And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night…

“And he’s watchin’ us all with the EYE OF THE TIGERRRRRR!”

Which begs the question — how did the last known survivor get the eye off the tiger, and how is he utilising its ocular capabilities? More to the point, what’s the now one-eyed Tiger doing during all of this? If I were the last known survivor, I’d be watching out for one seriously peeved tiger, even if it does lack depth perception…Netguide October

The answer to all of these questions categorically cannot be found in the October issue of Netguide magazine, which is out now. Instead, you’ll find a whole bunch of my word-related activity; a comparative review of portable media players — yes, little Timmy, there is life beyond the iPod — along with a complimentary guide to converting your digital media for portable player compatibility. Standalone reviews include (deep breath): FloorPlan Remodel & Home Design 3D 11, GimpShop, MediaShop TunePlus for iPod Players, Mediagate MG350HD, Lexmark X7350, MSI StarCam 370i, eTrust Internet Security Suite 2006, Maxon Ethermax, TrendNET TEW-432BRP Wireless Firewall Router, Prey, Age Of Pirates: Caribbean Tales, AFL Premiership 2006 and Shinobido: Way Of The Ninja.

Sadly, there’s nothing about how to remove sensory organs from Panthera tigris, but that’s still a whole lot of value for only $4.95. Rush out and buy one today!

Administrivia

Well, I hope somebody likes the new(ish) look.

(warning: Some boring administrative whinging ahead. You have been warned)

The site transfer went reasonably well — I don’t seem to have lost any posts or comments, and the comment spamming that was killing the old site is now dealt with (fingers crossed).

Along the way, however, all the categories assigned to each post were lost. Many people would have shrugged and gotten on with their lives, but I’m a stubborn sod at the best of times, so I’ve just spent the best part of an hour re-editing each entry to give it a category back. The practical upshot of that is that I’ve just “read” the last year of my life.

Wow.

It’s been an.. interesting year, to say the least, filled with, for example, exploding appendixes, exploding hot water tanks, bad jokes, gratiutious shots of Anteaters, Delta Goodrem fans out for blood, Live Ants Being Boiled Out Of My Hair (where were the Anteaters then, hmm?) and even a near-death experience to boot. By far the shaping factor of the past year has been the long, slow trudge towards Luc’s birth — it certainly feels like he’s been around for more than his ten weeks, but then the thirty-seven weeks we waited for his arrival went even more slowly. To add to that, in his mere ten weeks he’s travelled hundreds of kilometres, visited granparents, godparents, old friends and shown a remarkable ability to fall asleep in anyone’s arms — except ours, of course.

One minor favour to ask of my more regular readership — can you try to put a comment in underneath this article? Doesn’t have to be anything deep — I just want to make sure the comments thing is actually working this time…

Destroy Ninety-Nine Percent of Known Household Pests with Pre-Sliced, Rustproof, Easy-To-Handle, Low Calorie Simpson’s Individual Emperor Stringettes!*

No, I’ve not been working too hard….

In my holidaying absence, however, CNET.com.au published a couple of reviews of mine:

Novonde NV-15 Personal Media Player: “There’s an apt but over-used phrase that describes the Novonde NV-15: it truly is a jack of all trades and master of none…”


Nokia E70: “There’s definitely a market for a BlackBerry-style phone without the inconvenience of the BlackBerry form factor, and the E70 fits the bill quite well.”

*As used in hospitals

Thriving in Armidale…

Hey, don’t blame me for the awkward post title — it’s the current advertising campaign for the town of my birth. You don’t believe me, do you?

Thrive in Armidale

See?

Anyway, we’re just back from two days in Armidale, city of my birth. A time to catch up with old friends, let the children play with the children of old friends — and that’s when you know that you’re getting really old — and do some photography. Specifically, I wanted to do a quick bit of photography of the bits of Armidale where I’d lived, or significant “stuff” had happened to me. Little was I to know that I’d end up doing it all rather quickly…

My photographic journey got off to a good start in the morning, as it so happens that the middle daughter of the friends we were staying with goes to the same preschool that I last attended in the 1970’s. So I grabbed an early morning lift and took a quick photo (of the buildings only — one looks rather odd as a man in his early thirties photographing children, and I wanted a trip down memory lane, not a trip to the prison cells of Armidale Police station…)

Hobbit House

Hobbit House hasn’t changed much. You can’t tell that from this awful photo (that’ll be a theme later on, so keep an eye out for it), but you can take my word for it. I’m an honest looking kind of guy… I think.

Later on — much later on, in fact, after lunching with a good friend of mine who I only recently got back in touch with, thanks to my brother getting wildly drunk — I knew we kept him around for a reason — we headed over to Di’s brother’s place, so that Zoe and James (and to a lesser extent, Luc) could play with thier uncle and Aunt.

