More Liesbeth in Sydney

It was a very rainy day in Sydney yesterday so we concentrated on indoor activities. Our international visitor wanted to see some contemporary art so we went to the Art Gallery of New South Wales and had a fab guided tour from a volunteer named Caroline. Caroline was just fantastic. After the tour we further explored the Gallery.

Last night we went to the Shakespeare pub in Surry Hills for a trivia competition. Our team was the “Van Demons”. However the best team name of the evening was “Two Gentlemen Requesting Aisle Seats on Qantas but not over the wing.” Classic!

Liesbeth...modern art

it's all art to Liesbeth


Liesbeth outside Art Gallery NSW

Outside Art Gallery of NSW

Liesbeth goes Christmas at Myer

Liesbeth goes Christmas at Myer

Pub Trivia

The Van Demons at Pub Trivia


Moving Hell…Day #2

James hits tilt...too much stuff!

The packing up and moving saga entered its second major day today. While I’ve been getting rid of stuff and making preparations for the last couple of weeks, the serious hard core work has started this weekend.

My fabulous friend James O’Brien (now aka “the big butch Aussie bloke”) came back again and helped out. Grant and I had made a list of “stuff to do” so everyone could just get stuck into it this morning.

“Ever seen this much stuff in one place?,” I asked James this afternoon. “Well, there was a story about someone on A Current Affair….,” he replied. Half joking, half serious.

Right now, I do feel like the crazy cat lady you see on those current affair TV shows. We’ve made so much progress but there is still so much to do. I’ll need to take a couple of days off this week to continue going through stuff in order to be able to do “the big move” by next weekend.

Some progress made: boxes packed & sealed

We’ve packed and sealed about 30 moving boxes at this point plus have packed a number of plastic storage crates. But there is still much more stuff to go through.

Today was actually quite productive – it is just the sheer scale of the job that makes it impossible to do in a couple of days even with three people working on it.

I was happy to note that Grant turned up my missing passport today. As well as a few other things I’d been scratching my head trying to find recently.

And speaking of finding things, one of James’ jobs today was to go through all my old audio cassettes and pack them neatly into storage crates. He was amazed to find a cassette he’d sent me in 1992. He was a radio announcer in the Riverina area in South-western New South Wales back then. He rang to interview me because a certain pop group (let’s call them the A***-hole group) had just had a number one album. I can vividly remember doing the interview by phone even though it was 18 years ago.

Tonight James put the interview into Mp3 format and emailed it to me. I haven’t listened to it yet but James told me edited highlights over the phone. James was totally knocked out to find this cassette and I am gobsmacked that I can still remember doing the interview – even where I was sitting in Grant’s flat when I did it!

Interview cassette from 1992

The cover of the cassette is typed because they didn’t have computers at James’ station back then. So he had to roll it into a work typewriter and do it the old way! He also had to wrap it and post it to me the old way as well. None of this digital format, internet, email scenario that exists today!

James left us about 5pm today and Grant and I kept on working for another hour before we gave up. It has been a bloody hard couple of days – all of us have aches and pains in places we wouldn’t have even thought about 10 years ago!

And all those stairs! Up and down, up and down. Arghhh! James fared the best – he’s good at heavy lifting and doing blokey things. His aches were less intense (must be his relative age!). And who knew he could pack boxes so efficiently. We think he missed his calling in life. Last night he even reversed the ute out of Grant’s car park and drove it back in. We were very impressed!

Grant and I went to the local RSL club tonight for the second night in a row. We haven’t been there for about a year but then twice in the one weekend! It was nice to have a few beers, something to eat and to review the progress made. Also to have a chat about strategy for the rest of the week. There’s a long way to go.

James is coming back to help next weekend (thank god!) and we really need to have everything moved out by the end of the weekend. Then it will be a full day’s cleaning no doubt.

Research has shown that moving house is one of the most stressful life events, right up at the top with divorce and bereavement.

I totally agree with this assessment from a website I saw tonight.

Just can’t wait til all of this is just a bad memory and life goes back to what passes for semi-normal in my world!

Moving is hell!

Moving is absolute hell.

Haven’t had a chance to update my website lately…or do much of anything else.

After a decade of living here, I have to move out. I have a decade worth of crap (and more) to sort through, box up and move. It is a nightmare. I’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks now. It is never ending.

Today Yoda and James came over to help and did a fantastic job. But we only scratched the surface. They’re coming over again tomorrow morning for another day in moving box hell. You gotta love good friends!

Yoda drove for the first time in a decade today. A miracle! He did a fabulous job too.

Anyway, that’s the story…all I’ll be doing for the next week and a half is working and moving, moving and working.

