Domer

There was a bit of info about this Chinese documentary, ‘Under The Dome’ in the news lately because it had been censored (ie. taken off the Chinese internet) by their government. It’s still on youtube and has had English sub-titles added, although I should mention that if you’re going to watch it then prepare your brain because the subtitles are not the usual family-friendly SBS style—they come fast and you’re bound to miss bits and pieces of what’s being said.


Very interesting. For me, the biggest thing that stood out was how frank and un-hostile most of the interviewees were, especially the guy who was head of Sinopec. As an aside, some of the dialogue gives the sense that Mandarin (hard as it is with all those tones) is full of colourful metaphors the way English is. The description he gave of Sinopec being ‘a big person, but it’s all fat and no muscle’ seemed very apt and parallels the state apparatus there now too.


The other thing that was interesting was that the key points that Chai Jing, the host, pushes are not earth-shattering. Cleaning coal before use, upgrading the petrol being used and enforcing exhaust filtering on vehicles are all very mundane things by western standards. It shows how very much China has fallen to the temptations of evil capitalism.

, — yak sox @ 11:05 pm, March 13, 2015

radar love

One of my small pleasures for the last while has been looking at the radar maps of the weather. It’s a weather report but you can make up your own mind about what will happen.

And this summer has been way more stormy than last so there’s been plenty more exciting colours like this.

 

&&&  &&&

 

I meant to mention a week or so back we went to an Ethiopian restaurant in Flemington. The food itself was kind of interesting. We had a sampler of several dishes – some lentil based things as well as a bit of goat, chicken, fish and lamb (which I steered clear of on the account of my suspected allergy to it). The real surprise was that there was no cutlery involved. I’ve never eaten that kind of stuff with my fingers before—or at least not since I was 2 or 3yo. It was served on a spongy kind of bread which you can kind of grab and wrap the stuff in but it’s only useful to a point, then you have to just dig in a get dirty. The tactile experience was kind of interesting but I can’t help but think that using fork, knife, spoon is more logical than fingers.

16398853120_350239a6b3_n

Speaking of logic. RIP Leonard Nimoy. As an emotionally turbulent teenager I idolised Spock’s cool, detached way of dealing with the mysteries and troubles of the universe. Sure, it doesn’t work in reality and even in the TV show he did occasionally flip out and try to kill his captain but everyone needs something to aim for, especially as a youngster.

 

16000758213_7be98ed3a0After cruising through some of the farmish parts of rural victoria and then down through parts of the otways I have to say I lament the fact that the Great Ocean Road and Otway hinterland have become weekend playground for melbourne yuppies and international tourists who accept being fleeced. Everything is priced ridiculously (I paid $7 for a pie!) and there’s too much useless new-agey stuff. The Otway Black Snail, pictured right, is neither overpriced or useless. In fact I wish I could bring home a team of them to live in my back yard and eat the regular, plant-eating snails. If this was america there would already have been a movie made about giant flesh-eating snails.

 

, , , — yak sox @ 9:27 am, February 28, 2015

South Grampians and south of there

We went for a couple of days driving out west as far as the southern edge of the Grampian mountain range but not actually into them. Stayed in Dunkeld for the night.

Processed with VSCOcam with c3 preset

For years I’ve been using Flickr to store all my fotos and then embedding them on here. It was necessary on the old hosting provider because I wanted to keep my storage to a minimum. But the new host has ‘unlimited’ storage and more to the point, flickr has been steadily going down hill. The javascript rubbish they put over the top of embedded images has spurred me on to give the wordpress media function another shot.

 

But back to the travels. A two thumbs up to Southern Grampians Cottages in Dunkeld. We stayed there one night and it was really nice.

I’d forgotten how small small towns could be. I mean, the name is on the map and we drive there and indeed there is a sign saying you are there. There’s speed limits, a couple of houses, maybe a pub, no one around and that’s it. I found myself trying to get a feel for these places but it’s hard to do if you’re still going a 60kph and not stopping. But I started to wonder what constitutes a town and why does one small country town live on through changing economic circumstances while another seems to die.

IMG_4142

We passed through Derrinallum on Sunday and they happened to be having a market under the trees on the main strip. We stopped to have a look and ended up buying a bunch of stuff like honey, bikkies and a hand-knitted beany. (Prices in real country towns like this, as opposed to touristified towns, are very reasonable.) There was kids for the local P-12 holding a raffle to raise money for something and generally acting goofy. There was a woman singing old-timey songs and playing an amped up ukulele.

 

IMG_4177  Then on Monday mid-morning we passed through Lake Bolac and it looked dead as a doornail. Maybe it was the difference in day but the main thing seemed to be that there was no centre to the town. It’s split by the highway. The populations are about the same and Bolac has a P-12 school too, not to mention a tourist info centre and a lake. But it looked a whole lot less appealing.

 

And then on a whole other level is Timboon, where I lived as a small boy. They don’t even need you to come and visit as a tourist. Just buy their accordingly-priced boutique cheese, icecream, honey, alcohol and even bread. In Dunkeld the little grocery store was selling bread for the Timboon bakery. I used to walk past that bakery on my way home from school and all I can remember it making was very run of the mill white bread so something’s changed there.

