Posted in nature, travel

toowoomba carnival of flowers

We’ve been talking about going to the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers forever so today we made that a thing. It was a little smaller than I expected (having been to Floriade in Canberra) but I was still impressed.

We had a nice brunch at Picnic Point Park before driving back to Brissie. The view from Picnic Point Park was amazing 😉

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Posted in life, nature

one (not so) perfect day in vancouver

When flying back to Australia from the Americas, all the flights leave late at night so I’m often traveling back for work that finished the previous night and I will have a day spare where I typically do some sightseeing (and stretch my legs before a long period of sitting down).

Last year I had one of these days in Salt Lake City and I unfortunately decided not to hire a car which meant I had to lug my suitcase around the city for a full day. Yesterday I had one of these days in Vancouver and I thought I’d be smarter than last year by hiring a car this time around but this meant I spend a lot of the day sitting in Vancouver traffic 😳 in a pimped out Chrysler 300s with Beats sound system 😎

I didn’t realize how bad Vancouver traffic would be. To access anything on the Northern side of the city meant crossing one of two very small bridges and driving through downtown. The standard Google map driving time estimate would often double or triple with traffic.

I started the day driving through Stanley Park. It’s quite a large park close to the city and would be great to explore on a bike but there’s a one-way road you can drive around the park on and the highlight for me was stopping  and seeing Lions Gate Bridge.

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After this I drove to the base of Grouse Mountain. I had initially considered walking to the top but a lack of sleep from the previous night meant I decided to catch the Gondola which was pretty impressive (but also pretty expensive at $48 for a return trip of six minutes each way).

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The views at the top were pretty nice and I stopped to sit and have a nice cup of tea, but there wasn’t much to see once you were up there and I really couldn’t see the value in the price of the ticket.

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The other thing about Grouse Mountain was how busy it was. It was a Wednesday but jam packed with people including bus tours and school groups.

My next stop was originally planned to be the Capistrano Suspension Bridge but having driven past the entrance (and its six large parking lots) on the way up I decided against visiting another expensive tourist trap so I researched and found another suspension bridge nearby but a little more off the beaten track.

This was called Lynn Canyon Park and I am so glad I visited it as it was definitely the highlight of my day. It was great to see lots of people enjoying it without it being overcrowded and not only was there a suspension bridge, but a lovely river with huge amounts of pebbles and a great forest to wander through. A pure delight.

After some exploring I drove (through congested traffic yet again) across the bridge to the Commercial Drive strip which unlike it’s not was a little bit non-mainstream and grungy which I liked. I found the ultimate shop to buy some Mexican gifts for Kitty.

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I also found a little bit of street art:

My final stop was the Gas Lamp precinct where I spotted some cool street art, my favourite being this electricity box:

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There were also some cool train carriages and sticker art:

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I headed back to the airport to return my car and prepare myself for the long flight back to Brisbane. Whilst I had some enjoyable moments; I wouldn’t choose to return to Vancouver in a hurry.

Posted in nature, travel

hiking alta lake, whistler

I was looking for a hike that I could do from Whistler Village for a few hours without a car and without a lift pass. Lost Lake is too close (and short) so I decided on Alta Lake which is a larger lake to the South West of Whistler Village.

It was easy to find, and despite the lake not being all that scenic, there were some great views of the surrounding mountains. I also managed to find some old car wrecks and some giant wooden chairs lakeside.

I walked around 12km in total in about two and a half hours; it was very enjoyable.

 

Posted in nature, street art, travel

whistler train wreck

This week I had a chance to check out the Whistler train wreck site: a part of the forest near Whistler where several train carriages rest that were part of a train derailment in 1956.

The area has been declared a legal graffiti zone so each carriage is colourfully decorated in all kinds of spray paint.

I’ve never seen anything like it; it was like an urban jungle in the middle of a forest. Amazing stuff.

 

Posted in nature, travel

lost lake, whistler

After lunch today we decided to hike to Lost Lake, which is surprisingly close to Whistler Village, and surprisingly scenic. There was a walking only narrow trail that led to Lost Lake through a beautiful forest on the way. Lost lake was very pretty but I actually enjoyed the journey more than the destination.

