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2016-12-16 10:46 pm
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Newest member of the family

Not going to post about politics just now (it's all horribly depressing, I have nothing to say that hasn't already been said better than I could.) Instead, something cheerful.

On November 1, Silverblue and Brandt (+ Velociraptor) came over to help us with our garden, which was getting *cough* slightly unkempt.

While pulling weeds, Silverblue made a discovery in an old compost bin:


Three tiny kittens, somewhere around three weeks old. We have a lot of roaming cats around, and evidently some feral mama had decided that this would be a good place to hide her babies.

They were much too young to be separated from their mama, so we weighed them, put them back, and hoped she'd keep them there. Unfortunately she was scared, so she took the babies away and hid them somewhere else - our neighbour thinks under his house. We put food out for her every so often, in the hope that she might come back, and she was happy enough to take the food.

Last Sunday, Rey looked out the back window and saw three not-quite-so-little scamps and their mother exploring our back yard. We tried to catch them but they bolted. At that point we borrowed a cat trap and baited it.

We checked just before bed on Sunday night - nothing.

Around five in the morning I woke up and went down to check the trap, and found this rather pretty black-and-white kitten: thumb_IMG_0800_1024.jpg

We set up the trap again on Monday night, and caught the remaining two. Rest of post cut for lots of pics. )
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2014-01-18 12:31 pm
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Goodbye Dog-Or/Cuton

We took His Majesty to the vet for the last time today. I've been crying on and off all week, knowing this was coming.

Medical details. )

I will miss him terribly. When we looked at the vet notes from an earlier visit, somebody had noted "lovely dog" on his record, and he really was. I don't think he ever bit anybody in anger (there were a couple of accidents as he grew old and blind and mistook G's fingers for bacon) and he loved to cuddle. On cold nights he'd jump on the bed and nudge me until I lifted the quilt for him to burrow under and snuggle against our knees.

Thanks to friends and family who've offered sympathy. I know a lot of you loved him too, and as far as I can tell he loved pretty much everybody. It was a good life and one worth some tears.
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2013-01-27 06:09 pm
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James McAuley, "Because"

My uncle mentioned a line from James McAuley a while back. It resonated with me, and I just got around to looking up the rest of the poem. An excerpt:

People do what they can; they were good people,
They cared for us and loved us. Once they stood
Tall in my childhood as the school, the steeple
How can I judge without ingratitude?

Judgement is simply trying to reject
A part of what we are because it hurts.
The living cannot call the dead collect;
They won't accept the charge, and it reverts.
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2013-01-05 10:13 am
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Holiday stuff

Had a lovely Christmas. We now own three copies of 'Firefly'* and two of 'Black Books', which seems like more than we really need.

Saw 'The Hobbit' on Boxing Day. I enjoyed it; I don't think it was quite on a par with LotR, but will be seeing #2 next year.

Hobbit thoughts. )

After Boxing Day we took Senior Dog up to my dad's place at Long Beach for a few days. (Junior Dog doesn't like cars, and we thought Senior Dog might enjoy a spell of being Only Dog again.) It was a bit of a nostalgic visit: it's been my parents' holiday home since I was a kid, and has a lot of memories attached. But we've all moved away, so we don't get there often enough to give it the maintenance it needs (had a couple of pest-control scares this time, not including the wee scorpion I found in the bedroom) and this may be the last time I go there.

Still, we had a nice relaxing time there. It was a bit cold for swimming, but I got some work in on my year-long NaNo, and dragged out my old leatherworking gear to make a snazzy red suede sleeve for New Laptop to protect the beautiful Gelaskins made from this diptych. Senior Dog enjoyed his time there, and even managed a staircase for the first time in months. I discovered a trove of #1 Ladies' Detective Agency books and have been scarfing them up. And some time with my father and stepmum, which is always nice.

Now, spending a few quiet days at home trying not to die in our current heat wave, before I go back to work on Monday.

*the TV series, not the Piers Anthony monstrosity.
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2012-10-28 03:37 am
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For the MLP fans

If you haven't already seen it on Rey's journal: my stepson cosplays Sexy Big McIntosh.

I would like to note for the record that not only did he wear this outfit to a bronies meet, but he went there by public transport. Go him!
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2011-11-03 07:58 am
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On consent

Last night I saw Geoffrey Robertson (well-known legal & TV figure) speaking about his client, Julian Assange. I immediately gritted my teeth, because after hearing Pilger et al. I've developed certain low expectations of what I will hear from Assange's advocates.

