Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Today I will write
My blog in the Haiku way
And it shall be good

At least I hope so
Because this is my first try
And it can be hard

Poems in Haiku
Are inspired by nature
More often than not

I work in IT
And I cannot see nature
From my vantage point

I stare at Windows
Pixels flicking on and off
Bright colours dancing

I would like to flee
But financial commitments
Keep me from going

I like computers
I don't really mind too much
Yes, it could be worse

Going home is good
But I don't like the travel
Too many people

I enjoy my home
My beautiful wife and kids
Make me so happy

If there was one thing
That would make me happier
It would be more sleep


Thought for the day: No more Haiku

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Hello. I know that's assuming a lot but I feel as if I can say that now. I'm not trying to be offensive or confrontational and I'm not even expecting a reply, though you may scratch your head if you need to. By that I mean, if you are puzzled. Obviously if your head is itchy, you should just go right ahead and scratch it, don't be waiting for me to give permission.

As not much has happened to me in the last couple of days, (except I ripped my favourite jeans but I'm not ready to talk about that yet - its ok, the only scars are emotional) I have decided to discuss current events. I have also realised that I really don't know what the hell is going on in the world anyway, so perhaps I should find out. Suddenly it all seems like hard work and so I'll just skip it if its all the same to you.

I remember posting a blog a little while back stating how much I love winter. Well, it turns out that I was being stupid. Winter is cold. And bleak. And did I mention cold? I am pretty damn cold at the moment. I have a cup of hot tea, which is helping, but it hasn't reached my toes. My nose is also cold. It has gone a little red. I know this because my boss did a double take when he saw me and said, "cold out?" Obviously he was making fun of my nose. Actually, having a cold nose can almost hurt. If DW reads this, she will be thinking that it must hurt me even more on account of the size of my nose.

You see, DW likes to tell me how big my nose is. I don't think my nose is particularly big but DW has tried to argue that we should be allowed to park in a handicapped zone, so she obviously does. Admittedly, there may be other reasons for that. Still, my nose may not be small, but it is in proportion to my head, a fact DW also like to point out, as if it is some sort of consolation. I have often wondered what a caricature of me would look like, but I'm a little afraid. Also, it may just kill DW from laughter.

I can feel my toes.

Being very cold can make me a little grumpy. I don't get grumpy all that often. I tend to get a little manic, difficult though that might be to believe. I also shouldn't have food with lots of colours. It doesn't make me go hyper or anything, its just that I'm very easily distracted. Shiny things are a problem as well. Ooohhh. Its ok. False alarm. Where was I?

My nose, or "dorsal fin" as DW likes to call it, is getting warmer. The tea is working. Its still a little cold but at least I am feeling a little more human than I did. I probably should have worn a jacket today. That might have helped. I usually don't like to wear a jacket until it is officially winter, which is in two days, so maybe tomorrow I'll have to be really cold again. At least its only one more day and then I can start wearing the jacket. Its a very nice jacket, all black and shiny and makes me look like Neo. Not too much like Neo, I don't want people to get confused.

Anyway, now that I have feeling in my limbs and my boss CLEARLY wants to talk to me about something, no doubt work related, like I haven't got anything better to do, I'd better go humour him. So, there you have it. My take on current events.


Thought for the day: I may have already said this but I like deja vu.

Monday, May 29, 2006

I'm an idiot. I know this because DW has just told me. A couple of people rang yesterday and mentioned it as well. I didn't even know all of them. Also there was an ad in the Sunday paper. And some jerk has sky-written "Bernard is an id". He hasn't finished yet but I'll let you know what it says when he is. Even Princess has called me an idiot and she is only four. I try and discourage that sort of attitude but Princess can see how funny it is by DW's reaction, which kind of softens any rebuke from me, the idiot. In my defense, I have five pieces of string with which I fashioned the words "am not" in my office. Unfortunately, I'm the only one in my office today so my witty comeback and craftsmanship will not be appreciated until Wednesday. Still, I don't see any of my disparagers lining up to play me in chess. Could be because they are afraid I'll embarrass them or because I like to move my pieces with a 5-iron (safety glasses should be mandatory in chess). If anyone ever says to me "Is that a golf club in your pocket...?" it probably is.

Speaking of segues, DW recently did something of note, which I failed to note, despite its noteworthiness. She likes to cross-stich. While it is definitely not a good idea to stitch when angry, cross-stitch is actually a reference to the manner in which tiny little threads are poked through tiny little holes and back through to make a tiny little crosses. Unlike cross-woodworking, cross-web browsing and cross-tv watching. Cross-country skiing is different again.

Anyway, DW loves to cross-stitch, but having kids does make it difficult. And while I'm not specifically referring to the labour, a very funny visual just popped into my head and the term cross-stitch is funny again. Not that giving a woman in labour any kind of pointy object is cause for humour.

As I was saying, kids can make it difficult to find the time to do the things you did before kids. In our house BC means "before children" and AD means "after dinner". The common theme is children, not time. So DW's passion for stitching crossly slowed to a crawl. However, ground has been made up and threads have been spent, and many "wow"s and "that looks fantastic" and "I'm not just saying that, I know which part you're working on" later, she has finally finished an extraordinary piece of work. It is called "Magical Night" and it has taken nearly ten years. I could be wrong about that duration. The designer is a woman called Teresa Wentzler and DW is a big fan. In fact, DW has made it a point to collect every TW design she can find and currently has far more patterns than she could ever hope to stitch in a month, even if we didn't have kids.

Much has happened to us over the ten years and when DW finally finished this piece the other day, she was understandably emotional. She was very proud of what she had achieved and so was I. The result is fantastic. I haven't the patience to do cross-stitch and DW says I'm an idiot but I can appreciate fine work when I see it. DW even improved on the original design because she felt it wasn't quite perfect. She really did an excellent job.

