A LONG summary :)

It appears it has been many months since my last confession.

 

I will give the briefest, skeletal of updates, in the hope that this will motivate me to do more, yes, more.

 

1.      After the loss of the election and my job, I journeyed into the west, to Perth, for 4 weeks. And what a 4 weeks it was, after 2 years of spending never more than a week at a time in that fabled city. I shall mention some highlights (there were many more):

·         Seeing my mum for an extended period of time – she only worked afternoons/evenings, so I was able to spend every morning with her, as well as plenty of evenings – this included nice dinners, watching excellent dvds and such

·         Seeing dearest aussiepoida in a much more relaxed fashion than normal – including playing video games (memorably, bubble bobble), watching dvds/listening to music (memorably, muse – thigh slapping was done), visits to teahouses and other places of relaxation, and of course our standard trips south, one to the margaret river region and to the Walpole area, and one climbing the mighty Tool

·         Seeing dearest matty in a much grander way than normal, doing much, MUCH with him including – concluding a drunken night at donpoida’s by (me and matty) camping in the park next to his place…the suburban park…surrounded by houses), a great trip to Busselton with some friends, the watching of fantastic shows such as jekkyl, and of course, bubble bobble J oh, and we saw a woman die by the side of the road in a motorcycle accident

·         Being horribly sick for 3 weeks

·         Seeing my dad and playing golf, bowling and a lot of cards

·         Seeing the old eagle boys crew quite a few times, including that fantastic trip to Busselton

2.      On the way back to Canberra from Perth, I stopped off in Melbourne to see my friends (primarily Cassy and Yannick, but also Matty Garner, and when they were around, Carolyn, Ellen and Nat). I enjoyed it, the only downside was the weather – as it was above 40 degrees, it really was too hot to walk around and enjoy beautiful cosmopolitan Melbourne. However we had fantastic drinking fun at night, Matty Garner came up with enough material to keep us entertained through sheer laughing, and of course we got our man-hats!!!!! (Bucket-hats from James Squire) Easily worth a trip to Melbourne! New Year’s eve was disappointing, but everything else good.

3.      Since being back in Canberra, I have been away almost every weekend:

·         A trip to Sydney with Makan and Boonz, for Osher’s birthday – enjoyable

·         A trip to the south coast with vern, lachie, dan and the girls of the latter two, Sarah and cath, had a great time, including a memorable walk away from the campsite to a beautiful lake, then through fascinating scrub (it was better than it sounds J)

·         A trip, no, no, THE trip to Sydney and Wollongong for Australia day – so much scandal I will not go into it, but there were fantastic times and…less fantastic times…primarily the bitter fight at poor Garner’s party involving a gorgeous woman, a smitten friend and an inconsiderate can’t-keep-it-in-his-pants ‘friend’

·         A weekend in Canberra for Cassy’s birthday, one of the greatest parties that has ever happened due to two things – the funniest thing ever, EVER, involving yannick casually taking the hand of one of our friends, slowly moving it, and placing it on HIS SISTER’S BREAST…there were moments where the hand remained, everyone stunned, until the siblings freaked out – never has a man done something so audaciously hilarious – and the second funniest thing ever, me and yannick swapping shirts, pretending to be each other and saying everything about each other we’ve always thought but never said (and we say a lot) – aaaah the no-holds-barred mocking was fantastic. Lucky we are very good friends J

·         A trip to the south coast again, this time to stay at carolyn’s outstanding house – there were issues of fighting and tension, but all in all a fantastic time. Friday was somewhat lacking, but Saturday was spent going to tilba (for cheese and fudge) then having one of the great drunken nights – playing hide and seek in PITCH BLACK in a gigantic 2 storey house was timeless, playing spin the bottle was fantastic indeed, and finishing the night off with a spa, and talk between me nat and henry that noone else would wish to hear – a great night indeed.

·         This weekend I am buying a hibachi (well, today in fact) so on Saturday we can have a bbq at our place, then go to the pitch n putt, after which I attend a games night at some other friends’ place. Makan also leaves, sadly, for perth this weekend, so I hope to see him tomorrow night for festivities.

4.      A new job – yes, in 2 weeks time I start a new job at the department of innovation, industry, science and research, it is a promotion, and I look forward to the money, it will also be wonderful to work in the city, where all my friends work. I will be working in the pharmaceutical area – the job essentially to liaise with pharmaceutical industry to find out what they want (to keep their business in Oz), then liaise within government to encourage decisions to be made that do not discourage industry from investing here.

5.      The Dark Tower – aussiepoida gifted me the first 4 of these books for Christmas – and what a gift! They are a series of 7 fantasy books (one story over 7 books) by Stephen king. I never even knew the man had written something like this, but it is some of the best fantasy I’ve ever read – and I am a fantasy nut. He considers it his pride and joy, and any Stephen king fan, as well as any fantasy fan, should read it. It is not full-blown fantasy – it is fantasy only in that involves parallel worlds (one is ours) and generally grounded in reality (except for the parallel worlds bit). It is simply outstanding. I am half way through the 4th book and loving it. I have several thousand pages to go J these books are long indeed

6.      I am going to America in 8 weeks to see my mum get married! I am looking forward to this so much. As well as her happy day, I am looking forward to being in north Carolina, a place of (I understand) remarkable beauty. I will be there in spring, see the blue ridge mountains, see true southern culture (including an impressive banjo player, internationally famous for those who are into blue-grass, play at my mum’s wedding!) and I will get to see a side of America I’ve always wanted to. I will also travel to DC, new york and Niagara falls with my mum, sister and auntie, which will be great fun, and see my grandparents and my other uncle and auntie for a bit. It will be grand J

7.      Finally I have arranged a birthday trip to cairns!!! Airfares were very little, so I am going on the night of my birthday (june 4) for 5 nights, and only taking two days off work, as the flights are so well timed and we have a long weekend. I am going with cassy and yannick, lachie (between the three of them some of my best friends), and nat (and meeting I think jess up there, one of cassy’s friends I don’t know all that well). I will dive and snorkel the great barrier reef, walk the Daintree rainforest, whitewater raft the tully river and just enjoy 5 days of relaxation, tropical entertainment and, I understand, a vibrant backpacker nightlife J

 

I think I will leave it there. This summarises most of what has been going on with me and is going on with me. Life is good. I am slightly unhealthy (reflux, mainly). I drink too much. I have noone I am interested in (except for, to some extent, a great girl who is taken). But I am starting a new, promising job, I am reading a simply outstanding book that takes up much of my spare time, I am seeing good friends very regularly (especially my roommates and cassy and yannick – it’s great how often we’re going away now, when we really only used to drink on weekends), and I have America and cairns to look forward to!