But I was pleasantly surprised. Robertson managed to speak on Assange's behalf, discussing the case and defending his client's right to a fair trial, WITHOUT playing the "lying sluts" card or the "well what he's accused of isn't REALLY rape". (His words on the latter were something along the lines of: "while this is termed 'minor rape' in Swedish law, let's be clear on this, all rape is heinous.") Nice to see somebody whose regard for women's rights does NOT become disposable as soon as their idol is accused of something unsavory.

Then of course I spoiled it by reading comments elsewhere, claiming that Assange is "not accused of rape" because "all he did was remove a condom".

First, that's NOT the only thing he's accused of (though I also fell victim to that myth at first - it's certainly being pushed pretty hard.) You can read the warrant here (thanks to Michi for the link) and note the other charges.

Second - and I've said this before, here, but I feel like saying this again - if all Assange had done was remove the condom, yes, that would be rape. Not "technically rape", but "rape". Some points on which people seem to be unclear:

If somebody consents to sex under specific conditions, and those conditions aren't met, you are having sex without their consent. It doesn't matter whether those conditions are "you have to use a condom" or "it'll cost you fifty dollars".

If somebody consents to sex based on information you've given them, and that information is a lie (deliberate omissions count), then you're having sex without their consent.

If somebody consents to sex with another person, and then you show up and impersonate that person in order to get sex, then you're having sex without their consent.

If somebody consents to sex and then withdraws that consent, then you're having sex without their consent. Even if they're being totally unreasonable about the issue and you really, really "need" to get laid.

If somebody does not feel they have the option of refusing consent, and having that decision respect, then you're having sex without their consent.

If you have sex with somebody without their consent, that's rape. End of story.
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2011-10-31 08:31 pm
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Apparently somebody else feels the same way I do about this (and the same way my mother did):

Breast Cancer Is Not A Pink Ribbon.
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2011-09-26 08:05 am
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Photos of my nephew over on LJ.
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2009-02-07 11:42 pm
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Fourteen dead in fires in Victoria today. 46.4 Celsius/115F in Melbourne today... hope my friends and their loved ones are keeping safe. I think my stepmother's family are near some of those fires :-( [Edit: 'It is feared that more than 40 people have died'...]

Meanwhile, up in Sydney, we went to Ku-ring-gai National Park today for a family picnic in memory of Rey's brother, who died twenty years ago. Not quite as warm as Victoria, although still pretty hot, and there's smoke in the air here.

We walked uphill to a quiet spot with some good flat rocks to sit on, and started on lunch. While we were eating, we noticed a little black wallaby (maybe a brushtailed rock wallaby?) a little way downhill, and as we ate it gradually worked its way closer. It seemed to be semi-tame; it wasn't coming all the way up to us, but it was coming closer than I'd have expected from a wild animal.

Feeding wild animals is a no-no, but I thought it might be thirsty, so we filled a Tupperware bowl with water and I put it as close to the wallaby as I thought I could get, then stood back. After a couple of minutes of watching and sniffing, it decided the bowl was safe, and completely drained it. So I refilled it... and despite my brother-in-law thinking that a good way to win its trust was to throw a stick behind it to startle it into coming closer to me, it drank most of that too.

I think it must have been familiar with humans at some stage - it certainly wasn't coming close enough for us to touch it, but it seemed to be deliberately seeking us out. It looked to have had a pretty rough life - both ears pretty tattered, and possibly blind in one eye - so I wonder if it was a rescue animal that had been returned to the wild.

I've not seen a lot of wallabies before, certainly not this close-up - they tend to get neglected in favour of their larger cousins. It really was a gorgeous creature, and its face was noticeably different from a kangaroo's - a little like a mouse, a little like a deer, but not quite either. Rey and other family members got some photos, so hopefully I can link to them soon.
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2008-02-29 10:14 pm
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A medical riddle

Today, I punched a few numbers into the Spreadsheet of Doom that will determine how many 'remote Northern Territory Indigenous communities' NATSISS should survey. And then in the evening I chatted with my brother, who told me what might be the most WTF story I've ever heard from a medic:

Earlier this week, my brother was on a break in Darwin Hospital, standing near a stairwell, when a patient made a request of him. He didn't mention her exact age, but she was an adult Aboriginal woman, and she asked him to hold her hand when she went downstairs.

Before clicking the cut, see if you can guess why she needed him to do that (and no, my brother's laddish charm is not the answer).