Then she did something quite expected. She emailed Teresa Wentzler directly. Now, TW doesn't overtly encourage this behaviour and DW isn't one to put herself out there like this, so it was something of a surprise, not only to me. In fact, DW didn't even tell me she had done it until she got a reply, not from TW's solicitors but TW herself. And the email wasn't just a "good job" or "nice one" or even "this is my private email address. Please don't...". TW was actually very interested in what DW had to say about what "Magical Night" had come to mean in her life and how she was so very proud to have completed it. It showed me that TW is not only a great designer, but also a compassionate person who cares about the impact she has on other people. I don't mind that. What really impressed me was that DW showed me something I didn't know about her. Its wonderful to know that the person I know best can still find ways to surprise me and that makes me very proud. And surprised.


Thought for the day: Wheat bags do not make great pets, but you are legally allowed to microwave them.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Parents are wonderful inventions, and entirely necessary. I often wonder if the old agage of becoming your own parents is true. I notice certain similarities between my father and I and DW has noted with alarm that our dress sense is getting closer. I occassionally notice some small mannerism that I immediately recognize as his. I suspect that it (the adage) is true but to varying degrees. I am not like my mother, for instance. I get along very well with Mum but we are very different. I don't know whether my similarities to Dad are significant because whenever I ask, DW just mentions the clothes thing. It is clear to me that we are very different because I don't think he has ever worn sneakers.

The things which we identify as separating us from others, making us who we believe we are, can seem quite bizarre to other people. The way they see us is only up to us in a very superficial way. We cannot always control the context in which we will be observed, nor can we control the emotional baggage of the observer. And yet we worry what other people think. Taking myself as an example, it has been drawn to my attention that I am often quiet and reserved though my blog would indicate the opposite. Hence I appear to others somewhat differently than I do to myself. People who know me well and remain sane find I am far more like the person in the blog than the wall flower at parties.

I think the reason I stand back a little from gatherings of people I either don't know or only know a little, is because I consider my personality to be a little overbearing. I am far more forthright with people I know well, because if they haven't run away yet, they probably won't. DW says I should open up more and be friendly with people, even people I don't know and may not like. Weird people. Not that she particularly mentioned weird people, it was just an inference I made. They say birds of a feather flock together but I don't feel like flocking with other weird people. I saw such a person on the tram today who was looking at me with one eye and out the window with the other. Ok, she may have been cross-eyed but that is not my point. And she didn't see the joke when I did it back. As you can see, I don't even get along with weird people.

So how do I actually make friends. It goes like this. DW meets people and likes them. She invites them over for coffee. She makes REALLY delicious food and prepares them to meet the kids. Princess is always beautiful and vibrant and entertaining and Little Man is quite the charmer, and a bit of a flirt with the ladies. Then DW introduces the dog. Then more food and perhaps a few family photos. DW also tries to cover up the stange noises coming from either the garage or the study ("I F*****G clicked 'OK'!! Where's my axe?"). Finally, I am introduced. I am usually muzzled and strapped to a gurney. I do a cool Hannibal Lecter impersonation, which is why I am muzzled and strapped to a gurney. "SFTFSTFTFSTFSFSTSFTSFTFSTFS" In terms of making new friends, I have a strike rate of about 1:1000.

Maybe I think too much. It took me nearly twenty minutes to admit that. New people are strange and bizarre and possibly from another planet. I'm not one to rule anything out too early. Even if they are not from another planet they may not have spent all their life on this one. Admittedly, if they just came clean and admitted to being from a distant galaxy, or even somewhere else in this one, I'd probably warm to them much quicker. Though maybe not Uranus. That's a cheap joke. And one I would probably make even if they did come from such an unfortunately named planet.

So maybe I'm not that different to my father after all. He does have more friends than me but he is also older. So there is still hope.


Thought for the day: Some days I choose chocolate and some days I choose strawberry. I like vanilla but I don't choose it.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I usually write about my family and so I thought I'd do something a little different today. I do have other things in my life, you know. There's work, but don't get me started on that. And there is my passion for movies. I'll talk about that another day. I think I'll talk about my ability to fashion useful and/or entertaining items out of wood.

I like to work with wood. I like cutting it and making it into something else. It is very different to my day job, which DW has advised me to keep. Several times DW has shown me a picture in her favourite magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and I have said, I could build that. She then gets this look and it is almost like I can see her remember my previous attempts at building something. Its not that I have failed or even done a bad job (except Princess' first swing - boy, that sucked). But my attention to detail can be a little, let's say fleeting. I do think about the details. Its just that wood isn't as forgiving as... well, as I need it to be.

It may also be something to do with my choice of tools. My brother, who is following in Jesus' footsteps by first becoming a carpenter and now studying to be a priest, likes to buy the very best tools. I, on the other hand, buy the very cheapest tools. My theory goes like this.

1) If the very cheapest tool can do the job, don't waste money on a better tool.
2) If the very cheapest tool cannot do the job, a better tool is not a waste of money.

It is simple and logical and for the price of a really good drill, I managed to set up my garage with a complete set of basic tools. I save money like a super hero whose power is... thrift. Actually, I may not be saving that much money. I am now replacing the crap tools with better ones.

Anyway, it is a poor workman who blames his tools. In my case it is a cheap workman who blames his crap tool budget. Now that I have learned my lesson (I haven't really) let's move on. No matter how hard I try to "measure once, cut twice" things don't seem to work out just the way I want them to. As an example, I tried to fit a piece of dowel into two pieces of timber. I knew the diameter of the dowel and thanks to DW who gave me the most beautiful set of drill bits and stuff for Christmas, I had exactly the right size wood bit. Funnily enough I used one of my other bits which was also the right size but didn't have the markings displayed. I don't actually use the beautiful drill bits. I just open the case up and look at them, all shiny and sharp and in their right place. They are so pretty.

