19 September 2011

At the movies

Last century, back in the Eighties, computers were going to make everything possible as they daily performed miraculous wondrous feats. Life was all set to become a dream come true. Hence, the first known appearance of the film Weird Science in 1985.

War Games in 1983 had previously taught us the computer was our friend, a benign and wise guardian. Then, following the dizzying artistic heights revealed during 1984 in Revenge of the Nerds, in an evolutionary leap that still baffles scientists, studio executives manifested an unparalleled vision of motion picture genius.

They produced the following equation:

increasing availability of home computers
missile technology
Kelly LeBrock

Never again would our lives be the same.

Towards the end of the film, in a stunning plot device, mutants appear during Gary and Wyatt's party, enabling the boys to discover their true manhood:

Micheal Berryman (did not play Sloth in The Goonies also released in 1985)

Vernon Wells, inexplicably still in make up from Mad Max 2 (1981)

This film also contains Robert Downey Jr before his teeth were fixed and Bill Paxton's inimitable Chet.

This is truly a film for our age and every age still to come.


No surprises there really

Snapshot from front page
Sydney Morning Herald

17 September 2011

The Grand Adventure

On Friday, I went for an awesome walk by and near Lake Burley Griffin. The weather was glorious.

It somehow took over three hours. Once I got to the corner of Flynn Drive and Alexandrina Drive, I was surprised to find that the Chinese are building a second embassy building next to their existing one. Very low key frontage to the lake. It is pretty big. New World Superpower Size.

Someone had dumped a broken washing machine on the spare tracks used by trucks to the right of the compound. Seriously, why don't people throw their rubbish in a bin? Or use a dump? Tempting to write a big sweary sign. We should have hard rubbish collection in Canberra.

It was all bush-bashing after that, up through a very thick young uniform sized eucalyptus grove. Fairly slow going around the ridge formed by Forster Crescent. At least 100 metres of blackberry bushes. I can't remember exactly, as I was trying to play flute at the same time. I guess because of the embassies around there, they don't clean it up and encourage wandering. It was mildly irksome in jeans and sneakers, but some boots and/or a machete would make it easier.

The work of a landcare group is evident once out of the neck of the valley. It is an interesting tract of land, because it is largely undisturbed. Lots of big ant's nests:

And I saw a bunch of Spitfires:

Fascinating creatures, they spit yellow eucalyptus oil when threatened. Check out wikipedia.

I also saw a centipede, but only shot a bit of video of it. About 10cm long. Red around the edges, yet so good at camouflage when they choose to twist themselves up.

It doesn't bear to think about these creepy crawlies crawling around on a person. The spitfire has a nasty reputation that is probably undeserved, I doubt I ever found one in my hair or on my neck, but as children they freak us out when we imagine being attacked by them.

During the week I spent a few hours in Fairbairn Pines. Mostly I was photographing a lichen. I decided that I am not that big a fan of pine plantations. Aesthetically anyway. Alone in the forest, where only the trees hear my tears, I recognise my attachment to the earth-plane.

Like all natural phenomena, once observed, I find their presence everywhere. Now I can see from my balcony a lichen on a trunk just metres from me. For the same reason, it was slow going through the bush when trying to avoid breaking or disturbing all the spiderwebs stretched between branches.

It seemed like the first real day of spring where the earth had a chance to warm through and radiate the heat of the sun upwards. The gently baking earth warming cocoons and pupae.

Other sightings:
  • first butterfly and dragonfly of the season
  • massive burrow complex, but only one bunny rabbit
  • acacia plantings by a landcare group
  • many cairns
  • native wildflowers
  • awesome cubbyhouse precinct
This is not an alien, but a freak of photography. The same spot of fungus, found on a fallen pine, is pictured immediately afterwards, sans eyes.

There is not a lot of detail in the yellow lichen unless you enlarge it. I find the suction cup-like protuberances the coolest part.

So, I don't know who is responsible for the cubbies, but they are huge and well built. I took some video as I didn't know if mutants were going to charge out and I wanted people to know what happened to me if my phone was discovered after the event. I was all prepared to send the video as a distress signal. An anthropilacitatus is not actually a giant wombat to the best of my knowledge.

So, there were quite a few of these structures, although this one was the finest.

I sat to play some flute then. A couple of kangaroos stopped to listen. I have never found kangaroos very intelligent. In this case they proved it, by not staying to listen. When I got back to the National Library, I played this video while waiting outside. A pair of magpies walked over and started carolling along with it for a minute. The video is on a funny angle because I was levitating at the time.

I wish you could have seen the wind blowing in my hair along the lake. Oh, hang on, I took a video for you.

For a video of the wind blowing through my hair, please send $20 and a SSAE to your nearest favourite tree.

Clearly the National Capital Authority should pay me to serve as a wandering tourist attraction.

14 September 2011


Other than the gentlemanly pursuits of visiting my cobbler and my tailor this morning in preparation for my impending Grand Tour, I planted a bonsai garden. I am not sure what type of conifer these are. They were transplanted from the ground three weeks ago and seem to have survived with growth on the tips of their uppermost branches. I think they are doing well because of their size and retaining native dirt around their root base. I hope the one at bottom right grows crooked.

