A trip to The Maze

We took a drive out to a place called The Maze for Jett’s 6th birthday treat. From where we live it’s quite a hike but it was a good day. It was forecast to be 39 degrees today, and I wasn’t too keen on running around outside in the heat but your sixth birthday comes but once in a lifetime and it was his choice. We needed to attend the school open day first in the morning in full school uniform to meet and greet the teachers and other kiddies, and once we left the school it was already 35 degrees.

After a stopping for lunch and a couple wrong turns (it’s always helpful to have accurate maps in your GPS) we finally got there. It’s a nice little setup, with 5-6 mazes and some bird and animal enclosure including a Koala habitat. Witness our mad navigating skillz in the first maze:

We eventually did get through the first maze. And without cheating!

The second maze was a challenge, made of a grid of pine trees using fence wire as walls. You could see right through the entire maze but it didn’t help because you couldn’t necessarily see the walls and plan your moves. You had to actually go the whole way down a length to see if it really was a dead end. This is where I demonstrated to the kids my mad crazy “left hand” method where you keep your left hand touching a wall at all times. You might go over your tracks, but you should eventually make it out.

The next maze was call the “No Left Turn” maze, where you could only make right hand turns. No lefties, and no U-turns. The kids made it through real quick, but I’m pretty sure they were still coming to terms with what a left hand turn actually means. See here for an example of what I mean, but these guys had one mapped out in a 20m x 20m area of miniature hedges.

It’s right about this time that the heavens opened and it started raining. We waited undercover for the koala enclosure to open where we found that Koalas sleep 18-20 hours a day and wake only to eat. I tell ya, these guys are living the dream.

It was still raining so we thought “Why not?” and topped it off with some wet weather Frisbee Golf which was also on offer at the park. Witness our wicked awesome Frisbee abilities:

They call me “The Tiger Woods of the Frisbee Golf World”. You know, without all the chicks, money, fame and stuff.

Flood tax? Why can’t the government pay for it instead of me?

The news that there’s backlash against a proposed “Flood Tax” saddens and disappoints me. Here’s the deal: Julia Gillard, our illustrious Prime Minister, yesterday announced a $5.6 billion flood recovery package, made up of a one-off $1.8 billion levy and $3.8 billion worth of funding cuts and deferrals.

It exempts anyone earning less than $50 grand

It is calculated at half a percent for anything you earn over $50 grand, and one percent of anything you earn over $100 grand.

And obviously it exempts flood victims.

In real terms this means that those getting by on a $150K wage will pay up about $750 over the year but on average wage earners are going to pay around $80 next financial year to help get the state of Queensland back on its feet. This is the cost of a couple cartons of beer or a night out at the movies for the family.

Me, I’m willing to pay this levy and I can understand there might be some opposition from those who’ve already willingly donated  money to the cause, but it’s not like it’s going to break anyone’s bank. I’m not exactly living large on six figures but I don’t think I’ll miss that money.

One in a million screenshot

This screenshot shows something I have never actually seen before, and at first I didn’t quite notice it or realise the significance but friends this is a once in a lifetime event, and something that will define a generation. It defies the laws of mathematical chance, and just proves that the universe is a strange, wondrous, terrible, scary and exciting place. It gives me hope because, lets face it, there’s less chance of this happening than finding the cure for cancer. I just had to keep this image to prove to my descendants that it actually happened or they’d call me a liar. Sure, you can brag to your kids about living through a World War, or watching the moon landings live on TV, or seeing the fall of the Berlin Wall. Or even being at the MCG to watch the Dockers successfully defend their Premiership flag. But nothing could ever compare to this.

Floors are in, mostly

So Dad came up for the last couple weeks and has been helping me lay the floors. Well, in reality I’ve been helping him, but hey. Took a couple shots to share. It’s that click-clack snap together stuff which is fairly easy to lay but there’s some skill and finesse involved. First, you gotta scrape and clean the concrete then either apply an oil-based sealant or, as we did, roll on some plastic. On top of that goes a layer of squishy foam to give it a bit of bounce. Then go the floor tiles. I still have a few corners and stuff to go but I should knock them out by the weekend.

I’m not into manscaping

We’ve moved into our new house, and by design we have a longer than usual bench in the bathroom, along with a matching mirror. We’ve only got one shared sink, but we each have two cupboards and three drawers in which to put our “stuff”.