However, I did have the right size wood bit and so I popped it into my el cheapo corded drill and set about drilling. I even clamped the wood with my very expensive plastic clamps, but Bluetak probably would have done better. Anyway, two holes later and I squeezed the dowel in (the hole was a tiny fraction too small - force is my first resort) I discovered that the holes were not lined up. They were also at a slight angle. Apparently a slight angle can be significant when working with a long piece of dowel. And I should have waited before using the wood glue. Anyway, some more force and some completely new timber and dowel and I was away again. I decided a completely new approach would ensure that I didn't make the same mistakes again. In that particular regard, I was right. Fortunately, I have a little more timber and I'll buy some more dowel on the weekend and have a third try. If there are three things I can say in my favour they would be:

1) I am always willing to try
2) I am not afraid to fail
3) I can count


Thought for the day: I don't get sent to the "Sin Bin" at home. I get sent to the "Idiot Box".

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Its amazing what a little bit of sleep can do. Both kids slept through the night last night and I am feeling... well, not entirely like crap. So I though it might be useful and informative and fair to give a more tempered view of the Little Man than he has so far been given.

While Princess has always been rather full on, Little Man is more inquisitive. He is always ready to laugh and has a rather goofy smile, that just makes you want to smile back. When not whining or farting, he likes to chatter away with "mumumumumumumum" and has recently added "da-da-da-da". In fact, when he gets excited and starts crawling after some interesting object (read: anything we have removed from his reach), his speech gets faster. It keeps time with his speed and he can really move along quite quickly when he wants to. He sounds like a tiny little one cylinder motorbike.

Any parent will be familiar with the transition from immobile to mobile. A child can be safely sat on the floor and outside the immediate area (arms reach) around the child is the "safe zone". Then they start to crawl. Actually, they start to reach and tumble and cry. This can last for a couple of weeks I'm told. Then they start to rock back and forth and edge their way toward things. Eventually they crawl. This did happen with Little Man only it took about a week from the rocking gently back and forth to stealing the remote controls from on the sofa. He can also open several drawers and likes playing with the TV. One working week is not enough time to prepare for that change.

To be fair, I should put this in context with his older sibling. Princess didn't really crawl. Well she did a bit. But she always had excellent balance and actually could stand herself up unaided before she could crawl. So she had a couple of days of shuffling steps and then she realised she could carry stuff away with her. She was like a goanna. Little Man doesn't have quite the same balance but that is because of his higher centre of gravity owing primarily to his inordinately large head.

Little Man is a thinker. He ponders the little things and the big things and the things he puts in his mouth, which is everything. He loves to play peekaboo and has even worked out his own little version of it. Actually it mostly involves farting and then looking around for a dog to blame until he sees someone and laughs. He is quite mature for his age. Princess on the other hand will take the blame even if it was the dog. I'm really not sure what that is about. Still, farts are funny and that's what is important, though I think Little Man just likes the extra speed he gets.

The unfortunate thing about working long hours is missing what happens during the day with the kids. I don't usually get to see them before I leave for work and by the time I get home, they are usually pretty tired and getting a little ratty. DW however, is fresh and happy and greets me at the door wearing a floral dress and make up and says "hello dear." Dinner is ready and the kids are sitting quietly doing their homework, and neither even go to school yet. They have been bathed and the house looks like it just popped out of a catalogue for Ikea. Classical music plays gently in the background and a sherry has been poured and sits by the fire along with my slippers. This isn't true.

Where the hell was I? That's right, tired and ratty. Actually, while the above paragraph is not quite the way things are, they are still pretty good. DW usually does have dinner ready and she is an excellent cook. Occasionally Princess will even help clean up the house but apparently Little Man likes to be able to see all his toys at once. Little Man does start getting pretty grumpy around late afternoon and there is a simple cure. Bathtime. He absolutely loves it. DW was giving the kids a bath before I got home but Little Man makes it almost impossible. The little bugger is impossible to hold. He needs a "slippery when wet" tattoo. If he were just slippery, that would be one thing, but he wriggles and giggles and splashes and thrashes and laughs and barfs. He goes nuts. Even Princess, who shares the bath, is a little frightened of him, and I don't blame her. He is like a small boat with four propellers all pushing in opposite directions. And slippery. With a big head. I suspect he pees as well. Basically, not the ideal bath partner. If you have ever done high school chemistry you may have seen what happens when you drop sodium into water. It explodes.

The thing is he has fun. It brightenes him up and he is happy again. It also helps wear him out and so helps him sleep. So, I don't mind doing it. Its a little bit of time that I get with the kids that I wouldn't want to miss out on, no matter how stuffed up my back is. It won't last forever and I expect Princess will start wanting to have a bath on her own soon. Also, Little Man won't need my help and so it goes. Its easy to look at these sorts of things in the very immediate sense of what they represent now, and not what they will have meant when looked back on. Its kind of like being able to look back and laugh, only I think it will make me a little sad. But I still throw myself into the thick of it because, above all, I want both Princess and Little Man to want to look back on it, and smile.


Thought for the day: I am like a bird only without the feathers or the ability to fly. And I'm much bigger. So, mostly like an emperor penguin. Only they have feathers. And can swim.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Time to be serious. Ok, now that's over, on to today's blog.

My little boy, aka Little Man, has been whinging a lot. As he is only nine months old, this comes out as a sort of "eeerrrrrrnnnnrrnnneernnrnrneneeeennnrrrn", though that could be partly because of the dummy. He occasionally says "mumumumumumumumumum" and farts in what seems to be code, but no one can stay in the room long enough to decipher it. And when I say fart, I mean "great big gelatinus poo" but I didn't want to say that because people may be eating. Anyway, he has been teething but that has been going on for a while. We assumed that the whinging noise was because he desperately wanted to become mobile, either to get stuff or escape the affections of Princess.