IMG_4179Cheeseworld in Allensford gets a lot more visibility in the tourist literature than it deserves. It’s not a terrible place—it’s an okay place. It’s a local-level okay kind of place to eat but the best thing is the giftshop because of how it brings together all kinds of local/Victorian produce for the coachloads of Chinese tourists to buy.

 

I hadn’t realised how how active the sprintcar scene in country Vic was either. They really should just be called dirt buggies. We passed by at least 4 speedways (i.e. dirt tracks) in very rural areas. It’s a shame this kind of stuff isn’t on TV. It’d be much more amusing and genuine than a series like V8 supercar.

 

cats, witches and wolves

Finally got around to revisiting Fairy Park in Anakie. As a kid my family went there many times  although I can only remember two —one when it was sunny and the other cloudy. Yesterday was sunny but I think I prefer it better when it’s cloudy there. More Germanic feeling.


We got there a few minutes after 10am, when it opens, and there was still people ahead of us. It turned out to be quite busy a couple of hours after that. People from all over: international tourists, other parts of the state and locals.



The playground had been totally remodelled but apart from that it hadn’t changed much since the early ‘80s. All the displays were the same and in one case had lost function (Jack no longer climbs the beanstalk). I guess the hazard insurance for having little kids crawling all over the joint must be high but apart from that the owners must be raking the cash in for the part of the year that it’s open and hibernating nicely during the part that it’s not.


What was really nice to see was all these northern hemisphere conifers that have grown over the years.


, , , , — yak sox @ 8:32 am, January 27, 2015

When in Rome

Went to the tennis yesterday. Even though it’s been two years since leaving korea I can still appreciate the convenience of having world class events like the Aus. Open happening right on our doorstep. We only had ground passes, so no entry to the two really big-name stadiums but that was plenty fine. And mum gave us the tickets because she couldn’t use them. Tennis (compared to something like motor racing) is really worth seeing in person compared to on TV.  It’s pretty cool being that close to the players and seeing the game from different angles.

Having said that, the first thing we saw was in ‘hisense’ arena – a women’s match with players I wasn’t familiar with and we ended up sitting behind and to the right of the main TV cameras so all the fotos from that match look as if I’d photographed the TV at home.

Untitled
like this


I wish we’d been better prepared for the sun. It wasn’t an especially hot day but the sunshine is unrelenting even with sunblock on. I sat out at a smaller court watching Sam Groth play doubles but an hour was about all I could take.



I didn’t know there was a juniors section to the tournament but they were out on the back courts and all hitting it just as hard as the pros. Here’s Japan’s Chihiro Muramatsu carving up against a GBR girl. If she becomes super-famous remember you heard that name first here at Sunny Breaks.



My only criticism of the tournament organisation is the ridiculous prices of food and drink within the venue. People pay a lot of money to get into these kind of events, so why not show them a little respect by providing some decent, reasonably priced food? If we’d known we’d have made sandwiches. As it was we had some wedges and a crappy ‘pizza’ plus a couple of drinks for 45bucks. It was Je paying. If it was me I’d probably have left early. I watched a family of four come into the place we were at, they sat down, looked at the menus for a few minutes then left.

— yak sox @ 4:01 am, January 25, 2015

Korean food in Melbourne

Went to a few Korean restaurants in Melbourne recently. It’s fairly hard to come by authentic dishes. Partly because of the embarrassment of riches we have here in Australia when it comes to ingredients. For example, beef is used sparingly in Korea (if it’s on the menu at all) but here it’s cheap so the temptation for restauratuers is to use more but that completely changes the food.

Presentation is also different.


This place in Richmond is a good example of a kind of korean food but definitely one for a mild australian taste. Also the stools you sit on here were ridiculously uncomfortable. It really is an indicator that these leeches we call real estate agents rule the land when you’ve got a city as sprawled as Melbourne is, yet here I sat is a busy (and therefore presumably successful) restaurant that was tiny and elbow-to-elbow.



In contrast, we went to another place in Clayton called Kang na roo which I am guessing is play on words. This was just like what I’d get in Korea at an everyday restaurant, right down to the plastic bowls and tupperware-style bottle of water. The only difference was the price, in that it’s a good deal more expensive here but then that’s to be expected. Two thumbs up!


Untitled

, , , — yak sox @ 2:44 am, January 17, 2015

:GROAN:

Untitled


As if I didn’t already have enough reasons to dislike real estate agents.

— yak sox @ 8:08 am, January 9, 2015

standby readers

sunnybreaks.org is in transit.

 

Edit: Okay that went about as expected. Time-consuming, perplexing but eventually most things end up in the same place. However, like moving house something always gets lost or broken. There’s all these backup/import options but none of them get everything. And now I find that wordpress, for quite some time has not included a link list in it’s default installation. Welcome to the Me generation. I don’t care about anyone else’s website, this is all about the self-aggrandisement.

So anyway – mo old, long link-list was one of those things that the damn exort thing doesn’t think to make a record of so I’m going to have to start anew and remember who and what was on there.

