24 December 2013

Christmas Movies

Here are ten films we'll be watching in this house over the month of December. They're in alphabetical order... until you get to my favourite "Christmas" movie.

15 November 2013

Lego Post Office

I've been spending a bit of time lately using Lego's Digital Designer software to design some creations without having to actually have particular bricks in certain colours.

Last night's multitasking (working on LDD while catching up on "Sons of Anarchy") resulted in the above little design. I may have borrowed the red and white colour scheme from Australia Post.

01 November 2013

Lego Storage, part 2

Continuing on from Tuesday's post, here's the next stage in the process, with all four units arranged in a rectangle, with a desk top as a building surface.

Lego sorting/building table. Library in background.

30 October 2013

X-Men: Days Of Future Past

"X-Men: First Class" was a great prequel, but just as much a great film. The well-cast actors gave fantastic performances, and minor flaws aside, it's easily my favourite so far of the films with "X-Men" in the title. Next year its sequel will hit our screens: "Days Of Future Past", with a time travel plot enabling the use of both the original cast and the young prequel cast. I just came across teaser posters for its sequel, which I've got to say are pretty damn cool.

Jean-Luc Picard vs Tumnus. 

Gandalf vs Lt Hicox.
How far away is 2014?

29 October 2013

Lego Storage

I have (sort of) new Lego storage!

Now that I'm on holidays from work for a couple weeks, I've got time to do a few things around the house that I have either had little time for, or been downright putting off. One of those things is clearing out the garage, and assembling some furniture that's been sitting around in boxes.

The "Effektiv" range of modular office cabinets have nice deep adjustable shelves, making them great for displaying Lego models and setting up action scenes. I picked a few up when they were discontinued, and being sold extremely cheap.

Minifig Rapper. So of course he's on a boat.

Open mic night 25/10

Last Friday, after my last day of work before a couple weeks on holiday, I headed in to the city. I had put my name down to take part in the QMuSo (QUT Music Society) Open Mic Nigbt, something they put on at a uni bar once a month.

After finding the bar (not difficult, but it is over ten years since I was a student there), I put my guitar in the backstage store room and settled in to listen to the acts before me.

Board of artist times.

20 October 2013

October Board Games (Tsuro / Puerto Rico / Carcassonne)

Once again it was that time of the month, and we gathered at Dave's house for more board game fun.

This time, all three games played involved tiles.

My island, filled with crops (tiles) and busy workers (the brown markers).

Metallica: Through The Never

This film wasn't even on my radar until fairly recently, when the trailer popped up as one of the three at the top of the IMDb homepage. It's only showing for a limited season - at our closest cinemas it was on once a night for one week only, which finished on Wednesday. It's still showing (but still only once a night) at a different (and more expensive) cinema chain, so I headed off to Garden City on Friday afternoon to do some shopping and see that evening's session.

Theatrical poster.
Directed by Nimród Antal (who also co-wrote the film with the band), it's meant to be part concert film, part narrative.

18 October 2013

Another backyard guest

I heard loud scratching noises out the back this afternoon and looked out to find we had a visitor admiring its reflection on our back sliding doors.

Taking a leisurely stroll over the outdoor table.

10 October 2013

Light Reading

Digging around through old files, I came across another short piece of fiction.

08 October 2013

Dinner & Arj

Father's Day was back in September, but Kara decided that she'd take me to dinner and a show as a present. At the time, first choice was the Abridged Works of Shakespeare (3 comedy actors performing the key parts of all 37 plays in a couple hours), but work schedules got in the way. A little later, we found out that one of the stops on Arj Barker's next national standup tour would be at the Logan Entertainment Centre, just down the road from us. So Kara decided we'd have dinner at the RSL first, followed by comedy.

I went straight from work to the club... a nice cold beer to start the post-work afternoon.

07 October 2013

BrisBricks (Part 3)

My last post of pictures from BrisBricks 2013.

Doomben Racetrack in LEGO form. Note the corporate boxes in the stands. (And the unfortunate skeleton on the tracks.)

