Given the fact that I am an adult born in the 70s and with a technical inclination, it would come as no surprise that I am a Star Wars geek. It has always very much been a private obsession since my childhood, but how could I not fall in love with X-Wings, lightsabers and Star Destroyers. In large part, the imagination of George Lucas pushed me onto my professional path – and I bet there are many other engineers of my vintage who would probably say the same. My childhood play was always trying to recreate the fantastical world of “a galaxy far, far, away.”

So when ‘The Pok’ (AKA my son) started to describe the Clone Wars in his adventures and play at daycare, I knew the time was right to indoctrinate him in the ways of the force. Particularly given that he was playing out these adventures without having seen any of the films or TV shows.

It got me thinking, “how should I do this?”

So on one of our Dad-Son Friday movie nights, I unleashed the ultimate weapon in the arsenal…

Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back!

Or at least the first third of it.

Let’s pause for a moment and contemplate the psychological assault that I was about to unleash as a parent on the mind of my four year old son. Here is the context of reality of his world.

  1. He lives in Australia, and has never seen snow. Deep morning frost, yes, snow and ice, never.
  2. The only things that he knows that fly are planes and helicopters (and his Mickey Mouse when he throws the rodent down the stairs – not really flying).
  3. What is an energy shield or power generator?
  4. As for armoured vehicles, they are pretty low to the ground and run on caterpillar tracks.
  5. The only things he know that cut are knives and blades, from the kitchen or my toolbox.
  6. Kangaroos bound around in the outback on two hind legs and have a tail.
  7. Robots in our world are a bit crap, and don’t levitate.
  8. The International Space Station is big, kinda… well not really. And it looks flimsy too.
  9. The only way you get better is by resting at home, visiting the doctor, or if really sick going to the hospital.
  10. If you make a mistake, you don’t get one more chance before you die.

So with these 10 items as my base of reference here is what left him speechless and stunned, forever changing his mind like a jedi mind trick.

The Opening Scene

Immediately proceeding the scroll, which as I read it out made no sense to him whatsoever, he sees a big spaceship (an Imperial Star Destroyer) shooting out rocket powered vehicles (which we soon find out to be Imperial Probe Droids) in different trajectories. The vehicle we follow is shoots off to a planet covered in ice – completely covered in ice (the ice planet of Hoth)!

So there goes reality number 1, number 2, and number 8 (with the last two properly getting sorted out later on).


The vehicle properly crashes in the ice planet and what emerges from the wreckage is an insect like robot (our starring Imperial Probe Droid), which… levitates! And it looks like it means business, nasty business with its sinister humming sounds.


There goes reality number 7.

Enter our Heroes

Immediately proceeding the sinister opening that pretty much sets the tone for where the film will go, we see a zooming aerial shot of the ice planet honing in on an animal with rider (none other than Luke Skywalker, farmboy, death star assassin, last Jedi knight, sister kisser, etc.). The animal is a horse size kangaroo with horns like a ram (a Taun taun, the trusty frozen planet steed of the Rebel Alliance). Time to throw away reality number 6. Not only that but these furry horned kangaroos are rideable, which contrary to popular belief we Australians do not have the pleasure of doing with ours.


Of course the big ice monster (Wampa – possibly one of my brothers in costume) emerges to whack Luke and his steed, and then try to go all carnivorous on them. And don’t forget that the other hero, Han Solo, rides the furry kangaroos too. Upon Han Solo’s return to the rebel military installation there is much talk discussion about the fact that Luke is missing. So Han goes out on his furry horned kangaroo to rescue him. Meanwhile Luke uses his blue glowing light sword (lightsaber) to cut himself from the hanging upside down from the ceiling, cut off a wampa arm, and then when Han finally does rescue him the sword is used to cut open his furry horned kangaroo belly. Scratch reality number 5 and begin eternal fascination with the most elegant weapon ever invented. Also cue the question that has been plaguing me since my childhood, “did Han shove in Luke headfirst? And if so, how did he breathe surround by all those guts?”


