Wednesday, 17 December 2008


Seven weren't even the best Australian olympic broadcaster (SBS); how can they possibly win any world award?

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

while i'm in a blogging mood...

I inadvertently had a weekend during which I watched a lot of movies. On Saturday I picked up my IMDB list and settled on The Day The Earth Stood Still - the 1951 original, not the current Nenanu remake (which I haven't seen, which I won't see, and which I am nonetheless quite prepared to put in a basket with other crap remakes of classic films). The film does a good job at the science fiction edict of using tehnology as a McGuffin in order to shine a light on some aspects of human nature. Perhaps its more by the accident of a stretched budget than by design, but the film also does a good job of using special effects matter-of-factly and not letting them overshadow the film's story and message (a restraint I can't imagine being respected by the remake). Also, the performance by its lead, Michael Rennie, is surprisingly good for an early film of a genre not known for acting.

On Sunday Mick brought round a DVD of Before The Devil Knows You're Dead, an ensemble drama with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney and Marisa Tomei. Its essentially a character study of family members perpetuating and dealing with an event that messes with their identities and relationships. The performances are strong, and although the first half of the film has some pacing problems - it seems to hurry the event itself in a rush to explore its consequences - it's a solid effort.

Come Sunday evening, the next IMDB flick picked out was The Sweet Smell of Success. Burt Lancaster headlines ahead of Tony Curtis, but in reality its Curtis' film, and a pretty solid one, about the New York journalism/gossip machine but mixed with a nice dose of charisma, fuelled by that pre-70s style of scriptwriting that died with the mainstreaming of realist dialogue.

I had an ambitious plan to turn it into a double feature, and started watching Fritz Lang's Metropolis. I was impressed by what I saw, particularly in terms of the scope of the technical achievement, but my eyes had been bigger than their capacity to stay open, so I had to abandon after 40 minutes.  To be continued...

My IMDB list progress has essentially stayed stagnant over the last month or two at roughly 230/250. My plan is to get that up towards 240 over the coming break, and hit the line some time in the new year.

5% is bollocks

The government yesterday announced their intention to cut emissions by 5% from 2000 levels. Not only is this at the lowest end of what had been predicted (between 5 and 25%), but it is against 2000 levels, and not against 1990 levels. I understand that it is comparable on a per-capita basis to the reductions discussed by the EU of 20% from 1990 levels, but this argument only holds water if you think that developed, higher per-capita emitters should not be aiming to reduce their emissions by more than others, which I don't think is valid. It is by any measure a very conservative commitment, and the industry reps are doing everything they can to keep from grinning in the press they are doing (while the environmental lobbyists are doing everything they can to keep from yelling or crying).

To make it worse, the scheme will be accompanied by a rash of middle-class ("working families") and corporate welfare, the former to the extent that they will be reimbursed more than 100% of the increase in costs due to emissions trading, making behavioural change towards lower energy consumption much less likely. With a budget already slipping into deficit, this was a prime opportunity to break from the contemporary populist politic at throwing cash at the mortgage belt, but it seems that Rudd lacks the courage or inclination to do so. 

The government also mentioned a cut of 15% in the event that a consensus is reached amongst the key countries in global talks (including Copenhagen). However, having failed to commit to a significant reduction ourselves, it will now be very difficult for Australia to play any significant diplomatic role in the negotiation of significant global targets.

This sort of scheme was one of the key reasons that I voted Labour at the last election (not that I ever could have voted for a Howard government candidate), and as such I am very, very disappointed. They have followed a process (they are known for following processes) to get what I've heard described as a very sound scheme, but have wilted under pressure when it comes to configuring it (certainly with a reduction target, and in my opinion in terms of compensation, as well).

Between this and the clean feed debacle (which I haven't blogged about, yet), as well as other areas (education, for instance) upon which they promised much but have delivered little, my optimism of a year ago has much faded. More and more when I look at politics I am finding that I like (Tanner, Gillard, occasionally Turnbull) or dislike (Conroy, Pyne, Bishop) individuals, but can find little to like about the parties and their policies. Its unlikely that this will change my broader voting tendencies - Howard's legacy is still too much in evidence, both in my memory and in parliament - but it is loosening them to the point where a genuinely good candidate on either side (I've never really had the chance to vote for such in the House) could change my vote in a specific contest.

To summarise, partly for Ali's benefit, 5% is bollocks.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

neither a borrower nor a lender be

Shakespeare was wrong on that point; I love lending people things.

Last night, Andy told me that he had started on the IMDB 250 list, and had seen about 70 or so. Watching those films has been one of my great pleasures over the last 4 or 5 years, and I relished the chance to talk up old films that he might otherwise be deferring (he's quite reasonably starting with the more recent films). I also managed to lend him a few of my DVDs to further his quest - Rear Window, Vertigo, Lawrence of Arabia and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. I always get a buzz when I can relay my enjoyment of films to other people, and especially when I can put the film in their hand to make it happen.

Movies are probably my bigger passion, but I've had similar experiences, albeith to a lesser extent, and probably with a little less success (I heartily recommended Ilium and Quicksilver to Lee and Ali respectively, but they haven't gotten far with them, AFAIK) with books and music, too.

Monday, 3 November 2008

guerre de prononciation

I watched Offsiders yesterday morning, and was appalled by the consistent mispronunciation of "C'est la guerre", which is apparently the name of some nag running around Flemington on Tuesday. The consensus on their panel was "sailor gur" (rhymes with "fur"). The "sailor" part is close enough, but people like Barry Cassidy (or someone on the panel) should at least be able to manage "sailor gair" (rhymes with "air". We're not talking "ou" vs "u" or Parisian "r"s here - its really very, very easy.

For the record, I reckon horseracing is a complete waste of time, and the spring racing carnival is a blight on the sporting calendar that puts a entirely unnecessary gap between the footy and cricket seasons.

Fin de plainte. ("fan der plant", for those keeping score at home)

Wednesday, 29 October 2008


When an object is in the act of revolution, it is revolving.

When a person is in the act of revolution, it is revolting. When a person revolts, we speak of revolution.

When an object revolts, the process is revulsion.

What's up with that?

Monday, 27 October 2008

golfing weekend

A couple of games of golf this weekend.

On Saturday morning Neil, Ross, Andy and I played Nudgee north. After a slow start, I hit the ball really well off the tee, which was a change from recent outings where I'd been struggling. My short game was off, though - my putts were OK, but not dropping, but my chipping was just bad. Of course, driving for show and putting for dough, so my score of 99 (+28) was disappointing.

The story on Sunday, at Keperra (holes 10-27), was similar. I hit the ball well off the tee, but my putting wasn't giving me the chance to make scores, and I managed to lose a few balls, which is never good for the scorecard. I finished with a disappointing 101 (+30). I hit a couple of bunker shots that I was pretty proud of - I went for years without really needing to, somehow, and I lost the touch I think I once had. As for the course, 9-18 was really pretty and in good nick, but I found 19-27 a little lacking in length and charm. The 27th, in particular, is a very bland hole to finish on.

I've been having looks at hitting par 5s in two recently, which has been surprising. Mostly this has been because I've been playing shorter courses (no 500m par 5s), but also I've been starting to hit my 3 wood off the deck, which brings a 220m second shot into play. I haven't hit any yet (I reached the 9th at Vic Park at one point, with 6 iron - albeit bunker rather than green - but Vic Park doesn't count), but its going to happen.

Neil regressed a bit after his strong outing at Vic Park. He's having a hard time spraying the ball right, either sliced or off the toe, and not getting down to the ball. He started hitting it better on the back 9 on Sunday, though, once he firmed his hands up and made more of an effort to keep his head still.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

trivia paydirt

We won our first ever money at trivia last night. We aced the first round, and surprisingly were the only team to do so, and we walked away with $450 for our troubles, very satisfyingly in the form of a big pile of $5 notes. We also won the night, also for the first time, as we went off for 96/100 (which I think is our best score), good for a 2-point victory. We've been there and thereabouts for the last month or so, with some 2nds and 3rds, and we'd been saying amongst ourselves that we were due.

Monday, 13 October 2008

cycle of pain

Well, I got there.

Yesterday morning I got up at 4:45am, and within a half hour was on my bike, as I would be for most of the day, off to the Brisbane to the Gold Coast bike ride. I decided that my aim was to get there in under four and half hours ride-time, and under 5 hours total time.

There were 7800 participants (or so we were told), and I arrived in time for the 25-30km/h group, so I started with them, rather than the 20-25 group, as I'd anticipated. I started well, and felt good early, covering 27km in the first hour.At about 35km my calves started getting tight, so to avoid cramping (as I did last time) I made sure I was getting enough fluid, and stretched them out on a couple of downhills, which seemed to relieve it. The rest stop at 40km was welcome.

At about 60km, I hit the wall, I guess you'd say. We were in open flat land, the wind was starting to come up slightly, and I found myself without a group to ride with. I ran into Peter Mascaro, which was nice, but his and other groups rode past me just a little too fast to tag onto. I found myself a gear or two down on hills and on flats and really doing it tough, and the rest stop at 80km couldn't come fast enough.