On the far right you can see the thin grey wheels which spooled the thread pulling each horse along the smooth race track. With the help of motors, the builder could run this race again and again, hundreds of times a day, for the enjoyment of visitors. Check out a video here.

BrisBricks (Part 2)

More pictures from Saturday's afternoon out at the Lego fan expo.

Railway station and replica Danish railcar.

2013 Grand Final

Today was the last day of the 2013 NRL season, with the Grand Final being played between two Sydney area teams, the Sydney Roosters and Manly Sea Eagles. To wrap up the season, and the footy tipping competition that he'd been running, Craig hosted a barbecue out at his place.

What's an Aussie gathering without a barbie?

06 October 2013

BrisBricks 2013 (Part 1)

On Saturday I headed across town for BrisBricks, a Lego exhibition put on by fans for fans. It's running all this long weekend.

I got to the Chandler Arena (the sports hall where the event is held) before 3pm, so I had 2 hours to wander, and geek out over Lego.

The sign at the front fence.

03 October 2013

Vigilant (3 of 3)

The conclusion of my ten-year-old science fiction story. If you missed Parts 1 or 2, it started here.

Everyone else, read on...

30 September 2013

Vigilant (2 of 3)

This is a continuation of a piece of fiction. If you haven't read Part 1, it starts here.

Otherwise, read on...

28 September 2013

Vigilant (1 of 3)

Another piece of fiction from the past. This one is ten years old.

It's a bit long, so to save on mouse scrolling (and possibly build suspense) I'm going to post it here as a serial.

Part 1 begins here...

26 September 2013

The Cost Of A Phone Call

This story was originally published (in an altered, interactive version) in Volume 2 Issue 1 of Dotlit: The Online Journal Of Creative Writing when I was a student at QUT. You can experience the non-linear version for yourself at the archived journal website. After choosing Vol 2.1, scroll down to the Hypermedia section.

For an old-school prose version, read on!

Albums of 2013: Part 2

Nearly three-quarters of the way through the year, here's some more albums I've enjoyed listening to in 2013.

More must-listen albums of 2013 so far... (in release order)


The Black Angels - Indigo Meadow

Killswitch Engage - Disarm The Descent

22 September 2013

September Board Games (Zombies! / Ticket To Ride Europe)

Once again today was time for Blokes & Boardgames. There were two games planned for the day - Dave supplied "Zombies!", and I brought along "Ticket To Ride: Europe".

17 September 2013


As mentioned previously, my online Lego order arrived this week. I went over to the post office first thing this morning to pick it up.

All built!

Kara got a photo of me when I got back. The box was massive.

Recommended for ages 14 up, the set itself contains over 2,300 parts and 5 minifigs. I'm not sure how much of the reasoning behind the age range comes from the building skills required, or just the sheer patience to endure four hours (and the rest) of sorting through plastic pieces and clicking them together.

13 September 2013

Foreign language books

I have a growing collection of foreign-language books... and they're all either Asterix or Tintin.

It started in July 2005, when I was in Tromsø, Norway, with the purchase of "Asterix og Vikingene" (Asterix and the Normans) in a local bookshop. I thought the choice appropriate. It's also the most readable of my foreign-language books. With grammar not as far off English as you'd think, combined with context (I've read the English version countless times), I understand most of what I'm reading.

Asterix og Vikingene

Mum and Dad just got back from a holiday in Europe, travelling through Switzerland, Austria and Italy. I'd asked if they could look out for some specific Asterix titles in specific languages while they were there, and they delivered!

Happy Camper

I am a happy camper.

I made my first online purchase from Lego.com this month. Which also came with a free gift - a mini Kombi van.

Another happy camper...

If you look at their Shipping & Handling information page for Australian customers, you'll see the following information:

  • Items in stock ship the next business day.
  • All items ship from Europe.
  • Delivery is within 13 business days.

