Nostalgia and the Classic Mac OS

I’ve been a Mac user my entire life, originally just because my dad used them at his work and so bought them for home as well. My earliest memories are of him bringing his SE/30 home and playing around in MacPaint. We also had an Apple IIe that we got second-hand from my uncle that lived in my bedroom for a few years, though that doesn’t count as a Mac.

The first Mac my dad bought for us at home was the LC II in 1992 (I was 9!), and I can remember spending hours trawling through Microsoft Encarta being blown away at just how much information I could look up immediately. I also remember playing Shufflepuck Café and Battle Chess, and I’m sure plenty of others too that didn’t leave as large an impression. There was also an application that came with the computer called Mouse Practice that showed you how to use a mouse, and we had At Ease installed for a while as well until I outgrew it.

After the LC II we upgraded to the Power Macintosh 6200 in 1995, which among other things came with a disc full of demos on it including the original Star Wars: Dark Forces (which I absolutely begged my parents to get the full version of for Christmas, including promising to entirely delete Doom II which they were a bit disapproving of due to the high levels of gore), and Bungie’s Marathon 2: Durandal (which I originally didn’t even bother looking at for the first few months because I thought it was something to do with running!). Marathon 2 was where I first became a fan of Bungie’s games, and I spent many many hours playing it and the subsequent Marathon Infinity as well as a number of fan-made total conversions too (most notably Marathon:EVIL and Tempus Irae).

The period we owned the 6200 also marked the first time we had an internet connection as well (a whopping 28.8Kbps modem, no less!). The World Wide Web was just starting to take off around this time, I remember dialing into a couple of the local Mac BBSes but at that point they were already dying out anyway and the WWW quickly took over. The community that sprang up around the Marathon trilogy was the first online community I was really a member of, and Hotline was used quite extensively for chatting. Marathon Infinity came with map-making tools which I eagerly jumped into and made a whole bunch of maps and put them online. I was even able to dig up the vast majority of them, there’s only a couple of them that I’ve not been able to find. I have a vivid memory of when Marathon:EVIL first came out, it was an absolutely massive 20MB and I can recall leaving the download going at a blazing-fast 2.7KB/s for a good two or three hours, and constantly coming back to it to make sure it hadn’t dropped out or otherwise stopped.

After the Marathon trilogy, Bungie developed the realtime strategy games Myth: The Fallen Lords and its sequel Myth II: Soulblighter, both of which I also played the hell out of and was a pretty active member of the community in.

After the 6200 we then had a second-gen iMac G3 then a “Sawtooth” Power Mac G4 just for me as my sister and I kept arguing about who should have time on the computer and the Internet. 😛 The G4 was quite a bit of money as you’d imagine, so I promised to pay it back to dad as soon as I got a job and started working.

macOS (formerly Mac OS X then OS X) is obviously a far more solid operating system, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the Classic Mac OS even with its cooperative multitasking and general fragility. We got rid of the old Power Mac G4 probably eight years ago now (which I regret doing), and I wanted to have some machine capable of running Mac OS 9 just for nostalgia’s sake. Mum and dad still had mum’s old PowerBook G3 and I was able to get a power adapter for it and boot it up to noodle around in, but it was a bit awkwardly-sized to fit on my desk and the battery was so dead that if the power cord wasn’t plugged in it wouldn’t boot at all.

There was a thread on Ars Technica a few months ago about old computers, and someone mentioned that if you were looking at something capable of running Mac OS 9 your best bet was to get the very last of the Power Mac G4s that could boot to it natively, the Mirrored Drive Doors model. I poked around on eBay and found a guy selling one in mint condition, and so bought it as a present to myself for my birthday.

Behold!

Power Mac G4 MDD

Dual 1.25GHz G4 processors, 1GB of RAM, 80GB of hard disk space, and a 64MB ATI Radeon 8500 graphics card. What a powerhouse. 😛

There’s a website, Macintosh Repository, where a bunch of enthusiasts are collecting old Mac software from yesteryear, so that’s been my main place to download all the old software and games that I remember from growing up. It’s been such a trip down memory lane, I love it!

Tea, five years later

I’d posted back in May of 2013, just before we moved into our house, that I was really enjoying my nighttime cuppa, and nearly five years later we’re now at the point where we have an entire shelf of our pantry that has nothing but tea on it!

Our selection of tea

We’ve got a handful of loose-leaf teas, but I tend to forget about them because they’re buried at the back and it’s a bit of a pain to clean up afterwards. A cup of herbal tea after dinner is glorious, especially when the weather has cooled down. The brand “Celestial Seasonings” has quite a few very tasty ones, and we’ll frequently pick up a new interesting-looking type when we’re out at the shops too (hence the whole shelf of tea that we now have).

