Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lost Farm

Mackenzie and I just returned from a 7 day junket to Tasmania. I confess, 3 years ago I would have had as much chance of locating Tasmania on the map as Tanzania, but now it just rolls off my tongue like I'm oh so worldly. For those of you who need a quick orientation it's the little island province in Australia, just a tad a south of the rest of the mainland. When you tell people that you are heading to Tasmania for a few days, continental Australians smile and tell you to pack your woollies, despite there being nothing in the forecast to lead you to believe it will be anything but pleasant. Australian's seem to get a strange satisfaction about denigrating the weather in other parts of the country. Queensland - "last person I know actually melted from the humidity, had to return his body in Gatorade bottle". Adelaide - "no one allowed in the city limits during the summer months, they have bacon frying contests on the street in January!" And if you are somewhere and say you're from Canberra, the look of horror on people's faces when they say - "well you're from Canada, I suppose your used to it..." for the record Canberra has the finest climate in the world, dry and warm with sunny, cool winters (there I said it).

But Mack and I braved the nay sayers and made a week long stop for some R,R and G. We picked a spot not far from Barnbougle Dunes which just happens to be the 35th ranked golf course in the world! It was spectacular, a solid challenge and a gorgeous walk through the hay fields aligning the beautiful beaches of the north coast of the island. It was made even more enjoyable by watching Mackenzie take the course apart by shooting 78. Breaking 80 is always an accomplishment but doing so on one of the best courses in the world on your first go round is beyond cool. Actually when Mackenzie is playing well she doesn't actually bring a course to its knees she just sort of tames it, she puts every ball in play and hits every shot as clean as a whistle. She's good.

We did try another course right next door, called Lost Farm. It opened just a year ago and supposedly is even better than the Dunes. It's 20 holes (why?) and must have been designed by Stalin as it tries to humiliate you at every turn. We had the "pleasure" of playing it on a day with 60 kph winds which made standing a challenge never mind swinging a stick in anger, towards alleged 4 inch holes, somewhere on a field not allowed to be seen from where you begin. Mackenzie and I have decided that "Farm" is a four letter word, something my wife has been telling me for years.

Golf aside, Tasmania is real nice. More lush than many of the other places in Australia, it's green and scenic. Not quite like New Zealand, more pastoral and pleasant and a bit less dramatic, how shall I say - less wow, more cow. We spent most of our city time in Launceston, which is a very cool spot with a nice little Art Deco downtown at the headwaters of the Tamar River. I enjoyed the ski lift over the gorge, and a word to the wise if you go there only order Boags beer, its all they have.

If you drive much in Tassie you'll soon realize that it is the roadkill capital of the world. You end up sharing the road with wiped out wallabies and wombats, that have been picked over and dragged across the highways  by various and sundry birds of prey. What makes this startling is the pronounced lack of vehicles of the road. I mean, I drove for 6 hours one day and spotted 90 dead animals and 4 fellow travellers. I'd say if you travel on Tasmanian roads after sunset your odds of hitting something furry (even "devilish") is about as good as bumping into a civil servant in Canberra. I say get the extra insurance on the rental.

As with everything in this country, national treasures are understated, so when I looked on the map of Tasmania's East Coast and saw the words Bay of Fires, it sounded like an interesting destination. When we arrived we were gobsmacked by the most beautiful string of beaches I have ever seen. White sand like you would see in Sarasota, Florida, translucent aquamarine water like something out of Bermuda and sheltered coves like the south coast of Australia. One after another of these beaches for about a 20 km stretch of the coast, some of it navigable by car, but much more only to be arrived at by foot. I'll definitely be back.

For now its summer in Canberra. 29 C today and not a cloud in the sky. I might ring in the new year by walking up Mount Taylor today, or I'll break down and cut the do I miss my son.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The cup runneth over...

Mackenzie and I went to Melbourne this weekend to see the President's Cup. We were pretty excited to see Tiger Woods and the gang. Friday night's flight to Melbourne was a debacle. We boarded the plane late, flew to Melbourne, circled the city for 45 minutes hoping to land, couldn't get clearance due to storms in the area so turned around and flew back to Canberra. Then waited for an hour on the tarmac in Canberra before taking off again and heading to Melbourne. We ended up getting to our hotel after midnight and scarfing down McDonald's before lights out. 6:00 a.m. came early but we were psyched despite the constant drizzle that descended upon the city. We were at the course by 7:00 a.m. and watched 11 consecutive hours of golf. We got extremely wet but it couldn't dampen our spirits.

On Tiger: We couldn't get over how little he is - Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Bill Haas, Ernie Els, Adam Scott all tower over him. If he's 6'2" then I'm the jolly green giant. He is extremely fit, I admit, and his tight red shirts provide the illusion of bulk on television, but he's no more than 180 lbs. If I were to compare him to another athlete up close in terms of size, it might be Wayne Gretzky. And that would be a good comparison because as a player he is beyond superb, he plays with an understanding of the game that is unparalleled. Even in a collection of the best players in the world it takes about 10 minutes to realize he's in a class by himself. Socially he seems a bit awkward but as a player he did not disappoint.

On Royal Melbourne: The course gave the pros fits. There were so many short Par 4's which meant that the players had to really think about position rather than just "bombing it". The greens would have eaten me up and spit me out. Not exactly a downtown course, a bit off the beaten track, but a great test of golf. You can't really imagine how difficult they make the greens for a professional event, just nasty. Jason Day shot 45 on the front 9 on Sunday! That's a few more than Mackenzie and I usually take to get around on a social Saturday afternoon, wow poor Jason. The crowd at Royal Melbourne was super quiet. There were a great group of Aussie supporters that tried to get in the spirit but the rest of the gallery seemed in awe of the event. Overly polite I'd say, it was nice to see though.

On Lemon, Lime and Bitters: No idea what actually makes up this drink but I'm hooked.

On Fatherhood: My daughter is awesome. She is game for everything. Rain, cold, greasy food, 5 hour plane rides that should have been an hour...just deal with it. When we arrived, we walked through the gates and I said, there he was Phil Mickelson on the practice green, and Mackenzie's eyes got as big as saucers. The look on her face was priceless.

On Bubba Watson: He is easily 6' 3" - but his wife is taller. Yowza! She was walking around for the entire event in the rain on Saturday, what a trooper. Bubba is a weird kid, but pretty likable I must say. Webb Simpson's wife wore rubber boots on Saturday and somehow pulled it off as a fashion statement...some women can wear anything. Overall the Americans had cuter WAGs, which is really the true competition isn't it? WAG = Wives and Girlfriends, and yes that is an official President's Cup moniker.