Posted in travel

whistler peak 2 peak

I’m in Whistler, Canada for a week of work with a little bit of play.

Today was a play day so we rode a gondola to the top of Whistler Mountain where there’s another gondola that goes across to the peak of Blackcomb Mountain. The weather was cool and climatic, changing the landscape almost constantly.

We saw some great scenery and I got some good shots. Well worth the time up there!

 

Posted in family, junior pixels

drawings of ducks

I love ducks, and Junior Pixels loves drawing ducks, so we’re match made in heaven 😍

For my recent birthday Junior outdid himself and made me a card with a duck and a cactus; it doesn’t get any better than this!

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Here’s a collection of some of the ducks he has drawn me:

He also draws a mean aeroplane when I have to go away for work:

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I love these all so much.

Posted in fitness, nature

flinders peak

I’ve been wanting to walk to the top of Flinders Peak for some time; and today, Father’s Day in Australia, that opportunity presented itself.

I was a little nervous considering it’s a Class Five (Black) hike which is the hardest class of walk you can do in Australia, and there were some signs reiterating this at the beginning. But it is only 6.5km return so I thought I’d just ‘do it’.

The walk was rather spectacular; it gets increasingly difficult as you reach the summit and there were a number of cliffs you need to climb to get to the top, but luckily the way is fairly well marked with orange reflector arrows on the rocks so I didn’t get lost.

There’s a large number of huge prickly pear cacti on the way up which I believe are classified as a weed here because they spread quite easily. I also saw a lot of beautiful wattle in bloom, and also a large number of grass tees of which many had large spines in bloom.

The view from the top was amazing and definitely worth the rather strenuous climb. You can see out in all directions with Brisbane city easily seen to the North.

I managed to get up and back in less than two and half hours which is pretty good considering the guides recommend you put aside a full day. If (or when) I walk it again I’ll take some more water as the 650mL bottle I took was not enough, but luckily there was a rain water tank back down at the bottom which I used to replenish it.

A great hike; probably the most enjoyable I’ve done 😊

Posted in design

my first ojo de dios

I’ve been wanting to make a ojo de dios for such a long time but I’ve never gotten around to it. I’ve seen some large amazing ones but I’ve always felt a bit daunted; where do I start to be able to make something magnificent?

So this year I decided to set a 2016 new years resolution that I would make at least one ojo de dios, but it can be as simple as you can possibly make, so that the bar is so low I can’t possibly not achieve it. 

So today on the 3rd of September I completed my 2016 new years resolution by making my very first ojo de dios:


I chose to use just two sticks (which are wooden chopsticks from an Asian restaurant) and a few basic colours as a starting point. It was very enjoyable and much easier than I imagined; even though it’s a very simple design. 

My goal now is to slowly introduce more complexity until I make my way towards creating something like this:


I’m hoping I’ll get there one day. 

Posted in life

now > 50% married

Today is our 10 year wedding anniversary, which means that Kitty and I have now been married as a couple longer than we’ve been unmarried as a couple. 


Married: 10 years. Together: 19 years 8 months 1 day

At my time of marriage I didn’t feel it that big of a deal, even though I enjoyed doing it, however I increasingly see it as an significant step in a relationship as it can hold things together well, and makes some things just easier. I don’t believe you need to be married to have a great relationship, but it’s great to have a choice should you please. 

That’s why I’m a big supporter of marriage equality/same-sex marriage, which is still sadly unrecognised in Australia (and continues to be debated in parliament to this day). 

Posted in music

blow a kiss, fire a gun

Sometimes I wonder how I’ve missed something so good for so long: genius.com comes to mind. I’ve only recently discovered the Genius site despite it being around since 2009 when it started as ‘Rap Genius’. So what is Genius?

Genius is the world’s biggest collection of song lyrics and crowdsourced musical knowledge.

I love listening to hip-hop and electronic music but sometimes I can’t fully hear or understand the lyrics which is where Genius.com is literally genius: the lyrics to just about every song are on there with annotations/explanations of what each line means with links to other songs, pop-cultural references etc.

