmere

We were too exhausted to go to Featherdale Wildlife Park with the others on Sunday, so instead we visited the closer Symbio Wildlife Park, where there were the ever popular koalas, kangaroos you could hand feed and a wombat that Miyu stroked to sleep. Interestingly a separate Japanese school group were also visiting. Machiko got her taste of meat pie at nearby Helensburgh, where we mucked around at the park, playing Miyu's sport obsession of volleyball.

The only time I've seen volleyball on television in Australia was during the Olympics, but we once spotted an Australia- Japan match in the latter country.

Miyu prepared us a very tasty beef stew for dinner, while the following night she and Machiko made us nabe, a Japanese hot pot dish. Both were perfect for the cold weather.

As the week wound down Miyu spent more time with us in the evenings. She showed me her house and school on Google Maps, so different to here.

We discussed a child's life in Japan, contrasted it with their experiences here. No outdoor lunches at recess, no canteens. Japanese students clean their classrooms twice a day, wiping the floors with towels. It's difficult to imagine something similar here. And they study so late, attending cram schools until 10 pm, barely interacting with their families.

No wonder they didn't want to go back to Japan!

Whilst we have spent at least a week or two in Japan each year and another few elsewhere for the last decade, in working Japan they get very little opportunity to take vacations. Apart from public holidays time off work is difficult to obtain. Rather than using the Japanese to decry the lack of Australian productivity in comparison, I prefer to highlight the contribution that leave makes to our travel and tourism sector, not to mention the psychological benefits.

Normally I find house gets very stressful, but Miyu and Machiko were an absolute delight to have around. Very helpful, courteous, neat and tidy and independent. I felt quite sad when the last night of their stay arrived.

At the school farewell assembly on the Thursday before departure I was so proud to see Miyu amongst the three selected to speak in front of everyone. She did a wonderful job and probably spoke more English words than during her stay with us!

Then a final morning tea and sad goodbyes on the Friday as a coach drove to the city for a couple of nights.

I hope that we are in a position to take on a student again when they return in 2016. And of course we want to see them during our annual (or more frequent) visit to Japan next year. I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Mod_speling gotcha

I recently had to migrate a large chunk of content from a Windows server to Linux. Linux's file system is case sensitive, Windows is not, so I ended up with a lot of broken links. A solution is to use Apache's mod_speling. I only wanted to use the capitalisation capabilities of mod_speling, not the spelling variations. I enabled the module, which is off by default, and entered the configuration in the virtual host conf, the site conf, the .htaccess file, but nothing seemed to work.

The trick was that you need both options to be on, not just CheckCaseOnly. So for capitalisation only you would put the following in your .htaccess file.

<ifmodule mod_speling.c>
    CheckCaseOnly on
    CheckSpelling on

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Pink dawn
In the time of the storm
What adventures await?

Treading day
So little to say
Nothing revealed in the light

Fall of dusk
Out of the husk
The seedling seeks no Sun

Coming night
Eyes find sight
A world made of dreams.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Boys Day

The last day of the mid-year school holidays and I wanted to spend some quality time with Alex. We had a wonderful time. Slept in, walked down to a local reserve with its recently rebuilt playground. Explored the riverside along a small track, past mangroves and a dead fish. Kita the dog was off his leash and decided to enter the freezing cold water, splashing around.
Walked back up the steep stairs to get a lunch of banh mi from the bakery, then gave Kita a shower to wash off all the river grime.
Later in the afternoon Alex laughed with delight as we encouraged lethargic Japanese trains to run around the n-scale layout downstairs. In taking the models out of the cupboard Alex discovered my old yellowed Star Wars toys, so we ended the day with space battles.
It was a perfect finale to the holidays.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A new host for allrite

For over a decade I've used Ilisys to host my and domains. Price rises finally meant that it was no longer economical to continue to host with them and I consolidated my domains with Webfaction, who have a very developer friendly setup.

Migration was quite a painful process, mainly for the fact that I had so many files on the old site. I did a lot of culling. Many of the tools were written in old versions of PHP and are now superfluous so there's no point in rewriting them. I discovered the site must have got hacked at some stage with a trojan lurking somewhere on the site. I'm not surprised, the site was neglected and I know there were security issues at one stage before I locked it down further.

Ilisys has been involved in a few mergers and consolidations and it's sad to see how the service seems to have declined since the early days. I waited almost an hour on the phone for some support and got a bad IP phone connection when I finally got through. Used to be simple to call the knowledgeable owners when they were based in Western Australia and get a familiar and friendly response.

I'll have to do more with the sites now, though sometimes it's not fun to continue your day job at home. Back to work.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Show 2014

There is something about fairgrounds and carnivals. Despite their bright and happy exteriors there is a lurking sense of mystery, of menace, of secrets hidden behind the flashing lights and constant noise. The owner with the LOVE tattoos on his knuckles, what does he conceal?

It's just my imagination, but there are few things as evocative as a near empty fairground at night. Not that this fairground was empty.

It's our first school holidays as parents, so we took Alex to the Sydney Royal Agricultural Show at the Olympic Park. The first thing he wanted to do was go on the rides. Near the entrance are the child friendly rides. He splashed down the Jungle Adventure flume ride, slide down the very tall slide, both with Mummy and then, by himself, span round in a miniature biplane on the Red Baron.

We had brought sandwiches for lunch, then he was mesmerised by a wildlife show featuring lizards, a tree frog, tawny frogmouth and a frozen mouse.

There was much amusement outside the Hollywood Horrors. A zombie prowled the area, but Alex was eating a Zombie Guts ice block. Then there was another man dressed as a scary chair. One kid leapt out at it, blasting the chair with his high powered toy weaponry. Alex ran up and tapped the chair, not scared at all, unlike some adults.

Agricultural produce and food were next, eating samples and snack and Alex colouring in. Some very impressive displays made out of grains, fruits and vegetables, including one from our local high school.

He didn't really know about the whole showbag thing, but he cuddled his Despicable Me minion tightly and wore his minion cap once we'd encouraged him in the right direction.

Outside the showbag hall were some of the scariest rides I've ever seen. I have no idea why people want to drop down so fast from such great heights, especially after my recent turbulent flight home. Madness.

We rested at the dog show for a while, watching overweight owners put their terriers and weimaraners through their paces.

Farm animals took up the rest of the day. Performing horses, sheep shearing, spitting alpacas. Alex just squeezed in to the cow milking but was more excited by the mechanical milking apparatus than by his manual attempts. We all loved the baby animals, especially the ducklings.

A dagwood dog and an ice cream were needed to convince him to see the animals and when we offered to take him into the dinosaur exhibition he simply didn't care. Not interested in growing grains, but was interested in processing the oats and then in making pasta from dough. So mechanical, our boy.

We departed as the sun set, walking past the brightly lit kids fairground rides, so mysterious, so evocative. A great day.

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