1. 2017, A Look Back in Annoyance

    It’s been a few years since the last one, but I’ve been thinking about the year with enough time to present my end-of-december review in the format of an award show. As usual, there are no trophies on offer, but I am more than willing to email a PDF certificate to those winners who want something to stick to their fridge.

  2. Thoughts from Places — My Ten-Year Reunion

    and sometimes you close your eyes and see the place where you used to live when you were young Continuing my naval-gazing series on “a decade is a big deal in a world that thinks in base-10.”

  3. Thoughts from Places — Mafeking

    Between abandoned chairs and damp eucalypts, evoking memories from years before. A fire burns in that campsite still, young squires listen whilst I speak of old lore. Meditations on ten years of Mudbash.

  4. Election 2016

    Musings on the forthcoming double-dissolution election.

  5. Where does the aqueduct go?

    The Langford Gap Aqueduct is a convenient highway to be sure, but what is it doing there in the first place? I investigate the Kiewa Valley Hydro Scheme to find out. Renewable energy is all the rage these days, so it surprised me to find out that Victoria’s biggest hydro power generators were first planned over 100 years ago.

  6. Writing good emails

    A simple guide to writing emails that don’t suck.

  7. Making a Rover Training Course

    An overview of how the team at Rover Training Victoria go about the surprisingly-frequent process of turning a dry national document into a vibrant training course that meets the needs of our members.

  8. Bayswater Rail Redevelopment Underway

    Recently I caught a train from Bayswater station, where things are getting underway to remove the Mountain Highway and Bayswater Road level crossings. This is a project I’ve been waiting for ever since I found out that grade-separation projects could be done when Boronia station was put underground in the late 90s.

  9. The Mysterious Blue Pole of Spencer Street Station

    There is an odd black and blue pole in Spencer Street Station, it marks the place of a hill long-gone. There have been plenty of hills removed from Australia since 1788, so what makes this one special?

  10. 50 Years of the Australian Dollar

    Celebrating 50 years of the Australian Dollar by writing about it at some length.

  11. The Call

    This is based on a story I contributed to in high school. There was a colossally huge planet and this far away outpost was responding to the summons of their leaders. There was also magic involved... anyway, the idea has been knocking around for a couple of weeks now, I wanted to get it out.

  12. That's Australia to Me

    It’s odd that the place that your mother happened to be when she gave birth to you has so much impact on the way that most of us will proceed to conduct themselves over the next 80-odd years. It’s probably fair to say that we have the most divisive national holiday going around, but I guess I’ll run with it. So this is what Australia is to me.

  13. Bogong Week 10 2015

    The journey to the Bogong Rover Chalet began the night before, at Ajays in Heathmont — most of the party was meeting there. I arrived just after 6pm and picked up my gear. Once everyone had their stuff, we got dinner and were on the road. We arrived at Tawonga around midnight (it’s not bogong without as little sleep as possible) and before we knew it, it was time for the morning so we were up and out.

  14. Lance Peters (1940-2015)

    Some thoughts on my Pop's passing this morning

  15. Finding New Horizons

    We are currently about 25 hours from New Horizons’ blistering (872km/h) flyby of the Pluto-Charon system. It’s a weird place (although the Solar System is full of weird places) and I hope it’s going to get weirder once humanity has paid its first visit to a Kuiper Belt Object (#notaplanet) I mean, since this mission was launched, nine whole years ago, Pluto became a Minor Planet, gained two Moons and that’s just what has happened from Earth. The New Horizons team have been scienceing for months, and will continue to do so for months more, but tomorrow, the probe is going to get to within 12,500 km of Pluto. That means it will be fly between Pluto and Charon — objects so small and close and far away that we literally can not resolve them into separate objects on Earth. And I think that is really cool. Post-flyby Edit: Aww my gosh, New Horizons made it! It it’s sending back data to Earth! It’s horribly slow for some interesting technical reasons, but the data is on it’s way! Huzzah! Great work by NASA and APL :)

  16. Thoughts from Places — Sale

    Have you ever thought about the ways that friendship has evolved over the last fifty years? When my eldest aunt was born, my grandparents put a notice in The Argus, which back then was basically what The Age is today. I’m uncertain what The Age’s role in this topsy-turvy world was but that’s not important right now. The gorgeous effect of the intertwining lake, and the many factors of nature surrounds, the peaceful blue of the sky above, and the life of the insects covers the ground.

