Saturday, May 31, 2014

great night, great show

Just to say that the Totally Mild, Oliver Mann and Emma Russack show was incredible. Each act was extraordinary. They were all... oh, I'm no music critic. I had a great time.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


I only took this picture because we'd been out for an hour and I hadn't taken any and I thought, what if I had to prove I'd been for a walk with the dogs, you know, if I got back and there was a dead body in the driveway or something.

 The cats were so comfortable when I let the dogs in, that neither Butterball or Bela were really into leaving the living room. Amazing. Eventually they were persuaded. Ferdie thought this was just outrageous.
 Later they slept.

And that's the end of the story.

thursday beard musings

I have probably shaved if not every day then almost every day with occasional leaps when I couldn't be bothered/ wasn't planning to leave the house or kiss anyone/ had an abrasion or what about that terrible sore on my lip in 1996, since about 1980. With one exception - 2006 or thereabouts, when I had a go over a month or 5 weeks at growing a beard (what was I thinking? I now cannot remember, but it really didn't work) and the last two weeks. I have received almost only compliments to one negative criticism (most recent, from a work colleague also bearded: 'nice growth')* which is interesting, and I am not sure what to make of the compliments either, because I don't think I have ever complimented a man on his beard, although I suppose I do have the weird habit - I don't know where I picked it up - of complimenting men on their shirts (and telling women they 'look well', usually only when they do). 

It is weird. It feels strange particularly in the morning, like something is wrong. By the afternoon, though, I quite like it. If I take my hand and stroke it down my face it feels like I have put glad wrap on my face, or paper (without the rustling paper sound). I am not sure whether it looks convincing though. I am also appreciating that one has to maintain a beard, which sounds like a hassle, and I am no good at maintaining the hair on top of my head, so am I really going to get any kind of decent regime going with hair on the front of it? Probably not, and people look at that more. 

So, every day I think 'I might just get rid of this', and then I kind of think 'well, I'll stick with it a little while longer just to see', and I guess this is how fascist regimes take hold, right? 

*Then later someone whose opinion I respect told me it looked 'very good', so that settles it. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

wtf wednesday

Took Barry and Ferdie out again this morning for a brisk walk in the hope that this would prevent Ferdie from wanting to escape again today. Who knows. But we were surprised to see Giles and Giles' friend (never caught her name) who we also saw briefly last night. Giles, a very boisterous golden retriever, was all over Ferdie (and he also had what I thought at first was a bone but then realised was a small piece of wood in his mouth, which he wanted thrown to catch). Giles was all over us and is a big jumper-upper, which in a way I don't mind but I had a light-coloured jumper on I was hoping to wear to work today and the ground was wet, and also I suppose I think (in my tut-tut way) it is poor form in general. Anyway, he was jumping up on me and his owner (I think her name is Deborah?) was up on the hill with other dog and just calling his name. Ferdie got so excited by Giles' presence that he tore around and bowled right into my legs and knocked me completely over. I swear as I hit the ground I heard a 'crack', so maybe I'll be having x-rays in a few hours. Certainly it is slightly uncomfortable to breathe in deeply (!!!) or raise my arm above my head, but why would I want to do either of those things, really.

Ferdie ran up the hill to be with Giles' friend who is a beautiful border collie crossed with something white, and Giles continued to hang around Barry and me, and then Barry did something quite unexpected which he has never done before: sometimes a beagle will surprise you. He got between me and Giles and snapped at Giles. Barry defended me. I was so amazed and also, though Barry's concern was unwarranted, grateful. Beagles so often act so undoglike in their obliviousness to any feelings of loyalty to their owners that when you get an indication - or seem to, because I'm pretty sure he was defending me - you remember how the dynamic is meant to be. It was very touching.

About half an hour later when we were on the other side of the lake, Ferdie approached a middle-aged couple on the path and as is his wont ignored the man who was calling to him and went straight for the woman who wanted nothing to do with him, and jumped up on her. He is not Giles-size thank goodness but it was still awkward. The man did not mind (if it was his place to mind): 'Babies will do this,' he said.

