Thursday, January 31, 2013

Josh's First Day of School

And so the big day arrived, the day when the final child leaves the nest for good and starts Kindergarten, marking the clearance of the working week of any children requiring looked after during the hours of 8.30am and 3.30pm.

Josh took to it all well, and only appeared nervous and reserved when we finally let him go into the classroom where all the kids had been thrown together until they were all to be split into their classes. The good nes is that he has been allocated Mrs Baldacchino as his teacher, who he knows as she was Maddi's teacher last year.

Jessica (4th class) and Madeleine (1st class) start their second day for 2013

Three big schoolkids

Mum and her kids

The big school boy

Mum and her boy

With the Bucko

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Rotation Policy

When does the rotation policy begin in Channel 9's commentary box? You can't tell me that the whole continent of Australia is not sick to death of the maniacal bleatings of James Brayshaw and Michael Slater. They are the most painful and cringeworthy people to have to listen to when you are trying to watch the cricket.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Driving

Sunday is a day for rest, right? To sleep in and enjoy a relaxing breakfast on the deck, read the papers (electronically in this day and age, but still...) and then move comfortably into the afternoon sport.
Well I got most of that, but there was also the required outing to be done in the middle of this. And as Majority Rule had mentioned this specific day trip for about 12 months then it was probably high time that we got it out of the way.

So it was that we headed off on a Sunday drive. First port of call was Bass Point and Bushrangers Bay, Bass Point where we hadn't been since Jess was very young, and Bushrangers Bay where none of us had been together. Bass Point was as crowded as it usually is, but Bushrangers Bay seemed almost deserted, but with lovely views.

From here we moved on to Kiama via Swamp Road and Long Brush Road to Saddleback Mountain Lookout, where again we hadn't taken the kids before. The views of the Illawarra are just as spectacular now as they have ever been. The mountain is just as high as well, so when your five year old son decides to lose one of his thongs over the viewing platform, there is little chance of retrieving it, and so said son was left to walk back to the car on one thong-less foot. Good job Josh, good job.

After a leisurely trip home via Jamberoo Road, we had a late lunch (1.30pm) on the Deck at home. Roast pork sandwiches and ham sandwiches were the fare, and bloody good it was too. The deli at the new General Store on Ashburton Drive is terrific, and highly recommended if you live in the vicinity.

An excellent and relaxing day concluded as I watched the 4th ODI between Australia and Sri Lanka from Sydney while the rest of the family watched Nim's Island on the upstairs TV.
Helen then once again outdid herself, cooking a superb lasagna for tea, one of her specialties.

Lance Armstrong

After years of rumours and accusations and lawsuits and outright denials, one of sports worst kept secrets was finally aired publicly this weekend, as seven time Tour de France winning cyclist Lance Armstrong spilled his guts to talk show softy Oprah Winfrey in the United States.
Over two nights, Armstrong confessed to mass blood doping and drug use during his career, including his most successful races. He profferred some less than heartfelt apologies to a number of people without ever appearing to be completely remorseful for his actions. He made no attempt to name or implicate any other people who were involved in this systematic cheating of the world cycling body's rules and regulations, nor was he pushed to do so by his somewhat patsy interviewer.

WADA Slams Armstrong Interview as "Controlled Media Performance"

Lance Armstrong - "I Want to Compete Again"

Armstrong "Breaks Down " In Interview

No one should feel sorry for him, though a large percentage of the population probably will end up doing so. He showed little true remorse for his actions in his interview, instead answering questions like it was a police interview, like a criminal who knows they are guilty and don't care. Even after three hours, the viewer was left thinking about what HADN'T been said rather than what he had decided to confess to. The only time he even showed the slightest change in emotion was when discussing his children's reactions to discovering that he had been lying to them for years.

The shame of all of this is what will be lost. Will 'Livestrong', the cancer foundation he set up, be able to continue, to help cancer patients, or will it crumble like its hero with the feet of clay. His children, who for so long thought their father to be a hero, to be honest and upstanding, now find that everything he has achieved has been through deceipt and lies. Sponsors and supporters who have been with him through all his achievements are now tarnished with the same brush through no fault other than their loyalty to him and his ideals.