A complete list of my “stuff” is as follows:

  1. A toothbrush.
  2. Two sets of electric hair clippers.
  3. A bottle of Lynx aftershave.
  4. A bottle of Nutrimetics aftershave.
  5. Mach3 razor.
  6. A can of Lynx deodorant.
  7. A can of Rexona deodorant.
  8. A comb. I’m pretty sure this came with the clippers.

Of course there are a couple shared items like toothpaste and soap which my wife and I both use, but I’m not going to count those.

Having two sets of electric hair clippers is, I admit, pretty excessive but I just can’t bring myself to throw out the older set since they come in handy for trimming my goatee. Also, I normally would only have one can of deodorant but I’ve found one of them actually turns out to be “odorant”. I wore this a couple times before I figured out that it was the Lynx causing me to smell like an unwashed jock-strap by the end of the day. Seriously, I cleared out an entire train carriage by myself with this ugly stench. Hence the Rexona.

I don’t have the time to document each and every item on Suzanne’s side of the bench. But I can tell you that at this very moment there are more than 50 separate items. For every body part (face, hand, foot and the more general “skin”) there are different scrubs, cleaners, toners and more general “lotions”. Thats at least 16 items right there.

Then there’s the hair care products like sprays, straighteners and curlers, driers and hydrators. Throw in the perfumes (nice “odorants”), the deodorants and the, ahem, women’s sanitary products and you’ve got a set of fairly bursting drawers and cupboards contrasting my own near-empty drawers.

Which raises the question: do I have enough “stuff”? Should I have more of these things for myself? Should I submit to a manscaping session and queer myself up with hair, skin and facial product? I’m a fairly down to earth guy and have so far shunned this metrosexual lifestyle, but perhaps it’s time to get into it and maintain my youthful good looks. It seemed to work for Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.

My thoughts on the movie Tron Legacy

I do mind, the Dude minds. This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand, man.

Kevin Flynn

1982s Tron was the first movie to ever use CGI effects, and was the first appearance of a fully digital character in the form of the “bit”. For this reason, Tron is a significant piece of motion picture history and not just a retro nerdcore dream.

So, it stands to reason that the release, 28 years later, of Tron Legacy should also carry some significance. We had almost three decades of hardware and software improvements in digital movie production, and the introduction of watchable 3-D.

The idea behind 80s Tron is that Jeff Bridges plays Kevin Flynn, a programmer who is transported from the real world into his own system where everyone dresses in skin tight glowing neon spandex. These guys are personifications of actual running programs and resemble their “User” creators. Despite the religious themes examined, there’s really not much to argue that Tron was anything more than cheesy and camp, but still pretty awesome.

Fast forward to 2010 where where we find Sam, Kevin’s son, flashing back to the 80s and to the last time he saw his father. Sam grows up and despite being a cowboy is the major shareholder in Encom. Sam’s surrogate father figure, played by Bruce Boxleitner who also appeared in the original as the title character “Tron” and his User “Alan”, tells Sam that he was paged by Sam’s dad Kevin from the old pinnie parlour he used to work. Sam investigates and finds himself transported into the computer world where his dad has been lost for 20 years.

It’s called “The Grid”. It came before “The Matrix”. So there.

Digital Eye Candy

Digital Eye Candy

The rest of the story is hard to describe as anything other than “cool”. It’s 3-D eye candy, it’s ear shredding aural ecstacy, it’s a rich vibrant digital world you might have imagined 28 years ago that wasn’t possible because of the technical limitations of the day with magnificent scale and depth where you get lost in a world of glowing suits, speeding light bikes and digital storms. Getting lost is a good thing, because the plot is paper thin and pretty weak and doesn’t make much sense. Face it, this movie is effects- and nostalgia-driven and that’s all. In fact the movie moves pretty slow in parts because everyone has to keep explaining to Sam what’s is happening, and what has been happening up to that point. So you’ve got a movie with an ankle-deep plot and a lot of time spent explaining it. Quite an accomplishment.

My only real disappointment is that Kevin Flynn turned into The Dude from The Big Lebowski. He was all “Man” this and “Dude” that and started “knocking on the sky” or some other digital-hippie wank to fill in some time. 80s Kevin Flynn was better.

The best performance was Michael Sheen playing Zuse, an albino digital version of Ziggy Stardust who was as camp as a row of tents. He was funny and brilliant. Also, the soundtrack by Daft Punk is utter perfection. I understand they did the whole score and they manage to get it right the whole way through.

My verdict: if you’re into deep and meaningful investigation of intellectual themes and tight plots then this might not be the right movie for you. Tron is a sensory experience, and a fun way to spend $25. Pop the extra couple of bucks and catch it in 3D.