Saturday, October 31, 2009

Party party party

So we have:

1 cricket themed cake that is bright green

2 golden snitches for 'Pin the Snitch on Harry Potter'.

2 pictures of Harry Potter on a broomstick (1 for above, 1 for 'Throw the Bludgers at Harry' - a last minute innovation because I forgot to save cans for the roll or bowl a ball a penny a pitch kind of thing).

2 bottles of lemonade

1 bottle of juice

2 pizza bases

divers pizza toppings


38 million lollies

6 goodie bags with mixed goodies

Tomorrow we will have:

6 highly excited children

30 degree heat, and

2 tired parents.

added 1 November, 2.31 pm

Learned things.
Even quite sensible 7 and 8 year old children can squeal quite loud when excited.
Children do not actually eat all that much at parties, especially when they hate the pizza you provide.
One negative child can almost spoil the whole thing, even for kids who are having a very good time.
Children are conservative and do not reward innovation.
Perfectly nice parents do not always equal perfectly nice children.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The way things should look, if it were up to me today

Because I am a bit slow I only found these re-designed to look like classic Penguins Harry Potter covers today. And my brain went boggle and I was consumed with the kind of desire that I haven't had since my fetish for red sneakers earned me a slap on the wrist for false consciousness back in the mid 1990s.

Computer busted again, new-old computer

Funny old neutrinos. Old computer will not play nicely with others. Oh well.

It's been a week with a lot to think about but not so much to write about, so that's all right.

Missed out on getting Rockwiz tickets for the maternal parent in Cairns. You'd think the one time something actually bothers travelling all the way north a person would manage to get hold of tickets. Lament and so on. Waily waily waily. No.

The Noodle had installment one of birthday festivities on Sunday, and all presents were satisfactory to an unexpectedly high degree. This year he finally got the birthday bug and woke us up at 6 am to ask where the presents were. On his grandfather's arrival the first utterance was 'I wonder what you have brought me?'. And horrified embarrassment at the laughter that erupted out of all the adults. We are not used to a mercenary and present-oriented son.

Today at work I made many mistakes. I hope it is not a lasting illness because I feel like a right dill.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Computer has un-busted itself

Apparently it just needed a nice little rest. Lovely.

All is go with the birthday extravaganza preparations. We are (temporarily thank goodness) in possession of high levels of sugar and plastic tat. Even with a fairly minimal approach, we still seem to need a lot of stuff.


The Noodle: he is halfway through Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. He has been halfway through it for days, so I assume he is not enjoying it as much as the others. I didn't enjoy it much either. Apart from Fred and George's joke shop there is precious little fun in it as far as I can remember. However, the Harry Potter monologue has not slowed down, so it is not affecting his pleasure in the Potterverse at all.

Me: Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, by Vincent Lam. As with other Canadian books it is about people having emotional crises and catching the train. These people are doctors, so they eventually earn enough money to start driving their own cars, unlike people in stories by Margaret Atwood or Alice Munro. Although Carol Shields people often have their emotional crises on long-distance drives I suppose. Anyway, in Canada people in stories have emotional problems and also cover long distances. In British stories people seem to go to the beach to have emotional problems. I like Vincent Lam's book generally, but the stories/chapters are either too disconnnected or too connected to really make me feel comfortable reading them. There's no work to do to figure out the connections with events and ideas, but there's no real reason (that I can see) that they need to be disconnected from a kind of narrative line either.

I also just read some Greg Egan short stories, which are thematically linked and kind of form a progression of quantum science and its effect on humans/people. While I very much enjoy Egan's thoughtful speculations, I find that once his characters can start sending themselves as data packets at the speed of light and everyone can live forever that I lose interest. His characters keep questioning whether some meaning is lost for them in these circumstances. I don't have much of an opinion either way on that, but certainly some narrative tension is lost when the (dead) characters can just download themselves again, or when they can erase memories they don't want any more. When they travel to the other side of the galaxy as data on beams of light, they do seem to leave their problems and preoccupations behind. Unlike, say, moving from Melbourne to Brisbane when you find that, horribly, you have brought your prejudices, ignorance and emotional patterns right along with you.

And yesterday our little workpod was sprung eating cheese and fruit instead of working on Friday afternoon, after a really, really busy week. We had a little time spare-ish because we were all waiting for work to come back to us for the next step on the public service merry-go-round. But when the Big Boss looked at us with 'incredulity' we all adopted behaviour that we hadn't manifested since leaving high school with the hanging head, blushing, brazening it out or whichever, So I don't think travelling to the other side of the galaxy would change our collective relationships to authority figures all that much, even if it solved the problem of proximity to them.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Broken computer

My computer is kind of busted, so I will be having a mini break from the blogging.

That's all, except that the Geoscience Australian Open Day was a very Good Thing. You should all go next year if you happen to be in the neighbourhood.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Three years

So here it is nearly three years since the young son was sick in Spain. It does lend a slightly bitter-sweet feel to the birthday preparations.

Three years ago we had planned to have some kind of cake on the Noodle's birthday and to visit the Picasso museum. We had dragged presents from us and from other relatives half way across the globe. Other presents and cards arrived in the mail - sent from Australia before junior ended up in hospital. It was a too-strange juxtaposition.