 

  • Current Music
    muse. always muse.

We Lost

The Howard government is no more. My job is no more.
My only consolation is that the peons who voted for the socialists amidst the best economic conditions this country, perhaps any western country, has ever seen will very soon be unemployed as industrial relations reforms are wound back and business no longer has the confidence, or can afford, to employ people at the rates they have.
Oh, and Howard was dead bloody right when he said working families have never been better off. Bunch of morons think because interest rates go up 2% their lives are over? Grow up Australia, grow up. When you don't have a JOB see how much harder it is to pay off a mortgage.
  • Current Music
    Muse

Much time has elapsed since my last entry

And much more will.

I only mention that I will be in Gladstone all this week, and will most likely stay there for  the weekend and go on a cruise on the Great Barrier Reef, at Lady Musgrave Island, whither I can snorkel and dive. It will be grand.

I also note that The Long Way Down has been released (book, not dvd) and I have purchased it :) I have only read about 50 pages so far, but am enjoying it, and look forward to the rest. I encourage everyone to watch the dvd of The Long Way Round, and perhaps read the book (though I have not read this). A marvellous adventure.

What can I do in 100 hours?

 
We have recently concluded the Labour Day long-weekend. Despite pointing out that every day nowadays seems to be Labor’s day, I did not follow through on my threats to turn up at work on this public holiday, and rather enjoyed a fantastic few days.
 
Thursday night was a farewell to a house. My good mates Vern and Dan have lived in a house in Narrabundah since I met them (and indeed for some time before that). And a very nice house it was. However, with Dan’s departure from the house some weeks ago to live with his life-partner, Lachie, it was time for Vern (as well as his roommates, Davo and Larissa) to move on to smaller and better things. After some time of trying to rid themselves of this place, they finally found someone to take over the lease, and are to move to an apartment near the city.
 
Thursday night was thus spent giving the house one last hurrah. It was a fun night, as nights always were at the Bundah house, with much beer to be drunk and laughing to be had. Dan (my roommate, not the Bundah Dan) and I enjoyed a six-pack each and closed the night out at around 11.30. Only to arrive home, declare this to be a good night, a night that must continue. And continue it did, as we espied the leftovers of a Heineken mini-keg, a copy of Bill Bailey’s “Part Troll” and laughed our way to a 2.30am bedtime.
 
After a somewhat truncated Friday at work, Lachie and I embarked on the mighty journey from Canberra to Bateman’s Bay, a coastal town favoured by Canberrans due to its proximity. For the boys from Industry had arranged a long-weekend on the coast for 11 fellows, to be spent at a large beach house.
 
Friday night was somewhat relaxed, with several beers consumed, as well as some good BBQ food. Disappointment flooded over me as I settled in for a night in the large outdoor spa on our deck, overlooking the beach, and the water became colder and colder as the minutes crept away. In somewhat of a rage I tried to discover the reason to this, but such a thing was beyond me. It turned out the spa was put in ‘sleep’ mode, and thanks to Makan’s research this travesty was not to happen again.
 
Saturday began with some throwing of a Frisbee on the beach (I was appalling). Around this time Lachie decided to venture out into the deep blue on an inflatable mattress. I repeat, an inflatable mattress. Some hours later, having cris-crossed the bay, he drifted back into shore, relieving us of our minor concern that a call to the State Emergency Services may be required. However Lachie is a white man. A very white man. And he undertook this journey with no shirt on. Lying on his stomach the whole time. As a result his back looked as though it had been exposed to a radiation leak. As the day, and weekend, continued this would provide much laughter.
 
This was followed by a trip into the town to watch the AFL Grand Final. The game was laughable. It was the biggest loss in AFL Grand Final history. I spent most of the game playing darts. Before the game was over Vern, Lachie, Dan, Makan and I decided to engage in a Bateman’s favourite – mini-golf. Lachie, by now in disabling pain from his char-grilled back, played dismally. As did I, though less dismally. In fact I had a fantastic back-nine. But Makan won easily, and I even lost to Dan and Vern, an appalling thing to happen in any field of endeavour.
 
Saturday night I immersed myself in the spa. For around 8 hours. I did get up briefly to grab two chicken kebabs which I brought back to the spa. The main feature of this was Dan (yes, a third Dan, I shall call this one DJ) getting physical with everyone he could, accompanied by his taunts that “You got NOTHING. What have you got? Nothing!!!” no matter what the circumstances. I have lasting memories of DJ on the floor, Rhys’ arm around his neck, DJ’s face purple, breathing his final, dying breath, gasping “What have you got Bos? NOTHING”. This was put to an end when Makan proved to have something, in the form of stomping on DJ’s genitals.
 
Sunday I enjoyed some fishing with Vern and Lachie, though there were no fish. Lachie proudly managed to snag one fish. This fish was floating next to us, I for one thought it was either dead, or a piece of seaweed, Lachie enthusiastically pulled a lure past it again and again until he literally skewered the inanimate fish with the lure, dragging it three metres away to the shore, before it wriggled loose. We saw no more fish the whole weekend. However the view was fantastic. And Lachie fell into the water with his mp3 player and third new mobile phone in 3 months, providing me with some light entertainment.
 
