Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Kids School Disco

Time for another school disco for the kids.

Maddi and Josh both go to the same disco, and had a great time.

Jessie goes to the following disco, and thought that none of her friends were going to be attending, but thankfully her best friend Ella did show up. She came home red in the face and somewhat exhausted, so I'm pretty sure she had a good time.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Peters Championship - More Crap For Bill

Sunday arvo calls for some more family games, and once again it was Let's Make Daddy Last games as well.

We played a couple of games of Uno, which were duly won by Josh (despite his continued ability to forget to say "UNO!" when he plays his penultimate card) and of course, Helen.

From here we moved on to Skip-Bo, where at one stage Josh was taking us apart. However, after a late surge, it was Madeleine who ended up winning and taking the major points.

Madeleine anticipating her big win in Skip-Bo

Josh shreds away on air guitar to 80's pop on the iPod

Josh showing his confidence in winning Skip-Bo. It did not come to pass.

... and then headbanging to "The Final Countdown"
So today's points  were awarded as such:

5 - Maddi
4 - Josh
3 - Helen
2 - Jess
1 - Bill

Points after five rounds of the Peters Championship are:

18.5 - Josh
18 - Helen
15 - Jess
15 - Maddi
8.5 - Bill

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Happy 40th Birthday Kevin Moon!

Our whole family was lucky enough to be invited to the combined birthday bash for Natalie Moon's 5th birthday, and daddy Kevin Moon's 40th birthday.
As their home is so close to ours, we were able to talk a casual 15  minute walk up to their house, negating the necessity for one of either Helen or myself to have to drive. What a marvellous idea when you are drinking Kevin's alcohol!

Kevin in a sober moment
A jumping castle was on site for all the kids... although a number of so-called adults also had their turn.

We all had a great afternoon/evening. The kids ran riot, barely stopped to eat or drink and had a great time. Helen and I made a hefty withdrawal from the Moon Alcohol Reserves, and we were then all able to take the casual stroll home again. Terrific. Well done Kevin and Helen, a party well produced.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The World Game on Postecoglou's Shoulders

After a period of unrest, which included Australia's tougher-than-expected course through to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, then subsequent 6-0 thrashing at the hands of both Brazil and France in friendlies, before the axing of coach Holger Osieck and some unflattering words from skipper Lucas Neill, Football Federation Australia (FFA) has made a positive and encouraging move in appointing Ange Postecoglou to a five year contract as head of coach of the Socceroos.

Ange Postecoglou Announced as Socceroos Coach - ABC News

Whether the spirit around the squad is down or there were problems with the German coach, it is a good time to go with an Australian coach. Postecoglou has had unrivalled success in the local leagues, leading South Melbourne to two NSL titles in the 1990's before taking the reins of the Australian Under 20's team for seven years. He then returned to lead Brisbane to two A-League titles. His grounding has been extensive and thorough, and he has always given the impression that he rarely gets flustered and is also hugely invested in the teams he has been in charge of. This is exactly what the national team needs now.

How he goes about inspiring and reinventing the team should be very interesting. He has a huge job ahead of him in getting a competitive and enthusiastic unit together for the World Cup, before turning his sights towards the Asia Cup, and the regenerating of the team over the next couple of years. From the outside, it would appear that in Ange we have just the man for the job.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Folly of Choosing a Test Team on One Day Form

Four weeks out from what shapes as a defining Ashes series in regards to Australia's future prospects in the next couple of seasons, and the tabloids and experts have thrown away common sense and sensible selection policy in the race to push forward any batsmen with a semblance of form in the current one day series, whether it be in the ODI series in India, or the shortened Ryobi Cup taking place in the suburbs of Sydney.

Now, perhaps those who are on the National Selection Panel (NSP) are taking a much more firm fisted approach to this, but the media has gone crazy, and it is difficult to find any degree of intelligent cricket journalism in the current climate.

