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Levi 17 Months

June 22, 2014

Charmaine and I finally got around to sorting and bagging all the old clothes that Levi doesn’t fit into anymore. Amazingly we didn’t purchase around 95% of the content in the bags. They were all gifts or hand-me-downs from others who were kind enough to give their no longer required stock. We’ll pass on the favour by giving the clothes to Charmaine’s brother and his soon expecting wife.

Baby Clothes

Folding the clothes into 0000 to 0 sizes has finally brought-out in me that feeling that Levi is growing up much too quickly. Charmaine has been lamenting that fact for months now, but I was always firmly in the camp that was excited to see Levi develop quicker. I am much more reserved now in my excitement in seeing him grow. Don’t get me wrong I am looking forward to many more things he will be able to do as he picks up speech, the ability to reason more complex problems and ask question that would even stump me, but let’s take it slow one day at a time. Makes me want to capture more of him each day.

Levi with Pen 2

Levi doing business.

Levi doing business.

Levi with more layers than a Christopher Nolan film.

Levi with more layers than a Christopher Nolan film.

Levi with Pen

Levi with cheeky smirk

Levi with cheeky smirk

Our Big Weekend Purchase

May 18, 2014

Some weekends come and go, leaving a fleeting memory of the past two days. This weekend was not one of them.

It all started on last week’s Monday morning when I had a quick online scan of properties in our budget, with our requirements in the local area. That Monday I thought I would expand the search area by just a few minutes of driving north. With a click of the search button and a sort of the latest listing there it was a gem amongst rough. A house that ticked all the boxes and then some more, it was perfect for our needs. It is appropriate to mention that at the time our spirits were somewhat dampened from our previous unsuccessful attempts at securing a winning bid. Frantic price wars on other potential properties had made us realise that sometimes it is worth taking a step back from the action. This area was far enough from the hot spots to mean that potentially we can avoid the frenzy.

So come Saturday we rock-up a few minutes before the allotted inspection time. At this point our excitement, anticipation and fear of losing out have been building up inside us like pressure in a Champaign bottle. It needed to be resolved and quickly; will this be our dream home, or has the property photographer worked magic and turned a shack into a palace with mere angles and lighting.

We have all been told not to stereo-type people, but when it comes to inspection days sometimes we cannot help it. As we are getting out of the car, I am checking-out our competition. Let’s see young Asian couple, decent car, a smug look of confidence on their faces, at least no briefcase of cash, hmm this could be trouble. Then there’s that guy, standing all by himself, he looks too cocky for my liking, probably an investor who is dipping into daddy’s deep pockets. Enough already I remind my wondering mind, time to stop assuming and start looking. As long as we play our cards right the property could be ours. Charmaine has a theory that having a kid in our arms makes the agents favour us. I am still not sold on how true that is, but I guess anything to give us an edge will do.

As we step into the house, we approved what we saw. The inside contains a beautiful modern look incorporating whites, greys and browns that work very nicely together. All the rooms have had a facelift and were decorated with the same palate of colours. Sizes of rooms and the house in its entirety can be deal breakers, but this place was roomy. In fact Charmaine’s eyes lit up like a Christmas sparkler when she saw the previously omitted from pictures laundry area that almost doubled the size of the kitchen. Both of us were grinning like a pair kids who were told we can go to Wonderland today.

But without a pen to the paper and a pair of visible signatures the house was still anybody’s trophy. It was time to act; we needed to woo the agent lady with an offer she can’t refuse. We talked amongst ourselves what our limit would be, waited to till the agent lady was on her own and like hungry tigers made our move. At first we threw her a bone with little meat on it, an offer right on the asking price. It was our way to see what the other offers were. In this market the asking price tends to be the starting point with the final offer somewhere higher. She informed us that there was a higher bid but not by much. Fantastic, we still had a chance. We had another quick talk between the two of us and then pitched her an offer a few grand more. Boom we got the result we wanted, she was happy to take that back to her den and go from there.

It would be a few agonising hours until we got in contact with the agency again. To cut the already long winded story short, the agent contacted the vendor who accepted the offer, we were ready to sign.

So there we are 6 pm on a Saturday night sitting at the agent’s office going through all the legal documents that need to disclosed. Finally there it was and just like that with a simple few smudges of ink onto the contract we were signing one of the biggest purchases of our lives.