I started well on the last segment, putting 8 solid kilometres down before I started feeling it again. Its never a good sign when you look down at your computer and you've advanced 300m since you last checked it. The computer ticked over 100km at 3:59:33 ride-time - 25km/hr - which was a benchmark I'd thought of targetting but abandoned as too ambitious. A good thing too - the ride didn't finish until 104km and 4h12 (ride-time, about 4h42 total). I am actually very happy with that time - I had expected more like 23 or 24km/hr. Anna Bligh was allegedly quicker (they told us 26-27km/hr), but I figure she had a peloton working for her, and probably proper gear (as opposed to me - hybrid, no cleats, civilian clothes) so I don't feel so bad.

It really did hurt, too. My calves and quads, and also my ankle, shoulders and wrist, were all pretty sore after I finished, and a few of those I can still feel today. I'm very proud of having finished, though - it was one of the hardest physical tests I've ever given myself, I'd say.

The fundraising hasn't so far been as successful as the Brissie To The Bay Ride, which is a little disappointing. For those who still want to donate, head over to my donations page. The Heart Foundation appreciates anything you can spare.

Monday, 6 October 2008


Neil and I went for 18 holes on Saturday at Vic Park. Neil is improving noticably. He's only played 2 rounds of 18 where he actually counts strokes (twice we played ambrose), but over those 2 he's gone from +56 to +36, and is noticably more controlled swinging the club. I had an up-and-down day, or more specifically a down-and-up day, shooting +17 for the front 9, and +7 for the back.

The course itself was typical for Victoria Park, only more so. The greens were being "scarified and recored" (whatever that means), so were a bit rough, and the 4th hole is always a bit gravelly, but I really do like the Vic Park layout. Its by no means a high-level course, but the holes, although very short, are often interesting, and there is a lot of up-and-down variation, which they use well. The shortness, though, is frustrating, because I know that pars on par 4s are devalued when they're only 240m. It got slightly worse when they put the inner-city bypass went in (shortening the 5th), and when they put the inner northern busway changing the 15th and 17th). Yesterday was worse again, with the 1st and 12th changed from par 4s to short par 3s (moved tees), and the 9th from a par 5 to a par 4 (crappy temp green). Par 62 is a funny type of golf.

Friday, 3 October 2008


I went for another swim today. Much easier, 40 laps without too much trouble, and felt fine pushing myself for the last 3 or so. I might try 50 next time. Hopefully I don't feel it tomorrow playing golf...

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

stepping up

My first charity bike ride this year was 35km, and I finished it regretting that I didn't try the longer option. My second was 50km, and I finished it tired but happy with my time. (Regrettably, I can't find exactly how much I raised for each of these - something around $250 for the second one).

My next ride is 100km. And it's scaring me a bit.

The ride is the Wilson HTM Brisbane to the Gold Coast Cycle Challenge. It's on October 4, just under 2 weeks away and, contrary to what the name suggests, we (5600+ of us at last count) are actually going to be riding from Brisbane to the Gold Coast.

My preparation has been less than ideal. I've had varying degrees of the flu for 4 or 5 weeks now, and am only getting back into cycling to work in the last week or so. I haven't ridden more than 15km since the 50km ride in August, and I'm a little afraid that my aerobic and muscular endurance might not be quite ready for 4-5 hours on the bike.

However, I've paid my entry fee, and received my first donations, so there's no backing out.

Here's where you come in! The ride is in aid of the Heart Foundation, who do great work in helping people suffering from cardiovascular diseases, which at 1 death every 10 minutes, is Australia's leading killer. If you can help out with a dollar, 10 dollars or any amount you can spare, head on over to my fundraising page and sponsor me for the race. The money will help the Heart Foundation, and the good vibes will help me push my wearying legs down to the Gold Coast. I don't want to be found dead on the side of the road near Beenleigh. I hate Beenleigh.

adding some more physical activity

(quick weekend recap: Saturday grand final BBQ at Neil's, Sunday saw M&D off to Europe)

I'm quite the health nut today. I rode into work (continuing my attempt to get enough cycling into the next 2 weeks to not collapse on the gold coast ride - details to follow). I brought a cut lunch, including Mum's homegrown tomatoes and my homegrown spinach. And, for the first time this year, I went for a swim at lunch.

I have no excuse for not having gone before this; a well-thrown stone could quite conceivably reach the pool from my office (although the risk of incapacitating an otherwise innocent swimmer, and of being brought up on charges for it, would make that inadvisable). Near the end of my time in France, I actually started going swimming with Franck Chauvel on an almost-regular basis (the archives don't reveal whether this was before or after my surgery, strangely), and although I'm not much of a swimmer, I did enjoy it.

I think the coming 24-48 hours will see me pay the price for not having swum laps for a long time. I only swam 30 laps (750m), but my arms are already sore, and I expect that will continue. Probably a better day to start would have been a day where I'm not playing volleyball in the evening.

I'm contemplating adding a very late objective to my new year's physical activity resolutions - something like 10km or so of swimming. Perhaps I'll wait and see if my enthusiasm lasts for more than a hour after leaving the pool.

Friday, 26 September 2008

another hit of golf

I was up at the Sunshine Coast for a workshop the last couple of days, and yesterday afternoon, one of the med.eng. researchers and I snuck out for a quick 18 holes. Holding a workshop at a resort course hotel and not allocating time for a round seemed like cruel and unusual punishment, and we would have been disappointed to have not gotten out for a hit.

I played pretty poorly. I shot a scratchy 52 on the front 9, and on the back 9 my swing really fell apart and I shot 61. My hands weren't coming through, I was swinging outside-in, and something weird was going on at the top of my swing, with the end result being that I lost all confidence in first my driving and then my irons. There are a few excuses, I guess. I was playing with a mixed set of rental clubs, having played exclusively with my own clubs for many years now. The course is a difficult one, with a fair bit of water and lots of well-placed bunkers. I haven't played many bunker shots over recent years, and although I used to be quite good at it (had a great day at Royal Melbourne at one point). Anyway, I had my moments, but there were a few 10s and 9s in there, which was unfortunate.

The course was in great nick. The fairways were really tightly cut, but cushiony, and I didn't have a bad lie all day. Even the rough posed little problem (which is nice, but not "proper"). The greens were fast but basically true. The sand was soft, although I did "bottom out" a couple of times, so they might have been a bit shallow.

My partner, who is probably slightly better than me, but comparable (were we both to play well), played well, particularly with his short-mid irons, and shot 97. That was 1 shot under his handicap, which is really good going for playing a tough course for the first time.

I reckon I can now say I've met my resolution of 12 games of golf for the year. I was never sure how to count 9 hole outings, but I reckon around 10 of the dozen were 18 holes in any case, and I probably played 9 holes 5 or 6 times.

Monday, 22 September 2008

up to t'ba, a little golf

I headed up to T'ba for the weekend past to spend some time with my folks before they head off to Europe next week.

On Saturday, Dad and I played 18 holes at Borneo Barracks. I shot 94 (+22) for 18, which is a little outside what I hope for these days (+18), but about what I expect. There were 3 or 4 magpies dive-bombing, which was pretty distracting. I had a 4-putt on one hole which I put down a little bit to watching for attacks, and on another hole I hit an 8-iron that should have been just off the green, but which we couldn't find - a search made more difficult by having to watch for birds.

On Sunday we played 9 holes at Eustondale. There was no wind this time, which made it a very different course. I had a weird round. I started par-par-birdie, and was in good shape on the 4th, but my second shot trickled over the back and down a bank, and I took a triple-bogey. After a par on the next (a short uphill par 4 where I nearly drove onto the green), I did everything wrong (out of bounds, failed to get out of the bunker, 3-putt) and took 8 on the par-3 7th. I finished bogey-par for a +10 43. I was +8 on the 3 par 3s, and +2 on the 6 par 4s, which I suppose makes some sense since the par 4s are mostly very short.

While I was home, I also got to look around the garden, which was in really good nick. There were lots of flowers out, and lots of the trees and shrubs were shooting and looking vibrant. I also got to see the new tank, which is fairly subtle for its size, and sample the self-supplied water, which is really good.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

wow, he's right

Over at AGB, and citing the Wire as one example, Tone observes:
TV has been better than film since, oooh, around about the most recent fin de siècle.
You know, he might be right. Over the last 10 years, the TV series as a genre has really started to get to grips with the arc of a series, as opposed to the arc of an episode. I'd probably add shows like The Sopranos and Six Feet Under to The Wire, as highlights.

If you had to point at notable trends in film over the same period, you'd probably look at the success of effects-based films, particularly the big-budget fantasy adaptations (LOTR, Harry Potter, new Star Wars), and the return of the superhero genre (Spidey, X-men, Batman). I can't think of many notable other dramatic developments - renewed interest in epics, perhaps?

Quis legit ipsos custodes?

Back around the time of my birthday, I made a big impulse purchase from Amazon. Among the items I bought was a copy of The Watchmen, a graphic novel I'd seen commended on Ctrl-Alt-Del, amongst other places, as one of the best graphic novels one could find. I figured I'd give the genre a try.

Its a good read. The plot, which is something of a MacGuffin, revolves around a series of deaths of current of former suited adventurers (not necessarily superheros, in the fantastical superpowers sense). The more interesting aspects, though, are the portrayals of the masked characters - the reasons they got into it, the reasons they got out of it, and the psychological consequences of both. The form of the book, mostly comic strip but interspersed with "found" prose, is a very natural fit for the story and themes that are recounted, and I doubt whether a novel could have done so quite as well.

For all that, though, I don't see myself becoming a regular reader of graphic novels. For all that I enjoyed this story, I get more enjoyment out of a good novel, and much more out of a great novel.

