Bloody typical, can't see a taxi when I need one 

MIDI camera

Woke from a dream with this image in my mind

Can’t remember the scene now, but there was a group of people.

Someone was using a camera and I noticed it had a MIDI input.

As my mind pondered why they’d want to record MIDI information, it occurred to me they’re a spy.

It was a spy camera for stealing music! 

Warmest greetings

Festive season goatse

Asimov's Laws in RoboCop


By Annie Riehl

Sign of endtime

At work I was asked to make a sign that said the 24-hour toilet was closing

Happy with the result, although in hindsight I wish I'd slipped in the phrase "for a good time..." or some shitty pun.

Riverina views

These paintings by Sharon de Valentin amused me

Two locations almost 200km apart that could be a 'spot the differences' activity.

The subtleties of the western Riverina landscape. 


You can buy these stickers for only 50c each at Griffith Regional Art Gallery

It's never been easier to buy a cheap gift and support local arts. 

Wrong Wright review

Been looking forward to seeing Edgar Wright's new film, Last Night In Soho

I decided to skip reading David Stratton's review in The Weekend Australian today, so that I didn't spoil it.

Then I noticed that he appears to give the film zero out of five.

This is disappointing as normally I rate David's reviews.

So I looked at the beginning and end of his piece and it seemed to be positive. 

Think the newspaper might've missed that detail. 

The Darkness

Bought this coffee because it was on special

Unfortunately, it isn't so special.

The packaging is something else though.

It's like a coffee for fans of HP Lovecraft! 

Nothing lasts

Last night I charged my waterproof camera with plans to take pics at the pool.

This morning I found it wouldn't work. 

It was frustrating, then I reflected on how long I'd had the camera and realised it'd provided a lot of fun over eight or nine summers. 

 Of course, the features on the newer cameras look so much better. 

Now I can't wait to take the replacement I've ordered to the pool next week.

Don't mask, don't tell

It's an interesting situation to work in an office in NSW at the moment

Masks aren't required if you're vaccinated, but an employer can't force employees to declare their vaccination status.

Break the silence

Recently I worked with Narrandera's Domestic Violence Advisory Committee to produce this video

They provided a script and the version above was the edit made to meet the minute-long limit on Instagram.

Published poem

My haiku sequence (or rensaku) musing on time travel and the Murrumbidgee River was recently published in this anthology

Scarred tree

I'm no expert but I am becoming more confident in being able to spot a cultural scar on a tree

Been meaning to photograph this one between Matong and Narrandera for a while, but it's in a 110km/h zone. 

When I saw the tape on it yesterday, I thought I'd better stop and document it.

How to Weave Haiku with Fay Aoyagi

Last weekend Naviar Records ran a webinar about haiku

I arrived late due to the early morning start and felt as though I was catching up.

Fay offered interesting perspectives, bridging cultural divides as a Japanese woman who lives in America. 

I like to think that if I'd been more awake I would've asked about the challenges in translating haiku.

Shifting meaning between languages when constrained by the short form of this style of writing must present many problems and I expect she would have adopted different solutions over the course of her career. 

Some of her advice addressed how foreign writers approach haiku and my notes captured:

  • Avoid making the last line a statement.
  • Almost no one uses “I” in haiku and some Japanese translators omit it.
  • Some editors view the use of “I” as senryu.
  • Haiku editors are looking for a surprise, particularly the cutting word.

One comment overheard from the audience was that writing "I" would be a waste of four characters in Japanese in writing watashi wa, which led me to ponder how brushstrokes would be a creative constraint.

Another commentator asked if the shift away from the individual reflected that "Japanese are a 'we' culture, whereas Europeans are a 'me' culture" and it left me wondering about the character of haiku in the 21st Century.

I expect that Zen Buddhism and Shinto played significant roles in shaping Japanese culture, whereas Christianity gives Europeans a different outlook.

As a form of verse haiku has adapted much better than some European traditions, but then again, I don't look for Japanese playwrights working in iambic pentameter or poets writing sonnets in languages other than English. (Although, maybe I should. This could be an interesting development!)