02 September 2013

Lego Cruise Liner

Early last year, I turned my Lego Police Boat into an Oil Tanker. Back in November, I used the same hull to create a cruise liner of my own design. Tonight I've been going through my Lego creations and dismantling them, sorting out the pieces before reassembling the original sets. I thought I'd already put the cruise liner pictures on my blog, but turns out I hadn't... so here they are.

The finished cruise ship.

The length-to-height scale is way off, but I was working with the longest hull I had, and wanted each deck to have standing room for minifigs.

I also wanted the following on board:

  • Bridge
  • Engine Room
  • Crew Quarters
  • First Class Cabin
  • Restaurant
  • Casino
  • Pool

18 August 2013

August Board Games (Tsuro / Dominion Dark Ages / X-Wing Miniatures)

This afternoon & evening was again time for monthly Blokes & Boardgames at Dave's house.

"Dominion: Dark Ages" has been on the agenda to make an appearance for quite some time now, and this month we finally got to play a game. While we waited for everyone to arrive, we had time for some quick games of Tsuro.

Set up.

30 June 2013

Sixth Anniversary, Monsters University, Man Of Steel

Saturday was our sixth wedding anniversary.

Six years ago, dancing to The Whitlams' "Make The World Safe" at our reception.
Saturday night anniversary dinner at the Hyperdome.
We hadn't got each other any gifts yet, so I looked up a list of traditional gifts for each anniversary year. After finding iron, sugar and wood listed as the appropriate gifts for a sixth anniversary, I had a little idea which I let Kara in on yesterday.

28 June 2013

My new guitar is here!

Working overtime last fortnight paid off this payday, as I was able to go in to my local music store and pay off the balance of the lay-by on my new guitar.

The new guitar!

It's a Takamine EG363SC, and was part of the store's 50% off Factory Seconds sale. The staff told me most of them had minor blemishes in the finish, but I really can't find anything wrong with it. It's my first guitar with a solid wood top, and it sounds great.

I would love to do some recording straight away, but that's probably going to have to wait till mid-next-week at the earliest. I've got this coming weekend off, but tomorrow is our sixth wedding anniversary. We have a day out at the movies planned, with "Monsters University" and "Man Of Steel" on the short list. "World War Z" is perhaps not a date movie...

18 June 2013

Broncos vs Tigers

Both of us have been having a bit of cold/flu issues this week, so Kara stayed home from tonight's game. We sent out free ticket offers to friends via text, Twitter and Facebook, but there were no takers. So I went in to the game on my own, layered against the cold. T-shirt under my jersey, fleece-lined jeans, and a beanie.

Beanie on my head, metal on my headphones.

16 June 2013

Ticket To Ride

Board game of choice in this household recently has been "Ticket To Ride". We've had it for years (a birthday or Christmas gift from someone, I'm sure) but only got around to playing it recently - after watching the Tabletop episode. It's really quick and easy to learn - just watching Mr & Mrs Wheaton and their friends in the YouTube episode was enough to teach me. And it's a whole lot of fun to play.

The Pacific hub of my cross-country railway.

Tonight was the first time it featured at my mate Dave's monthly Blokes & Board Games gathering. We usually play three or so different games at each get-together. Except for the "Redshirts" night. Two games were over fairly quickly - one in about five minutes, after only two players had taken a turn - so we decided to play "one more quick game". Which lasted four hours.

Anyway, back to TTR...

03 June 2013

Titans vs Cowboys

It's my weekend off, and I had the chance to see all three Queensland rugby league teams in the one round - so I took it.

We already have our season tickets for the Broncos tonight (vs NZ Warriors), so I bought a ticket to yesterday's game as well, with the Gold Coast Titans hosting the North Queensland Cowboys at home. Skilled Park at Robina is only a short (and free, with game ticket!) train ride south of here.

Sunday markets packing up across from Woodridge train station.

20 May 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness

We went and saw "Star Trek Into Darkness" on opening night (9 May). I've just come back from seeing it my second time (20 May).