Upon arriving back at the cottage I watched the Formula One, in which the great Aussie, Mark Webber, was cruising for a glorious second place. Until, under a SAFETY CAR, he and the third place bloke, who to my knowledge was in his first race, crashed into each other. I couldn’t believe it. Such a Webber thing to do. The man cannot finish a race.
 
I then played coins with a few blokes, ended up having 8 shots of scotch in about 45 minutes, and woke up some hours later. After ascertaining there was not much else to stay up for, I went back to bed around 10pm for a hard-earned sleep. Arguably I could have made more use of this day, but I did thoroughly enjoy about half of it.
 
Monday saw Lachie and I driving home after a brief (and bad) breakfast in Bateman’s Bay, and I watched the final episodes of seasons 12 and 13 of Survivor, which I had missed when they were aired, to cap off a very entertaining, though somewhat tiring, 100 hours of my life.

More on my love of the Silmarillion - a post many may find boring, but so be it

I have finished reading Unfinished Tales, a book compiled by JRR Tolkien's son, Christopher, designed to fill in some gaps in the previously published works that really only dedicated fans could be interested in. As a dedicated fan, I loved it! There were fascinating insights into the story of the Lord of the Rings, missing from both the books and the Appendices contained at the end of the books. Insights that big fans of LOTR (even if they have not read Tolkien's other works) would find very interesting.

Having completed this book, I have now gone back to the book unrivalled in my little world - The Silmarillion. Oh how I love it. Oh how I have longed to read it again.

I should take the time to mention how much I love the Ainulindale. The published edition of the Silmarillion actually contains five books - a creation myth (Ainulindale), a description of the great powers of the world (Valaquenta), the Silmarillion proper (a tale of the first Age of the world, far more epic than LOTR - Quenta Silmarillion), the story of the Downfall of Numenor (the civilisation that preceded Gondor in LOTR - the Akallabeth) and what is essentially a thirty page summary of the Lord of the Rings, with information about how the Rings were created.

In any case, it is the Ainulindale that holds sway over my heart. It is only around 8 pages, but 8 pages of some of the most poetic writing I have read, and certainly the most beautiful creation myth; or, as the Washington Post review described it, "A creation of singular beauty... magnificent in its best moments."

Anyway, I have said enough. I encourage anyone who has access to the book to read it - or you may read it here. I have attached my favourite segment of it below. I should note that language is archaic and biblical. Perhaps it is that I grew up reading the Bible that means I was always completely comfortable with the language used, indeed it is one of my favourite things about this, and the Silmarillion as a whole. The Genesis-style language, detached, formal, epic and archaic. It will put off many. I do not care.

(To introduce the text below, Iluvatar is the name of God in these tales, the Ainur are the angels, and Melkor is a fallen angel who is disrupting the 'music' God is asking the angels to play - music by which the world is created)

Ilu

vatar sat and hearkened until it seemed that about his throne there was a raging storm, as of dark waters that made war one upon another in an endless wrath that would not be assuaged. 

Then Ilu
vatar arose, and the Ainur perceived that he smiled; and he lifted up his left hand, and a new theme began amid the storm, like and yet unlike to the former theme, and it gathered power and had new beauty. But the discord of Melkor rose in uproar and contended with it, and again there was a war of sound more violent than before, until many of the Ainur were dismayed and sang no longer, and Melkor had the mastery. Then again Iluvatar arose, and the Ainur perceived that his countenance was stern; and he lifted up his right hand, and behold! a third theme grew amid the confusion, and it was unlike the others. For it seemed at first soft and sweet, a mere rippling of gentle sounds in delicate melodies; but it could not be quenched, and it took to itself power and profundity. And it seemed at last that there were two musics progressing at one time before the seat of Iluvatar, and they were utterly at variance. The one was deep and wide and beautiful, but slow and blended with an immeasurable sorrow, from which its beauty chiefly came. The other had now achieved a unity of its own; but it was loud, and vain, and endlessly repeated; and it had little harmony, but rather a clamorous unison as of many trumpets braying upon a few notes. And it essayed to drown the other music by the violence of its voice, but it seemed that its most triumphant notes were taken by the other and woven into its own solemn pattern.

In the midst of this strife, whereat the halls of Ilu
vatar shook and a tremor ran out into the silences yet unmoved, Ilu´ vatar arose a third time, and his face was terrible to behold. Then he raised up both his hands, and in one chord, deeper than the Abyss, higher than the Firmament, piercing as the light of the eye of Iluvatar, the Music ceased.
  • Current Mood
    content content

It was the best of days, it was the worst of days. Though mainly the best of days :)

The Centrepiece of my recent trip to Perth was surely my plans to once again travel to the Stirling Ranges, 4 hours SSE of Perth, and climb the Tool, only the second tallest mountain in that range, yet surely the most spectacular and worthy to climb. My intention was to drive down with my dearest of friends, aussiepoida and Matty, on Friday afternoon, around 5.30pm, set up camp at the National Park campsite, enjoy a bbq and some drinks, a nice sleep under the stars then arise early and climb that mighty peak. We would then drive back to Perth, arriving early afternoon, whither I would spend an hour or two with my mother before she left for work, meet my father and uncle for golf, enjoy dinner with them and finally spend the night sharing some drinks and some laughs with my old friends from my days delivering pizza.
 
Man plans, God laughs.
 
aussiepoidahad some dramas involving finance for the apartment him and his sweet recently purchased; as such rather than leaving work at 3.30 as planned, we left after 5. We then fumbled around with packing, shopping and other things, originally picking up Matty after 7.30, invoking his derision. We drove to my place where I packed, and finally left Perth around 8.30, a mere 3 hours after I optimistically planned.
 
