Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Winter, Spring, Summer or Au-TUMN...

In my first year at uni I had my eighteenth birthday. Some days, I got a lift to uni with a friend who lived nearby. In high school she and I used to ride to school together. The day before my birthday, another friend, who didn't live near us, told me that she was going to be dropped off at my house in the morning and get a lift with us. She didn't explain why and I didn't ask, but it did seem mysterious. However, possibly because I am an airhead, I don't remember connecting it with my birthday at all.

There is a large pedestrian bridge across the main road running into the city, towards uni. After we droved, slowly, under that, my friends exchanged horrified glances. They had made a Happy Birthday banner for me, and had come out the previous night to hang it on this bridge. It's a popular spot for banners, and you often see the same one stick around for days or even weeks. Alas, not mine. It was gone, whether it was taken by someone with authority or just malice. They were hugely disappointed, but I was just so touched that they had gone to that effort for me.

That was about twelve years ago, and I still think about that banner every single time I drive under that bridge, as I did this evening to go to basketball. I think the memory is more enduring, and definitely more poignant, because I never actually got to see the banner itself.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I fall on the floor and I laughing

For the first time since I had a rant about the ridiculousness of a 'war on terror', I've come across the more reasonable 'war on terrorism'/'war against terrorism' in print. Paul Kelly, editor-at-large, I could kiss you! (um, metaphorically) I'm also willing to believe/hoping that you're not the only one. I don't read the papers every day. You can read full article here.

Friday, August 19, 2005

What I did on my holidays

(Click on the picture for bigger version)

Kam was right, I do regret the exclamation mark. It's kind of like that rule where you look in the mirror before going out and remove one accessory. You can almost always do without the exclamations. Except, maybe, for dialogue.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Not just a pretty port

I went to Netherlands last October (as well as England, and, briefly, Paris). There's no special reason for the timing of these posts, it's just belated storytelling.

Rotterdam has some wacky architecture. Really cool stuff. Little unexpected things jump out at you, like this reasonably average looking building with a stake through it.

Rotterdam was very different from the other places I saw in the Netherlands, like Amsterdam, Leiden, briefly Den Hague. I think this is largely because it was bombed out in WWII and only has a few small areas of old buildings left. This left space for the development of some very interesting modern architecure.
I believe the city is also on more solid ground than many parts of the country, including the older bits of Amsterdam where the buildings perch on poles in shifting sand, and gradually tilt. In the picture to the right, notice the slant of the building in the middle of the three? (click for bigger picture)

The Nedlloyd Building below is the site of an incredible Jackie Chan stunt in the movie Who am I – after a fight on the rooftop, he slides all the way down the angled window surface. I was staying in the Netherlands with a couple of keen Jackie Chan fans, so this was one of the must-see sites in Rotterdam.

I was also keen to see the Cube houses, having heard all about them from a few friends who had been there before me. Each cube sitting on its point is one apartment. One of the owners has made his into a tourist attraction and for a dollar or so each we went inside to experience the weirdest shaped rooms you're ever likely to see. Most of the furniture has to be custom made.

The Blaaktower I thought of as the ‘rocket ship’ but in fact it is known as the ‘Potlood’, which is Dutch for pencil. It's the apartment building to the left of this picture (in case it doesn't look like a rocket to you).

I also picked up these funky postcards you can cut up and build into models of the cube houses and the potlood.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Crow, crow, spill all you know. Is that my name on the bell?

Via Neil Gaiman's blog: several authors are auctioning the opportunity to have your name appear in their next book.

All proceeds are to go to the First Amendment Project, "a non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and promoting freedom of information, expression, and petition."

If only it was for an international charity, I would be willing to pay quite a bit for the privilege of dying in a Stephen King book. Even a bad nasty one.

What he's offering:
"One (and only one) character name in a novel called CELL, which is now in work and which will appear in either 2006 or 2007. Buyer should be aware that CELL is a violent piece of work, which comes complete with zombies set in motion by bad cell phone signals that destroy the human brain. Like cheap whiskey, it's very nasty and extremely satisfying. Character can be male or female, but a buyer who wants to die must in this case be female. In any case, I'll require physical description of auction winner, including any nickname (can be made up, I don't give a rip)."

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The whole place is pickled, the people are pickles for sure

When I first decided that I would visit the Netherlands, I immediately wanted to go to Rotterdam. I had heard that it had the biggest port in Europe/the world/the universe. I don’t know if I can explain why this was such a draw for me; I’m not really a transport geek, or a ship spotter, but I just get a thrill out of seeing big ships, the cranes, the fields of containers, and of course the tugboats! (Thank Little Golden Books for that one). I wrote a bit about the port tour way back here.

I suppose the germ of this interest might have been planted when after I joined the Department of Transport as a graduate in '98 we went on an Industry Tour which included visits to the Sydney Harbour Port and Port Botany. But I only really noticed it a few years later, at a cafe down at the waterfront in Newcastle with my family, and a large coal ship came past us reeeeallly close, and in our excitement we all ran outside to get a better look. Don't mind us, we're from Canberra, we explained to the waitress.

The Rotterdam Port tour was great. I just reread what I posted about it at the time and realised I might have sounded a bit blase about the whole thing, but I promise you I wasn't. We sat right at the front of the big tour boat for the best view, even though it was really super cold after an hour or so if wind blowing in our faces. I wish I'd had my new camera then, and I would have taken a lot more photos. I borrowed a couple of the photos for this post (you know who you are, thanks!)

8pm this evening in Canberra. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Restoring balance to the universe

Some of you made me feel a little bit bad about those pictures of little wet arched back Elvis. Don't worry, pretty soon after that bath he was dried off, and went outside to mask that nasty clean shampoo smell by rolling around in the grass. And not much later he was completely dry and fluffy and blindingly white. See?

I've been loving the extra comments lately. Keep 'em coming. The discussion of nerdy rehearsal of conversations, past and present, was a clear winner. Also, just a reminder, if you would like to receive an email letting you know each time I post an update, say the word and it will be done.

I'm finally looking into a ski improvement programme, possibly for this summer. The kind where that goes for at least four weeks, where you turn up a frustrated intermediate, and leave as a sh*t hot skiier. And maybe get the wahoo back. The word on the street is that Canadians do it differently to Austrians - the Canadian style features more 'up and down motion', if you can believe that. If you've done this type of course or have any insights please comment or email me.