Anyway, it led me to ask how the Japanese view the interest of foreigners in their art, which led webinar host Marco to quip in the chat that it was probably like how Italians viewed international pizza. (I resisted the urge to shock him with my recipes!)

I also had a comment to ask how the seasonal reference might be understood, given that different parts of the world have different experiences of seasons.

Fay had shown examples where the seasonal reference in Japanese haiku was subtle imagery like winter vegetables, as well as the better known images of the autumn moon or spring-time blossoms.

I observed that I'd recently encountered an idea that Japanese recognised micro-seasons in the form of 72 five-day periods over a year, which led Fay to recognise that was from one book and that Japanese generally viewed four seasons like the west.

She acknowledged that seasonal references might require additional context and was encouraging, saying that if a writer presents a scene that is interesting, a haiku judge will be moved to research.

I've been interested in the local Wiradjuri idea of six seasons and feel there's a definite need for a poet (or anyone) to recognise their place in the landscape. (It's ridiculous but I often see complaints from farmers in my region about water going to the environment, as if they're somehow separate.)

It was this process of describing how nature affects the poet that Fay described as a third characteristic of haiku, after the cutting-word and seasonal reference.

Her observations provided insights into the culture that informs haiku.

How hard it is to have eyes and to see only the visible?

Sometimes on days when the light is perfect and exact,

When things are real as they can possibly can be,

I ask myself slowly

Why I ever attribute

Beauty to things.

Is a flower beautiful?

Is a fruit perhaps beautiful?

No: they merely have color and form

And existence.

Beauty is the name given to something that does not exist

The name I give to things in exchange for the pleasure they give me.

It means nothing.

So why do I say of things: “They’re beautiful”?

Yes, even I, who live only to live,

Even I am not immune to the invisible lies men say

Of things.

Of things that simply exist.

How hard it is to have eyes and to see only the visible?

by Fernando Pessoa

The Complete Works of Alberto Caeiro

New Directions Books, 2020

First Council For Third Year

Normally my eyes glaze-over when it comes to financial statements and I sometimes joke that I'm innumerate.

However, recently I challenged myself to find a news story in this subject:

For the third consecutive year, Narrandera Shire is the first General Purpose Council in New South Wales to submit its audited financial statements.

Given there are over 120 councils, this is an accomplishment that reflects a coordinated effort.

“It’s an achievement across the whole organisation,” said George Cowan, General Manager of Narrandera Shire Council.

“Once again the Shire demonstrates its fiscal responsibility and, even more importantly, the Council’s overall financial position is reflected in the reports as sound.”

This means Council is well-equipped to meet the reasonable needs of residents into the future.

“Thank you to everyone who assisted by submitting invoices, providing information, attending to requests, etc.

"It really is a team effort and without your help this would be difficult to achieve,” wrote Bec Best, Finance Manager, in her email to staff.

The Finance team achieved a timely and unqualified audit result, with the Auditor General confirming “no significant audit issues or observations were noted during my audit of the Council’s financial statements.”

“The process is comparable to landing a Boeing 747,” said Martin Hiscox, Council’s Deputy General Manager Corporate & Community.

“The timeline is determined months in advance followed by a process of checks and hold points to ensure you arrive at the scheduled time.”

Each council in the state has four months after the end of the financial year on 30 June to submit their Financial Statements to the NSW Auditor General, and in recent years Narrandera Shire has delivered its Statements document in about half that time.

“We have very good systems, and all the members of the staff contribute to meeting the milestones at the dates established with the Auditor,” said Mr Hiscox.

“The focus from the statements demonstrates the operating result for the year and the capacity of Council to operate into the future and meet its longer-term financial obligations.”

This includes achieving all financial benchmarks, except for the “own source revenue” target of 60%.

“We have limited control over our rates and revenue; however, Council has achieved funding through other external streams, predominantly grants, which has skewed this result.”

Much of this funding contributes to maintaining roads, which are the largest category by value, at around half of all assets held by Narrandera Shire.

The Financial Statements also show the renewal/replacement of $9 million in assets, as well as construction worth $8.7 million in new assets.

“It is something of a double-edged sword. Creation of new assets leads to new obligations for operating and maintaining them,” said Mr Hiscox.

However, Council balances the expectations of the community with financial capability and extensive planning.

