January 28, 2006

so they say

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
"they" say many things, punkin, you will learn this in your life.

Among the things they say are these pearls:

"all populations exist on a bell curve"


"all's well that ends well"

this would lend us to believe that the length of birthday parties should start at a low number and work to a large number and subesquently start to subside again.

so it is with pride and joy that I tell you that, as of 1022pm, everyone's gone home and my birthday party is over.

It was, with your attendance, most absolutely the most fabulous birthday i've ever had.

The chili prawns were without parallel, and the beef rendang was positively OUT OF THIS WORLD.

on that note, your faithful and dedicated father will retire to bed, on the grounds that typing has become rather dificult.

Love youse. All.

Birthday Bonus

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Every dad, punkin, is by definition, lucky.

But as old George Orwell so eloquently doesn't put it, some dads are more lucky than others. Some dads, punkin are gifted with people around them who know EXACTLY what they want for their birthday.

The wonderful thing about this is that, given your dad's technomalogical skillz (and a very helpful wizard), I was able to set it up in a matter of minutes, and I'm therefore posting on my birthday from the comfort of the living room couch sans pantalones.

Thankyou for my lovely birthday present Bramble, I hope you like yours as much on your birthday.

The card was lovely too.

January 27, 2006

Belated Birthday Bashes

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
So this, then, brambling, is the face of an Australian.

Being an Australian is something, in my opinion, of which one should be proud.

Lots of people, including many of your close relatives, punkin, have CHOSEN to live in Australia, and indeed to become Australians. You have that honour purely by virtue of being born in Carlton (which is also why you have the other honour of barracking for the Blues, but more on that later).

Tis a fabulous and amazing country, with lovely weather (when it's not being stupidly swelteringly hot and horrible) and a fantastic diversity of cultures that ensures a wonderous availability of all manner of foodstuffs.

It's often been said (and more than once by me after a few brown lemonades) that Australia has without question the finest food and wine available anywhere on the planet. Of course, it's not strictly true, but the variety of high quality nosh is unparalleled, chiefly, punkin, chiefly by virtue of the people who decided they wanted to come and live here.

So you see, when certain people (and I've tried to keep this blog fairly apolitical for a while, but this just got my goat), when certain people start making noises about how we should spend more time celebrating the "values" and contributions of our more... angloriffic ancestors, and by extension less time on the contributions and values of the other people from other places that make up this great land of ours, and indeed the people who were already here when we arrived (and had been for, by various guesstimates between 60 and 100,000 years), well, I get a tad grumpy.

That said, I am able to turn my mind to history of a more recent nature.

It was tomorrow minus 32 years, punkling, when your grandmama and grandpapa had the inestimable joy of welcoming me into the world. Although they didn't know it was me to begin with.

You see, for the first (I'm sure your grammy's going to correct me here) days of my life, I was called Richard Thomas. This is, of course, not such a bad name in itself, indeed there have been several famous (and not so famous) people who seem to have got on well enough with it, but I'm much happier with the one I ended up with (thanks in no small part to Nana Ruth, who I am incredibly sad to say that you will never meet).

So tomorrow it's my birthday. I will turn 32, and for me at least, a new year will begin. The last year, with the notable and noteworthy exception of your birth, was one of the more trying and difficult I've so far had to face. This year is beginning to feel like it's going to be one that's more about stability, about building on solid foundations.

This year, punkin, thanks in no small part to you, and to the joyful responsibility that you represent, I'm beginning at last to feel like I might be almost half grown up.

I'll keep you posted on the other half.

Love you.

January 26, 2006

Straya Day

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It's Australia Day today, bramble.

Naturally, in the great tradition of stinking hot Straya Days of the past, it's been too hot to think.

Your mum and I spent most of the day huddled around the Kazakhstani airconditioner and watching mediocre television. There was a brief respite of thunderstorm, but not enough to clean the wretched heat from our sweating forms.

I'm writing this at 1030pm.

