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 :-)

Pok_Kiki-0103

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.
image
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.

How-to-Wash-Your-Bicycle

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…

WATSON_00002082-045-659x440

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.

My politics aside, you have to admit that someone has put a lot of effort and money to disparage our Prime Minister. And it very much reflects the dismal state of affairs in our houses of parliament.

FFF_Politics-0034

My recent Christmas holiday included Paris as our real travel destination. Paris is a city that I am quite familiar with having lived and worked there some years ago. It is a big, bustling, but also coy city. You might question the description, coy, but the majority of Parisiens keep to themselves and lead their lives in the midst of the Napoleonic grandeur doing their own thing.

So you can imagine my shock when we arrived only a few days in the wake of the tragedy of Charlie Hebdo. When the incidents occurred, we were over at Disneyland Paris and you could see an immediate and overt increase in Police and security presence. So when we got to the city centre for our last night before returning home, there was an uneasy feeling pervading the fabric of the city. Like I said, most Parisiens do their own thing and lead their own lives most of the time. Quite often neighbours have only one thing in common, that they are neighbours. But Charlie Hebdo was on everyone’s lips, and when red beret soldiers in flak jackets are walking around flaunting their automatic rifles around the prime tourist destinations something was up.

But I was not going to let that stop me or my family from touring the beautiful city of light. We stayed at the Pullman, Eiffel Tower and I wanted to walk around the locale of my old office. The tower itself was only a block away, right on our doorstep. Capturing it never gets tired.

Paris_20150110_0004

The Seine itself was quiet, but that was not surprising given it was the middle of Winter. As always there were several canal boats unassumingly moored on its banks.

Paris_20150110_0012

I was shocked to find the big ‘Je Suis Charlie’ banner draped on the Palais de Tokyo. Normally these pillars hold the banners for the latest exhibition of modern art.

Paris_20150110_0017

At Place d’Iena, the location of my old office, both the French and European Union flags flew at half mast in solidarity.

Paris_20150110_0021

I was surprised to see electric car charging booths on quite a few streets. I am a keen fan of Elon Musk’s Tesla, but these little electric buggies were new to me as were their berths. Maybe Australian politicians could learn a thing or two from where France is going with clean and sustainable transport. (I still want the Tesla – Model S P85D please…)

Paris_20150110_0019

Did I mention there were Police everywhere? If you look to the end of the platform you can see several gendarmes – they were everywhere.

Paris_20150110_0040

When we emerged out of the metro at the L’Arc de Triomphe, the first sight we were greeted with was… three burly gendarmes making their presence felt on the Champs-Élysées.

Paris_20150110_0043

The L’Arc de Triomphe itself was bearing the projection of solidarity for the whole city.

Paris_20150110_0046

Paris remains a city in love with movies since the time when Lumiere gifted the world with his new performance medium. There are more cinemas in Paris than there are pubs in Dublin.

Paris_20150110_0045

We were making our way to a restaurant that I dined at regularly when I was working there. Though it has changed hands and has a new proprietor Oscar remains a great restaurant which is well patroned by the locals. I think most tourists in Paris are hoodwinked by the overpriced eating establishments when all it takes is to walk off the main streets to find fantastic food and wine at half the price without the BS. The team at Oscar made us feel welcome even when we were dragging two children and a wet pram into their restaurant – so I (and many others on tripadvisor) definitely recommend this place to dine.

Even with all the unease and tension, the city remains the city of light. And when my boy saw the Eiffel Tower light up and glitter for the first time, for a brief few moments the tension was pushed away.

Paris_20150110_0077

Hopefully the next time I visit it will be under a different set of circumstances.

Addendum: I wrote this post last night and overnight tragedy befell Copenhagen too. Two worlds are colliding right now; one secular, modern, and liberal (but not necessarily without religion or morals) against the other ultra-doctrinal, intolerant, and archaic. Neil Degrasse Tyson tells us that colliding worlds are not a good thing at all.

While I am not in Paris for St Valentine’s Day, I imagine that a few more locks will be added to the Passerelle Debilly today.

Paris_20150110_0009ps

 

Happy Lunar New Year 2015! Baaaaa…

FFF-Lunar_NY_kickoff_0478

 

This is a slightly different from my normal ‘World According to Pok’ posts in that it is a story of a different kind rather than the usual anecdote of what my son blurts out. The stars of this post are ‘The Pok’ (my 4 year old son) and ‘Kiki’ (our 7 month old daughter). And this story is told by photos.

The Pok, running onto the bed where his sister is lying: “Daddy, come and take a photo of me and [Kiki]”

Father of the Pok (me) – fumbling around: “Hang on, let me get my phone”

Moments later, with my phone in hand…

Father of the Pok: “[Pok], can you hold your sister and give her a hug?”

Kiki [non-verbal]: “I don’t want to take a photo, have it!” [WHACK]

Pok_Kiki_0275

The Pok [non-verbal]: “What the heck?”

Kiki [non-verbal]: “That got him!”

Pok_Kiki_0276

The Pok [non-verbal]: “That hurt :-(“

Kiki [non-verbal]: “Hey Dad, check out my follow through.”

Pok_Kiki_0277

The Pok [non-verbal]: “Hey Sis, why did you do that? I was trying to give you a hug for a photo.”

Kiki [non-verbal]: “Quick, his guard is down.”