I have sore legs, sore feet, sore hands, sore arms and a sore head. Plus allergies from all the dust. I’ve just had a hot shower and am off to bed.

Tomorrow is another day.

(of moving)

Yoda turns 50!

Yoda turns the big Five Oh

My best friend forever turns 50 today.

What a milestone. He’s defied all the predictions and has achieved half a century on planet earth. Some may say – unkindly – that he has spent many of those years on another planet – but I, of course, would never say such a thing!

Grant is having a bit of an existential crisis over the big Five Oh. He doesn’t feel 50 years old. Or what we imagined “50 years old” would feel like when we we were kids.

But times have changed. 50 is the new 40 and 40 is the new 30 and so on and so forth. Strangely, 10 is the new 20 – not sure what that’s all about.

Anyway, we’re all as old or as young as we feel we are. Society might look at you a certain way once you reach a birthday like 50 but it is all about how we define ourselves – not about feeling constrained by other people’s perceptions of who they think we should be.

In the photo above you see Grant at his Swedish class last night with a Swedish Princess Torta cake that James O’Brien had organised for him. The whole class made a fuss of Grant and sang Happy Birthday in Swedish to him.

It was a really lovely gesture of James to organise this and Grant was really touched by it.

Tonight we’re having drinks at our local and we’ll make a big fuss of Grant. Some of our other friends are interstate this week to see the evil A*** exhibition – but we’ll catch up with them to celebrate Grant’s milestone another time.

I don’t think it matters whether you are 30, 40 or 50 – as long as you’re surrounded with quality friends and you’ve got wonderful experiences and surprises happening in life, you’ve just gotta get on with it.

Keep on walking…as one Melodfestivalen entry said early this year.

Silence will be defeated, by a single voice

Stig & Gustav: both good with Swedish & English!

My best Swedish friend Gustav – who actually reads this website – has translated “En Enda Röst”, the song I mentioned in an earlier post. It was a wonderful surprise to open my email this morning and see the email from him.

I’ve played this song over 20 times last night and today. The repeat function on Windows Media Player comes in very handy sometimes 😉 It seems somehow wonderful that I can now understand the lyrical meaning of the song after all these years. Sometimes the little nice things that happen in our lives are the things that keep us going. (Thanks again Gustav!)

En Enda Röst / A Single Voice – Karin Glenmark and Dana Dragomir

There was a time
When heaven above was constantly blue
And there were no doubts that we could reach all we had dreamed
We saw a world where love, hope and belief walked hand in hand
We might smile at that sometimes, but have not forgotten
The dream we carried still gives us strength,
when more shadows appear

All wide seas
All seas on earth
Somewhere a beach
Somewhere, some beach
A light in the dark
You can see far from land

Rain falling down
Rain falling down
Puts out the thirst of the land
Lets everything live

We shall win
Silence will be defeated, by a single voice

There was a time that seemed too pure and innocent
We did it all for peace and calmness
But that was a long time ago
A sun goes up
turning nights for eternity
And it doesn’t close its eyes for our reality
Seeing it time and time again

In another light
A stone added to another stone
can be turned into something more than just a stone wall

All wide seas
All seas on earth
Somewhere a beach
Somewhere, some beach
A light in the dark
You can see far from land

Rain falling down
Rain falling down
Puts out the thirst of the land
Lets everything live

We shall win
Silence will be defeated, by a single voice

We shall win
Silence will be defeated, by a single voice

Watching the Melodifestivalen final

A group shot - most of the Melodifestivalen revellers

If you go to the Social page on this website, you’ll see a stack of photos from last Sunday’s get together to watch the Melodifestivalen 2010 final on the big screen. Shots are lacking captions because I am waiting on the lovely Patrick to get back to me and remind me of all the names I have forgotten. I am SHOCKING with names.

If you read my earlier post about spending all day Saturday trying to get software to work that would actually convert an .avi file to a DVD quickly….here is the rest of the story….

This is the technical side of it all…

When I got up on Sunday morning I reinstalled Roxio Creator 2010 on my PC with a wish and a prayer that it would work. After the tediously long installation process, rebooting, then having to download the service pack, install it and reboot again…it was time to do a test.

At this point the final in Stockholm had just finished and my friend was waiting for it to appear on the net so he could begin downloading. I thought I should be prepared so I got the instructions kindly provided by one of the Roxio forum nicest members and followed them to the letter.

I found an .avi file which was only about 16 minutes long to use as my test case. I did everything I was told to do and the result was a perfect DVD disc which played perfectly on my normal Panasonic DVD player (which is about 6 years old now!)