It's 30 degrees outside (that's 86 for our northern compadres)

Stinking hot.

I was going to write something about national identity and patriotism vs nationalism, but I think I'll save it for tomorrow when I'm in an airconditioned office instead of a hothouse.

Love you.

January 24, 2006

Telecommutation Tango

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It's all very well, punkin, to decide that one is going to become a teleworker.

It's a remarkably refreshing experience to awaken in the AM and think "I have no meetings today, I don't think I'll go into the office". To decide, punkin, on a whim, that one will wear pyjamas ALL DAY.

But there are substantial barriers to entry for this lifestyle choice. First and foremost, one has to be able to undertake one's professional role in locations other than one's office. Obviously, with your dad's job, that involves having ready access to the interwebtron and a computer capable of undertaking common document design tasks.

Unfortunately, punkin, your incredibly clever mother is simultaneously undertaking the same kind of seismic employment status shift, and keyboard and bandwidth real estate issues have begun to appear.

Your father, being the resourceful and technically proficient individual that he is, investigated the ways around this problem and set about fixing them (and here, punkin, is the rub) for as little money as possible.

So when your uncle harry's wireless modem/router kicked the bucket, I rejoiced. Because, you see, only the modem part had died. Thinking that I already had a dsl modem, I thought that it might be possible for me to use the routery bits for my own nefarious purposes.


With some help from your uncle harry, we got the router plugged in and installed, and then found the wireless network from my laptop. All well and good, I was getting 11mbps throughput, I could see the other computer and everything was rosy.

But I couldn't get on the internet.

So we looked at some settings and figured out that, because the two computers belonged to different domains, I needed to swap the workgroup of my laptop to match that of the PC. So I did. Without adding any users to that workgroup. Not knowing the administrator password for my laptop (because it's a work laptop).

So when I rebooted, punkin, I couldn't log on. Which is a bit of a problem when you're planning to spend all day at home working on a document that you have already sitting on your hard drive.

So your mother drew the short straw today, and got to be the person who spent all day in her pyjamas because I had to go into the office and tell the guys in the IT department how I'd broken my computer. Luckily I chanced into a meeting that I'd missed out on being invited to, but the upshot of this incredibly long-winded preamble is that I was the one who took you to daycare this morning.

I had so far managed to avoid being the person who dropped you off. I've been there with your mum when she's dropped you off, but I've never actually done it myself before.

So I wasn't prepared.

I wasn't prepared for putting you down among all the toys and turning around to talk to Gina and having you crawl up to me and put your arms around my leg.

I wasn't prepared for putting you back in with all the toys, and watching the realisation that I was going to leave you there steal across your face like a thundercloud scudding across an otherwise sunny sky.

I wasn't prepared when you burst into tears.

I wasn't prepared for how I felt when I turned my back on you, for the sharp flush of shame that ran over my body and through my hair, and my shoulders dropped and I walked back down that corridor and it was the longest walk of my life.

I wasn't prepared for trying to drive to work, blinking away the tears while I wrestled with the morning commuter traffic.

I wasn't prepared for how it made me feel - to make YOU feel like I was letting you down, abandoning you, leaving you behind.

I need to write this now, to the future you, to the boy, to the man that I know you'll become. I'll never let you down, Bramble. I'll never abandon you. I'll never leave you behind.

They say that boys spend their whole lives trying to make their dads proud of them.

People who say that, punkling,

aren't Dads.

Love you.

January 21, 2006

Another day in the hothouse

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It's sitting at 39.1 degrees while I write this. (For the benefit of our northern readers, let's do the calculation for them - let's see now, we multiply by nine fifths to get 70.38 and then we add 32 to a grand total of 102.38.

It sounds better when it's more than a hundred, I think.

It is, in any case, almost too hot to type. My fingers keep slipping off the keys.

