Friday, December 31, 2010


Awesome architecture.

Paris is a bit like a dream. You know, one of the ones where someone has a duck on their head and nobody else thinks that there is something wrong with that.

The drive on the wrong side of the road and J-walking is upgraded to an extreme sport. They don't seem to grasp the idea of waiting in a queue.

But they also seem to dig the juxtaposition of homes from the 1600's with 21st century architecture. Their entire modern identity, it seems, pivots around the French Revolution. When they can be bothered, they have some cool graffiti. And they invented parkour.

They like it when you make an effort at some of their words - 'Bon jour', 'Bonsoir', 'merci'.

My phrases of choice are 'Je ne sais pas' ('I don't know'), and 'Je ne parlex Francais' ('I don't speak French')

All in all, it's a busy city. The folks are haughty but still somewhat interested in tourists.

Their coffee is somewhat overrated.

And 'Yoplait petim yum' is NOT FRENCH FOR YUM!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


So, after much planning and deliberation, I finally began my secondary life as a busker. I had gotten the idea in mind a few months ago, but I consider that alright when considering I had begun teching myself Ukelele halfway through last year.

Anyway, that is why my voice now hurts and fingers have a new tipping to them.

In preparation, I had not given much thought. My 'quoteable' saying is 'your life is not a rehearsal'. So after a couple of conversations with a friend from church (actually I know him because Sam goes to my sibling's youth group), we both rocked up outside one of the town shopping centres a little bit after midday.

The task was simple. Play music. I had a folder, and he had a folder, and we used our gifts of versatility. Essentially, it went something like this:

"Okay, can you play this?" (Flicks to page)

"Oh, yeah." (Starts playing)

"Oh. Uh, this is one of the ones I transposed. But you can play this chord (plays) and this chord (plays) and this one and this one and you've got it in C."

"...Right. I'll just sing it."

FYI, I was the second voice in this. So, that's how Sam and I rolled. Flicking through songs, bouncing off each other. This guy has had a minimal amount of actual training but he's a whiz. So, we'd both begin - me on the Uke, and Sam on the Guitar. Halfway through the first verse he would put the instrument down and trade it for the keyboard, going ape with a variety of techniques I'll never hope to muster. Occasionally, he'd hit a couple of notes, and, seized by inspiration, begin a different song. This happened at least twice.

Since that type of spur-of-the-moment stuff was in his head, I would resign to singing as loud and tunefully as I could to what the song was. I combated and won against a host of bad memories when he started playing the opening riff to 'How to Save a Life' (The Fray) and later in the afternoon we sang 'Hallelujiah', which was probably the straw for my underexercised voice.

Never having busked before, I was able to concur several very important facts about the activity.

Old people are awesome. There are quite a few people who will stop and listen, but 70% of the people who stopped, listened and threw coinage were old people.

Say 'Thankyou'. This can be hard if you are in the middle of rapping the verse from 'One Week' but it makes a difference.

Early morning is your best bet. Sam arrived earlier than I did and caught the tail of the rush. Most people who are willing to give you money come in the earlier morning. Of course, you have to beat the other buskers to the better spots also.

Sunscreen. I remembered, and still got burnt.


Eat before you busk.

Sam and I plan to take a couple more mornings by storm before I choof off to England, but as far as today went, we busked for three-and-a-half hours and had $31.35 at the end. I would have liked more, but that is a mark of having started late and missing the crowds. Still, we'd never actually played more than about two songs together before. I think it went well.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Night transport

I drove home tonight from a friend's party. She lives in the bush-area relatively close to where we live, but it was still a bit of a drive home. The vehicle I drive currently is a 1989 Suzuki Swift GTI, manual transmission.

The road I drove along wound around the curves of the landscape, and I have been driving the car long enough to become accustomed to the shift range and sweet spots in the car; how much force to put behind the wheel and the weight of the car.

I drive. The road has traffic intermittently, so I don't always use the high-beams, but I'm traveling in a small sports car that makes noise and I am enjoying myself.

For a change I feel powerful, in control, dangerous and I know it. Like, an eagle flying at high speed at low altitude. Driving at night is exhilarating in a way that differs from driving during the day. When I am by myself, there is only me and the car. Pendulum is playing through the 21-year-old speakers and there is no base, but I am singing along in harmony and it adds to the adrenaline in my veins.

The limit exists, but I don't break it. I am not above the law. Instead, I use the lightweight body of the car and my knowledge of the gears to accelerate the car to the speed.

A light sounds over the crest opposing me, and I raise my arm to try and block the oncoming light of the high-beams. "Thanks, mate." I think as the oncoming fails to dim the beams before scouring my night vision away.