  17. The Boot

    I was “recently” Booted from my Rover Crew, the preferred end to a successful Rovering career (in Australia, a Rover who turns 26 is Booted from their Crew in a celebration of what can be up to 20 years of Scouting as a youth member.)

  18. Anzac Day 2015

    100 years on from the landings at Gallipoli, Anzac is probably the well-known word in the country, and for that matter the general South Pacific area.

  19. Malcolm Fraser (1930-2015)

    It’s a bad year to be a former Prime Minister, it would seem. Malcolm Fraser was the only Liberal PM to achieve a parliamentary majority in his own right: after The Dismissal and accompanying double-dissolution, he won a 55-seat margin (when you added in the Country Party MPs) which is still the biggest majority in Commonwealth electoral history. He seems to have had a hand in the end of minority white rule in Rhodesia, which I had no idea of; as well as accepting 150,000 refugees from the Vietnam War, although I was vaguely aware of that. To us young folk though, he is probably best known for giving up his life membership of the Liberal Party and regularly telling them not to be so evil - showing us being that even after 60 years of dedicated service, you should never be afraid to be true yourself, and your beliefs.

  20. 2014, A Look Back in Annoyance

    In the interest of a little variety, my “oh em gee, 2014 was so cool” post takes the form of an awards show. Winners are encouraged to print out a screen cap and stick it to their fridge.

  21. Thoughts from Places — The Atherton Tableland

    The Atherton Tablelands is possibly a misleading title, but it was the name of the expedition, so I’m running with it. You don’t know me, when you see me I’m a stranger on your land. But while I’m drinking, I’ll still be thinking. Cos all I see is water; When all she sees is dry, dry land. UNESCO has four criteria for declaring a natural site as “world heritage quality” (plus six for cultural sites) and Queensland’s Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, a place that receives over six metres of rain each year, is one of only a handful to meet all of them. In terms of numbers, the Wet Tropics is just outstanding. According to the page I just linked you to, it covers less than 0.2% of Australia, but contains 30% of the marsupial species, 60% of bat species, 25% of rodents, 40% of birds, 30% of frogs, 20% of reptiles, 60% of butterflies, 65% of ferns, 21% of cycads, 37% of conifers, 30% of orchids and 18% of Australia’s vascular plant species. Time moves strangely in the rainforest, with trees standing 20m tall that are 1,000 years old, next to ‘ferns’ from a species that first bloomed 400MYA - plants that are either fully male or fully female and don’t go in for the new-fangled intricate vascular structures that you expect to find on the underside of leaves. We also came across a patch where Cyclone Yasi had torn up all the trees and you could see clear sky, a scar won’t be healed in our lifetimes. One estimate is that it will take 150 years for the canopy to fill back in.

  22. Cairns Moot 2014

    Cairns Moot was this weekend, and based largely on the recommendation of a Brisbane Rover who went to the last one who I don’t know; as well as a long-term desire to go visit Cairns and the surrounding rainforest-y area, I flew across roughly three-quarters of the country to a weirdly hub-shaped airport where I was met by a uniformed Kamerunga Rover who had the exciting job of finding most of the 60-odd people who were coming up for the weekend.

  23. Thoughts from Places — Sydney Harbour

    I want to see he sun go down. From St Kilda Esplanade… I’d give you all of Sydney Harbour - all that land; and all that water. For that one sweet promenade In the popular, international, imagination, the two manmade structures that universally represent Australia are the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. I haven’t seen them since I was 10, so one of the most surprising parts of my trip was stepping off the train at Circular Quay to find that they were on the opposite sides of the quay. It seems that even tourist ads get things right sometimes.