For the record, I've moved onto reading His Master's Voice, by Stanisław Lem. I had made a tentative start on Thus Spake Zarathustra, but I've put it down for now - very intimidating.

Ed: I think that the title of this post might be my first real attempt at Latin, and certainly my first attempt at latin jeu de mot (wordplay).

Tuesday, 16 September 2008


I've been a bit sick with a cold the last few weeks, and one of the consequences is that I've stopped riding my bike to work, in favour of taking the bus. One of the benefits of, and perhaps even reasons for, taking the bus is that it affords me 2x20 minutes a day to read, which offers a great boost to the momentum I have getting through something.

So, having finished Possession and Cat's Cradle, I picked up a copy of Joyce's Dubliners, a collection of character-piece short stories which I figured would be , and which turned out to be, a convenient format for reading on a bus.

Unlike my memory of Ulysses, the Dubliners stories are told in a very even and objective style, which makes the stories more readable and forces the reader to assess the characters, rather than having them come pre-assessed by the author. The stories varied to the extent that they struck a chord with me - some, like Eveline, Counterparts, and A Mother, rang true, others less so. On the whole, though, I enjoyed the stories, and liked that they made me think about the characters.

Joyce confuses me. Two of his books that I've now read have been quite accessible, but Ulysses not at all (and from what I've heard, I can expect difficulty should I attempt Finnegan's Wake).


I posted a couple of times on the Olympics, so its probably only fair that I comment on the Paralympics.

I haven't been watching an awful lot, although I did see quite a bit on Saturday. The ABC coverage gets 10 for effort, but to be honest, some of the commentators are pretty crap. I was watching a close wheelchair basketball game, and the team that was down was fouling as soon as the other team inbounded, which is simply what you do in that situation, in any form of basketball, but the commentators seemed to have no idea why it was happening, which is just weird.

Unlike the Olympics, all of the sports I've seen in the paralympics are objective - no diving, dressage, gymnastics or judo. I am a little uneasy about the classification systems, but its an inevitable problem - the disabilities that people have are different, and although they have lots of categories (and hence LOTS AND LOTS of events), you still get people with wildly different disabilities competing against each other - someone with cystic fibrosis swimming against someone with no arms, against someone with one arm and one leg. This makes it interesting, but in some respects its a bit less even. What is incontestable, though, is just how impressive the individual performances are. Seeing someone with no arms swim 100m of I-guess-you'd-call-it-butterfly is just super-impressive (although banging into the wall with their head makes me giggle, I confess), and the number of personal bests is just amazing. I saw a swimming relay last night where the Australian team took the world record from 4:22 to 4:11, which is just crazy. There have been similar big records elsewhere in swimming and in track - one Kenyan arm-amputee runner broke the 5000m world record by 19 seconds (he earlier broke the 1500m record by 6 seconds).

The team sports are the best of all. Wheelchair basketball is impressive, and seems to be the marquee event. Australia won bronze last night, beating Japan, having taken out the world-champion Canadians in the quarter-finals (the Australians might be the second-best team in the tournament, after the Americans). The men are playing for gold tonight against the Canadians.

My favourite, though, is the wheelchair rugby. The Australians have this guy, Ryley Batt, who is just a superstar. He's a big bloke, built like a prop, which superficially might seem an advantage in a sport called rugby, but it really makes little difference. What sets him apart is his speed in the chair and particularly his acceleration. More than any other player he's a nightmare in terms of blocking the runs of one or more players on defense, and of quick spins and acceleration to get out of traps in attack. He beat the New Zealanders scoring with 0.2 seconds earlier in the tournament, and last night he was key in beating the Canadians in overtime (the Canadians had a great chance to send it to a second overtime but had a skill error on the last play).

Saturday, 6 September 2008

little golf

Neil, Dave and I went for a hit of golf this morning at St Lucia. After a rough start (+5 through 2), I steadied and was at +9 through 9. I had some troubles on the back 9, and finished with a 92 (+22). The wind was blowing very hard all day, and swirling around considerably. On the 375m 10th, I hit a huge drive and a sand wedge into the green, yet a couple of holes later I was hitting a 7-iron to pin high from only 115m out. I hit some really good drives, on a day where getting the ball in the fairway really was tough, which was really pleasing.

Friday, 29 August 2008

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Years ago, I watched what I thought was most of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Then, a month ago, I bought the DVD as part of a birthday care package from Amazon, and last night watched it in its entirety. I thoroughly enjoyed it, both on a superficial level, where it works as a western, and in a subconscious perhaps-imagined sense in which it stands for the evolution of America and particularly the westward expansion.

WARNING: Artsy interpretation includes spoilers.

Jimmy Stewart plays Law'n'Order, who arrives in town and is assaulted by Lawlessness. He is brought out of the wilderness by Toughness (John Wayne), and taken in by New America (Vera Miles). New America and Toughness are an item, but the arrival of Law'n'Order makes her wonder if that's what she really wants. As the film progresses, New America realises that Law'n'Order can take her places and teach/show her things that Toughness never will, and she throws her lot in with the bookish guy, leaving Toughness all broken up. In a showdown between Law'n'Order and Lawlessness, Toughness steps in at the last minute and saves Law'n'Order's bacon, but as a result, New America casts Toughness aside in favour of Law'n'Order. Years later, America and a greying Law'n'Order return to town, and it is revealed that America regrets her decision, and although her head said Law'n'Order, it was Toughness that she really loved.

End artsy interpretation/spoilers.

Ed: I'd also add that discovering the Western genre has almost certainly been the most pleasant aspect of my IMDB Top 250 quest. I've watched the following films as a direct result of the quest: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly; A Few Dollars More; Once Upon A Time In America; Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid; The Searchers; Rio Bravo; High Noon; The Magnificent Seven; The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre; The Ox-Bow Incident; The Wild Bunch, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. About 8 of the dozen I've really enjoyed, which is a pretty good strike rate.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008


Beijing medal count (sports conducted sitting down):
  • Britain: 14 gold, 8 silver, 7 bronze
  • Australia: 5 gold, 5 silver, 3 bronze
Beijing medal count (other sports):
  • Britain: 5 gold, 5 silver, 8 bronze
  • Australia: 9 gold, 10 silver, 14 bronze
Just saying.

This counts cycling, canoeing (excluding the kneeling canoe events), equestrian, rowing, and sailing (excluding sailboards). Interestingly, only dressage made my hate-list the other day.

On a less flippant note, the discrepancy in medals between the two countries, GB 19-13-15 vs AUS 14-15-17, can be attributed almost entirely to cycling, where Britain dominated (8-4-2), and Australia had one of our worst Olympics ever (0-1-0).

Monday, 25 August 2008

bushwhackin' Bulimba

Amusing weekend. On Friday night Mick & I watched Tropic Thunder, which was a bit underwhelming. On Saturday night, the Lions choked on their knees against the Blues, which was quite depressing.

On Sunday morning, a bunch of us went for breakfast at Bulimba before a game of golf. We settled on a new Olympic sport, tentatively named the Randomathlon, where individuals or teams compete in a selection of events randomly selected on the day of competition from all of the Olympic sports. So in the individual you can might have a day of table tennis, diving, swimming, equestrian, rhythmic gymnastics, and shotput, and in the teams it might be synchronised swimming, tennis doubles, hockey, and volleyball.

The golf was fun. I shot 36 for the 9 holes, including a really great section on the 6th and 7th. I put my tee shot on the 6th over the back of the green, on the steep side of the 7th tee mound, and with 10m to the pin including a 4m high fence. With an unlikely stance, I threw up a flop shot that landed pin high and rolled about 4m past the pin. I 2-putted for 4. On the 7th I hit a high half-wedge to the back of the green and hit a super-fast, curling downhill putt for birdie. The greens were very fast all day, and since they are all inverted saucers, holding greens was challenging and putting was intimidating.

In the evening, Mick had people round to his for his birthday. He set up a projector in garden and showed film clips and a horror comedy film. It was a bring-a-plate dinner (I made a couple of quiches), which went really well. Julz, Paul, Andy and I also presented Mick with Project X, his birthday piñata coated in 12 years' worth of movie stubs, and it seemed to go down well.

Friday, 22 August 2008

reiterating - sport should be objectively measurable

Something tells me that I made this point back when the Athens Olympics were on, but here we go again - it deserves reiteration.

Judges/referees/umpires in sport should judge fact, not merit. "Sports" which are decided by judges' scores should not be in the Olympics. This includes:
  • Gymnastics, including both rhythmic and artistic gymnastics, and trampoline (which make up 18 gold medal events)
  • Diving, synchronized or otherwise (8 gold medals)
  • Synchronized swimming (2 gold medals) (Frankly, this one isn't a sport by any reasonable criteria).
  • Equestrian dressage (2 gold medals, plus the dressage component in the 2 eventing medals)
  • The winter olympics has a whole swag of events, including figure skating, ski jumping and probably things like the freestyle skiing - jumps and moguls and stuff.

30 less opportunities for people to quite reasonably complain about judges' subjective decisions costing them medals. In particular, anyone who argues that rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming, or figure skating are legitimate sports is flat out kidding themselves.