PS Huge fish in the creek:

PPS: I wish the person who started this delightful mural (unless it was Harold Gray) would come down and dot the eyes or I'll get some black paint and do it myself damn it:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


I nearly crashed the car this evening, it was while driving from Gowrie to Broady, if it had happened it would have been from the absolute dumbest thing: I was driving into the sun, so vision wasn't fabulous, but it was also getting a little gloomy, as that same sun was going down, but to my right, a car came around the roundabout that I didn't see for the simple reason that it was exactly the same colour as the light to the right - does that make sense? If I had been hit, not only would I have died never knowing what hit me, no-one else would ever have known how it happened. Well, they would have known how but not why I drove right into a car.

Shortly afterwards, I saw this:
Absolutely amazing. The sun's rays behind the cloud producing this incredible shadow on other cloud. Really incredible. I took a number of pictures of it, this was probably the best. 

I was taking Barry and Ferdy to the park when Joan from two doors up told me that Ferdy had got out twice today - both times she (or rather her daughter, Doreen) had put him back in the back yard. It's really worrying.

In the park, Ferdy and Barry met this little dog, Bailey, 15 weeks old. I think Ferdy was both pleased and a little disconcerted by Bailey's boisterousness. 

This is what Ferdy does when he first sees a dog coming towards him. He sits and watches. I think there is a real buildup of anticipation. Fair enough. 

He had kind of met his match I think which was fun to see. She was a very sweet little dog. 

Monday, May 26, 2014


I got a new computer at work because the old one (which I still thought of as new) was out of warranty and running very slow. Usual awkwardness with tech person because of course I have no idea how much stuff there is on my computer or where it is stored etc. Also when he asked me for my password I was almost uncertain whether this was a punkin' moment where I would write it down for him and he would slap my hand and say 'never give anyone your password'. But that didn't happen.

Now I am sitting here watching as it downloads 400+ work emails at a time from 2012 and 2011, to update my work email and I'm looking at all these things it's downloading and thinking, if I knew how to stop this I would, because it's basically meaningless stuff I don't need, and I would actually rather it updated my emails from today, rather than ones from three years ago, but how can you formulate that to a computer? Exactly, you can't.

Yes, I did go to the gym this morning, thanks for asking. Once again I am sure I am being punk'd because every time I go to my locker there is a nude man in front of it (different one each time) I can just imagine these actors being employed to participate in a charade which, as part of a montage, would amusingly show me always about to go to my locker and a nude man's arse suddenly hoves into view, and the arses are all oblivious to my unease. It certainly seems to be a constant. Also, the side project of someone always choosing, even when there are five rowing machines in a row and I am at one end, to use the machine next to me. That is also of course a deliberate tactic.

Very funny guys, how long is this going to go on for?!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

mangy wombats

In 18 months or is it two years I get my long service leave, which is firstly an extraordinary thought, and secondly a somewhat enticing one. I hope I don’t waste it. For a few months now I have had a fantasy of going to the Aland islands, which are a group of semi-autonomous islands under the jurisdiction of Finland and mainly Swedish-speaking and between Finland and Sweden. They do look very nice, though it might sensibly be asked, why? And also, it might sensibly be pointed out that I have never been to Norway, Denmark, Korea, Germany, Tierra del Fuego, Kangaroo Island, the Orkneys, Iceland, Nova Scotia and many other places I have long wanted to visit. If it comes to that I could handle spending a few weeks in Bairnsdale, really. And for that matter I could think of worse things than volunteering with elephants in Thailand.

The end of semester is always the time you (one) starts thinking about incredibly extensive holidays, anyway, far more than one needs. I don’t suppose any of my colleagues can afford to dash off instantly when semester’s teaching ends, but I have a feeling I might have even longer than most of being responsible, because I have various admin duties. I certainly do need a holiday though. When the fence is being repaired at Lorraine, I will go to my father’s holiday house for a few days with the dogs, and that will be a kind of a holiday. But I should probably go further afield if I can. At very least, go to my mother’s holiday house at Venus Bay, hang out with the mobsters, the mangy wombats and the kangaroos… but otherwise alone…

I am not a good holidayer, it’s true. I am wrapped up in my own self-importance and have to keep checking emails etc to make sure such-and-such a student has their draft in, etc. The usual crap. My supervisions never end, though of course I can very legitimately tell people I will be out of touch for a while (and in truth often they’re probably quite relieved, they can take a breather…). And there’s even a joke in there too (‘for a while?’ ha).