I still don’t tend to drink a lot of black tea, mostly because it’s not caffeinated enough compared to coffee, but we discovered McVitie’s digestive biscuits thanks to a British documentary series (called “Inside the Factory”) about how they’re made, and ohmygod they’re so good dunked in a nice hot cup of black tea! 👌

Christmas 2017

Christmas and Boxing Day this year were pretty great. My sister and her husband and kids were able to make it up from Nowra again, so we had the family Christmas at my parents’ place with everyone. My niece Arya, now three and a half, is GODDAMN ADORABLE. She’s totally happy to just go off and play by herself, and there wasn’t a single tantrum the whole time we were there either. Lily and Scarlett were happy to hang out with each too and got along very well.

It was interesting to see that Scarlett’s reading is definitely not at the same level as Lily’s was at the same age… Lily was eight when I posted this but she was absolutely tearing through pretty much everything, whereas Scarlett was struggling a little to read the jokes inside the Christmas crackers.

Beanie was terrific, he mostly just wandered around keeping an eye on what everyone was doing and didn’t bark once. Arya was a afraid of him to begin with, because he was so excited to see someone vaguely at his height that he kept jumping up on her and trying to lick her face! My sister’s dog at home isn’t one for jumping, so Arya wasn’t used to that. She got over it eventually, though, and was able to sit down and give him scritches.

Showing Scarlett how to Minecraft

Pennie, Mark, and Arya

AHHH A DINOSAUR BOOK!

Beanie amongst the Christmas paper

Snuggles with Aunty Kristina

Sitting on dad

I’ve been a bit stuck for what to get for Christmas and birthdays of late, so I’ve asked for mostly just books. This year’s haul:

So that should certainly keep me occupied for a while!

We went back over on Boxing Day for mum’s birthday, and went down to Collaroy Beach in the afternoon. It was completely overcast but the weather was otherwise glorious… temperature in the mid-20s and a lovely breeze. There were more photos, of course, and I gave the 135mm lens a good workout for once!

Waving from the kiddy pool

Posing

Strutting

Playing in the sand

Getting splashed #1

Even cheesier grin

Getting splashed #5

A holiday in Perth

We went to Perth for a week last week, and it was damned lovely! A friend of mine, Mat, who I’ve known for over fifteen years and originally met through the now-mostly-defunct Everything2, lives over there and was able to offer some advice on places to eat at and suburbs to stay in.

We arrived on Saturday and stayed in a house in Highgate, which is about a 10-15 minute walk from the city itself. Less than a block away is Hyde Park, which is lovely, and so green (Perth has had like a month or two straight of rain, versus the next-to-none that Sydney’s had).

Path

Gazeebo

Departing

There’s a bunch of street art all around the place as well, and lots of interesting buildings to take photos of (full album is here).

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Five

High Grounds Coffee

On Sunday we visited Fremantle, to check out the markets there and hopefully get a view of a sunset over the ocean (something we’ve never seen given both Kristina and I grew up on the east coasts of our respective countries). It was indeed getting very nice, but sadly the clouds moved in right as the sun was getting low to the horizon.

Down the street

Ferris wheel

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Playing

Lighthouse

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Fremantle is the main cargo port for Perth, so there were the giant cargo cranes there and also a massive submarine in dry-dock (have a look to the right of the second photo)!

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Cranes

Monday was spent first at the Western Australian Botanic Garden and then wandering Northbridge and the CBD itself.

The Garden is massive although there’s a lot of just regular bushland as well as flower beds.

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The Swan Brewery Co. Ltd.

Northbridge was neat, there’s a lot of laneways and little alleys, and most of them have art on the walls, often on a very large scale.

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Small steps

Dragon

Sugar glider

Goat

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Those last two would have been probably four stories high!

We wandered through the CBD itself as well, had dinner at Durty Nelly’s Irish pub (highly recommended, the food was incredible), then continued wandering after night had fallen.

Spring

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Gothic windows

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Stairs

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On Tuesday we visited Rottnest Island! We made the mistake of taking a bus tour, which was filled with loud, obnoxious, racist boomers, and we only stopped to actually get off the bus twice. Otherwise we were driving past all this wonderful terrain and the occasional quokka, and everyone was snapping shitty photos out of the bus windows.

Thankfully that only lasted an hour and a half, and we were able to go visit a colony of quokkas that were all of about ten minutes from the main buildings on the island, and OH MY GOD they are adorable! They have no natural predators on the island so they were pretty well unafraid of people and we were able get up super-close to them.

Smiling

Round

Mine!

Gnarled

The water around the island is crystal clear.

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Tuesday night, we had dinner in Northbridge at a Mexican restaurant called La Cholita, and holy crap if you’re in Perth you need to visit it. The food is amazing.

Chopping

Kristina and Mat

Taco and sangria

Afterwards we went for another wander around the area and snapped some photos.

Mat's ridiculous icecream

Waiting

Meat Candy

Wednesday was spent briefly at the Araluen Botanic Park (briefly, because Kristina’s legs were massively hurting from crouching down and getting up constantly on Tuesday while we were visiting the quokkas and the Botanic Park was filled with lots of hills), and then a leisurely wander through East Perth.

The weather starting turning a bit crap on Thursday, so we visited Mat’s sister and her boyfriend on their rural property and just hung out there with their horse Archie and hilariously uncoordinated Maremma sheep dog Iorek, then went back and played some Diablo III.