There are two reasons why I delayed posting this review. I had some notes written after my first viewing, but didn't really want to spoil it for American readers (the movie wasn't released till 17 May over there). I also really really wanted to see it again, and figured I'd take more notes that time and end up with a decent review. There may still be spoilers in the following review, but I will keep them hidden like this. (Just be careful where you move your mouse.)

05 May 2013

Iron Man 3

Kara saw "Iron Man 3" last week, using her cinema gift card she'd got for her birthday last year, and recommended it. So I went and saw it today.

The poster. Funnily enough, this never happens in the movie.

19 April 2013

The home studio begins

I use the term "studio" rather loosely.

I bought some microphones online last week, and they arrived today, so I've had some fun putting together the various audio components I have and setting up a working recording setup.

11 April 2013

2013 Reading: Part 1

I'm usually pretty good at keeping track of what movies I see during a year. I've never been that good at keeping a list of the books I read. In the past I've often had two or more books on the go at the same time. I've decided that I'd like to keep a log of what I read (starting from February/March, because that's the first time this year I remember reading a book cover to cover).

Books read so far this year... (that I remember)

1. James Patterson & Mark Sullivan, Private Berlin

James Patterson's "Private" series is an interesting one, in that so far only a couple have featured the same characters. The Private of the title is an investigation firm with agencies around the world, so there have been novels set in LA, London, Sydney and now Berlin.

On a side note, "Private Oz" had some great little phrases and characterisations included that made it look like Patterson and his co-writers had done their research. And then a paragraph later you'd come across something so Americanised that would never be said/seen/done in Australia, that you'd start to wonder if Crocodile Dundee II was their "research".

09 April 2013


Today was Cheap Tuesday, so I went to the cinema. My options were the new Die Hard (and as much as I try to avoid reviews beforehand, I've read mixed reports) or Danny Boyle's new film, "Trance". Kara was working, and since she'd rather see "DH5" than "Trance", I picked the latter to see on my own.

One of several poster designs.

08 April 2013

Backyard guest: part 2

I cleaned out and moved the old barbecue today.

Our resident bluetongue was still in residence, but beat a hasty retreat when I removed the grills.

07 April 2013

Music Month Wrap-Up

So my Music Month is over, and I go back to work this coming week. I'm a little bit concerted out...

Music Month (March 9 - April 3) contained:
  • 2 festivals
  • 3 concerts with international headliners
  • 1 concert with local headliner
  • 54 individual artists/groups (20 of them Aussie)
Music month in collage form.

06 April 2013

Birdy @ The Tivoli

After getting home from WOMADelaide, I got an email from the festival, part of which included a competition to win one double pass for each city of Birdy's Australian tour. I sent off my email, with my details and city of choice. I then promptly forgot about it.

On Wednesday morning I got a phonecall from a SA area code, and answered to find that I had won the Brisbane double pass - for the same evening. Kara wasn't that interested, so I headed off to the Tivoli on my own.

Easterfest 2013: Day 4

Sunday 31 March

Our Sunday started with another of the panel sessions in the Forum, this time hosted by SPARC. The topic was "Breaking the Barriers: Do we need more Christian artists in the mainstream of culture?", and guests included Evermore, Rowan Brand, Tigertown and Bec Laughton.

When this finished, the interview with Lecrae in the Arena was already underway, so I headed over there. Kara stayed to watch the sound and light show in the Entrance Tent. The music from that was loud enough to almost drown out all sound in the Arena venue. It was really hard to hear the questions or answers in the interview, until the light show stopped. When question time was over, Lecrae left the stage, and United Pursuit Band came straight on for their interview, as they had a Mainstage sound check to get to afterward.

Backyard guest

I was doing some work in our small back yard this afternoon. Mainly weeding and raking - we always get small branches falling from the trees out behind the neighbour's fence.

We have an old barbecue that I would like to convert into a portable drinks table. It's been sitting out the back, partly dismantled, for some time now. I took the lid off, and when I went to move one of the grill plates, got quite a shock.

