2012 Resolutions

Posted: January 16, 2012 in Thoughts

2012 Resolutions
1. Learn the basics of iPhone app development
2. Be credit card debt free
3. Read 15 books for the year
4. Be more mindful
5. Be more musical
6. Implement an exercise routine that I stick to
7. Drink more water
8. Take more photos and learn how to use a DSLR
9. Explore Victoria

———————
2011 Results: Success = 2.5, Fail = 7
1. More productive Internet time. –Minor Success

2. Read at least one book per month. –FAIL
According to goodreads.com I managed 6 books. Game of Thrones Bk 1, Dark Tower bk 1, Curious Incident, Fables bk 2, Walking Dead Omnibus 3, and how to break a terrorist. I enjoyed reading them all, and will read the next book in each respective series.

3. Join a rock climbing gym. –FAIL
Was considering attending with a Scottish bloke from work, however he left, and I never thought about it again.

4. Consistently teach piano. –FAIL
I don’t mind failing this one, I actually managed to teach a girl four lessons before she decided to give up.

5. Be credit card debt free. –FAIL
I was credit card debt free for possibly around a week, then we were hit with VISA fees, England flights, Falls tickets, and Tassie flights, all in the same month.

6. Tennis once a week. –FAIL
Had a hit with Hannah twice when we were unemployed.

7. Decide on a sustainable career path. –SUCCESS
Distinction average for my first year of counselling, had an initial interview for a placement in the catholic school system, transferred into Masters for 2012, and scored a job in HR.

8. Complete Pimsleur German. –FAIL
Didn’t even consider continuing with the German language at any point throughout 2011.

9. Post to website once a month. –FAIL
My last post to the website was my list of resolutions at the beginning of February.

10. Less coffee more tea. – SUCCESS

2011 resolutions

Posted: February 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

1. More productive Internet time.
2. Read at least one book per month.
3. Join a rock climbing gym.
4. Consistently teach piano.
5. Be credit card debt free.
6. Tennis once a week.
7. Decide on a sustainable career path.
8. Complete Pimsleur German.
9. Post to website once a month.
10. Less coffee more tea.

Paris

Posted: August 2, 2010 in Travel

In the past the majority of January I have spent in the sun dressed in shorts and t-shirt.  January 2010 however I was living in England, where a unusually cold winter had hit western Europe.  It was considered a warm day if the temperature got above 0 degrees.

Mum was over from Australia visiting so we decided to go to Paris.  After massive delays at the Eurostar terminal due to a train getting stuck under the English Channel, we made it to the French capital, greeted by snow and an average temperature of minus 5.

The underground Metro system took us from the Eurostar terminal directly to the Blanche stop in Montmartre, where we would be staying.

The Moulin Rouge @ Montmatre

 We stayed in a really nice apartment with a view of… the Montmartre Cemetery!!

Montmatre Cemetery

Day two of course involved checking out some things around Paris. The first of these being the Louvre.

The Louve Pyramid

Once inside we admired the hundreds of Italian and French paintings until I gave into curiosity and followed the crowds to view what must have been the smallest painting in the building.

The Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa

I have never studied art at a high level, or even had the desire to learn the basics of art theory.  Therefore I am completely unqualified in saying “There is nothing special about this painting”.  Closer inspection for an explanation was made difficult as there were 5 security guards, a thick bulletproof glass cover, 5 metres of floor and perhaps the biggest obstacle of all, a velvet rope between me and ‘the masterpiece’.  I’ve got two suggestions for the Louvre interior decorator – maybe you should put Mona in a smaller room to make her look more extravagant. Also, if you’re trying to show off a tiny painting don’t hang this directly behind it-

Behind Mona

Yes, it is a painting so big it wouldn’t fit in the camera shot.  Remarkably it was only one of many giant paintings scattered around the Louvre.  After some time however even the giant paintings started to lose their appeal to me. Luckily I stumbled across the best exhibition of all at the prestigious French museum…. the Egyptian exhibit!  Not only did it contain some of the oldest and quite clearly coolest artifacts in existence, it also had next to no tourists clogging up the corridors, and blinding me with their nonstop flash photography.  What was in there? Stuff that was 3000 years old including: examples of the first form of written language, giant statues of gods with animal heads, sarcophagi, and a couple of fully preserved mummies.  We struggle to preserve food for more than a month, yet here is a 3000 year old body sitting in the middle of the room for everyone to see.

