Christmas Day 2010

Good afternoon,

Well, another Christmas has come and gone. I hope yours was a happy and enjoyable affair.

Your humble correspondent with elegant 2010 Christmas hat (left) while Robin holds court (right)

Lunch was again at our house with M-i-L Margaret, her D-i-L Libby and two daughters Lani & Jessie, and good friend Tony joining us for a celebration. Unfortunately Dad wasn't well enough to leave his care to participate so I took over some oysters and champagne, together with some more cards and gifts for him. He enjoyed the morning and the rest of his day I am sure.

Tony (left) and Margaret & Jessie (right)

A seafood entree was followed by turkey, beef and ham roast with vegetables but that was just the start. The 'serious' stuff was to follow. Margaret made a plum pudding, Robin did a tiramisu and a Christmas cake while Libby hand-makes some superb petit fours. The conversation flowed well in between mouthfuls before retiring to the lounge for the gift sharing and opening. As always, I was spoiled with some wonderful presents.

We wound up sometime after 5PM and our visitors got home safely. With Tony helping, dishes etc were quickly cleaned up, and we could put our feet up. I had two leftover prawns and one leaf of cos lettuce for dinner which I almost thought was too much! Happy New Year and I will report again in 12 months with any luck.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

EFC Open Practice

Good afternoon,

As a Christmas treat, we decided to make the trip out to the 'other' Windy Hill today to watch the Essendon Football Club Open Practice Day.

It was just like the old days trying to find a car parking spot somewhere near this suburban ground, A bit of former local knowledge helped to secure a spot only five minutes walk to the ground to join about two or three thousand of the faithful, old and young mostly decked out in the famous red & black.

So how did they look? Firstly, it was great to see the new Senior Coach, James Hird, and his team of assistants including Mark 'Bomber' Thompson all present and actively (and loudly) instructing the players in what was a very energetic two hour session.

I must honestly confess that I did not recognise all of the players. Some of the senior guys were rested (like Dustin Fletcher), some others were on rehab programs (like David Hille) and we have some new recruits, new rookies and some guys still training with us in the hope of being picked up in the new draft round in January. Of those I knew, I liked what I saw of Angus Monfries and Alwyn Davey. Their speed and attack on the football was excellent. There was much focus on running and use of the ball for much of the session so the 'talls' had less opportunity to shine.

While there we finally finalised our membership and home game reserved seats for NEXT season. Roll on 2011!

A small picture gallery of more of the action can be found on Flickr here.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Getting the technology sorted...

Good evening,

After six months of my computer technology being pretty 'iffy', I have now cleaned up my environments.

For all my Windows stuff, specifically the RaceLogic Circuit Tools software, I have implemented OS X 10.6.5 and Windows 7 (under Bootcamp) on my 'old' 17" MBP. The wide screen will be great for reviewing my lap times. The final piece of this puzzle was the purchase of a Targus DC power inverter so that I can get computer power 'on the move'.

The changes above have enabled me to delete all the Windows partitions & images and the sorting of some 'conflicting apps' off my day-to-day 15" MBP. Then an upgrade to 10.6.5 has left me to enjoy the fruits of the Apple Mac world unencumbered. Very nice.

And now everything seems well with the world! I know this doesn't sound too exciting but it has kept me much calmer...

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Classic Albums Live - 'Brothers in Arms'

Good evening,

Last night Robin and I attended a 'Classic Albums Live' performance of the Dire Straits album, 'Brothers in Arms'. An Australian company has come up with a concept of pulling together Oz's best stage & session musos to re-create the great rock albums of our time. A pretty good concept if you can't hear the real thing I reckon.

The performance was held within the classy surounds and velour seats of the State Theatre in the Melbourne Arts Centre. We arrived early to enjoy a tasty and relaxing meal at the Curve Bar.

The first half of the show was, of course, a recreation of the 'Brothers in Arms' album end to end. Although we signed up for the concert because we love the band and the album, you don't often sit down and just focus on how great the songs are, the depth of the arrangements and the quality of musicianship required to re-produce the music. Awesome.

Update: A previous version of this blog said that the title track was left to last, rather than second last, as per the original track listing. A couple of weeks later, I received an email from the drummer from the show, Chris Whitten. Yes, THE Chris Whitten, the touring drummer for 'Dire Straits' from the early '90s, politely telling me that I was wrong re the track sequence. Just my luck that the only person who read my review had insider information!