Best chant of the day: Aussie, Aussie, Aussie...Choi, Choi, Choi!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Policy Ball

The United States was founded by a group of tax cheats. Tea was thrown overboard and the shackles from their founding empire were thrown off. Hell hath no fury like an American burdened by an arbitrary pull on his taxable income. Live free or die! From 1776 the American juggernaut has been based on an increasingly complex series of accounting tricks and when President Reagan finally made deregulation the official law of the land in the 1980's it was a slide that ultimately led to a puddle called the Global Financial Crisis. But, oh what a ride. I love America and I have all the faith in the world that their cunning will lead the world out of its present economic conundrum, and in doing so, will set the scene for an even bigger crash in the future.

Canada was a compromise. The French took the upper territory; called it the lower territory and ceded the lower territory to the English who dutifully called the bottom half "Upper Canada" thus confusing generations of Canadian High School history students. We all good? The nation building "rebellions" were equally farcical, one scheduled for 1837 involved 3 drunken Scotsmen and a few distracted French politicians which ended in a settlement whereby 4 daffodils and 3 daisy's were replanted. Cool. The spirit of compromise is alive and well today in the land of the Maple Leaf, God bless us. Just count the number of times a Canadian uses the word sorry in an average week. At least 20 times, no sorry, I lied, 19.

Which brings me to my present home. A land where thriving, innocent and peaceful nations of aboriginal people were forced to share their space with a lawless group of immigrants. The newcomers got right to work; took on an oppressive climate and built a nation of their own. Australia is huge. Twenty Five million people spread around the coast like a handful of pennies thrown in an apple orchard. You want room, you got room. But to their credit Australian's soon realized that anarchy just wasn't the way to run a country and they set forth to create a system of administration full of policy, procedure and more policy. The result is a daily struggle between freedom and bureaucracy. A drama that is played out every day in the land of the sunburn.

Like Canada, many things in Australia have been imported. The roots are decidedly British, there is a apologetic appreciation for an oppressed aboriginal culture, a decidedly southern hemispheric Asian influence, and of course a thirst for the latest (if not greatest) from the good old U.S.A. I am proud to say that one of the American passions that has recently taken hold "down under" is baseball. There are plenty of youth teams and of course my son, enjoys a game every Saturday morning. This year I decided to put my pen forward as the official scorer for the team. It keeps me there, awake, and yet a civilized distance from the action.

The game itself for these under 14 squads shows a resemblance to the North American version I used to know. The kids look the same, the uniforms and gear are similar and for the most part the rules and general setup are familiar. But the struggle between Australian lawlessness and bureaucracy is evident. This week I went behind the stands to the scorers table where I was met by the opposing teams "assistant scorer". Three chairs were laid out, one for me, one for her and one for her senior scoring advisor. I took my book out and began to scratch out the lineups, but I could see from my counterparts that I lacked a certain nervous tension. You see - I've been scoring ball games since I was 8, and this pair have been taking courses on scoring all winter in hopes of being ready for the summer. The two of them sat with 5 coloured pencil crayons, pens, scrap paper and 4 colour coded versions of the lineup cards. Every pitch for them was a different code. The first pitch was a ball which flew over the batters head and crashed against the screen. The umpire, who had clearly just returned from a night of drinkin' at the Labour Club didn't flinch. I put my sunnies over my eyes settling in for a long morning but my fellow score keeping partners were in a tizzy. The conversation went a little like this...Do I mark that in blue for a Ball or Red? Do I count balls and strikes or just pitches? What happens if there is a foul ball? Was that a passed ball or a wild pitch? Should that be an error on the catcher? What is an unearned run? Can you get the book and look up the definition of catchers interference in case that happens? As they were dealing with the official scoring of "Ball One", two more pitches had ensued, a ball and a strike, now they were behind, and were asking what had happened... careful not to ask me, less the official Chinese wall between the two score keeping sides be breached and the corresponding loss of objectivity render the game a forfeit in the standings. This went on for 2 hours and after a painful walked filled 3 inning marathon, the game mercifully ended. After the first inning, one of the coaches, came over and asked for the score...the Bopsy twins looked over at their indecipherable scorecard which contained well over 400 multicoloured marks, and had to confess, they had no idea. 6-1, if you're interested.

The game itself was a testament to good old fashioned Australian mayhem. Dogs ran on the field, players ran over each other like Aussie Rules Stars, parents swore like Canadian hockey moms; as young Australian boys wrestled mightily with this circular version of cricket. The nearest thing I can compare it to is watching a group of elephants play the violin. Frustrating for the elephants, painful for the spectators and an absolute disgrace to the instrument. But hey, in the end, a good time had by all. Malcolm went 2 for 2 with 3 runs scored (who's counting). As I left my scorers chair, having signed the official declarations of the 14 - 1 contest, the home team scorers were still trying to determine the exact number of swinging strikes versus taken strikes as the official game sheet calls for the ratio...good luck with that. I had better things to do, like navigate my way home past fifteen round abouts, all the while trying not to get run down by Australian drivers who think red lights are suggestions and traffic signs are for sissies. I can safely say that I made it home to blog about it.

Next weeks project, I do my taxes, you can imagine the hell that is in Australia...anyone know where my purple pencil crayon is? Where's a good American accountant when you need one?

Monday, October 24, 2011


I have written a number of blogs (offline) lately, all very philosophical and upon reflection none fit for human consumption. I am a writer now, after all, and therefore need to ensure that I am immensely critical of myself and maybe even tortured by my art form. LOL.

So, in place of my long winded attempts at profundity I offer instead a few mere updates to tide my readership over, and make people beg for more.

Malcolm began the baseball season as the starting pitcher for the Weston Creek Indians. In the first game of the year he struck out 9 batters over 3 innings; you can’t do much better than that! It could be that the foot that he has grown in the past 18 months, has finally reached equilibrium and allowed him to throw a bit more accurately. Go Malcolm.

Mackenzie shot an 82 in the final round of the women’s club championship at the Federal Golf Club, good for 3rd place. She continues to amaze me; she is a testament to what can be accomplished when you’re just willing to outwork the rest of the field. Had the tournament been held 6 months from now I’m pretty sure that the first place winner would have had spare spot on her mantle.

Shannon and Malcolm continue to plan their Canadian Christmas odyssey. In place of an advent calendar they have made a 3 month container of gummy worms that need to be eaten before they depart. I’m convinced that their first stop in Canada will be a dentist.

School rolls along. After the spring fair on the last weekend of October it is a 6 week hay ride to the finish. The end of October should be perilously close to Halloween, however it is not celebrated in Australia. I can’t see a good reason why it shouldn’t be, I love Halloween as its one of the few holidays where friends can do something together and the community gets to interact. Most other occasions are sequestered into “family” gatherings and as someone that grew up without relatives, I always felt a bit non-plussed around the holiday times, as no one was around and nobody could be disturbed from their precious family agendas. Bitter?