Well, I should be happy to report that he can now crawl. Unfortunately, he hasn't stopped whinging. The most noticeable difference is that the whinging can now follow us. DW and I have tried walking in opposite directions and he didn't know which one to follow, but he would keep crawling until he crashed into a wall. Its not as bad as it sounds because he doesn't crawl very fast. It sounds like "eeerrrrrrnnnnrrnnneernnrnrn

His problem is he is tired. And so are we. The last few nights he stopped sleeping through the night. DW thinks he is teething. I think he and the Princess have a bet going to see who will crack first. I think I am winning because I heard DW say to the Little Man, "What did I just say to you?" Unless it was "eeerrrnennrneeer" or "mumumumumum" I don't think he's ready to answer. Mind you, at 3:45am this morning after listening to Little Man whinging and farting through the baby monitor (I swear he can actually aim), I was starting to say that too. Even Princess felt she had to come in to our bedroom and let us know what was going on.

Princess: "DAD!"

Me: "Yes Princess, what's the matter?"
(actually I may have just said "What?!?")

Princess: "Buddy boy is awake."
(She also calls him Honey Pie)

Me: "I know. I can hear him."

Princess: "He won't go to sleep and he is sitting up and going 'eerrr errrerr err'."

Me: "I know. I can hear him."

Princess: "I'm hungry."

DW decided to take control at this point and words cannot adequately express the efficiency with which she communicated her intentions and let everybody know the best way for the remaining portion of the night to proceed. She likes to play Good Cop, Bad Cop, and I play Other Cop Who Brings the Coffee and Doughnuts. Anyway, she got things back to normal at great personal effort while I did what I could by keeping the bed warm. I know there will be a few eyebrows raised at that (why didn't I get up and help you may ask) but I started my shift a little before 3:00am and if you remember, this part started at 3:45am, so get off your high-horse. Besides, DW wasn't in the "let's discuss how best to handle the kids in this situation" sort of mood. I had my assignment and I kept that bed warm. As it happened, she didn't come back to bed to appreciate my effort, but she did what she could to ensure that I had enough sleep to cope with a day at work.

You see, DW thinks its her job to make sure I'm able to do my job, when really its the other way around. Now I'm sitting here with a cup of tea in my quiet office and thinking about DW trying desperately to clean up after both kids and listen to the incessant chatter from the Princess and the "eerrereernneerenrneer" from the Little Man. I think I'll give her an extra big hug when I get home. And maybe some chocolate.


Thought for the day: Don't judge me. Babysit.

P.S. DW has informed me that it'll need to be a lot of chocolate.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I'm not sure if everybody has a little quirk or strangeness about them but I have discovered something about myself. Don't be afraid, unless you travel with me on public transport. While I am sure this is not my only quirk, it is the most recently discovered. I don't have great balance.

I know that will shock and amaze some of you, and not others. I am not particularly challenged in a physical sense, and mostly I have good balance. I might even go so far as to say I have above average balance, which seems to be in diret contrast to my previous statement, and it is. Clearly I could have planned this better. Anyway, my balance "issue" relates to the Public Transport thing. Those who travel on the Met in Melbourne will be able to attest to the current overcrowding problem and how difficult it can be to get a seat. Well, if you don't get a seat you want at least to have something to hold on to, a hand rail, a roof strap, a pony tail, though the last one requires lots of apologising. So what happens when you can't reach any of those things? You sway.

This is a problem for me. I don't sway well. I have watched other seasoned swayers and they just go with it. They don't grab at people or swear, they just sway. I've seen newbies get on and they occasionally stumble and bump into other people and apologise and swear and so on, but it doesn't take them long to start swaying with the best. So why can't I sway? I have no idea. So, what do I do instead? This is the quirky part. I stomp.

Despite the rail noise, people on public transport usually don't chat much and so when someone stomps, heads turn. Its worse when there is a bunch of kids chatting noisily and then they all stop and look at who stomped. Even worse is when I've just drawn everyone's attention and the train takes another corner, because everyone is watching me, even the swayers, as I stomp again. Unfortunately, I also blush which ensures that anyone who wasn't sure who stomped can direct their gaze accordingly.

I suppose you might wonder why do I stomp. Its not like I just stomp for fun. When I feel my center of balance shift from above my feet, such as when a train goes round a corner, I have to reposition my feet. Somehow, I cannot do it quietly. Occasionally I am tempted to break into a bit of a stomping dance routine with a big hand flourish at the end but there really isn't much room and people are already annoyed. I don't think they would clap.

So that's it. I wouldn't mind so much if other people did it but it always seem to be me. Regular travellers are starting to notice that as well. At least no one can say I'm not prepared to put my foot down on Public Transport. Hard.


If I were Neil Armstrong, I would have said "YIIIPPPPPEEEE!!!"

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

It has been brought to my attention that my mind is a little odd, some might say "scary" and occasionally "just take the damn pills already - don't you want to be like everyone else?". I would like to make sure that people understand that it is only on Tuesday mornings just before lunch that my mind is like a sand dune - which I think makes me quite normal.

So I am again forced to wait for my email. Damn email. I'd tell it off but it appears to be busy. I have to say that just typing whatever comes into my head is really helping me focus my thoughts. Which leads me to the topic for today, the Fridge.

For those of you who don't know, a fridge is somewhere you keep food cold so that it doesn't spoil and ants can't lift a whole fridge, even a lot of ants. It is also a place for sticking all those magnets you get from real estate agents who have buyers looking for a house in your area and will pay top dollar. It was also invented in Geelong. Or by someone from Geelong, though I'm not sure if he was in Geelong at the time. He may have been catching a train from Melbourne to Geelong, which would have given him time to invent the fridge. Also, fridges can, in combination with the aforementioned magnets, hold bills, child artwork and little sayings of inspiration like "Anyone can be a father. It takes someone special to be a Daddy" and "Mummies are angels in the making". Perhaps one saying "Smell it first" would be useful.

