Saturday, September 17, 2005

My stack of home video tapes are up to almost eleven years old, so I figured I should try and digitize them before they become unusable, and that precious footage of times past is gone forever. Of course I'd forgotten that I was in a Mad Beard phase when I started filming this and that, so there's some cringe-worthy moments to be seen. This stuff hasn't really been watched for a very long time, so it's a real pleasure, unfortunate facial hair aside, to see it again. This is me in October 1994 on Rye Beach, near Melbourne, where my parents, myself and girlfriend Kate went for an afternoon picnic. It's also the place where I filmed the end of my mum's nose moving when she talks, just to prove to her that it does, in fact, do so. The word "seven" got the biggest proboscal deflection :)

The other picture is of Simon Borda and myself - he used to be married to my cousin Marthese. Its nice to see I trimmed the beard for the party :) I had a beard for many years, though I can see why my wife very insistently says NO when I suggest growing it back again - firstly it doesn't grow evenly enough, and secondly I'd be terrible at maintaining it and soon look like a hermit again.

The process of getting these tapes saved is, as usual, a friggin' nightmare of incompatible cables, dodgy hardware and dying appliances. The video capture card was unseated in its PCI slot and thus refused to even show up as being installed in the PC. Opening up the PC to fix this led to a half-day crusade of wire untangling, USB hub replacing (three stops to find what I wanted, a seven port one), a VCR with a dodgy loading mechanism that now refuses to eject the tape. My 8mm tapes will play in my camcorder, but since I can't connect it directly to the PC I need to go via the VCR's line in, but it is so paralyzed with fear about the stuck tape, I can't even get it to change channels.

So the VCR will be taken to the repair shop on Monday, I'll buy an adapter so I can handle the 8mm tapes, then I'm buying a bloody digital video camera! Goodbye analog!

Friday, September 09, 2005

My friend Daniel, in a successful attempt to get me back on the web, challenged me to do the "Five Favourite Tracks" thing; so here's my choices:

Kings - The Church: This one is from the Priest=Aura album, from 1992. Its got a combination of what I love most about the Church: poetic lyrics ("And kings will come/and years will pass/stars burn cold/beneath the glass/and days will glow in distant time/in distorted haze/the zebras graze"), a measured heaviness in the rhythm section, and their trademark jangly guitars.

Othertime - Steve Kilbey: From his Unearthed album (1987), this is my favourite of Steve's "little songs", a short, descriptive, melodic and very singable song.

The Sun and the Rain - Madness: They were my favourite band until I found The Church, but I still love hearing their music: it's very English, a culture I was immersed in for a while as a child. It's an uplifting song that I finding myself quietly singing whenever I get caught in the rain.

2nd half of Before and After Science - Brian Eno: I can't choose just one song from these masterpieces of restraint. "Julie With", "By This River" and "Spider and I" have not one wasted syllable, and Eno's mastery of ambience doesn't need repeating.

Amarok - Mike Oldfield: OK, it's 60 minutes long, but it's still only one track! It's a pain in the ass to fast forward through, but why would you want to? It's a rhythmic, insanely melodic collection of tunes and guitar choppery. Oldfield's best, IMHO.

By the way, Daniel has become a great spokesman for public transport users in Melbourne - I'm proud of you, mate! As many of you know, the USA is not known as a country that values public transport: I hope Melbourne keeps investing in their system, which is (was?) a big part in making Melbourne one of the worlds most liveable cities.
I'm not sure why I stopped blogging so suddenly, but I think it's time to get back on board. We've just come out of a stressful few months, which sees us still waiting for settlement from the insurance company on damage to our house from last year's hurricanes. Also Deanne's car was in an accident and sat for about 6 weeks at the body shop before they even started work on it. After some yelling they agreed to rent a car for us, and it should be finished "any day now." We'll probably sell it right away, I think.

On a more positive note I've taken up archery as a hobby. It's a lot of fun and has put a bit of muscle on me! When I got started I had trouble pulling the bow back after just a few shots, but I can now get through a set of 50 arrows fairly easily. We meet at an indoor range called "Gators 'n Guns" every Monday night and shoot over a twenty yard range. I'm the only one there who doesn't also hunt for real; I'm just there for the exercise and trying to improve my aim. I'll take some pictures and post them here.

Work is going well - we just installed a new version of our Release of Information software at three hospitals, the highlight of which was spending a weekend in Las Vegas before the L.A install. I did something I'd always wanted to do: play craps in a Vegas casino! I gave myself a budget, which I stuck to, and though I ended up losing it all, I had a couple of streaks where I doubled my stake in short order. It's a good game to play once or twice, but, like all casino games, the odds are against you. I'll stick with playing it on my Nintendo DS from now on.