After intermission, the band played a 'Best of the Rest' of Dire Straits including 'Sultans of Swing', 'Tunnel of Love', 'Private Investigations', 'Romeo & Juliet', 'The Bug', 'Calling Elvis' amongst others. The highlights? To my ears, 'Down to the Waterline', 'Lady Writer', 'Twisting by the Pool' and 'Going Home' were the best in a very polished, professional but energetic performance. While I thought Phil Emmanuel (brother of Tommy) was the standout player, the rhythm section laid the foundation enabling the entire 9 man, one woman outfit to shine.

Highly recommended!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

The best pizza in Victoria!

God afternoon,,

Now that I have your undivided attention...

A couple of weeks ago, my hifi buddy Tony and I found ourselves in Victoria Parade, Abbotsford looking for some musical inspiration in the form of some audiophile CDs. I did manage to pick up an XRCD2 (Japanese Pressing) of 'Brothers in Arms' so I left the store happy, but nearing midday I was getting hungry. Some of you may know this area of Melbourne is home to all manner of Vietnamese markets and restaurants which don't really run to my taste. Surprisingly on the short walk back to the car, I saw an Italian restaurant called 'e Lounge'. Curious name, they seemed to specialise in wood fired pizza. A review of the menu on the window seemed to indicate it wasn't your run of the mill joint so I persuaded, well told Tony actually, this is where we will eat. It was pizza gamberi for me (pictured at left) and pizza con prosciuto for him. Absolutely stunning. With a crisp 'toasted' base, fresh tomato paste, tasty globs of mozzarella followed by your topping of choice along with mini roma tomatoes and fresh spinach leaves and drizzle of olive oil.

Upon leaving, the host indicated they had a sister restaurant 'Zonzo' attached to the Train Trak winery in the Yarra Valley. File that snippet of information away for use at a future date.

Train Trak vineyard in spring

Well, yesterday, that date came around. After dropping the Lexus off for a service, we took our loan Lexus IS250 (sorry folks, pretty dinky after the GS430), we made a bee-line for Train Trak. The day was just gorgeous so we sat outside overlooking the vines and the hills. Strangely (!), I ordered the same pizza as previously and Robin ordered the same as Tony had done. And the end results was just same. Spectacular! We washed our pizzas down with estate Train Trak wines, a sparkling for her and a young chardonnay for me. We managed to squeeze in desserts as well. A banana & chocolate calzone was my choice and Robin had the creme caramel. We followed with coffee and then we were done. But done very, very well!

Train Trak chardonay in repose....

All of the above photos were taken with my iPhone4. I am slowly getting used to it and starting to use it more and thus taking better photos to boot. As the old saying goes 'the best camera is the one you have with you'. Cheers!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

iPhone 4 and iPad

Good afternoon,

The planets finally aligned and I was able to get me some news toys.

My old 3G iPhone plan expired so I was 'free' to upgrade and after a few days I am pretty pleased I did. Very snappy, great features, especially the decent still & video cameras and a whole range of possibilities in the App Store to take advantage of the hardware features over and above my previous iPhone. The 'decent' storage (32GB) now makes a reality of messaging, mail, calendar & contacts, music and video on the move. The new 'Retina' display makes viewing even small script pleasurable.

Update: I managed to 'cascade' my original iPhone to my wife, an Apple lover but not a convert to the iPhone world while I had the only one... Now, Robin is Googling, texting, emailing, checking Facebook etc on my 'old' 3G phone hourly or more frequently and I promise you that she will not go back to the 'dark side' again!

So what apps are my favourites or 'must haves' so far? In no particular order:

  • iMovie to edit the HD video the iPhone 4 produces;
  • Paper Toss, a fantastic time wasting game;
  • Beanhunter a location aware app to find the best coffee around you;
  • Metlink for Melbourne public transport timetables;
  • PS Express, Darkroom, CameraBag, PhotoBudy, Photogene, Image Touch, Pano and SketchMe! are all useful apps for enhancing iPhone photos on the phone;
  • Dropbox for seamless document transfer across computers, platforms and geographies;

As for the iPad, well this is really a whim. But I can easily blame Robin as she was an early adopter of e-books back in 2000, so the iPad is just a re-imagining of those early readers only slicker with a lot more functionality. Given the larger screen size over the iPhone, videos look especially fine on the iPad. I opted for the 64B wi-fi only version.

