June 9th, 2018

Limping through the books this year

Reddit, Fantasy Baseball and U.S Trip planning have combined to make this my worst year for reading books in a long time. But I’ve been really happy with the ones I’ve finished – this lot were done by March, and then a stressful work computer room move from Southbank to Docklands happened and before I knew it, May was over.

 

The Knausgaard book A Death in the Family was an easy, never-boring read, and thankfully I didn’t feel I needed to finish all 3600 pages of the 6 volume set to sense the mastery and confidence, and enjoy the density and detail. Like Proust, there’s every chance I’ll go back and finish it oneday. 4 stars.

The Diary of a Bookseller (Shaun Bythell) was a book Kim bought me, and having read a few of these over the years, I expected a slog, but he keeps it very fresh, making outrageous but amiable jokes about his part time staff, and some of the deadbeat customers he deals with in a small bookish town in Scotland. It was pretty funny and quite a success I thought. 4 stars.

A few years ago, I became enamoured with the idea we’d catch a freighter ship from Perth to London to get to Europe in the shortest time for a long non-flying holiday, but it never happened, however my subconscious may have kicked in at the 3MBS Book Fair, and I decided to read about it instead. And it was very revealing, in a sad Oh-boy-the-lives-people-are-forced-to-live kind of way. There are some wistful interviews with outgoing sea captains who bemoan the introduction of automated container loading (boats are now in port a number of hours, not days so workers get few breaks), and who feel the highly paid skilled folk are being forced out by computing and super cheap 3rd world labour, in an industry more opaque than any other. It was a terrific read, and I’m full of admiration for the writer Rose George (Deep Sea and Foreign Going), whose fastidious research shines through. Some of the Somalian pirate section was surprisingly tense. Highly recommended  – 5 stars.

Finally, I thought I’d have a dig through Melbournian David Nicholls’ “Dig – Australian Rock and Pop Music 1960-1985” which had been sitting around awhile. Really well researched also, and although I didn’t read it cover to cover (mostly the second half), I thoroughly enjoyed it. He’s only a few years older than me, but has industry contacts and musical insights I could only dream of. One day I’d like to meet the Jacana man, whose Distant Violins fanzines I once bought and whose 3RRR radio shows introduced me to The Fall and lofi-pop. I even bought a copy of Dig for a mate. Onya David! 4 stars.

 

by dfv | Posted in Books | Comments Off on Limping through the books this year |
May 30th, 2018

And like that, another pet is gone

In October 2016, we took over the care of 12ish year old Bonnie, a senior rescue dog with canine Cushings and near-deafness, and who had aged beyond her years, with lumps and bumps and non-malignant tumours abounding. She looked rough and unloved and had large sections on her chest and back flanks where hair didn’t grow.

 

She was a most inquisitive little thing, trotting over to strangers, as if to say – “Are you my mother?”. I warmed to her immediately, and she only got better as she relaxed in our household.

It took a year or more of tablets before she stopped gulping down all her food in 5 mins, and making a beeline for poor old Fergus and his dish, and he developed anxiety about her stealing it all. But she never stopped with her incredible thirst, and did some famous wee trails as she walked, because I didn’t want it to pool around her feet. She walked pretty well, but never really figured out exactly which house we lived in. I’d do tests to see if she’d turn into the driveway without prompting but it rarely worked!

Although deaf, she’d make these cute little gulp sounds, snore loudly at night beside my bed, raise her front leg inquisitively when in doubt (like a lot of dogs), and sometimes struggle to get out of bed as her belly made her a body with legs. She’d sleep with her tongue out and take a minute or so on waking to realise it needed to go back in.

Over the last six months, she developed some routines –walk out the dog flap, do a complete circuit around the outdoor table and chairs, and drop down the brick steps to the tanbark sideway where she’d take her time finding the right spot to wee. Then rush back in, as if to say – hey I did the right thing, reward me now? We took her in the caravan for a month, and with her bad legs it was 2 times a night for me to take her out but hey, I was on hols so it didn’t matter.

Recently she figured out that laying in her human’s arms was not as scary as it seemed, and she seemed to like it more and more, but in short doses. She began to seek head and neck rubs more and more.

 

I just didn’t expect it would be over so soon, and even though she took the bulk of the dog attention because of her disease, and made walks an exercise in patience, I never minded any of it because I really loved this dog, and I’m embarrassed how few photos I took considering how much time I spent with her.