Egyption Mummy

We left the Louvre and were greeted by fresh snow and darkness.  We also got our first glimpse of the Eifel tower shining across the River Seine.

River Seine

 

Shining Eiffel

We dashed across the river into the  Musée d’Orsay for a quick viewing of the works of my favourite artist Claude Monet.

Water Lilies - Claude Monet

Also featured was Renoir

Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette - Renoir

Also, arguably the most famous piece in the building, Van Gough’s self portrait.  Like the Mona Lisa, I don’t really care for it much at all. Regardless here’s a ‘I’m a tourist that saw things and here’s the proof photo’.

Van Gough

It was time to get some hot food and catch up with fellow Tasmanian Kieran Ollier and his lovely French girlfriend Clara and her equally as lovely mum.  We hit up a Montmartre bar for beers and some banter.

The Pub

We were then ready to head out into the cold and up to the summit of Montmartre to have a look at the Sacré-Cœur Basilica (yes I did copy and paste the spelling from Wikipedia).

Sacré-Cœur Basilica

 

In a day we’d managed to cover art, beer, extreme weather, and religion.  What to do with day two? Royalty, gold and wealth!

We got on the train and headed to Versailles to visit the Chateau de Versailles.  The palace was the centre of political power in the late 1600s for around 100 years until the French Revolution began and the royal family were forced back into the centre of Paris.  After that it didn’t serve much of a purpose other than looking pretty.  There is some serious artwork lining the walls and roof, and everything that doesn’t have a painting on it is coated with gold.

Hall of Mirrors - Versailles

 

Versailles grounds

Upon arriving back in central Paris we had a look inside the amazing Notre Dame Cathedral.  Admittedly this is one structure that I wasn’t dying in anticipation to see.  However, as soon as I first saw the monstrous Gothic structure rising out of the snow, I was instantly glad I made the effort.

Notre Dame

 

Notre Dame

 

Notre Dame

Our final day in Paris, what was there left to do?  Check out one of the weirdest looking giant structures in the world of course.

 

Eiffel Tower

 

Eiffel Tower

 

View from the top of The Eiffel Tower

Nothing really needs to be said about the tower, apart from ‘don’t visit it at the end of the day as it’s a long walk to the top’.  Once you’re at the top though you’ll have a fair amount of time to accumulate some energy for the walk back down, as you’re going to be mesmerized by the 360 degree view of Paris.

On the final day in Paris there was one last thing to do before heading to the train station… have a coffee.  Have you seen that French movie Amelie?  Remember the coffee shop

Well that is The Café des 2 Moulins and it’s just around the corner from where we were staying in Montmartre.

The Café des 2 Moulins

After the coffee was consumed it was time to head back to the UK.  Thanks Paris for being amazing, while not feeling crowded and touristy, and thanks mum for taking me there and experiencing it with me.

 

My Favourite Album of All Time

Posted: February 26, 2010 in Thoughts

Released September 12, 2000
Recorded Indigo Ranch Studios
(Malibu, California, U.S)
Early 2000
Genre Post-hardcore
Alternative rock
Length 45:31
53:41 (2004 re-release)
Label Grand Royal Records
Fearless Records



Relationship of Command, a cd I have played at least ten times more than any other in my collection.  If I believed in buying cds instead of using digital copies I would have probably been up to my twentieth copy by now. 

I first heard the sounds of At the Drive-In during a Channel [V] broadcast of the Big Day Out in January 2001.  They only played a ten minute set due to walking off after the crowd disobeyed their request to cease crowd surfing.  It was like a powerful political statement Rage Against the Machine would throw out to the crowd, but never actually follow through with (no offense RATM, I love your music).  The ten minutes of footage I saw displayed the most raw energy I have ever seen a live band project.  These guys were very much in sync with their music, you could tell they believed in every riff played, and every lyric sung.

I obtained ‘Relationship of Command’ before departing on a family trip around New Zealand.  I listened to it a couple of times a day in the car, and was instantly hooked.  Nine years later and I still listen to this recording at least once a month, probably more.  