Anywho, we also have a little card which talks about what marriage is all about. Or more precisely, a concatenated version of what makes a marriage work. I can't really remember what is on the card except the last bit which says "It is not only about finding the right partner, but being the the right partner." I often wonder how you are supposed to go about doing these things. Obviously I am not questioning whether I have found the right partner because I have absolutely no doubt about that. Being the right partner is now the challenge.

It came as a bit of a shock to me recently when someone I know announced that he was separating from his partner of over 25 years. They always seemed very well suited to each other whenever I've seen them together and obviously they had something in common. But, appearances and reality are not always on speaking terms and can give the wrong impression. There are probably lots of reasons for their split and that is not what I am actually talking about here. I am talking about what happens after you find the right partner. How do you keep them being your right partner? Because you can't hope to control another person (and have a happy partnership) or should even want to, I guess it comes back to the second part, being their right partner.

I'm extremely lucky in so far as DW is every bit as committed as I am. We don't always see eye to eye and occasionally my sense of humour exceeds my commonsense, not that I have enough of that at the best of times. But DW is forgiving, understanding and even patient. I don't think she has a particularly short fuse, just that I can burn through it quite quickly. But these issues, frictions and points of dispute do not define us as a couple. Its very hard to know what actually does define our relationship but I can say that I am always excited to get home in the evenings after work. I love having weekends with her and the kids. Our marriage is working at the moment and I believe it will keep on working forever. The reason is that DW is the right person for me, not because I found her, but because she wants to be. And so do I. I think that's pretty cool, which brings me back to the Fridge.


Someone said to me "When I am wrong I change my mind. What do you do?" and I said I'd let them know.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I heard an interesting statistic that states males think about sex every seven seconds. I am puzzled by this because of two reasons. Firstly, how can this be measured and secondly, my own estimate is closer to ten seconds. Is there something wrong with me? Let's assume not. I am 34 and have two kids so that is probably slowing me down a little, and besides, the survey was probably of teenagers. Not that that makes any sense either because I don't remember there being a seven second gap. It occurs to me that maybe the respondents were asked to press a button or raise their hand whenever an appropriate thought popped into their head (or should that be "inappropriate"). In that case, averaged over a whole day, including sleep, it might be true.

This has made me wonder what I actually think about. Occasionally I wonder what Barak would do in my place. Barak is a fictional character in a novel I am writing. Because he is a warrior, he woud probably be sitting here staring at the computer with a bemused look on his face, unsure what to do next. That means he could probably do my job just fine. Of course, he would be wondering what this strange device was, where as I'm wondering why they won't pay me more.

I have concluded that my mind is largely like a desert. By this I don't mean full of sand but rather sand dunes. There is some water there and a little oasis and very nearby there is a large number of tents with lots of people with turbans and colourful clothes. And some camels and monkeys and lots of little stalls and people shouting and kids stealing apples. Its quite bizarre. Every so often there is a big sand storm and everybody puts a handkerchief over their faces, even the monkeys but not the camels. Further on is a large shipping port and a small city with an airport and weather balloons. And more people. And a University with a high performance computing department and a computer graphics specialist sitting at a computer, blogging.

That is exactly what my mind is like.


Second thought for the day: What is the opposite of "metaphor"?
A good friend of mine recently told me he and his wife were going to have a baby. I think this is fantastic news and I'm sure he and his wife are going to be great parents. Each time I hear of a friend having a baby I find myself feeling very happy and upbeat, which is strange and might seem to be at odds with my blog so far. The fact is that before my own kids came along, I was fairly ambivalent about babies. I have lots of nieces and nephews and while I knew how to congratulate new parents, I was not really in the moment.

Having kids may not change everyone but it did change me. I had lots of goals and ambitions and time and I had to reorder my life. DW and I rarely go out, we never get a full nights sleep and hobbies are pretty much a distant memory. But I don't mind. Well, occasionally I wish I could still do my own thing but a little voice in the back of my head whispers that if things were different, I might not have the kids or be married to my beautiful wife. I couldn't imagine anything worse. I still have ambitions and goals but they have to fit in with my family or they have no place in my life. Being a husband and father matters more to me than anything I have ever done and I am proud of the effort I make in being the best I can be. I still have a long way to go and I won't be winning any awards anytime soon, but I really don't care about external acknowledgement. Father's Day and my wedding anniversary mean far more to me than my birthday or Christmas. See, I have changed. (I still want presents on those days though)

So to J&S I say you guys are in for the ride of your life. It really doesn't matter what sort of kid you get, they all depend on what sort of parents you are and you guys are really starting well. All parents still need a little luck so I also wish you "good luck".


Thought for they day: na-na-na-na-Na-na-na-na-na-Na-na-na-Batman!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Happy Mother's Day to all the mums out there. I know its a little late but I didn't forget the two most important mothers in my life - my mum and DW (dear wife - used to be dearest wife but someone suggested that sounded like I had more than one - which I don't). In order to fully dedicate myself to DW on Mothers Day (she will be chuckling now if she is reading this), we decided to visit my mum the day before. As several of my siblings would be visiting her on the actual day, this seemed reasonable. I bought mum a box of chocolates (which Princess ate most of) and I thought it was a pretty good present. DW made my mum a wheat bag and trivet, both scented and made in the hour before we left. Talk about trumped. Anyway, I made lunch for everyone and we had fun. I'm very fortunate the DW and my parents get along very well.

Anyway, having spent a bit longer at my parents place than intended, I had now left myself a little short on time to prepare for Sunday. However, DW had already organized a few things "by chance" so all I had to do was not stuff it up. That was my mission, should I choose to accept it (read: choose to live) and I was ready to do the impossible. Tom Cruise has nothing on me - this is my FOURTH time!