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Iorek the Maremma sheep dog

I can’t believe how well-timed the trip was, we booked it back in July and the week before the trip was almost non-stop rain and it’s now back to raining again for the next week! There would have been so much we wouldn’t have been able to see if the weather had been awful.

A vehicular upgrade

We bought a brand-new car today! \o/ It’s an extremely handsome-looking Kia Cerato hatchback in dark metallic grey.

Our brand-new MY18 Kia Cerato

We’d been toying with the idea for a little bit, then Kristina came across some videos of crash tests comparing somewhat older (from ~2000-ish, which is exactly what our current Corolla is) cars impacting with newer ones. They’re nothing like the utter crumpling of the cars from the 1970s, but still somewhat alarming. She did a bunch of research and found that the current Kias are extremely well-regarded and reliable, and it turns out there’s basically nothing else in the same price range that offer as much power and features; the equivalent cars like the Corolla and Civic and such were all several thousand dollars more, with less power and fewer included features. The Cerato has a 7-year warranty as well, which seemed to be more than most other cars.

Speaking of power (112kW and 192Nm to be exact), we took one for a test drive on Sunday… I put my foot down and was accidentally doing 70km/h almost immediately! There’s a hell of a lot of room as well, it’s only marginally larger on the outside compared to our Corolla, but it’s so spacious inside. I’m excited about having a hatchback again too, there’s been a few situations where we were trying to put something into the boot and it just wouldn’t fit. Now we can go to town and put the back seats down and put EVERYTHING in it! *maniacal laughter*

We’re going to keep the old Corolla for a while just to go to and from the station in, because parking there means the car is permanently covered in dust thanks to all the construction going on, and when it rains everything turns to mud and the trucks going along the road just splash mud across everything.

A photographical upgrade

Last Wednesday, we upgraded from our trusty Canon EOS 7D to a brand-new Canon EOS 5D Mark IV! It’s a hell of an upgrade in terms of basically every single aspect… the 7D originally came out in 2009 and the 5D4 was only last year and is full-frame to boot, 18 megapixels versus 30, and the 5D4 also has the insanely awesome autofocus system from Canon’s flagship ~$8k-for-the-body-alone EOS 1DX.

I fairly obsessively tag my photos on Flickr so it’s easy to find things, and the final tally for photos taken with the 7D is 2641!

The very first photo taken was of this flower at my parents’ place, when I got our original 35mm f/2 lens for my birthday in 2010 (the camera and lens are not mine alone, both Kristina and I share it equally, but getting the lens for my birthday was a handy way to not have pay the entire cost of it ourselves :P).

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It’s difficult to pull only a handful of favourite photos out of twenty-six hundred, but these would definitely be amongst them, in many cases more for the memory than any particular quality of the photograph…

Kristina being nibbled by a horse on our first wedding anniversary—
Horsey Nibbles

Meerkats warming themselves at Taronga Zoo—
Warming glowing warming glow

Dan looking right at a well-placed “Look right” sign—
Dan is waiting for a bus

Kristina looking stunning with our ring-flash—
My beautiful wife

Lily writing her name—
Writing

The train tunnels at Wynyard—
Into the tunnels

Lily feeding the lorikeets—
Feeding the lorikeets

A toothy grin—
Toothy grin

Christmas excitement—
Excitement

The first photo taken in our new house—
Tedison's new home

Kristina being extremely nudged by a calf at Featherdale—
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My very first photo of Beanie when we got him—
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Nanny at Christmas hugging one of Lily’s presents—
Nanny hugging Lily's pillow pet

Beanie in the office—
In the office

One of the several actresses we got in at work one Halloween, who were done up as zombies and CREEPY AS FUCK—
Zombiegirl #3

Kristina cracking up at how ridiculous Beanie is—
Cracking up

Lily and Scarlett’s matching bears at Christmas—
New bears

Family photo—
Family photo!

The fantastically creepy decorations and lighting for the latest Halloween at work—
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Playing around with coloured gels on our flashes with Adam and Stacey—
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Beanie playing with his best friend Leo—
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The extraordinarily epic storm aftermath we had—
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A photo walk we did at work one lunch where we had some volunteers to do a pseudo-modelling shoot—
Marlene

Leo and Beanie zooming down the hall—
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Wandering around Barangaroo before going to the Maritime Museum—
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We sold the 7D to friends, so it’s definitely going to continue on in a good home. It was an absolute workhorse, I didn’t think to check the shutter count before we sold it but it never once gave any sort of trouble whatsoever. Meanwhile, we’ve already started taking new memories with the 5D Mark IV and I’d say we ought to get at least 10 years out of it if not more.

Back to Tasmania

We went back to Tasmania again last week, and it was pretty great!

Where last time we stayed in Hobart for the whole trip, this time we drove up to Bicheno first, which is about a two and a half hour drive north of Hobart. The accomodation itself (the “Diamond Island Retreat”) was not great, the house was built in probably the 1970s and had clearly had next to nothing done with it since. The kitchen was terrible and the two frying pans were both quite burnt and scratched up, and there was zero internet access (at least in terms of wifi, thankfully there was plenty of 4G reception). It was completely clean and tidy, at least.