Read more... )

Unrelated, today is the second anniversary of one of the better decisions I ever made :-)
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2007-12-16 08:16 pm
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Yay wedding!

Wedding was lovely. Nearly eaten alive by bugs, but otherwise spiffy. The bride showed up in a 90-year-old electric car, and the ceremony went smoothly. (I discovered about half an hour beforehand that I was best man, but since I didn't have to make a speech that wasn't a problem.)

We stopped by the Maffra Hospital beforehand and saw the photo & plaque of my grandfather Oscar on the wall. At the reception, some of my stepmother's family talked about their memories of him (this is the one who died before I was born). At the reception we had a local bush band... and it turned out Oscar had been the one who brought their lead singer into the world, many years ago. From all accounts, Oscar was a memorable fellow.

Speeches. An old friend of my father's mentioned that in his undergraduate days, he'd been known for his 'fiendish laugh'. The things you learn...

Probably more later when I remember it, but for now, happy and mellow. Family is what you make it...
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2007-07-06 10:58 am
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Yay, us!

As of today, [livejournal.com profile] reynardo has officially been putting up with me (and sometimes even brushing my hair) for five wonderful years! I think she deserves some sort of medal for that :-)
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2007-06-20 10:14 pm
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A week away

Spent a week down in Melbourne with Rey for her birthday, visiting a few friends & family. Had a lovely time, including...

- Pirate clubbing. Photo here of yrs truly attempting a menacing 'Arrrr!' and managing... I'm not sure quite what... along with the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] silverblue.

- Meeting [livejournal.com profile] shadow_5tails and [livejournal.com profile] asagwe's new cats, and seeing their Ninja Skillz in action. It was a short step from their deciding that the world is more interesting when seen through bubblewrap to their figuring out how to wear a bubblewrap bag as a Ninja Hood... and I was especially impressed by the Ninja Door-Opening Methods.

- Rey's birthday dinner, during which I caught up with my brother and learned some v. interesting family gossip...

- Visiting my great-aunt. She's not been well and was a little frail, but for 87 she's still holding up pretty well.

- Seeing Merlin Bird performing before they head off overseas.

- The weather, which alternated between 'dry', 'wet', and 'wet plus burst water main'.

- A dinner date with my beloved. Verdict: we really ought to do that more often.

- Talking to Mel Uni about prospective back-to-study-ness (specifically in psych). Looks interesting, although paying job that doesn't require a year of study first would be preferable.

Got back to discover that Rey's mother, while house-sitting, had tidied the kitchen (including cleaning the stove!) and that [livejournal.com profile] da_norvegicus had brought home a respectable school report, go him. Also that Dog-Or was overjoyed to see us, no surprises there.

Meanwhile, via [livejournal.com profile] vito_excalibur, advertising execs are still morons. Or possibly a significant portion of people are morons, and ad execs are just cynical bastards who exploit that. Either way, I think several people on my f-list will find that photo far more attractive than it was intended to be.
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2007-04-26 10:52 am
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Anzac Day

My great-uncle, Gilbert Dyett, was born in a Victorian country town in 1891. By 1914 he was in South Africa (I think on business), but at the onset of war he came back to Australia to join up. He embarked for Gallipoli in April 1915.

On August 6th, Australian troops launched an attack on heavily fortified Turkish trenches at Lone Pine. It was intended as a diversion, to draw Turkish attention away from a New Zealand/British attack on Chunuk Bair. (In the end, the ANZACs won the diversion but lost Chunuk Bair.)

Over six days of battle - much of it tunnel-fighting with hand grenades - Australian and Turkey each lost about two thousand troops. Seven Victoria Crosses were awarded, which says something about the ferocity of the battle. Lt. Dyett was badly wounded, covered, and left for dead, but somehow managed to pull through and was repatriated; eventually he even managed to start walking again.

When he got back, and I know I've posted some of this before, he got involved in recruiting and then in the movement to recognise and look after returned soldiers. From 1919 to 1946 he was the president of the Returned Services League, and if you Google his name you'll find plenty on what he did. He had a reputation for honesty and diligence (enough so that shady businessman John Wren ('John West') hired him to give a respectable face to the Victorian Trotting and Racing Association, while largely tying his hands - at least, that's how Power Without Glory tells it). He never married - family gossip alludes to lasting injuries from Lone Pine, although it may well be he never found time or just wasn't interested - and he died in 1964, eleven years before I was born.