Zoe. Pamela. Puppies. Michael in the background.

Zoe likes puppies. In fact, that’s an understatement — she’s OBSESSED with puppies. So visiting someone who breeds puppies is rather like having multiple Birthdays, all at once.

Uncles bruise easily

Plus, if you get bored, you can always just attempt to kill your Uncle. For the official Police record, Mick survived. Somehow.

While all this was going on, I headed around the corner, to:

ACPS

This was keeping things nicely chronological, as ACPS was where I did my primary schooling after attending Hobbit house. Now, those keen-eyed readers I’m always so fond of mentioning — yes, all three of you — may recall that I wrote a lengthy bit in my old blog about a tree at ACPS I used to play under as a nipper. I was very keen to see if I could grab a photo of it, and memory suggested that it should have been just to the right of this sign… but it wasn’t.

No tree. No tree at all :(

For the purposes of historical accuracy, I’ve drawn one in. Badly. Very badly. And to the wrong scale entirely. But that’s where it should have been, anyway.

By now, the day was getting away from me — it was 5pm, and the light was starting to fade. And I hadn’t photographed most of the places I’d lived, or my secondary schooling options. So, stopping briefly to save Michael’s life and drop the kids back where we were staying for all the joy of bath time, I set out on my own personal race against time. Two sides of the same town. Thirty minutes of available time left before the sun set and made my photos all but worthless.

First stop, the house in Kentucky Street where I lived for most of my Armidale time. Well, OK, we did live out of town for a long period of time, but time didn’t permit me to make the 20km trek to the Bundarra Road house (or, for that matter, the houses on the other out-of-town side where my father lived), so that had to be left behind, as were the house/houses that we lived in when I was truly tiny, as I’ve no idea where they were anyway, so their memory value for me was negligible.

A house with a blue roof. The stories it could tell. If it could. Which, of course, it can't.

Changes that I could spot were minimal, and the roof’s even been restored from the last time I saw it, when for some reason they’d painted the roof tiles orange.

Just round the corner, with about twenty-five minutes of light left, was the first of my secondary schools, Armidale High:

AHS

If I were to sum up my time at Armidale High — 1986-1987 — I’d use one word. And that word would be miserable. I hated my time at AHS. Loathed it, in fact, and it made me very depressed, a couple of years before I should have hit my normal teenage depression years. Why, exactly, I chose to photograph it is a mystery for the ages, but it’s a mystery that’ll have to wait, as I’ve now got about twenty minutes left, and most of what I wanted to shoot was over the other side of Armidale.

But first, a minor digression. When the people finally rise, riot and burn Armidale to the ground, only one building will be left intact. And it’ll be this one:

Neville's

You probably have to have lived in Armidale for some time to get that particular gag. It’s not a good joke, but I couldn’t resist it.

Anyway, my chronology of schooling/living falls to ruin here, as the next obvious photography target was a house in Rusden Street that I spent most of my first year of University (1993) in. A house that a good friend of mine at the time — where are you, Dominique Cowd? — described as being “The colour of baby poo”.

How right she was

How right she was. That’s our car in front, by the way. Walking models provided by Random Strangers Walking Through Armidale Streets Pty Ltd. A minor diversion here again: With one notable exception (which is my next stop), I had a number of people ask me what I was doing. The beauty of Armidale is that it could be answered (and in some cases, suggested by the enquiring party) with the words that it was a “University Thing”… and that seemed satisfactory. 🙂

Ahem. There’s about fifteen minutes left, tops. Round the corner and down the street to the house that Di and I rented in ’95 — I believe I did mention that the chronology was all out the window, didn’t I? — in Niagara Street.

Flats. Yesterday

Ours was the middle flat in this photo. I don’t think we left those cardboard boxes by the window, but anything’s possible. Anyhow, this was also the site of my only slightly nasty experience, as two shifty looking dudes in a ute pulled up and then spotted me taking photos. One of them looked very nervous all of a sudden, and they started having a classic “let’s-talk-under-our-breath-so-that-the-guy-who-I’m-sure-is-the-world’s-
weediest-undercover-cop-doesn’t-spot-we’re-talking”
type of chat. I looked at them, told them I was just taking a photo — why not tell the truth — and rather quickly drove away. Ten minutes of light left, and I headed around to the flats where I lived for most of my second year, what used to be called the Claude Street flats.