We enjoyed a fantastic drive to the Stirlings. The Eagles preliminary final was on, so we stopped briefly at a country pub to watch the final 10 minutes. We were beaten. We then continued on our way listening to an array of music, most memorably aussiepoida’s introduction to the soundtrack of the musical episode of Buffy, Once More With Feeling, which me and Matty are thoroughly addicted to. We sung with passion, gusto and unbridled enthusiasm, with aussiepoida rapidly becoming a convert (though somewhat disconcerted by me singing every song directly at him, looking deeply into his eyes, as he was driving). They were great times indeed. We also listened to the Cat’s greatest album, Tea for the Tillerman, with me and aussiepoida once again singing with gusto, especially Where do the Children Play, the song best displaying the Cat’s Righteous Anger.
 
Of lingering concern was the weather. It was forecast to rain terribly. Much of the drive down, it rained terribly. While it is a lovely thing sleeping in a tent amidst heavy rain, setting up a tent amidst heavy rain is quite impossible as the inside of the tent gets wet before one has the opportunity to put the protective fly over it. Remarkably and, dare I say, miraculously, as we arrived it did not rain. We set up the tent rather quickly, and within one minute of erecting the fly, the heavens opened, the others cursing the rain, I being enormously thankful it waited just long enough.
 
It was then time for our BBQ :) And by time, I mean 12.30am. This may be our record for setting up camp. We were extremely proud. Now, I am not one to let rain affect outdoors plans. In fact, I welcome it, it provides atmosphere. This is because I have superb waterproofs. I bought a waterproof jacket and pants in Denmark, when I picked strawberries in monsoonal weather for some weeks. I can be in incredibly heavy rain, and my only awareness of it is that it is loud. I therefore excitedly and giddily suggested we commence our BBQ.
 
aussiepoida is a man of Switzerland who proudly does not feel the cold. Or so he believes. As such he does not own waterproofs, and laughed in my face when I suggest he borrow some from me. Oh how he laughed. I gleefully watched aussiepoida get drenched from rain, though he was wise enough to slip on a jacket. Dearest Matty was another story. I offered him my spare goretex jacket. His response was “What am I, a woman??”. As the BBQ continued, and we ate greedily and deeply, he became ever more saturated. Once again I pleaded for him to wear my jacket. Once again, “what am I, a woman??”. By the end of our BBQ Matty was a super-saturated, shivering wreck. But as he proudly exclaimed, he was surely not a woman.
 
We then sat in the car (at 1.30am) with the heater on to dry off (or in my case, further enjoy my complete dryness). Making our way into the tent (technically a four-man, but that means a cozy time for 3 men, one of whom is a giant of a man) we settled down to sleep. In the only way we know how. This comprised Matty managing to lie at complete diagonals across the tent, complaining that he must have gotten ‘the short end of the rhombus’ (it was absolutely pitch black, so we could not see what he was doing), aussiepoida periodically and manically jumping on top of both of us, and finally Matty creating a fart of such potency, such unrelenting toxicity, that aussiepoida actually threw up in his mouth. I have never seen such a thing.
 
The following morning we arose at around 9.30 if my memory serves me, far later than we expected. We enjoyed some coffee and weet-bix, packed up and headed for the Tool. The weather was dark, foggy, constantly drizzly, windy and generally outstanding and fantastic. I loved it. It was so impressive that as we approached the Tool, it looked like this:
   
Consider that there is a 1000 meter mountain just one kilometer ahead. 90% of the mountain was obscured, wreathed in storm-cloud. We laughed at Matty for the pain he would soon endure.
 
Parking, we packed our bags ready for our climb. I must briefly go back here. Some weeks ago aussiepoida mentioned to me a tea, Lapsang Souchong, which he recently started drinking. He found to his delight that it was famed for being a reinvigorating drink for hikers! As such we decided that my first taste of this drink should be as a hiker. Of course drinking it when we got to the bottom was not enough. Indeed, storing it in a thermos and drinking it atop the Tool was not enough! What was enough? MAKING IT atop the Tool. Alas we do not yet own a compact camping stove.  I therefore resolved to carry up the Tool aussiepoida’s full portable hot-plate, measuring around 30x20cm and weighing, I am unsure, perhaps a few kilograms? For only by such an undertaking should this mighty tea receive the honours it deserved.
 
The weather was not the worst we have climbed in. This honour belongs to the howling wind and Noahical rain that fell one magnificent day upon Nipple Mountain. However Nipple Mountain is not the Tool. Nipple Mountain is a pleasant 30 minute walk up (albeit on slippery granite). The Tool is at least two hours up, and is a HARD walk, incorporating great sections of scrambling over shattered boulders littering the mountainside. After 10 minutes of walking on the pleasant, low-gradient path, Matty was a physical wreck. After 45 minutes, as we were approaching the end of the pleasant, low-gradient path, Matty was on the edge of turning back. I pleaded with him to keep going as I firmly believed the rock scrambling would invigorate him. aussiepoida accused me of telling disgusting lies, but I stood my ground.
 
And so it happened. We reached the rock scrambling, surely the hardest part of the climb, but due to its technical difficulty it diverted Matty’s concentration and slowed us down considerably, and he was a new man. The scrambling was treacherous indeed, with numerous slips and near-accidents, but we made it up. The howling wind provided comic relief with aussiepoidaand I persistently screaming “IT’S SARUMAN, HE’S TRYING TO BRING DOWN THE MOUNTAIN”. And I do mean screaming, as the wind was so deafening a scream could scarcely be heard.
 
                      
Eventually, and with Matty in an appalling state of disrepair, we summitted. It was an outstanding achievement, as even aussiepoida and I were in a bad way, with the bitter cold and wind taking its toll, but for Matty it was unbelievable. After 10 minutes he was in no state to walk, and he made it up a 3 hour climb in those conditions. I was very proud. Indeed, later that day, he would confess it was the second-hardest thing he had ever done in his life.
 