No wait, it is too hot to type. The worst thing is that we can't even look forward to any substantial relief anytime soon, what with the forecast for tomorrow being revised UP to 43 (get your calculators out to find out that we're talking about 109.4), and the "cool change" that's due on Monday getting set to bring temperatures down into the low 30's, it looks like the run up to my birthday is going to be one long episode of trying to find excuses to be somewhere airconditioned.

Love you.


Good Lord, is it really only 19 days until your Grammy gets here?

January 20, 2006

What do you get when you multiply 6 by 9?

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It's been hot here this week, punkin. This photo was taken on the way up to the wedding in the country, but the fact stands that it's very very warm.

It was 35 yesterday, and it's 35 again today. The weekend's not going to cool down any, and our planned picnic on Sunday has had to be moved to an indoor setting so as to avoid the likely !! 41 !! degree heat.

It's tough when it's hot, I wish I could tell you that it's going to cool down soon, or that I'm sorry our house isn't cooler (the Kazakhstani airconditioner can only cool an area of roughly 2x2 feet directly in front of it).

Usually, when there's a super hot day, you can look forward to a cool change rolling through in the evening, bringing respite, rain and a cool breeze. Last night, instead, we got a thunderstorm at 4am, that woke everyone in the house up (including the dogs), but didn't actually involve a southerly change, so the wind was still strong and hot. Opening the windows for a moment when I got up to tell the dogs that the house wasn't going to blow up, all I got for my efforts was a spray of water, a flash of light and a hot breeze.

Naturally, you were unsettled, but nonetheless decided to adhere strictly to your 630am wakeup call (actually MY 630am wakeup call), which involves standing up in your cot and yelling until I come and get you. Then you get to come and hang out in the big bed and have some breakfast, a fact that this morning you decided to commemorate by, immediately after you had finished, clambering onto your sleeping father's head and sinking your new teeth directly into his ear.

I knew that you were very clever, but I didn't know you were clever enough to read the alarm clock and know that it was time for me to get up and go to work.

Love you.

January 19, 2006


Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Well, well, punkling, we've been tagged by Kathy.

Here goes.

What were you doing 10 years ago?
10 years ago, punkin, in January of 1996, your ever hard-working dad was working full time (I think, my memory's a bit hazy but I bet your Grammy knows) running the gift shop at a brewery in Maine. This was, for a 21 year old Australian boy, the greatest job in the world, and I proceeded to avail myself of the associated benefits, mainly of the amber nectar variety (hence the hazy memory). I think that I theoretically lived with Grammy in her palatial hilltop log cabin, but actually had an entire wardrobe in the trunk of my car, and couchsurfed professionally.

What were you doing 1 year ago?
According, punkin, to this very blog, 1 year ago, our friends Lonna and Jonna had just departed our fair shores (they're returning in less than a month, for good this time - you must have made a good impression). I was also celebrating the fact that I'd recently felt you move for the first time. Feeling your touch was a pretty seismic moment for me, and I had this to say about it:

For my entire life to date, through the years of my mis-spent youth (tales of which will be heavily censored for the time being), I never did anything that could not be undone, repaired, paid off or forgotten. All of the mistakes that I made (and there were many), were mistakes that affected only me and the people around me. My responsibility in the first 30 years of my life was limited only to my own survival, and although I tested that responsibility to the edge of the envelope, I made it through. Now, pumpkin, knowing that you are coming, that responsibility has shifted. It is not with thoughts of the repercussions on myself that I consider courses of action, or regret decisions I have made. You, pumpkin, are my responsibility, and it is for you that I must now live my life.

I was also starting to think about what kind of music I was going to play for you when you arrived. Thankfully, Jimi Hendrix won out.