I explained to DW the night before that she had only one job the next day. After a few guesses of "Relax", "enjoy myself", "eat chocolate" and the like, she was less than impressed when I said, "Feed the baby." I quite literally had four seconds to explain myself and I said "He'sbreastfedWhatcanIdoIfyoudothatIwilldoeverything
pleasedontbeupsetIwantyoutohave awonderfuldayIloveyou."

DW didn't understand what I said but it was obviously clear that I was trying to communicate something and so she gave me a chance to explain with punctuation. Anyway, she wasn't really upset with me but she does like to give a look that says "You have just said the wrong thing." She knows that I try and make Mother's Day and her birthday special days but apparently takes some pleasure from seeing me hop up and down. Fortunately, I know this and so I hop up and down with great vigour.

The day went pretty well and DW got the perfect breakfast in bed, as well as the morning paper and a magazine (Princess and I went out especially). Princess also hade made a very cute key ring at Kinder which said something very Princess-like that made DW cry. I got her a new CD which earned me a pat and a look that said "Thanks for trying so hard." And she meant it, I could tell.

Things didn't go so well in the afternoon because the Little Man isn't feeling well and I was trying to help Princess build something in the garage. DW ended up looking after him until Princess hurt herself and went screaming for "MMMMUUUUUUMMMMMMMMYYYYY!!"

By this stage, I had to go and get the groceries for the special dinner i had planned - beef strogonoff. None of this packet crap - this was the real deal. only, I had run out of time the day before so I had to go and get it before dinner. I had "planned" to take Princess with me but she was too upset and wanted to stay with DW. Little Man normally sleeps for an hour or two in the afternoon but he decided that wasn't what he wanted to do. He has just started crawling and is cutting his first tooth. So I had to leave both unhappy kids with DW while I did the shopping. Hey, quality time with the kids on Mother's Day - what more could a mother want? I had half an hour grace in which to get things done or... Well, let's just say I got things done. I did forget to buy milk.

I started cooking and DW gave me some valuable and frequent advice and I fed the Little Man his solid meal (didn't go down too well - came up easier) and bathed both kids and stirred the pot and said "good idea - I'll do that right away" and got the kids dressed and set the table and agreed to something else and prepared the wine and put the Little Man to bed and nodded several times and lit the candles and put on some music and called DW and Princess to dinner. And took a breath.

Princess hated the meal and refused to eat it so she had plain rice for dinner. Fortunately, she loves plain rice. DW had some of her tea and thanked me for the effort but couldn't eat all that much. She also thought the rice was pretty good. I had made a few changes to the recipe and as we didn't have sour cream I just used normal cream and lemon juice which actually produces as slightly strange texture when mixed with red wine and beef stock.

Dessert was a little bit of a let down because I had forgotten that the pies I bought were the ones I like, not the ones DW likes. DW said I often make that mistake, but I don't see how. We settled down for a quiet evening only to have Little Man decide to test his lungs and scream the house down. That first tooth is a difficult one at the best of times and he is cutting a molar instead of a front one. That put paid to the idea of DW having a relaxing bath but to be honest, she was just as happy cross-stitching and watching Buffy. And eating chocolate.

Little Man managed a couple of hours sleep and then woke up for his night feed. DW said she hope Little Man slept through the night and I said I hope he sleeps at least until midnight, and all my chances were gone. Even the one I had earned by cleaning up the kitchen after my cooking attempt. Still, its not all bad. Having documented the events of Mother's Day 2006, I can look back and not make the same mistakes next year. I'm sure they will be all new ones.


No thought for today. My brain is like an... empty... thing.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

It was amazing for me to discover recently that at least three people read this blog. DW reads it and that is probably because I can be a bit of a nag and let's face it, what could be better than having me watching over your shoulder waiting desperately for a laugh at one of my witty observations? As I said, I can be a bit of a nag.

Anyway, the other two people have both asked for me to write something about the birthday party held yesterday for my four year old. I don't want to embarass Karen so I will call her..."Sharen" and let's call the other girl..."Hulie". Sharen and her kids, one the same age as my princess, actually attended the party but Hulie said, "Just write a blog - it'll be like I was there." Well, here goes.

It is quite fascinating watching kids unravel the concept of time. Initially it means absolutely nothing to them. They sleep, poop, eat and vomit pretty much randomly and occasionally simultaneously (if they ever have a grossest home video show, we might just win). After a while, it can become a little predictable and eventually you can almost tell the time using their biorhythms. Slowly they realise they can indicate that they want something and then you have to introduce the concept of time. It starts with "Not yet" and then becomes "In a little while" and on to "Bloody hell, I fed you not ten minutes ago and your not getting anything more until the big hand is pointing up and the little hand is pointing at the ten. You should have eaten your Wheatbix."

Eventually, the concept sinks in. My princess can now tell the time as long as the big hand is pointing up and the little hand is pointing at one of the numbers that mean food time. Before this stage though, you have to introduce the concept of tomorrow and yesterday. "In a few days" is a much harder concept to get across and at this time of year as far as Princess is concerned, it is entirely up to Christmas when it will come again. We even have to qualify the word "Later" because apparently "Later today" means it will happen sometime before bed but "Later" means probably never. We may bear some responsibility for that interpretation.

So it came to pass that the Princess' birthday did approach and all who knew were afraid. Except the Princess, who was scary. Kids get excited about parties and presents and friends and who can blame them. The only problem is the explaining when things will happen. "Five more sleeps." "Not until after lunch." "Bloody hell, they'll get here when they get here. You should have eaten your Wheatbix." We had the added bonus of explaining to a four year old that their birthday party would not be held on their actual birthday followed by five hours of tears and tantrums and assurances that this shouldn't be seen as a punishment and it wasn't because she had been naughty and we were not ruining her life. So we had a party on her birthday and a party a few days later with her friends. You gotta pick your battles.