I was pleased to see that the New Zealand All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup. I’m sure like Canadian hockey players the feeling for the players is more relief than jubilation as they carry the hopes of 4.4M New Zealanders on their shoulders. Not that I understood much that was going on in the games, nor would I ever want to give it a go, truly victory in that sport must be when you leave the game with the same number of ears and testicles that you started with…one, two, yep all good.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

New World Record

Kurt Wallenda once said..."Being on the wire is living, the rest is waiting".

Almost 2 years ago, I took my first flight from Sydney to Canberra. It's a 30 minute flight, 10 minutes of take off, 10 minutes of landing and 10 minutes with the seat belt sign un-illuminated. Yet it is the only flight on which, irregardless of the carrier, you receive a full complimentary snack and (if its after 2 pm) a free alcoholic beverage. If you sit in the wrong spot, your banana loaf and chardonnay arrives at the same time as..."the captain has now turned on the seat belt sign so we kindly ask you to return your tray table to its upright position...". The absurdity of the exercise abounds. It's 10 minutes people. Human beings can routinely survive days without sustenance. Trust me we'll be fine. Of course while it is true that individuals may survive, one look around tells me that the plane is packed with politicians and civil servants commuting to work for a quick junket, and human physiology aside, it is a fact worth noting that such individuals rarely rouse if the word complimentary isn't nigh.

On one of my first such trips I asked for a beer. I'm not actually a huge beer drinker. But my favoured beer in Australia is Pure Blonde and when a woman asks me what I'd like; the temptation not to respond with, "I'd love a tall pure blonde, if you have one, not too frosty though" is too great. Even better is the eye roll from the stewardess who "hasn't heard that one before".

Those that know me will attest that I am a gentle soul with little in the way of criminal intent. However when faced with an absurd situation my initial reaction is to push the envelope just a little further, in an attempt to reveal the underlining insanity of the current condition. It's as they say, what I do.

So on that maiden voyage or shortly after I concocted the scheme of drinking two beers on a trip from Sydney to Canberra. The hypothesis was founded on the assumption that I could find a bubbly sympathetic stewardess that would see the nobility of my pursuit long enough to eschew airline policy and help me with the quest. It is absolutely noble, it would have to be a worlds record. In the physical universe that we occupy I dare say it would be a first. And perhaps like Joe DiMaggio (sorry Don Bradman...token Australian reference) I could establish a mark that while possible to tie would be quite impossible to beat.

I've had enough time to plan all the factors involved. 1. I need a headwind. 2. I have to find Bubbles, an eager to please stewardess with soft spot for middle aged, portly, grey haired men 3. I have to be thirsty. 4. I can't be too full. 5. I have to remember that this is my quest, sometimes my obsessions can be distracted by...hey what's that....

I have in the past been able to put a few of the factors together but last night preparation finally met opportunity. 1. Flight time 39 minutes, good start. 2. I ate 4 pieces of sushi for lunch and we took off at 6 p.m. 3. When asked if I wanted a drink at the airport, I asked for salty pretzels. 4. I was focused / bored out of my mind.

When I reached the place, I met Bubbles. Short, brown haired with a smile as big as the outback. "Enjoy your flight Mr. Rice". ...this could work. More good fortune. As always happens I am seated beside either the biggest (or the second biggest) man on the plane, obviously some air line employees idea of a cruel joke. But just before take off he was reassigned to an empty emergency exit row, motive now met opportunity, as I had an empty seat beside me so the "and one for my seat mate please, he's just in the gentleman's.." line had a chance, not that I felt I needed it with Bubbles in command.

But it's never quite so easy. As we began our accent, the captain informed the cabin that the flight time had been changed to 29 minutes and the wind could create some turbulence. Could this interfere with the in flight service? Civil Servants became restless. I thought I may have to postpone. Then a sight emerged before me, while Bubbles glad handed the high rollers in first class, I caught a glimpse of Angela. Tall, blonde, angular, wearing a bun as tight as my wife's wallet. She actually made a 2 year old stow her teddy bear under the seat in front for take off. Not good.

Once we reached altitude, the drink cart was readied. I was nervous. If this was to be done, data was my friend. As Angela and Bubbles came down the Aisle, I watched the routine.  Rather than continually moving the cart, Angela had devised a plan where she took 6 or 7 snacks in her over sized Nordic mitts and proceeded to leave the cart unattended while she slapped the cookies down on tray tables with one hand and juggled red, whites and lagers on the other.  It routinely took her 10 seconds to accomplish this tour all the while Bubbles was serving one customer at a time, fawning over little babies and flirting with the business men.

It was time for the cart to move. The next destination the cart was placed at was directly beside my aisle, this was the new staging point. Could it be? I got Angela. She looked at me as if to kill, I meekly said 'blonde" she reached down took 3 in her right hand, pounded one on my tray table and popped the top, just with her glare. There was no time to waste, I took my first gulp and it went down easy. As Angela took off to service the back of the plane, I noticed that we were 20 minutes into the flight and the "DING" of the seat belt sign had sounded, it was now or never. As the captain revealed his intent to land the ship, I looked over and noticed that efficient Angela had left the drawer open with at least 20 Pure Blonde brews literally in my lap. It was automatic. I reached I grabbed and it was all over. No one except a curious young onlooker in aisle seat 23A saw the deed, it was done. Or was it. I now had 9 minutes and one and a half beers to go. But that was cut short. Bubbles was on garbage patrol, starting at the front of the cabin she began to collect rubbish and other assorted used personal items from the masses. I had seconds. Second gulp first beer done. Bubbles was at row 7. I channelled my inner frat party,  glug! glug! glug!, holy crap how big are these cans. She's at row 18. If it hadn't been for a toddler in row 20 that smuggled on board a full spaghetti dinner, and proceeded to paint the fuselage, I would have been sunk, but while Bubbles attended to the young family, and searched for a red sauce encrusted rattle which had rolled 4 seats in front, I summoned the courage. I finished with time to spare. As Bubbles came by the cabin, I dumped one can in the bin with my left, came over the top and slam dunked the second with my right. My wink told the whole story. She knew.

The walk from the plane was like a victory lap. The passengers and crew my receiving line. Few will know what was accomplished that night. Pure Blonde Victory, the mark has been set. Still one more challenge to navigate. This is Canberra, no exit bay, it's wobbly stairs, down to the tarmac. The steps shook in the wind, and it was only now that I realized I had drank 2 beers in 2 minutes. I can't say I stuck the landing but there are no style points awarded in this game. It's a 2! put it on the scorecard, or in this case, my signature on the used boarding pass will suffice.