 

I’m happy that her downturn was pretty quick, and decisions were made for us, and I’m supposed to console myself that we gave her a really good 20 months, but it wasn’t long enough, and I bet she’d think the same thing because she had all the love in the world from us too. Goodbye BonBon, Bonza, my beautiful innocent girl – I’m really heartbroken and wish you were back with me.

by dfv | Posted in General | Comments Off on And like that, another pet is gone |
November 12th, 2017

2017 wasn’t the year of the Indians but boy it was fun

A surging Cleveland Indians and podcasts like Short Hops and Rotowire Sports led me to a fresh passion for baseball over the past six months or so. Everything is so much easier for foreign fans now with the internet and MLB.TV

Somewhat nervously I decided to give fantasy baseball another go after an 11 year break. Only after the season finished I went back to an old post and found I had won my league back in the day. This time around I tried both an old fasioned Rotosserie league and at the last minute, a Head to Head league.

As per the screenshots below, I came 5th in both these 12 team leagues. In hindsight the head to head was a lot more fun and I had some genuinely nailbiting moments on the Monday mornings which ended each week.

I won my final consolation playoff game 10-0 but I blame a midseason slump where I forgot to keep aggressively trading for in-form players and had some bad luck too.

Next time I will avoid dual catcher leagues (it’s hard enough finding a single catcher who plays 90% of games, let alone two). I’d also be very happy to skip on Saves for Saves and Holds…I missed a lot points that way.

I really have no idea why I did so terribly in ERA and WHIP (in both leagues really) and put it down to picking pitchers with high strikeout numbers instead and choosing in- form players over more seasoned types who play themselves into form as the season progresses.

I still had a blast, but it took up a fair bit of time on the tram. I missed out on the fun of having someone to talk about it with, so I might try joining a social league next year if they exist. Ultimately I would like to attend a live draft but I need to know the players a lot better first. I’d love to watch a few games again in person oneday.

by dfv | Posted in Games | Comments Off on 2017 wasn’t the year of the Indians but boy it was fun |
November 1st, 2017

Back to normal

Sometime in the 2000s I started to drink more regularly at home midweek. It’s something we both had in common and enjoyed, although rarely to excess. I sometimes think about my life and its routines and wonder if a morose boredom brought about the excesses of 2010 to 2013 which saw me drinking higher alcohol (but awesome flavoured) boutique/Belgian beers most nights, which I believe now to have brought about my pancreatic problems at that time.

After stopping all alcohol for 3 years I realised how much I had relied on it and I’m wary of resuming former habits, but it feels utterly fantastic to have a schooner of hoppy Pale Ale a few times a week now. Talking to Ash, it’s one of the few things that guys with disparate hobbies or interests can share…a beer at a local watering house. Guys that I know don’t just drop by your house for a chat and a cup of tea. I’m looking forward to hitting the Raccoon Club with the old geezer again soon – especially now the weather is warming up. It’s been years since I visited that place.

by dfv | Posted in General | Comments Off on Back to normal |
November 1st, 2017

Inexplicably a better running year

Sitting on 800+ kilometres so far this year and a really good half marathon result in October, I can only surmise that Woopi (and the accompanying rest / less time on my feet) has been good for my preparation. As has running through continual hip discomfort.

It’s taken me till now to realise that the extra Pilates sessions I took on last January had made things worse, so I stopped all Pilates in August however mild pain lingers even when walking.

I always feel like I am on the cusp of a complete bodily breakdown and am just grateful for all the runs I manage. I don’t really know what I would do if I had to stop… it’s tied so much to my wellbeing and goals now (and increasingly to my way of meeting new people / getting out of the house).

Through running I began my first genuine bromance and friendship with another fella a bit older than me via parkrun, and hopefully we may run a marathon together in 2018. He’s a bit devastated by his recent first attempt at it and admitted the lack of company and the mental side of it was a huge factor so I am considering being his training buddy through summer to get us both over the line. What a great memory to share…can I really just run side by side the whole way and disregard my time? I am a fairly fierce competitor and find it hard to run slower than my best.

I managed to best my modest goals (1/2M less than 1:39:00 – did 1:31:10 and 5k parkrun under 20 mins – did 19:39) this year and am scared to take them to a new level, especially since it would mean an increase in mileage. Everything from here till January is a bonus so perhaps my 10k Zatopek time from last year may fall in December.