What makes this album so amazing and addictive?  Well the energy of their live performance is perfectly captured on this recording.  It’s brutal, raw, not really that polished or over produced, which energises me while listening to it.  Even though to this day I still don’t understand the muddle of ambiguous lyrics, certain sections of the songs almost bring a tear to my eye.  Towards the end of ‘Invalid Litter Dept’ Cedric’s screams accompanied by Omar’s wild guitar riffing spark a huge amount of emotion in me, even though I don’t specifically know what the song is about.

Along with the aggression excreted on tracks such as ‘Cosmonaut’, and the emotion stirring composition that is ‘Invalid Litter Dept’, At The Drive-In have a very eccentric style seeping through their post-hardcore, alternative rock arrangements.  This experimental style was later extracted and applied as the foundation to The Mars Volta after the demise of At The Drive-In during 2001 (the year I discovered them).  An example of this peculiar style is a very strange, yet intriguing sound byte at the start of “Enfilade” spoken by Iggy Pop –

“hello?”
“Hello, mother leopard. I have your cub. You must protect her, but that will be expensive. 10,000 cola nuts, wrapped in brown paper. Midnight, behind the box. I’ll be the hyena, you’ll see.”

When the guitars aren’t projecting brutal bar chords, Omar breaks into some interesting effect layered lead guitar sections.  However it isn’t too long before the high impact distorted guitar chords combined with the emotionally charged shouting from Cedric return.

To this day I still haven’t deciphered Cedric’s cryptic lyrics, nor do I have any interest in doing so.  Every time this album ends I feel like I have heard an entire story, I don’t know what specifically the story is about, however I don’t need to.  The perfect changes in energy, from aggression, to slower emotionally charged songs follow the structure of a definitive film.  The kind of thought provoking film that leaves you pondering for hours after its conclusion.  

This album is in every sense of the word a masterpiece.  So, feel free to suggest to me an album that surpasses this, but you’re going to need to give me nine years to decide whether or not you are correct.  

Watch the video that sparked my initial interest in At The Drive-In (quality of file is quite low).

Quarantined – a ‘soft’ song from relationship of command.

On Boxing Day mum and I continued our trip through the English countryside, namely the counties of Devon, and Cornwall.  First stop was Clovelly

Clovelly is nestled amongst the trees on a Cornish cliff-face overlooking the Bristol Channel.  It has a population of a little over 1500 people, plus a few donkeys.  Due to the steep cobblestone slopes and limited vehicle access, deliveries are often made by lowering sledges from the upper carpark.

The secluded village located in North Devon used to be a fishing village in the early 1900’s, however it is now more of a tourist attraction.  Containing only a pub, coffee shop and post-office, the village has an overall feeling of detachment from the rest of the world (in a good way).  After writing that I realised I said post-office and detachment from the world in the same sentence…….. I knew what I meant though.

Clovelly

Clovelly

Decided to spend the night at Newquay as it is only 200 kms away from Clovelly.  Sources told me that it’s a city popular for surfing, sandy beaches, its night-life, and end of year exam parties and stag nights.  Sounds exactly like Brighton, minus the sandy beaches…. and surfing.

Had the best fish and chips thus far in England, perhaps ever.  At breakfast the next morning what was behind window in the dining room was revealed. Cliffs and the entrance to the sea, a stunning view.  No surfers, drunks, or grooms tied to trees in sight.

Newquay

Newquay

We got on the road for another day of driving.  First stop was Tintagel, the alleged birthplace of King Arthur.  Saw the remains of Tintagel Castle, got in the car and left as it was freezing.

Tintagel

Tintagel

The next stop was Boscastle, a small fishing village with a population of less than 1000.  Boscastle harbour is a natural inlet, which is quite spectacular as the water comes right up to the buildings of the village.  A result of this unique harbour design was the 2004 floods, which left 94 residents stranded on the roofs of their houses until rescue was provided by the Royal Air Force, and the Coastguard.

My sudden change in attitude towards English cuisine continued as I sank my teeth into a Cornish Pasty for lunch, in a cafe next to the Boscastle Witchcraft Museum… yum.