This has been a huge semester, at any rate. And it’s not letting up for a while yet.

nice day for it

Was going to go to Coburg Trash 'n' Treasure this morning but it was raining (I probably would have preferred to sleep anyway, truth be told) but by about 10:30 the sun was out and it was nice enough so we had our usual preferred Sunday walk. Ferdy went in the water twice. Barry not at all. Nothing more to report anyway except to confirm, once again, BEST DOGS IN THE WORLD CURRENTLY ALIVE 2014

Oh also I got some candid shots of the white duck, icing on the cake.

It does actually have eyes, the camera sometimes lies you know. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

reverse park

Not much, as mentioned below, is good at the moment but at least I did do this absolutely amazing reverse park in Carlton this evening which admittedly was a second attempt but is still completely the best reverse park I've ever done. Total fluke, of course. Made me realise magic does happen, at any rate.

And since I have your attention here are a few pictures of the dogs, etc. 

Ferdie three seconds after being a 'good boy' and 'getting on his bed'. 

 No inverted commas required for Barry, who is always a good boy.

 Black swan in Jacana Lake
Me helping Butterball take a selfie. He neither knows nor cares. He is getting pats. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

hard week

This week has been extremely hard, the weekend will be harder, next week will be no picnic too. It's the end of semester and I seem to be growing a beard. I have no particular reason for this except perhaps that I want to see how it will turn out. Last time I tried was about ten years ago and it came out all blond and whispy, but this time around it seems more grey and tough. There's not much that entertains me at the moment so I guess anything is a good thing.

Friday, May 16, 2014

mental gym

When I was in grade 6 for at least half the year anyway (because something went wrong with our first teacher - did he have a stroke? He was a bit like Terry-Thomas) we had Mr Jones, who was the most ancient person in the world, back from retirement, had a billion years already behind him at Auburn South, seemingly concocted all his lessons in about 1921 and routinely doled them out each same week every year. I remember two things about him: one, that he told us about a friend of his who got a teaching job in Tasmania and who then wrote him letters without a return address, the last of which wondered why Mr Jones didn't reply (it just occurred to me that perhaps this was a complex ruse to dump Mr Jones as a friend, though of course not writing at all would have been a better ruse, but not as complex). The other, that a girl in his class once (he told us, and it obviously deeply affected him, as it would) got the plastic bit from the top of a biro stuck in her throat and died, so he was always telling us never to suck our biros. You tell kids these days not to suck their biros and they probably wonder what you're talking about, maybe.

Anyway, Mr Jones was probably hella progressive in 1921 when he created something called Mental Gym. The talented elites in the class (I wasn't one) mentioned Mental Gym's friend, 'Spastic Joe', whenever this came up. Actually, that's another thing I remember about Mr Jones. The talented elites were so talented, they were allowed to correct their own work from a handwritten exercise book of answers. However, some of the answers in the handwritten exercise book were actually deliberately wrong, to guard against cheats. The talented elites did cheat, and were exposed by Mr Jones in front of the class. I'm so glad I wasn't a talented elite because of course I would have done the same.

Mental Gym is an interesting concept however and I note that someone is doing good business in selling brain exercises around the place. I wonder if sudoku etc, things I've never gone near, are similarly good for your mind. I am sure crosswords are, and of course they only serve to remind me how broken my mind really is, because I can never find the words, even if often, as my grandmother used to say, 'I can see it'. Mind you, she was great at crosswords and did them daily.

In the actual real gym I find myself doing all kinds of mad things with my mind because I get so bored on that rowing machine, I am reviving fractions I never thought I could ever summon again, working out what percentage of time I've got through and how much longer I have to go. It's the rowing machine particularly because I always spend at least twenty minutes on it, so I'm always doing this basic philosophising about how much longer I have to go and whether I'm more than half way through the overall torture (it depends I suppose when you consider the torture to have begun - in setting off for the gym in the first place? Does it end with the exercise? Because the changing rooms, see below, are even worse torture).

That's about all I have to say about mental gym, but also, don't suck your biro or expect self-assessment to be unproblematic. One of the talented elites in question had a very unusual name and I just looked him up and he is a GP. The other has a more common name and I couldn't find him. There may have been others, but I only remember two. The first of them, the GP, claimed to have had sex with one of the girls in the class, a story that I realised about twenty years later was almost certainly absolutely not true. Maybe thirty years later. Maybe I still slightly wonder if it was true, because he could do most things...