Having just seen the destruction of our batting line-up in England by excellent seam, swing and spin bowling, there is little doubt that we need to ensure that our batsmen are fundamentally secure in defence, especially against swing and seam early and then spin later on, are canny enough to work the ones and twos to not only rotate the strike but to build the total calmly and sensibly, as well as being able to put the bad ball away to the boundary. It doesn't have to be pretty and fast (cue Chris Rogers efforts), and you have to be prepared that you are going to be knocked over by the odd unplayable delivery (cue Michael Clarke vs. James Anderson and Stuart Broad).
With this in mind, how on earth are our 'expert' cricket writers and commentators taking the efforts in these one day games as a serious pointer towards Test selection? In India, the wickets have been flatter than any seen in the Test series there six months ago, and the has been almost zero movement with the two new balls they have been using. The fields have been spread from the first instant, putting almost no pressure on the batsmen. After taking five or six overs to get the sheen off the balls, it has been pretty much open slather, as all bowlers fail to find a way to use their brains when it comes to bowling at batsmen who are just slogging over or to the fence.
"Aaron Finch a leading contender for Test openers role". "Faulkner and Maxwell fight for Test all-rounder spot". "George Bailey nails down Test Number 6 position". Seriously?!? Who the hell writes this crap? Has anyone had a peek at the recent first class records of these players? Finch and Bailey both averaged under 30 last season with the bat, perhaps showing that on flat tracks against motionless deliveries they can thrive, but on decks doing a bit they face the same traumas as everyone else. Faulkner and Maxwell are both looking at bowling positions, and while Faulkner has form on the board in both modes of cricket, surely Maxwell is a long way back in the spin bowling queue. Form in the ODI arena may well help with the individuals confidence, but if they cannot produce the goods on their return to Shield cricket in a couple of weeks then they SHOULD not be considered for that 1st Test squad.
It's the same back in Sydney. Shaun Marsh and David Warner have both scored centuries in the past week, and their causes have been pushed hard because of it. By scoring tons on flat decks and the miniscule boundaries of North Sydney Oval. Sure they've been entertaining innings, but did either look as though they were prepared to take on Anderson and Broad on a first day seamer at the 'Gabba? Nice to have some runs on the board guys, but if they fail in their chance at Shield level, can they honestly be chosen on the form from domestic one day cricket? And, given the case of pushing players on local form, then why haven't Michael Klinger and Cameron White been afforded the same opportunity? Klinger topped the aggregates in the Ryobi Cup with 380 runs, including two fifties and a century, while Cam White played five games, and scored five half centuries. Because of their age? Because it's just one day cricket? because they have been discarded from selection talk for good?

If I was a selector, I would be cautiously optimistic about the form shown by many of the batsmen in the one day series taking place. But, in the lead up to those all-important Sheffield Shield matches coming up, I would have the following thoughts beforehand.

David Warner. Has not only acted out of order off the field, but has been out of form on it in recent International appearances. Has been pinned to crease in last 6-8 Test matches which is leading to his downfall. I want to see him using the crease more, both forward and back, and not just shuffling, to offset the bowlers attack on him. His fielding has also suffered. He needs to rediscover his mojo before being given a chance to resurrect his Test career. Be positive in all movements at the crease without being arrogant.

Aaron Finch. Has shown he can play well in short formats of the game, but still yet to prove he can play long innings consistently at 4-5 day level. I want to see him see off a new ball attack, I want to see him survive the first session of a match, and I want to see him carry on after the break. Like Warner he is not a natural or classic opener, but he needs to be able to provide these attributes to prove he deserves a shot at the Test team.

Shaun Marsh. Was chosen two years ago after injury purely on form in T20 cricket, and then failed to reached double figures in four Tests against India. has been injured and in trouble off the field in the 18 months since then. His technique has been shown to be brittle, but also he showed in Sri Lanka he has the patience and ability to perform. NSP has noted him as their preferred option at opener. Runs and stability in Shield matches would likely see him in the 12 for Brisbane, but must show he can see off the new ball or it makes it difficult to choose him against England's seam attack.

Phil Hughes. Take him or leave him on trust. If you are not a fan of his technique and his way of going about getting runs, then you would never pick him again. If you are someone who looks past the technique and sees the timing of his stroke play you would pick him and look past the ugliness of some of his dismissals. Has had some tough calls against him. He looks to be behind others at the moment, but if he comes home from India and dominates in the Shield warm-ups he has to be seriously considered once again. I am an unabashed Phil Hughes supporter, because I cannot believe that someone who dominated at such a young age does not have the ability to do so now in his mid-twenties. Would need to prove worth with first-class runs to get that chance, however.

George Bailey. If Michael Clarke is unfit for Brisbane, Bailey becomes a big chance to play as an experienced middle order player with leadership experience, traits that in that instance would negate his poor recent first class record, though I would retain Brad Haddin as captain. If Clarke is fit then Bailey would be competing for the number six position, and like all other contenders would need to score big runs in the first class arena to force his way into the team. I would think his only chance is if Clarke doesn't play.