What are 5 snacks that you enjoy?
This list could be a lot longer than 5. Here, though, and in no particular order are:
  1. Wasabi Peas
  2. TimTams
  3. Chippies - the new tapas corn chips are YUM!
  4. I'm going to lie here and say a piece of fruit - not that I ever eat any, but I'm not opposed to the concept.
  5. Can I put beer?
What are 5 things that you'd do if you were a millionaire?
Again, it's difficult to get this down to only 5, but here goes:
  1. Buy and build a 'bruno grollo' style compound for family and friends alike.
  2. Take you around the world to see everyone that you haven't met yet (firstclass, natch).
  3. Cars. Lots of cars. Like maybe more than one for every day of the week.
  4. Did I say cars yet?
  5. Pay off everyone's mortgage.
What are your 5 bad habits?
Wow, it's really tough to get this down to 5 again. I'll have a crack...
  1. TV - I watch entirely too much TV. We have a platinum cable package, I don't even actually know how many channels we have, in addition to a hard drive recorder and we nonetheless STILL download TV programs from the internet (yes, it's naughty).
  2. Fast food - Your mum and I crack under the strain fairly often and get fish and chips. I'm pretty sure that we encourage each other, but still it's not good for either of us, and we're setting a bad example for you.
  3. Video Games - Yes, I play videogames too much. Surprise Surprise.
  4. Overall I think that I bow too easily to temptation - I behave a little bit too irresponsibly. I constantly worry that I don't take my job as your dad seriously enough.
  5. I don't clean the kitchen often enough.
What are 5 things that you like doing?
Didn't we already cover this? Very well.
  1. Play with my monkeyman bram
  2. Snuggle Evey
  3. Play videogames
  4. Drink beer and eat cornchips
  5. Snuggle Evey while watching TV, thus killing 2 birds with one stone.
What are the 5 things that you will never buy again?
Ooh this one's tough - add one healthy dose of Instant Gratification Syndrome with a (for a time) healthy bank balance, there's quite a few things that I've bought that I will never invest in again... this could get a little embarrassing, but here goes:
  1. Any and all various kitchen implements bought for the express purpose of making a particular complex and onerous dish. Someone should start a business that hires stuff like this out.
  2. This one is really terribly difficult. I'm actually hard pressed to think of stuff..... I'm sure that my resolute and faithful readership can come up with some ideas for this one.....
Now I'm supposed to nominate 5 other blogs - to "tag" them, but mostly all of the blogs that I read have already been tagged in this meme, so I'm a bit short of ideas... Oh hangon there's a new one that's just started sending me a truckload of traffic - Sarah, you're up.

Love you punkling

ps - the blogger spellcheck suggests that I replace "monkeyman bram" with "management". Have you been mucking around in the sourcecode again?

January 16, 2006

Homeward Bound

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Whilst you were happy, I think, to spend the day whiling away the hours at the Casa Du Childcare, it's a massive relief to have you home with us.

The lovely Toni was kind enough to keep what they call a "communication booklet", that essentially gives us a report on your first day at childcare. There are, my pumpkin, no surprises here.


Dear Eve

Bram has had a fairly good day for his first day.

He enjoyed catching the bubbles, but he was a little unsettled at rest times and only took short naps.

He didn't eat very much, and kept pushing away food and a bottle when they were offered.

Regards, Toni

Are we, as your parents, surprised by the fact that you refused to sleep except when absolutely necessary to regain optimal running conditions? No. Are we shocked to hear that you refused to eat what was kindly offered to you? No. These are things, child, that do not surprise us.

So that's over now, and that was fun, now wait until we take you there AGAIN TOMORROW.

Love you.

Big Wide World

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It was with a trembling heart, bramble, that I dropped you off at childcare this morning.

I was ok last night, when your mum was running around trying to make sure that we had packed everything bar the kitchen sink and half of the contents of your wardrobe including a four litre bottle of baby panadol and seventeen changes of clothes.

I was ok this morning when we couldn't find your sunhat and your mum was trying to get ready to go to work so I had to dress you and we went through your drawers trying to find just the right mix of cool and approachable.

I was ok in the car, and walking into the centre with you in your mother's arms and a bag containing fortythree of your most precious toys and two hundred cheese sandwiches in mine. I smiled and chatted and took photos (then proceeded to leave the camera in your mother's bag, so we're going to have to make do with one of you at a picnic on the weekend, showing us just prezackly how it is that one eats a piece of bread at a picnic, a task at which by now you are an old hand).

