Some January 2010 pics

Selected from my photo blog of ten years ago.

I have been like most of us meditating this new year on what the Noughties have been like. Today I post some personal images.

Me, 2002 and 2009

neilplay xmas

My place, 2002 and 2009 – yesterday in fact



Aside from the fact it wasn’t quite as sunny yesterday, you’ll see the undergrowth has overgrown.

The gray half-tones of daybreak are not the gray half-tones of the day’s close, though the degree of their shade may be the same. In the twilight of the morning light seems active, darkness passive; in the twilight of evening it is the darkness which is active and crescent, and the light which is the drowsy reverse. — Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles Chapter 21.The city from Elizabeth Street Surry Hills 6 am

Tram, Shakespeare and a pause in the bushfires

So yesterday I took the train to Sydney to have lunch with M in Surry Hills — and to ride the tram. I took with me for sentimental reasons this:


The last time I rode a tram through Surry Hills/Moore Park I may well have had that with me! Now, about the new tram — and here I am on board:


It is a tad slow, but that is probably better than running over people or crashing into cars. Indeed at one point yesterday a car came through an intersection as if the moving tram wasn’t there. The tram driver sounded his horn — not a bell, notice. However, while well aware of the costs that have been involved in the build, I give the tram the thumbs up! It isn’t the line to nowhere after all. Yesterday it delivered quite a few to the cricket — sorry about that, Kiwis! Then it has two well-placed stops for Randwick Race Course, ditto for the University of New South Wales, and the Randwick line ends right in the midst of the medical offices, cafes etc., that are part of the Prince of Wales Hospital precint. I can see a lot of use for the line as time goes on.

Mind you, it is true the bus is faster… But not as comfortable.

Then back to Surry Hills, and the glorious old Shakey — the Shakespeare Hotel of such happy memory. There I met M, who was in fine form. And the food was excellent — I had the Shakey Pie, a beef and vegetable job in a real home-made pie shell, not a lump of premade pastry on top of a ramekin. M had a steak; he said it was excellent. And price? Much the same as City Diggers in Wollongong — under $20 each dish. You could have had a chicken schnitzel special for $10! The drinks are on the dear side, but not outrageous.


And the Surry Hills tram stop is ideally placed for visiting the Shakey.


Picture by James O’Brien

Travelling in cooler weather yesterday to and from Sydney I closely observed the bush as we passed through. Tell you what, toss a match in there and all hell would break loose. Wollongong and the Royal National Park have truly been lucky so far — but there is very possibly two months to go. The heat returns at the end of this week. And as soon as I write that I know some are going to mutter “hazard reduction” and others will start muttering “Greens!” Yes, there are arguments worth having around all that, but to quote one expert: “It’s simply conspiracy stuff. It’s an obvious attempt to deflect the conversation away from climate change.”

On Sunday night I phoned my last remaining aunt, in Sutherland — she’s 82 — knowing that my cousins from Bundanoon were sheltering there, having evacuated. I spoke to one of those cousins. It seems that their Bundanoon house is safe, though covered in ash. That at least was all she knew on Sunday. We talked for some time. We haven’t talked for a very long time, in fact, using Facebook to keep tabs instead. We found ourselves on exactly the same page about climate change being the deep cause behind all the proximate causes (such as fuel loads) of this present fire season.

Blogging the 2010s — 9 — March 2010

This one’s out of sequence, but I happened a few days ago to be talking to someone at City Diggers, while watching the start of the Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race, about the time I went to Watson’s Bay by water taxi. So here is the replay!

Guess who and where?


Water taxi to Watson’s Bay 1 – the Opera House

Photography from a leaping water taxi is a challenge.



As we hit the stretch towards the Heads and Watson’s Bay the chop grew higher and so did our leaps…




So do forgive if the horizon tilts a bit…


On top of old smokey…

Here, thanks to the Illawarra Mercury, is a glimpse of what yesterday looked like just south of where I live.  From my perch in Mount Keira Road there were times I couldn’t see this part of the world, or Mount Keira even…


ABC has a good explainer:

Leaving Beijing for a new life in Sydney, Gloria Zhou never thought she’d need smog protection again.

But a decade after settling into her new home, Gloria is once again reaching for a face mask.

The haze produced by a month of unprecedented bushfires around Sydney has left her feeling nauseated.

“We know this is not normal for Sydney,” the 30-year-old IT consultant said.

And the Herald:


Some thoughts from 15 years ago

December 2004!