Favourite apps so far?

  • GT Purely Porsche, Total 911, Winding Road and Evo online motoring magazine subscriptions;
  • iBooks, Stanza and Kindle as e-book and PDF readers;
  • PCalc Lite calculator as I can't live without an RPN calculator at my fingertips,
  • Epicurious recipes online and / or on demand;

As both devices run similar operating systems (soon to be the same), there is just the one learning curve and the tight coupling with the iTunes eco-system makes syncing and upgrading a one-touch process.

Update: I am really starting to get into the iPad as a PDF reader for of all sorts of info / data, magazines and manuals. And you can read it with the light OFF in bed. A big WAF! Regrets? I probably should not have been such a cheapskate and should have bought a 3G iPad rather than WIFi as the always on convenience and ten+ hour battery life 'deserves' an always available internet connection. Another 'cascade' opportunity for Robin!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Maroochydore Holiday

Good afternoon,

Our annual holiday to Maroochydore is officially over.

A busy first two weeks of July made our departure a bit unpredictable but we finally got up in time to catch our flight to Brisbane, and points north on the Sunshine Coast. We are again at the 'Chateau Royale' apartments. It is a fabulous location with uninterrupted views to the east, north and west. We came up here last year with my Dad and this time we have Robin's Mum with us. So far so good...

The happy holiday makers!

This was our second year in Maroochydore, staying two weeks rather than one this time. Maybe it was due to the previous 'knowledge' but we seemed to have a better overall experience this year, visiting some interesting spots, finding some great restaurants and generally relaxing even though the weather was nothing special. We had a Skoda Octavia hatchback as a hire car and it was a most enjoyable device, huge boot, plenty of features while delivering outstanding fuel economy.

A gallery of some holiday snaps can be found here.

Highlights? Meeting the 'Mojo Bluesmen' busking at the Eumundi Market; a great lunch at Harry's at Buderim; plenty of awesome local snapper from the Cotton Tree Fish & Chip shop and generally having some fun with the cameras with Robin 'out & about'.

Dawn, Margaret & Greg at The Boat Shed Restaurant, Maroochydore

We have booked again for next year.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

New Shed

The new four bay shed project is well underway.

The slab is down, the building erected (two closed, two open bays), most retaining walls in place, tanks installed (about 44,000 litres). Now waiting for final drainage and power to be connected, the site cleaned-up and a load of gravel and screenings to improve the optics.

While the entry and exits to / from the garages are a little tight, it will be fine. Looking forward to getting it all done and the cars locked away in their new 'home'.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

The Beatles Tribute Show - 'Rubber Soul'

We caught a show of the Beatles tribute band 'Rubber Soul' at the 'Cube Theatre' at the Frankston Cultural Centre on Saturday night. And extremely good it was too.
The musicianship was first class, great bass and drums (go Bongo!), and the two guitarists played particularly well. The vocals were perhaps the least best element but they carried off the performance with bags of personality. It was a show of two halves, the first being the early years with the band dressed in suits & ties, and the second half being the 'later years' with the band appearing in Sgt Peppers attire.

The assembled crowd really got into the music & show (no surprise there) and it was interesting that Robin and I knew all of the words to all of the songs played over the course of the two hour show. A tribute to: a) the quality of the music: b) our memory (!); and c) our wasted youth!

My favourite song of the night was a fantastic rendition of 'Birthday'. Robin's vote went to 'Back in the USSR' with a special mention for 'Get Back'. Really, really good stuff!

A fine night was had by all. And you can probably guess the demographic of the crowd...

Essendon v Richmond, NAB Challenge, Morwell

Good evening,

On the way home from our short holiday in Merimbula, we just happened to be passing through Morwell in country Victoria at precisely the time that Essendon and Richmond were playing a NAB Challenge game at the fantastic Morwell City Oval. Imagine my surprise when I (casually) mentioned to Robin that we could drop in for a look, and she said 'OK'. We didn't know where the ground was precisely, but after only five minutes of scouring the town, the growing crowd was spotted, a parking spot secured, and we were inside about one minute after the first bounce.