It was terrific to know that it had actually worked. Now it was about waiting for the actual Melodifestivalen final file to be downloaded. Yoda friend called about 10-ish to say it hadn’t appeared yet and, while we were on the phone, it suddenly appeared. However it was 1.3gb instead of the usual 700mb so he wasn’t sure how long it would take to download.

An hour later it was not even half-way through downloading so all thoughts of turning it into a “normal DVD” for playing were thrown out the window. I had to be at the pub by 12.45pm to set up as people were arriving from 1pm. We had to come up with another plan. In fact we went through Plans B, C and D in our panic 😉

I used Creator 2010 to burn a data DVD disc with one of last year’s finals on it as a test. I then played it in my newer, uber-cheap Palsonic DVD player and it worked fine. So we changed plans – I ripped out my Palsonic DVD player and the cords and put it into the bag of stuff I was taking to the pub. I rang Yoda and said I was going to shower and then head out to the supermarket to pick up some snacks for the day and go straight to the pub. It was agreed he would wait for the download to be complete, then come around to my place to use Roxio to burn a data DVD. His PC,for some reason, is being very recalcitrant and refusing to play nicely with discs. (Yes Yoda it *is* time for a new PC!)

He came around quickly before I left so I could show him what to do and I left the PC ready with the Roxio program on the correct screen ready for him to do this thing. Meanwhile I raced out and caught the bus to the supermarket, grabbed some snacks and then grabbed the next bus to the pub. I got there about 12.45pm and started to set up. People started arriving almost immediately. Ben, the barman, was a bit bemused cos he’d forgotten all about it – he was very, very drunk on the previous Tuesday night when we’d organised it with the pub’s manager and also told Ben about it.

On Saturday night, I had thrown together a 50 minute “highlights” of this year’s Melodifestivalen semi-finals to watch – using Windows Movie Maker/Windows DVD Maker – and although the resultant disc refused to play on my main DVD player, it did play on the pub’s machine. Thank god. Grant called to say the file for the final was STILL downloading and there was no way he could make it before 2pm at the earliest.

So thank god we had the “highlights” disc to amuse people for the first hour. Shortly after 2pm my friend arrived Grant arrived by taxi at the pub sweating like a grunter. He had the successfully burnt data disc. Fingers crossed the pub’s machine recognised it because I didn’t really want to have to start pulling machines out and plugging other machines in. They’ve got everything hooked into a sophisticated sound system which can play around the venue – it is also tied into Foxtel (the pay TV thing in Australia) which can play different programs on different TVs. So while we were watching Melodifestivalen, for instance, the other patrons in the pub were watching the televised Rugby League match in the beer garden.

The data disc was put in and the machine thought about it for a minute and then decided it would play it! HOORAY! Thank God! There were a group of expectant people sitting, waiting patiently.

From then on in it was smooth sailing – the afternoon was fantastic with lots of drinking, cheering, occasional boo-ing and a lot of tension as the votes came in from around Sweden. We made sure we didn’t know the result so it would be a surprise.

James rang us from Sweden where it was still the night before and he’d just been out to a club and seen Nanne perform live! (He made sure none of his Twitter or blog entries revealed the winner of the contest) He was totally smashed on Swedish beer and incredibly excited and happy – it was the first time he’d seen Nanne perform live and he was in the front row.

Meanwhile, the other punters who happened to be at the pub that day – and Ben, our barman – were completely bemused as to what was going on. There’s about 10 of us sitting, intently watching a 2 hour program in Swedish and shouting at the TV, occasionally screaming and clapping.

Still, we were having too much of a good time to worry about anyone else’s reactions. We had our giant Swedish flags on the wall, we had our snacks, our bevvies and we were having a blast. It was just a brilliant day altogether.

I seemed to have arrived home about 8pm and immediately slumped into my bed. I was completely knackered from all the effort of Saturday, the lack of sleep on Saturday night and the excitement of the event & gathering itself. I had around 10 1/2 hours sleep and next thing I remember, it was Monday morning and time to get up for work!

Melodifestivalen 2010 was over. A crap entry had been chosen as the winner – but it’s the journey that counts mainly, not the ultimate winner. A couple of days later, the double Melodifestivalen CD arrived from Sweden and Grant and I have been listening to the songs all over again.

Next stop, Eurovision 2010!

Yoda wants to go to Iceland

My BFF Yoda has suddenly announced he wants to go to Iceland for his 50th birthday. I’m all in favour of it! Although I am a little bit surprised he wants to do a 5 day tour of Iceland – I didn’t think it would take that long. Must be one of the larger stores.

Greetings from Iceland

Wish you were here!

Iceland...the perfect holiday destination