I was ok helping your mum fill out the nine hundred page form that detailed your every move since birth and described in triplicate what your average daily number of breaths is and how often you blink in any given 24 hour period. What I do professionally is often tantamount to filling out incredibly detailed forms and so I was confident that I would be able to make a good go of it. Nonetheless, the wonderful Georgina foud that I'd missed a page and had to re-do a bit of it.

I was ok when it got to about 9 o'clock and the wonderful Toni started going around with a tray of raisin toast and bits of banana. They strapped you into a highchair and you started to yell. You looked at me and you yelled. You wanted to know WHO is this strange woman and WHY is she strapping me into this contraption and WHY isn't my dad doing this HE'S STANDING RIGHT THERE and WHAT IS HAPPENING. At almost precisely this second, you realised that there was in fact a bit of banana sitting on the tray in front of you. And proceeded without further ado to concentrate your attentions entirely on said piece of banana to the exclusion of all else.

Your mum and I knew that our chance had arrived. We snuck out the door with a minimum of fuss and headed straight for the car. We sat there for a few seconds, dumbstruck by what we'd done, and then hit the road, by now running seriously late for your mum's first day of work. We managed to get into town with a minimum of fuss, and now we're both trying to pretend that we're concentrating on work whilst actually we're both worried sick about you, and expecting the phone to ring any second with some earth shattering emergency.

There's a tendency, when you're a parent, to assume that the particular personal quirks of your child make them somehow immune to being looked after by anyone else. That somehow your kid transcends all of their years of training and they couldn't possibly take care of you.

This is, of course, nonsense, but it didn't stop my heart from leaping in my chest when my phone rang at 10am today. Some part of me was positive that it was going to be the centre on the phone, telling me that they were sorry, but you wouldn't stop crying and I'd have to come and get you. Or that you wouldn't eat. Or that you'd bitten one of the other kids. Something. Anything.

I miss you punkin, far more than I did when you were at home with your mum. I don't want to be a nervous first time parent who calls the centre every two hours to make sure that my little angel is ok, but at the same time I'm thinking about just ringing them once, to check on you.

Love you, even though I feel a fair bit like I abandoned you today.

January 12, 2006


Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
We appear, punkin, to have figured out the whole food thing with you.

In a move that has surprised no-one who knows either of your parents, we've already established to a large extent that you are an ... independent child. A child who, whilst he will consider the suggested course of action, will invariably take such advice on its individual merits as to his own planned agenda, and as such may or may not take said advice.

Such is your strategy with food. It seems that you beleive that food proffered on a spoon, punkin, by one of your longsuffering parents, must be some kind of a trap or poison. You flail your head from side to side, clamp your mouth shut and do everything possible to fling the spoon from you with your tiny, gorgeous chubby arms.

The VERY SAME food, can, however, be presented to you (in bunnykins flatware, natch) for you to sample as you see fit, to whirl around, to squish between your fingers and mash in your hair and throw on the floor, AND YOU EAT IT. Not very much of it gets eaten, this goes without saying, but some of it does. And that, brambling, is no small victory from our perspective. With you starting day care in a matter of days, there's going to be scant chance for you to indulge your favoured culinary delight of jus d'boob.

So it's chunks of bananaaaanana for you. And cheese. And vegeroni. And avocado. And anything else we can convince you to stick in your teething mouth.

Oh yes, the teething thing. In a move that only serves to further cement your ties with creatures of the netherworld (being named after the person who wrote Dracula and a character from Buffy respectively), it seems that you have elected that your third tooth will be a fang. Pictures soon.

Love you.

January 09, 2006


Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
The new camera arrived, punkin, and in a continuation of this astonishing run of luck, it arrived a day earlier than it should have. Naturally, like many of your particular demographic, it wasn't so much the esoteric electronica that interested you.