Anyway - the party itself was a success in so far as it is over and the house is still intact and DW's friends are still talking to me, not about me. Not sure about the last bit. I stayed home from work to help out and DW said after the party that I was great and I didn't have to stay home next year. I managed to stuff up "pass the parcel" (or "parcel the parcel" as Princess calls it) and funnily enough it was for the same kid (Sharen's little boy) that I did it to the last time I "helped out" at a party.

BUT, the most important thing is that the Princess had a great day. Her friends enjoyed themselves and they have all grown up so much in the last year. They are all very similar in developmental status and are up to date with current affairs, though they all referred to our Prime Minister as "The Great Gnome". We had activities such as Statues, Pass the Parcel and Scream the Loudest. Several times kids were hunted out of bedrooms and I started dreading the teenage years.

In many ways it was like playing pinball with the game stuck on multiball. But the kids are all pretty well behaved and their parents are also pretty well behaved. I was surprised when one of the mums, let's call her "Kerrin" brought a date and to be honest, she is old enough to be his mother. He actually spent most of his time playing with the other kids and demanded a party bag before leaving. To be fair, I also demanded a party bag and I ate most of the fairy bread after the kids left.

And so it has come to pass that the Princess has turned four and celebrated the event with her family and friends. DW has already booked McDonald's for the fifth birthday. I'm not sure if I'm invited.


Thought for the day: All four year olds are at crotch height and run without fear of collision.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Short blog

Monday, May 08, 2006

I'm lucky to have a job where occasionally I can sit and blog while actually doing my real job. In this case, babysitting an AccessGrid meeting. Let's just say that if the technology breaks, I have to fix it quickly but at the moment it is stumbling along just fine.

Yesterday was my daughter's 4th birthday. DW congratulated me for having been a daddy for four years and said I should congratulate her for being a mummy for eight years. We have been married for eight years. She has no other children so I can only assume she means the dog. I'll ask her when she finishes checking my homework.

It has been an amazing four years watching someone who quite literally doesn't know poop fom apple sauce (quote from Stuart Little 2) grow into someone who does. I think she is ready for more difficult concepts but we don't want to rush her. Being a kid is about discovering little things like viscosity and texture. Like how far can one spread a small quantity of apple sauce and why it tastes better before it has passed through a human body. Actually, the "why" isn't even important in that case, just knowing that simple truth.

My little girl is growing up rapidly. If I've given anyone the idea that she may not be the sharpest tool in the box then let me set the record straight. She is not a tool. In recent scientific experiments conducted on a random sample of two children, she was the only one who was successfully able to complete all the activities involving memory, fine and gross motor skills and problem solving. She remembered where the chololate frogs were, she dragged a chair over to the pantry, opened the little packets, ate all the frogs, put everything back and managed to convince DW that I had eaten them. Now that's bright... and cunning.

The other kid fell over from a sitting position. He also doesn't know poop from apple sauce.

So what about the party? Well, the first thing I would suggest when having a party for a four year old on their birthday is to prepare yourself physically and mentally. It will be a busy day so go to bed early and get lots of sleep. DON'T sit up until 2am drinking red wine and playing Celebrity Nudity with your brother-in-law. I know I wouldn't. Also, remember that daylight isn't technically required for the day to start so an early rise is assured. The rest is a blur. If your have prepared well, then you just have to make it until bedtime that night. If you haven't prepared well, the same is true. Remember, its a blur either way.

I gave my little princess one of those el cheapo mini digital cameras because she just loves taking pictures. These things are great because they cost so little and can run on rechargeable batteries. You have to download the pictures to computer before you can see them and we now have 80 pictures of my daughter's eye. She has worked out which way to hold the camera and has already starting to express herself through her picture choices. Mostly she is saying that she has had too much red cordial and is looking for blackmail material. She can take 80 shots in about three seconds which means I don't have to bother buying her a video camera.

I mustn't be too hard on her. She managed to get several presents that were a little frustrating. She has a very pretty umbrella but it was raining too hard and she wasn't allowed to open it inside. Also her brand new totem tennis set is still in its wrapper. She got some other stuff but I can't remember it all. She had lots of lollies and cake and so did I, I'm told. She says she had a good day and I've chosen to believe her. Besides, the ACTUAL birthday party with her friends is in two days and that means more presents, and more cake, and more lollies. Fortunately DW's brother isn't coming over the night before.


If you are ever told to "knock yourself out", don't.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Another week has slid on by. Today I feel like my Blog title. Its funny how just knowing that we have plans for the weekend can make me feel tired. I keep telling myself that one of these days I'm actually going to catch up on some of my missed sleep, but the truth is, I'm deep in the tunnel and the only light I can see is the one I carry myself. That sounds a bit dark. I mean the sentence, not the metaphor. Obviously it is likely to be dark in a tunnel except for the light you bring yourself. I've just noticed I'm rambling but as no one is here to stop me I'd better go lie down.

Fortunately, a short break can do wonders for the mind. So I am told. One day I will take a short break. Until then, a snooze on the train and a hot meal will also serve. I have now had both and I am just about to have a cup of tea. Earl Grey. White, no sugar. In case you were wondering. Anyway, speaking of birds, DW and I watched "Cheaper by the Dozen" last night and I found myself answering questions about what it was like when I was growing up. You see, I have ten siblings, but I felt that we didn't really compare to the Baker family in the film. Actually, it did bring back some memories.

I was quite young when the whole family was still at home so I don't remember much. However, there is exactly (to the day) 14 years separating oldest and youngest so there were only a couple of years that we were all actually on speaking terms. I don't mean we always fought - we did that too. I mean by the time the youngest could speak properly the oldest was about to move out. But there was that tiny window...