When I arrived home, I regaled my family with my accomplishment. They looked at me with profound sadness and pity. Greatness is always so misunderstood. When one reaches the Holy Grail, what does one do. Blogs about it I suppose.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Vienna Anyone

120 years ago Melbourne was the richest city in the world; the Abu Dhabi of days gone by. Melbourne’s fortune was fuelled not by oil, but by gold. I’m convinced that in another 100 years the next golden city will be fuelled by a supply of fresh water or perhaps something even rarer like common sense. Melbourne is the one place in Australia where I almost forget I’m down under, the Yarra River could be the Chicago or the Thames. The gumtrees disappear, the outback ends and Sydney and Brisbane fade to black. It would seem that Melbourne spent its entire fortune on art. The city is ornate and bejewelled in every un-Australian way you can imagine; for the rest of Australia is decidedly unprepared. Go see the Blue Mountains and there is little by way of description, just look you fool; no amusement parks or Ferris wheels, no pictures of Grandpa in a barrel going over the three sisters, it’s just there to enjoy or drive past, whatever floats your boat.

This weekend in Melbourne a few things became clear to me. For a weekend with my wife in a fancy art series hotel, I’ll do almost anything and if that includes 5 hours of boutique shopping, sipping wine and gulping down over priced coffee – where do I sign up. But my true epiphany came on Sunday when I was prompted to attend the Art Museum of Victoria to see a collection of Viennese art, circa 1880 to 1915. I couldn’t help but think that this period represented a meaningful time in human history as it coincides with Melbourne’s glory days, the origins of the educational system to which I now espouse and perhaps more significantly it perfectly predates the post war period in Europe, the three decades prior to a butchery, the extent of which had never before been seen in the annals of human history. I kept walking around looking at the art, the architecture, the fashions and the style trying to figure out - what were these people thinking.

What I found was a unique take on existentialism. A place and period deeply concerned with objects. An entire gallery of photographs, paintings, sketches and artefacts without one action shot. There was one outdoor painting but it was static, no hint of wind, and not a person within the canvas. There was a huge emphasis and even a dignity conferred to everyday household items. There were chairs festooned with silly bobbles in a style which would have made sitting in one a chore. But never chairs (plural), never a dinner party, just a chair sitting nobly alone in all its “chairness”. And there were tea cups and goblets, geometric architecture, and portraits of the men and women who obviously understood the sanctity of the new modern world. Existentialists believe that only human existence is meaningful, that the world is essentially mad, fundamental truths are never to be believed and the human plight is the only lens with which to exact refuge from an absurd reality. Therefore the emphasis on the here and now, the human struggle either with one’s self (Freud), others (Darwin) or cutlery (Julia Child?) is singularly worth review. I can see the aesthetic nature of Montessori education born in 1907 having been influenced by Vienna; its emphasis on practical life, the nobility of the child and the precision with which the Montessori materials were crafted as characteristic of this period. It’s also not a huge leap to suggest that Art Deco spawned from these Viennese roots, and the jazz music of the early 20th century could have been developed from the composers influenced from this romantic period.

Vienna of the late 19th century was probably one of those intersections of place and time that influenced human history to a greater extent than we think. Like Alexandria of the bc/ad switch, everyone arrived, everyone partied, lots of people thought and the ideas that followed spread around the world like wild fire. I hadn’t really considered it until a September 11th walk around Melbourne put me in a pondering mood. Was it 30 years of Viennese self-indulgence that spurred today’s consumerist society, the one driven by the glorification of objects over ideals. Probably not, more than likely it’s been a gradual perversion of the existentialist paradigm over time as a generation of baby boomers tries to recover from some previously grisly behaviour.

Still I can attest that Melbourne is a good place to hang on a spring afternoon.  My particular take on art has always been closest to Kurt Vonnegut’s observation that “art is a mechanism by which rich people make poor people feel stupid” but obviously something in all that oil on canvas got me thinking. Or it could have been all that cappuccino, we’ll never know.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

Win Win

I’m weird.

Anyone who knows me for a period of time longer than a week will certainly attest. I know there are other weird people in the world, hey maybe we’re all peculiar, but my particular eccentricities come forth in mysterious ways. Some of my rituals and fears are unusual. For example, I make strange noises each time I move, knees click, ankles creak and my every movement is punctuated by primal screams meant to preempt anything that the many herniated disks in my spine might throw at me. I also have irrational fears and lack of fears, often on my treks through big cities, I walk alone off the beaten track, down alley ways and dark corners searching for my inevitable “other way back”, all the while oblivious to the precarious nature of my surroundings. Recently, upon my return from a particularly seedy journey, I became unravelled with panic when I had to share an elevator with a man holding a poodle in his arms. Elevators are fine but they contain very little in the way of self-protective equipment, the kind I would need to draw upon if attacked by a 1 foot long furry ball of canine. The “other way back” for me has become a lifestyle choice. As my son can attest to the many lengthened trips we take on the way home from anywhere just to ride past the best “chewing candy store”, the one where we could decide together on a sports wager – anything to extend the journey. It’s a sickness.

I also realize the conversations and experiences that I fill my time with are…unique. Like the time I brought a beautiful woman to a particle accelerator for a date. I’m not sure what I was looking for but who could resist a long stair climb to the depths of University of Toronto’s quantum physics laboratory to see (or more accurately – not see) subatomic particles fly around a mile long racing tube only to be splatted against a wall to determine which of the little fellas made the best impact. Shannon, I’m sorry! Or perhaps my peculiar passions could be exemplified better by my trip to the heart of the Wisconsin Dells to see 2 of the world’s last whooping cranes frolic in the mosquito infested backwoods of cheese country. I am a sucker for the esoteric, the fragile, the vulnerable and the pure. Other people tell exciting stories about people and things. They inform about relatives, friends, motor boats, kittens and the cottage. They describe intimately details about shopping trips and the great deal they got on …insert item here. My stories generally surround ideas, like how cool it is that our bodies contain reconstituted atoms from Shakespeare and Mozart but none from Elvis. Why the constellation Cassiopeia (daughter of Andromeda) hangs upside down in the night sky or how the Chicago Cubs continue to be cursed by a billy goat for over 100 years. I would just like to say to those who have pretended to listen over the years. Thank you.

Some would say it’s never a dull moment with me, and I suppose others would say it’s nothing but dull moments, c’est la vie, I’m officially too old to change. I guess that’s the great thing about this blog. For me I can write undisciplined, stream of consciousness nonsense and I get it all out of my system. But maybe the true value of these passages is the public service I am doing for my companions who can now look at me as I am about to warm up the story about the life and times of Johannes Kepler and say, “no need, read it on your blog”. Win /Win I say.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Come fly with me....