I come to the T-intersection that marks the last seven kilometres to home and comfortably curve around in second gear, turning my high-beams on. I continue down the road, but before I make it to the crest I see lights in the rear-view mirror. Noting the top corner lights on the car behind, I realise that it is a truck and it is sitting on my butt in no time whatsoever, This guy was doing way more than the speed limit and he continues to sit too close as I head down the hill to the turnoff. I sigh as he turns on the left indicator also. This guy is going down Beach St too then. But he doesn't turn down my street. I see the car profile as it passes me and confirm my suspicions: truck.

Remembering that it is a residential area, I try and keep the sound of the car down; sports mufflers are noisy and it is past ten. I pull in, and decide to wash the car the next day.

Nothing quite beats the exhilaration of driving at night, when you feel in control on a road that has substance and curves. It can be dangerous. But it is a lot of fun too. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Having full-size, feathered, functional wings would be so awesome in more ways than one

Um. That's pretty much the entirety of my thought for the post.

See, there's the option of, I dunno, flight, that comes along with having these massive extra limbs. But I can definitely think of several extra uses...

Ability to eat
Not just like, your standard cheeseburger either. Most birds consume up to half their own weight in food just to stay active. Everyday. You could eat like a horse and never get fat because your metabolism would be higher than Russel Brand on a Jeffry. I could definitely enjoy that.

Save money on petrol
I mean, sure, you have to buy all the extra food, but in reality, you are doing your bit for the environment, right? All the little trips where you're just taking you and your handbag/wallet. Carbon footprint only comes in to counting when you need heat or have to take things places that you can't carry while flying. Seriously, if I could figure out how to manage wings and a surfboard, I'd be set.

Thrill seeker
Because the only other way you'll get to ride a roller coaster every single day of your life is if you are a carnie. (FTR, Carnie, or Homo Carnivalis, refers to the nomadic race of humans who run the various pieces of a festival/carnival)

Costume Party
Angel, Mutant, Bird, Birdkid, Nightmare - you name it, if it involves feathers there entails the best costumes ever. Because it's not made out of cardboard. The only issue I can see with this is if someone at the party gets really drunk and insists that they want to try them on...

Portable Blanket
Feathers have for a long time been one of the most useful ways of insulating humans against the cold. Feather doonas are the bomb diggety. Featherdown jackets can beat Antarctica-cold. And the blanket is situated somewhere it can wrap around the rest of yourself and not come off.

Seriously, I'd like to see the faces of those who'd try to push anyone when all they've gotta do is give an evil grin and snap out the wings of fury, looking ready and able to dish out 'angel of death' action. Even just unfolding them slowly and tilting the head just a bit....

Doing things other flying objects can't
Sure, fighter planes are awesome. There are few things that are more awesome than the brown note of an F1-11 flying low overhead. But they can't turn on the spot. Choppers are fast. They are maneuverable. They even make good anti-zombie weapons. But midair stalls only work in the movies.
To be blunt, a flying person has better agility, smaller landing/takeoff space and is harder to track. They are too small to have a missile lock-on function properly and can land and take off quickly. On a variety of different surfaces. Try launching your Hercules from a Norfolk Pine and see what happens.

There you have it. Seven reasons aside from flying why full-size, feathered, functional wings would be awesome.
If you see any around, let me know. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Don't listen to Enya while overtired...

So, the TAFE story thus far goes...

Way too much work in too little time. I've been steadily working on six hours of sleep a night for the last month and a half and still being behind. It sucks. It is beginning to break my mind.

Anyway, I thought that I might write down thoughts as they occurred last night concerning music I was listening to and what was going on around me. Maybe you'll find them amusing, maybe not...

Sitting, wanting to listen to music that wasn't mine - I listen to a lot of music. Earlier in the year a friend lent me a whole stack of CD's - some Cranberries, trance and just about every Enya CD in existance.

I pull out my nine-year-old discman, blow the dust out of it and change the batteries.

By now I'm so tired I know that no matter how much I am pestered, I will fall asleep. It is inevitable, like gravity and natural humiliation for expressing your favour of Owl City. Mum had muttered something somewhere along the line about me choosing to go camping earlier in the week and Dad yells at the mixer we have going.

I am dubious of the cream being whipped since I think it's past the use-by date.

The TV is on. It's so damn loud. Don't want to turn headphones up, because it's Enya and will blow out my headphones. The TV gets louder. By now I'm definitely aware I should be doing work, but the mixer is loud and the TV is getting louder and if Enya gets louder I'll either go delusional or go to sleep.

Wait, I'm already delusional.

The mixer turns off and the TV is now hugely loud. I know Dad won't think to turn the TV down and will find someone to yell at about it instead.

He's yelling, and Enya is singing in a swing-waltz style.

There's insect bites on my elbows and the budgie and peachface are beginning to talk to each other.