There is of course the 5+ days cooling off period and the 35 days before the exchange occurs. Oh and the current tenants have just recently signed up to stay there until February 2015, so it will still be some time before we call the place home. But the move has already begun in both of our minds.

Memory Lane: Old School PC Games 1

May 12, 2014

When Levi is old enough I will have to share with him the fact that the internet and interconnected world he was born into was not always like he grew up knowing. I have accepted that I will sounds like an aged potato recalling to Levi the times when, if I wanted to play a game with a friend I would have to call the landline hoping they are home, wait patiently for them to come over, grab another chair and take turns playing the old school games that shaped my childhood. We never owned a gaming console so the PC was our sole avenue of electronic entertainment, but it was more than enough to bring many, some would say wasted, I would say invested hours into the classic games.

Here are some of my most beloved old school PC games, in no particular order.

Wolfenstein 3D

This is the mother of first person shooter games. I first lay my eyes on the game before our arrival to Australia around 20 years ago. I still recall walking aimlessly around a some strangers house that my parents were visiting, when suddenly as if the curtains were ripped off and the holy of holies was beaming into my eyes, there in one of the spare rooms, a game that was so advanced to my childish eyes that it was on par with magic.

Wolfeinstein 3d

I didn’t get to experience the game hands on until after my family made the passage across the Indian Ocean to land of Oz. But when I did, I spend hours immersed in the wunder-game.

The game consists of you in first person running around in a maze like building shooting Nazis, finding ammo and better guns and of course looking for secret passage ways. This habit of slamming spacebar ad nauseam on all walls in hopes that a secret chamber would reveal itself, was copied in some of the later first person shooters.

Wolfenstein was ground breaking at the time and deserves to be raised on a pedestal as one of the greats in the historic gaming world.

Recently when my friends and I were playing Cards against Humanity, an adult party game of some note, one of the cards in the original set was Mecha-Hitler, which is a throw-back reference to one of the final bosses in the original Wolfenstein. The term derives from you as a player having to face Hitler who is in a giant robotic suit with quad machines guns on the sides. Some may say it is an obscure term, but those of us who got to experience the game growing up would find it comedic.

Mecha-Hitlet wolfenstein_3d

Commander Keen 4

Why 4, and not the three proceeding Commander Keens? I don’t know, maybe it was the fact that it was the first of the series I got my fingers on. I did eventually play the earlier releases of the game, which I found lacklustre. Perhaps it took four tries for the develops to perfect the gaming recipe and developed a true candy of a game.

Even after all these years this game makes me think of chocolates and sweets? The makers of the game took every opportunity to litter the 2D world with various lollies and candy-bars that you as a pogo-skipping, helmet wearing boy are tempted to collect. Commander Keen was not just challenging but lots of fun too. Everything from the stoned trees in the background to moving rocks that creep up to you before attacking made each level look flashy.

Commander Keen 4

The vivid colours, easy controls of the character and just the fun theme makes this game a big hit for me. Like many games (looking at you Mario), water levels where you have traverse the map by slowly swimming around were a real pain. Those levels particularly brought on lots of fist banging at the outrage that the big buck-toothed fish had the audacity to eat you when you were this far in the level. But it was all in the name of fun. Still a classic.

Commander Keen bucked fish

Another installment will come when I feel like it.

World Records and Me

April 6, 2014

Ever since I was a kid I have been fascinated with record setting facts. Back in the day my parents would satisfy my curiously with old thrift shop copies of the famous Guinness Book of Records. It didn’t matter that some of the copies dated to before I was born, as long as the pictures were unique (not always the case, as I recall Robert Wadlow the world’s tallest ever man at 8 foot 11 inches, would always be featured in the human body section with some random fellow dwarfed under this living giant) I was always happy to flick through the pages in awe.