The nurses in the intensive care ward made a Happy Birthday sign and stuck it on the shelf next to the Noodle's bed and we brought in birthday cards, but he didn't see them, I think. After we got home his Nana put on a little party for him at her house, but he was still quite fragile and it hurt him that it wasn't really his birthday as well.

The year after he wasn't keen to celebrate too much, and last year he wanted to go to Questacon, so we did and had a wonderful day of science and treats.

So this year we are all quite excited to be hosting a party, even with the associated parental nervousness. And I am feeling very grateful that I don't need to be hyper-vigilant and ready to rush to the hospital any second and glad glad glad not to have to worry every second that he is with someone else that he might get sick and they might not know what to do.

Knock on wood, etc.

Harry Potter, Harry Potter, Harry Potter

The Noodle is up to the Order of the Phoenix. He seems to be over the fear of Voldemort.

We have been hearing a lot about diverse Harry Potter issues. The Noodle tells me he has been doing a lot of serious thinking about it.

Dolores Umbridge is the worst teacher.

Boggart is pronounced Bogart. As in 'Neville's Bogart is Snape'.

Charms and/or Defence Against the Dark Arts is the best subject.

An online quiz that places you in Ravenclaw is disappointing.

Snape is not a sympathetic character to a seven-year-old boy.

Fred and George are the best magicians ever.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


So is it more damaging to your sense of competence to always be working right at the edge of your abilities with the stress and the short deadlines and the working late OR is it the always working comfortably and safely within your boundaries with not much to challenge you at all?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sometimes writing is hard, n'that.

Am having to cudgel the brains at work to try and write something interesting.

It's a terrible about-face from writing at work usually, which is about simplifying ideas and squeezing them onto one page. Interest is rarely an aim.

On the other hand I am having lots of fun cudgeling my brains for birthday present ideas like this and this or this. Well, maybe not the last one.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Reading, reading, small amounts of thinking

So I made the husband borrow me some books on Bourdieu from his university library, because it's a bit outside the expertise of the library we have at work and I feel a bit like I should only get inter-library loans for work-related reading. So I've had speech writing and social inclusion and negotiation and dispute resolution and really I think Bourdieu would be at least as relevant as some of that, but I can't quite sell it to myself yet. Or perhaps I mean I can't quite imagine myself explaining it to my boss quite yet why I need to read more Bourdieu and how it will make me a better public servant. Which I doubt it will, actually, although I am sure it would not make me a worse one.

Anyway, one of the books I thought was kind of a survey of how people in America are using Bourdieu's ideas in their thinking but it has kind of turned out to be really a book about why Americans hate Bourdieu's ideas, and it's been interesting I suppose. I have a tendency to fall in love with the things I find intersting, and some part of my critical thinking turns itself right off.

Also I have been feeling quite sad to realise how far away from all kinds of ideas I am right now. But that's a function of my imagination, not geography.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Party planning

So the Noodle has invited a tasteful amount of children to his birthday party in three weeks. It would have been in two weeks, but his bestest friend is in Shanghai at the moment, so we had to delay.

Kids these days seem to lead a vastly more cosmopolitan life than we did. Our whole burning desire was to go to Queensland, and I never got there until I was 17 thank you very much. These days the kids are off all over the world. Argentina, China, India, anywhere you can think of really.

Sigh. I am only partly consumed with envy.

So for the birthday party we are planning some non-competitive games, because the Noodle is always irritated how some people get prizes and some people don't. He is thinking that if everyone has a goody bag at the end, no prizes are necessary. He is considering whether there should be a prize for statues, but has forbidden pass the parcel outright. I think this has more to do with the fact that he was the only kid who did not get a pass the parcel prize at the last birthday party he attended rather than any kind of ideological commitment.

There will be pizza and frog-in-the-pond. And lemonade. What else is necessary (besides valium and earplugs)?


The Noodle: The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene. He says it is hard, but he keeps coming out with all kinds of concepts about time travel and photon teleportation and different dimensions, so he must be getting at least some of it.

Me: Samurai Kids 4: Monkey Fist by Sandy Fussell. The Noodle has already read it since we got it yesterday afternoon, so I stole it and read it on the bus. Which caused some consternation, because he wanted to read it again when he got home from school this afternoon. Oops

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Back from the north

Which, being Brisbane, used to seem like the far south to us Queenslanders, but to us Canberrans looks and feels like a dream-world of the north with the jacarandas, the sunshine and the tiny beads of sweat on the skin. 'It's not humid at all' the Brisbane-dwellers say, in a tone of similar bewildered outrage to those comments on the ABC news site saying 'but Australia is not a racist country'.

And Brisbane is indeed quite humid and Australia, well.

The kid had a fine holiday, where no one expected anything of him at all except that he relax and have a good time and entertain himself if he got bored, which is surely the best kind of school holiday experience a person can have after all.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Life with no kid

It seems to involve movies, DVDs and junk food. About 90% of my day-to-day energy seems to be generally consumed by attempting to not be a bad role model to the junior. While he is away I have kind of, um, relaxed a bit.

Not sure if the stress involved in trying to be good is worse for the kid than the high levels of exposure to junk food and laziness would be if I gave up trying to be good.

Let's just say I may have eaten apple pie for breakfast, and I'll leave the maths up to you all.

The Noodle, on the other hand, has been quite busy up there in Queensland. Apparently.