13 September 2011

More busy bees

Bees being busy

Geastrum triplex

Also called earthstar, collared earthstar, the saucered earthstar, or the triple earthstar.

Some use in traditional Chinese medicine, plus Native American Indian legend and medicine.

This fungus is found in hardwood forests where undisturbed acretions of detritus and leaf litter has had the chance to form a dense layer and make humus.

Widely distributed planetarily.

Still, I spend a fair bit of time under pine trees and I have never seen it before. Lack of low branches in urban areas increases the likelihood of the ground being disturbed and may even provide too much light. I would not be surprised if Kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum) was inimical to its continuity.

There was around seven or eight in a square metre at my site in Haig Park. About three metres from this flower.

I put these ones back where I found them, but was quite excited to find them. The spore sacs look a bit puckered where I touched them.

12 September 2011

Cracticus tibicen and other birdies

Lake Burley Griffin, Winter 2011
the young have grey chest plumage which will turn black with age
brown-eyed bird


Misunderstood birds at the ABC

Watch testing of the efficacy of helmet adornments in repelling magpies


Today I saw many birds do things for the first time in my yard:
  • Crimson Rosella drinking from the bird bath
  • A pair of Superb Fairy Wren (probably) in the bush next to my window
  • Unknown parrot in the bush over the other side of the stairs
  • Pied Currawong, with a yellow eye, walk along the rail of my balcony, check out the piece of pine I am wittling, eyeball my washing inquisitively and crap accurately on a succulent before flying away.
Three days ago, I saw a Willy Wagtail on the balcony also, so it is certainly spring, when all the birds like to sing.

I have to get better at identifying birds before I could take part in the survey which the reference Birds of Canberra Gardens is based on. The Braddon quadrant is sadly lacking in survey sites, including all of Haig Park. I wonder what the rules are to consitute a sighting.

I love that the scientific name of the Australian Pelican is Pelicanus conspicillatus. Despite my lack of bird-identification skills, I can confirm zero sightings of those in my courtyard.

11 September 2011

Corin Forest

I am so tired, I just completed an emergency afternoon nap following authorisation from head office.

I spent a day - it seems like longer in a good way - doing volunteer work at Corin Forest in preparation for Corinbank 2012.

Puruits included:
  • bonfire management
  • routine maintennce of a 25HP mill
  • gravel spreading
  • advanced strategic rock placement on muddy ground
  • tree saving
  • bush road formation
  • flute playing
  • pasta gobblance
  • testing the marshmallow tolerance of denim
  • considering the possible advantage of leather fronted denim
  • fireword chopping (rudimentary progress towards merit badge)
  • frog listening
  • waking up to wonder who was shining a light in my face at 3am, the moon through the window, a bigger, brighter face you'll never see
  • lichen loving
  • crumpeteering
  • photographating
  • fire tending
  • vacuuming - alas and praise Jesus, more than I do at home
  • marvelling at the relationship between my beloved pines, the mill and endless construction potential
  • foundation laying with concrete, timber and plum-bob square pants
  • water carrying

Wild flower

A teeny weeny tiny wild flower makes a spring appearance.

Haig Park, towards Turner.

08 September 2011

The song

Yesterday, in the afternoon, I played my flute as never before. While this is always true, I rarely feel my song is new. But this time, I was flying faster than I could remember ever doing so. When I play well -if I am any judge- the tune tells the story of my life; I feel my existence and all the events that cluster around my being released. Thoughts, good and bad, my choices, actions, they all leave me in deftly weaving sound.

My dancing fingers do not know exactly where they are going, just like I never know exactly where I am going. No. I sense, I follow, some modicum, the fleeting taste, of sweetness. I pursue beauty, not to catch it or own it - impossible; but to appreciate it, for I am a worshipper of beauty. In this way, all the notes return to their source to be reborn. On their journey, the right notes sounded will provide strength and succour, the other notes, set free, will find their place in a better song. Claiming this beauty, I approach the truth.

My song has not been written, it is not recorded anywhere, except perhaps as the entire potential of the universe for invention. I sense perhaps it is writ upon the walls of the heart of the creator, but this is a nonsense. Where do those walls start and end? Is there anything outside the heart of creation? Will not just the beat of one wing change the entire course of a flight? Here on earth, the seasons turn and ever turn. While hope lives and breathes in a single human heart, the earth-star, our sun, will hold its place. And the moon will call the waves to cleanse the sands of existence again and again. The bleak appearing day will surprise us by admitting a rainbow.

There is no final song, no fixed course, this is the nature of the song and its glory. Just so, I can pretend to know what I am doing, but my life is not mapped out. Anything else is pretense. I will take experience as a guide for further action, but I can never be sure of playing a perfect song. But I can try. And try to remember that the gaps are as important as the notes, the silences precious. Knowing when to be quiet makes the song.

Perhaps it is not a new song, but a very long tune instead. A song that has been since time began, a song that began time. Not my song, but the song I belong to. The orchestra of existence entire.

Sometimes I feel subtle mysteries and truths slip through my fingers.