What excitement! At a suburban (well, country anyway) ground, standing in the outer on the wing, drinking a 'Coke' while eating a jam donut watching the mighty Bombers go round. It doesn't get much better than that!

Through the middle, Go Bombers! - 2010

As we were in the middle of a long drive, we only stayed for the first half. So, what did I think?

Well, our forward line seemed to work well against the Tigers, at least. Gumbleton, Neagle and Hille (he is a BIG unit) worked nicely together, and played wide and stretched the Richmond defence. Ryder rucked well and picked up many possessions across the mid field and presented really well. The defence seemed stout, although for the Tigers, Nahas and a newcomer, Roberts, cut extremely speedy swathes through our defence for impressive goals in Q2. But outside of that, Pears, Hooker and (especially) Fletcher stood firm and Slattery cleaned up neatly. But to my eye, Brent Stanton was the stand out in the first half. He ran laterally and very, very hard, while disposing of the ball extremely well usually by foot to position. Young Howlett looked impressive as well, while Zaharakis looks to have matured into a 'real' AFL player.

Apparently we had a pretty strong side out there today, with Jetta, McVeigh, Lovett-Murray, Houli, Melksham, Laycock and Hurley being the notable absentees.

The Bounce - 2010

To my uneducated eye, the game plan appears to be to switch direction from defence, then switch again using fast hand, leg and foot speed to move the ball and possession towards and through the 'corridor'. That plan requires extreme skill to perfect and at times it appeared that more skills sessions will be required. Also, when the run stopped, say late in a quarter, we looked a little stodgy and proppy as we found it difficult to move the ball out of defence. And as per last year, we often looked better with the ball, than without it.

And I do need to brush up on the players numbers however as there were quite a few players who I did not recognise either by number or physique.

When we left it was 12.4 to 5.4 in favour of the Bombers in a fast and entertaining half of football played in glorious conditions.

The EFC Quarter Time Huddle in front of the 'Adoring Faithfull' - 2010

The crowd to my estimate was at least 5,000. A boost to the local economy I hope. Even Robin commented how great is was to be watching on the 'same level' as the players and to be so close to hear and feel the action. Roll on season 2010!

Update: The final score was 23.9 to 11.7, with some 14 different goal kickers. Outstanding!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

The Bombers 2010 Predictions

Good evening,
As we are now only a few short weeks away from kicking off the 2010 season, it is time for me commit my thoughts, dreams, aspirations and fears of the mighty Essendon Football Club's performance this coming season.

First off, it seems that this is one of our most injury-free pre-seasons in living memory. Of course, you need to exclude Jason Laycock, Scott Gumbleton and Jay Neagle from that assessment as they are perennially overweight or limping...

Let me start with the positives. I do like our defence. Tayte Pears, Cale Hooker, Dustin Fletcher, Henry Slattery, Courtenay Dempsey, and perhaps NLM all going around make for a tall-ish, quick-ish, skilled back half. If the odd player goes down with injury we can slot some others in like Michael Hurley and Darcy Daniher.

I am less sold on the mid field. No question that our new captain, Jobe 'Son-of-Timmy' Watson is now an elite 'in and under' mid fielder but he is not overly quick. Throw in Andrew Welsh, Heath Hocking, Brent Prismall and Mark McVeigh and while we have the ball, all is well, but on the rebound, that group is a tad slow. I know that Ricky Dyson and Jason Winderlich will be thereabouts but I still fear the defensive run with / shutdown element of our mid field. Alwyn Davey could be tried in the midfield to provide that defensive pressure with superior speed & run.

If you thought I was a bit negative about our mids, wait till we go forward! It is irresponsible to build a forward line around Scott Gumbleton and Jay Neagle. Not because they don't have talent, as they have it in spades but they haven't proven that they have the hard bodies to play 22 weeks plus finals. Mark Williams will be a 40 goal addition, Angus Monfries needs to continue his improvement, but Matthew Lloyd, Scott Lucas and Andrew Lovett will be sorely missed. Let's hope Hurley can continue on from his stunning debut last year. But it will be tough for the six guys down there to regularly kick a winning score I reckon.