That being said, the location was amazing. This was the view from the back deck –

Diamond Island

You could walk down the paddock and down to the beach, which had some of the whitest sand I’ve seen. The first sunset was pretty epic as well.

Sunset

Reflections

Walking

More patterns

They do “penguin tours” right near where we were staying, there’s a whole section of land that’s restricted to the public and they get lots of penguins living and breeding there. We went during the decidedly off-season and so only saw a couple of penguins, but one of them waddled its way up the beach and right past us to its burrow! The other penguins we could only see in the distance down on the rocks near the beach. The tours are done after the sun has set and the guides have special torches that emit really yellow light so as not to hurt the penguins’ eyes. During the breeding season you can apparently see upwards of a hundred penguins all coming ashore to feed their chicks.

There’s a few other things to do around Bicheno as well, one is Freycinet National Park which has some epic hiking trails through it (neither Kristina nor I are hikers so we opted to just go by what we could reach by car).

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Cape Tourville Lighthouse

Then right up the road from where we were staying is Douglas-Apsley National Park, which is the same deal as Freycinet with the hiking, and requires a good couple of kilometres of dirt road to get to the carpark.

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(There’s a few more photos from each in the photoset).

The last bit of Bicheno we saw was East Coast Natureworld, a big wildlife sanctuary and conservation area.

Esther the wombat

Emu

Lazing

Ostrich

Don’t ask me why there was an ostrich there, I don’t know. 😛 The baby wombat at the top is named Esther, and she was just sitting there in the keeper’s arms dozing while the keeper was talking. They also do conservation and breeding for Tasmanian devils there, and we got to see one of them being fed which was pretty neat!

Feeding Dennis the Tasmanian Devil

Nom nom nom

After that, we drove back down to Hobart and spent the rest of the trip just wandering around some more.

The side path

190

Up the hill

Mirror selfie

Lit from below

Aurora Australis

Grafitti

Happy doggo grafitti

Under construction

Docked

The huge orange ship is an icebreaker

Aurora Australis is an Australian icebreaker. Built by Carrington Slipways and launched in 1989, the vessel is owned by P&O Maritime Services, but is regularly chartered by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) for research cruises in Antarctic waters and to support Australian bases in Antarctica.

And it’s quite an impressive sight in person!

We also went up to Mount Nelson, which is the next-highest mountain in Hobart, but unfortunately they were doing hazard-reduction burns (basically controlled bushfires) so it was really smokey and you mostly couldn’t see anything. 🙁

Despite that, all in all it was an excellent trip.

Photos

On a lark I did a Google search for “virtualwolf”, and once I got past the first handful of pages (links to main things like my Twitter, Flickr, etc.) I was fascinated to discover just how many of my photos were being used in news articles and the like. I’ve always obsessively tagged my photos so they’re pretty easy to search, but a couple of years ago I went and changed the licensing on most of them to the Creative Commons “ShareAlike” license. The thought process was mostly, I’m never going to earn any money from my photography and have no desire to anyway, so why not! Flickr has the ability to search for images with specific licenses, so I suspect that contributed a lot as well.

There’s quite the range of subjects—

It’s pretty gratifying, really.

Beanie’s dog training

We went to a doggy training class today, on the suggestion of the dog trainer we had over a couple of times. She thought that he would do fine whereas we thought he’d just melt down as soon as he saw the other dogs and we’d immediately have to leave.

We’ve never been happier to be wrong! He was initially extremely barky when the first dog arrived but as soon as he got a good butt-sniff in he settled right down. It was quite incredible! I took a few happy-snaps on my iPhone, of course. At the end the next class arrived, which was a puppy class, and Beanie was happily running around and snuffling them as well.

The actual “training” part didn’t go quite so well, mostly because he was more interested in running around with the other dogs than paying attention to us, but still!

beanie1

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Seven years

The subject has come up on a few occasions recently of how long people have been married for (three years, two years, two months!), and my mind is blown anew each time when I point out that as of today we’ve been married for seven years!

I picture seven years in my head and I think, “Yeah, that’s a pretty good length of time”, but then I realise that’s how long we’ve been married and it just does not even remotely feel like it’s been that long. It’s witchcraft! Before we got married we always used to joke that we had time-warpy powers because we’d be doing something and a bunch of time would pass and it wouldn’t feel like it’d been several hours. The same powers have clearly continued into marriage!

<3

Hunter Valley farm stay

Kristina and I went up to the Hunter Valley for a long weekend last weekend. We stayed at a place called Hunter Hideaway Farm, and it was mostly nice but… a bit odd.

We arrived at about 2pm on Saturday, and there’s a long dirt road leading to the house that winds through fairly dense trees and bush. The lady that runs the place with her husband does ceramic sculptures and had put some of them on the trees and along the side of the dirt road as you start to get closer to the house. I understand the effect she was going for but it ended up just coming off as really creepy… a distinct “Someone who is insane and is going to kill you lives here” sort of vibe. It was even worse coming home after dinner when it was pitch black.