There is also a group of sports for which the judging of points or facts can be very arbitrary. The following are on shaky ground, and should be either dropped or told to make themselves more objective:
  • Fencing, in which something like 75% of touches are simultaneous, and scores thus effectively become subjective. Get a machine to do it, for crying out loud - if it works for Operation and Sale Of The Century, then it can work for Olympic fencing.(Ed: My reading suggests they have moved to electric judging, although I still question the real significance of striking someone 41ms before being struck oneself.) 10 gold medals
  • Walking, in which a judge's call about breaking contact with the ground or bending knees frequently decides the outcome. 3 gold medals.
  • A lot of the combat sports, i.e. taekwondo (8 gold medals), judo (14 gold medals), wrestling (18 gold medals) and even boxing (11 gold medals) at times, are very prone to "judgement calls" by judges.

Incidentally, I also have a nice little pile of other sports that I would like to see banished, headed by water polo and modern pentathlon, but I'll have to leave them for a day when I have a more cogent argument than "I think they're rubbish".

From 3 years to 5 days

The previous book I read took 3 years, the next one took 5 days. I started Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut, on Saturday or Sunday, and finished it late last night. It was significantly shorter, at a sparse 179 pages, but of equal significance was that I actually devoted some time to reading it, taking buses rather than riding a couple of days, and taking it to lunch with me a few days.

As for the book itself, I don't have an awful lot to say on it. Its a science fiction story with some commentary on religion/science/politics, but nothing as insightful as, say, Foundation. There seems to be an attempt to neologise (add new words into the vernacular, a la "grok" from Heinlein's Stranger In A Strange Land) but they didn't stick for me. (Ed: I draw these comparisons only to highlight the story elements, not to belittle Vonnegut's book by comparison to what are, after all, probably two of the greatest SF novels ever written).

Apparently Vonnegut was awarded his PhD based on this novel as his thesis, after his original thesis was rejected. I probably wouldn't have given it to him for this book, although his later efforts (what I've read of it, and what I've heard about that which I haven't read, e.g. Slaughterhouse 5) probably merit it, and his overall body of work certainly does.

Next up was going to be Thus Spake Zarathustra, by Nietzsche, but the copy I have is a little delicate in its cover, so I baulked at bringing it on the bus today, instead grabbing Joyce's Dubliners. Its a compilation of short stories, the first of which I read this morning, which he wrote before Portrait of the The Artist As A Young Man (which I liked), and Ulysses (which I have struggled, and thus far failed, to finish). Hopefully its episodic nature will lend itself to easier reading than Ulysses, and also to my current episodic pattern of reading.

Apologies to Ali if this post seems pretentious :)

Monday, 18 August 2008

3-year books make bad 100-minute films

On Saturday I finally allocated some time to finishing off the novel I've been reading, Possession: A Romance, by A.S. Byatt. Lee gave me the book about 3 years ago, and I essentially read it over two periods: the first two thirds of it then, and the last third over recent months.

The time it took me to finish the book shouldn't be interpreted as a slight on its quality. It is well-written, and although the poetry sections can be slow-going at times, I came to appreciate their contribution to the story. I thought most of the characters were well-drawn, showing a range of personalities and motivations in the sphere of literary academia in which the novel is set. The exceptions are perhaps La Motte, who feels too imbued with the stereotypical passivity and victim syndrome of 19th century literature, and perhaps Maud, who can be a bit blank at times. The plot moves nicely, bouncing between the 19th century fling between the poets and the modern mirror between the critics. The Brittany phase, while evocative in some of the ambience it painted of the area, felt weak in terms of the story, perhaps partly because it dwelt upon, or even wallowed in, the less edifying aspects of Christabel's character. Nonetheless, that was followed by a nice little section of pomo self-reflection, a nice albeit not quite credible ending, and a very elegant epilogue.

While reading the book, I was conscious that there was a film adaptation, directed by Neil LaBute and starring Gwyneth Paltrow, who seemed to me a good casting option for Maud. I tracked down a copy of the film last night and watched it, with the book fresh in my mind.

This is only the second time that I've watched a film adaptation soon after reading the source novel, the first being Le Carré's The Constant Gardener. That film was a much better film on its own merits, and the experience of comparing the two renditions of the story was an amusing exercise in understanding the filmmakers' reasons for trimming the elements they did.

This time, though, felt more like counting the casualties of the adaptation, and wondering if the greater damage was done in adaptation or in editing. The film is far, far too short at 100 minutes long. Neither the 19th-century couple nor their modern counterparts are given a chance to develop any credible chemistry. Ash and LaMotte's tryst, in particular, lacks all the intellectual motivation of the book, which was entirely the point. The casting is quite poor. The character of Roland is so very English, but is inexplicably recast as an American. Blackadder is, seemingly for no reason, cast as an Irishman rather than a Scot.

The casualties of the adaptation range from the minor, like the disappearance of Dog Tray, who I quite liked, to major, as in the absence of Beatrice Nest and particularly of Leonora Stern, who offered an interesting alternative view of the academic, and Val, whose relationship with Roland was so important to his character and his subsequent relationship with Maud. More concerning is the absence of any real character development, so often the case in a book-to-film adaptation. Aside from the relationships between the 4 main characters, parts like Cropper and Fergus are given no chance to develop credibly, and Roland's arc is lacking in its beginning, in his relationship with Val, and its end, in his finding professional and creative escape at the story's resolution. The other absence, I suppose, is poetry. I concede that poetry is almost impossible to adapt for the screen, but without that underpinning, the film seems to lack fundament.

I will confess that watching the film and thinking about its shortcomings did make me appreciate many of the aspects of the book, in particular the way it had developed characters and relationships, and the different ways the characters related to the literature that was their work. Obviously, though, this is damnation by faint praise. The book was a poor choice for adaptation - the story's poetic base is unfilmable, and there are too many characters (that there are 4 distinct leads cannot be avoided) - and a 102 min running length made the task all but impossible.

Monday, 28 July 2008

rundown on ride-around

Sunday morning was the Brissie To The Bay charity ride, a 50km ride from West End to Wynnum and back in support of Multiple Sclerosis sufferers.

My preparation for this ride was not, it must be said, ideal. I went out for drinks on Thursday and Friday nights, and on Saturday night I stayed up until around a quarter to 2, watching Le Tour and hoping for (but not getting) inspiration from Cadel Evans. I set my alarm for 5:40am, but slept through the radio until 6:10am, which meant I had to hurry to get my things together and cover the 8.5km to Musgrave Park for the start, without using too much energy.

Anyway, get there I did, and I took my place with the more-than-2500 other riders on the 50km ride (there were also 25km and 10km rides). I was in the fourth tranche, figuring that I was neither especially fast nor especially slow. My aim was to finish inside 2 hours, for an average speed of 25km/h.

I took things reasonably conservatively on the way out, expending a bit of energy but not too much on the hills (I tend to pass quite a lot of people on the short climbs, in general), and just cruising on the flats. After a 10-minute or so break at the Wynnum rest stop, I headed off again. I pushed hard along the long flat section near the start of the return, keeping right on 30km/h for perhaps 3 or 4km, with an old chap on my wheel. I took a turn on his wheel after a break, a little bit slower but not much, and started to get cramps in my calves around 38km. I pushed past him (and quite a few others) up a hill, and pushed on through a bit of fatigue, trying to get home inside 2 hrs. The last 5km or so through Woolloongabba were quite stop-start with the traffic, but I managed to get home in 1:56:37, just inside my target, and an average speed of 25.8km/h.

Once again, I enjoyed being on an organised ride: the idea of riding with other people, with marshalls to help with traffic and to show us the route. Were it not organised, its highly unlikely that I'd do a 50km ride through Brisbane, and I thus wouldn't get the sense achievement.

I also like the fact that the ride is linked with a charity. I've managed to raise a nice chunk of change for MS ($230 at time of writing), a good proportion of which wouldn't have been donated otherwise. Dad noted this morning that I'm up in the top 100 fundraisers for the event, which is surprising and pleasing. If anyone still wants to donate, or if anyone was waiting until I'd finished the ride, donations are still being accepted for another fortnight or so (after that point, just go to the MS society site).

My next organised ride is probably going to be the 100km Brisbane to the Gold Coast ride in October.

older, certainly no wiser

So on Friday I got a 3 rudely tacked onto the front of my age for the first time in 27 years (too cryptic?). I suppose I feel older today, although I don't put that down to the passing of time so much as the way I'm passing time. It was a busy week.

The anniversarial celebrations kind of stretched out over 4 days in the end. On Thursday night the trivia team - Paul & Julie, Ali & Jesse, Andy, Mick, Jez and I - followed up our impressive 93/100 (only 3 questions wrong all night) with a trip to the Bowery for a few cocktails. Then, on Friday night, a bunch of us - P&J, A&J, Mum & Dad, Andy, Lach and I - hit the German club for some bratwurst, beers and schnapps, which was fun. On Saturday afternoon, Jesse & Ali came around to mine for cake and coffee, and on Sunday I followed up my ride (post to come) with a trip to a new patisserie, which was a bit of a treat for me.

I also scored a few gifts, from a bunch of people mentioned above, all of which were most unexpected and much appreciated. I'm not usually a birthday person, and I certainly failed this year to properly organise anything, but the things that happened, and the weekend as a whole, were most enjoyable.

Monday, 21 July 2008


Well, a couple of months on from its original ill-fated date (or is that ill-dated fate?), the Brissie To The Bay bike ride has rolled around again. This Sunday at the quite unreasonable hour of 7am, I'll be pushing the treadly from Musgrave Park out to Wynnum and back, for a total of 50km.