He will ask for forgiveness, and no doubt in time he will receive it from most quarters, as the passing years dullen what has been revealed over the past few days. What will cause me to retch will be if anyone comes out and continues to call him a hero, whether it be for his performances (with the drug use conveniently put aside) or for his 'heartfelt' admission if guilt, for which he has only now finally agreed to when there was no doubt of his guilt in any way, shape or form. That is not the act of a hero, it is the act of a person who has bullied people through the courts in order to continue the fight to keep his name clean, but who has finally run out of all options with the threat of himself being charged through the courts.

The man recovered from cancer, so he has shown he has some inner strength. He is going to need every ounce of it if he is to be able to move on from this point, forever in the shadow of not necessarily the doping in order to have the success he achieved on the bike, but what he did in order to cover it up, and the people he has hurt by doing so, and the further people he has hurt in finally coming clean about it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Record Ridiculous Heat


So today turned out to be a record for Albion Park as the heatwave really took hold. The highest temperature recorded during the day was 45.3 degrees, as shown in the photo above. It was quite amazing.

I was one of the fortunate ones, though. I had taken today off a couple of weeks ago, as it was the only day in January that Helen and I were unable to find a grandparent to look after the kids. So, as my office in Albion Park was no doubt being melted into a tiny liquid ball, I had survived.
Firstly, I took the kids down to Albion Park pool for the morning. It was funny though. As I was in the water helping Josh do his swimming, my body was cool, but my bucket-hatted head could feel the heat going straight through it to my skull. When we finally got out to come home, all of our swimmers had basically dried by the time we made it back home.
After an hour of dealing without it, at 1.00pm I finally relented and closed off the house and turned our air conditioning on. Yeah yeah, I know, it's a bit stingy or a bit stupid, but I like to think we can deal with weather without having to immediately dive at either the AC or the heater the second that the weather gets too bad. It was however just brilliant. For the remainder of the day we luxuriated in 23 degree coolness, while the world outside had to deal with temperatures still exceeding 39 degrees until the southerly change hit around 8.30pm, saving the day for all.

I really felt for Helen. She had missed having to work last Tuesday when the last heatwave hit, but no such luck today, and she was an overheated mess when she arrived home at 2.30pm. We got her water from the freezer and other things to cool her down, and after a shower she seemed a little like her old self.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Modern Family?

I guess this is occurring more now that the kids are still on school holidays, but this tickled my funny bone this evening.

With the Australian Open tennis having started yesterday, there are night session on TV every night for the next two weeks. And combined with Australia's ODI series against Sri Lanka, and the Big Bash League semi-finals, I have plenty of sport to keep me occupied.

So, as I amused myself watching the Great Aussie Poser, Bernard Tomic, blitz the crap out of some poor South American, and watching Will Sheridan's Melbourne Renegades go from top of the ladder to losing their semi-final against the Brisbane Heat, I was left on my lonesome.
The kids withdrew to their rumpus area and watched "Cars" followed by "Cars 2". Helen withdrew to the Metal Cavern, and watched a movie ("Love Happens" with Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart, which looked awful).
So everyone was separated into their separate rooms, and were not disturbed until I told the kid at 9.40pm it was waaaaaay past their bedtime.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Albion Park Show 2013

Yesterday we all made our annual pilgrimage to the Albion Park Show. The temperature was forecast to soar to 39 degrees once again, and there was also a total fire ban in force, which meant that it was probable that the fireworks would have to be cancelled this year.

Helen decided that a 12.30pm start was appropriate, and was also hoping to stay until the end of the fireworks and demolition derby, which meant it was going to be an even longer day than normal. Probably too long for me!

Having checked out our mate the Reptile Man with his collection of snakes and trivia, we headed down to the woodchopping, meeting Nana and Pop as well as Aunty Pat and Uncle John.

Setting up at the woodchopping arena
L to R: Pat, John, Helen, Christine, Josh, Jessica, Bill, Chris. Maddi took the photo.