05 April 2013

Easterfest 2013: Day 3

Saturday 30 March

Our Saturday started at 10 am with the Audio Adrenaline interview. Bassist Will McGinniss talked about the history of the band, its breakup in 2007 (and Easterfest-only reunion in 2009), and the formation of the new lineup - Audio "2.0".

Audio Adrenaline 2.0
L to R: Jared Byers (ex-Bleach & Relient K), Kevin Max (ex-dc Talk and solo), Will McGinniss (founding member), Jason Walker (member of Know Hope Collective), Dave Ghazarian (ex-Superchick).
For those of you who don't know, original lead singer Mark Stuart is unable to sing anymore, due to vocal cord damage (look up spasmodic dysphonia). With a heavy focus on the band's ongoing orphanage project in Haiti, Mark and Will recently put the band back together with the same name but new lineup. Kevin Max, formerly of dc Talk (and as a solo artist one of my all-time favourite vocalists), is their new frontman. The only original member playing and touring is Will McGinniss (bass guitar), but Mark Stuart remains active behind the scenes with "Audio A 2.0".

02 April 2013

Easterfest 2013: Day 2 - Demon Hunter

Friday, 29 March

Yes, this gets its own blog post.

I've been a Demon Hunter fan for at least 10 years, so I wasn't going to miss a chance to be front-row at their Easterfest gig. This was their first visit to Australia, and they did an incredible (considering travel time) four shows (Sydney, Toowoomba, Melbourne, Adelaide) in four nights before jetting back to the US. At the end of this month they're also playing South America for the first time.

And now, pictures! Lots of pictures. There's a bit of haze and pixelly stuff going on, because my camera's not that great in dark venues, but I was really close, which helped.

Easterfest 2013: Day 2

Friday 29 March

Good Friday was the first full day of Easterfest. We slept in, and headed down the hill to Queen's Park just after noon.

First thing on my agenda was checking out the first of the Noise workshops being run by Parachute Music. These had been run last year as a separately-ticketed event, off-site. This year they were held in the park, and were one of the highlights for me. Aimed at breaking down barriers between the "headliner" and the "audience", they included Q&A sessions, interviews, and practical advice on musical topics.

The first workshop was a Guitar Clinic. According to the program, Patrick Judge of Demon Hunter and Dave Ghazarian of Audio Adrenaline were meant to be the guests. Event staff apologised on behalf of Patrick, who was still en route from the airport (not sure where Dave was), but they did have another guitarist on hand to interview - Seth Davis from worship group Ascend The Hill.

Seth runs through the various pedals in his rig.
It was an informative session, with Seth showing us how he gets various sounds out of his guitar and effects pedals.

Easterfest 2013: Day 1

Thursday 28 March

Last weekend we went up to Toowoomba for our annual music festival pilgrimage, Easterfest. Easterfest is Australia's largest festival at Easter about Easter, and annually features a wide spectrum of Christian artists, speakers and musicians from across Australia and the world. This year marked Kara's 8th Easterfest, and my 13th or 14th. I've been going since the early years when it was known as AGMF, or the Australian Gospel Music Festival, and can't remember if I went in 2004 or not.

Waiting for the first bus of the day.
It took three buses to get to Toowoomba. From our place, we caught a bus to Garden City. From there, we transferred onto one that took us to the Transit Centre in the city. That's where the Greyhound Terminal is, and we had cheap tickets thanks to a late-announced (but much appreciated!) promo deal between Greyhound and Easterfest last month.

01 April 2013

Albums of 2013: Part 1

Well, here we are, a quarter of the way through the year already.

My must-listen albums of 2013 so far... (in release order)


Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba - Jama Ko

Biffy Clyro - Opposites

27 March 2013

Hiram's Visit

I grew up as a missionary kid in Ghana, West Africa. One of the other families we worked with over there was the Rings, from the US. Among their many children were Ethan (my age) and Hiram (my brother's age), and we've been friends pretty much ever since. When I got married in Seattle back in June 2007, Ethan flew most of the way across the country to be a groomsman, and Hiram also flew across the US to attend as a guest.