The audited Financial Statements will be presented to councillors at the meeting on 21 September.

During the public forum prior to that Council meeting there will be presentations from the NSW Audit Office reviewing the Financial Statements and the Audit, Risk and Improvement Committee Annual Report presented by the Committee Chairperson Mr John Batchelor.

Nowhere Man

Today I helped my son with his music assessment

He wanted to make a recording of The Beatles' 'Nowhere Man' and it took me about 15 minutes to find the MIDI track to make the backing track.

We recorded four takes and two became background vocals, while the lead was the last take.

Then I looked around to find some video to accompany the song, so I could put it online.

Friends are a blessing


Unfortunate news


How I feel


It's not okay

R U OK? is a suicide prevention charity in Australia, encouraging all of us to notice the signs of mental health struggle in friends, family, and colleagues

I've never really understood why Australians need a marketing campaign to ask people about well-being on one specific day of the year.

This year I noticed the graphic had inserted the word "really" into the message and it seemed like an acknowledgment that the idea had become tired.

I think it can be retired in 2021 because it's not okay.

One fundamental issue with asking the question is whether a person is ready to hear an answer other than the default "I'm fine."

Are you okay with having a person unburden themselves then and there with whatever issues they have been bottling up all year?

Are you okay with hearing that someone you know has been considering self-harm?

Are you okay with looking like you need some script to relate to other people?

Living in regional Australia it's clear there's a shortage of services to address mental health concerns.

R U OK? seems to highlight the gap between people in the cities who develop these marketing campaigns and those in the country who have to make a commitment to drive somewhere to find a public health facility that actually have staff.

The past is a foreign country

Don't brine a knife to a gunfight


Sunrise at Fivebough Swamp

Jo and I ventured out to start collecting audio recordings in anticipation of a project. 

The sounds of swan wings slapping the swamp as they take flight, deep croak of a bullfrog, growl of a mother as we pass her nest and the weird stereo effect of reed warblers distributed across the landscape.

They say

They say 

Youtube is obnoxious

"Youtube will make you watch an ad before you can see a video showing how to CPR," my son observed when I showed him this meme.

Given the conversations I've had with my kids about the advertising they see, I wouldn't be surprised if it were a promotion for alcohol that one was forced to watch before learning to save a life.

It seems outrageous that Youtube can push those adult products at my children.

Broadcasting services based within Australia have to observe the expectations of the community and alcohol advertising stopped long ago.

Then again. even the way the service has started streaming multiple ads at the start of videos seems obnoxious to me.

Youtube is the dominant platform and a small country like Australia probably has little influence on shaping their practices.

It's disappointing that the focus of our government seems to have been on maintaining market share for Rupert Murdoch.

Pick up the phone

Lockdown is hard

I hadn't understood how hard, although I have had conversations with people going through their seventh stay-at-home orders in Melbourne.

Being at home with my family has mostly been okay, aside from a few arguments over resources like the television and figuratively stepping on each other's metaphoric toes.

Recently I heard there's been a massive spike in cases of self-harm presenting at hospital emergency departments and wondered how to help.

At work on Monday I asked the Mayor if he'd consider making a short video.

We workshopped a script and what you see is mostly his fourth take.

Penguin flavoured chips

At least that's how they look, right? 

They're actually chicken flavoured but I can pretend they might be penguin, although I'd guess the latter would have a distinct taste from their diet and environment.

The TV ad for this brand is pretty wild too

Phoney noises

I don't like mobile phones

Being long-sighted and having man-hands mean that I find the interface frustrating to use.

They sound terrible too.

The ringtones might be polyphonic but the speaker still sounds like a shrill piece of plastic.

However, I recently returned to full-time work and they insisted I'd need one.

One of the IT guys couldn't believe I didn't have a phone, but I wasn't going to list the ways an iPhone had disrupted my life five years earlier -- especially since he was clearly an Android user.

The phone they gave me has been useful for the demands of checking-in at supermarkets, now that COVID-19 contact tracing is part of our lives.

And it's quicker to see if there's an email waiting for me, although I will use a computer to reply.

The phone makes strange noises at times and I haven't learned what they mean.