NB I just did a google search on Mr Jones and Auburn South and found there is a very popular cafe aka international restaurant on Auburn Road, called Porgi + Mr Jones I wonder what that's about. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

dogs having good lives

Eating grass. I am not sure why. It might have been succulent. I can't imagine they'd both feel sick together (which is the reason I believe dogs usually eat grass). 
Watching football. Go Jaguars.

 Running across the bridge.
Running, just running. 

Tuesday, May 06, 2014


These weren't really my problems

Since it has now been 7 out of the past 9 days I have been to the gym every morning before 7, I feel I can now confidently say, I have started going to the gym (also I went a few times before then but I wasn't in the groove).

This has been something I have intended to do for some years now, believing it was the last remaining option for me to lose weight and develop stamina. I was always put off, however, by awkwardness, self-consciousness, and the fear of men. Well, I had to crash through all of those.

I remember when I learnt to drive (about 12 years ago now), I felt ridiculously self-conscious about the possibility of looking like an idiot while being propelled by an engine. Similar fears beset me about the way I may have appeared while exercising. I am not sure where this comes from. Anyway, like a lot of these things, I have ended up completely forgetting to worry about it while attending to the task at hand.

What amazes me is that I am also almost OK with the changing rooms. This is of course my greatest fear. I am disgusted by men's bodies, which I suppose comes from certain dimly recollected childhood experiences that I won't go into today, or in fact probably couldn't even if I wanted to, which I don't. I am sort of simultaneously appalled and almost admiring, though not really, of the way that many men are entirely unconcerned about taking their clothes off in front of other men. I never look, but I am aware that this is happening. It is very stressful. Negotiating hairy arses to get to your locker is never a joy.

Last week (but not this week) there were young boys (10? 11?) in there too. This weirded me out in a different way, I suppose since the media is so filled with the assumption that youth are prey. I guess a critical mass in the changing rooms stops anyone doing anything too controversial there and everyone remains unaroused. Clearly the problem lies with me and the strange education I have received in what people (men in this case) do around other men.

Of course, I have not yet lost weight, and the general slight rise in my feeling of wellbeing is probably a placebo, but I think I am going to stick with it for the time being, and I am not yet regretting anything.

Friday, May 02, 2014

brompton tales

I was looking through pictures I already had to see if I had one of Brompton on its various journeys then I realised I had Brompton right here so I took a picture of it today where it is sitting behind me in my office. Don't tell OH&S because you're not supposed to have bicycles in your office in case there's a fire and it... explodes? 

This morning I got on a tram because it was raining and I didn't want to ride my Brompton in the rain (or indeed do anything in the rain). There was a woman at the tram stop when I got on the tram and it was very crowded, and I was grappling with Brompton and two bags. So I kept moving down the tram and I could see this woman looking at me with what I thought was considerable contempt or disgust, for being such a pushy passenger bringing a folding bicycle onto a crowded tram. Then when I got to the door - about a stop away from work - she was sitting on a seat and she actually tried to get up and offer it to me. I was like no, please don't get up and she said, 'I love your bike, I wish I had one like that', blow me down with a feather, she was eastern european (going by her accent) and said she wished she could ride a bike in Melbourne but there were too many rules (one of which I had not heard before: that you were not allowed to take your hands off the handlebars! Is this true?). I started singing the praises of Brompton and said I had taken it round the world twice, a semi-true claim. Then the woman sitting next to her could not restrain herself from butting in and also expressing her delight over Brompton and its convenience and usefulness.

I thought you only got that kind of thing off strangers with dogs and babies, so there you go.

I like the product so much I am spontaneously linking to its website

barry's snake

When Barry thinks Ferdy is getting too much (i.e. any) attention, he may go and fetch his snake. This is a pre-Ferdy toy which Barry loves dearly and which he will fetch and bring back for ever if by himself (which these days is never). But being the generous soul that he is, Barry also doesn't mind grappling with Ferdy over the snake, even though as far as Ferdy's concerned it could be anything - the point being for Ferdy that Barry has it.