Robert Wadlow world tallest man

 

My thoughts were if Guinness had their book why can’t I? The brilliant idea came to me shortly after perusing countless pages of humans taking themselves to the limit. I managed to get a hold of a small exercise book and began a records book featuring my very own personal human achievements; it would include things like jumping the furthest from a single point in our living room, most push-ups or how long I can hold my breath. One record I remember reading about was of a man in India standing on one foot for something like 72 hours. I thought to myself now there’s a maverick when it comes to record breaking. I told myself that I must set my own one foot record, otherwise one day I will go to my grave with deep regret not knowing how long I could really stand there balancing on a single foot. From memory I got bored and my foot starting aching after a measly half an hour. After hobbling to the pages of my record diary I scribbled the new record name and personal best time and in my head was satisfied that I have ticked off another record of my young minds bucket list.

These days I don’t jump around my lounge any more setting records (after all I might knock over Levi), but I have still kept my fascination with things that are the biggest, fastest, hairiest etc. My yearly ritual whenever I am in Kmart’s book section and I see the newly printed copy of the Guinness Records is to flick through the pages and check-out the newest pictures and interesting additions to the list.

Tallest building

A record category I find really interesting to read up on is the world tallest buildings/structures. Wikipedia has a great article on this.

The current world record holder for the tallest building is Burj Khalifa in United Arab Emirates at 829.8 meters in height. It surpasses the second place holder (as at the time of writing this) Tokyo Sky Tree at 634 meters, by nearly 200 meters. It is an amazing structure and feat of human engineering. I would love to stand on top of it and gaze out.

Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa

But I always enjoy looking over the horizon and seeing what if anything is going to top that in the near future. The Kingdom Tower that appears to be underway is set to be over one kilometre in height. Yep that’s over 1000 meters into the air.

(Still Under construction) Kingdom Tower, Jeddah

(Still Under construction) Kingdom Tower, Jeddah

I am not even going to talk about the theoretical proposals such as the space elevator.

One last thing that blew my mind when I was reading the article. There is a section on how long various previous record holders help the record as the tallest structure. An example is the Eiffel tower (300 meters) that held the record for 41 years from 1889 till 1930 when it was surpassed by the Chrysler Building (319 meters).

Do you know who held the record for the longest time? Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt (146 meters) held the record as the tallest human structure for a whopping 3871 years from 2560 BC till 1311 when it was finally surpassed by Lincoln Cathedral in England (160 meters).

Great pyramid of Giza

Great pyramid of Giza

Update on my life – Mar 2014

March 9, 2014

 

The above picture sums up the first two stages of my life quiet accurately. At some point I have exchanged my youthful carefree living, you know the type I am referring to; you wake up, look at the 9 am flashing on your clock and roll over back to sleep to recover from last night’s wild debauchery (joking, most nights were spent in my dark bedroom crushing virtual enemy armies in the second instalment of the popular franchise Age of Empires). Anyway as I was saying what happens when you have a full time job + 2 hours of daily travel and a one year old that puts energizer bunnies to shame? Sure you have some more money in the ‘hopes & dreams’ piggy bank, but It leaves you with just enough time at breakfast to strap a feeding-bag to your face and rush off to work.

Time to double-down I say. Instead of trying to cut some things out of your life like an average mortal would do if they had any sense,  I decided to plunge head first into the frozen lake of stuff to fill your life with. I have started my studied Again! You would think 6.5 years of uni would bring even the most hardcore academic to their knees, begging to be let-out from the campus walls, but It seems I have that itch again.

I started my CPA course which thankfully does not require lectures and tutorial. But it does mean that I have to now think about whether that extra bathroom break is me spoiling myself with some leisure time or is it better that I stick to reading another lengthy definition of deferred tax exemptions instead. In other words I really have to plan my days and try to fit in as much as possible, no time for wasteful blog posts… ooops. Let’s see how that goes for me.

As late night infomercials will tell you in a +5 volume “but wait there’s more!” Just yesterday our friends and Charmaine & I inspected a unique property that consists of two duplexes on one title. After a cuppa we decided to give the property market another go and try to acquiring this little gem in the heart of Blacktown with four names on the property. Only problem? The auction (I hate auctions as it is) is one week from today. Talk about cutting it short. We did see our broker today, so hopefully we can work something out by next Saturday. But who knows all this might mean that I need to find time for moving and cosmetic renovations. Let us see.

Favourite Youtube Channels – Veritasium

March 1, 2014

I haven’t done this segment in a while. I thought I’d share another favourite of mine when it comes to Youtube channels. I first learnt about the channel by link hopping from another Youtube source previously blogged about - Vsauce.