After that weirdness, we had just gotten inside when we heard a dog barking. We looked out the front door and there was a fairly sizeable dog barking loudly and in a very unfriendly manner at us. The husband rushed up and grabbed a hold of the dog’s collar, saying that the dog isn’t friendly and they weren’t expecting us yet (despite check-in being at 2, and why on earth would you have an unfriendly dog on a place that constantly has new people in it?!). After that he hauled the dog off into their house, but all of this was a slightly off-putting start to the vacation. The place had a kitchen in it, but it also had a sign saying that you needed to wash and clean and put away everything or there’d be a charge. I can understand not wanting people to leave the place as a complete mess but the sign was worded very passive-aggressively and really rubbed both of us the wrong way.

The view from the second story was pretty nice though.

View from the second floor

The farm itself is an actual working farm, they breed Angus cows and have some horses and a couple of ponies as well. One of the horses was very derpy, which was great, but the ponies were completely uninterested in people and apparently were also prone to biting.

AWW YEAH!

Ponies!

Neither of us drink wine, so we were mostly interested in the food of the area, but the first night’s dinner was underwhelming. It was at the Royal Oak Hotel and was recommended by the farm stay people but mine just wasn’t hugely flavourful and none of the flavours that were in Kristina’s dinner went together. The sheer distance that everything was from everything else was a bit annoying as well, not that that was entirely unexpected.

Saturday night’s weather was totally clear and a new moon as well, so the view of the stars was incredible; standing outside looking up at the Milky Way is always humbling.

The second day was spent doing some more wandering of the property in the morning (during which time that angry dog was out again and came running at us, but we just stood still and the wife came out and apologised and called him back, saying that he’s normally tied up—so maybe keep him tied up then), going out and buying lots of really nice cheese and chocolates, then relaxing and reading books in the afternoon. There was another, much friendlier, dog there that seems to have been a neighbour’s dog, and she was wandering around with us but mostly just running everywhere at full speed. There’s also an extremely picturesque lake that the cows enjoying sitting in and drinking from.

Running

Drinking

Sunset brought some really nice light and some great photos. The switch out of daylight savings was perfectly timed because we could admire the sunset and then go out to dinner, as opposed to all the gloriousness occurring while we were out.

Grasses

Horses running

Sunset

Sunday night’s dinner was amazing. We went to an Italian restaurant called Lillino’s, and it was one of those meals where just everything was perfect and it needed absolutely nothing—no extra salt, no extra parmesan, nothing. If you’re in the Hunter Valley you really need to go eat there.

It was definitely nice to get away from everything and spend some time relaxing and taking photos, but overall we’re not going to bother going back to the Hunter Valley, it’s not really our thing (and the farm stay was weird).

Home improvement: Curtain Edition

Lounge room with new curtains

We put up new curtains—and a new curtain rod—on the door leading out to the patio today, and it looks so much more cozy in here now (previously the window had on it the same horrible blue/grey straight-out-of-an-office vertical blinds that are still on the front window).

Kristina commented that it’s the first place she’s lived in that feels like an adult house, and it’s true… when renting you’re really just temporarily occupying someone else’s place for a period of time, whereas now we’re actually able to put our own mark on things and do what we want and it’s pretty great.

And now for something completely different: roast potatoes!

Growing up, we’d frequently go over to my grandma’s house on a Sunday evening for a full roast dinner. Roast beef, roast veggies, gravy, the works. Her roast potatoes were always amazing, they were wonderfully crispy on the outside and I never knew how she did it. Whatever my parents’ method is pales in comparison as they never get them at all crispy.

I made roast potatoes tonight following a recipe from Taste.com.au entitled The Best Roast Potatoes, and my god, they’re not joking. They’re almost identical to how my grandma’s used to come out! If you’re a fan of roast potatoes, you should definitely give that recipe a go.

Comforts

There’s certain things that are comforting by virtue of having done or seen them many times before and thus you know exactly what to expect.

Diablo III is like that for me, specifically the story mode. The original Diablo III had you go through the (very linear) story multiple times, once for each difficulty level, and by the time you hit the maximum level of 60 you’d generally done it at least three or four times. Combine that with the five different classes you can choose, and that’s a lot of repeats. When the Reaper of Souls expansion came out, Blizzard did away with that whole repeat-the-story-many-times in favour of Adventure Mode. It’s varied and certainly less repetitive than the old story mode, but I do enjoy going back every now and again and starting a new character to play through the story from the beginning. It’s definitely comfortable.

Zombies, Run!

A couple of years ago—a couple of months after we moved into our house, actually—I bought C25K, a couch-to-5K training app. It took me longer than I’d have liked, but I eventually got up to the full 5km, though only at 7km/h which for me is barely faster than brisk walking (a comfortable brisk walk for me is 6.5km/h; I know these speeds because I do my running on a treadmill at home). I stopped for a while and decided to start it again but from the beginning at a faster pace for the running sections, but fairly quickly lost interest.