I've disabled a lot of the apps but some of them still seem to announce themselves.

Anyway, last week the Disquiet Junto project asked for a transformed sound and I thought I'd try to improve the ringtone of the mobile phone.

I've slowed it down and replaced the instrument with a piano that has a lot of character.

There might be a way that I could use this piece as the ringtone, but I worry that might change my relationship with the mobile phone.

I've seen how addictive these things can be.

Play Music On The Porch Day

I recorded this version of my song 'Blue Moon' for Play Music On The Porch Day, which is an initiative that I've involved myself in during previous years.

Untiring zeal

Have zealots given zeal a bad name?

I don't know the background to this plaque sitting in my office, but it's given me an appreciation for how the word zeal might have a different connotation now than whenever Ms Campbell was writing for the ages.

Droning on

Sitting in the sun yesterday, wearing underwear and reading

Listening to the drone of lawnmowers and whipper-snippers, when I looked up and realised there was also the drone of a drone hovering over the neighbour's yard and panning around.

If I had a bottle, I might've recreated this shot but I wasn't going to throw my book.

When I studied TV production I realised that the role of a camera is to privilege the viewer. 

Now there are so many more cameras around, it seems that privilege has grown too. 

The thing that shits me is it is privileged and the person fixated on the view doesn't have to deal with whine. 

All the amazing drone videos I've seen use a soundtrack or post-production audio, whereas real life is living with the dentist drill-like drone of a drone. 

Enjoying the song of blackbirds



Missing the library

Saturday mornings usually hold a bike ride to the library to read newspapers and talk with other old blokes 

Stuck at home today due to "lockdown" but still can't bring myself to buy The Australian, even though I try to read it ironically.

I like the horoscopes and the Review section but also find it amusing to read their Coalition spin and attempts at agenda setting. 

Up to a point though, some of their agendas trample over the lives of marginalised people and leave me feeling angry.

Reason to stay at home

There are stay at home orders in place at the moment

The spread of the delta variant of Covid-19 is concerning. 

However, it's nearly time for another airbourne threat to emerge: swooping magpies.

The video below is from 2012, when I paid my son $10 to get swooped.

Gold-plated turd

Somethings can't be unseen

When Facebook shows me this ad I keep seeing a gold-plated turd in a toilet bowl. 

Putting the cart before the plague

My federal member had a curious turn of phrase in a recent email, where she described lockdowns as a plague

Restrictions and lockdowns have plagued our communities, particularly those on our NSW/Vic border, for more than a year. These have been frustrating, socially disruptive, and economically devastating.
I like how it somehow innocently inverts the response for the cause.

Elsewhere in her text it was ensured that every measure of human life and health was qualified with an economic indicator.

By ramping up the vaccine rollout and working together, we are can be confident in getting the current outbreaks under control and continue to grow our economy.

It speaks to how the Coalition can't help but put their economic cart ahead of the horse, but unfortunately they won't see those horses are actually people. 

History repeating

Recently I returned to full-time work

It's a maternity-relief role, although it doesn't involve directly assisting a pregnancy. 

The role actually involves communicating for local government and it's surprising that it's been a decade since I thought I'd left that career.

This time I seem to be in a happier organisation and I know my role is a supporting one, rather than trying to change a culture.

One thing I did this week was make a video for social media and it's been fun to see the response.

It was also fun to work with Emily, since it's kinda strange how we knew each other years ago and both ended up in the Riverina working for a small council.

Eels and octopi

Having kids in high school is helping me to appreciate there's a remarkable to shift in attitudes that's rippling through society

I'm thinking about the distinctions between gender and sexual identity.

It doesn't seem so long ago that I was considering these topics at university, particularly within units offered by anthropology and womens studies departments.

Yet I trip up on the contemporary language being used all the time.

And I can see how alienating it is for a generation older than me, particularly when a local member makes quips about not wanting any gender fluid in schools.

It's easy to pose inflexible ignorance as a conservative default.

My kids have varied perspectives and it's amazing to me how much more accepting their cohort is when people identify outside of the heteronormative paradigm.

Particularly when the language used to describe seemingly innocuous distinctions like male and female toilets in regional Australia will often be loaded with class-influenced terms like gents and ladies.