I find myself looking at his entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography and wondering what it might have looked like, if the war had been avoided. He'd probably have been a successful businessman (he was already active in that regard before he joined up), although I doubt he'd have caught John Wren's eye; 'returned soldier' counts for a lot when it's respectability you're after.

On 9 August 1915 at Lone Pine, Gallipoli, Turkey, Lieutenant Tubb held a newly captured trench which was being counter-attacked by the enemy. They blew in a sand-bag barricade, leaving only a foot of it standing, but Lieutenant Tubb led his men back, repulsed the enemy and rebuilt the barricade. Twice more the enemy blew in the barricade, but on each occasion this officer, although wounded in the head and arm, held his ground and assisted by two corporals (Alexander Stewart Burton and William Dunstan), rebuilt it. They succeeded in maintaining the position under very heavy fire.

I won't say that the Gallipoli campaign was pointless - if nothing else, it probably had an important if unintended role in Turkey's becoming a secular democracy ([livejournal.com profile] silmaril can probably make more informed comment on that than I can). But I do wonder what those men - both those who died, and those who survived and spent the rest of their lives dealing with being 'returned soldiers' - might have achieved if that sort of courage and perseverance had been applied in a less grim direction.
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2007-01-20 05:33 pm

Stuff and Things!

In Melbourne. We went to see Wunderkammer this morning (yay fossils! yay taxidermy! yay antique scientific/medical equipment!), dropped by [livejournal.com profile] mordwen's pool party, and then went to see the Australian Synchrotron at Clayton. We stood on the balcony looking at shiny machinery and inhaling the SCIENCE!

Migraine the other day. Boring details for my own records. )

Edit: Also, Octopus go squish!
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2006-12-26 08:51 pm
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Musical fun

I can't be bothered digging up the clip of Celine Dion covering AC/DC or the Twisted Sister Christmas Album, so instead some stuff that's actually good. I haven't heard the music but Mitch Benn's lyrics stand up on their own.

Lyrics... )

Had a good Christmas - friends and family over for Christmas lunch, so much food even Dog-Or gave up eating and waddled off to sleep (for about ten minutes, before coming back for more). Went and saw Happy Feet today, which was fun, although I was half-expecting an Al Gore cameo before the end of the movie.

And I have a shiny new phone, which plays "Tainted Love" when most people call me and other things for a select few. But I probably won't answer, because it also has a Tetris clone.

Warm fuzzies to you all. The last couple of years have been more than usually stressful for all sorts of reasons, but they've also shown that I have plenty of good and loyal friends who care about me. Go you!

P.S. Yes, Buzzy, my phone really will play 'Pico and Sepulveda' any time you ring.

P.P.S. Via [livejournal.com profile] jazzmasterson, how to play Scrabble.
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2006-04-23 01:00 pm
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"If you play that Deserter on him, you'll get a level 2 knight. And if you use it on me, you'll stop me from getting either a Defender or a Progress card when the barbarian hits. But if you use it on [livejournal.com profile] reynardo... well, there's no strategic advantage to that, but it would probably make her cry."

- me, advising Rey's mother during last night's Settlers of Catan game.

(Rey paid us back by winning the second game, which was one of the more fun games I've played in a while. All four of us were in form - we each managed to get a metropolis at one point or another, and it wasn't clear who was going to win until the very final turn, when Rey pulled a swift one to steal Longest Road off her mother. But I won the moral victory... if you can call it that.)
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2006-03-20 10:22 am

Trivia Of My Life

Gave Dog-Or the last of his antibiotics yesterday, so no more "catch the dog and force horrible tablets down his throat". I'm happy about this, and presumably he is too. The wound is healing, slowly but surely, and he gets his stitches out on Wednesday. Will probably leave the cone on a while longer, though, because we *know* he'll want to scritch the hell out of it as soon as possible.

It's my father's 60th next month. Not sure what to get him. Not that he demands a big fuss over presents - he's pretty easy-going that way - but I'm fond of my father and I'd like to get him something nice. Half of me is saying "maybe a cookbook for bachelors" and the other half is saying "let him enjoy his birthday without reminding him about that bit". Talked to my brother - he's well and cheerful, so that's all good.

Still feeling tired and sore of late. Partly not getting to bed at sensible hours, partly a stiff spot right at the base of my skull causing headaches (chiropractor has tried twice so far to dislodge that, no luck as yet). Managed to get in a short stint on the exercise bike last night; total exercise since last update 20 km, which would be more impressive if it wasn't spread over 3 weeks, which is exactly the same thing I said 3 weeks ago. Total 158km/95mi leaves me neatly at Old Man Willow, day 4. No wonder I feel sleepy. Did at least get a reasonable amount done around the house this weekend, smote the front garden with the whipper-snipper and drove legions of tiny skinks before me. (This is a good thing; I'm v. fond of skinks and am glad they have the sense to run.)