Usman Khawaja. Has played well in the Ryobi Cup, and has looked to be more attacking, which he failed to do in his opportunity in the Tests in England. However, he has still looked uncomfortable and clueless against spin bowling, which eventually cost him his spot in England. To be honest, despite his ordinary managing by team hierarchy and selectors over the last 12 months, in which he watched rather than played a lot of cricket, he needs another 12 months of heavy scoring to put himself back in the frame for the Test team, something he has admitted himself.

Cameron White. Not as far out of the reckoning as some may have him. His sensible and building form in the Ryobi Cup has shown he is still able to do the job required. Having been relieved of the Victorian captaincy, he seems to be benefitting from concentrating on his batting alone. The number six batting spot in the Test team is beckoning, and his experience would be very handy as well as his explosiveness in the middle order. A good slip fieldsman, a good head on his shoulders, plays spin well, and bowls an occasional rough leggie. If I was a selector I would be hoping to see him score a century in the Shield. If he did, he would be my pick. Once again, the Shield form will be the key to selection.

The rest, including Adam Voges, Michael Klinger, Matthew Wade, Nic Maddinson et al. Despite their form in the short game, all of these guys have something against them, whether it be age or no long-term runs or that one is supposed to be a wicket-keeper. Only a glut of runs will get them a shot at the team, but if they happen to do that, then their case would have to be seriously considered.

The bowling is not short on similar circumstances, but perhaps that is a story for another day.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Trio of Amazing Events

Australia was on the brink of losing the third ODI against India on Saturday, requiring 44 runs from the final 18 balls. Then James Faulkner took 30 runs from Ishant Sharma in the 48th over, and the rest was history.

Australia's Tim Cahill scored the fastest ever goal in MLS (US soccer) history, scoring eight seconds after the kick-off. Amazing stuff.

And in the NHL (US ice hockey), for only the 10th time in 96 years, a goalie has scored a goal.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

1st Peters Championship - Round 4: Dominoes

Round Four of the Peters Championships followed on closely after Round Three, and cam in the form of Dominoes.

Following on typical fashion, it was Josh who became champion, adding the Domino Championship to his earlier Skip-Bo Championship. the big surprise was Helen faltering and actually finishing last, which has brought her right back to the field in the Peters Championship rankings.

Points for the Dominoes Championship were awarded as such:

5 - Josh
4 - Jess
3 - Maddi
2 - Bill
1 - Helen

Points after four rounds of the Peters Championship are:

15 - Helen
14.5 - Josh
13 - Jess
10 - Maddi
7.5 - Bill

1st Peters Championship - Round 3: Trouble

Round 3 of the 1st Peters Championship involved that well known family favourite, Trouble.
It required a little bit of tinkering with five players, but by simply giving everyone three counters instead of four, we made it work.

Once again, it was Helen who came out on top, adding the Trouble Championship to her Uno Championship. Other placing became superfluous as the father once again failed to perform.

Points for the Trouble Championship were awarded as such:

5 - Helen
4 - Jess
3 - Maddi
2 - Josh
1 - Bill

Points after three rounds of the Peters Championship are:

14 - Helen
9.5 - Josh
9 - Jess
7 - Maddi
5.5 - Bill

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bushfire Blowback

What with the bushfires still blazing away in the Southern Highlands, Newcastle and Blue Mountains, and also a great deal of backburning being done in order to contain these fires, all of that smoke has found its way into our valley and can't find a way out, meaning the strong smell of smoke as well as impaired vision all around. We haven't been able to see the mountains from our house for over a day. Quite remarkable.

View from our deck to the east, Saturday morning 7.00am

View from our deck to the north, Saturday morning 7.00am

View from Cavalier Park to the west, Saturday evening 6.00pm

Jessie in Birthday Gear

Yet another example of how quickly Jessie is growing up. Here she is dressed up ready to go ten pin bowling for her friend Soren's birthday. Beautiful girl that she is.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bandana Day

The kids had bandana day at school today, another fund raising exercise that sucks money from our pockets, all for good causes of course but still a drain.
With Maddi still sick from tonsilitis that has had her at home all week, she didn't attend, but the other two were happy with their look.

A Tad Smoky

Pretty fair bushfire blazing up in the highlands up around Tahmoor. Apparently as I type this it is about to cross and therefore shut down the Hume Highway, on its way to lots more timber to take care of.

It's amazing viewing here from work at Albion Park. You would swear it was just over the hill with all of the smoke blown here. Amazing.