I hadn't seen Hiram (other than keeping up with his worldwide travels, and music, online) since our wedding day. He's currently spending a couple months in Canberra doing research as part of his PhD studies in Singapore, so arranged to spend a weekend up north visiting the Davies families. He's now the second Ring to stay in our house, as Ethan was here on a work visit not long after we moved in to this place.

Friday, 22 March

He's here!

26 March 2013

Music Month continues...

Saturday, 16 March
Opeth @ The Tivoli

Opeth are a folk/metal band from Sweden. Their style encompasses acoustic guitar, haunting melodies, distorted guitars, and death growls.

25 March 2013

Adelaide, Day 6

Thursday, 14 March

Checkout was at 9am. I checked out, got my $20 key deposit back, and left my full backpack at Reception. The room was full of many other bags, as some guests were checking in and out (changing rooms), or like me didn't have to head to the airport till later in the day.

From the hostel, I wandered on foot to Rundle Mall, where I got some bananas and iced coffee at Woolies. I've had Farmers Union (the major flavoured milk brand in South Australia) iced coffee years ago, but had never seen the "Strong" variety. It tasted OK, but is nowhere near my favourite - that space is reserved for a fistfight between Ice Break and Dare Double Espresso. I was slightly worried that "water" was listed as an ingredient on the carton.

Not the best Iced Coffee on the market.
After having my banana-and-coffee breakfast, I stopped in at the State Library again to update Facebook, check emails, and continue drafting these posts. Yes, I realise I'm actually publishing this over ten days later.

24 March 2013

Adelaide, Day 5


The hostel had a noticeboard, where you'd find things like local short-term jobs, people looking to buy/sell vehicles, or people seeking company on road trips across Australia. Like the one pictured below, which has some interesting spelling ("Kowallas") and entertaining conditions ("No dickheads! Cool people only!")

Wednesday morning started out cloudy, and even attempting to rain. It was way cooler than my previous 4 days in Adelaide.

Adelaide has some good free public transport options. There's a bus route (99C) that runs a continuous loop in the CBD, in both directions, and the tram is free between any of the CBD stations. On Wednesday, I took the free bus around, seeing a few more parts of the city, and getting off on North Terrace near the State Library.

21 March 2013

Adelaide, Day 4 - Coopers Alehouse

Tuesday, 12 March... Continued.

As mentioned in the previous Adelaide post, I stopped in at the Coopers Alehouse on my way back to the hostel.

Up here in Queensland, I've been to pubs that have Coopers Pale Ale on tap, but for anything else you have to go to a bottle shop - and even then, not all shops have all varieties. So to be in South Australia and have a whole range on tap, how could I not? I was also lucky to have friendly bar staff who were more than happy to pour me small free samples of different varieties, in between my full glasses.

Sparkling Ale.

Adelaide, Day 4 - Part 2

Tuesday, 12 March


Three fennecs being extremely inactive in the middle of the day.

20 March 2013

Adelaide, Day 4 - Part 1

Tuesday, March 12

After the late night wrapping up WOMADelaide, I had another slight sleep in, followed by another trip to Woolies to get some food for the next couple days. This time, a dozen doughnuts were half price (for a carb/sugar hit), and I got some bananas as well. Somehow I misplaced my nice 1.5 litre water bottle the night before, so I got a 500ml iced coffee. After finishing the coffee, I rinsed the bottle out and continued using it as a water bottle for the rest of the week.

Pedestrian bridge over the River Torrens.

My plan for the day was to visit Adelaide Zoo, which had been recommended to me. I've been to quite a few zoos, and while not quite up there with Singapore, San Diego or Woodland Park, it's a very good zoo for its compact size. The paths and layout of the exhibits are placed in such a way that you don't feel like you're in a small(ish) inner city zoo - you still have to do quite a bit of walking in order to see everything.

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