Monday, November 9, 2020

Continuing Positivity in These Trying Times.

It's been a trying time. The weirdness continues. We're back in lockdown in the UK, the US election has been held along with all the associated fun and games, and the world generally seems like an unhappy place.

There's no doubt that the events of 2020 thus far (and who's to say what still awaits us) have had a terrible effect on the world. Not least in regards to mental health. Even myself, who lives in a relatively safe area, has been fortunate to not have lost anyone, and hold a job which is vital during these times, has felt the stress and strain of the ongoing events. 

I've done my bit to remain positive in social media - trying to share some of my favourite things on a daily basis rather than spread the negativity which seems to dominate our lives. I commenced in March when we all started working remotely from home and managed to get to day 180 before I decided it was enough. I felt I was going to have to start adding things just for the sake of adding things. And not everything can be a favourite.

On the upside I've seen a lot of movies and been reading a lot. I've read and enjoyed a range of magazines which offered short and cheap trial subscriptions. I've read some new fiction from authors in a range of genres. I've devoured a bunch of biographies and autobiographies from (mostly) musicians who interest me. And I've revisited a few old-school Science Fiction and Fantasy authors - some novels I'd read before, some which were new to me. These are mostly beautiful 70s SF novels with the wonderful painted cover art which I managed to find in charity shops. 

It is what it is. We have to learn to live with this. Hopefully we'll all be able to emerge once more and create a new normal. Until then, I'm diving back into the decreasing stack of waiting books next to my bed.

Friday, October 23, 2020

UFOs and Assorted Mysteries

I've always loved the mystery of UFOs. I remember as a child reading and loving a story about a boy who saw a cigar-shaped object land in the field next to his house. It had bright lights and (I think) creatures who got out and walked around. He watched from his bedroom window as they explored, then left. In the morning he thought it was a dream, but there were depressions in the soil.

Not much of a story, I admit, but at the time it captured my attention and interest. I would love to revisit it, if anyone can find it. It was illustrated and in one of those children's annuals. I seem to recall the book was A4, red in colour and...  well, that;s about all, really.

But I never lost my interest in UFOs. I even watched one once, back in Tokyo. Observed it for about 40 minutes. No idea what it was. Alien visitors? Probably not. But it had unusual movement and remains unidentified as far as I'm concerned.

Recently I watched a few documentaries about UFOs. There was one about Bob Lazar and his Area 51 stories, another about Rendlesham Forest, yet another about Dr Steven Greer, and the TV episode about the Berkshire, MA sightings. Fascinating. Not sure on Greer, many questions about Rendlesham (particularly the notebook and the binary code), but much happier with Lazar after many years of doubts. And the Berkshire story is just amazing.

When I was a teenager, there were two stories which were huge in Australia - the disappearance of Frederick Valentich, and the Quentin Fogarty videos of the Kaikoura UFO incident. I won't go into details on these, as google is your friend.  But I recently revisited the original news reports on these, as I hadn't seen them since the 70s. I watched a documentary on Valentich, and read a bunch of websites.  More questions than answers, for sure.

I know a UFO researcher, and I managed to have a brief chat with him about some of these.  I checked out some of his videos, and plan to watch more. And I really need to read some of his books.

Mysteries indeed. And some that may never be solved. But for now, like Fox Mulder, I want to believe.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Red and Black and Murky Grey.

I love my Australian Rules Football. I hold an international membership, watch every game I can through a streaming service and am happy to discuss the game with anyone who cares to join in. In this part of the world, this is not something that occurs very often.

I've supported my team, the Essendon Bombers, since I was about 5 years old. My uncle and aunt were Essendon fans, and they took me to a couple of games. Those were some lean years, but I had a life size poster of Des Tuddenham, and was proud of the red and black. 

When I returned from Japan in the late 90s, I started attending matches fairly often - usually with my cousin and her then boyfriend (now husband). And we were a powerhouse. A strong team who played with determination, aggression and skill. Somewhere after 2001 it all went wrong, and we've occasionally risen to mediocre since then.

This year we had high hopes, which once again were dashed as we floundered in the bottom half of the ladder, missed out on the finals, and heard the same old excuses from our coaches. And , like many other supporters, I'm tired of it.

Seriously, how can the players be adjusting to a game plan after three or four years?

At this present time I don't hold much hope for the next few years. But give it a few months, into trade period and the pre-season, and I'll probably return to my optimistic football self. And hopefully next year will not be a compromised season due to Covid. 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Farewell, Mabel.