Boscastle

Boscastle

Boscastle

Boscastle

We left Boscastle and drove to Launceston, the illusive historical capital of Cornwall.  Reasons for driving here should be obvious to most people reading this.

The road to Launceston

Arriving in Launceston however it was evident that there was a lot more class to this town than its Tasmanian counterpart.  Launceston has a castle, a ‘Bavarian style’ town hall, rolling hills, and a maze like ‘blocky route’ through the historical centre.  With a population of only 8000, its not going be the first returned result for a Launceston search on Wikipedia anytime soon,  however it is a much more relaxed and picturesque Launceston,and definitely a welcoming surprise.

Launceston Town Hall

Launceston Town Hall

Launceston Castle

View from Launceston Castle

Next we drove through Plymouth, which was useless.  A massive city, with uninspiring modern architecture, and slow moving traffic.  Then onto Glastonbury to see the Abbey…. which was closed.

Glastonbury Abbey

Returned to Sherbourne for another night at the Eastbury, and another meal at The Half-Moon, before getting on the train the next day for the trip back to Brighton.

Yes it’s true, a drive through the English countryside is more relaxing than a drive through a random part of Australia.

Bath and English Christmas

Posted: December 26, 2009 in Travel

It was Christmas eve eve, time to make the journey to Hannah’s house to have Christmas with her family.
Arrive at 9am. Train delayed due to ice. Fifteen minutes later train cancelled. Christmas travel is brutal. We manage to get a later train that day, which is packed. 3 hours standing in a train aisle like sardines. It seemed the train guards desired only one thing for Christmas – tetris. Instead of adding extra carriages to the train, they decided piling additional passengers into the aisles was a more logical solution.

We arrived in Yeovil, and headed to the car rental site, where we met mum.
The car was a Holden Astra… er, Vauxhal Astra
We then dropped Hannah at her parents house. This was quite surreal as it had been some time since I had stepped into a place of residence that didn’t share a common wall with the next-door neighbour.
Mum and I headed into Sherborne. We stayed at the Eastbury, and ate at a lush old pub called the half-moon.

The next day we were guided by the voice of Ken (gps man) to Bath.
Quite an amazing city. A city established as a spa resort for the Romans in 43AD. The highlight of course being a trip to the Roman Baths, which contain heated water from the only naturally occurring hot springs in the UK.
Stayed the night at the Hilton. Watched some Christmas movies, and got not a lot of sleep in anticipation for Christmas.

Bath

Bath

Bath

Bath

Got on the road early, destination – English Christmas @ the Hart residence.
English Christmas is very much the same as Australian Christmas. Differences include: not being able to go outside, turkey is the main meat, and epic Christmas tv special episodes, after the compulsory afternoon nap in the lounge.

Christmas

 

Christmas

An all round good day!

Halloween – Pumpkin Carving

Posted: November 13, 2009 in Events

The 31st of October is Halloween, or All-Hallows-Even, aka the night before All Saints day.  It wasn’t easy finding someone who could tell me why Halloween is a celebrated holiday.

Most people will tell you its about costume parties, trick-or-treat, pumking carving, wearing costumes, and watching horror movies.

I managed to do two of those things.

Costume - lederhosen, from my trip to Germany

Costume – lederhosen, from my trip to GermanyOnce the costume was sorted it was time for pumpkin carving,  something I’ve never done before, or ever thought of doing. 

Step one of course was to buy a pumpkin.  These are easy to find around Halloween, for a couple of quid.  However pumpkins are scarce for the rest of the year.  You can’t even buy pumpkin soup in a can from the supermarket!

Once your pumpkin has been selected the next step is to inspect your pumpkin, and ask it what face it would like.  When you have finished talking to your pumpkin, draw on the face.

Next cut a lid into the top of the pumpking, remove the lid, then start spooning out all the muck that is inside.  Don’t throw away the seeds, put some salt on them and bake them in the oven. Tasty!

Once the inside is hollowed out, start carving!
 

When the carving is finished, put some lights in the middle, and replace the lid. 

We spent so much time carving pumpkins we didn’t actually make it down to the Halloween party.  So here are some pictures of pumpkins in their prime instead.  Enjoy.

 

Hannah's Hitler Pumpkin

Hitler and the Triforce