Sunday, December 10, 2017

Kata tournament

The kids took part in a Kata tournament at the weekend. It's held in the north of the city at the 'sister' dojo. In all about 40 kids took part. In their classification, Eli finished 2nd and Audrey 3rd, which was a pretty good result.

Christmas Biscuits

I found some Christmas cookie-cutters in the cupboard this morning which turned out to provide us with entertainment for a fair amount of a sunny Sunday afternoon.

There were a whole array of shapes - from trees, to stars, to snowflakes and the kids loved (and were pretty meticulous) decorating and icing them.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Rabbit Proof Fence

Canberra is lucky to be home to the National Film and Sound Archive - a veritable treasure trove of film and music resources dating back many years. The Archive holds over 2 million items all of them accessible by the public.

Currently the Archive is running a series of Australian films under the banner of 'Starstuck'. One of the films on offer was Rabbit-Proof Fence the story of three aboriginal girls taken from their mother in Western Australia, sent to a church mission and tells how they found their way home and back to their family by using the immensely long fence of the title (which runs across Australia). In many ways the film is successful as it personifies the terrible issue of Australia's 'stolen generation' of 'half-caste' Aboriginals taken from their families (and mostly used as cheap labour). Tens of thousands of Aboriginal Australians have been affected by the stolen generation and the perverse decisions of the Australian authorities of the time.

I took Eli and Audrey along for the showing after school. I was worried that a) I couldn't remember if the film was 'age appropriate' or if there was a horrific scene somewhere in the middle of it! and b) whether they'd actually 'get' what the film was about.

As it turned out I needn't have worried. The film was introduced by its Producer (David Eflick) and he described some of the finer points of the film and the casting of the three wonderful actors.

What I found fascinating was just how both Audrey and Eli related to the characters (the three girls, Molly, Daisy and Gracie) as they were similar ages to themselves (8.10 and 14). The film is both thought provoking, sad but also exciting as the girls struggle to avoid re-capture by authorities.

We had a really good conversation on the way home - the kids couldn't understand how you could discriminate against someone because of the colour of their skin and we discussed the stolen generation and its awful impact on Aboriginal communities. I was so proud of A&E - I'd gone to the film with some trepidation, but came home knowing that they'd 'got' it.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Eli pays a visit to his mates

Eli has a good buddy Aidan who changed Primary schools last year. Eli still misses him a fair bit and the two are ever so close. Eli was delighted on Sunday to have a play-date and the chance to spend much of the day with his friend.

Here's a photo

Monday, November 27, 2017

Sunday afternoon at the zoo

Eli was invited to a friend's birthday party on Sunday which left Audrey and I free to explore. We rode our bikes to the zoo and had a fun afternoon looking at the baby meerkats and (very cute) baby zebra.

The zoo had three baby meerkats on display and was running a competition to name them. (two boys and a girl). The names had to begin with an 'S'. I chose 'Solomon' and 'Sid' Audrey (more intellectually) chose 'Savanna' for the girl. We'll find out in December if we win!

Here's some pics of our Eli-free afternoon!

Cute baby zebra

Not a very good picture of a peacock

Australia says 'Yes'

For the last few months a fairly pointless debate has been raging in Australia concerning marriage equality. Essentially Australia is/was one of the last few remaining parts of the western world which failed to recognise same-sex marriages. The government was unable (too chicken) to come to a consensus and were unwilling to vote on the matter.

As a result a postal 'plebiscite' was announced costing over $122 million to administer. For the uninitiated (and I was one) a plebiscite differs to a referendum in that the result is not legally binding. It ultimately gives the government a 'get out' clause if things don't go their way. Really the UK should have had a plebiscite rather than the ridiculous Brexit referendum which will throw development of the country back a few generations. Similarly if the Australian government had had any balls they'd have just been able to vote on the matter and we could have all moved on $122 million better off.

I've got into a few discussions with people about the terminology of 'marriage' and whether it should be kept separate to 'same sex union' or somesuch. There are legal differences (mostly to do with end of life stuff like inheritance, access to estates etc and power of attorney) If you're really interested then look it up for yourself. Ultimately though I believe that if two people love each other then it doesn't really matter their gender or sexual persuasion and they should be able to get married same as anyone else. I don't buy the religious/moral argument either - especially when 70% of the country gets married outside of church and most of the remainder probably only get married in a church because the building has a nice stained glass window which will look good as a back-drop for wedding photos.

I was frustrated by the ongoing debate as a) it gave bigots the opportunity to publicly voice their opinion and b) the whole thing seemed like a complete waste of time and money when it was just essentially a fundamental human right that was being withheld from people and really politicians, the media et al should be talking about something which actually drives the economy, creates jobs, improves healthcare, helps refugees, stops a dirty big mine being built which will destroy the Great Barrier reef etc etc.

In the end the plebiscite (which is really just a glorified opinion poll) fell on the side of the 'Yes' vote (62% v 38% if you're interested) the ACT proudly led the way 74% v 26%. Our gay (and sadly fairly ineffective) chief minister Andrew Barr was unsurprisingly over the moon about the result.

Various ramifications and debates now have to be gone through by federal parliament but hopefully the result gives enough of a mandate to allow marriage equality to be passed into law and agreed by the end of this year.

Canberra threw an impromptu street party - again the cynic in me wondered if there were some undertones of the Chief Minister pushing his personal agenda, but what the heck it was a nice sunny evening and the street in question has a great ice cream shop on it so we all went along after school to celebrate marriage equality!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Otis Night for Nights

I was asked to speak at the Otis ball in Melbourne. I've been a supporter of the Otis charity since Amy and I stayed at one of their properties in Thredbo.
I agreed months ago and as the calendar ticked ever closer I became ever so slightly nervous!
When the weekend itself arrived I was lucky enough to be able to leave the kids with some kind friends and head to Melbourne.
The dinner was enormous! 840 people - far larger than any charity ball I'd ever been to. It was really glamorous as well and the night was full of incredible performers, a DJ and....before I went on stage a guy who had previously won the Australian Voice (a singing talent competition!). He was so talented and certainly a tough act to follow - I felt like I was next into bat after Don Bradman.
Anyway, it all went well and the whole night was a spectacular success. When I left the event had raised $540k which is just wonderful.
I've made a bit of a commitment to raising more cash for Otis in the future, so I've got my thinking cap on at the moment about things we (I'd drag the kids into it) could do :)