A couple of weeks ago I took this photo of Mabel sleeping on the floorA few days ago she passed away. 

It was only in April 2019 we said farewell to Millie, and that hurt. Now we have lost both girls, it hurts even more. 

Mabel was a lovely old girl, somewhere around 16 years old, who loved life and was curious about everything. A small dog with a huge personality and a big heart. Mabel was one in a million, and we weren't the only ones to think that. So many people loved this dog. Friends from around the world sent messages. Some from Australia, who knew her from before her big move to the UK, were in tears.

She was  a very very good girl.

Her arthritis has recently been causing some discomfort, and she got tired quickly, but she still had a good appetite and loved life.

Overnight we woke to her panting. She couldn't get comfortable and seemed out of sorts. We managed to get her to the vet today, but we came home alone.

The memories of this special girl will live with us forever. And those are something we cherish and love.

Sleep well, Mabel.



Saturday, August 29, 2020

Cold Hard Shoulder.

I've written about Ben Atkinson before. I first met Ben a year or so ago, and then was fortunate enough to start working with him shortly before lockdown. We've become good friends, and share interests in music, theatre, technology and the arts.

During lockdown, Ben spent time in his home studio and recorded a number of songs he wrote during the past ten years. While Ben's main interest is in country music, and he has run a weekly country music radio programme for many years, the songs he recorded have eclectic influences. The topics, ranging from lighthearted digs at local government through to the tragedy of war, reflect Ben's life, interested and view of the world around him.

Ben asked me to record some guitar parts for this album, and I am honoured and priviliged to have made the final mixes. We had a lot of fun recording my parts - a few laughs, some great food and lots of sweat - it was a terribly humid evening when we went into the studio, so forgive any bum notes as I had a tough time keeping the guitars in tune.

Ben is donating all profits to the NHS. The album was launched last night, and is available as download, on CD, and even vinyl.

Thanks, Ben.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Camping for Boys.

I've always loved camping. As a kid I was a Cub, then a Scout, and finally a Venturer. My dad was a Scout Leader, and I was lucky to go on some of the Scout camps when I was only a cub. 

It's been a long time since I've done any real camping. In fact it was the turn of the millenium - a mate and I went bush for a week while the world wondered whether the Y2K bug would destroy civilisation. We had no electricity, did much of our cooking on campfires, and had a wonderful time.  There was no internet on phones, no real phone connection anyway, and hardly saw another person. We talked, listened to some music on the car radio, and just chilled.

It was a wonderful week.

I have recently been thinking about a weekend my Dad and I went camping when I was young. He'd promised to take me away, but when Friday rolled around he wasn't feeling well. I think I might have pushed him a bit, but we went and had a fabulous time. I remember being up bush, with our tent. He let me wear his commando style hat, which thrilled me no end. The most vivid memory I have is waking up in the middle of the night. I got out of the tent, and dad was sitting by a huge, roaring fire. It was completely dark otherwise, and silent, and we sta on branches and watched the flames. We probably spoke, but so many years later I have no idea what we spoke about. I just know I felt safe, and comfortable, and at peace.

Why has this memory popped up now? I have no idea. But it pleases me to recall that weekend.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Me and Stevio Down By The Schoolyard.

I had some good friends in high school, but I don't really know what happened. Within a very short time we'd all lost touch. Of course that was well before the internet and we all moved out into other worlds. These days I'm only really in touch with one of them, and that's infrequently and second hand through his wife on social media. Hey Steve B, thanks for all those years of friendship through school. I'd love to be in touch more often.

But what about the other other Steve C? What became of him? And Doug P? We used to play cricket and tennis and hangout after school. Doug D? I rememebr standing on the lunchtime soccer ground and talking about Bob Dylan. Keith F? Another Beatles fan. You gave me my first taste of Sgt Pepper and All Things Must Pass on cassette. Neil S? You lived just around the corner and I have no idea where you went. Tim G? I caught up with you once a few years ago and never heard from you again. Paul W? You left our school and moved to Sydney. A mad keen Carlton fan and a good writer.  Where are you? Arthur C? We were good friends, and I have no idea where you moved to. Michael H? You got in touch with me at work many years ago, and asked me to call you back. I felt terrible because I lost your number on my desk and waited for a return call. 

And Johnny R? I search online for you from time to time, and can't find anything about you. We spent so much time together - fishing, listening to music, eating toast in the middle of the night.

I would love to hear from you all. I'd love to know what you're doing, what happened, hear some memories.

In fact, I'd be thrilled.