Odd dreams last night - I'd recently sent a fairly important letter to an old old friend, and in the dream somebody was telling me she'd died. Fortunately, I'm usually at least a semi-lucid dreamer; I don't get to shape my dreams exactly as I want them, but I was able to wrench it away from "she died" to "somebody claims she's died, but they might be wrong, and besides this is a dream so it's not reliable anyway". Rey says I was talking in my sleep, but it doesn't sound like it was the same dream; apparently I was pestering her for tech support.

Oh, and the latest spam: "We cure any desease!" The contents offer me a choice between 'Viagra generic soft' (sic!), 'Cialis generic soft', 'Levitra', and 'Viagra and Cialis'. Forget hydrogen peroxide, we have a new cure for HIV and cancer!

Oh, and Dennis Mize, who sculpted minis for Ral Partha, Reaper, and various others, died aged 49. I don't think I had any of his human figures (mostly too cheesecakey for my tastes), but I'm pretty sure I've painted a couple of his monsters, and I rather like these fellows.
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2005-10-24 07:54 am
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Weekend, P&P review, Mt. Stromlo

Happy news! A good friend of mine had his wedding reception at Mt. Stromlo Observatory some years back, and I was saddened when the place was gutted by bushfires - and I do mean gutted - back in 2003 [not 2000, the article is wrong]. So it's good to see the Mt. Stromlo team with something to celebrate at last.

We went down to Canberra for the weekend and saw my family & our neighbours. Alexander, my childhood best friend, is doing very well for himself and looking forwards to his first child next year, so hooray for him :-) We visited the National Portrait Gallery for their Cecil Beaton exhibition and looked at some of the others as well. I was entertained by the portrait of Joh Bjelke-Petersen; the card next to it explained that it was painted for the 'Joh for Canberra' campaign as a fund-raiser, but the artist refused to go on TV to promote it - in his words, "As a Queenslander I'm happy to take Joh's money, but I wanted nothing to do with the campaign".

Then we saw the new Pride and Prejudice. Enh. No, you do not get sodding spoiler warnings for Jane Austen. )

Overall, weekend was rather stressful but could have been worse. Oh, and on the way there I saw the most shamelessly weasellish front-cover-review-quoting on a budget DVD for sale at the Goulburn rest stop:

"PERFECT... 10/10!" -IMDB

And you probably *can* find such a review somewhere among these, but when the best recommendation you can find for your movie is that "some anonymous dude on IMDB liked it", you know you're in trouble.
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2005-08-01 09:15 am
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Weekend and stuff

Back from Melbourne. Got up at 4 am, v. sleepy. [livejournal.com profile] brandtotter very generously drove me to Spencer St. in the wee hours of the morning; next time I book a Melbourne trip, must think more carefully about return flights. (Living as close to the airport as I do means I forget to factor in to-airport travel times & costs when choosing flights...) Also, much love to [livejournal.com profile] asagwe & [livejournal.com profile] shadow_5tails who picked me up on arrival in Melbourne on the Friday evening.

Weekend things. )

Oh, also, got to see how big Byakko has grown - I think he will be the Monster Cat that Cuddled Melbourne to Death when he's fully grown. Think of something white and fluffy, add more fluff, and give it Elijah Wood eyes and you have the idea.

And an amusing shindy at the petrol station when we stopped for snacks last night. I didn't hear the beginning of it, but it seems to have been a case of a condescending & difficult customer and a long-suffering checkout guy who wouldn't let her buy her cigarette papers for less than the listed price. I walked in at about this point:

CUSTOMER: "You know what you are? You're a rude little boy. I'm going to make sure your manager knows about this."

CHECKOUT GUY: "You know what? This is my last day. I'm not going to be here tomorrow. I don't care. And there's nothing you can do about it."

CUSTOMER: *froths* *complains some more about 'rudeness'*


She then rounded on the other clerk, who was also grinning, and then on all of us who were waiting in the queue, before stomping out. It was a guilty pleasure; I don't think it's right to taunt people, even when they're being unreasonable... but some of them surely *deserve* taunting, and I know plenty of my LJ friends have to deal with people like that customer every day.