With regards to the film, we were quite unlike the Bakers in so far as we were far more disciplined. However, I do remember situations like the breakfast scene (before the frog incident). For us it was ordered chaos. It seemed perfectly normal but looking back it was more like a scene from a war movie when the generals are meeting in the war room and the underlings are rushing bits of important paper to and fro. For us it was planning the daily invasion of the nearby town on a schoolday. We took no prisoners - obviously because it wasn't actually a war and we didn't have anywhere to put them. I assume Mum and Dad were a little sad when the first of us left the nest but I seem to remember Dad saying "Ten more". We have all left the nest now, including Mum and Dad but we are still close and I blame the Internet.

As an aside, my brother and I were discussing families a little while back and reasoned that every family has a black sheep. I racked my brains for several seconds and it occurred to me that if I couldn't figure out who it was, it must be me.

Ce la Vie!

Thought for the day: If you lead a horse to water and drown it, is that kind of like making it drink?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I often find as I sit down to write a blog entry that the words of the immortal Winnie-the-Pooh pop into my mind and I have to go away and wait for it to stop. Otherwise my posts would be more like:

Wondering, wandering, bumbling along
Jumbling up words to some little song
Whistling and tapping and making a face
Staring off into outer space
Pondering questions ageless and pointed
Then tripping over.

Now, how does that help anyone. Learn from my mistakes people. Now I have to leave before I forget why I started this sentence.


Occasionally I find myself humming songs I don't know and I wonder if I'm really all here, but then it occurs to me that I'm probably not the best person to ask.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

There comes a time when a smart person admits defeat. When the evidence is so overwhelming that no sane person could reasonably continue down an obviously mistaken path. Fortunately for me, that time is a long way off. You see, I wanted to build my own Media Centre PC. I understand the technology and I knew what I needed. At least I thought I knew what I needed. What I actually needed was DW onboard and enthused and that will likely happen shortly after my knighthood. It is not that she is opposed to technology. She simply doesn't appreciate my enthusiasm for it. She doesn't like technology for technology's sake, while I have a very good job based primarily on that premise.

I do like technology. There are lots of people who use technology for very specific and useful purposes and I am not one of them. I like technology and it likes me. We get along. We understand one another. Unless DW is watching or has a vested interest. Then technology decides to screw me. Which brings me back to the Media Centre. This is not the first time technology has made me look like a git, only the most recent. Luckily I don't mind looking lilke a git. Its probably all the practice. Anyway, our video recorder died. My daughter reported to me that it might have a bug in it, which, coming from a then two year old, showed surprising insight. It turns out the insight came from actually inserting a little wooden lady bug inside the device. While the toy was retrieved, the player never worked again. DW wanted to get it fixed but I insisted that it would cost more than it was worth and I could build a Media Center, taking us into the future.

DW is the frugal one of our partnership and I don't begrudge her that. She keeps me from sinking the boat, so that is a good thing. So when I explained what I would need to build the Media Centre and how much it would cost, she said she would get it for me as a reward for being knighted. I needed an interim plan, which I always have ready. I could make do with what I have, which was almost nothing. My desperately aging PC (DW can't understand how a three year old computer can be considered a museum piece) would technically meet the lower end of the specs required to pull it off. I would need only one extra device, the digital TV tuner capture card and that would cost less than repairing the video recorder, and much less than buying a cheap dvd recorder. At least, that was true when I started.

As my services to the Kingdom have not yet received formal recognition, I continued unabated to produce my own working Media Centre, Microsoft be damned. I turned to freeware and found out from a friend (actually the husband of one of DW's friends) that there are some very impressive applications available to do just what I wanted. His wife was even on board, or so he told me. According to DW, she was being held captive and had wished they had just bought a DVD recorder. Anyway, I put it all together and would you believe it, it worked. Well, sort of. Bits of it did, sometimes. Othertimes, other bits worked and the bits that had worked stopped working. One bit may have caught fire (I now have a smoke detector in the study). But these small teething problems didn't overcome the single biggest problem of all. It was a little complicated.

I decided to explain to DW how to do a simple task such as recording a show she likes. I used "The Glass House" as an example. I went through everything in careful detail, balancing the quantity of information against the quality and trying not to give any misleading or unnecessary detail. It took me about ten minutes and she responded by saying she heard me say "Glass House" twice and the rest was just "blah, blah, blah". I decided that it would be better to be more generic only without me citing a specific program, now it was all "blah, blah, blah". I asked her which part she didn't understand and she gave me a look that made me reword the question and ask which part had I made confusing and she said quite simply, none of it made sense. I was talking gibberish and while it might mean something to other people like me, it was still gibberish. We had been at this for about forty five minutes now so when I offered to explain it again using simple but respectful words and in no way insulting to her intelligence, she said no. So I offered to show her how simple it was. Unfortunately the computer crashed. In fact, it did something I had never seen it do before and I said so, which actually didn't appease DW as much as I thought. I finally got it going again and this time everything worked up to the point of actually recording. Then it crashed again. She left.

I spent another five or so hours trying to get it going. I did manage to work out most of the problems but it still manages to foil me. It does record programs now but that caused a whole bunch of other problems. The commonwealth games were on and I recorded some of the bits DW liked, only to find that I missed every single event by an hour. It turns out that the TV schedule feed I was using had the times wrong. I tried to record something manually and I got the wrong channel. I managed to get things working pretty well until DW asked me to burn the movie onto DVD and I had capture in the wrong aspect ratio and bitrate and the conversion looked horrible.

DW is actaully pretty good about the whole thing and has now forgiven me for stuffing up the Games recording. She has acknowledged that the Media Centre does seem to be the way forward but would probably prefer not to be quite so close to the bleeding edge. I explained that I was able to get all the bits working at least to some degree and that the crap results were because of crap components, good components could be expected to produce good results and great components... Dw listened patiently and then wished me all the best on my quest for knighthood.

Sir Bern. I like that.


My motto was "Don't give up". Now my motto is "Don't be stupid".