I’m really out of touch with this website building bizzo. It’s almost as if they make it increasingly complicated so the average person has to pay a professional to make it all work.

After nearly 10years of free hosting with webcentral.net.au it felt like it was time to move. For a long time I had a distant but very coridal assocation with the head guy there but it seems he’d left as my emails went unanswered during the last year or more. Everything worked but I couldn’t log in to the controls anymore. Kind of like how the mars rover gradually fell apart.

So I moved it all to bluehost. The first year is priced at a very reasonable rate. Hopefully it’s reliable.

yak sox @ 4:50 pm, January 5, 2015

country music

Some time ago I mentioned I’m listening to contemporary country music. At first I was doing it ironically but now I kind of like it. It is interesting – that’s what it is. For a while I’ve waved off all present-day music except for a very narrow sliver of the spectrum – alternative stuff and most of which was coming from artists that I’d known about for a good decade or more.

 

Commercial FM is full of new stuff that I don’t connect with at all. So anyway, this country music, while very much on the commercial edge of what is called country these days, is coming at lyrics and narrative from a different angle. This first one is probably the best example of that, that I’ve heard in the last couple of months. I was driving along, listening to this song and realised, Whoah – is this guy talking about broaching the subject with his SO of moving back in with his mum? Now that’s country!

As it turned out, this guy Tim McGraw is one of the biggest selling country musicians of all time. So I supposed it wasn’t just luck that he hit on a whacky topic, but is in fact speaking the thoughts of a whole generation of disaffected working class.


OMG! The pathos!


 

 The conversate continues:


I love the fact that this next one, Toby Keith’s ‘Drinks after work’ contains the line, Let’s conversate for a little while. I can remember years ago J-e used to say “I want to conversate with you!” when she was frustrated with using English.

I really like the chord changes in the song too. The sound really nails that mild, AOR sound that tickles my funny bone in a perverse kind of way. (Reminds me a little of the theme from WKRP in Cincinnati.) This song also introduces one of the big themes of country music: alcohol. Listening to the radio, you’d be forgiven for thinking that most of the south of the US is permanently drunk. Many, many songs revolve around getting to Friday night, it being Friday night and now we are going to drink. This is where Toby Keith shows his mastermindedness in that he wrote a song about having drinks in the middle of the week.

I also discovered that Toby Keith is a multi-millionaire and owns a chain of bar-restaurants across the US - mainly in the south and midwest. When he tours, he does gigs in these places. No doubt he sings this song, everybody drinks up and buys another beer.


 seat 7a


The first thing this reminded me of was I’m On A Boat but it’s different in a way that illustrates the difference between the hip-hop dominated pop scene and this commercial country genre. Even though the on a boat song is a send-up it’s that ‘hey look at me, I am very good!’ strutting that pop is all about these days. And then there’s Dierks Bentley getting drunk on a plane—why? because he’s having relationship problems. That’s the second theme of country. Sure, most popular music is about boy-girl problems, but a lot of pop seems to come at it from the angle of ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’. Country songs like drunk on a plane tend more to the bluesy sorrow and woe is me feeling.


Intertextuality with Taylor Swift


Even though it’s 9 or so years old, some of the songs from Taylor Swift’s first album still get played on this particular station I listen to. The station has a very narrow range of songs they play and you can often hear the same song twice in one day even if you’re only listening to the radio for 15 minutes total, but Taylor’s so damn popular they make exceptions of the age of the album.

This song is definitely right on the edge of pop and contemporary country but I can appreciate the craft in the songwriting and if the wickerpedia page is to believed she wrote that whole album pretty much by herself when she was 16 or 17. It’s ballsy to write a song called Tim Mcgraw when you’re just a newb on the country scene – very clever to pay homage but also hitch a little ride on someone who’s guaranteed to sell platinum.

 

 

, , — yak sox @ 10:49 am, December 18, 2014

I am hesitant to write

yet another blogpost about my cat but in the absence of motivation to write about anything else, I will simply say she is phenomenal with pest control. I guess now that it is late spring the four legged critters are in the upswing of their population growth, or rather, would be if it wasn’t for the Charu treating them like an hors d’oeuvre de jour dining menu.

 

We have this ritual where I feed her the usual tin cat food and a little dry food. She meows, I put the bowl of food down on the floor, she starts eating, I put the can in the fridge and do this or that for a moment. I come back over to her, hover above her and give her a pat. She looks up at me, often with mouth full and does this two-sylable mu-weow. And I always took that to mean ‘thankyou’ but I am starting to think it means, ‘is there any more?’ because she often seems unsatisfied with the amount so she goes out the back and swipes a young rat or mouse from near the neighbour’s chicken coop.

I was originally going to keep count of what she brought in but there’s been way too many. I’d say easily one per week.

I am reminded of that kids’ story about the goldfish. The more it was fed the bigger it got. Sometimes I wonder what the Charu would be like as a proper full-sized Bengali tiger.

HipstaPrint

— yak sox @ 8:33 pm, December 3, 2014
Next Page »

Sunny Breaks: A Quinn Martin Production.


(c) Sunny Breaks |x| Barecity