Eve is mouthing off at Mum and Prue is wondering how I did the techflats. My eyes are so heavy and there's noise and Enya is still swingwaltzing. Eve is about to burn the pancakes.

The TV is incredibly loud and I am distracted by the sounds of Ernie Gunders' narration and the numbers on my arm.

Inevitably, I pulled this face,

and woke up with red marks on my head.

I gave in and went to bed.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Destruction in the third degree

You know how sometimes things happen, not as a direct result of your personal actions, but because of advice or a trick you have taught someone?
It's like 'don't try this at home', only it's not to do with fire or explosions. But then, I guess anything to do with computers can only mean a recipe for disaster in some circumstances.

During the course of TAFE this year, my class was supposed to design their own fashion labels. As in, the brand name that gets either printed or embroidered onto the tags that are cut off fairly soon post-purchase by the consumer because they itch. Since the only classmates who had embroidery machines embroidered their tags, the rest of us required slightly more imaginative methods with which to emblazon our names upon our goods.  Some took screenprinting as an answer, some had their labels outsourced.
I am too stingy for either, and found an alternative method which became the purpose of this post.

A few weeks prior to my initial experiments, I made a printed T-shirt for a friend. The method I used to do this was with a special type of overpriced paper - feed it through the printer, iron it onto the surface, peel the paper off, leave the print. That is the theory. I still had a truckload of the stuff, having only printed on one T-shirt, and promptly decided that by drawing onto this paper, I could create my printed labels.

While applying the print to a few tags, I had a classmate ask me what method I was using to obtain the effect. I explained it to her, just as I have to you. She thought it would also be a good idea with which to apply her own labels to designs.

This is where it begins.

The story really began when, a couple of days ago, she walked into the classroom and asked how to use the paper. My explanation ran like this:

me: "You have to print the design in a mirror-image, or it will be backwards when you apply it"

classmate: "How do you get the program to write in mirror?"

"What program are you using?"

"Oh, um, Microsoft Word?"

"Okay. There's no straight way to type directly in mirror on word. But do you know how to screen capture?"

From there I proceeded to giver her a list of instructions on how to print the labels. She exited the room, and did not enter again for a while.

When she re-entered, she appeared slightly frazzled, and was looking for the tweezers we keep in the classroom (Rethreading overlockers is not fun without them). Once they were pointed out, she left the room hurriedly, mentioning something about a paper jam.

It wasn't until I ventured down to the photocopier that the destruction wreaked had become apparent.

You see, the one set of instructions that I hadn't given her - because the instructions were printed on the packet - was that the paper was intended only for inkjet printers. This is because the paper is coated with a type of glue that adheres the print to the surface, and should not be heated before running through the printer, less the glue should leave the page and get through the printer, and inkjet printers do not heat the paper before printing.

So, imagine the scene when the teacher and classmate are scurrying between the printer and photocopier, because when the printer jammed, they had tried feeding the transfer paper through the photocopier. Both printing devices were not inket as required, but laser-operated.

As a result, I found myself telling the teacher as best I could that the tweezers were useless as they did not have enough surface area or pinch-power to remove the scraps of transfer paper scattered along with smeared glue through the photocopier rollers.  I tried to no avail, using my fingers to pull tiny pieces of mild embarrassment and frustration from the jam, while listening to the teacher mutter behind me,

"I think we'll have to call the mechanic."

So there it is. Destruction in the third degree. Another good reason to know the difference between an inkjet and laser printer, and to read the instructions. Seriously.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


In search of something to say, I hopped onto a random word generator. After a click or fifteen, out pops 'Rush'.
So, let this post be Rush-themed.

This word has significance in what I do because my life somehow ends up being rushed. Years ago, we came up with a term called 'Hazelgrove time' which was really the reason why we were late to <i>everything</i>.

Because, in reality, when you have six people trying to co-ordinate things to catalyse all at once, you have buckley's chances. Anything from going to a dinner to leaving for school in the morning - all one big rush.

I've probably been to about five events in the past five years where there has been no rush. Either because our family is involved in some way, or someone is missing shoes, or hasn't ironed something, or is on the phone - it just seems to happen.

This has plus and minus factors - we adapt quickly to plan changes. We learn to dress-up or dress-down. We learn the importance of carrying at least one hairbrush in the car (I'm seriously not kidding on this one.)
Of course, the offset is almost always stress. But our family keeps going.

Because Hazelgrove time is about being rushed because you are doing five million things at the same time.

I don't know if it is directly because of this, or because I am anal about things like where the clingwrap goes, that has caused my intense dislike of being late.
Maybe it's because Dad getting narky is less than fun.

I don't know. And that's all I can really say about 'Rush'.
I can smell dinner and even though I know it is not, it smells like Tacos.