  24. Sinking of the Emden: A First Hand Account

    For this episode of “Things that happened 100 years ago” I dug down into the family archives, and pulled out a letter written by my great-grandfather to my great-grandmother. This is a first-hand account of the RAN’s first ship-to-ship action, the Town-class HMAS Sydney vs the German cruiser Emden.

  25. Thoughts from Places — The Shrine of Remembrance

    Far from Flanders fake poppies flow Reminding me of headstones, row on row, Standing in memory of those who died While PC-9s, in Missing Man, fly Heard above the field gun’s bellow. I’ve never been to the Remembrance Day service before, so it was very interesting. It was much more like Reserve Forces Day than Anzac Day, I suppose that since Anzac day has become a bigger deal people are more keen to speak there?  This was more … simple, although no less dedicated. Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne on Remembrance Day 2014 The usual VIPs - the Governor, MPs, the Lord Mayor, ADF & RSL bigwigs, along with the Shrine Trustees were joined by most of the Consular Corps, a reminder that we and the Kiwis are weird for making Anzac Day our primary day of commemoration. Another thing I noticed was the unusual flag arrangement - Australian Flag, Union Jack, French Tricolour. Turns out they have rules about which flags they fly based on which countries have their national memorial days when. They also will fly unit flags on their individual memorial days. I don’t know how they decide whose flags will fly November 11 - maybe they always use the two imperial flags to try and cover as much ground as possible, or perhaps they have a rotation? Governor Chernov mentioned in his speech that the Shrine of Remembrance was dedicated on Remembrance Day in 1934 in a ceremony attended by 300,000 people at a time when barely a million people lived in Melbourne, and while today’s ceremony had barely a fraction of that number, I still felt like Chief Inspector Finch. I got this feeling of connection, and I could see the whole thing stretched out as a long chain of events stretching back to General Monash getting the politicians to agree to construct his vision … I felt that although I stood there 80 years after the dedication, I was still much closer to the beginning of this tradition than the end. Lest we forget.

  26. Mimicking the Moon (PIA18291)

    PIA18291: Mimicking the Moon (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute) This image from the Cassini orbiter shows Saturn and it’s moon Titan, both in a crescent phase. This image has a scientific purpose, as well as being astronomically hot - scientists can tell all kinds of exciting things about atmospheric conditions by looking at how the light acts. … As if you would expect anything different from people who can build a robot and then fire it a quarter of the way across the solar system for a happy snap.

  27. Thoughts from Places — Sydney Harbour

    I want to see he sun go down. From St Kilda Esplanade… I’d give you all of Sydney Harbour - all that land; and all that water. For that one sweet promenade In the popular, international, imagination, the two manmade structures that universally represent Australia are the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. I haven’t seen them since I was 10, so one of the most surprising parts of my trip was stepping off the train at Circular Quay to find that they were on the opposite sides of the quay. It seems that even tourist ads get things right sometimes.

  28. Gough Whitlam (1916-2014)

    Gough, Your impact on Australia won’t soon be forgotten.

  29. 45 Years on from Apollo 11

    45 years ago today, humans walked on the moon for the first time.

  30. Anzac Day 2014

    So, it being April 24th and all, I started thinking about about how tomorrow is a day of remembrance not just of the servicemembers who did not return, but those who did and whose lives were forever changed.

  31. Conway's Easter Ramble

    The party set out early on Saturday. We were on track to begin with as Lea joined us on the way up to Wallace's Hut. But a few hours later, we came to an "unexpected intersection" and it turned out that we'd missed the first actual turn of the journey...