I looked up Lean On by Major Lazer & DJ Snake as I couldn’t work out what the “Blow a kiss, fire a gunAll we need is somebody to lean on” chorus means.

MØ (who sings on the track) actually has provided an explanation on Genius:

“No matter if you’re blowing a kiss or firing a gun, no matter if you’re a lover or a warrior, whatever you are, we all need someone to lean on. Even if you’re a drug dealer and a killer or whatever you still need love, basically.”

~ MØ on the lyrics on the chorus

Posted in byron bay, nature

heart shaped pebbles

As I walk along a beach, I love looking at the pebbles that have washed ashore. Very occasionally, but more often than you would think, I come across a heart shaped pebble. Since every heart shaped pebble is a little bit of magic; I always pick one up should I see it and put it in my pocket to give to someone I love.

Here is one I found in Byron Bay last week; it’s a rather good specimen.

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A heart shaped pebble found on Main Beach in Byron Bay

 

Posted in books, life

defining silence 

Do you consider silence to be:

  1. The absence of sound?
  2. The absence of language?
  3. The absence of human made noise? (eg. aircraft noise)

I’d lean towards the absence of human made noise, since I would consider walking through the bushland with just the sounds of nature to be walking in silence. But if a helicopter flew low overhead the silence would be broken.

Thoughts inspired through reading How to Be Alone by Sara Maitland

Posted in junior pixels, life, little whale, quotes

a barrage of questions

The youngest member of our tribe, Little Whale, has just turned three, and has begun asking what seems to be an endless stream of questions: “how you make jellybeans?”, “why you go to work Papa?”, “how you make oranges?” etc.

If you’ve been around kids you’ll have no doubt noticed that they seemingly never stop asking questions, which can get a bit annoying TBH, but I recently read a quote that put it all in perspective:

Questions are places in your mind where answers fit. If you haven’t asked the question, the answer has nowhere to go. It hits your mind and bounces right off. You have to ask the question — you have to want to know — in order to open up the space for the answer to fit.

~ Clayton Cristensen via Jason Fried

This makes me realise that asking questions should never be discouraged; so I’ll do my best to answer each and every question they ask. After all they’ve made a slot in their mind for me to fill!

In that vein: Junior Pixels (nearly 7) recently asked Kitty:

“Mama, why is it in your heart that you feel love?”

Posted in nature

cairns

There’s something rather splendid about rocks; perhaps it’s just their age, or that they have played such a huge part in the entire history of our planet. Places like stone henge are amazing for this reason. 

All of our boys are obsessed with rocks; whenever we’re at a park or some place new they will discover and collect a few rocks that represent different things. 

Today I walked to White Rock and back. I walk a track that is a little less known. The track goes along the top of a ridge and towards the end of the ridge, just as you get into the ‘flow’ of walking in such a breathtaking environment, you’ll come across a beautiful collection of cairns. 

cairns near white rock

Each time I visit this park, which can be a few weeks or few months apart, there seems to be a few more cairns added to the collection.

There’s something transcendent about seeing cairns in nature; they encompass balance and some orderliness in nature, which has a tendency to be the opposite.

On my way back I couldn’t resist but add my own cairn to the growing collection of cairns. I hadn’t created one before and it was a very relaxing activity building something that balances on its own. 

I’m hoping my cairn will be there next time I walk through, which I believe will be the case as there seems to be an unspoken respect for this collection of sculptures that will stand the test of time. Well here’s hoping. 

Posted in family, nature

on picnicing

One of our family rituals is going on picnics. We have found it’s a lo-fi activity that increases our families’ wellbeing. This has academically been proven to actually be the case:

“A marriage can cause an increase in happiness equal to a quadrupling salary. Making a good friend is equal to tripling a salary. Belonging to a club can cause an increase in happiness equivalent to doubling a salary. And going on picnics three times a year is the same as receiving a 10 per cent raise.”

