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.

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