Love Without Violins



Keep coming back to this song.

I like the vibe up until the key change, then I find myself kinda intrigued by Brian Eno's lyrics.

Neko Neve



Burnie Courts

I lived at Burnie Courts in the suburb of Lyons while finishing my first degree in Canberra during the late 1990s.

By then it was increasingly unoccupied. The block that I was in had tenants in half the apartments and then they weren’t replaced as people like my elderly neighbour Dave moved on.

Burnie Courts had a reputation for drugs and it was deserved. Even though there were no longer people openly dealing while I was living there, it still saw a lot of traffic from people hoping to score.

You can see an example of the reputation in this mural that once adorned the bus interchange at the nearby Woden shopping centre. That “25” above the $ sign that serves as the S in Courts reflects the price for a gram of marijuana. It amused me almost as much as the graffiti that later appeared saying "South Central Niggas" like it was the name of a gang.

One night a young woman passed out in front of my door. I checked on her occasionally and could see she was still conscious enough to be wary of me. After a couple of hours she moved on after showing no interest in joining me for a cup of hot chocolate.

Things were relatively quiet there until after about a year, then I was burgled three times in six months and my insurer refused to continue covering my contents. There were also nights when you’d hear windows being broken, which was very unsettling.

Friends would visit for a meal and comment how it was hard to believe I lived at the Courts. It was one of those lessons for me about how much a living room remains a living room. I think I could furnish a room anywhere and be relatively happy because much of what sustains me takes place within my head.

Burnie Courts have since been demolished and replaced with housing that blends a better ratio of public, elderly and private tenants.

NGA Sculpture Garden

While I'm thinking about the National Gallery of Australia's Sculpture Garden, here's a pic of me taken there in 1994.

It remains one of my favourite spots to visit at odd hours in Canberra, particularly as the lighting at night always plays tricks with my eyes and I start to imagine the sculptures moving.

Recently I returned to record Fiona Hall's magical fern garden.

Rodin and I

Saw this pic having fun with Auguste Rodin's The Shade this week.

It brought to mind this pic taken in 1998 with some of The Burghers of Calais at the National Gallery of Australia, which appeared in the ANU's student newspaper Woroni.

Elvis is not available right now

When I shared an Elvis cover recently, it was part of a couple of other conversations about the late singer.

My friend Dave recommended another song, which turned out to be off-limits according to Youtube.

Around the same time, my friend Narelle was visiting from Parkes, a town that has had around 25 Elvis festivals.
She said that, while not a fan of Elvis, she'd appreciated the opportunity to see some of the lesser-known Elvises.

For example, inclement weather had led to sighting dozens of rain-dampened Elvises and strong winds one year had produced a grouping of the rarely seen dust-blown Elvis.

Ice in glasses

Fires and heat

Ever since newspapers have cut back roles like sub-editing, it's become commonplace to find typos.

So I've had to look for spelling mistakes that add something more to the subject matter, such as those that work with the theme of the piece -- perhaps subconsiously.

Which is why I like this one, where the word 'heat' has been used instead of 'head' to follow the discussion of campfires.

Return of the King


Seems appropriate for Easter ;)

Functional alcoholic

Pablo Picasso’s noon

the palms keep vigil over the tired countryside. orange trees bear clusters of golden sun ripened in the red noon. cypress clean clouds from the azure where insects glimmer, sparks born of incandescent sunlight. i listen to the rhythm of silence scented by fabulous blossoms. and my spirit is drawn towards these heavy desires that haunt the coolness of shade.

Didn't know that one of the 20th Century's most famous artists also turned his hand to poetry before my partner showed this to me last night.

She was looking for material for a cut-up poetry workshop that will be at Pioneer Park Museum's 46th Action Day this Good Friday.

It's interesting how much the description matches the Riverina landscape, which I guess is part of the reason why this part of Australia has thrived with Mediterranean influences.

The cypress pines that were widespread on the sandy loam of the floodplains aren't the same cypresses of Europe but must have been recognised as such, much like the Australian magpie is a distinctly different bird to the European variety.

Orange trees thrive here under an intense summer sunlight that, again, must share character with that of southern Europe. Walter Burley Griffin drew comparisons with Spain when he designed the town of Leeton, drawing in a bandstand in the centre of town:
The central Town Square, with refreshing shaded promenades, fountains, pool, and music, can set a standard that will tend to induce a high plane of attractiveness in private shows and places of amusement and refreshment that must compete where they do not collaborate. Perhaps the good old afternoon band concerts of the Spanish towns may be revived here, where the environment and the temperament of the people are so well suited.

Animal in a predicament

Recently I was introduced to the Facebook page Animals in Predicaments and have been amused by the sometimes surreal images and GIFs they share.

Just now while reading news websites, I saw this image from a story about a program to return pandas to the wild in China and wondered how long before it appears on their page.

The photograph is by Ami Vitale and has been shortlisted for a Sony World Photography award.

Simple trick to reduce power bills

In recent months there's been much discussion in Australian media on whether the national energy grid can meet demand.

A variety of commentators have weighed in, even Elon Musk contributed to the mix of options of available.

One thing that seemed to be missing from the flurry of words was discussion of how to reduce power consumption.

I am an energy miser and in the habit of turning everything off when it doesn't need to be on, which is one reason why you can't call me when I'm not home. (Another is I rarely answer the phone.)

Two things have contributed to reducing my electricity bills.

The first was buying a new fridge. I didn't realise the efficiency gains made in recent years, so when I was forced to replace my old fridge I saw a benefit in following months.

The second tip is more relevant, as people don't want to spend money to save money: turn down the thermostat on your hot water heater.

I can't remember where I read it but it was while living in a rental property, so it's a good tip for everyone.

Just head over to your hot water heater, look for a cover that's likely to be held down with one screw near the base of the unit.

You'll likely find a variable dial and it may even have temperatures written on it.

Turn the hot water heater down to around 55°C to 60°C.

It'll still feel hot but maybe not scalding hot. If you need hotter water while washing dishes, boil the kettle or microwave as much as you need.

If you're a parent there's an added bonus in that, should a child turn on the hot water tap in the bath, they are less likely to suffer severe burns.

Bladerunner poster

Saw this poster for Bladerunner and it's so beautiful that it jars with my memory of the grittiness of the film.

Grief

It doesn't seem so long ago that I wrote about being haunted by the image of a Syrian refugee holding his dead child.

This week I've had a number of reminders as this photo seemed to follow me around on my online travels.

I tried googling to find the name of the photographer and found many images of Syrian fathers holding dead children.

I've heard that throughout the 20th Century it was mothers who played a significant role in movements against wars and think these images of father grieving the loss of their children are worth reflecting on if humans are ever going to move beyond violence.

Mixed signals

Late last century a friend of mine was working in the public service in Canberra.

Specifically he was working in the Department of Defence, though somewhat unhappily. One day he showed me an internal mail bag marked Defence Signals Directorate.

It didn't mean anything to me, so he explained that the Signals Directorate were a secretive part of the Australian military that were often unacknowledged as their role was intercepting foreign communications.

These days they're better known, particularly after the 2013 news they had overheard conversations between then Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife.

Anyway, this morning I remembered the DSD mail bag when I saw this advert appear on Facebook.

Funny thing was that as soon as I got the screenshot it vanished from beside my news feed.