It takes 4 hours to fly from Vancouver to Toronto. How long would it take to drive? I bet it’s easily 24 hours. So there is no question as to why airline transportation is such a viable option. It just gets you there so much quicker… or does it?

From what I hear, traffic in Vancouver is awful and it becomes gridlock around the airport so even if you live within a couple of hours of the terminal, let’s add on 3 hours to your journey to be safe, just to get you to the airport. We need to keep in mind that with all the security these days, even a domestic flight means 2 hours of dehumanizing cattle herding around YVR before any taxiing can commence. Then of course we need to factor in flight times, flight delays, the inevitable wait at Pearson while the plane docks and the ½ hour you spend at the baggage carousel waiting for your Swiss Army luggage to appear. By the time you've located a cab to get you to your final destination you have to admit that the four hour flight isn’t such a wham bam affair.

So let’s add it up, if you have a 10 am flight from Vancouver to Toronto you’re probably aiming to get to the airport at 8. You have a 3 hour ride and want to arrive promptly, so you hit the road by 5. Your plane is set to land in Toronto at 2pm (West Coast time, 5 p.m. EST) but add a couple of hours for delays, baggage and transport and I bet your lucky to arrive at your destination any time before 7 p.m. All in, I think you can safely say that a cross country journey is going to run you 12 hours minimum in real productive daytime hours. Oh well, I’ve effectively proven that air travel beats car travel by half a day. Where are we going with this…

Let’s dig a little deeper, in order to get on the road at 5 to catch a ride to the airport I needed to set the alarm at 4 a.m. and the decision to watch Sportcenter to get the final score in the Canuks game was effectively not even contemplated, the alarm was set by 9 p.m. the previous night, at the latest. The music was played, the spouse was kissed and the bedroom lights were dimmed. So if I include sleeping time I essentially accomplished nothing from 9 p.m. the night before to 5 p.m. the next day on a direct flight from Vancouver to Toronto. But then again, how often do you get a direct flight these days? More often than not you’re connecting in Edmonton or some such scrambled destination and adding another 2 hours of waiting time to your journey. Let’s say on average you’re looking at 9 p.m. at the earliest. You arrive exhausted and hungry. If you’re lucky enough to have had no delays when you get to your destination you should at least think about a quick shower and grabbing a bit of food before you get back to the hotel and head to bed before that 9 a.m. meeting the next morning. In short from the time you headed to bed the night before to the time you arrive at your destination for your meeting I make it close to 36 hours. And all that to catch a 4 hour flight from Van. to Toronto. Of course you realize it is going to cost you a couple of days later when the viral infection your seat mate was chewing on recycled through the cabin and made it into the bloodstream of every member of the lucky and unsuspecting herd of passengers also on the quick junket, but I suppose that is accepted as a sunk cost.

Allow me to propose an alternative. At 9 p.m. the night before rather than setting the alarm and donning your kerchief and cap, you are instead picked up in a limousine by Cindy, a gorgeous brunette and Linda, a pleasant and perky blonde ready to please. Indulge me, this is my fantasy. Linda gets behind the wheel while you hop in the Limo next to Cindy who pours you a refreshing tomato juice cocktail and already has your favourite movie playing in the back seat. While Linda follows the GPS, cleverly avoiding the morning rush hour by your evening departure, you snuggle up beside Cindy watching “Rear Window”, and suddenly you notice yourself getting a wee bit tired. Around midnight you lay down on the comfortably designed recliner as Cindy reads you the daily stock quotes, and before you know it dream time falls upon you. It’s so comfy in the air conditioned comfort of your private cabin that you don’t even realize that Cindy and Linda have changed duties during the evening and it’s not until 9 am when you wake that you see Cindy pulling off for your Breakfast stop. They’ve called ahead and have your favourite breakfast ready with eggs just how you like them at your refuelling stop, delicious. While you finish your toast and homemade strawberry jam, Cindy and Linda leave and are replaced with Julie and Sally for the second half of the trip, Julie was a former NASCAR champion and Sally is a certified massage therapist who low and behold has the massage table all set up in the backseat of the Limo (this ain’t no regular limo!). A massage, drinks, snacks, great conversation, a little nap, a read of your paper, it’s already noon and you’ve got your laptop out and working on your presentation for the next day. Sure there are the odd refuelling stops and the three of you must co-ordinate your response to natures’ calls, but your tray never had to return to its upright position, your laptop never had to disconnect from your VPN so as not to interfere with the Pilot’s navigation system, and not once were you randomly selected to prove that you were not a terrorist.

No doubt it’s a long day but it has been nothing but enjoyable. You enter Toronto at 11 p.m. having made a total of zero connections and have had a lovely time. Your suite is ready but you are in no real rush, you’ve already had a lovely meal on the way, you’ve had all the chance in the world to work and that footbath you had at Kilometer 1500 really hit the spot. The ladies have all of your baggage ready for you and leave you with a kiss (on the cheek…it’s not that kind of service) and your itinerary for your return trip after your meeting is in your hands.

I’m not saying you’ve saved any time and I bet you haven’t saved any money but if you have looked on Expedia lately and factored in the cost associated with all of the legs of the journey involved your probably not much lighter in the wallet from the Limo ride and as for time, well what have you really lost?

In my opinion, the same argument could be made for any domestic flight. I realize that international flights might be a challenge until Linda, Susie, Cindy and Sally all learn how to paddle in unison but then again if we start subtracting all of the needless domestic trips perhaps the airports and airlines could design more efficient and profitable products for cross ocean voyages. Win / Win.

So I leave it to the entrepreneurs of the world to solve my issues with air transit. I’m guessing I could have played the Carbon footprint card here and really made a statement but hey that’s not why I’m in this! Maybe I can acknowledge that my fantasy of Sally the Massage Therapist with a keen sense of roadside navigation may not be possible, but I dare you to convince me that domestic air transportation, the Billion dollar industry that struggles to make any real profits, social or otherwise actually solves any of the world’s problems. It adds to no real value. My suggestion is to essentially replicate the experience of a private jet but on the ground. The experience has to be better.

Well I guess, I’ll stop there, my final boarding call has just been sounded and I better get to that plane to listen carefully to that stewardess so I know how to insert my clasp into my buckle when the time comes, stale pretzels await! Come fly with me….