Rescue and Recovery

Our heroes are found again the next morning, by a team of pilots commandeering a bunch of flying, hovering, air speeder things (Rebel Alliance Snowspeeders). After all these years I still think that this is one of the best vehicle designs invented, though how aerodynamic they are leaves me wondering. The way the snowspeeders fly by hugging the terrain is just beautiful. Further reinforcement of new reality number 2.


When Luke is brought back to the medical bay, his recovery and recuperation is nothing short of otherworldly. He is hooked up to a breathing apparatus completely submerged in a tank of blue fluid (bacta tank) with robots monitoring and tending to him (2-1B medical droid and FX-7 medical droid), all while wearing the a pair of whities that would make Bridget Jones proud. How is it possible that one is fixed like this when sick or injured. Knock reality number 9 on the head. From now on, the Pok will cite the need to be tended by a medical droid when he needs fixing.


Discovery by the Galactic Empire

The master plot in the first third of the film is the pursuit of the Rebel Alliance by the Galactic Empire, and true to script they are discovered by that nasty levitating robot. This is where the sense of awestruck truly begins for my little guy, the introduction of the biggest spaceship he has ever seen. One so big that it casts shadows as it passes over the other smaller ones (which are themselves five times the length of a USN aircraft carrier).


Enter the Super Star Destroyer – the Executor. Flagship of the fleet, darker grey than the rest and no white space engines for this bad boy – all flaming orange. Soooo bad and truly beautiful!


Somebody recently tried to communicate the scale of this fictional space vehicle by overlaying it on the island of Manhattan. Now that is what I would call big! The bar has now been properly set for the new reality number 8.


Enter the Dark Lord Vader too, and he is a tough boss. His chief lieutenant overlooks the clue to finding the Rebel Alliance’s base, and he goes over the top of him to order his fleet to attack the enemy residing on the ice planet. There is a whole bunch of military gobbledygook that is spoken while the tension mounts for what is to be the big battle piece. In my boy’s world, no-one talks like that, and he now has a new set of phrases and terms added to his vocabulary. Then the poor Imperial officer, named Admiral Nozzle (or was it Ozzel – who knows…) makes mistake number two! When will people ever learn to not come out of hyperspace too close to a system? Cue the first addition to the body count in this film, with Darth Vader choking his officer… via Skype! WTF? Lesson to the unwise, don’t be clumsy and stupid and if some guy in a big black helmet / mask combo calls don’t answer. Reality number 10 – gone!


The Great Ice Battle

The preparations for the big attack in the snow begin. Pilots are briefed, troops rush to their stations. The key piece on the board is declared as the main power generator. Hmmmm… what could that possibly be. Evacuating ships launch off into space by opening shields, supported by a huge bulbous gun firing big energy bolts into thousands of kilometers into enemy ships. Zapping them into submission. He still has not said a word at this stage.

Then, the troops positioned in the trenches spot awestruck moment number two. “Echo Station 3T8, we’ve spotted Imperial Walkers.” Ginormous armoured dogs that walk like elephants and are bristling with laser guns (Imperial All Terrain – Armoured Transports, or AT-AT for short) are coming to get you.


You betcha, and a can of whip@ss is about to be unleashed. Reality number 4 is smashed out of the park and with the lumbering beasts becoming the true star of the movie for the next 10 minutes of movie magic.


In the ensuing battle, we bare witness to the second coolest aerial maneuver executed in movie history (some would argue that Maverick and Goose giving their Soviet counterparts the bird is the number one maneuver). Can you repeat after me, “Good shot Jansen.”? More importantly, who would have thought that this bit of flying was executed by a pilot named after a chunk of potato and a with all these laser guns they used a harpoon.


A bit more carnage and chaos occurs, followed by the lead walker reaching the main power generator and blowing it up with “Maximum Firepower”. You obviously need this amount of ordinance to blow up a main power generator – so that explains the new reality number 3. This makes the little holographic Dark Lord of the Sith happy, and the officer who scored the hit (General Maximillian Veers – the coolest name in the Star Wars universe) makes no mistake and doesn’t get choked to death by Skype.


And our Dark Lord gets to play in the ice cave base with his white hooded and kilted troops. A couple of them get whacked by the secret gun of the Millennium Falcon, but our heroes retreat to fight another day off into space (albeit with a great deal of misfortune to come in the final two thirds).  That is where I stopped the film, and where he finally came up for air and spoke for the first time by asking a several of incoherent questions simultaneously. My wife took over at that point and took him to his bed to hit the sack, where he proceeded to replay what he just witnessed in a two minute babble. He crashed and my wife asked me what did you just watch.