After the initial section we headed off to the pavillions to check out all the entries in all of the divisions, especially to see the kids and Helen's entries. After last year's haul, we didn't expect anything significant this year, which proved to be the case. However, there seemed to be a LOT more entires in the kid's sections this year, and even thoough some of them didn't actually satisfy the curriculum that was set out in the rules of the competition, these were still awarded prizes. seemed a little unfair, given our kids had been entered to the letter of the "law".
And then Helen's entry was absolutely robbed. In the Xmas section, as seen in the photo below, the 'winning' entry is the tree on the left, while Helen's entry, the Xmas Advent Calendar was deemed as second place. What a rort! Throughout December, Helen had placed a cross-stitched designed sock a day on the tree, which contained a different gift each day for the kids. One day a chocolate Santa, the enxt a candy cane, the next a coloured pen, and so on. This was - COMPLETELY OBVIOUSLY -  the best entry in this catagory, and she only got 2nd place. A joke.

2nd Place my arse...
From here we moved into Sideshow Alley for the kids to have their way with the rides and sideshows.
Both of the girls wanted to go on the Bungee Trampolines, and had a great time. They then both went into the Maze of Mirrors, and unfortunately (for their father) found their way out far too quickly for the money it cost to go in. Josh then had a go at the fishing game, and managed to snare a reasonable prize by doing so. We then moseyed on over to the Dodgem Cars, which Helen and I though would be a cinch to get Josh onto. However, he just didn't want a bar of it, and so the girls had a go together which they both enjoyed. Josh instead wanted to have a go on the clown faces game, where he once again snared a better-than-average prize from.

The girls then wanted to head off to the petting zoo, where they were once again able to pet baby ducks and rabbits and lambs and the such. Josh and I hung around for awhile before heading over to the main arena, where we saw the motorbikes doing their stuff. Maddi turned out to be almost impossible to budge, hanging in for about an hour before finally being convinced to leave.

Settled into the main arena, we saw the stunt motorcyclists, and the vintage speedway cars, and some horse stuff that was a little mystifying. All of this led up to the annual Demolition Derby, which was as damaging as always.

The fireworks display followed this, and was as spectacular as ever. Photos cannot ever reproduce how wonderful it was, but here's a couple to try.

We didn't get in the door until 10.15pm after a long long day. The kids were asleep the second their heads hit the pillow, and didn't rise until after 8.00am, a very unusual thing.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

41.7 Degrees

Quite a day. Lucky for Helen and the kids they could spend the day at the pool, and then in air conditioned comfort.

The hottest it got all day - at 5.00pm!

Still above 40 degrees at 7.00pm!

And still bloody warm at 8.15pm

Angry sky at 8.00pm, but no threat of rain.

Helen pumps some water into the vegies, but alas they are unlikely to have survived.


M.J Rowles at Albion Park on a nice sunny day.
It is impossible to explain how hot is was standing there taking this photo...

Shane Watson - It's Not Your Bloody Decision!

For the past seven years, various captains, coaches and selection panels have been trying their utmost to shoehorn Shane Watson into the Test team, at any cost, including the very success of the team itself.

Just days before the start of the 2006/07 Ashes series in Brisbane, Shane Watson had been inked in to bat at six and bowl overs, and Mitch Johnson was preparing for his Test debut. In the weeks leading up to this Test, Watson has let it be known that he thinks he is the man to open the batting in the Test team, given that Justin Langer appears out of sorts.Many thought this to be foolhardy. I certainly did.
Then (surprise, surprise) Watson got injured during training, and was unfit for the match. Michael Clarke came in to replace him, and Stuart Clark was chosen instead of Johnson because of his perceived accuracy as against Johnson's waywardness. As a result, Clarke averaged more than 50 for the series, Clark topped the bowling, and Australia won the series 5-0. Thank goodness for small mercies.

Shoot forward to 2009. Australia lose the 2nd Test at Lord's for the first time in almost a hundred years, after their bowlers were unable to finish off England's tail in the 1st Test. England lead the series 1-0 when, realistically, Australia should be at least 1-0 up. Wunderkind Phil Hughes, who just months earlier became the youngest batsman to score centuries in each innings of a Test match, is suddenly usurped in order to fit in Shane Watson, a middle-order all-rounder of sorts, into the side as an opening batsman. Watson has again been sending around the message that he is ready to be Australia's opening batsman, and has now somehow fulfilled that prophecy. The result of the series is again decided by selections, though this time by leaving out a spinner on the dusty track at The Oval, Australia surrender the Ashes. One can only imagine how Hughes' confidence has been shattered by his swift removal from the team despite still averaging over 45 in Test cricket.