Reaching the top amidst incredible rain, I hunted for an appropriate place to sit down and make our tea. I espied such a place sheltered on 3 sides from the wind. Taking out the stove from my backpack we immediately discovered the ignition switch did not work. My eyes widened dramatically and alarmingly, my arms flailed about in a chaotic manner and I begun cursing the weather, the mountain, WA and most hysterically my friend aussiepoida. He then informed me he had not brought matches. If it had not shattered my already-frozen hand, I would have rained blows upon his worried face. Yet in a moment of inspiration, of unexpected insight and unlooked-for clarity, I asked Matty the most important question I had ever asked him. Did you, Matty, I asked, happen to bring on this trip the Swedish firesteel you purchased three years back for your trip to Europe, and did you, Matty happen to place this Swedishfiresteel in the very backpack you currently sit alongside? In fact I may have screamed in a pitch alternating in the manner of a sine wave “Don Swedish firesteel don don????” jerkily pointing my arm in the general direction of his backpack. It matters not. Dearest Matty, mighty amongst the princes of men, fairest of the youngest children of Eru Iluvatar, the looked for that cometh unawares, the longed for that cometh beyond hope, splendour of the Children of the Earth, star in the darkness, jewel in the sunset, radiant in the morning, had NEVER REMOVED the Swedish firesteel he took to Europe from that fabled backpack. Never have I wanted to kiss a man as much as at that time.
 
aussiepoida deftly took the firesteel, and lit the stove within seconds. Celebrating extravagantly, neglecting the distinct possibility I would fall off the side of the mountain, I praised Matty, the weather, the mountain, WA and even my friend aussiepoida. It was a great moment, great indeed, and what the outdoors, friendship and hardship are all about.

The tea itself: it was tasty. It smelt like death, laced with ammonia and bacterial infection, but it was very tasty. I drank of it deeply, and felt its nourishing heart course through me. However I fear I may have reacted badly to it, for shortly after I laughed so hard i threw up. Twice. Though this may have simply been extreme exhaustion :)
 
After some time atop the mighty Tool we begun our slow descent, watching in horror as our own feet would shoot out from beneath us on the slightest contact with the mossy, rain-drenched rocks of engine oil-like slipperiness, and watching in amusement and delight as our friends’ feet would do the same. Around this time aussiepoida came to the exciting realisation that not only would we not arrive in Perth in the early afternoon as expected, but we were on our way to arriving too late for aussiepoida to make his EIGHT O’CLOCK showing of the War of the Worlds musical. Hurrying down as fast as we could, and leaving poor Matty behind, who had been so good to us, we finally made it to the car, as did Matty some ten minutes later. Shooting off for Perth without delay our trip was over, but the memories remain.
 
We arrived back in Perth with only time to drop aussiepoida at his concert and then drive his car to his house, where I could pick up my sisters car. On the way I had learned, to my enormous disappointment, that my drinks that night with my friends was cancelled. Nevertheless I resolved to have a grand night with Matty involving eating chinese from a place he had told me of for many years, and watching dvds, perhaps enjoying some good scotch and sharing many laughs. On the way to the Chinese restaurant one of the tyres on my sister’s car went flat. On the freeway. I had to pull over and park on the side of the road. Clearly the night was not going well. I then realised with delirious anger that, as a tyre had been replaced just a week ago in that car, the spare was not in fact in the boot, it was in my mother’s car. My mother was at work no less that 50 minutes drive from our location. Long story short, we had Matty’s roommate pick us up, drive us to his house, I then had Matty drive me out to my mother’s car, where we picked up the spare, drove back, changed it (I had never changed a tyre before) and drove back to Matty’s house. By which time it was 12.30am :)
 
Oh, and I then realised I left my wallet in aussiepoida’s car, 20 mins drive away.
 
My day of climbing the Tool, seeing my mum, playing golf and having dinner with my dad and then drinking with my friends ended up with climbing the tool, blowing a tyre, spending 2.5 hours fixing the situation, eating no chinese and going to sleep at 1am, tired, grumpy but managing with Matty to see the crazily humourous side of the situation.
 
As a footnote the tyre was somehow not just flat, but damaged – I must pay $175 for a new one. Good times.
Of course none of this takes away from what I consider the greatest Tool trip we have done :)
 

A Week in the Uttermost West

 
Long have I desired to write of my journey into the West, but have been stricken by apathy, an inertia the likes of which I have seldom experienced. However upon reading aussiepoida’s account of part of my trip, I have been propelled into action, relishing the idea of recounting every glorious (and inglorious) moment of a wonderful time. However I will be brief as to most details, so I may be in-depth as to the details of some memorable times :)
 
I arrived on Saturday at lunch, and was driven from the airport by my mother and sister, where we shared several hours before my mum departed for work. I then played a round of 9 hole short-course golf with my father and uncle Tom, a tradition that I love every time. I played terribly, but thankfully my forebear and his sibling suffered from what could only have been extreme stage-fright, trying to impress their visitor from the East, and I narrowly beat them. I can be somewhat competitive (in a light-hearted way) with my dear Dad. We then enjoyed a delicious Thai meal before I went to Aaron and Flem’s house to enjoy a night of drinking.
 
I assume I enjoyed this night of drinking. To be honest I emulated the soon-to-be architect of the destruction of my employment as an adviser; I climbed a Stairway to Kevin; and I cannot remember vast swathes of the night. I do remember having some passionate games of pool with Mike, suffering some undeserved losses, and having a good long chat with Hannah. What I remember intimately is the intense and character-building agony of the following morning.
 
Aware that I was due at a Father’s day lunch in the hills shortly after, I was disabled by pain and dehydration the likes of which I have not experienced since the light currently reaching us from the Centauri system left its source. Collapsing onto poor Matty’s shoulder and groaning for some Fizzy-Make-Feel-Good, I spent an hour being blinded by the dazzling sunshine of a glorious Perth spring morning, before making my way, with my sister, to my uncle’s house to go onto lunch.
 
It really was a wonderful lunch. We went to a rose nursery in the Perth Hills, I enjoyed a quite delicious rose-pedal lemonade and a superb sandwich – despite my physical and mental incapacitation these were delicious enough for me to remember fondly, as was the company with my sister, uncle, father and mother-in-law.
 