Then the subject came up at work, and a colleague mentioned a thing called Zombies, Run! that combines an actual story with your running. It turned out they also made a couch-to-5K version and it’s really well done. There’s an audio story that plays, almost like an old radio drama, that puts you in the position of a new runner to an outpost that’s survived the zombie apocalypse and they need you to train up in order to be able to complete reconnaissance missions and to go get supplies from other bases and so on. It’s done in the form of periodic radio transmissions to you, but in between you can have your own music playing. The voice actors they’ve used are extremely good; there’s none of the cringe-worthy voice acting you’d often get in the video games of yesteryear. I’ll freely admit that I’ve been fairly slack, I only completed Week 4 yesterday despite having begun the program in May last year, but it is very neat and definitely a more interesting alternative to your bog-standard couch-to-5K program!

Lily’s visit

Lily normally lives with her mother up near Nimbin (which is an almost-nine-hour drive north from our house), but they came down for Christmas this year. We saw Lily last in October of 2014, and she didn’t really like Beanie at that point because he kept trying to lick her, and Beanie himself wasn’t quite sure what to make of her as she was running all around and generally being fairly hyper. This time was a night-and-day difference, Lily was really good with him and knew how to pet him properly, and was significantly calmer than last time. When I would read to Lily before bed, Beanie would come in and curl up on the floor while we’re doing so. The only slight issue was that Beanie kept trying to hump Lily! We’re not entirely sure why (we get the occasional hump attempt, but nothing like this), the only conclusion we came to was that it was because she’s so much smaller than us.

My sister and her husband and two girls (Scarlett, 5, and Arya, 1-and-a-bit) live three hours away in the opposite direction from Nimbin, but they were up for Christmas this year too, which we had at my parents’ place.

New bears

"THAT WAY!"

Reading with Nanna Ruth

We had Lily for a week all up, from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day. Kristina pointed out that it’s so much easier to have a proper conversation with Lily now, she actually listens to what you’re saying rather than just talking at everyone all the time and not really caring if anyone else is listening. There were a few pretty hilarious exchanges, too. My favourites were these two:

Lily: Why are we doing this?
Me: Better safe than sorry.
Lily: I don’t understand.
Me: It means it’s better to do something and perhaps not have needed to, than to not do it and then have regrets later.
Lily (in a very matter-of-fact tone): You are speaking absolute nonsense. I don’t understand a word you’ve just said.

It was a serious struggle not to burst out laughing. The other one was when we were reading before bed, Lily still has some of her older learn-to-read books around, and one of them had a thing on the front:

Lily (reading the cover of the book): “Synthetic phonics.”
Me: Synthetic! That’s a big word!
Lily (again very matter-of-fact): That’s not a big word. “Intergalactic” is a big word.

Lily’s reading level is pretty impressive. Mum bought her The Animal Book, which is a big book about all sorts of different animals and plants, and Lily was just zooming through it, even reading the proper scientific names of things with barely a pause. She’d also had the rite of passage that I’m pretty sure all children go through (me included), which is where a relative buys you a big book of REALLY CORNY jokes. We were inundated with jokes the whole time, but I think the most impressive thing was how well she was remembering all the different jokes.

I’d forgotten that I had Minecraft on the Xbox One, so we had a pretty good chunk of time playing that as well, either Lily by herself or the both of us with splitscreen. She’d only played on her grandma’s iPad previously but she picked up how to control everything with a twin-stick controller really quickly! She was fairly obsessed with it and would tell me even when she wasn’t playing about what she wanted to build next or how she wanted to modify her various houses she’d created.

Scarlett, my niece, was staying with my parents for five days while everyone else went back down to Nowra, so we were able to go over and catch up a couple more times. We went to Featherdale Wildlife Park on Sunday, which mum and dad hadn’t ever been to before (naturally, photos were taken), and on Tuesday we went down to Collaroy Beach to generally chill out (where I put suncream on but managed to burn both kneecaps and the shin on one leg. >_<).

We also realised that we didn’t have any recent photos of all of us, so I set up all my crazy lighting equipment yesterday and took some really quite nice photos of us.

Family photo!

All in all, it was just a really nice time. She’s such a good kid, her manners (both regular and table) are great, and she’s extremely bright. It sucks that we don’t see her more often, but c’est la vie.

Tasmania, and LiveJournal to WordPress

So I’ve finally ditched LiveJournal and migrated it all over to my own WordPress site. I wanted to keep blogging things, but where people might actually read them. 😛

We decided to scale down our ambitions with the five-year anniversary trip, as Kristina is currently contracting and so would be losing out on quite a lot of money, and so went to Tasmania for five days instead. We’d heard great things but had never actually been before.

We stayed in the Hobart Art House, which was fantastically close to everything. We rented a car from Budget, and specified “Suzuki Swift or similar”. A Swift would have been fine, but instead we got a 1.2-litre Nissan Micra. It’s the most gutless car I’ve ever driven, and to get up the hill to where we were staying I had to put my foot all the way down to the firewall, and even then it still struggled.