07 September 2011

a pretty picture

I am working on a post of my day's adventure around Canberra, but in the meantime, I really like the colour and tone of this picture. It was taken in Waite Arboretum, but my disorganisation means I can not tell you what species it is.

Mahler Symphony No. 2

By the power of the shuffle granted unto me, today I heard the finale of this symphony for the first time. Below is probably the loudest version on youtube. You may, as I do, prefer Bernstein conducting, but it really needs to be heard loud.

Information on Mahler's Symphony No. 2

The original German and translation of the finale is pretty awesome. Only the Germans could have a word for 'piercer of all things' - Alldurchdringer.


Itsy Bitsy Spider part 2

By popular demand from my viewers who eagerly clamour for more.

(I hear you knocking on my door.)

Here are two shots of another spider in Waite Arboretum.

While it was suggested by Wojtek that my other eight-legged friend was performing the Salute to the Sun, this fellow appears to be weaving his web directly from the light of the dawn.

I am pretty sure it is an Orb Weaver, maybe the golden silk variety, but this could just be the gold of the new day's sun.

I am really happy when I make the chance to wander amongst nature and explore as the day begins. I recall singing that morning:

Itsy bitsy spider
Walked up the garden path,
Itsy bitsy spider
Had a friend called Alf,
Itsy bitsy spider
Had a little bath.

It's what real men do.

06 September 2011

Of bicycles, blooms and blossoms

Today was a grey, grey day. Persistent light raininess.

Prior to this, spring appeared to be well and truly establishing itself with many mild sun-filled days. I took to riding my bike in lyrca and tweed. But never at the same time of course. Long, pointless rides that wheeled around my favourite trees, dodging branches and revelling in the feel of the earth beneath my wheels.

Can you gambol on a bike? I gambolled; slowly, standing on my pedals, past the abundant globular inflorescences of rows of acacia or the plentiful blossoms of prunus. Often turning around to do it again. All the while imbibing the inimitable fragrance and view.

my impression of a wattle through a magnifying glass

My favourite type of blossom is the larger white one, with the crimson core. The Crimson Rosella is not so picky. They will colourfully pick every blossom off a tree to eat some part at the base. Fun when you are standing underneath the tree, strategically positioned so the petals fall on your face as they go about their destruction. Not so fun if you watch it destroy a future crop of apricot or peach in your own backyard.

I should have a photo of my favourite blossom, but technology failure saw me lose two weeks of phone data. It was like travelling back in time, to find truncated message chains and a whole series of photos no longer existed. As if these things never happened.

via Flickr

That reminds me. When I saw a Delorean driving along Northbourne Ave recently, I was desperate to communicate with the driver. Pulling up behind him at the lights, I was able to draw a quick sketch of a flux capacitor in my notebook and present it from my seat to his rear vision mirror. The driver noticed, was able to appreciate this palindrome of the circuit world and gave me a thumbs up.

To find a favourite blossom planting, head North from Civic along Northbourne Ave and shortly take a left onto Masson St. Then turn left onto Watson St. There is a dense planting of blossom trees. Only two rows, but they are very close together and quite young. The right height and width to be filled with their aroma when betwixt the rows if conditions are right.

Cleverly, there are two varieties planted there. Although the rain may have finished the pink ones today, there is a planting of another white variety in between. They were only just beginning to bloom a few days ago.

The blossom below was in Hahndorf, South Australia; August, 2011.

Itsy Bitsy Spider

Photographing flora and fauna can be a most frustrating experience. My favourite features of the natural world are small, delicate, hidden. Often by their own design. They can be difficult to find if you look for them, but sometimes they present themselves to the corner of the vision and the opportunity for appreciation and observation presents itself.

I do recommend that you take the time to watch a spider at work spinning a web. So fascinating. We bluster blithey through webs so often that it is not usually too hard a task to find a spider about its business. A morning fog of course helps to highlight arachnid architecture.

Otherwise and anyhow, go stand under a tree. Get close, get personal, near to leaves and branches. They are there. Practically everywhere. It may take a while, a change of your angle of sight perhaps, but be patient. We are not meant to see them anymore than their prey I suppose.

Once you have found one spider, your eyes will begin to tune to their presence. Then it is easy to see that they usually cluster in groups of sorts. Not so surprising when you rely on the wind for transport, have started out from the same place and are likely to encounter foilage fairly quickly on your journey. It is quite something to see a clutter of spiders all spinning in a square metre. (Both cluster and clutter are accepted as collective nouns for spiders, but cluster is more natural to me.)

This little felow was decorating a tree living in Waite Arboretum. Waite Arboretum is well worth a visit. Plenty of old trees, well-labelled.

So, yes, the size of smaller spiders, their own activity and particularly the wind makes it tricky to get a sharp picture of a spider, but sometimes it works out.

I am pretty sure he is doing morning calisthenics to wake up, but as always, click the image for a better view.

05 September 2011

If I were a carpenter

then this humble shelf would be professionally constructed.

Still, it is not going to break without a concerted beating and has rustic charm.

Scavenged wood, except for the two vertical pieces which was a spare shelf.