Fifteen. In which I attempt to quantify what cannot be measured.

I don’t know how to measure love. There’s no way to quantify how I feel about you.

There is no ruler to measure your beauty, no scales to weigh how my life has changed. An atomic clock can’t describe the times we’ve shared, some pencil marks on the wall will never show how we’ve grown together.

Our relationship can’t be defined by numbers. But there are a few that might help:

2 homelands.
8 homes.
5 universities.
1 great dane.
2 beautiful kids.
250 hours spent on aeroplanes (bit of a guess there).
17,752 kilometers between the places where we were born.

But most of all, 15 years married.

15 years seeing your face in the morning. 15 years hearing your voice at night. 15 years that have sometimes been tough. 15 years that have always been worth it. 15 years knowing we’ll always be together.

15 years I wouldn’t trade for any amount of any thing this world has to offer.

How much do I love you? This year, I love you 15.

Happy anniversary.

Tour de Phil

Last night I turned the TV to SBS, settled down on the couch and closed my eyes, ready to let the familiar voices of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen wash over me with their description of the Tour. What I got was someone else talking. That’s right – someone else. Thankfully, before too long Phil and Paul were back and the world was back as it should.

I know I’m not alone in enjoying listening to Phil Liggett. There’s something about his commentary that just simply works. On a trip to Tasmania some years ago we happened to be in Hobart for a criterium stage of the Tour of Tasmania. For those who don’t know, a criterium consists of multiple laps around a small street circuit so you are able to stay in one spot and see most of the race. This was in the days when Cadel Evans was still a mountain biker making the transition to road racing. As a big Cadel fan I was pretty excited to see him race, but do you want to know the best part of the day?

Phil Liggett.

That’s right. The commentator was my highlight. Never mind that Cadel was there. Never mind that Phil Anderson, one of the all-time greats of Australian cycling was there managing Cadel’s team. For me, Phil Liggett stole the show. He knows his stuff, he communicates well. He just works.

He had a microphone, a loudspeaker and a hat.

There were two cyclists making a break from the front of the pack and for part of the race Phil was talking to them as much as to us. To encourage them on the road, he called for the crowd to put money in his hat. This money would be given to the two cyclists if they managed to lap the field. They didn’t manage to do it, and I don’t remember, or never knew what happened to the money in the end, but it was brilliant. It got me cheering for two guys whose names I can’t remember and probably could never pronounce and made the race come alive in a different way. Not because I put money in. Not because I was going to get anything out of it. Just because it was fun. And because it was Phil Liggett.

For the record, I wouldn’t even mind if Phil kept the money – he earned it.

I could go on, but it’s 10pm and the telecast is about to begin. But here’s a little something to help get you in the mood for The Tour:

If all the world was like eBay.

customer: I’d like to buy this HDMI cable thanks.

shop assistant: Sure, that will be $10 please.

customer: [hands over $10]

shop assistant: Thanks friend!! That was a fast and seamless transaction. You are a 100%, AAA+++ shopper! What a pleasant and uplifting experience :-) I will happily sell to you in the future and fully recommend you to other stores!!!!!

Any spot on earth

From William Steig’s Caldecott Award acceptance speech, 1970:

Art, including juvenile literature, has the power to make any spot on earth the living center of the universe, and unlike science, which often gives us the illusion of understanding things we really do not understand, it helps us to know life in a way that still keeps before us the mystery of things. It enhances the sense of wonder. And wonder is respect for life.

I have nothing to add.

Read the whole speech here [brought to my attention by gizo]

On Dr Seuss and iPhones

This morning I listed to episode 30 of The Daily Edition with Dan Benjamin, one of the 5by5 stable of podcasts.

Dan’s guest for this episode was Michel Kripalani, president of Oceanhouse Media who are the developers responsible for adapting Dr Seuss’s books for iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Among other things, he talked about the process of adapting the books for these devices while maintaining the whole point of the original books – to help kids learn to read. Worth a listen.

I have dutifully downloaded The cat in the hat but am yet to test it on my kids.

Perhaps the words I need to hear…

But if you want to be a writer, than be a writer, for god’s sake. It’s not that hard, and it doesn’t require that much effort on a day to day basis. Find the time or make the time. Sit down, shut up and put your words together. Work at it and keep working at it. And if you need inspiration, think of yourself on your deathbed saying “well, at least I watched a lot of TV.” If saying such a thing as your life ebbs away fills you with existential horror, well, then. I think you know what to do.

Get the rest of the kick up the pants over at Scalzi’s blog.

The home project 1: My favourite photographer

my favourite photographer

My sweetheart spends a lot of her time behind the camera. Sometimes people give her a hard time about it, but she captures memories that would otherwise fade far too quickly.

2011 is the year you get to see her on the other side of the lens.

Because she is beautiful and I love her.

– -

The Home Project was inspired by Bon.

The idea is to post a photo of my beloved every Monday. To be honest, I can’t promise a photo every week, but let’s see how we do.

Factotum (Monster Blood Tattoo, book 3), by D. M. Cornish

Factotum is the third and final installment in D. M. Cornish’s fantastic Monster Blood Tattoo series (now called The foundling’s tale in USA). This is a series that you should definitely read in order so if you have not read books 1 and 2 yet, I suggest you give them a look. You can read what I thought of them here: The foundling; and Lamplighter. By way of warning, the following review will give away a couple of plot points that develop over the first two books, so feel free to stop reading here and go read those books first.

At the end of book 2, Rossamund took on the role of factotum to Europe, the monster slayer with whom his life had become connected. For those not already familiar with the series, Europe is a Fulgar, someone who has had extra organs surgically added to her body that allow her to generate something like lightning that she uses against monsters. Rossamund had also been accused of being a monster himself – one with a human form. These two developments provide the storyline for Factotum which begins with the final stages of the journey to the city of Brandenbass, including a battle with a sea monster on the way. Rossamund is then introduced to the lavish life Europe leads when not hunting monsters. He has little time however, to sit back and enjoy living in high society as influential people in the city, including some enemies of Europe become aware of the accusations against him. Rossamund also seems to find it hard to keep out of trouble and his curiosity and naivety lead him into a seedy establishment where his conscience forces him to act on what he sees there (sorry, that’s deliberately vague as I don’t want to give too much away).

Eventually Europe and Rossamund along with a couple of his old friends who are now also in her employ take on some commissions to track down and kill various monsters. While this may seem to take them away from the trouble brewing in Brandenbass, it manages to follow them. Throughout the various events in this book Rossamund is exposed to new aspects of the monster world and the ways the monsters and humans exist together as he tries to understand his place in the world.

As with the first two books, Factotum is a long and detailed book including extra information about the world in an Explicarium at the end of the book. If you have read and enjoyed the first two I expect you will want to read this and expect you will enjoy it. If not, then head back to the beginning and read Lamplighter. The series is set in a richly described fantasy world, the characters are interesting and well developed and it it not always clear who is on the side of good or evil. The story has also kept me curiously turning pages (over 1500 of them through three books).

[cross posted from about the books]