At the bar

Day 1 was wandering around the Salamanca Markets, burgers for lunch at Jack Greene (their beef and blue cheese burger is amazing), then some more wandering until dinner at Monty’s on Montpelier. Their website says “fine dining” and my god, if anything that’s underselling it. The food there is absolutely incredible.

Cliffs

Day 2 started with a three-hour boat ride around the south-eastern coast with Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. According to the tour guide it was one of the calmest days they’d seen this year, but unfortunately that didn’t help because about half-way through the trip I got horribly sea-sick, though thankfully (barely) not to the point of throwing up, but it meant I was mostly sitting there feeling absolutely miserable and not even being able to look at any of the scenery. Kristina was suffering as well, so in hindsight the whole boat trip was a terrible idea. It redeemed itself with lunch at Port Arthur Lavender (again, incredible food), then dinner at Rockwall. One of their specials was a coffee-rubbed wagyu, and it was definitely the best steak I’ve ever had. It was pretty much falling apart in my mouth, it was so tender.

The other side of the lookout

Day 3, we went to Bruny Island. The “attractions” there were rather over-hyped, but the scenery is absolutely stunning. It’s like a tropical island in places, the clarity of the water is unbelievable. The afternoon was spent walking around the streets around where we were staying and checking out all the old houses, then dinner was at Mures. Mine was quite tasty, but Kristina’s risotto was crunchy, and even after she sent it back and got a new one, it wasn’t brilliant. She got a cold seafood tasting platter afterwards though, which was REALLY good.

Looking down to Hobart

Day 4, the last full day we had, we wandered around the botanical gardens, had lunch at Blue Eye (in keeping with everything else, the food was excellent), then went for a drive up to Mount Wellington. On the drive up, there was someone in a van who was doing 40km/h in a 70km/h zone and kept drifting over entirely into the other lane. It was terrifying! Thankfully there was a solid section of broken line on the road where I could overtake them, and the little Micra managed it surprisingly well. Mount Wellington itself was absolutely incredible, I’ve never been up a mountain where there’s alpine foliage before, and it felt like an entirely different world. Dinner was at Don Camillo, which was quite tasty but not on the level of some of the other restaurants.

On the last day we walked around Salamanca Place again, and had lunch back at Rockwall before heading to the airport. Our own car is only a 1.8-litre 2000 Corolla, but it was pretty funny feeling like it had a whole lot of grunt driving back from Sydney airport after having spent five days driving the Micra around. 😛

All in all, Tasmania was excellent and we’ll definitely be back!

5 years!

It’s been five years since I started at Atlassian! That is completely ridiculous. I realise my LJ at this point is mostly me going, “It’s been x years since y, that’s crazy!” but it’s true. 😛 When you’ve been at Atlassian for three years you get an extra three days of bonus leave each year (it expires at the end of the year so you can’t just hoard it), and at five years they’ll pay $3200 for you to take a holiday somewhere! kungfupolarbear and I had already been looking at going to New Zealand, probably in spring, and so this is a nice extra. I definitely can’t imagine working anywhere else, that’s for sure. My Senior Support Engineer-ing is going very well, I play Magic: The Gathering with a bunch of people every day at work, and they put in what’s essentially an actual salad bar for grabbing stuff to put on sandwiches. So instead of the quick and lazy and very unhealthy peanut butter and honey sandwiches I was having, I have sandwiches with tomato, lettuce, capsicum, and salad dressing on them, and it barely takes more time than the previous unhealthy ones!

Also I’m 32 today! We went over to mum and dad’s yesterday for a birthday lunch, and my sister and her husband and two kids were there. We took Beanie over as well, which he always loves, and as always I took some photos.

\o/

Memories

I watched the movie Men in Black the other night on Netflix, before I went to bed. I’ve seen it so many times… I have a really vivid memory of going out to watch it in the lounge room at mum and dad’s place after everyone had gone to bed, back when I was working at Apple and finishing work at 9:00pm. I think I probably had a month or more of watching it at least a couple of times a week. There’s just something about it I really love; I think it’s the thought of there being a whole other unseen… civilisation? System of life? I don’t know what the best word for it is.

It’s the same reason I always enjoyed being out and about in the city (way back when) in the really wee hours of the morning when all the garbage trucks and cleaning people were doing their thing, and nobody has any idea that they’re there. There was a book I bought for dad from the Harvard book store in Boston called The Works: Anatomy of a City, and it had a similar theme, all about the things that have to go on behind the scenes of a modern city to keep things running.

Maybe I just like feeling insignificant in the grand scheme of things? I certainly love that feeling when gazing up at the stars and looking at space and such.

New Year’s Eve

How is it now 2015?! I have no idea where last year went!

We went over to a friends’ place for New Year’s Eve, there were two fondue sets and a raclette grill plus the cheese of the same name. It was so. Good. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much cheese. kungfupolarbear made both a spinach dip and sweet potato pie, and both went over an absolute treat, they were delicious! Our friends’ live in an apartment, so unfortunately we couldn’t bring Beanie, and they don’t have air conditioning either, so it ended up being pretty toasty with all the dinner accoutrements that produce heat!