Spending a lovely afternoon at my father’s place, playing pool, Trumps (a fantastic card-game) and chatting, I contacted aussiepoida at 5pm requesting we move on to our chalet near Mundaring for a night of revelry and unacceptable behaviour.
 
We moved on with promises of the greatest pizza I would, or could ever taste. Arriving at the pizzeria, aussiepoida descending into a rage learning that EFTPOS was not available. While I tried to salvage the situation by mocking him and calling him girls’ names, his rage remained, we were unable to find an ATM and settled on purchasing Hungry Jack’s. With three of us standing there, dear Donpoida ordered a large double-big-mac meal, and a chicken burger, and a cheeseburger, to my horror and, no doubt, the attendant’s amazement upon learning this was not for all three of us, but just one of us.
 
After relieving my horror at aussiepoida’s gluttony by eating much of his food, we (with haze) enjoyed some games of Bomberman, some crazy Olympic game from the early 80s and a viewing of Cat Steven’s Majikat tour DVD. Matty finally arrived late in the night, after heading in quite literally the wrong direction, apparently unaware that the Perth hills are East of Perth, not North. We then engaged in a viewing of Hot Fuzz, to my general objections and lasting regret. Even if it were an appropriate time to watch this movie, which it was not, it was NOT FUNNY. People have carried on about it so much. I have absolutely loved everything else like this, Shaun of the Dead, Big Train, Spaced (which I shall discuss later) the first time I have watched these shows. Hot Fuzz was just crap. aussiepoida loves it so much I will give it another try. But boy did it suck. We then engaged in some crazy spa-times, which I shall not go into in graphic and intimate details :)
 
The next morning we enjoyed a delicious cooked breakfast after which I decided to take the day off work, as I was already late and both aussiepoida and Matty had the day off. This was a fantastic decision :) We enjoyed a fantastic lunch on the marina near aussiepoida’s house: I feasted upon one of the great sandwiches I have tasted upon this earth, then convinced Matty to buy some pancakes, which I feasted upon.
 
We then headed to Botanic Golf, one of my favourite mini-golf places, only to find it was closed on Mondays. A travesty, say I. However this led to the timeless idea to clean Matty’s car, and after engaging a darts game at Matty’s house, which aussiepoida bafflingly and counter-intuitively won, we together washed Matty’s car, with the completely appropriate singing of Wham’s “Wake me up before you go-go”. Alas we did not splash each other with soapy water as would have been so homo-erotically appropriate. After calling it a day, I then had a nice dinner with some of my old pizza-friends, Jacqui (who, I have decided after several visits back to Perth, as well as being a valued friend, is the most beautiful woman I have ever known), Hannah (who is becoming increasingly gorgeous), Coco (a friend I have seen little of for some time, but really a fantastic bloke) and my sister and her roommate, Zara. It was a lovely way to finish a fantastic long-weekend!
 
Tuesday and Wednesday nights were reserved for my mum, as she works at nights and these are her only nights off (and of course I worked, out of the State office of the Health Department, during the days). Tuesday we met up, with my Grandfather, after work at the Belgian Beer Café where I had some fantastic beer, a nice meal and some good catching up. We then went home and had a quiet night, catching up. Wednesday we had my grandparents round for a bbq dinner which was great, I had a good chat with my grandfather and my mum cooked an excellent dinner. Very enjoyable all round :)
 
Additionally, on Tuesday I had lunch with dear Aussiepoida at the Lebanese restaurant he goes to. He had manically talked up the chicken and rice dish here, and while it is hard to live up to that kind of hype the food, indeed was DELICIOUS. I do not quite long for it the way he promised me I would, but I certainly look forward to eating much more of it. Wednesday I met up with Poida again for lunch, this time accompanied by my mother and Auntie Christine. This was very nice, and even after poida left us I had some coffee and cake with my female relatives, it was great indeed, especially as I don’t see much of my Auntie otherwise.
 
Thursday was a most excellent day. I met up with my old friend Eli for lunch at an irish pub. He was very sadly divorced from his wife recently, and they have two young children. It was fantastic to see him and good to hear he’s holding up relatively well. After work I joined aussiepoida for some tea at his favourite tea-house. Contrary somewhat to the impression his post gave, I loved this and had a fantastic time :) I can confirm my caramel tea was less flavoursome than I had hoped, but was still very nice, and the tea I liberated from poida’s cup was delicious indeed. I long to go to this place regularly with him.
 
After this I drove to Bob’s house (Makan’s little brother) to catch up and engage in some shisha-smoking. Shisha is flavoured tobacco smoked through a bong-like water pipe mainly in Arab countries. When I was in Egypt I spend a week sitting on the Red Sea coast, smoking shisha and drinking cocktails at wonderfully low prices, and I wished to experience something of this again. Well, I had an utterly marvellous time. It was great to see Bob again, who I give a lot of crap to but really I think very highly of him indeed. We shared some laughs, caught up on goings-on and smoked plenty of shisha. It was fantastic and were it not for my pre-arranged plan to go to aussiepoida’s house that night I would have gladly spent many, many more hours there. I enjoyed it so much I now intend to purchase a shisha pipe for my new house, as a fun, alternative communal activity (though limited, I still disapprove of tobacco in general).
 
I arrived at aussiepoida’s house very late, and indeed I felt bad about it, but certainly did not regret it as I had such a great time at Bob’s. I was then treated to a superbly delicious stroganoff. I was not aware my dear friend could cook. We then engaged in a fantastic array of activities. We watched Spaced, which I absolutely loved, and have been watching more of as my roommate owns it. We played an assortment of crazy games on the Wii, such as pong, table tennis and others, and it was great fun indeed. We then watched part of disc 2 of Fellowship extended edition, and I was enthralled to see extra footage I had completely forgotten (as I lost my disc 2 some time ago). I only wish we had been able to watch the entire disc, but it was very late. Thus closed one of my most enjoyable casual days in many years, in fact one of my most unexpectly enjoyable days.
 
