Thursday, July 16, 2009

Why I hate football

Apparently there were some fights on the field in the third State of Origin match. So what did I see on the playground at school today? Teenage boys mucking around play-fighting at the try line in their lunch-time touch footy game.

It's not that I think it's especially dangerous—to them. It may be hazardous for the primary school children watching from their classrooms to copy the older students' behaviour, of course.

No, the problem is the way they copy their pro-player heroes. They unconsciously imbibe the idea that fighting is okay, that fighting is an acceptable way to express their feelings, that fighting is a good way to sort out differences of opinion. That fighting is fun.

It's not.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Flee the Night

Susan May Warren's book Flee the Night is a gripping novel about a woman trying to save her daughter and a man trying to help her. Actually, the romantic element I found difficult to believe: are any real women that pathetically confused about what they want? But the suspense and action sequences are well written.

The book also has a sub-current of regret and forgiveness that's covered in a balanced and believable way, from a Christian basis.

Recommendation: Worth reading, if you're into “romantic suspense”.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Recording messages for absent missios — ideas please?

Each year in January, Laetitia and I trek off (all right, we usually drive) to Mt Tamborine for a conference run by our branch of the Christian mission organisation CMS. At the conference, people record audio messages for missionaries who can't make it that year.

Currently, we use cassettes for this. They're cheap, the machines are simple and therefore easy to use, and you can make do with only a handful of machines by swapping cassette tapes in and out, one tape per missionary (or family). Unfortunately, they're also low quality, the messages now have to be digitised to be sent (they're usually actually delivered on CD these days), and (believe it or not) tapes are getting harder to find. Oh, and eventually all the old cassette decks will die and it won't be worth trying to fix them.

Is it time yet to switch to digital? If so, how? If not, when?

From what I can see the most suitable digital replacement is something like an Olympus Notetaker, say the VN-3500PC (or older equivalents, VN-3x00PC) or the WS-210S. Of course, there are other brands and models, and I'm not particularly interested in their relative merits at this point. They're all reasonably affordable, at $50–$150 each (based on a quick check on ebay).

No, what I'm interested in is this: I can see three major issues with replacing the old cassette decks with these digital devices.

1. Price & convenience—to the dishonest. These things are useful and they are not cheap. If someone steals a cassette recorder (and who would?), big deal. But these cost a reasonable amount, they're extremely useful, very sexy, and small enough to hide in a pocket and walk away with. Think: at the conference, you'd have to tether them to something very well fixed, or implement a check-out or $20 deposit system.

2. Ease of use. The young, the techno-savvy and the geeks would be able to use them. I know I would have no trouble. But the over 60s who've never used a microwave, let alone a computer? Those with arthritis or otherwise poor dexterity? (The buttons on these things are small and often don't give good tactile feedback, unlike the satisfying clunk of a cassette deck.)

3. Organising the recordings. The devices are not cheap (see point 1) so you probably don't want to buy too many (unlike the cassettes). It's also not very easy (see point 2) to sort your recordings accurately into different folders on the device. So you would probably have to ask everyone to record who their message is for at the start (e.g. "This is a message for XX. Hi XX, this is..") and then have some techie spend a significant amount of time sorting through the messages after the conference to make sure they end up going to the right people.

Point 3 is not all bad, though. Indeed, it probably wouldn't take as long to sort the messages as it currently does to digitise them. And on the upside, people could record one general message for several people at once. ("This message is for XX as well as YY. Hi guys..")

Any ideas? Comments? Suggestions?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fox and Child

When we're in Brisbane, Laetitia and I like to find movies that we can't see back home. There are only two cinema complexes in Mackay, and they're both BCC. If the film ain't mainstream and popular, it likely ain't comin' to Mackay!

So the day after the wedding, we went to the Palace Centro to see The Fox and the Child, a beautiful movie about a young French girl and her fascination with a wild fox near her family's rural home.

The photography in the movie is wonderful. I'm glad I wasn't the cameraman, with some tricky and cold-looking sequences chasing wildlife through snow-laden forest. I was also impressed with the honest approach taken; this is no idealised fairy tale. It's quite realistic in presentation, apart perhaps from one incident (but I won't discuss that here as it would be a bit of a spoiler).

Recommendation: If you're a photographer or videographer, you'll love it. If you like wildlife, go for it. Your children will certainly enjoy it. Otherwise, take it or leave it; the plot isn't really that exciting.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Loving Hut

After the wedding, for dinner that night we decided to try a new restaurant reviewed by a friend. It's called The Loving Hut, and it's on Logan Rd in Mt Gravatt (right near Photo Continental).

And it was fabulous! For people with special diets, eating out can be a real bother. But in this restaurant, everything on the menu was vegan! Yippee! What a pleasure.

And it tasted great. It's been so long since I had a nice satay, so I chose the Satay Nuggets, and I wasn't disappointed. Delicious! Finished with a rich apple cake and whipped coconut cream. We went home very full, with food left over for lunch the next day, and it wasn't expensive either.

Yum! Give them a try. Thanks, Annie, what a find!

Beth & Nathaniel

Well, it's probably time for a blog post, eh? It's been a while.

Just got back from Brisbane. We went down there for a cousin's wedding: Laetitia's cousin Nathaniel, to Beth Hendy. As it turns out, several of my friends know Beth, even though I didn't until Saturday!

The men wait (by Ian B-M)

It was a lovely wedding in St Thomas' Anglican Church on High St, Toowong. Conservative ceremony, with some old hymns (I only knew one of them). Beth & Nathaniel asked people not to take photos during the service.

The reception afterwards was at Hillstone St Lucia, also known as the St Lucia Golf Club. It was fun to be there as a guest rather than a musician! While we were all gathering outside, someone was writing a proposition in the sky (“Marry me…”). And the food was delicious!

More photos, as usual, on Flickr.