All proceeds go to help people with Multiple Sclerosis. To sponsor me (those who haven't already), just grab a credit card and head over here. If you'd rather wait to see whether I actually make it, that's a sound strategy, and I'll be sure to post here after the event to let you know.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

the days continue

Things continue.

At work, we're coming up to another drop deadline with our project leader, next Thursday. This time he's bringing with him a chap who might be interesting in commercialising the software, which adds a little bit of pressure.

Paul had a health scare last week. He had been getting dizzy and nauseous when he stood up for too long, which worsened during the week, and he wound up in hospital on Wednesday. Fortunately, they worked out what it was, and he's out now and although it won't go away, he's able to deal with it.

Trivia continued under that shadow - after what we thought wasn't our best effort, we finished strongly and came in a credible 8th. Craig and Em were a surprise sighting playing for Specials - we managed to pip them by 2 spots, which felt good :)

Last night we had a group outing to the movies, corresponding in membership to our trivia squad - Jesse, Ali, Julie, a freshly discharged Paul, Andy and me. We saw Dark Knight, and were all very impressed, I think. I had been a little bit ambivalent about Heath Ledger, but his turn in this was really very impressive, and made me feel a bit sad that we won't be able to see him develop in that role and as an actor.

This morning, I'm running my machines. Scheduled weekend laundry, a run for the bread machine passed on to me from Mum, a very good coffee from my espresso machine, and a bit of a blog on my new black ted :)

Wednesday, 16 July 2008


Yesterday I went along to a meeting to do with developing a new research program for the next iteration of the construction CRC (to which I'm seconded this year). There was a lot of talk about the network the CRC has developed, the shared but not identical research goals of the faculty and the CRC, and about co-investment to further those goals.

Afterwards, I had a chat with Karen about the subtexts of the meeting. I had felt that I was essentially there as a show of force for my (absent) boss, but Karen made me think about whether that's really the case.

I haven't really thought much about my career path in the last year or so; I've been happy enough to just toil away at whatever I've been working on, without thinking about where it might be leading. Yesterday made me wonder whether the time has come to work out where I want to be heading, and to make some moves towards getting there.

a few more games

I backed up after my weekend of golf, for another game, this time with Neil, Andy and Dave at Vic Park. We played ambrose matchplay again, and Neil and I got up 3-and-1, shooting 78 (+13) for the round. My driving was appalling, but since my irons were OK (albeit not great) and Vic Park is so short, it didn't matter. More importantly, my putting was very good again - I didn't hit as many long putts as the previous week, but I can only recall missing one short-to-mid-range one all day.

On Monday night, Matt and I went for a hit of tennis at Laff's. We hit the ball well considering we haven't played for probably a couple of months. After quite a bit of hitting up, including a workshop on between-the-legs lob chasing, we had a set. I won the first 6-1, getting my serve going and not letting Matt into any sort of rhythm, and Matt was up 3-2 with a break in the second when we called it quits.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

plain colours only

I've gone away from posting and commenting on news reports lately, but this one piqued my interest.

So let me get this straight. No national flags/symbols. At the Olympics. Didn't we popularise sport in order to provide a safer outlet for partisan feelings? If you can't wave a flag at the olympics, exactly where can you wave a flag??? The more I think about this, the more confused I become.

Also, the idea of a (the) major sporting event without commercial images is just hilarious. Of course, the official sponsors will still be plastered everywhere, I expect, so having a ridiculous regime is the best thing that ever happened to the official sponsors.

(I struggled for a word here - totalitarian and oppressive go too far - but I reckon there can be no debate that the organisers are open to ridicule, especially if they sanction policies like this one).

So if we rule out sporting national images, commercial images, political images, religious images, what can we wear? Plain colours, I guess. Except orange (the Dutch, the Irish), red (communism), green (environmentalism), black (black power), white (nihilism), blue (depression), yellow (cowardice), purple (sexual frustration).

Better go nude.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

flogging a wet horse

The weekend began, as it is wont to do, Friday night. Andy's birthday party was held with a hobo theme, in Mick's backyard, replete with 44-gallon drum for a fire and brown paper bags to drink out of. The costumes were pretty solid, especially Ali and Andy (I thought), and it was a pretty good night.

Meanwhile, the sporting plan for the weekend was solid: 18 holes at St Lucia on Saturday morning, 18 at Vic Park on Sunday morning.

We played about 6 holes on Saturday before the rain arrived, and 4 holes afterwards, with decreasing satisfaction to be had. I was 4 over or so through the first 6, but started haemorrhaging shots pretty quickly once it started getting slippery. By the 10th, I didn't care any more, and we walked back. I reckon I had about 44 for the 9 holes. The highlight was knocking a 5-wood about 3 metres away on the allegedly-par-4 3rd hole (251m on the card, but playing about 204m), although I missed the eagle putt. Neil struggled a bit, and had 72 for the 9 holes - he's slightly better than that, and improving.

The weather was better for Sunday at Vic Park. I putted better, I reckon, than I've ever putted in my life, draining 3 or 4 long putts including a 6m bomb on the first, and also chipping in at one point. I was 12-over through 14 holes and looking at a good score, but I had brain explosions on the 15th (a +6 10) and 18th (a +4 7) to finish with an 89 (+24) for the 18 holes. With the exception of the 15th, I drove pretty well, avoiding the slice I'd been struggling with, and at one point knocking a driver over the green on a 228-metre par 4. As for the others, Matt had 92 and Lach 94, the latter having the shot of the day knocking a 3-iron stiff to a metre and a half and making the putt for birdie.

After that effort, a beverage was warranted, so we headed to the Ice Bar for a beer. We were joined there by Lach's better 'arf Kirsty, and her friend Alex. Good chat continued until the bar closed around 10, at which point we rejoined to Kirsty's place for some wine and a gander at the first set of Fed-Nadal. I was very impressed by Kirsty and Alex, and the crowd they represent, whom I had met but not engaged much with at Lach's birthday last month.

Friday, 4 July 2008

the right to arm bears

the right to arm bears, originally uploaded by jsteel.

The new season of trivia started last night, and our new team, The Right To Arm Bears, made a creditable start by coming in 6th. Members included regulars Paul, Julie, Jim and Mick, and newcomers Jesse and Ali, who made valuable contributions to do with the offspring of tennis and soap stars.

My personal highlight was getting the Teletubbies question right. We also won a bottle of wine for knowing the year One Nation were at their peak. Mareeba FTW!

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

half-time report

At the start of the year, I laid out 3 sporting resolutions for myself: play 12 rounds of golf, 12 tennis outings, and 1000km on my bike. Having just passed half-time, I guess I can see how I'm going.

The cycling goal is done. Looking at my counter today, I'm at 1207km, well over the 1000km only halfway through the year. The vast majority of that, I reckon at least 80%, has been commuting to and from work, which is about 13km return. As a rough estimate, that means I've probably been riding to work about three and a half days a week on average.

I reckon I've played tennis about 10 times, most of that being fixtures, so I'm almost there. I'm not sure whether I'm going to play fixtures again this coming season - I didn't entirely enjoy last season - but I'd be surprised if I don't get this one finished soon.

Golf is about halfway done. I reckon I've played 6 times, at Nudgee, Eustondale, Borneo Barracks, Mullumbimby, Bulimba, St Lucia and one other that I can't remember (4 of those were 9-hole outings, so I'm only counting them for 3 rounds, I guess). I need to play more golf, but my lack of wheels (Hi Mum) is probably holding me back. It also takes more preparation, in terms of getting a tee time and organising other people. Still, I reckon I'll get there - I have 18 holes scheduled for Saturday at St Lucia, and another 18 for Sunday at Victoria Park, which will bolster the count a bit.

In the play-more-sport spirit of these goals, albeit not on the list, I've also completed a full season of beach volleyball. A quick counted suggested I played 15 times in the first season, and last night we played our first game of the new season, up a division. We played pretty well, particularly in the third set when we did a better job of calling and getting everyone involved, and we had a win, which was a pleasant surprise.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008


I feel gormless. The word popped into my head as I was looking for a catchy headline, and upon further investigation, it fits me to a tee.

I need a nap. Not a long one, just a week or so. That would cover it, I reckon.

Its not work, I don't think. Last week was productive. I engaged my colleague more than I have, and we completed a fairly significant task. On Friday, I even sketched out an approach for the next task; I was content that it had been a good week. This week is not, thus far, so good - finding it hard to get going - but it is young, and I hold hopes.

I don't think its the weekend. It was a good weekend. On Saturday morning, Mick and I had a late breakfast at Atomica and headed up the coast to Marcoola, picking up essentials like an iPod car adapter and a pair of bodgy-looking sunnies, on the way. There, we had a walk on the beach, a beer or two, and a few board games with Jesse, Ali, Afe and Trish. On Sunday we even ignored the grey sky and greyer surf to have a swim that was surprisingly satisfying.

I got home just in time to see the last quarter of the Lions losing to Melbourne. Maybe that was it - didn't enjoy that.

Probably, though, I've been staying up too late. Doing nothing can drag on late into the night.

One way or another, gormless. Lacking in gorm.

Monday, 23 June 2008

golf at nudgee

golf mosaic, originally uploaded by jsteel.

Bright and early Saturday morning, 4 young lads headed out to Nudgee for a round of golf. Clockwise from top-left, Jim, Neil, Jesse and Ross. We played an ambrose, because it was Neil's first 18-hole outing, and matchplay, to add some competition. Neil and I ended up winning 3-and-2.