Friday I took the train to work with aussiepoida, a very pleasant experience in itself. I then visited my great grandmother, 95 years young, at lunch with my grandparents. I was disgustingly lazy and did not see the dear woman during my last sojourn into the West, and had lived with the deepest terror since that she may die without me seeing her again, for her health has gone ill with her of late, and she has developed Altzheimer’s. It was therefore such a pleasure to see her, especially as she was noticeably more alert and lucid than she often has been (I am told). She seemed to remember me, and enjoyed the visit, and I was glad if nothing else to be able to see her one last time (though she could linger for many more years, she is bafflingly strong and stubborn).
 
Friday night and Saturday was the time for our Stirling Ranges Adventure. However this certainly deserves its own post, so I shall speak of this later. You may wait with the greatest anticipation :) I will also incorporate Saturday night into that post, as it was truly a remarkable and terrible night, and deserves to be lumped with our SRA as all part of one crazy trip.
 
Sunday was my final day there. I had to pick up my wallet from aussiepoida’s house and was treated to a nice breakfast before saying my final farewell. I then went home and got to spend a little time with my mum in the morning before our extended-family lunch. The lunch was very nice, and most of the family was there, though with the unfortunate absence of my uncles steve and trevor, and cousin claire. It was great to see everyone. I then closed the trip by spending the afternoon and evening with my Dad, Tom and Suzanne (my dad’s wife) once again chatting, playing games and having some nice dinner. Our time included a game of Trumps, a card game we often play. I maintain I can never, NEVER win my bonus in this game where it’s down to one card, and I deal, and my family mocks me for this. Finally it looked set to happen – I only needed to lose the hand to win my bonus, and as I had a four of spades the ONLY cards in the deck that could stop me getting my bonus were if the first person led with a 2 or 3 of spades, and the next two people didn’t have any spade or any diamond. the chances of this are somewhere around one in 75 I think. Of course precisely this happened :) after several minutes of my dad and uncle laughing til they cried, slapping their thighs and vowing they would never forget this moment, the game continued, with my flawless record of losing that damn bonus remaining intact.
 
Finally I drove back to my mum’s house, where we were able share a final hour or two before I got on a plane, to head back into the East, at the end of a wonderful wonderful week.
n r

Unfinished Tales

Those who know me but superficially will know of my deep and abiding love of Lord of the Rings. In fact, it is not so much the superb tale of The Lord of the Rings that has ownership of my heart; it is Tolkien mythology generally. Indeed I far prefer many of the tales of the Elder Days, found in the Silmarillion and other posthumous publications. For the events that took place thousands of years before nine-fingered Frodo of the Shire took the Ring of Power into the very domain of the Dark Lord, Sauron, and cast it into the fires of Orodruin, are unmatched by anything that took place during the Third Age in terms of heroism, triumph, tragedy and pain. The tales from the First Age are truly epic.


I have read the Silmarillion many times. Though I have not gazed upon its pages in two years, and though I read it for the first time only in 2004, I have read it in the vicinity of ten times. As anyone who has tackled this book will agree, it is not an easy read. It is to the Lord of the Rings as the Lord of the Rings is to Harry Potter. The tales are intense, the descriptions detailed, the prose cumbersome (though incredibly elegant - it is cumbersome merely because people in this age are unaccustomed to reading language of this style) and most significantly its characters unbelievably numerous. While the entire book is only 365 pages, and the Quenta Silmarillion (in which the tales of the First Age take place) is probably only 280 pages, the Index of Names, which simply lists names of characters and places with a 3 or 4 line description, is more than 30 pages. Hence any reading requires constant reference to the Index of Names. It is not easy.


However it is the greatest collection of tales I have ever read. The overarching story is one of incredible beauty and paradise shattered by selfishness, unquenchable desire for revenge and rash actions, mingled with unthinkable bravery and heroism and loyalty. Tragedy is not a theme employed any more, it seems, at least in the film world (I do not read widely enough to comment on literature), and it is a great loss.


I have long been aware that there are more Tolkien books, such as a veritable encyclopedia, "The History of Middle Earth", comprising 12 books of probably 600 pages each, simply containing all the writings of JRR Tolkien unedited. What I was not aware of, until a conversation with my fellow Silmarillion nut Lachie, was that there was a publication entitled "Unfinished Tales", published after the Silmarillion, but in a far more edited and polished format than The History of Middle Earth (though nowhere near as final as the Silmarillion). With this knowledge I purchased Unfinished Tales while in Brisbane some weeks ago.


Unfinished Tales is wonderful. I am certainly not enjoying it with the intensity I loved the Silmarillion, but for the Tolkien lover, the reader who already knows Tolkien's universe somewhat intimately, it fills in many gaps and enhances a number of great stories. It contains two stories from the First Age, a fantastic, detailed version of the story of Tuor, one of my favourite from the Silmarillion, and a detailed version of the story of Turin - a story that would have been magnicent to read in 1980 when it was published, but is now somewhat redundant due to the release earlier this year of "The Children of Hurin", the first complete book published since JRR Tolkien's death.


However, it also contains a number of tales from the Second Age, focussing on Numenor, a wonderful thing as the Second Age is barely discussed in the Silmarillion or the Lord of the Rings. I am enjoying these tales thoroughly. It then contains detailed information on the Third Age (in which the Lord of the Rings is set) which are fascinating to read if you are a Lord of the Rings fan, such as details on how the Wizards came to Middle Earth.