The view from home at 5.00pm

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

1st Peters Championship - Round 2: Skip-Bo Championship

What?! You've never heard of Skip-Bo? Well, time for you to digest the facts and the rules! Skip-Bo rules can be found here.

So, with Helen having won Round One of the Peters Championship, and Bill having never played Skip-Bo before, it was set for an interesting match. Unfortunately, we began a little later than we should have (7.00pm) and so, with the game still going at 8.05pm on a school night, we had to tie the game up, and award the match to the person who had the least number of cards left in their pile. And the winner through this was Josh, who became the first official holder of Peters Skip-Bo Champion.

Points for the Skip-Bo Championship were awarded as such:

5 - Josh
4 - Helen
3 - Maddi
2 - Bill
1 - Jess

Points after two rounds of the Peters Championship are:

9 - Helen
7.5 - Josh
5 - Jess
4.5 - Bill
4 - Maddi

"King" Arthur Returns to Seek Eels' Holy Grail

Parramatta have today finally decided on a coach to replace the departure of the fallen idol with the feet of clay Ricky Stuart. But, in a way that only Parramatta can supply, they managed to completely stuff up the process once again, and create a media clown show for all to see.

Having interviewed a number of candidates (though not the candidacy of Eels legends Ray Price and Brett Kenny who mooted interest in the position), the board's vote was split as to which former fill-in coach of the Eels, Jason Taylor and Brad Arthur, should get the gig as a full time coach. Then, apparently at the last minute, Jason Taylor withdrew his candidacy when he could not be guaranteed everything that he felt he needed in order to do the job. Thus, it was Brad Arthur, who had the reigns for the final six matches of the 2012 season after Stephen Kearney was sacked and before Ricky Stuart was appointed, who had been named as the coach for the next three seasons. If he gets that far, he will be the first Parramatta coach since Brian Smith to last longer than two seasons.

So what does that leave ahead for Parramatta fans? Following the Miracle of 2009 the Eels could not produce a similar finish in 2010 and missed the finals, and have since finished 15th, 16th and 16th. The fans proclaimed the arrival of Stuart, and supported his blunt appraisal that things would get worse before they got better, but he promised a revival. He told up to 17 players halfway through the season that they were surplus to requirement for 2014, by posting their names on the wall in front of all their teammates, but the fans supported him. Through it all, the fans took on Stuart's philosophy, wearing the jibes of all other Club's supporters in the belief of a better future. And then the man who put it all into place decided it was too hard, and jumped on the first available ship to Canberra.

In Brad Arthur the Eels have a man who is popular amongst those that have survived the 12 months since he moved to Manly to become an assistant. They have some new blood coming in who will hopefully add starch to the defense and bite to the attack. No doubt the fans will, once again, be asked to be patient, and allow the new coach to settle in and put his stamp on the playing group. That's all and good, but since Brian Smith was sacked in 2006, they have had Jason Taylor for a few games, before similar comments and guarantees were offered by Michael Hagan (2007-08), Daniel Anderson (2009-10) and Stephen Kearney (2011-12).
To be honest, the player recruitment and retention at Parramatta has been disgraceful for over a decade, and perhaps this is the first place Arthur should start to clean out the place. They need to keep their good kids, find some experience to put around them, and stick with them for a couple of seasons and let them find their feet. Only then can the Eels begin their slow crawl from the basement to once again be a challenger for a finals position.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Helen's Garden

Though we are in desperate need for rain, Helen and the kids have bought and planted some more seedlings, and the sweet peas are going off!! There's no doubt about my little horticulturalist, she knows what she's doing and does a great job on our gardens.

1st Peters Championship - Round 1: Uno Championship

We've taken on a new regime in the Peters household, all of which will eventually lead to a Champion of the World being crowned over a number of different games and activities.

Tonight we held the first official Uno championship, with (surprise surprise) Helen Peters holding on to be the first officially crowned winner. She triumphed with three points, with Jessica running a close second on two points, Josh and Bill managing a point, while Maddi, who found herself sandwiched between the Draw Two Queens Helen and Jess, failed to have less than seven cards in her hand at any time.

I'm still to decide how and what will be involved in all this, but the kids and the adults had a good time this evening, so it will hopefully be a fun thing.