This hole, the 18th, is the prettiest hole on the course, a 155-metre par 3 flying over water and front bunkers.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Interesting weekend.

Quite a weekend.

On Friday night, a few of us met up at Mick's place for a few drinks before heading to the German Club for beer and wine festival, replete with nice beers, bratwurst, pretzels and yodelling.

On Saturday afternoon, Lachy had a party for his 30th, starting at the cricket club around 2pm and finishing, in my case at least, at the Regatta around 1am. This included some weird encounters, including being approached by some random chick (which happens to other people, not to me), for a chat about Nabakov, Steinbeck and Graham Greene.

The plan on Sunday was to ride out to the DSTC barbeque at 17-mile rocks. 10 hours of drinking the day before, however, proved an inappropriate preparation for a long ride (to be remembered for next time), so I licked my wounds on the couch and watched the US Open golf and Collingwood-Carlton.

This week is a busy one - paper reviews due, and a visit from our boss/industry partner including delivery of the first alpha version of our tool.

Monday, 2 June 2008

A weekend where two sports was quite enough

This weekend past held promise of a lot of sport. The Lions were playing North on Friday night, the Brissie to the Bay bike ride was on Sunday morning, and the Socceroos were playing Iraq on Sunday night.

Normally I'd look forward to such a weekend, but this Friday I was relieved when I got an email from the Brissie to the Bay folks saying that the ride had been cancelled due to "anticipated high winds and rain". I was home sick on Friday (and am again today) with a cold, and the prospect of a 7am ride in the rain and wind wasn't really appealing. Doubly so, since it was likely to bookended by trips to watch football, also probably in the rain.

In the end, it didn't really rain at either the footy or the soccer, which made both much more pleasant. The footy was a good game, with the Lions winning comfortably, but in a game that never lost its intensity (as the Lions' games against the Demons, Blues and Saints had). We were losing most of the ruck taps (MacIntosh is a quality ruckman), but winning a lot of ball out of the centre. Up forward, Brown and Bradshaw were marking everything that came their way, and although the former struggled with accuracy early, they kicked 6 each for the second straight week.

The soccer wasn't quite so satisfying.

The socceroos were ragged. Their shabby defense in the first half gifted Iraq a number of very good opportunities that they failed to grasp, and the lack of a true socceroo centre half really hurt them throughout the night. Kewell played well, but is no Viduka when it comes to holding up the ball on the top of the box, and no Kennedy when it comes to providing a target for crosses, notwithstanding his very good headed goal in the second half. Djite came on late to fill the role, but he spent his time fiddling about on the wing, which was less than useful. Despite dominating possession and playing well in the midfield, there are problems in defense and in attack (both of which can be partly explained by missing personnel - Neill, Viduka, Kennedy, etc).

I was once again very frustrated by the softness of the game, with lots of soft free kicks from the referees, and diving from the players.

There were 22 000 at the Lions' game, and 48 000 at the soccer, which as far as I'm concerned was completely out of whack with the quality of the spectacles.

As for the bike ride, it has been postponed, and the organisers have yet to set a new date. My apologies to those who have sponsored me (although obviously the money is far from wasted). I will post here when I find out the new date. In the meantime, if anyone wants to sponsor me, for a ride at an unknown date, they can still do so here. All monies go to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Queensland.

Monday, 19 May 2008

a little golf

Of the three physical activity barometers I set myself at the start of the year, two - cycling and tennis - will almost certainly be achieved before I get to half-way. The third, golf, is behind the eight-ball, but I did put a dent in it this weekend.

I went up to Toowoomba to spend some time with my folks, and got out to golf with Dad on both Saturday and Sunday mornings.

On Saturday morning, we played 18 at Borneo Barracks. We teed off at 7:15am or so, and it was a beautiful morning. I had 94 (22-over), which was a couple more shots than I'd like, but still reasonable, particularly since it included a couple of drives sent onto and over the road. Dad had a fairly forgettable score.

On Sunday morning, we went and tried out Eustondale golf course, on the western outskirts of Toowoomba, for the first time. Once again we were away a bit after 7am, and this time the wind was in from the south-west, and it was pretty cold (about 5 degrees when we started, less with wind chill). The wind made the short par fours more challenging, and overall the course played reasonably well for a small course, with a couple of interesting holes. Dad and I were close all day, until I beat him on the last hole, 88 to 89. Once again, 22-over, since the course is just a short par-66.

Overall, I'd like to be able to play bogey golf (+18), but until I'm playing regularly, I only really expect +20-22, so I was reasonably happy with how I played. It was also really nice being out on the courses with Dad.

Brissie to the Bay ride

On Friday I signed up for the Brissie to the Bay Bike Ride, a 50km charity ride in aid of Multiple Sclerosis.

This ride, like Movember, has a nice signup process that provides a web page for accepting and tracking donations. There is also a facility for sending emails soliciting donations. Both of these are very cheap to set up, and I reckon make for a very convenient way for people to both get a little bit of information about the charity, and more importantly to donate.

So, here is part of the solicitation text they gave me. Please feel free to donate.

Did you know?

  • The average diagnosis of MS is 30 years old.

  • 3 times more women than men are affected by MS.

  • 5 people are told they have MS every working day.

Please take a moment to view my online fundraising page and help me reach my goal. It is easy and will take no time at all, just <donate online via your credit card by clicking here.

All information is secure and all donations will be sent electronically to Multiple Sclerosis Society of Queensland. A tax deductible receipt will be sent to your inbox once the donation is verified.

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system affecting more young adult Australians than any other neurological condition. Your donation will go towards providing a wide range of equipment, support and services to those people affected by this horrible disease.

Your support is greatly appreciated.

UPDATE: I've had to happily revise my original target of $100 upwards to $300, having reached the original amount a half-hour posting this :)

Thursday, 15 May 2008

pigs. flying around. in the sky.

The strangest thing happened last night - our tennis team won. I went down 6-4 in a pretty close set, somehow my partner (who plays an unconscionable style of tennis) won 6-0 (against someone whom I found out was a fill-in), and we won a lacklustre doubles 6-1.

The tennis, though, was of a much lower level than the previous outing, and consequently I enjoyed the cheap win much less than the honourable loss.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Music without words

Tempted as I am to leave my Lucksmiths tribute post at the top of the page for a while, there is more to say!

One of the marked characteristics of my almost-year back in Australia has been a tendency to attend concerts that greatly exceeds my habits in either Rennes, or pre-Rennes Brisbane. Since returning, I've seen Dave Holland, Barney McAll, Gretchen Parlato, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and the Lucksmiths, as well as gigs by Paul, Julz and Kylie. While that won't break any records, its an improvement.

Yesterday, on the back of my Lucksmiths night, I added to the list with the Griffith Trio, a classical piano/violin/cello combination, and their recital at the Conservatorium theatre, courtesy of Andy and his employers Dialog, who sponsor the group.

They opened with Beethoven's Archduke trio. To be honest, I found it fairly dull, which in hindsight is disappointing, as I have a bit of a soft spot for LvB. The instrumentation seemed thin, the passion of some of Beethoven's other works was conspicuously absent, and by the fourth movement, I was beginning to doze.

After a break, and a frankly horrible glass of what claimed to be "classic dry white", we returned to find a string quartet, minus piano, offering Puccini's Chrysanthemums. I enjoyed this piece much more. Whether it was the extra instruments or the writing, the thinness was gone, and the more modern piece was much more interesting in terms of harmonies and, dare I suggest, chords.

The final piece was Elgar's quintet. Like the Puccini, this was a more modern piece, and showed harmonies which reminded me a little of Debussy and Ravel, who I guess might have been contemporaries. There were parts which almost bordered on corny, where the piano turned almost stride-y, but on the whole, it was very nice.

Taken as a whole, the concert was by no means on a par with the Lucksmiths or the ACO, my previous two efforts. The first half suffered from what I consider to be the great detriments of classical music, but the second reminded me a little of what it can be when it is good.

I should be so Lucky...

My favourite band is The Lucksmiths.

This has probably been true for about 10 years now. There have been flirtations with the Dave Matthews Band, the Pat Metheny Group, and a few others, but when I really need to smile, there is nothing so reliably charming as the simple melodies and unassumingly delightful lyrics of the Melbourne pop group.

Time spent away from Australia can make otherwise banal Australian pop songs take on disproportionate emotional attachment, and I was no exception. But more than Flame Trees or Redgum, the music that most captured my nostalgic nationalism while overseas were Lucksmiths lyrics:

It's getting worse
You've hardly said a word
Since you set eyes on the horizon
But I've seen the other side of that ocean there
And it can't compare

and, sung with the same Australian accent, genuine and yet untouched by the Ocker-ism too prevalent in Australia country music:

I spent the summer with the curtains drawn against it
Counting all the nights you’ve wasted
Under unfamiliar stars
Are you ever coming home?
Or should I learn to do without you?

Thus it was with some excitement that I realised this week that the 'smiths were headed north, playing at the Jugglers' on Saturday night. I was joined there by known afficionados Matt and Marty, and curious and as it happened skeptical newcomer Andy.

The support band, the Bell Divers, were the same genre, but reminded me why I am not a generalist indy pop fan. Its hard to criticize them for being a new band, but the lack of clarity and assurance in their performance made it impossible to tell if their writing was the reason they were opening for the Lucksmiths.