Claude Street. Yesterday

This is — or was — Flat 51. Technically, I paid rent on a room in the University Annexe — now a Backpacker’s hostel, and *cough* allegedly *cough* drug hotspot, so no change there — and in Flats 13 (for as short a time as possible) and Flat 4 — but if you wanted to find me on any given day, I’d be in Flat 51. At first, this was Chris Miller’s fault, as I’d be busy engaged in classic geek activities (remember: Be proud of your nerdy behaviour), but later in the year my reasons changed. Five years later, I married those reasons.

At that stage, I reckoned I had about five minutes of light left, and made a quick decision to nip up to the University to photograph the Arts building. So I did:

Yup, that’s the one.

Ramp

I have very long-term memories of the University, which kind of comes with the territory when your father’s a University lecturer. This photo was taken from a very distinct perspective, as I can recall as a very young nipper running up this ramp to visit my Father’s office — the French department was, if memory serves (I’ll prepare a space for Gus to correct me here, as it’ll save time) on the top floor, and his office was about 2/3rds of the way along).

I’ve now got about two minutes of light left. Thankfully, Armidale is pretty quiet by now (5:58pm), so I nip through the streets to:

Duval High

You can almost, but not quite, make out that it’s Duval High School. I was here from July 1990 to November 1992, and in stark contrast to my experiences at Armidale High, I had a great time here, and made some lifelong friends. Sure, I was still a somewhat repellent teenager (who wasn’t?), but I was at least a happier repellent teenager.

The light’s almost gone, but thanks to some road rearrangements — essentially, a terribly unsafe road at the bottom of Crest Road that wound through the lookout park had been closed without notifying me — saw me go past the lookout itself. So I popped out to grab a quick snap:

Armidale

The light was pretty much gone by now — this is the result of some heavy brightness adjustment, and I’m still not happy with it. But I’ll take what I can get.

After all that running around — well, OK, driving around — I figured I deserved a good meal. So that’s what was done, once the kids were in bed and a suitable nearby teenager found to look after them.

dinner

I know, it’s a pretty ordinary photo. Quick snapping will get you that.

Remember how earlier on, I said I’d made some lifelong friends at Duval High? Well, one of them was unlucky/unwise/silly enough to call herself my girlfriend for all of about two weeks, before very wisely dumping me. Like I said, I was a very repellent teenager, and it was the right decision at the time. Anyway, sixteen years later, at dinner, I exacted my terrible revenge:

Annalisa and Luc.

By dumping my newborn son in her lap. She didn’t seem to mind 🙂

Taking a drive down memory lane..

The more astute amongst my readership — yes, that’s all three of you — might have noticed that I haven’t updated much recently. There are reasons for this — some administrative, as the site transferred to a (hopefully more reliable) server, so I didn’t want to create too much content that could be lost mid-move — and some of a personal nature.

To be specific, I’ve been on holidays. Yes, I know, as a qualified* layabout… ahem.. Freelance Journalist, I’m not meant to ever be at work, or on holidays, but simply in some murky purgatory inbetween the two all of the time. But even I can take a few days off, or in this case, five.
First for the weekend, up to Iluka to visit Di’s grandmother (and thus logically, Zoe, James and Luc’s Great-Grandmother — so, naturally, she’s known as “Nanna”), and then over to Armidale, city of my birth. There’ll be a post up about that very shortly, but in order to get from Iluka to Armidale, we had to drive via Grafton and Glen Innes. Now, Glen Innes has a certain place in my heart as my Grandfather — well, one of them, as for complicated multi-marriage reasons, I have more than the normal compliment of Grandparents — was the Station Master at the now largely-defunct Glen Innes railway station. So while the kids played in one of Glen Innes’ truly beautiful parks, I went on a little drive down memory lane, towards a railway station and more specifically the stationmaster’s house, that I hadn’t in fact seen for more than twenty years.

(Amendment: My brother, who for reasons of Junketing, is in San Fransisco, tells me that it was exactly twenty-one years and two weeks ago that I was last in Glen Innes. I don’t feel inclined to disagree with him.)
Glen Innes isn’t that large a place, but I still grabbed a map from the tourist information people, and set out driving. I knew where I was going, but I was totally unprepared for the shock of effectively driving back twenty years in time. The photos don’t show it well — even for those of us who remember it — but I’d swear that just about nothing has changed.

What used to be the Station Master's residence at Glen Innes.

Mental note: It’s not a good idea to suddenly feel like a ten year old when you’re driving…
*OK, I got a qualification through a dodgy Internet University as Bachelor of Layabout. Nothing wrong with the ol’ B.L…

If you can read this…

Then the parts of your brain that process the written word are working properly. That’s important, you know — it just wouldn’t do to leave parts of your brain lying around, where the cat might eat them.

Also, it means that the site transfer has actually happened. I’m not laying big odds on that, actually.