Points for the Uno Championship were awarded as such:

5 - Helen
4 - Jess
2.5 - Josh
2.5 - Bill
1 - Maddi

Points after one round of the Peters Championship are:

5 - Helen
4 - Jess
2.5 - Josh
2.5 - Bill
1 - Maddi

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Josh and his Globe

It's not Josh's birthday for a couple of weeks yet, but with Mum and Dad heading overseas (again) to India next Saturday, they gave him his birthday present early as they won't be in the country. It's a world globe, something Josh has been asking for. What is even better is that since he got it, he has barely been parted from it. This morning he wanted a drink on the Deck, and to look over his globe.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Vale: Tom Cincotta

Helen and I today attended the funeral of Tom Cincotta, the father of my one of my few close friends, John.

Funerals are a natural course of everyone's lives, and attending them is never a joyous occasion. What perhaps made this one more significant to me was that, from my circle of friends that I have grown up with through school and into the present, Tom was the first of any of our parents to pass on. Though 67 is not an old age in these days, it brought home to us more heavily a taste of our own mortality, and also that our parents are no spring chickens either, and that it could have been any of them that had gone first, or indeed, would be the second to go. I'm not trying to be morbid or to provoke dark thoughts, rather just explain the feeling that came over me when Bono first broke the news to me.

Tom's family did him proud on the day. His kids, and his grandkids, all did the things they had to do well. Bono gave an excellent eulogy, not over the top, but giving a wonderful appraisal of Tom's life. A man who had been in the seminary, who had left and fallen in love, married and had children. Who started with a milkrun, and then bought into more milkruns. Who had then gotten into franchises, opening Big Rooster stores all down the south coast of NSW. Who had sold out to Red Rooster at the right time, and then lost almost everything when his next venture Antoms was unfortunately beset by financial problems. Then starting from scratch he was involved in the florist his children moved into in Parramatta, before then settling into Sit n' Chats Cafe at Westmead, where he was working until recent weeks.

A couple of our own stories highlight for me who Tom was. Kearo's favourite story was always when he went over to see if Bono was home one day. Tom met him and asked him "Do you know how to push a lawnmower?". When the reply came in the affirmative, Tom said, "Great, well here you go!", and Kearo got to mow the Cincotta's lawn. Great stuff. For me, there was always the threat of having to pick fireweed at the Curramore residence they bought. Any question as to whether or not I was busy on any weekend was always met with a response of either cricket or golf commitments, in order to avoid having to join the family outing of hand-clearing the property of the pain in the arse weed. Many times this was an honest response, but there were certainly occasions when the truth was stretched to the very limit.
I generally found Tom easy to talk to, though as I was usually with Joel when we saw him the conversation would usually move to the two of them after a short while, as they often had more in common to talk about. Tom was always interested in the work I was involved in, and the ins and outs of any industry I was working in.

So. Vale Tom Cincotta. He was one of the hardest working men I have known, and whose working philosophies and ethics have been instilled in his eldest son. I only hope that his eldest son will learn one lesson, and know when it is time to stop working and enjoy his own family and the rest of his life before anything untoward happens to him.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


I managed to survive another birthday, and though it was mostly spent at work in my office on my lonesome, at least no one discovered what day it was. There's not many things worse than workmates knowing it's your birthday.

Mum and Dad came over after work, ostensibly to see me on my birthday (on most years they are overseas on another of their holidays) and to pass on my birthday present (punching bag and gloves - lose some weight Bill!). Dad also brought over a 2004 Tamberlaine Syrah, which was very easy to drink.

For dinner we had pepper steak and sauasages, chips and salad, one of my favourite meals. It was a lovely evening on the Deck, which is where we ate.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The In-Laws Move In

Since Monday afternoon our home has grown exponentially, with the addition of the Queensland Wades - Helen's sister Linda, her partner Martin and their three shared kids Ben, Katie and Fraser - having come down to visit. It has been twelve months since all of the cousins have seen each other, and the first time Fraser and our kids have met.

So it has been a raucous time, though with me being the sucker who goes to work every day I haven't been as close or involved in any of the antics.

BUT... it has been great to see all the cousins getting on so well. Josh and Fraser have really hit it off, being almost of the same age, and I have not seen them apart since Monday afternoon. Helen, who noticeably and outwardly misses her sister, seems to be having a great time too. And it was great to finally meet Martin, though we didn't have nearly enough time to really sit down and talk about the important things, like the effect Michael Clarke's back may have on Australian Cricket, and was Richard Hadlee actually a better bowler than Dennis Lillee? He was also looking to get down the nets and test out his bowling shoulder, which would have been interesting. Oh well, in January perhaps... :)