~ Harvard Psychologist Robert Putnam quantifying the effects of good relationships (and picnicing)

Since we go on a picnic at least once a fortnight, we’ve established a picnic basket (which Kitty calls our ‘caravan’ – long story) which is always packed and ready to go. We typically do a BBQ picnic so we just need some food and the basket contains everything else like plates, cups, oil, sauce, BBQ utensils and even a thermos for hot water to make tea. Kitty picked up the picnic hamper, unused, at a nearby op shop (thrift store) for two dollars (bargain!). 

We’ll usually visit a park with some bushland or a place for the kids to play and explore before we cook our food and enjoy it together. 

This afternoon we found an old gold mine that still has some remnants left which the kids loved exploring and imagining how it worked almost one hundred years ago. 

the remains of a track that carried the mine carts across the creek

Afterwards we had a lovely BBQ in the light of the sunset:

mt coot-tha sunset in brisbane

We did have some over-confident, brazen kookaburras who managed to steal almost all our sausages from our plates as we ate, which freaked out the boys a little, but it was very fun nonetheless.

I love activities that require little effort but provide huge amounts of wellbeing, and picnicing, unlike motor-boating, seems to be just that 😎

Posted in technology

twitter’s toxicity

Deleting my twitter account* was one of the best things I ever did (which I did because I was being harassed/bullied by some of the ‘leaders’ in my field of work). Twitter is not only a blatant waste of time, but a toxic wasteland where online harassment continues to go on unnoticed. Clem Bastow says it best:

“…the feeling of cautious vindication I experience every time someone deletes or deactivates their account adds fuel to a fire burning deep within my soul: a strongly held belief that Twitter is, with scant exceptions (almost all of them to do with community organising), a steaming cesspool of virulent entitlement.

And that maybe, just maybe, if more notable and “valuable” people leave, the people left behind will start to realise they are not entitled to anything.

Twitter has proven, again and again, that it doesn’t care about meaningful steps towards stopping harassment. It’s time for us all, celebrity and otherwise, to delete, deactivate, and go elsewhere – pick up your toys and leave the abusers and their facilitators sitting in the piss-soaked sandpit hell of their own making.”

Clem Bastow – Delete your Twitter and leave the whole thing to the trolls

I know a lot of people are too afraid to delete their account for FOMO reasons, but trust me, you’re not missing out on anything.


*My professional blog has it’s own twitter account where it publishes blog updates to – much like its Facebook page and LinkedIn profile – but I don’t follow anybody or actually use this account – it’s just a publicity outlet linking back to my blog.

on being homeless

“I’ve seen a lot on the streets – there’s a lot of drugs and other stuff out there. Seen stabbings, people getting bashed, seen people jump on heads and break legs. Even found a dead body once – that kind of stuff sticks with you. But the other side of that is when you’re really down you’ve got nothing to lose, you can really only get better.”

~ Magoo – A homeless The Big Issue vendor in Brisbane

I love reading The Big Issue because it reminds me that when I’m having a shit day or a shit week that there’s so many people out there who have it so much worse than I (hopefully) ever will – and I should do something about that instead of worrying about this.

At the same time it sickens me we have Australian cities with a median house price of over one million dollars and still have people sleeping rough every night.

Posted in books, family, fitness, life

being a good role model for your kids

Children learn by imitating adults. They copy what they see you do, not what you tell them to do. Seeing your three-year-old stomp around in your high heels is cute. Experiencing your 18-year-old drive the same way you do is terrifying (and I really, really wish I had never ever used a mobile phone while driving with them).

~ Michelle Archard – I Wish I’d Been A Better Role Model For My Kids

I believe one of the best things you can do for your kids is to be a good role model (and not be a hypocrite). Continue reading “being a good role model for your kids”

Posted in junior pixels, life, quotes

good mistakes

Six year olds can be so wise:

“You know there’s good mistakes don’t you? Good mistakes are when you make a mistake but the mistake is still okay. Like if you’re reading a sentence and you get the word wrong but the word you choose still makes sense in the sentence. That’s a good mistake.”

~ Junior Pixels, age 6

Studying IT at university was a good mistake. I shouldn’t have done it, but the outcome still makes sense in my life.