Next year is either going to be at ours, or at another couple’s place (they just bought a house, so we could bring Beanie and it has air conditioning).

Today has been a very lazy day consisting mostly of puttering around on the Internet, and playing Dragon Age: Inquisition.

kungfupolarbear is in the US visiting her family, she left yesterday and arrives back in the country two weeks later. It’s weird not having her here, I feel like I’m just biding my time until she’s back.

The whole stereotype of “The wife is away, I’m going to do all of these things that she doesn’t let me do normally!” just doesn’t apply to us at all. We both will happily play video games or putter around on the computer or whatever. I’m having gypocalypse, wobin, and some other friends over on Saturday to play this Warhammer 40,000-themed D&D-type thing, and that wouldn’t matter if kungfupolarbear was here, she’d happily hang out despite having zero interest in actually playing it and would absolutely not begrudge us spending time playing it. Everything is just so totally effortless, it still amazes me. <3

I had yesterday and today off (yesterday because we woke up at 3:30am in order to get to the airport on time D: ), and am working from home the rest of the time she’s gone since Beanie needs looking after and obviously can’t be by himself for 11 hours a day.

In other news we bought an Xbox One, a colleague of mine was selling his as he’s moving to Paris. We’ve got Forza 5 (a racing game) to tide us over until the Diablo III expansion comes out, and man the graphics are nice. This is only a launch title too, so they’ll be even more impressive once developers get a handle on squeezing the most out of the system. One very slick thing is that you can have the Xbox turn the TV and amplifier on when it turns on, and it’ll turn them off when the Xbox turns off too.

Nanny’s funeral was yesterday. It was sad, of course, but mum made a really nice speech with lots of funny stories, and she was holding up really well. Several people commented that mum looked much more relaxed how — I can’t imagine how stressful the last few months had been for her. They had a slideshow of photos from Nanny’s life, and I was happy to see a number of my photos of Nanny from various Christmases being used. The music played as everyone was leaving the ceremony was Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”, which everyone cracked up at.

There were quite a few relatives there that I’d never even laid on eyes before, apparently we have a number of them from Queensland. It was nice to catch up with some of my other relatives that we don’t see too often, too. We’ve never really been a family who had those stereotypical massive family gatherings, which I’m quite okay with, heh.

Today we’re off to see the Dogs on Show, well, show. It’s only purebred dogs, which is a bit annoying, but it’s great to wander around and see all the different breeds that you’ve never seen before. There will of course be lots of photos taken.

One year to the day

One year to the day since we moved into our house! It astonishes me that it’s gone by that quickly, it certainly doesn’t feel like it’s been a year.

This is the first place I’ll have lived in for more than a year since moving out of my parents’ place back in 2007. …actually that’s not quite true, now that I think about it. I was in the unit in Dee Why for probably 18 months or so, but that record will soon be eclipsed.

And kungfupolarbear informs me that this will be the first place she’s lived in for more than a year since 2002!

Eeeee!

My grandma (my mum’s mum, who’s my sole remaining grandparent, known as “Nanny”) has been in and out of hospital a fair bit in recent years. She’s turning 90 at the end of this year and has been having heart troubles for a while, though her mind is still sharp as a tack.

I got a call from mum on Monday night saying that Nanny had decided that she was sick of hospital, wanted to be discharged, wasn’t going to be taking any medicine anymore, and was just going to let nature take its course. She was going to have to take thirteen tablets in one hit, which is astonishing (and horrible, and I can see why she decided to do what she did). I said we could come to visit on Saturday, and mum said that she wasn’t sure Nanny would still be around by then. Naturally there was a whole lot of sadness and tears. Nanny had a doctor’s appointment yesterday, so I took the day off work today and kungfupolarbear and I went over to visit today.

It was actually quite a happy visit, Nanny was in really good spirits, much better than I’ve seen her for a while. Mum was there, my sister had driven up from Nowra, and my uncle was up too. We had a good chat for a couple of hours, filled Nanny in on all Beanie’s latest happenings (she’d been absolutely delighted by him when she came over a month or so ago), and griped about the state of politics, hehe.

Both kungfupolarbear and I feel a lot better about things now, and who knows, now that Nanny’s not on a heap of medicines she may last another number of months. Either way, she was really happy to see the both of us, which was nice.

Untitled

Nanna Win

Nanny

Five years!

Not quite five years marriage yet (that’s next month), but kungfupolarbear and I arrived back in the country five years ago to the day today! So many changes since then (we have our own house and little doggie!), but everything is still so effortless. <3

We’re heading up to Newcastle tomorrow for gypocalypse‘s wedding! Should be nice, we have enough spare time that we’ll do some wandering around and photo-taking too (the rehearsal is tomorrow, but the actual wedding isn’t until Sunday).

In the fitness news, I just tonight did a full five kilometres! That was including the warm-up and cool-down, so it wasn’t actually 5km of running, but still. Definitely glad we bought the treadmill.