My Boy is now a Star Wars Geek

Some would call me a bad parent for indoctrinating him into the world of Star Wars, and yes there is some stylized violence in this film. But this is a fight between good and evil, where the good guys are good and the bad guys are so bad that they are cool. As for the psychological manipulation, guilty as charged. I have held back on showing him the more violent parts of the other movies, like the whole of Episode III, because he doesn’t have the emotional maturity to comprehend. That will come in time, when he gets a little bit older. He can figure out the sister kissing bit on his own.

He now plays Star Wars every day with his friends at pre-school and wants to watch the films and TV shows with his Dad. I don’t mind, as it sure beats watching Thomas the Tank Engine. Of course he has also asked that his fifth birthday party be a Star Wars party.

In his new reality he talks about hyperspace, shield generators, wants a lightsaber, and thinks that we should build an R2-D2. Maybe he makes some of these things a reality in our world in the future. But for the moment, he is still a preschooler and there is still a bit of silliness to be found in this Star Wars stuff thanks to Robot Chicken.

Closing note – all the images are the copyright of Disney – Lucasfilm. I could be forgiven for including the film screenshots in my blog post given the amount of money I have contributed to George Lucas through merchandising. If you want to copy the images, buy the films.

Been a long time away from the blog, but back to it. As usual nothing to say just the photo, and the first in a series of FFFs on Reflections.


This is how I will be spending my insomnia time during the month of July. Vive Le Tour de France 2015!


I never thought I would be posting this before my little girl Kiki had begun to walk, but here is my Friday Fone Foto. Kiki on her bike (quad bike), and she is loving it! Definitely Daddy’s girl.


I definitely can’t take the credit for this shot, but it definitely brought a smile to my face when my wife sent me the photo.

Our boy, AKA ‘The Pok’, has started to say some really funny things with the reasoning of a 4-year-old behind his musings. Some of it is hilarious, or just bizarre.

I never realised that becoming a parent would involve me having to give up large amounts of my part of the household food to the littlest mouths in the house. The Pok is always coming up to me with “big eyes” whenever I sit down to eat, with the phrase – “Daddy, I’m Hungry.” That is code for “Daddy, give me some of what you’re eating.”

So when my wife announced last weekend that she was cooking pancakes for breakfast, my sleep-in was interrupted by the need to protect my share of the yummy food. In the past he has stolen pancakes made for me before I could get to the breakfast table.

The Pok raced off downstairs after his mother as I yelled out to him, “[Pok], you are not having more pancakes than me this time!”

The reply – “But Dad, I am still growing and you are not.”

Such is my lot in life.

And I had to document the same “treachery” displayed at Easter this year on our fridge with regard to chocolate Easter buns – guess which one I am?



Another interesting take on Strava. For me it is not about chasing the KOM, but being able to chase my best performance and get a kick of enthusiasm to get out and ride by seeing my mates. But what this rider experienced is beyond cool. He might as well have hopped on a motor bike.

Originally posted on A Female Fitness Fixation:

Cycling for me is a leisure pursuit and a way to keep fit. It gives you the freedom to go somewhere. It’s about going on an awesome journey.

It’s part of my weekly exercise when our British weather permits and I really enjoy it. It’s also some reflective time for me to find a little corner of peace in my busy life.

In this spirit, today I went riding. Just a short one. The birds were tweeting, the hills were looking majestic in the distance. I was contemplating life, mulling over some work issues and, as always, thinking about what I would have for lunch. I was pushing relatively hard when my tranquility was disturbed by a screech down my ear of, ‘moooooooove….STRAAAAAAAAVA!’

I was already cycling next to the pavement, I had nowhere to go. My bike wobbled as a fully logoed and lycra’d rider came whooshing past me…

View original 694 more words

Lest We Forget – for all soldiers, their families and friends, both living and passed.


Our boy, AKA ‘The Pok’, has started to say some really funny things with the reasoning of a 4-year-old behind his musings. Some of it is hilarious, or just bizarre.