As the heading of the post suggests the channel title is a rather obscure word that when I first came across sounded a lot like one of the periodic elements. I later read from their Wikipedia page that the name is partly inspired from the elements, it is a “combination of the Latin word for truth, ‘Veritas’, and the ending common to many elements ‘ium”.

The videos are very sciency (I will use this word even if my spell checker will have a hissy fit over it) and tend to gravitate towards the subject of physics, nevertheless the host (Brian Schmidt ) makes each release very engaging and leaves your mind with something to ruminate on. In some videos Schmidt gets access to some rather restrictive areas of scientific research such as the below video shows ‘World’s Roundest Object! Or there is the Most silent room in the world.

In some videos Brian goes into the streets and asks random people,  what appear to be relatively simple science question, as an example below the public is asked to compare the surface temperature of two objects and then comment on their temperate differences. A very interesting response and explanation of temperature follows from Brian.

Or there are just the random fun videos such as the slow-motion slinky that appears to defy the law of gravity.

The Coast Track, NSW – My Experience

February 23, 2014

If you wish to see the natural beauty of the East Australian coast, and you want to do it by foot I cannot speak more highly of The Coastal Track that runs from Bundeena (one hour drive from Sydney) to Otford.  At 26 kilometres this is a two day hike, but if you are after a single day trek much like the group I went with, you can cut it in half and still enjoy a hot meal back home before the sun set.

Our starting destination was Garie beach inside the Royal National Park. At around 10 am we were finally ready to take the first steps through the long strip of beach until a hikers sign instructed us to proceed through the local greenery. As soon as our feet left the sand, the trail picked up altitude and we slowly gained height. After about ten minutes of this cuff building exercise, you could look back and see a panoramic view of where we set-off from.

The coast track, Garie beach

The coast track, Garie beach

For some time afterwards the track led us through low lying coastally adopted vegetation. The views were lacklustre as even the blue ocean vanished from sight. I was however fascinated to see how many ants inhabit the earth all along the track. At one point we saw a nest of what I later learnt were Red Bull ants with massive mandibles ready to do some serious damage. Perhaps due to their size, one of the biggest species in the world (up to 30mm in length) the ants operate with such a bravado that they can build a nest wherever they feel like, if it happens to be where us humans walk so be it, we have to go around them. One of the guys got bit on the foot as we were crowding around the nest taking photos. I hear it feels like a hot needle being continuously stuck into you eeek.

Red Bull Ant, Royal National Park

At some point the track opened up again to reveal the naked coast. We have ascended even higher by this time and were rewarded with gorgeous expanses of the ocean and terrifying cliffs beside us. I much like others were naturally was drawn to the edge to peer down the relentless waves crashing against the jagged rocks. It was not long when a sense of vertigo overtook me and I had to step back to a safer location.

The Coast Track, Cliffs

The Coast Track, Cliffs

The Coast Track, more cliffs

The Coast Track, more cliffs

The walk to Bandeena, our final destination, was littered with such breathtaking views as I mentioned above, each one different enough to be memorable in its own right. There were about four beaches that we passed on our hike, offering us a place to rest and for some a chance to cool-off in the water. Wattamolla beach was around the mid-point of our hike. It had a small lagoon and a giant rock that brave teenagers were constantly jumping off from. After reenergizing at this pit-stop we continued onwards.

At one point we took a wrong turn and lost over an hour by taking a boring stone filled fire-trail that led inland. After backtracking and getting back on course we finally reached the end point at 15 to 7, a whopping 9 hours later. The track should only taken about 3.5 hours as per google maps, however taking leisurely breaks, getting lost and being part of a group that consists of a wide spectrum of fitness all add up for a long day.

The Coastal Track was definitely worth my time, and I would recommend it to all that will listen. It was a great experience to see the beauty of the Eastern NSW coast. I only had a phone camera, but I have included my favourite shots of the day.

Red Sandstone  - Coast Track NSW

Red Sandstone – Coast Track NSW

Very straight cliff edge - Coast Track

Very straight cliff edge – Coast Track

crevasse leading to the ocean - Coast Track

crevasse leading to the ocean – Coast Track

Coast line - Coast Track

Coast line – Coast Track

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