The only previous time I had seen the Lucksmiths, they were essentially a trio. Their subsequent addition of a fourth member has changed the nature of their songs a little, if anything making them a little less twee and more popularly palatable. Certainly, as a live gig, they have a more dynamic presence, and "rock" more, than they did before adding Louis Richter.

What has not changed, though, is the quality of their writing. Their songs are pleasant, if simple, and serve their purpose well. Their lyrics, though, are quite probably the best I've come across in music, rivalled only perhaps by Bob Dylan (the comparison is unworthy, since the aims are not the same). I've probably posted this before, but so genuine was the grin that spread across my face when the set rolled around to what might be my favourite Lucksmiths wordsmithery...

Though you kept me guessing and your distance
Were it not for my persistence
We would never have been lovers
You kept your distance and me guessing
Finally acquiescing only after I’d discovered
You kept the things I sent you
The lengths I went to

Or it might not be. There are so many to choose from.

How this band can come to Brisbane and play to an audience of 40 people in a pleasant but, it must be said, very small venue, just defies my understanding. I might never see a better show with fewer people.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

250 progress

One of my ongoing quests has been to get through the IMDB Top 250 films of all time. I made solid progress on this in France, particularly while lame during the winter months, and advanced to around 205. I've been slowed a little since, only advancing about 10 films since coming back (its a moving target, so I've probably seen 15-20 films in that time). Yesterday, in an idle space, I got inspired and watched 3.

I have a bunch (about half) of films on the list that are old foreign films. These are intimidating for a number of reasons. They're not colour, the sound quality is often poor, and they're generally in 4:3 aspect ratio, which all combine to mean they're a little less immersive than post-1970 films. Mainly, though, they just require more concentration, either because I need to watch the subtitles, or because I need to concentrate to understand the French (there aren't many French entries left, actually).

Top of my list, then, was Le Notti De Cabiria, by Fellini. The previous Fellini film I'd seen was 8 1/2, but this one was very different, more reminiscent of De Sica's Ladri di Biciclette than of 8 1/2. The plot follows an Italian prostitute through a few days of her life, exploring aspects such as her work, life, religion, and relationships. The lead, Giulietta Masina, really makes the film work with a very charismatic and compassionate performance.

Next up was Stalag 17, by Billy Wilder. Wilder has even more films in the list (7, and it could easily be 8 with Ace In The Hole) than Fellini (4) - by my reckoning, only Hitchcock and Kubrick have more - and I've seen and quite enjoyed all but one (The Lost Weekend) of his others. Stalag 17, though, I found weak. The characters are, in general, thinly drawn, and the comedy really missed the mark for me. The plot winds along nicely enough, but its just lacking anything really substantial for me. Perhaps its greatest contribution is that it seems to have been the inspiration for Hogan's Heroes.

The third film was American Gangster, by Ridley Scott (also 4 films in the list). This was probably the longest film of the bunch, as is the nature of this genre (life-and-times/rise-and-fall film, a la Goodfellas, Blow, Once Upon A Time In America, There Will Be Blood most recently). The performances are pretty solid, although both Crowe and Washington have done better (which is no slight - they are two of the more capable actors working today). The script is solid, although not spectacular, but it does feel a little bit "been there before", and the ending felt a little bit non-sequitur and slightly corny.

I'm currently at 214, with about 16 or so waiting to be watched.


I won a set of singles at tennis last week.

This really shouldn't be an occasion for a blog entry, but I was thinking about it afterwards, and it had probably been close to two years since that had happened. I have had a horrible start to fixtures (this was the first set my team has won all year, after losing 19 straight), and I've been losing sets (albeit sometimes close sets) to Matt for the last few months. Before that was knee surgery and rehab, and it was probably against Franck or someone in Rennes that I last had a singles set go my way.

I talk a very good game these days about getting pleasure from playing well rather than winning on the scoresheet, but the two really are so closely linked. The preceding 3 weeks that I'd played fixtures, I had lost despite hitting the ball reasonably well - I just failed to do what was necessary, head-wise, to construct points and games. That was probably more frustrating than losing because of poor ball-striking.

Last week, though, I hit the ball pretty well, and really scrapped to stay in the game. My opponent was better than me - if we played 10 sets, he'd win probably 7 or 8, and I was actually thinking during the match, "I don't mind if I lose this - my opponent is better than me, and I'm just so happy I've made it a competitive match".

I actually played OK in the doubles, too - we were down 4-1 when we called time - but my doubles play had been OK the previous week or two, so I was less struck by it.

Monday, 21 April 2008

all the recipes I've never ruined

This was a weekend for the sports I wish I played.

On Saturday night, it was off to the footy again, watching Buddy Franklin's Hawks get past Bradshaw's Lions by a couple of goals after a fairly close game that, I have to confess, the Lions were lucky to stay in as long as they did. why Matthews put Brown on the ball, I still don't understand. After the game, we went for a kick-to-kick on the field, which was, once again, lots of fun.

On Sunday, we went over to Bulimba for 9 holes of par 3 golf. I didn't know it was there, but they have a little course of 9 holes of between 83 and 102 metres, which is a type of golf I haven't played before, but which makes for a nice little challenge, and a pleasant social outing. I shot 35, and felt good hitting my wedge. It also reminded me again that, of all the sports at which I consider myself able, golf is probably the one to which I'd like to devote more time.

While we were waiting to play, Adam mentioned that he has just started up with a cricket team, which reminded me that, of all the sports at which I don't consider myself able, cricket is probably the one to which I'd like to devote more time.

After we had finished and were having a drink, a bunch of the Lions players rocked up. I'm not sure whether it was for a hit or a drink, but it was strange to see them wearing sleeves. Jonathan Brown is a big boy.

In the afternoon, we all rolled around to Neil & Sandy's for a BBQ. Doug, Andy and I went down to the park for a kick-to-kick, which was again fun. I was reminded that, of all the sports to which I wish I could devote more time, footy is the one most likely to result in my suffering a major injury.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

lending life to truth

On Monday night, I went with Andrew and Steven to a concert by the Australian Chamber Orchestra. It was a diverse (and, for the record, a thoroughly enjoyable) performance, chiefly because it was a hybrid of 3 sets that they are preparing for their (then upcoming, now in-progress) European tour. They began with works by Handel and Rameau, followed by a Bach cello concerto, each of which were quite beautiful. After the interval, they moved to another repertoire, notably an adaptation of Ravel's string quartet. I had enjoyed the earlier pieces, but the added passion present in the later work interested me much more.

Then, last night on the plane, I was reading Possession (Byatt), and came across quite a lovely turn of phrase:

am I lending life to truth with my fiction, or verisimilitude to a colossal Lie with my feverish imagination

The first part of that, in particular, really struck a chord with me. The first part of the ACO concert had been very beautiful (very "true", if you will), but the second was the more interesting because it contained more passion and drama.

My observation, uninformed though it is, on music is that the earlier forms of classical music (classical in the everyday term, not referring to the period), particularly the baroque but also much of the classical (in the period sense), at times lacks the passion of, say, Beethoven, Rachmaninov (I associate this stuff with the Russians, without much basis for the belief), or apparently Ravel (on the evidence of this concert).

Of course, the phrase itself is odd. The implication that life and truth are different things is somewhat strange when you think about it - both might be thought to mean "reality". However, despite an individual overlap of meaning, in combination the phrase is very evocative of some deeper or indeed more "alive" truth.

I don't know why I linked the two things. Certainly, two of the memorable things from the trip (to Sydney, for some training sessions for work) were the concert (which, I reiterate, I really enjoyed), and a realisation that I seem to be reading more - I have read 200 pages of Possession in the two weeks since I finished Lord Jim.


My blogging inconstancy, with 2- and 3-week breaks between posts, is problematic to me. Each time I feel like I have something I'd like to blog about, I feel obliged to check when my last post was and post some sort of summary of the interregnum, which inevitably becomes a dull list of sports played, etc, without any great insight into anything.

This, then, signals the end of the interregnum summary. From now on, if I feel like posting, I will, but I offer no promise that the blog will present any sort of summary of what I've been doing. If I find some routine whereby I resume blogging more regularly, it may find itself serving that purpose, of course, but in the meantime, I'll just blog randomly about things I've been thinking.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

It's not just sport, sport

I have been doing other things than playing sport. I managed to track down a copy of Phoenix, an ABC drama from the early 90s. I remember watching and enjoying Janus, its successor show, for its season-long story arcs and depth of character development, and Phoenix exhibits the same characteristics. It paints a really good picture of the "boy's club" vibe in the police team, and although Phoenix doesn't develop the criminals as much as Janus did, the character development is admirable.

I also finished off a book for the first time in a while, Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim. I wouldn't say it was an easy book to read, as testified to by the 2-3 months that it took me to complete it. Nonetheless, the prose is very beautiful, and I thought the story was well-developed, albeit if a little artificial feeling, probably a consequence of the changing view of concepts like personal honour between the time of writing and now. One of the reasons I picked Lord Jim (besides our shared nomenclature), was the reputation of it and other Conrad works in lists of great novels. This book has not necessarily made me a fan of Conrad (the way Grapes of Wrath made me a fan of Steinbeck), but nor has it dissuaded me from my intentions of reading his other works.

My next book is one I had already started, Possession: A Romance, by A.S. Byatt. I started when I was in France, before I started writing up my PhD, but got distracted by other things and didn't finish it. Emily took it across to England with her, and returned it when she arrived back for a holiday last week. I expect it will present a stark contrast in style to Lord Jim.

when too much sport...