  32. 90s Kid Moot

    I’ve always said that it’s poor form to evaluate a camp before you’ve had a shower, so after giving the weekend due consideration, I want to congratulate Brush Park Rover Crew and Sydney North Region for an amazing Moot (if training has taught me anything it’s that participants make just as much impact on how awesome a weekend is as the organisers.) In a textbook case of “It’s not better or worse, it’s just different” it was nice to go to a Moot where ‘participating in the activities’ and ‘not sinking cans at breakfast’ were both things. It was also interesting to see NSW’s “subcommittees are stupid, that’s what we have Rover Crews for” approach to event management in action. Thanks to Brush Park both for the Moot and for taking such great care of us Interstaters - especially Cowie for driving me to and from the campsite (an amazing campsite, by the way,) Jamie- who in addition to being Large and In Charge, bent over backwards to help us out and also made sure we all made it offsite somehow. Also, Erin who is One Of Us now, but was the one to make Victorian participation happen. All in all, I must admit that there ain’t no party like a Brush Park party

  33. An Open Letter to Surfmoot

    Surfmoot, my old friend. Here we are: parting ways at last. The Hottest 100 Day long weekend just won’t be the same without you.

  34. WAM2014 — some scattered recollections from a year later

    My time at the 19th Australian Rover Moot, WAM2014 at Woodmans Point Recreation Reserve in Perth.

  35. Roadtrip to WAM2014

    The journey to WAM began bright and early on Boxing Day 2013. We had four days to get from Melbourne to Perth, it was about 6.30am and many people were wearing sunglasses. We were seen off by a number of people, most of whom we would be seeing at the event — but the contingent roadtrip was a beast that would not be tamed.

  36. Cashing a Cheque

    A tedious testiment to the traditions of yesteryear. Basically, the fiancial equivalent of the appendix — although cheques seldom attempt to kill you by getting inflamed, they are an atrophied reminder of what once was. However, money is money (once three days have passed) and can be exchanged for goods and services. Three and a half stars.

  37. World Moot - A Blow-by-blow Account

    Looking back on my experiences at the 2013 World Scout Moot held at Awacamenj Mino Scout Camp, a few trips to Ottawa, and my Urban Experience in Quebec City.

  38. World Moot Pretour

    My epic journey from Melbourne to Ottawa, via New York, Washington DC, Pennsylvania and Ontario, with the Australian/New Zealand Contingent.

  39. Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

    I came home from a weekend away to find that Neil Armstrong, the “one small step for man” guy, died on Saturday. Childhood hero bites the dust.

  40. Sunday Night

    On Sunday night I was peacefully lying upside down on the couch in the lounge room watching Kill Bill Pt.1 with Sarah.Gary and I noticed a few cars go past when Rhys goes out the front and tells us thats its the same car and they’ve been hanging around a while. We all thought that was strange but went back to our business, when Sarah and I were starting to make tracks, we find that theres shaving cream and chocolate sauce all over Rhys’ car windows so he goes all “grrr, angry” and runs off down the street. I call out Mr Burridge who promptly jumped on his bike and rode off in the other direction while the three of us (Me, Gary & Mr Vine) stand on the kerb having a bit of a lol when the car went by twice more and Sarah got all mothery. They returned quickly enough and we went back inside to see if they’d come back. Then after a while I tagged in for Rhys, who’d been lurking outside with his sword only to find that some idiot friends of his were behind it. It was all a bit of a let down, really.

  41. Mudbash 2009

    A very good year? It t’was a good event. Whippit came in 6th in the Non-Rover Category. It started friday, they even got a visit then from Sunrise, the weather girl drove through the Obs Course in Bung’ole. Clearly the best choice of buggy. I got up there Friday night. First time I drove to Mafeking after dark.. which was interesting. All the more so because of the RIDICULOUS AMOUNTS OF FOG. As usual we met up with EJ for a parma (or similar) at the Royal Mail, only to find that they had gone and remodelled the place in the last year, it was highly rude. Parmas got smaller too which was just as concerning as the loss of the circular pool table. We were camped with Corhanwarrabul this year, for no good reason, as it was more like Corhanwarrabul was camping with us based on the numbers of 16 vs 3. This is why I don’t like missing Business Meetings and Prep nights: things happen that I don’t like. I also Marshalled on Saturday afternoon, it was interesting to see the event from another perspective. And I found a cool looking water tower/observation point. Saturday night, they showed the video of Fifi Box on Friday morning (in between shouts of Dean, do a handstand). Looks like it was a good load of PR for Rovers… Yay! Other than that, no exciting crew drama like there was last year, but that’s actually a good thing so I’m not complaining about it.