When I think back to 2006 till 2015 when I mostly sat in a chair playing WoW for pleasure/leisure, they seem like wasted years in terms of my fitness. I probably played a couple of years too long if I’m honest. Cycling may have to come back onto the agenda if I can’t get this hip into a manageable state. The cortisone injection did nothing so I’m unsure what else can be done.

by dfv | Posted in General | Comments Off on Inexplicably a better running year |
November 1st, 2017

Not the best patch for book reading

Whoa…a bit of a rough run it’s been in 2017. A few unfinished novels including the lauded Richard Ford (Lay of the Land – 2 stars). I guess this signals I’m really not truly ever going back to an American novel phase in a hurry. Having said that, I managed to read Haruf’s Our Souls at Night which was sweet but didn’t quite have the impact I’d hoped (4 stars). The fourth of the English history series Revolution by Ackroyd (3 stars) was a bit of a dry slog, and did inform me of the first three Georgians, but I feel like I need to read another book to commit Hannover things to memory a little better.

Somewhere in the pile was a decent Quarterly Essay by David Marr on Pauline Hanson. My god, I am leaving things so long before write ups that I can barely remember them.

The Tontine books (by Costain) I got for a buck each from an Op Shop and were an enjoyable romp, though they took awhile to get through. 3 stars.

The Stone Raft by Sarramago was a magical road trip by a small group of oddballs and a stray dog around a cast-adrift and erratic Iberian peninsula for a purpose I can no longer remember. Quite a charming novel though – 4 stars.

When I was Mortal by Marias was a fantastic bunch of often menacing and unpredictable short stories, translated from Spanish. Loved nearly all of them and just tore through this book. 4.5 stars.

A gift from my old mate James, In Love With These Times by Flying Nun Records founder Roger Shepherd was an easy, if mediocre read. He seems to have done his fair share of drugs and booze and the recollections are accordingly hazy. 3 stars for him being an unapologetic Clean and Chris Knox fan, and for admitting he was often pretty bumbling and incompetent.

by dfv | Posted in General | Comments Off on Not the best patch for book reading |
October 22nd, 2017

Woopi summary

We’ve been back at work for a month now and holiday memories recede quickly. This was our fourth year up north (for ~4 weeks) and things went fairly predictably. The highlights were my parents and sister staying in a nearby cabin; catching up with old colleague Jamie Stammers, a parkrun PB at Coffs Harbour (19:39!), 3 games of golf, forest running with the local cross-country team, and losing my wallet at the pub one night (blame loose jean pockets). The oddest moment was seeing Kim get a rush of nostalgia and buy a pair of Op Shop roller skates, which I was terrified she’d break a leg with.

No fishing rods this year, because I was told things were poorly. It was very dry, and didn’t rain once. Folks were watering their sites to keep the grass alive, and many python sitings were made in Josie’s back garden (coming in for domestic water). Bonnie had a good time, with minimal toilet incidents, but I feel like I spent a good chunk of each day escorting her and Fergus on toilet breaks. It was not the most restful of holidays for me in that way.

Plans for next year – buy / loan a boogie board. Buy golf clubs – those hire ones were terrible. Bring a less-weighty book that I will actually finish.

 

 

by dfv | Posted in General | Comments Off on Woopi summary |
June 8th, 2017

Another pleasant few months spent

 This Dutch print is probably the best jigsaw gift I could have received and I’ve struggled to choose a successor. We’re loaning our house out to Michael and Jenny when away in Whoopi this year and they’ll need this space, so no new 3000+ piece puzzles are being started now. Took about 9-10 weeks and a ton of fantasy baseball podcasts to do this beauty.

by dfv | Posted in Games, General | Comments Off on Another pleasant few months spent |
May 16th, 2017

Nasi Lemak in Perth

Summoned to Perth for a work emergency I find myself mercifully alone at dinner having a famous Malaysian dish and wondering how I just blew 150 on some CDs at the wonderfully old fashioned Dada Records. That is all. Life is great!

by dfv | Posted in General | Comments Off on Nasi Lemak in Perth |
May 16th, 2017

Brix

I knew it would be pulp but it needed to be read. The Rise, The Fall, and the Rise by Brix Smith tells a surprisingly rocky and neurotic tale. It’s a pretty candid romp about a damaged person who just seemed to choose all the wrong guys but who ends up mostly happy considering things. There’s nothing much new about Mark Smith here ( except for a disturbing hand-biting episode), but what was great to hear about was her life after 1988. Not being plugged into Brittish TV or fashion I didn’t know about her talents in both fields nor whether she still had dealings with ex band members. The perfect book to finish off on a plane to Perth for work. 3 stars.

by dfv | Posted in Bands, Books | Comments Off on Brix |





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