April 30th, 2007

I found these hiding under some leaf litter near a tree trunk in the backyard.

I don’t know if they’re mushrooms or toadstools, but I’m suspicious of anything with spots.

What are those spots? Can mould grow mould?

Only 19: an audio documentary

April 21st, 2007

Last week ABC Radio National’s Into the Music program replayed a documentary about the Redgum song “I Was Only 19 (a walk in the light green).” It’s a great piece which was as riveting to listen to — and as moving — the second time around as it was the first (sometime last year) and is available as streaming audio from the ABC website for the next three weeks. Whether or not you are familiar with the song the program is a well-made audio documentary and I encourage you to have a listen. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Here’s the direct link to the audio and here’s some info from the website:

Only 19

This program is about the genesis and impact of this song on both the subjects it remembers and the national psyche it touched so strongly.

A location-based documentary featuring a moving performance by John Schumann and the Vagabond Crew of the iconic song ‘I was Only 19′ at a concert in Vung Tau. It was for the large numbers of Vietnam veterans who came there, on 18 August 2006, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the battle of Long Tan.

When John Schumann wrote the song in 1983, he hoped to capture some of the experience of the Vietnam war from the perspective of his brother-in-law, Mick Storen, and to give voice to so much that had been unspoken since the troops had returned home. The song went on to become the unofficial anthem for Vietnam veterans and one of the most important war songs ever written in this country. It also made number one in the charts for John Schumann, who at the time was front man with the alternative folk band Redgum.

Happy listening.

Landlord video

April 19th, 2007

If you need a laugh and can cope with a 3-minute video, this may well have you on the floor in tears:

The Landlord.

It may take a few seconds to load because it’s a hot commodity at the moment.



April 15th, 2007

So I’m lying belly-to-the-ground, on a thin mattress on the floor in the study, typing this on J’s laptop which is likewise situated on the floor in front of me.

How did I get here?

Actually, I crawled.

After spending the last couple of days in bed and in pain with one kind of lurgi, I threw myself into a spasm while getting up off a chair this afternoon. Funny thing pain. As I was explaining earlier to J, unlike the nauseating, dull, aching pain that transforms the world into something distant and cloudy this is searing, invigorating pain that sharpens and focuses consciousness (May the truly evil people in the world be similarly invigorated; then let’s see them try to do mischief).

It took me a full 5 minutes to cover the few metres from the floor of the bedroom to the floor of the study on my hands and knees. In the end — if you can picture this — I had to use the inflatable “fit ball” as a sort of walker, letting it bear my torso’s weight as I inched forward on my knees. I have a new respect for hardwood flooring.

(What good is a blog if you can’t occasionally whinge or upload pet photos?)

Aspirin has been administered and is working its magic; a hot water bottle is nestled into what’s left of the curve of my lower back; the mp3 player, laptop, water and a crossword are all within reach.

It may hurt, but it’s surely not as painful and definitely less embarrassing — even on all fours, hugging an inflatable ball — than being attacked by a vicious beaver, a tale you can hear recounted in mp3 format here.

Enough about me.

If you have a moment, please join me in saying a prayer or holding in your thoughts or meditations those people struggling with real pain and suffering:

May the road ahead be kinder than the road behind.

Stray shopping carts beat Ukrainian tractors

April 14th, 2007

The annual Prize for the oddest book title of 2006 has been awarded. The winner is:

The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification by Julian Montague.

The book arose from Julian’s online Stray Shopping Cart Project which is the world’s first attempt at the categorisation of stray shopping carts according the condition and circumstances in which they are found.

I quote:

Until now, the major obstacle that has prevented people from thinking critically about stray shopping carts has been that we have not had any formalized language to differentiate one shopping cart from another.

In order to encourage a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon, I have worked for the past six years to develop a system of identification for stray shopping carts. Unlike a Linaean taxonomy, which is based on the shared physical characteristics of living things, this system works by defining the various states and situations in which stray shopping carts can be found. The categories of classification were arrived at by observing shopping carts in different situations and considering the conditions and human motives that have placed carts in specific situations and the potential for a cart to transition from one situation to another.

The resulting Stray Shopping Cart Identification System consists of two classes and thirty-three subtypes that can be used singly or in combination to describe and thereby “identify” any found cart. One of the unfortunate difficulties in implementing a situational taxonomy of this kind is that one is often required to speculate about where a cart is coming from and where it is going next. While this uncertainty can at times be vexing, it must be remembered that this system is the first attempt to categorize and analyze the transient nature of the shopping cart. The refinement of this system is an ongoing process.

Apparently data is sorely needed from some continents and I encourage those with a bent for fieldwork to grab your cameras and notebooks and venture forth in the spirit of discovery:

The System has not yet been tested on these continents. I have been sent photographs of what appear to be stray shopping carts from both Japan and Australia, but no rigorous investigations have taken place. I have also heard of wide spread stray activity in Argentina, but I have not seen any documentation.

Shedcam in the UK

April 10th, 2007

There’s always someone who does it … better (?):   (courtesy of the Dull Men’s Club)

Yard Art

April 4th, 2007

There are many little treasures to be discovered in any neighbourhood and ours is no exception. I recently shared with you the magnificent coconut palm and now behold . . . Yard Art:

I have digitally removed the phone number from one of the photos but if anyone is interested in buying any of these sculptures let me know and I’ll hook you up.

By the way, that’s a turtle’s head, not something else.