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Open

We were glued to the television this week watching the Open Championship. Unreal! Insane weather conditions, human drama, incredible shot making, drunken Scotsmen, it's got it all. I'm sure in other homes, conversations surround important issues such as who is going to make dinner and when is Aunt Sally coming over, but if you grow up in the Rice house hold and its open championship week the topic might come up as it did this week when Mackenzie said "Hey Dad, who were the greatest golfers of all time". Mackenzie and I ruminate over such discussions, we debate, discuss and pretend that our rankings matter. So without further ado I give you the Top 5. No need for further debate. For this list I have had to go back to the annals of sports history. I have obviously never seen a few of these fellas hit a shot but as I've read everything I could about golf over the past 35 years I feel qualified to take an unqualified shot in the dark.

#1 Jack Nicklaus - The ultimate sportsman. His 18 majors are the standard by which all are measured and 'till someone tops it, sobeit. Of course I also believe that when you combine this accomplishment with the nineteen second place finishes in majors, that he did it in an era that put him up against Gary Player, Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino and you top it off with the class that he showed in doing so, there really is no question. Conceding the putt to Tony Jacklin in the Ryder Cup should be required viewing for every student athlete in the world, and for me that gesture might make the major total to beat more like 25 before I could consider knocking Nicklaus from first position.

#2 Tiger Woods - I have never seen anyone in my life try harder. He has played professionally for 15 years and I've never seen him hit a shot where it looked like he didn't care. Extreme focus, concentration and will - often times to the detriment of his persona, but without question the best player in the game since Nicklaus.

#3 Walter Hagen - Hagen essentially invented Professional golf. He was the charismatic leader of a group of new young professionals in the 1920's and 30's. Hagen was the ultimate scrambler and when you consider that his major total (11) does not include the Masters (wasn't held yet), he was the best of his era. I also love Hagen's reputation as a playboy and a carouser, which he earned from late nights partying it up before tournaments. A few players noted that after a night of drinking, Hagen would have left full and untouched drinks all over the room, while his playing partners woke up a mess the next morning. Nice.

#4 Harry Vardon - The Stylist.Owner of Six British Open victories. He made the trip across the Ocean to play in the U.S. Open 3 times; he won in 1900, lost in a playoff in 1913 to a local kid named Francis Oimet who had the fast greens at Brookline mastered and finished second again in his last open crossing in 1920. I also love that Harry struggled with shorts putt - it's a kinship; although his affliction was due to Tuberculosis, while mine is caused by a distinct lack of talent. If philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato, surely all golf roots must converge at Vardon. By the way, the top two players on this list use "the Vardon Grip", 'nuff said.

#5 Bobby Jones - Jones is number one on too many lists if you ask me. Too short a career to judge, but I suppose that winning the Grand Slam in 1930, while polishing off an Engineering degree from Georgia Tech and a Law Degree from Harvard at least gets you to #5. Of course, founding the Augusta National Golf course and launching the Masters doesn't hurt either.

So there you have it, the top 5. Now back to the broadcast. Next week we will discuss the Top 5 most fashionable golfers of all time. Mackenzie and I won't be converging on that list as she will have Ricky Fowler at the top and mine starts and ends with Paula Creamer.

Hey, what is for Dinner?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


This Saturday night the Canberra Montessori School will host its annual trivia night spectacular. A group of us have assembled a table and judging from the results of last years event, we don't stand a snowballs chance in Sydney...though it has been cold lately. The problem is that we have too many foreigners, no native 'stralians at all which makes the Don Bradman and Kylie Monogue (middle name Ann - I've been studying) questions all but incomprehensible. I'm expecting a pretty hearty turnout at the Weston Creek Community Centre on Saturday night.

The added jewel is that we must dress up to a literature theme and our table has been assigned the Great Book, no not Wuthering Heights or Hounds of the Baskervilles we have been tasked with bringing the Bible to life.

I generally haven't looked for the old testament for motivation in my life but I have to say that Moses holds a certain appeal, and therefore I'll be appearing in my best Charleton Heston garb and doing my utmost to turn my staff into a plague of snakes or part the Red Sea.

Results to follow.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

No Score

Field hockey is a silly game. Golf clubs are uniquely shaped to perform the task at hand. Rugby balls can be kicked and tossed, ice hockey sticks are the perfect length and both cricket and baseball bats have a sense of intelligent design. Field hockey sticks make no sense. You may as well play with a rake. I just watched my first field hockey game, a thrilling 0-0 tie. Of course the score often does not tell the exciting and captivating tale of the contest; I mean... there was a total of 2 shots on net. Look, I could be wrong - perhaps played by a talented cleaning crew skilled in the art of using a mop, the game can be navigated with the precision required to make it into a scintillating event. But I doubt it. I think any game which when played for an hour does not produce a single legitimate scoring change is inherently flawed (see my chapter on soccer).

I'm not struggling with all of the southern hemisphere sports, just most of them. For me soccer holds the appeal of overcooked pasta. For all of the oohing and awing about the players' alleged skill, meh...not impressed. Soccer nets are huge yet most of the players look like they'd have trouble scoring if they rocked up to women's penitentiary with a fistful of pardons. Rugby is nonsense, I mean - seriously, mix in a few rules! I ventured out to a Rugby Union match a few weeks ago (apparently different from Rugby League), I knew about 40% of what was going on, the fans were at 60%, the players were at 70% and the official could only have known about 80% of the "conventions" at best. In my opinion there were things going down on the pitch that the police should know about.

The two I do have time for are Aussie Rules Football and Cricket. Aussie Rules is a mixture of Roller Derby, Triathlon and capture the flag. It has to be exhausting to play as it is exhausting to watch. Cricket players are the epitome of cool, they have absolutely no hustle in them whatsoever. Their team mascot should be the sloth. They have great sweaters, which they wear in the blazing sun, they refuse to pass up on any refreshment breaks and they don't bother going to the effort of dressing up in opposing colours, white tops / green hats unless of course your England then its all together hats.

I suppose old habits die hard, and I'm sure the balk rule in baseball would be enough to make a foreigner cry; but I am unapologetic. I will gladly hoist the North American sporting contests over any from Australasia and if you disagree I have two words for you "Net Ball".

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Feel lucky, punk!

May 23rd in the southern hemisphere, the sun turns in at 5 p.m., and the winter season is nigh. It is my second winter in Canberra. To be honest, I have a hard time calling it winter when I have an 11:00 a.m. tee time on Sunday and I continue to argue with myself every morning on the merits of wearing a jacket. Still, the days are short and the house is chilly, bone chilling to be exact, Canberran builders missed the chapter on insulation. I broke down last week and bought a hot water bottle which must be placed on my side of the bed at precisely 10:00 p.m., nah I'm not getting soft.

Around here we've all taken a turn at being sick this past fortnight. I'm not sure that you can tell much about someone by the way they handle sickness but I have to say all four of us are from a different school of thought when it comes to battling post nasal drip. I use denial. I have to be asked 30 times if I'm,no,no, I'm fine, no really, just sounds bad, maybe a bit tired, nope I'm the cats pyjamas all good. Generally I follow up the diatribe with a huge coughing fit that lasts 10 seconds and leaves people waiting to see which internal organ will come forth. It's a real show.