Pok_Kiki_0278

The Pok [non-verbal]: “You’re lining me up again? C’mon”

Kiki [non-verbal]: “Right uppercut, karate kick”

Pok_Kiki_0279

Needless to say, I did not get a photo of the two together during this photoshoot. And Kiki was not able to land the karate kick.

 

Summer is in it’s final month here in Sydney. But being Summer it also means water and outdoors at night. One of our favourite things to try and do each year is to attend the Open Air Cinema between the Royal Botanic Gardens and Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. It is not cheap, but seeing at least one movie during the season has become a tradition of ours. The first time we went was to see the movie “Saving Grace” which turned out to be quite hilarious for two reasons. Firstly good movie, and secondly we watched the entire movie in a torrential downpour with ponchos on. I suppose a big part of what you pay for is the stunning location to watch the movie – here was our movie theatre for the evening.

Open_Air_Cinema_0396

For the uninitiated, you can get caught out with the way the whole thing works. There are no reserved seats, and one of the first things you have to do is lay claim to yours for the evening (not before grabbing a Lindor ball though – though no black or blue ones were on offer).

lindt_bulk

For the evening I was ‘Bill Collins’ of “Golden Years of Hollywood” fame (it’s an Aussie thing).

Open_Air_Cinema_0398

Once the seats are secured, then it is off to get fed and watered. This is the best way to catch dinner and a movie with a great view. Again, reserving your seats for the dining is essential to.

Open_Air_Cinema_0397

We went with friends this year, and managed to get tickets to the Christopher Nolan film – “Interstellar”. I was quite chuffed! It was the first time our mates had been to this Open Air Cinema – which for me was a real shock because they are proper movie buffs. Every year we try and go see anything, so long as we go. But it was a bonus to get tickets (and they sell out real fast!) to a movie that we both wanted to see. [side note – last year we saw “Anna Karenina”… nuff said about those two hours of my life lost forever]

So as the sun set on our meal which was watered with a couple of bottles of New Zealand’s finest, the pre-show experience begun. Lift the screen!

Open_Air_Cinema_0400

Yes, the screen is firmly planted within Sydney Harbour. Now the only gripe that I had about this year was that I missed out on the latest Peroni beer advert which is usually screened before the film. Apparently there was a minor firework display which was more important. [second side note – unless the fireworks display is great and loud, us Sydneysiders will be very critical. New Year’s Eve anyone?]

With all that harbour and skyline behind the screen you would think it would be a major distraction to watching the movie. Except, the sound is awesome! No chance of a directionally challenged fruit bat ruining the evening by crashing into the screen, its sonar is overpowered by the fantastic audio setup.

Open_Air_Cinema_0403

So we settled in to watch the movie, and had a good time interrupting our fellow movie patrons by discerning whether there were flaws in Hollywood science. The robots were cool, the spaceships were cool (not Rebel Alliance cool, but cool), and the story was cool.

[third and final side note – sorry ladies but I don’t know what the fuss about McConaughey is, he looked a bit ragged in this movie ;-) ]

While it is hard to get tickets, if you are in Sydney over the January / February period this is quite an experience. Our friends loved it and I think they will be return patrons. I definitely recommend it, and look forward to going again hopefully next year. Just be prepared with a poncho…

This week’s travel theme from Ailsa’s blog ‘Where’s my backpack?’ is Doorways. Very late to the show this week, and the first time in a long time that I have posted to the travel theme.

I love doors and the efforts that people go to as a decorated entrance to their [choose type of construction] house, castle, temple, church, apartment… And I have so many door photos in my travel stash – no wonder my wife wonders what I shoot at sometimes. Here is my go…

Starting in the Royal Palace of Bangkok, Thailand. Yes that is real gold!

Bangkok_2009_0028

Still in Bangkok, but really a world away, is this beautiful entrance into one of the buildings at Jim Thompson’s house.

Bangkok_JT_2009_0013

A little further east, to the beautiful city of Kanazawa, Japan. This is modern Japanese architecture at its best, and I love the curtain pattern.

Kanazawa_2009_20091008_0134

Further east, to the heart of the country is the imposing doorways at Nijo Castle in Kyoto. This was the power base for the shogunate for centuries.

Kyoto_2007_0050

Over in Europe, and I could have done this whole post on doorways in the Old Town of Tallinn, Estonia. This was my favourite with intricate carvings.

Tallinn_HM2008_0015

Across the pond by ferry, and this was the doorway entrance to our hotel in Helsinki, Finland on the same trip. The ceiling paintings are the highlight.

Helsinki_HM2008_0225

In Paris, France, there is a treasure trove along every street of doors – modern, classical, and some antique. But this caught my eye in the 8e arrondissement. I love the metal work and the little critters all over the “branches”. Someone wealthy lives here!

Paris0116

In the Mediterranean, the stunning island of Santorini, Greece has doors of all shades including pastels. Beautiful island…

 

Santorini_2194

The historic university town of Cambridge, United Kingdom has some eclectic architecture. But these three simple entrances were what caught my eye.

Cambridge_0034

Finally the door with all the irony in the world. It was not the door so much at the Rockefeller Center in New York City, USA – but the stone carvings on either side. The symbols of communism at the very centre of heart of capitalism.

New_York_12_0499

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 436 other followers

%d bloggers like this: