30 November 2006

Vale Wanda

A warning is in order here. The contents of this post may upset some people so you may want to go get a cuppa until I've finished, or you may want to just skip it and go to the previous post about the G3 concert.

If you grew up on a farm you'll be okay.

The Wanda in the title of this post is (or was) a chook. She was the last of a flock of four that we got about three years ago. While they were all laying we were getting so may eggs we didn't know what to do with them. They were all very good layers.

If you've ever owned chickens before, you'll know that they all have their own personalities. Because of that, they all had names; Helga, Agatha (Aggie), Bertha and Wanda.

Helga was by far the best layer, once laying a 100 gram double yolker. Unfortunately, I don't think that double yolker did her any good as she ended up with a prolapse that was too big to poke back in and I had to, how can I put this, put her out of her misery with the axe.

Last summer we came home from work and found Aggie and Bertha both dead in the nest. We think they just got in there together, got stuck, and suffocated in the heat. By then, we were only getting two eggs a day, sometimes only one. We soon found out which one wasn't laying at all.

Anyway, Wanda stayed in the land of the living pretty much as a pet. She was eating the food we gave her, but she wasn't producing. She wasn't even scratching up the weeds like she used to, just crapping everywhere. For the last six months we didn't even bother to lock her up at night. She'd put herself to bed and in the morning she'd wander around the yard and up the back stairs, following Xena the fat beagle around when she felt like it.

Part of the reason we didn't just finish her off was that I felt Donna should do this one as it was her turn. I wasn't going to do it unless it was for a very good reason.

By last weekend we'd noticed she was deteriorating. She'd come up the back stairs and sit on the verandah with us and end up having to lie down and have a wheeze.

So, this afternoon I sharpened up the axe and this weekend we'll have four more chooks. Start saving up your egg cartons Eddie, you're my best customer.


I know there's two questions you want to ask.

Who did the deed? I did. I think Donna would have if pushed, but she would have taken too long about it. As it turned out, Wanda put up a bit of a struggle.

What did Wanda taste like? With all that wheezing she's been doing lately, I don't think anyone would want to eat her. There's no telling if it was just age, or something worse. The body was disposed of. I won't tell you how, but there's a reason we waited until a Thursday.

By the way, the next lot won't have names. Not to start off with anyway.


The G3 concert was on last night.

It's been a while since I last went to something like that and I'd forgotten just how loud it could be. By the time we got home just after midnight my ears were just about back to normal. There was still a bit of a rushing sound, but that was the strong winds we've had for the last couple of days.

John Petrucci came on for the first forty minute set. I'd never actually heard his music before, so I didn't really know what to expect. He's a great guitarist, but not as entertaining as the other two. The highlight for me during Petrucci's set was when his drummer had to replace a stick and didn't have one handy. He threw the damaged stick off to one side of the stage, then waved to someone to get their attention, all the while continuing to play with one stick. Five seconds later another stick flew through the air, straight into his hand, to a cheer from the audience.

Having to wait for him to replace a broken string for the last number of his set was a bit of a disappointment. Vai and Satriani both had spare guitars and changed after every couple of songs. He would have been better off forgetting about it and letting his drummer play the drum solo that the audience were screaming for.

After a break while the equipment was changed and tested, Steve Vai came on. Even where we were sitting you could see the facial expressions when he played. He was a lot more entertaining than Petrucci. He actually reminded me a little of the latest Doctor Who. A good indication of how hard he worked that guitar was that he was replacing it after almost every song at the beginning of his set.

Another break and on came Joe Satriani, the man I'd really gone to see. Seeing him play songs that I recognised was great, especially "Always with me, always with you" and "Crowd Chant".

"Crowd Chant" really showed who the Satriani fans were as it involved a bit of audience participation. He'd play a riff, then the audience would sing it back. "Always with you, always with me" was the song that first brought Satriani to my attention years ago, so it was great to hear that played. That was the end of Satriani's solo set as first Vai, then Petrucci came back on or a bit of a jam session to end the show.

An article in the Courier Mail recently said that Satriani came up with the idea of G3 after imagining what it would be like to be the guy in the middle of row twenty at such and event. Well I was the guy in the middle of row twenty-one and I can tell you, it was a great night.

27 November 2006

Still on Leave

I'm now into my fourth and final week of long service leave and I'm still not bored. Not that I've been doing much, but that's what holidays are supposed to be about.

We've got the G3 concert on Wednesday night, that's Satriani, Vai and Petrucci. We didn't win the passes to the aftershow party that were up for grabs, but then I don't think that would have really been our scene anyway.

I was kind of hoping Stu Hamm would be Satriani's bass player for the tour, but it doesn't look like he will be. If you click here you'll see why. I think that video is taken from the "Satriani: Live in San Francisco" DVD. Every time I watch it I have a mental image of Doctor Evil and Samwise Gamgee up there on the stage. The audience aren't booing him by the way, they're calling his name.

If anyone out there can lip read, I'd love to know what he says to the audience half way through.


Back when I first created this blog, one of the first things I wrote about was helping my brother, Laurie, to install an antenna on his roof. Well, the house is now on the market, so yesterday I was up on the roof with him again taking it down.

It's funny how everytime we visit family members to help them do something, it always turns out to be the hottest it's been for a while. It wasn't hot compared to what it will be once summer hits, but it was still 30 degrees Celsius when we left at about 4 o'clock.

At least the antenna was a lot easier to get down than it was to get up.

22 November 2006

Don't Call Me a Sissy

The training continued today.

We started off at the industrial estate again as a bit of a warm up and pretty much right from the start I was doing alright. I was crunching the gears occasionally, but coming up to turns I was getting my speed right, getting the revs right and getting it into gear. So off we went into the traffic.

As it was such a nice day, we headed out to Canungra. Canungra is a nice, quiet little town in the Gold Coast hinterland. Now that word hinterland might give you an idea what the area is like, it's hilly.

We drove from there, back toward the coast to Nerang. By the time we got to there I was starting to feel pretty confident. I still wasn't driving perfectly, but I'd managed some pretty tricky gear changes going up steep hills and the twisty roads didn't bother me.

Onto some more traffic around Beenleigh and Yatala and I was still handling things OK, all the time getting more confident.

Around ten we stopped at a truck stop just off the highway and grabbed some lunch to take back to the driving school.

Back into it after the early lunch for a couple of hours more practice before the test at one.

That was when the wheels started to fall off.

I don't mean literally, I mean my driving just got worse and worse. I was crunching gears, missing gears; the more I stuffed up, the more I got frustrated and the more I got frustrated, the more I stuffed up.

Eventually Keith decided that any more practice was going to be counterproductive and I couldn't agree more with him, so we headed to the test centre at Beenleigh.

After sitting around for a while because we were early, the tester, Colin, came out. We checked the truck out, I signed some paperwork, and we were off.

Putting it into gear to pull away could have been a little quieter, but it wasn't really that bad. We pulled away, turned left at the lights, headed down hill to another left and my gear changes were all good. It was early, but my confidence was coming back.

A few more intersections and roundabouts and I was still going OK. I hadn't hit anything, I hadn't exceeded the speed limit, I was checking my mirrors and generally starting to feel like a real truck driver.

Then we came to a roundabout where I had to slow down and I missed a gear change and had to come to a full stop to get it into gear.

Now normally that would be an instant fail as you're deemed to not have full control of the vehicle. Luckily Col was a nice guy and told me he'd let me have that one, big relief.

We continued on and, even though there were the occasional slight grinding sounds from the gearbox, I wasn't going too bad.

Then I did it again and almost had to come to a complete stop.

When we drove up a street in Beenleigh and I realised the test centre was right in front of us, I knew what the verdict was. The test should have take about an hour and we were back in about twenty minutes.

At least I wasn't the only person to fail today and for the same reason. The fact the other person was female is irrelevant. It was interesting though, that the other student lives in the same suburb as me, when you consider the driving school is a good forty kilometre drive from here and there are other schools we could have gone to. It says a lot for the quality of Major Operator and Driver Training Services. I'd recommend them anytime.

Anyway, I'm going to take some more lessons, probably an hour or two a week, to get up to the right standard, then I'll redo the test.

So don't start calling me a sissy just yet.

One of the upsides of my failing today is that I'll be able to blog about it for a little longer.

21 November 2006

Synchro is for Sissies

Now I know why they call it a crash box.

As you can see from the picture, I started my training today for a truck licence.

Now, you'd think the main difference between driving a truck and driving a car would be the size. If not that, the extra weight when you brake and pull away.

There is a difference, but you get used to that after a while. Well, sort of, but more about that later.

The biggest problem is the Roadranger gearbox. It doesn't have synchromesh so you have to double clutch every time you change gear. Every time.

This involves the following:
1) Push the clutch in.
2) Take the truck out of gear.
3) Let the clutch out.
4) Push the clutch back in again.
5) Put the truck into the next gear.
6) Let the clutch out again.

Sounds easy, I hear you say.

That's just when you're going up through the gears. If you're changing down, then there's step 3a. Step 3a is:

Rev the engine a bit (around 400 RPM over what you were doing before step 1).

Now, if you got all that right, without mixing the order up, or getting your revs wrong, it'll go into gear as easy as anything. Just like the synchro gearbox in your car. If you get it wrong, you soon learn why they call it a crash box.

Oh, and there's also a little lever on the front of the gear stick. This lever changes the gearbox between low and high range. This means you have the same position for third gear as you do for seventh, fourth is in the same position as eighth and so on. Pulling away in third, you'd pull the stick back to go to fourth, flick the switch up, push the stick across to the left and forward (as though you're going to first) to get into fifth. Just to add a little more confusion.

It's actually not that hard and there's that satisfying little hiss as you flick the lever up.

I won't tell you about the other, smaller lever on the side of the gear stick that gives you a sort of a half gear as I'll just confuse you. I didn't use that one much anyway.

But you don't want to learn about crash boxes. You want to know how I got on.

As you know, I've been on long service leave for the past two weeks, that means lots of sleeping in. I was up at five this morning as I had to be at the driving school in Yatala by seven. What a shock to the system.

I was actually a few minutes late which turned out to be handy. My phone rang as I was getting out of the car. It was Rachael from the school checking to see if I was on my way and she gave me directions to the office. The school also trains people on other heavy machinery, so they have quite a big area in which to get lost.

Anyway, I was introduced to Keith, my instructor, handed over the necessary paperwork and money and then, after a quick chat we walked out to the truck.

Keith showed me around the truck, how to check the oil and other fluids and how to bleed the moisture from the air tanks. Then in we got.

Keith drove first as the engine was cold and if you've never used that kind of gearbox you aren't going to get far. We stopped at an industrial estate and changed over.

I can honestly say that at this point, I wasn't nervous. I thought I would have been, but I guess after sailing yachts, riding motorbikes and flying planes, a truck is easy.

We pulled away from the curb, no worries. By the time we got to the first left turn, which would have been no more than two hundred metres down the road, I would have crunched that gearbox at least half a dozen times. And that was only two gear changes. If I'd known what it was going to be like I might have been nervous to start with.

Hands up if you rest your left foot on the clutch pedal before you change gear.

That loud purring sound you hear when a truck slows down is the engine brake. When you're driving something that heavy you need all the help you can get to slow it down. The trouble is, there's a sensor on the clutch. You only have to touch it lightly and the engine brake disengages. If you miss the gear, and I did that more times than I can count, you get yourself really confused.

Over and over I would come up to a turn and I'd start to brake for it. Then I'd do steps 1 to 4, but because I had my foot on the brake, I'd miss step 3a and couldn't get it into gear. I might mention here that most corners are taken in fifth gear, yes fifth.

There would follow heaps of revving trying to get it into gear, while at the same time trying not to hit anything.

Anyway, I kinda, sorta, got the hang of it after a while and we headed out into a bit of traffic. I think I was only crunching the box every second or third gear change. In fact, some of my upchanges were almost as smooth as in a car.

I'm pretty sure I got the weight thing sorted out pretty well right from the start, but every now and then Keith would duck and I'd wonder what that knocking sound was. Then Keith would tell me to look out for the trees. A little later we'd repeat this, or Keith would tell me to give the parked cars a little more room.

I think I only got up the curb going round a corner twice. Unfortunately, it was the same corner both times, although about two hours apart. Hill starts weren't a problem and I could even reverse it around a corner reasonably well on the second attempt.

After a couple of hours of driving around and gradually getting the hang of that gearbox, we stopped to stretch our legs. Once we got back in the truck and started again, I felt like I'd gone back to the start again. I was having all kinds of problems getting the gear changes right. The more I tried, it seemed like the harder it got.

Eventually, Keith suggested we go back to the industrial estate, back to my comfort zone.

He's a clever man is Keith, because that seemed to work. I was still crashing the gears sometimes after that, but I'm sure I wasn't doing it anywhere near as much as I had been. More importantly, I think I was feeling more confident. I was getting it to the right speed before changing down the gears and as a result not having to worry so much about the brakes. Also, I was giving the engine brake a chance to do its job.

After a bit more driving around I was starting to feel a bit tired. I also had the beginnings of a need to pee. You know the feeling, you know you can hold on for probably another hour at least, but you really don't want to. I'd passed up the chance for a pee at one of our rest stops where Keith had taken the opportunity.

I guess that's one of the three rules of growing old, never pass up the opportunity to pee. The other two are never waste a hard on, even if you're alone, and never trust a fart.

Not that I'm saying Keith is old by the way, just better prepared for old age than me.

Anyway, I digress, I was getting a bit tired and we'd been on the road all morning, so we headed back to the school.

Coming down the road before turning in the gate, I was in sixth gear and thought, I've got to get this gear change right, I'm right out the front of the school...Crunch!!!

Oh well, there's always tomorrow. That's the day of my test.
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20 November 2006

Blogger Beta

I've decided I don't like Blogger Beta much.

It's okay, it makes somethings a bit easier to do, but since transferring over to it last week I'm having a lot of trouble leaving comments on other people's blogs. I use my new logon and it says, "username not found", or something similar. So I use my old logon and it tells me that's been transferred to the new beta blogger and to logon using my ID for that. Then when I do that and I get back to where I was leaving the comments in the first place, the comments I'd typed in aren't there anymore.

I was going to leave an absolutely hilarious comment on someone's blog five minutes ago. Now I've forgotten what it was I wrote.

Okay, maybe not that hilarious, but it might have made people titter a bit.

Maybe a guffaw.

Would you believe... a smirk?


I've just realised that I had the comments set so that people couldn't comment anonymously. That meant only fellow bloggers could leave comments.

I've fixed it up now.

18 November 2006

Food, glorious food

I blogged yesterday about, eggs, bacon, chips and beans.

It's been a bit of a religious experience, looking at the pictures on Russell's blog. I've been thinking a lot about it now that my exams are out of the way. Now, I know it's not good for me. I have the paper work somewhere that my doctor gave me a couple of months ago, to get my cholesterol checked, and I still haven't had it done.

But, I can't help it. I love a good fry up.

I cooked kangaroo steaks for dinner tonight. Now, those of you that don't live in Australia might think we eat kangaroo here all the time. We don't, but we should. Imagine the best beef steak you've ever had, then make it more tender, take away the cholesterol and add heaps of protein and you've got kangaroo meat. Seriously, you could eat it with a butter knife, it's that tender.

Xena, the fat beagle and Dizzy, the evil cat, sat and watched every mouthful and didn't get a single morsel.

But, as good as Skippy tasted, it can't compare to a good old fry up. I don't know if it's my English heritage, but there's just something about egg and bacon (not bacon and eggs as the Yanks seem to like to call it).

I've seen menus with an Aussie breakfast listed on it, meaning an egg and bacon fry up. Sorry, but it's certainly not something unique to Australia. I bet every other country with a British background has a similar thing.

I had a pizza a few years ago from Pancho's Pizza in Bulimba, where I used to work (I worked in Bulimba, not Pancho's). They called it the Aussie Pizza. It had lots of bacon on it and on top was a fried egg. Best, pizza I've ever eaten, but calling it an Aussie pizza was a bit of a misnomer. Best pizza you'll ever eat, maybe, but I'm sure if it was sold in Britain it would be called something like the "all day breakfast pizza".

It's a bit like the Aussie meat pie. We like to think the meat pie is a traditionally Aussie delicacy (?), but you can get decent meat pies in other countries too and I'm not talking about the good old English pork pie either. Just ask Doddery about meat pies in New Zealand.

Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against Aussie meat pies, I love meat pies, we've recently bought shares in a meat pie manufacturing company that just listed on the stock market, but uniquely Australian, no way.

Anyway, getting back to the original point of this post, eggs, bacon, chips and beans...
I've forgotten what the point was now. It had something to do with breakfast at Wimpy's in Hertford, but I can't remember why.

Are Wimpy's still around?

For some reason I've got the taste for a bit of spotted dick now. Anyone know where I can get a bit in Brisbane?

17 November 2006

Mouth Watering Stuff

I've just found the best blog ever.

If, like me, you love a good fry up, you have to check out Russell Davies' "Eggs, Bacon, Chips and Beans blog". Even if you only go there for the pictures.

Ooh, I can feel my arteries thickening already.

New Job, take 2

It seems job changes are the fad in the Porter family at the moment.

My dad has just changed jobs, he was cleaning at a brick works in Darra until recently. He's now doing the same thing, but at the Inala Community Centre.

He shouldn't really be working at all. He had a heart bypass operation a couple of years ago and he's only one year away from retirement age where he can get a pension. Now you'd think he'd be able to get a disability pension wouldn't you. No, the morons at Centrelink wouldn't give him one, even after recommendations from doctors. Instead they tried sending him for interviews for jobs where there was a lot of heavy lifting involved.

Dad doesn't mind working, but he'd much prefer it if he didn't have to anymore. On the days when he doesn't work, he and Mum do volunteer work in the St Vincent de Paul shop near where they live.

My brother Laurie has been working for customs at the airport for the past couple of years, since he got out of the navy. He's now transferring to another area at the Port of Brisbane, searching ships. This means he gets to wear the sexy paramilitary style uniform instead of the ugly blue one he wears at the airport. It also means he has to carry a gun and do 'use of force' training. A concequence of that is, he has to get back into shape. Like me he's developed a bit of a paunch in the last couple of years.

My sister Sam is moving to another law firm as senior secretary. She always wanted to be a legal secretary years ago, but thought she'd have to do a course first. This will be the third firm she's worked for, each one a step up for her.

Speaking of Sam, she's the only one in the family that doesn't have her own blog yet. I might have to work on her there, because I think hers would be quite entertaining if she did one.

Incidentally, it's her birthday today. If you like, you can send her a happy birthday e-mail to sami71tulip@yahoo.com.au Just tell her you're a friend of Steve's.

16 November 2006

New Job

I've just been offered a new job on more than twice the money that I'm earning with my present employer.

They'll pay all my university fees and give me time off to study, plus it's only a four day week. There's heaps of overseas travel involved and I even get my own car.

Nah, not really. It's just that one of the guys at work reads this blog occassionally and I thought I'd give him a surprise.

He never leaves comments, when he visits.

Get back to work Eddie.

14 November 2006

...and you thought I was good looking now...

My Mum and Dad have just created their own blog as a way to keep in touch with the family back in England.

Have a look at this. That's me in the middle, back in 1973. The picture actually appeared in the local paper, The Hertfordshire Mercury, back then.

Now you know what I look like without a beard.

12 November 2006

New Stuff

I've put a couple of new things in my sidebar.

The weather shows... the weather, naturally. It's showing about 25 degrees celsius as I write this. It feels much hotter.

The Amazon thing I'm curious about. It's supposed to automatically suggest titles relevant to what's in my blog. I'll be keeping an eye on it to see if it actually does that, or whether it just shows random titles. If it just keeps showing rubbish, then I'll get rid of it.

The idea of it is that, if I write about something that interests you and you decide you want to learn more about it, you can click on the Amazon suggested title and order the book from them. If you do, I get points toward a gift certificate as the refer.

I've had a few hits on the blog as a result of my post a while ago about Iridium flares. Maybe someone will come looking and find a book that's handy for them.

I wonder if they have any books on turkey slapping.

Planning for the Future, part deux

I did a bit of research after writing yesterday's blog.

There's a mob in Perth (the one in Western Australia, not the one it was named after in Scotland) called Mining Training Services that will train you to drive one of those big tip trucks for $2970. Now, considering it's costing me about $1300 next week to get my Heavy Rigid licence, which will allow me to drive normal trucks, I think that's pretty good value.

To top it off, if you have a look at their website, they also do recruiting.

I have to admit, I'm really tempted. I'm not saying I'm going to jump straight in and go for it, but it's a distinct possibility in about six months time when I've sorted a few other things out.


I've pretty much picked what subjects I'm doing next year and most of them will be the first year subjects that I need to get out of the way and should have done ages ago, like Chemistry, Maths and Statistics.

September will be great, only four days for the Chemisty res, as the other subjects either don't have res schools, or they aren't compulsory. April is a different matter as I'll need to take off at least eighteen days. That means I'll almost certainly have to use some more of my long service leave.

It's not all bad though. The April trip means we'll be spending four days sightseeing around Armidale between subjects, which means plenty of time to take photos of the Autumn leaves (or fall leaves if you prefer). I might have to take the Toyo with me again.

Also, the Geology res includes four days out at Lake Keepit doing field mapping. The last time I had a residential like that was first semester last year when I did Invertebrate Zoology. We spent four days at Arrawarra Field Station on the coast just north of Coffs Harbour. That meant getting up in the morning, wading across the creek, then walking about a kilometre up the beach to class. At lunch time we'd all walk back to our cabins at the caravan park for lunch, then repeat again for the afternoon. From the deck on our cabin we were looking straight out to sea, all for about forty bucks a night.

Hard to take? Not at all.

11 November 2006

Planning for the Future

I'm taking a bit of a break from studying today, well sort of, I'm still looking at Geology books and going through my rock samples.

I've also been going through the subjects I have to do, trying to decide which ones to do next year. This isn't as easy as just making sure I have the necessary prerequisites.

As I'm an external student, I have to do residential classes for some subjects. That means a trip down to Armidale each semester. As I have a full time job, I only have a limited amount of leave each year (my employer won't pay for me to study or give me study leave as it's not relevant to my job). So I have to try and work it so that, if I have more than one residential in a semester, I don't have too much of a break in between, otherwise I'm wasting my leave sightseeing around Armidale.

Not that sightseeing around Armidale is a bad thing.

The minimum number of subjects I can do over the course of the degree is about twenty four, that gives me the 144 credit points I need to graduate. Because I'm majoring in Geology and Aquatic Ecology I need to do a total of thirty three subjects to cover everything. That means, if I do three subjects each semester I have another four years to go (I will have done eight subjects by the end of this year). If I do two subjects per semester, that's six years till graduation.

Most of the subjects I'll be doing next year are Geology subjects and one of them has neither a res school or a final exam, which I'm pleased about. I have to do Maths and Statistics at some time and they don't have res schools, just lots of assignments and not really good teachers (at least not as good as the other subjects). I'd like to do Botany in the first semester, but unfortunately its res school is at the beginning of the semester instead of the middle, which would mean an extra trip down. I could do Chemistry, but that overlaps with one of the Geology subjects.