Over the next two years and a half years he played 16 Tests, scoring 1456 runs at 50.20 with the bat with two centuries, and 29 wickets at 27.72 with the ball. His problem continued to be his inability to convert starts into big scores, and the constant threat of breaking down when he bowled. In essence, he did not make the most of the good form he showed.

Now though, he seems to be playing on fumes. In the last two years, he has played 12 Tests, scoring just 611 runs at 27.77, with no centuries. No one who has played in that period has survived the axe with a similar record. Phil Hughes was dropped after 11 Tests brought 563 runs at 28.15 (before his re-appearance in December). Marcus North managed 14 Tests with a return of 644 runs at 29.27. Usman Khawaja was given just 6 Tests for his 263 runs at 29.22. Shaun Marsh cobbled together 7 Tests for 301 runs at 27.36.

None of these mentioned players has a worse record than Shane Watson. Of course, up until now, the captain/coach/selectors have always harped on that it is his all-round skills that he is chosen for, the fact that his more-than-handy bowling is essential to the team's balance. But now Watson/coach/selectors are making sure the media knows that he wants to be selected as a batsman only, and that he feels he is the person to open the batting again. The NERVE of this guy!! It obviously isn't enough that he has received preferential treatment at the hands of the selectors in the past, now he is starting up the machine once again in an attempt to find his way back into the Test team.
It isn't unheard of for allrounders to eventually give away their bowling due to injury and concentrate on their batting. Steve Waugh is the obvious example of this. Of course, at the time Waugh was averaging about 60 with the bat in Test cricket, and his place was assured.
And so Watson has targeted Ed Cowan's place in the Test team. Cowan has received some grief of late because he averages in the mid-thirties (like Watson), but doesn't dominate attacks in the way that Watson apparently does. Cowan has scored 722 runs at 32.81 in his 13 Tests. While that isn't startling, is it worth of being replaced by a batsman who has averaged less than that over the past two years?
There is no doubt that it would be preferential for the team if the opening partnership contained a left and a right handed batsman. That would be one of the things in the selectors mind as they weigh up this 'dilemma'.

In the long run, what makes me angry about all of this is that on the surface, it looks as though one player who has fairly average stats in Test cricket is constantly getting a better deal than every other player in and outside of the Test team. The stats above show that every other batsman who has similar statistics has been excused from the team, bar one.

With Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey now both gone from the Australian team, it is now time for a complete revamp, and that means making Shane Watson earn his recall to the Teat team through weight of runs in first class cricket. Until he has proven he can do this, AND not get injured in the process, he should not be selected.

Of course, you and I know that that isn't going to happen...

The Start of the Catastrophic Weather Day?

I don't really know how this is going to end up, but here is how Albion Park looked this morning, given that it is predicted that we are going to reach 44 degrees today...

The temperature at 6.30am this morning

The view from the Deck at 5.45am this morning.

The view from MJ Rowles Albion Park looking south east at 6.30am

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Look ODI Team Not to Everyone's Fancy

ODI Squad for first two matches against Sri Lanka.

George Bailey (capt)
Phillip Hughes
Usman Khawaja
Aaron Finch
David Hussey
Brad Haddin (wk)
Glenn Maxwell
Steven Smith
Mitchell Johnson
Ben Cutting
Mitchell Starc
Clint McKay
Xavier Doherty.

There has been quite an uproar about this team, in the main because the selectors have chosen to leave out Mike Hussey after his announcement that he will retire from all International cricket at the conclusion of the Australian season.

Haddin Back, Selectors Axe Hussey

So let's go through the sore points and see what we can discover:

  • George Bailey as captain as the team. Well to be honest, isn't this just logical? Michael Clarke needs to rest. He needs to be fully fit for the Test tours of India and England. Bailey has only failed on two occasions to make double figures in ODI cricket, at an average of 40 and a strike rate of 77. As a result he is assured of his position in the team, despite what many may think. he has also shown himself to be a good captain, both with Tasmania and with the national T20 team. Having lost the experience of both Ponting and Hussey, Bailey is the best qualified person in the team make-up to take on the captaincy.
  • Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaja have been two of the top three batsmen in domestic one day cricket this summer (with Aaron Finch the third), so on form their selection is justified. There is also no doubt that the selectors want these two both playing longer innings than the Big Bash would allow them, given that both are very likely to be chosen on the next two Test tours. They both need time in the middle, even if that is only in a 50 over game rather than a 20 over game.
  • Whether both Warner and Wade need a rest is open to question. Warner is in good form and is perhaps our best fielder. Resting him now seems a bit odd, surely a rest closer to the Indian tour would suit him better. I would have thought Wade needs the remedial work on his keeping after a somewhat shoddy display overall with the gloves in the Tests. Giving Haddin a couple of games back in the national colours won't hurt.
  • Maxwell and Smith are both playing for the same spot in the team. Given Smith has reneged on his bowling in recent times a-la Cameron White, it would seem he is a fill in.
  • Ben Cutting deserves a chance at International level, but he has been hosed on at least three occasions this season in one day cricket. It seems a strange point at which to give him a game. He appears to have been chosen more for his rear-end slogging that his bowling. He and McKay would also appear to be dueling for the same spot in the team.
With the retirements of both Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey, and the injuries to Michael Clarke and Shane Watson, that means that four of the top six from Australia's ODI team from 12 months ago are currently unavailable. Last year Peter Forrest was given an extended run in the ODI team, which brought one century and some other promising starts, before he failed to produce in the West Indies and England. George Bailey now filled that gap, with opinion varied as to his success or failure in that position. New players need to be found as the team continues to grow older - Clarke, Watson, Bailey and David Hussey all resides over the age of 30.

Australia's success or failure in the ten ODI's coming up against Sri Lanka and West Indies may decide the fates of a number of players. More than ever, however, what it does show is that form with either bat or ball can propel you into the national team, and at the moment even quicker than has been the case in the past twenty years.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

"Why is Golf Called Golf?!"

Another belter of a day, though with little breeze to cool everything down. Breakfast was again held on the deck, with some sad and mournful thoughts of having to return to work tomorrow being the order of the morning.

Maddi had a birthday party to attend today, as it happens at the mini-golf set-up at the driving range at Primbee. This worked out fairly well, as Helen has been wanting to have a go at golf, and so we all decided to go. We left Maddi with her fellow partyers while we all headed out onto the range.
Strangely enough, Helen couldn't understand why, after hitting 10 or 12 balls, that she wasn't hitting her driver 300 yards straight down the middle of the fairway. Then, when the onset of a blister on her hand brought on the conclusion of her first attempt at golf some 150 balls later, she was disappointed.
Jess and Josh also had their first go at driving a golf ball with specially modified clubs courtesy of the pro, and they had a great time also.

Better yet, Helen also finally learned why golf is CALLED golf.
It's because "F*#K" was already taken.

Afterwards (even though their father/husband would have preferred to have gone home and watched the cricket) we headed to Little Lake in Warilla for a paddle to cool down after a warm day.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Stop the Presses! Someone's in the Water!

Just to prove that it is possible for me to actually go into water without melting like the Witches of Oz, we all headed back down to Albion Park pool this morning for another dip for an hour or so. As Helen sunned herself on the edge of the pool, I was forced to take the plunge to keep the children happy.

Josh has been improving his swimming at Sue's Swim School, and so today we worked on it some more, with and without kickboard. By the end he was swimming halfway across the pool to me and then back to the edge, so he's doing OK for a Peters male in regards to swimming.

We had coffee and/or Milo on the Deck on our return home, which was then followed by sausage sizzle for lunch on the Deck, with a lovely breeze keeping our temperatures down to high 20's while most other places in the country are experiencing almost 40 degree days.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Grocery Shopping and Test Match at Peters Stadium

We had a wonderful family outing today. It was a family shopping trip to Albion Park Woolworths for groceries. How lucky our kids are, being taken to exotic places and bought luxury items!

WOOOOO!!! New washing basket!!!

Having sacrificed one session of the 3rd Test to do the shopping, I then sacrificed the first hour of the last session in order to satisfy Joshua's continuing fascinationg with cricket - the playing side of cricket.
It was tough, make no bones about it. The wicket deifinitely requires some rain, but all in all the dustbowl played well. Josh compared it to playing in a desert, and the two bottles of water he skulled at the end of play were testament to that.