  42. I went bike riding again today

    That’s right, IIIIIIIIIIIII’M a big man. After two years of not riding… I rode again today. Reliable sources state that I have “now risen to a new level of lofty awesomeness” You can’t argue with reliable sources. That would just make you look foolish.

  43. EPIC MANTRIP IN QUEENSLAND, Feat. the Sisters Stripeikis

    The thrilling tale of the time that we went to Queensland for no good reason. (NB tale may not be thrilling)

  44. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

    So it’s the final Harry Potter novel being released. My predicted ending is this: Dumbledore returns, cloaked in robes of white. At which point the Estate of J.R.R. Tolkien intervenes and the rest of the book is withheld by court order.

  45. Game On!

    Last night at work, the conversation was fixed on calling up mates. Apparently Someone had this git going to try and go him, but he called up mates (some of whom also called up mates) and there were 40-odd people waiting for this guy to show up so they could kick his head in. Then he told us about the time, a few years ago, when the class above us played this game with the year above them, which basically involved keeping possession of a ball. One day, a kid got tackled. He tried hitting the year 12 to get him off. He got hit back. Then the year 11s looked at the year 12s. the year 12s looked at the year 11s. The greater part of the two year levels then punched on. There was no real option. That got me thinking about last year, and those delightful young folk in Middle School. Specifically, how all those rivalries, feuds, etc that had been steadily stewing since year seven just disappeared when those delightful young folk were messin’ with our faction, it was the rest of our year’s moral obligation to come to our assistance. And then of course there was later that day, when four guys decided to try and take down Butland. He just bolted off to his class, with said four year 10 students hot on his tail. Closely following them was the greater part of the Senior School, with Mr Skelly at our head, ripping into them, while we just stood there and watched them shit themselves as they turned around to see a raging teacher and a couple of hundred kids behind him. But I’m getting ahead of myself. ###The Beginning I suppose that, If we’re completely honest, it was our fault. Back one day in April aught-six, we started playing a game with a few of the more benign year 9s (and a few of the more belligerent ones) that involved giving them the football and then tackling them to get it back. We played this for about a term, until they started running off with the ball to the top oval, swamping Kieren and anyone else slow enough. We said repeatedly, “Pack your bags, kids this isn’t what we wanted.” But they kept doing it. And we were heavily outnumbered by this time, and they played as a team, while we still were in the style we started with, deck as many of the little snots as possible. We often ended up chasing the faster ones through the schoolyard, so what was happening down on the lower oval became known to both our year levels, and to a lesser extent, the rest of the school. And we were getting angrier each passing week. Here and there there were a few nasty exchanges of words. ###Game On! The last day they played their game, they once again picked on Butland. As soon as he’d get the ball, they’d start jumping on him, while he just shook them off. Eventually, they’d get the weight distribution right, and he’d just tumble down. Well this day, they held on longer than normal, so we started coming in to help him out. Turns out they took longer because they were kicking him while he was still on the ground. One kid took this to the extreme, and even kept kicking him while Butland held onto his shin, trying to stop him. What he ended up doing was setting up the powder keg that thankfully brought this whole thing to an end. The kid kicked so hard, that he effectively broke his own leg. And it was one of the worst sounds that you could ever hear. I didn’t hear it myself, but I actually saw the others who did. They recoiled like they’d just seen a trench spike going clean through zombie skull. (That was why those four year 10s took it upon themselves to try and beat Butland) ###The Red Arrow And then there was the following day. You could smell the bloodlust in the air. Homegroup saw us inundated with people saying ‘If they try to start someone, get Crowther (World-class(really!)runner extrodinare) to run up and get “me and the boys”’. As I said in my blog at the time, there were slightly less than a dozen teachers. What I didn’t say was that all the petty disputes that had been stewing since year seven were set aside, and year 12 was at our back. 130 guys just sitting back, waiting for the little bastards to give us the excuse we needed to beat their snotty faces into the dirt. Then word got around that the year 10s were there too. That made it Middle School Vs Year 12. Well, Year 11 weren’t gonna stand for that. They started prowling around too, and their usual soccer game was suspiciously larger than usual that day. I’ll just give a quick runthrough of the teachers standing watch that day. We had in attendance one Assistant Principal, a total of 6 YLCs - both the Year 12 Coordinators, both the Year 10 Coordinators (one of whom was inexplicably armed with a shovel,) both the Year 9 Coordinators (one of whom was built like a brick outhouse,) the Head of Senior School, and two of the yard duty teachers. Thinking back now, they must have been absolutely terrified. There were 400 students who were on tenterhooks, just spoiling for a fight. I can’t imagine just how happy they were when the 100-odd year 9s and 10s at the far end of the oval just stood around. Eventually, one of the teachers sent them off to pick up rubbish for loitering. They might not have understood that, while they had us outnumbered by more than 3-to-1 in plain sight, it would take about 30 seconds for our ‘Observers’ standing up along the portables behind us to duck up to their mates in the Senior Courtyard behind us and bring up the Cav. But no one understands better the pack mentality of a high school year level as well as a teacher. They knew exactly how close they were to massive violence taking place on the lower oval that day, But we just played football, thankful that it was just us for once, and knowing that if anything happened, those guys who had been mooseying on down to check out the situation would be back as soon as we could bellow “Hey guys, give us a hand wouldya?” ###Musings And I think that’s one of the main reasons why I don’t hate all of our year anymore. They’re subject to mild indifference, but that’s it. All because of that primative part of the male cerebellum that says “Yeah, sure you don’t like ‘em. they’re the outcasts down on the oval. But they’re Year 12 outcasts, and you just can’t leave them to get roughed up by the Middle School. Those delightful young folk are already far too uppity. … … DAMMIT MAN, YOU’VE GOT NO CHOICE! GO AND DEFEND YOUR CLASS’ HONOUR”