Its becoming apparent that every post here is about sport. That's probably a reasonably fair gauge of my priorities thus far this year.

Volleyball continues to get better. Individually and as a team, we seem to get better each time we play, and we're on top of the table in our (admittedly lowly) division. My initial qualms have been completely assuaged.

Tennis fixtures started last week. To my surprise, I discovered upon receipt of the team lists that I was a captain. The first game went OK - I played well, although I lost my singles 6-4. As a team, though, we were routed 3 sets to zip and 18 games to just 5, as my teammate struggled mightily. I'm sitting out this week (tonight), so I'll see how the others go.

In terms of cycling, next week is Bike Week, including a couple of race-type events on Saturday. I'm still tossing up whether to enter the 70km Coot-tha ride or the 35km ride, but I'm leaning towards the latter, since I haven't been up Coot-tha yet and thus don't know how I'd go.

The weekend was also pretty sport-laden. For the first time since 2004, all 5 Steels (lots of blogs between us these days) were assembled, and we were joined by Steven, Andrew and Granny down at Mullum. In between home brew, Australian red and German desert wine, we managed to squeeze tennis, golf, and swimming both in the pool and at Brunswick Heads. I shot a slightly disappointing 49 on the front 9 at Mullum, but beat Dad by a shot.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008


I went along to the ODI cricket final last night at the Gabba with Gav, Adam and Nicole. the game was OK, although Australia again played poorly. The top order collapsed yet again (all but one game this season, pretty much), and although James Hopes almost dragged us across the line with the tail, we probably deserved to lose. Nonetheless, it was an entertaining game.

The sideshow of being in the crowd was also fun. We were in a reasonably boisterous section, with plenty of guys getting plenty drunk. We also got a really good view of Roy's hit on the first streaker.

Monday, 3 March 2008

tennis by bike

I went out to UQ this evening after work and put in an application for tennis fixtures on Wednesday nights. I skimmed the wayback machine, and I've gone 5 full years since I last played fixtures. I was playing two comps per week back then (2002), and my distinct memories of it include solid improvement in my game, and excruciating pain in my hip and back after matches. Hopefully I can refind the former, and stay well away from the latter.

I got out to UQ and back by bike this evening. It really is a lovely ride along the river from Toowong right around to Sydney Street, and something I'd recommend to anyone in Brisbane, either permanently or temporarily. It makes for some good exercise, too; the swing out to UQ and back added about 18km to my trip home, making for a 31km day, and bringing my yearly total over 300km. 1000km is now looking very conservative.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008


I've spent a good portion of the last few days sweating.

On Saturday, Jesse invited me out for 9 holes of golf at St Lucia with some work buddies of Alison's. It was the hottest day of the year - the mercury went over 40 around 2pm - but it didn't feel as hot as the numbers said. I went around in 42 (6 over), which is probably the best I've hit for 9 holes at St Lucia. I had a nice birdie on the second after a tee-shot within about a couple of metres of the flag, and generally I hit the ball well all day. Jesse shot 55 and showed good signs, and the other chaps battled away a bit shooting scores that don't bear mentioning. Fun day.

On Monday night, Matt and I resumed our tennis adventure. We've been playing fairly regularly this year, and although he's been beating me pretty regularly when we play sets, we have both been making great strides in the quality of our ball-striking and in our fitness. We played at on artificial grass at UQ this time around, as the Griffith courts were wet. I'm not a big fan of the surface, but for some reason I was volleying better, and my forehand continues to get more consistent, particularly when I remember to move my feet and hit through the ball. We hit for 2 hours, which is pretty demanding by any standards.

Last night was the continuation of volleyball. We were 4, as Sandy was feeling poorly, but the other team had 5 guys without any girls, so technically had to forfeit. We played anyway, of course, and although we lost on the scoresheet (I think), we played well - I think everyone is improving, which is what you hope to see.

I'm continuing to ride to work when I can. The floating walkway was out of commission yesterday and Monday, but I'm up above 50% for days ridden to work for the year now, and well ahead of schedule for getting to 1000km for the year (I expect to be at about 270km or so at the end of February).

Friday, 15 February 2008

more tennis

Had a game of tennis with Matt last night down at Griffith. We're getting noticably better (read: more consistent), and last night was the cleanest I've hit my groundstrokes in recent memory. Unfortunately, my concentration held me back from translating it into a set, and I generally played abysmally. When I actually concentrated, I hit the ball well off the ground, but I kept making silly errors at bad times, and my first serve was uncharacteristically absent and unable to save me. I recovered a little bit at the end of each set, and I was a brief show at the end of the second, but wound up losing 6-2, 6-4.

I was very frustrated during the match, but at the same time, my game and, even moreso, my fitness, are clearly improving, so that's nice.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

doing more stuff

Tuesday night, Andy, Mick and I did the ten-pin bowling thing at Strike Bowling in the city. Expensive, and the music was kind of crap, and I bowled terribly, but it was pretty fun.

Last night was culcha, with a concert at the Powerhouse by Gretchen Parlato, an American singer, with Mike Moreno on guitar and the Steve Newcombe trio on backup. Paul, Julz, Kylie and Jan were also there, and it was a pretty good concert. She's certainly the best comp-ing vocalist I've heard, and a lot (if not all) of the songs were pretty cool, particularly Butterfly and On The Other Side.

My neck is super sore, and seems to be getting worse rather than better.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

mine, beach

I played beach volleyball again last night out at Enoggera. I was again the only one calling balls, which was a little annoying. We got well and truly walloped, against the same team as last week. Later in the game I found myself calling other people's names a lot (which can be uncool) and accidentally stealing other people's balls (also uncool). Nonetheless, it was fun.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

return to poly-sport

In my previous life in Brisbane, I was a sporting scattershot. I played regular tennis, and at various times also got into almost-weekly pickup basketball, regular golf, lunchtime indoor soccer, and anything else that was going. This disappeared in France, with only a brief period of basketball training, and another of sporadic tennis, to accompany my regular cycling.

My return to Australia, too, has thus far been light on sport. I've had a few games of tennis with Matt, and a few games of golf with Dad, but nothing to build a base of fitness or noticable acquisition or development of skills. This was accompanied, surely not coincidentally, by a realisation that my days of never worrying about my weight or physique, may be over. When I weighed myself over Christmas, I was 5kg heavier than the previous measure (which was admittedly a long time ago), and had the beginnings of a belly.

One of my main new year's resolutions, then, was to rediscover my previous sporting habits. I resolved to make sure I got 12 games of tennis, 12 games of golf, and 1000km of cycling done over the year. The tennis is going OK, with 2 outings (although I'm only counting it as 1 game, since the first outing was cut short by lights failure). I've had 1 game of golf (albeit only 9 holes), and my bike counter is reading 70km (of which 20km is probably from the end of last year).

Also, this weekend was positive for diversity. On Saturday, a bunch of us wandered along to Moorooka Bowls Club for barefoot bowls. There was barefoot dancing on the next green, but we basically bowled for a few hours, in various configurations of players and seriousness. On Monday, after a barbeque at Neil & Sandy's place for Australia day [sic], Andy and I filled in for their beach volleyball team, which was lots of fun, although a little less technical than the volleyball I'd played in the past. In the midst of that, I also got an invitation from Dave to play indoor soccer on Thursday nights, for which, with my new resolution in mind, I expressed my enthusiasm. Once I add tennis fixtures to the mix, I should be back into a the rhythm I once enjoyed.

Southern climes, again

Having started my new job just a scant week previous, last week our team trooped down to Melbourne. The purpose of the journey was to learn what we had really signed up for, taking over the code from CSIRO, both that which we are superseding, and that which form the firmament upon which we will build.

The work aspect of the week was good. We had 3 and a half very intense days talking with the previous developers, learning the nooks and crannies of the code. We also had a half day with the current and potential industrial partners, about the directions in which we might go, both technically and in a business sense.

The non-work aspect of the week was also really successful in the end. We were put up in nice digs, at the Oaks on Lonsdale; I was in an apartment probably as big as the one in which I live. What made the trip worthwhile, though, was that I didn't spend much time there.

On Tuesday night I popped around to Kris' place in Brunswick, for dinner with him and his girlfriend Lizzie. We had a great evening, very easy conversation. I get on well with Kris.

Before leaving, I had gone online and a bought a ticket for the Wednesday night session of the tennis. When I arrived outside Rod Laver arena, though, I looked at my ticket and was horrified to see that it was for the day session. I lay on the grass for 15 minutes or so, just cursing my carelessness and wondering what I would tell those to whom I'd boasted that I was going to see Federer play.

I wandered over the ticket office, by this stage a gathering point for people hoping (mostly in vain) to score tickets to the sold out session, to confirm that I had stuffed up, and if so whether there might be any tickets left I might buy. The lady was very nice, took some ID and presumably went away to check that my day session ticket had not, in fact, been used. At her urging, I hung around for about 10 minutes while she apparently worked on my behalf to find a ticket. When she did, she asked me not to appear to triumpant, or everyone would want one, but I thanked her heartily and wandered inside. In the end, I ended up with a really good seat - far better than the one I had bought - and had a great time watching a fairly good match of singles (Federer-Blake) and most of a match of doubles (Bryan/Bryan vs Bhupathi/Knowles). That I was so lucky to be there made it much more special.

To that ticket lady, whoever you are, you made my week, and I can't thank you enough :)