Exams and assignments are easy, it's picking the subjects that's the hard bit when you do a degree, especially when you're working full time.


A couple of months ago a friend of ours was visiting. He has a commercial pilot's licence, which means he can fly small aircraft for money. He mentioned how poorly paid some airline pilots are and I commented that bus drivers can earn more than that. It just so happened that Brisbane Transport were advertising for casual drivers at the time and we still had the paper with the advertisement.

Anyway, our friend said that was something he'd always wanted to do. Well one thing lead to another and he passed his driving test during the week. He still has some other training to do, very much like Jimmy's training, but so far he's loving it.

He said I should try it as well and Donna agreed with him.

Now I'm not totally averse to the idea, in fact I'd love to do that instead of what I'm doing at the moment. Working as a casual would allow me the time off for studies and other holidays. Four years of driving buses until I get my degree would be great.

So why don't you do it? I hear you ask.

Because driving buses would mean I'd be earning about two thirds of what I'm getting now and we can't afford that. I've been in dire financial straits before when a restaurant I was part owner of went bust. I don't want to be struggling to make ends meet (I nearly wrote meat then) for the next four years.

Of course, if my employer were to make me redundant, like a lot of the techs in the company, I'd be straight down the bus depot before my manager finished saying, "Steve, we've got to let you go." Actually, that's not completely true, I'd wait around to hear the rest of what he had to say, in case he was just sacking me. Then I'd be straight down the depot.

The other option, and this is quite an attractive one too, is to get a job in the mines driving those big tip trucks. I'd be on double what I'm earning now, then Donna wouldn't have to work.

Gargoyle's planning a career change from the police force to the mining industry. I'd love to hear what he has planned.

04 November 2006

Holiday and an Exhibition

I'm now officially on leave for the next four weeks and it feels great.

No getting up at five thirty in the morning to go and sit at a desk all day and be bored out of my mind. Not that I'll be sleeping in too much, Donna won't let me. She's actually still working over the four weeks, but she'll make sure she wakes me up before she goes to work.

I've got a Geology exam on the 14th, so I'll be studying for that most of the time until then. On the 21st and 22nd I'll be going for that truck licence that I mentioned previously. Apart from that I'll probably do stuff around the house.

The desk I'm sitting in at the moment, which incidentally is in the corner, is in a small room at the back of the garage. Eventually I'll get it moved upstairs to the spare room and this room will become a darkroom. I have a heap of black and white wedding photos that I haven't got around to printing yet for my neice because there's too much stuff in the way in here at the moment.


Today we're going to a photographic exhibition at the powerhouse in Newfarm. "South by 8" it's called. It features eight photographers including famous Vietnam war photographer, Tim Page and Errol Flynn's son Sean, who was a close friend of Page's during the war until he went MIA.

Tim Page originally became a photographer when he found himself in South East Asia at the beginning of the conflict. He was doing the hippy overland trip to Australia and got caught up in the middle of a gunfight. A journalist that he was taking cover with, Martin Stuart-Fox, handed him a camera, showed him how to use it and that was the beginning of a great career.

Page and Flynn had a reputation for getting right into the thick of things, often going on combat missions with the troops, as did Neil Davis, an Australian cameraman who filmed his own death during a military coup in Bangkok a few years ago. As a result Page was seriously injured several times during the war, once by a grenade, once by "friendly" fire and once by a mine that left him clinically dead for a short time.

As a keen photographer I found the story of Page's life quite inspirational after reading his autobiography, "Page after Page", many years ago. More recently I've read "Derailed in Uncle Ho's Victory Garden". It tells of some of his later trips to Vietnam and Cambodia to find Flynn's body and to set up a memorial for the journalists and photographers that were killed during the Vietnam war.

I'm looking forward to seeing the exhibition as is Donna as she hasn't been to a photo-exhibition for a long time.

I just hope we don't get wet, it's pouring down here.