Christmas Day: later: A surprise visit from M with gifts. 🙂 Also a letter had arrived here from his older sister in Shanghai, the gist: thanking him for reuniting his family during his visit earlier in the year… Very apt for the season…

As was the Queen’s Christmas Message, I thought. I still have considerable regard for that old girl. Can’t link to it yet as it is still under embargo, it only being morning in London: but we have heard it here is Sydney half an hour ago. It sent a strong message on pluralism and tolerance.

Christmas Day 2004: My dinner companion last night tells me he has now had AIDS – not HIV but AIDS – for nine years. He is just out of hospital, again, having had a sojourn there since I last saw him two weeks ago. He looks well, considering, and his spirits are as ever amazingly good. We talk of many things, such as the “political correctness”, which he opposes, that makes some paranoid about Christmas. I too don’t accept we should be too namby pamby with all this “Happy Holiday” stuff: so far as Christmas symbolises peace on earth and goodwill to all men (I don’t mind the odd bit of so-called sexist langage either) I am all for it.

“After all,” my friend says, “Australia is a Christian country.”

“No it’s not,” I reply. “It is I hope a secular country. Of course George Pell and Fred Nile would like it to be a Christian country, but it isn’t.”

But of course it owes a lot to the Christian tradition. Really, the best we can do is cherry-pick the decent parts of all religions and live and let live, don’t you think? I find the God of so many in this world seems merely a cosmic extension on an earthly tyrant, prone to jealous rages, psychopathic attacks, and given apparently to punishing thought-crimes, or failure to accept the party line, with eternal flames in Hell. Or so your very traditional Christian or your full-on Muslim believer would have it. Jews seem much less fond of Hell. Perhaps they know deep down, after their historical experience, that Hell is here on earth and in the dark hearts of human beings. Especially of True Believers….

16 December 2004: Started the day at The Mine, where I am again, having been to and from Bondi Junction by train for X-Ray, which the dentist now has. New appointment next week.

Interesting quote from the Salt Mine’s internal site: “Dr Andrew Refshauge, Minister for Education and Training, visited the school yesterday. He made a press statement about the performance of New South Wales students in an international study on performance in Mathematics and Science. Apparently New South Wales performed second only to Singapore in the study. Australia as a whole was further down the list. Other breaking news (unauthorised access to HSC results) meant that the statement did not receive any coverage in the news last night. There were some shots shown from here: glimpses from a Year 11 Physics class and questions relating to bullying and Clover Moore’s approval of an upbeat National Anthem. “….

15 December 2004 – later: Bad news. I should have known, as a pretty good omen was that amid much sparks and smoke a power line fell down in Kippax Street right outside the dentist’s just as I arrived!

So, I have an abscess, it seems, but I think I knew that, and I must continue with the antibiotics and get a full mouth X-Ray in Bondi Junction. Then I will very likely lose two teeth. Eventually this will probably mean a partial denture. Other options are just two troublesome and expensive.

I feel God made a mistake in the dentition department….

“Left alone, abscesses can become quite serious. In the days before antibiotics and modern surgery, dental abscess was a common cause of death…”

“If you thought that dentists have only been inflicting pain recently, think again. New research has just shown that prehistoric dentists may have been using stone drills to treat tooth decay up to 9,000 years ago. Excavations at a site in Pakistan have unearthed skulls containing teeth dotted with tiny, perfectly round holes. Under an electron microscope, archeologists found a pattern of concentric grooves that were almost certainly formed by the circular motion of a drill with a stone bit. The scientists from the University of Missouri-Columbian suggest that such findings point to a stone-age knowledge of health and cavities and medicine. The holes, when drilled, would then probably have been filled with some sort of medicinal herb to treat tooth decay, something that has long since disappeared…”

15 December 2004: The good news first: my tooth problem (or rather teeth problems) calmed down during the day so that I was able to enjoy Yum Cha, including mango pudding, with M and a gathering of friends at the Golden Harbour. It is noticeable that having someone present who can request particular dishes in Mandarin does make a difference.

I then went to the Mine where I did a bit of work, after which there were farewell drinks at Fox Studios for Jenni, the Head Teacher Welfare, my immediate boss, and for a member of the Science Department. I had just one light beer.

The bad news: the teeth acted up overnight and I face the dentist later on today 😦…


12 December 2004: Lord Malcolm’s Christmas Picnic in the beautiful Sydney Botanical Gardens went well. I even spoke to the Empress and he even replied. Sirdan was missing, rumoured to be in Newcastle. Me – I have come home early with a hideous toothache (began yesterday) and a possible thunder and hail storm threatens outside, so I’m off now…

Must contact the bloody dentist tomorrow.