Our nightly ritual is to wash, brush, and read before we go to sleep. His current collection of books is not challenging his vocabulary or comprehension in any way – time for the next level. In the meantime I am trying to get him excited about some of the stupendous advancements in science, engineering, and technology.

What better way to do that than to show him a YouTube video from SpaceX. For those of you that don’t know, SpaceX is the company that Elon Musk (of PayPal fame) started after he made a windfall in the sale of his internet start up. They are doing amazing things by being a private company who are preparing to launch manned vehicles into space to not only dock with the International Space Station, but eventually to travel to Mars. My kids are about to grow up during the next space race, and I want them to share in these advances. So here is the video that we watched, a simulation of their second generation space craft, the Dragon V2.

I paused the video several times.

Father of Pok: “See those panels, they help get energy from the sun to make electricity” (the Dragon V2 solar panels)

Pok (sleepily): “That’s cool! Where is it going to?”

Next pause.

Father of Pok: “That is where it is going – the International Space Station. And it is flying above us right now.”

Pok (now intrigued): “Up in space?”

Father of Pok: “Yep, and it is going very fast circling us.”

Pok looking at all the modular components of space station.

Pok (puzzled): “Where do people live in the station?”

Father of Pok: “All those cylinders are the rooms in their space house.”

Pok laughed: “That’s funny Daddy, people living in space!”

We continued watching the video of the docking, separation, and then powered landing (uber-cool).

Then when it was all finished, and a pregnant pause, the Pok asked the most pressing question on his mind.

Pok: “How does the parcel man deliver them parcels?”

Elon Musk, you have your next employee living with me :-)


Last night in Sydney there was a chill that descended overnight. It can’t be coincidence that India lost in the Cricket World Cup semi-final last night to Australia. The thousands of fiery swami army fans left the SCG quite a bit cooler. Bring on Sunday.
BTW – this wasn’t from last night, but from the pool match between South Africa and West Indies where de Villiers went on a rampage.

With Summer gone and the long slow approach to Winter now set in, I love getting out on the bike. It is dark early in the morning, and the air is fresh and crisp. Call me a sadist, but I love it even more when it is wet. So when my riding buddy AC looked at the weather report for Sunday, wet and windy, my response was simple – “Let’s Roll!”

So as the spray was flying up from my wheels I got to thinking “why do I love riding in the wet so much?” Here are my 5 top reasons to roll in the wet.

1. It brings out your inner Belgian

Admit it – when you are watching the Belgian Spring Classics, and it is wet and muddy, don’t tell me that you are not a tiny bit jealous of how much fun those guys are having? And the crazy Belgian cycling fans enjoy watching the races with a beer in one hand and fried potatoes in the other. Extra kudos if your wet ride route will include some pavé. Extra extra kudos if you can ride like Boonen.

wip0407_102. It hones your riding skills

Wet road, the detritus of trees all about, puddles, potholes, and your rear wheel sliding out… all makes for a better rider. It is a pretty intense riding experience too because you are riding in a heightened sense of alert.

gty-4519078943. Keeps your core body temperature down

So long as you have a good gilet or waterproof shell, your body will remain cool. Except for that squelching sensation between your socks and boots – LOL. Compared to riding in the stinking hot Australian Summer and draining my bidons every 2 hours, I know what I prefer.

WRJ02-Loc-AW14-01BTW – look how happy she is to be riding :-)

4. The routes are empty

All the fair weather cyclists are nowhere to be seen. Mostly they are hiding under their [pick all that are applicable] doonahs, duvets, quilts, blankets. The fair weather car drivers are noticeably absent too.

nature_trees_forest_wet_roadsHeaven huh?

5. There is no excuse not to clean your bike afterwards

Every wet ride must be followed by some TLC for your steed. This is quality bonding time that you should cherish.


When all is said and done, at the end of a wet ride you feel a massive sense of achievement and joy, no matter how slowly you rolled to stay upright. You feel Iike you are ALIVE! Just ask Heinrich Haussler…


So next time rain is forecast for your ride, rug up, hi-viz up, and ride :-)

For the record, my wet Sunday ride was 50km of damp goodness.


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