  46. New Zealand 2007

    Goin’ to NZ to celebrate finishing school. As you do.

  47. Muckup Day? No Deal...

    So we walk into school from the bottom oval and the first thing we see is a broken window on the edge of the lower oval “Oh you’ve GOT to be kidding” we walk up and see our friends, along with the rest of Senior School standing around talking and are directed to the G-Block portables. We roll up there and “Great. School’s gonna be pissed about this.” Gary gets a call and goes off to B-Block Staffroom where the Social Comitteee is in damage-control mode, but to no avale… word is that almost half the year level, or over 100 people, plus ring-ins from year 10, and former students were all up there last night and they caused a whole bunch of damage. A couple of people are getting expelled, and probably charged. Come 9am, following a quick conversation to an Assistant Principal, confirming our bonafides as concerned and appalled students, we were sheparded off into the VCE Centre. There, we were yelled at for the next 20 minutes (in sucession) by the Principal, the Head of Senior School, a Year 12 Coordinator, an Assistant Principal, and one of our School Captains, while the SWC, both Yr11 Coordinators, the other Yr12 Co-ord, the Assistant Principal we had a quick chat with on the way in, a Yr8 Co-ord, and a whole bunch of other teachers watched on. We were then ordered to get off of the premises, posthaste. The entire day was cancelled, from the assembly, the carnival, the slave day activities. Everything. I guess we still have the Valedictory though. There are several nasty rumours flying around that two people have been expelled and they are “helping Police with their enquiries”.

  48. Expeditions 2 Hike

    The trip log for my Expedition 2 Hike in Venturers, a four day trek through the Yarra Ranges National Park from East Warburton to Powelltown.