I like the ruck division. Ryder is clearly a class act, Hille would die on the field for his mates and Tom Bellchambers has bulked up a bit and looks like a real candidate in the medium term. I have a lot of time for Brent Stanton as a runner who makes sensible position and gives 100%.

Wildcards in 2010? David Myers, Jake Melksham, Kyle Reimers and David Zaharakis will be worth watching. On the flip side, I think 2010 will be a make or break year for Leroy Jetta, Michael Quinn and Bachar Houli.

So, where do I think 'The Wonderful Wizards from Windy Hill' will finish? Certainly above Richmond and Melbourne, probably on top of North Melbourne but similar to the Swans, Fremantle, West Coast, Port Adelaide and Carlton so anywhere from 13th to 8th. Best guess: 10th. Let's hope Matthew Knights and the boys can prove me wrong. Go Bombers!

As for the flag? A Geelong and Hawthorn Grand Final for mine with the Hawks re-discovering their desire and will win the Big One.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

MTC - 'The Drowsy Chaperone'

Good evening,

Robin and I attended our first MTC event for the year last night, 'The Drowsy Chaperone'.
First aired on Broadway in 2006, this show is great fun and delivers super entertainment. An all-star cast turned out for this Australian season, including Geoffrey Rush, Rhonda Burchmore and Robyn Nevin to name three. But the entire cast was excellent with their vocals, dance and comedic timing entertaining a most appreciative extended-season crowd. The two-hour performance without an intermission just flew by.

We followed the show with a superb supper at the Curve Bar at The Arts Centre. Snapper for him, pork for her, all while doing some serious people watching. A great night out!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Drive to the You Yangs

Good evening,

We took a pleasant Sunday drive to the You Yangs National Park at the weekend for a picnic lunch and to exercise the Turbo.

Interesting Rock Formation - Canon 5D, 50mm
(© 2010)

On the western side of the hills, some recent plantings of gums gave off a very distinctive reddish hue in the direct afternoon light. It looks fake, but it is absolutely straight from the camera with just with a little RAW processing in Aperture 2.

Gums near the You Yangs - Canon 5D, 50mm (© 2010)

The You Yangs Park was a bit barren I thought, the victim of some bush fires and the general drought conditions. Otherwise, the facilities, signage, roads etc were all fine. As were the views over the plains towards the bay and beyond. A very pleasant spot to visit indeed.

1997 Porsche 911 Turbo 'en route' - Canon 5D, 50mm (© 2010)

On the way home, we fell foul of the 21st century version of Dick Turpin and his highway robbery scam. Only now it is conducted by the Queenscliff / Sorrento Ferry Company, in the form of a $69 bill for a small car and a couple of passengers for a 40 minute boat ride. Yikes!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

A Golf Comeback...

Good evening,

I am getting very serious about making a golf comeback this year.

My membership at one of the finest golf facilities in Australia is being wasted by my playing far too infrequently, not to mention, badly. I really do need to re-focus and dedicate myself to the game. To assist in kick-starting my 'resurgence' I have a couple of lesson credits to use up with the pro at my club. Playing and practising will help my general fitness as well. So that is all goodness and sounds like a win/win.

So step one is to do the mature and responsible thing - go out and buy a new driver! Well, not exactly brand new, but a used Ping Rapture 10.5 jobbie off eBay.

Due to a full schedule this week I haven't had a chance to try it yet, but it looks great sitting it the bag... Will post an update after my next round.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Welcome 2010!

Good afternoon,

After a pleasant NYE spent at home, the new year was kicked off in style with a drive morning.

911 Turbo at Flinders (iPhone) ©2009

I dusted the Turbo off, slipped Paul Rodgers 'Singing Muddy Water's Blues' into the CD player and in slightly inclement weather did a 'lap' of the Mornington Peninsula. A joyous 90 minute sprint from Mt Eliza, to Cape Shanck and back home via Merricks that also included a 15 minute pit stop for a home-made sausage roll and photo op at Flinders. Roll on 2010!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Where did they go? Archived Posts

Good morning and Happy New Year,

Where did all the previous posts go to from this blog?

They have been archived (by year) and are easily accessible via the links in the sidebar on the lower left hand side of this page.

Bye for now, BomberBoy