Mackenzie gets mad, plain mad dog mean. She gets a firm Clint Eastwood stare and threatens to do unmentionable things to the little viral scoundrels that course through her veins. She will do anything to get better, she refuses to give in, and most of the time the illness is so terrified it goes away peaceful. Hell hath no fury like Mackenzie's immune system.

Shannon falls fast and hard. It comes on quick, she medicates, throws together a few 20 hour naps and awakes with the energy of a bull in the streets of Madrid. A two day cleaning fest ensues where she catches up on all that was lost. I have found it best to stay out of her way on such occasions. Once the cyclone is downgraded to a dervish its safe to re-enter the atmosphere.

Malcolm takes it slow, he seems to know the minute an infection even begins to think about coming towards him. For years we pulled our hair out trying to figure out what was wrong with him only to be proven wrong every time as 2 days later the symptoms would emerge and we would feel the guilt of not believing him. He knows.

Well it's on with the show. This school term is about half gone already, time to start think of another vacation. Hmmm where to next...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Unfortunate Tune

Mothers Day yesterday. We ate breakfast at Gus' a Canberra institution.

New Zealand was spectacular. The Corramandel peninsula was my favourite,but the Abel Tasman National Park wasn't far behind. Unfortunately the wind conspired to make kayaking impossible but the walk (all 50 km's of it) was fabulous. It turns out Abel Tasman was a person. In fact he was the first European to set eyes on New Zealand. After a tired ride from Holland, old Abel snuck into the the small slip between the North and South Islands and spotted a Maori village that just looked perfect for a little refuelling stop. Not wanting to stop in unannounced Abel got out the horn and bellowed out a small chorus to announce his intention to dock. However in a sad twist of pitch and rhythm he unfortunately sounded out the chorus to a Maori war chant. The party of 4 which he dispatched to shore to greet the Maori were "engaged" (shall we say) and consumed in a bay aptly named Murderers Cove. Abel left abruptly, never played his instrument again and left it to subsequent explorers (Cook, etal) to try their luck. The bay was later renamed something far friendlier to encourage tourism.

The 50 km hike I speak of was contested over 3 days but that as they say is "a lot of walking". Of course the sting was taken off of the adventure as it was punctuated each night with a gorgeous cabin and a five star dinner. My idea of "roughing it".I spent most of the time trying to keep up with my son, unsuccessfully, who apparently has a small amount of mountain goat in his pedigree. The guides on the tour were great, they mixed in the odd story each time I looked like the next step would be my last (god bless them).

I was pleasantly surprised with the two "big" cities we visited, Auckland and Wellington. Very nice places with great waterfronts. Malcolm was particularly impressed with a restaurant in Wellington named "Chicago" that served chicken wings, not exactly Australian fare, a food group he has been missing from his diet for too long. And in Auckland there were highlights of a strange game called ice hockey playing on the telly at a local pub (globalization I believe it's called).

How many more times will we get to travel together as a family before our children's lives steam off at a million miles an hour and colleges and universities begin to interfere with our schedules. I guess we will cherish each time. The trip also allowed us to reconnect with the Birds, our New Zealand friends, who we hadn't seen for 10 years, but who took us in at the midpoint of our holiday and treated us like kings.

A good time had by all.

Back to the Canberra winter, short sunny days and cool crisp nights ahead. Great weather for golf if you can squeeze it in through the daylight hours and I intend to.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Well... March 2011 was a blog free zone. Bizzy, Bizzy, Bizzy. The most noteworthy event in March was planning our trip to New Zealand for later this month.

I am looking forward to the trip, hot springs, mountains, beaches, trails and catching up with some "old friends" that we met way back in Canada.

However I am curious about a few things that I hope to square up on our trip.

First off, my brother has asked me if I can find the jurisdiction known as "Old Zealand", it's worth asking.

Also in a 3 days stint in the Abel Tasman National Park, I hope to unlock a mystery that has perplexed me for some time. Namely - will I be able to fit into a Kayak? It seems unlikely as I am barely able to wedge myself into a compact car. I'm sure those who know me will be laying even money - it isn't the size of the seat that confounds me it's the flexibility required to perch in the seemingly pretzelled position required. If I can pull it off I will blog with pride upon my return. Of course the option exists that I will be able to get in but I won't be able to dismount, in which case I will live out my dessert years paddling around the Northern Coast of the South Island...there are worst fates.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Saturday May 23, 1998. Cold, Windy, Wet. My good friend and Grandfather in law, Russell, scored two tickets to Game 1 of the National Hockey League's Eastern Conference finals. The Leafs against the Sabres. We left in the morning from my house in Barrie, with lots of time to spare. It was a leisurely hour and a half drive to downtown Toronto and we were one of the first to hit the parking lot. The two of us had been to a few games at the old Maple Leaf Gardens but this was our first at the newly opened Air Canada Centre. The Gardens opened in 1931, and Russell was an authority on the premises, as he attended a game there the first year it opened. Sixty eight years later Russell could wax lyrical about every player he had seen over the past seven decades. Out of respect for my youth he attempted to confine most of his stories to the 70's and 80's but I loved to hear about the Teeter Kennedy's and the Turk Broda's of a time gone by. Russell used to tell me he thought that half of the current NHL would have a hard time making the first team squads in the old Toronto Mercantile League - I was never quite sure about that boast but I decided to go along with the tale. The truth be told hockey was not Russell's and my first love - it was baseball. And although we were off to see a hockey game the talk always seemed to get around to the diamond. Russell was an old catcher and I a less old but equally washed up Pitcher. Both of us were avid baseball historians and when he told a story about Don Larsen's perfect game but he wasn't sure of the year, I could complete his sentence with... October 8, 1956. Russell's stories usually involved a big trip like the day he drove to Toronto to see Jackie Robinson play for the visiting Montreal Monarchs, it was a hot August afternoon in 1946 and they stayed for both ends of the double header. After the first game they went back to car and opened the cooler to find that the cucumbers he'd brought had fried from green to white in the summer heat. Apparently it made for a hungry ride home.

When we reached the hockey game, lo and behold a bus load of Sabre fans were arriving at the game. As I walked by the mob of enemy fans (actually I was cheering for the Sabres too...) I lobbed a comment to a few of them that their star goaltender had been injured last night and wouldn't be able to suit up. That was met with some coarse words from the assembled mob - as if. Russell got a good laugh at my attempted jab. Of course the craziest thing was that my prediction was true; Russell and I were gobsmacked when a new goalie went to the net to start the first period for Buffalo, apparently a complete surprise to everyone in the northern hemisphere save for my clairvoyance. Russell spent the rest of the game asking me what would happen next with a wry smile.