I have read but a small amount of this book thus far, but am looking forward greatly to diving into it again. I have two nights in Melbourne and a flight to Perth in which to truly sink my teeth into it. Very soon I shall learn much more of Numenor, its great Kings and their selfishness and arrogance that led to its downfall. I shall learn more of Galadriel, the eldest in Middle Earth to remain in the Third Age, and one of the Noldor who first went into exile in Middle Earth after the renowned crossing of the Helcaraxe. I long for this.
  • Current Mood
    enthusiastic

(no subject)

Recent days have carried with them some stress for me. I, of course, am seldom stressed. The reason for this has been my accommodation arrangements.
Several months ago, my landlord decided to sell the unit in which I live. This feat was achieved but a fortnight ago. Aware of this impending sale, and uncertain as to whether my continuing tenancy would be sought, I looked into other options. Two good friends, Lachie and Dan (who I travelled to New Zealand with) were looking at new housing options and for a time I pursued this. In the end, it all became too much with my cat, Toast. Lachie decided he would stay in his present accommodation (a nice central apartment) which would simply not accommodate an eccentric feline companion.
I considered whether I would attempt to remain in my apartment.
Little more than an hour after having my hopes, my dreams, indeed my heart, torn in twain by my otherwise erstwhile friend Lachie, another friend, Dan, a man I know through my good friend Caitlyn (with whom I worked in my public service days) indicated he was looking for places to rent. Hence I pursued this new avenue with vigour.
We both looked into options, finding places in the wonderfully located inner-south region too expensive. However after some appeals to our friend Henry, who currently lives in something of a party house, he agreed to move in with us, should we find a suitable place.
The first place we inspected was ideal (although certainly not luxurious in any way). Four bedrooms of a reasonable size, good location (walking distance to the best pubs in Canberra) and allowed pets. We applied, even offered $20 per week more than the asking price, but were knocked back, being informed that we were ranked second.
Meanwhile, however, I had been approached by my new landlord and asked to continue renting my existing apartment. I declined as I had committed to moving in with Dan. I gave my landlord three weeks notice - an amount I thought was a suitable balance between the amount of time I would need to secure new accommodation and my desire to avoid paying rent in two locations concurrently.
Subsequent, however, to our first application being rejected, we struggled to find anything at all suitable. Around this time I realised that the three weeks notice I had given would only take me to the day after I arrive back in Canberra from Perth, making moving out extremely difficult, and forcing me to rely on my friends to find a place for us while I am away.
Yesterday afternoon, however, my fears were washed away in a suprising event - we were offered the first place we applied for! Even more amazingly, at the original asking price; $20 per week less than we offered! A fortunate happenstance indeed.
I will have to pay double-rent for a week, as by the time I will be able to vacate my current premises we will have been renting out new house for a week. But given the low cost compared to other housing options we were considering, I am perfectly comfortable with this.
Thus did one of my worries in life disappear. Now to await the Federal Election...
  • Current Mood
    relieved relieved

Four guys, three girls and a pizza place

I had a most enjoyable weekend. Earlier in the week my friends and I hatched a plan to have a snow weekend. While I was tentative about skiing, due to conditions and finances, I agreed to rise at 5am on Saturday and drive a couple of my friends to the snowfields. There was something of a delay waiting for one of these friends to get ready, and a larger delay as they hired ski equipment. However, the most unforgiveable and damaging delay was in Jindabyne, where those who Protect and Serve decided to set up a breath test on the way to the snowfields.

Let me clarify. It was 9.30am. And they were doing random breath testing. NINE THIRTY IN THE MORNING. The hold-up of traffic meant it took us 40 minutes to drive one kilometer out of town. I have the utmost respect for police, but never have I HATED police so much. I will write a complaint to the government about this. These pathetic, money-raising wankers delayed, I would guess, one thousand (or more) people, young families, from a weekend at the snow, by 45 minutes at that time of the morning, in case a few drunk adolescents decided to drink til 6 am then go to the snowfields still intoxicated. My friend, and presumably many many others, excited children included, missed his ski lesson because of this delay. It was truly disgusting. I have never been so close to letting rip at a cop, but I knew that would probably ruin our whole weekend as I would be arrested. The most I could say, when asked if I had been drinking was "Its not even 10am MATE, no, I HAVEN'T been drinking"
Disgusting, I say.

In any case, we finally arrived at 10.30am, and after half an hour of my friends getting their passes and such, we skied. I decided to stay with them to teach them how to ski, so I just did green runs with them. Dan was most entertaining, being suprisingly gifted - I gave him a baptism of fire by taking him straight up the lift and only telling him how to turn properly, not how to snow-plough. Well, he was very impressive. Fell constantly, but actually was turning properly by the bottom of his first run down the mountain! The frustrating bit was watching him get up. His gifts with skiing were only matched by his absurd incompetence in getting back up after falling. He would take an average of 3 or 4 MINUTES to get up each time he fell. Which was probably 10 times each run. As such, while he was quite good, we only did 3 runs in 2 hours :P

However we did have some good snowball fights when we met up with our other friends who weren't skiing, and some fun toboggan riding. We then had a very enjoyable night, with some good scotch, some crazy behaviour (which I will not detail on a public site) and some good laughs. And ate dinner at a pizza place. Which is the tenuous excuse for the title of this entry.

The next day Ellen and I had intended to go up the lift at thredbo and snowshoe to the top of kosciuszko. It was a mighty plan, and thanks to Henry's resourcefulness we even had maps, compasses, GPS and EPIRB equipment! However sunday morning was overcast, and when we asked the national parks office they said that it would be very risky, as the weather could deteriorate, and as it was already 11am we may not have time to make it back to the chairlift. As such, we were forced to abandon what would have been a mighty mission :(

We did go to the schnapps factory, enjoy a nice tasting and I purchased a fine bottle of pear schnapps, to complement the peach and apple bottles I purchased last year. As the others were too tired (read, soft) Ellen, Dan and I drove to Thredbo and did a wonderful hike. It went over some areas of snow, through tightly packed forests and across great little rivers cascading down the mountain. There was one beautiful section where a stream cascaded down moss covered boulders and through mossy trees, into a series of three meter high waterfalls, each separated by almost completely spherical shallow lakes, no more than a couple of meters across. It was lovely. 
                      

All in all, a very nice weekend, with my only regret being the small amount of skiing we did.

And meanwhile, it is only 5 days until I arrive in Perth!!!! :)