I wonder if there's scope for new euphemisms to recognise the shift in attitudes?

Eels and octopi


Last year I observed that telecommunications software might have a positive influence on the discussion

I was prompted by experiences using Zoom, which included undertaking activities like workshops and even a life-drawing class (which was kinda surprising since everyone had the same view).

My musing included a tongue-in-cheek idea that Zoom (or Skype or Teams) might undermine patriarchy in the workplace, as:

...laptop speakers and mobile phones are terrible for those deep, masculine voices which would normally evoke authority and promote physical dominance.

Big rat with Nokia for scale
While reading just now I've been forced to realise the idea that telecommunications might be unmanly is not a new idea: who spoke clearly over the phone might come across as feminized. In one 1895 romantic story, when a man speaks through a telephone, his voice “became very soft…and very distinct,” even “cooing.”

Sniping in the headlines

It's the 21st Century yet the Sydney Morning Herald choose to focus on a candidate's relationship status in this headline

And it's a relationship status with a disgraced former state premier, which makes it seem like an attempt to discredit her before she even gets the opportunity to run for election.

Five Flying Things

Here's a playlist of videos that aim to provide ideas for creative play for carers of children stuck at home

These were produced with assistance from the NSW Government through Create NSW and Western Riverina Arts.

Please click here to see the full series

Early Song by Erin Nolte

Bought this painting at an exhibition some years ago and it's remained central to our lives ever since 


Last weekend my daughter introduced our family to the TV show 'Criminal Minds' and it has prompted some reflection for me

For a while now I've been forcing my family to share a single screen on Sunday nights.

Initially I'd pick movies for us to watch but in recent years we've been taking turns to pick and it's led to some interesting choices, like the documentary 'Feels Good Man'.

My daughter is often the least-likely to have a film planned to watch, so when she suggested 'Criminal Minds' we opted to watch a TV show.

It's a slick production and the self-contained episodes move at a fast pace to establish and solve a police procedure drama.

The term "unsub" is a contraction they use for unknown subject.

Unsurprisingly it's been a popular and long-running show, but I've only just encountered it since I watch very little commercial television.

In the following days we've watched more episodes and it's led to conversations about the fascination with serial killers, as well as discussions about psychology.

I should mention that in recent weeks I've had a few unsuccessful job interviews, which isn't surprising since I'm not currently working and have a history of shortish periods in employment.

(Shortish being around two years, which doesn't feel short but I'm living in a region where people seem to stay longer in those jobs.)

Anyway, I was given reason to pause and reflect while watching the episode "L.D.S.K." when they gave this description in the profile talk to local law enforcement:

"He has no friends and his career history has been marked by frequent job changes.

"He’s drawn to high-stakes jobs by a need to prove his superiority to a world he perceives has undervalued him."

It made me wonder about some jobs that I've applied for that my partner has questioned whether I'd be happy if I got them.

It made me wonder if my recent spate of job applications was spurred by feeling undervalued.

I'm going to try and be more humble and recognise when I seek validation.

Tuckerbil Swamp

While Fivebough Wetland is promoted as Leeton's premier birdwatching site, Tuckerbil Swamp is also remarkable and a great place to see brolgas

That Tuckerbil isn't considered accessible to the public is part of the reason why you won't get directions at the local visitor information centre and there's often cattle on the land nearby, as well as hazards like dumped metal and concrete.

Nearby Koonadan Historic Site testifies to the ongoing connection the Wiradjuri people have with the Riverina landscape and there are many scarred trees around the region.

You can see two coolamon-shaped scars on the tree shown here and it's likely that Tuckerbil supported a settlement before the Frontier Wars in the 18th Century.

The video below discusses the human remains that were found at Koonadan in the late 20th Century.

the softness of the earth

the softness of the earth

marshmallow in the palm of my hand

beneath the pale earth

the leaves of the forest floor

I’m here to watch

the trees change to a light

swirly, delicate green

beneath the greyed-out moon

of the night sky

the softness of the earth

lend me your ears

with the music of the tree

when it becomes night the

forest starts again

the trees take my place

they bring me life

with a sweet blend of light

the rain comes slowly