The Sabres won 4-3 that afternoon, much to the dismay of the home town crowd. As this was our first trip to the new stadium, Russell and I took a long time leaving, soaking up all of the photos that adorned the new venue. After the crowd had dwindled we headed back to the car and I told him I had some fresh cucumbers stored in the trunk if he needed dinner. Another good laugh. On the way home we stopped at a German Restaurant with some great cooking. We ordered a huge pile of meat, and proceeded to dig in - it was quite a sight, a gigantic pork knuckle with sauerkraut on the side. Once we had loosed our belts, I asked the waitress to bring the bill to whichever one of the two of us looked older. Despite having close to 60 years on my dining companion, I got the bill. As the waitress explained - it was difficult to determine who was older, but easy to figure out which of us she liked better. Another good laugh.

Another hour and I had Russell back home to the farm. He asked me if my car took gas, and proceeded to drop several $20 bills in the cup holder - more than was needed. I headed back home, hoping that I might be close to as gracious and full of life as Russell, as the decades pass.

Russell continued on for many more years, he got to know his great grand children and I won't spoil any future blogs my children might write by rhyming off the good times they had with Great Grandpa.

Russell drifted off a few weeks ago at what I imagine was the northern end of 95 years of age. I'm hoping that he's got a baseball game on the radio and there's a cute German barmaid serving him a good sized portion of bratwurst and schnitzel.

G'night old friend, we'll talk some baseball again soon.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

8 and 7

I caddied for Mackenzie today as she played her first round of match play. It's a different brand of golf, in that you are playing against one opponent rather than a whole field, and usually to contribute points for your team, rather than individual glory. It is usually an adjustment for most players, but Mackenzie does change well. The match was essentially over after the first shot, when the boy (older) she was playing against tried to equal her tee shot and couldn't; from there it was clinical. After 11 holes, Mackenzie had won 8 and 3 holes were tied, so there was no need to continue. Of course my daughter was gracious from the moment she arrived at the course, until the moment she walked over to tell her opponent that the game had mercifully ended. Golf doesn't often offer up easy days, there are plenty more occasions when you are eaten alive with inner turmoil, and left searching the heavens for answers. But today was a walk in the park.

I have found that I really like caddying. Of course, it doesn't hurt when I'm lugging around clubs for my favourite player, but I think I would like to do more of it for other players as well. I enjoy being involved in the competition and enabling success.

The day before I could be found coaching Malcolm's baseball team. Coaching baseball was once my true passion; but with a sport like baseball there are so many factors that must be in place to make for a successful coaching experience. In the past I have had the privilege of coaching with some great people and working with players all pulling together for a common goal. When it all comes together, it's great.

I guess its no coincidence that my children have picked up a couple of my favourite sports and run with them. There was certainly every opportunity to find the implements of the games around our house. And as my mother used to say, "ye wilney larn if ya dinny jine it". There is a translation for that expression but I can't divulge, as it would loose all elements of its poetry if changed.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Live Long and Prosper

44 is old! But it's also an accomplishment!

I don't dwell on the years but I do seem to get a bit sentimental about the double digit ones.

11 was great; at that age I was the best 11 year old baseball pitcher in Canada. By 22 - I was still the best 11 year old pitcher in Canada. Alas. But at 22 with my baseball career in ruins I began my courtship of my future bride, a courtship that continues today, and my success at which, is measured daily.

At 33, I decided to start running and weightlifting, despite a few agonizing back injuries and knees that produce some weird clicking noises, I continue to try to get to the gym. I hope to get there as often in the next 11 years; I'm not sure if resistance training is the fountain of youth, or a sure way to use up valuable heartbeats - time will tell.

In 2000, I also decide to pursue a Masters degree in Business. Now at 44 I see how many doors it opened for me. This past year the passageway opened to Australia, why not! What's next? who knows.

At 44 I can see a few monumental changes in the near future, my son (12) will be taller than me any day now. My usefulness in domestic parlance has always been my ability to get down glasses from the top shelf and my uncanny knack of opening the stubborn pickle jar - I see now that there is a new sheriff in town. As for my reign as Rice Family golf champion, it's all but over, Mackenzie has me in her sights. It's taken her 7 years since she began the game to overtake me, but it won't take seven more, I'm living on borrowed time. I hope I'm as gracious in second place as she's been...doubt it.

I was watching that new Star Trek film the other day. The one where the 22 year old Spok meets himself as an aged, feeble non pickle jar opening old man - at least 44! I imagined writing that part of the screenplay and wondering what it would have been like. Those that knew me at 22, would say that I was painful "know it all" and a general jackass. I probably wouldn't have had the time of day for myself. I'd see a 44 year old sentimental fool. A guy that sees the grey in everything and thinks that change can be a challenge. I bet I'd look back at that 22 year old guy and try to tell him not to be so judgmental and to be nicer to those close to him, but I know first hand that he wouldn't listen.

Well enough of the self reflection; too much to do and the time ticks on. The next time I'll reflect on the double digit anniversary I will probably be giving a way a bride, or buying a new driver so I can still hit it half the distance I used to. And when I get home I'll get Malcolm to get that glass off the top shelf and mix me a rye and coke (ah yes, somethings never change).

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It's a Parade

Spent the last 2 weeks, doing what I do best - gathering no moss. Although it was a challenge as no matter how far I travelled the rain followed. Torrential, hurricane, flood producing precipitation that would wet your socks and dampen a golfers dreams.

First it was the Gold Coast. 3 nights, nice spot but that was plenty. One game of golf and lots of wandering. Overall an over rated beach and surf shops to end of time.

Next it was Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road! You just have to be impressed with the costline from Geelong to Port Campbell. Despite the rain it didn't disappoint. We also took a side trip from Melbourne to Phillip Island, home to the fairy penguin parade. Quite ridiculous really - 1000 humans snuggled up in the rain and cold waiting 2 hours, without appropriate weather gear, for a bunch of Penguins to come back from their daily 15 hour swim, watching them gathering together under the cover of darkness to waddle to shore to find their homes for a short night in the sheets, before repeating it all again the next morning. I have to imagine that the Penguins get tired of the tourists eyeballing them every night, but good on them for not disappointing. Can't say the same for Koala's, if you hit the right spot, you can easily see 40 of them sleeping in the gumtrees on the Southern Coast. But Koala's don't waddle or do much of anything, they are nothing but a furry disappointment.

Nice to be back in Canberra. I'm looking forward to catching the new baseball team in town "the Cavalry" as they finish up their season and there should be lots of golf in the near future.