No, in this particular instance, rather than in the thousands of dollars of photomagraphical equipment strewn all over the table for you to have your wicked way with, you chose the box that it came in.

Not, it should be said, that there's anything wrong with that. If boxes are what you want, my son, then boxes are what you shall have. In abundance.

For your birthday next (the first), I hereby promise to furnish you with all manner of boxen in different sizes, shapes and colours. There will be, Brambling, NO END, to the variety of boxes. I'll even special order boxes especially for you.

This is, of course, providing you eschew any and all claims to any other kinds of toys, including but not limited to anything of an electronic or electric nature. Certainly I can't be expected to furnish your needs in all manner of games and toys of this type if I'm going to keep you, pumpkin, in the boxes to which you are accustomed.

Love you.

January 08, 2006

Incarceratory Inquiry

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Your grandmother, punkin, who loves you very much, has asked me about these photos in which you appear to be caged like some wild animal.

Let's be perfectly frank about this. Your "baby cage" (or playpen, as some would have it) is a perfectly designed environment for your enjoyment. It's been crafted so as to keep the kid in and the dogs out. It's full to bursting with your favourite games and toys, and is safe enough for you to play, jump, bounce, crawl and eat in.

It should be stated that the discolouration present on your lower limbs (carefully disguised by use of black and white on the previous photo) is not a trick of the light, but the remains of your lunch.

Would it be so, punkin, that all people got to have an escape such as this. A place that was all theirs, to do with as they would, where nothing could intrude, full of their favourite things. I know that mine would be chockablock with electronic equipment (although it should be said that yours is no slouch in the beeping flashing lights department) and books, and probably have a halfway decent cellar.

Certainly it would be hard to get me out of it.

Love you.

January 06, 2006

The best ants are insoorants

So, my darling punkin, after your dad spent a fruitful few hours on the phone this morning, and things are moving apace.

After some very helpful assistance from Mary at RACV, our claim was validated and actioned while I was talking to her, and the supplier was informed of the order immediately and electronically.

Subsequent discussions with said supplier were fruitful, and within MINUTES, punkin, a brand new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30 will be despatched to our door. Of course, we'll have to buy our own memory card, but one should not, Bramble, look the proverbial Gift Horse In The Mouth.

Apart from anything else, horses have horrid breath as a rule.

Love you.

January 05, 2006

The last post & Chorus

It is a truism, plumpkin, that bad things happen to good people and vice versa.

I therefore hope fervently that something vaguely to particularly unpleasant happens to the person who just stole our camera.

I understand that they probably need the money, and that they probably already have a fairly unsatisfactory life, but to my mind that doesn't give them the excuse to take what's not theirs. I am glad that I removed the photos of you that were on it, and I'm also taking some solace from the knowledge that the battery was almost completely flat.

Whoever purloined the fantastic Panasonic Lumix FZ-20 that has taken so many of the wonderful shots that have graced this page will likely only get to enjoy it for a very short period of time before the battery dies on them.

I will admit that, at the time of the theft, I was visiting a place of ill repute, but I hardly think that picking up a 6 pack of delightfully hopped India Pale Ale is cause for divine retribution.

Of course, being the (now) responsible and wise parental types that we are, your mother and I had the camera insured. Whether the insurance claiming process goes off without a hitch is another matter entirely, however I have every faith that it shouldn't be too painful. In any case, the facts to give thanks for are as follows:
  • They stole the camera, and not Mr Froggy, who was also in the back of the car;
  • There were no photos on the camera's memory card at the time;
  • The battery was flat, so poo to them;
  • Nobody got hurt; and
  • The camera was insured.
Love you.

Illegitimis Non Carborundum.

Yes, mum, I know it's pig latin.

1,2,3,4,5,6,7...... EIGHT!

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
So this is what it has come to, Brambling. Yesterday you turned eight months old.

There's a lexicon somewhere of all the cliches, I'm sure of it. A weighty tome that says things like "You grew up so fast, but I never saw it", and "You're not a baby anymore, you're almost a little boy", but those words, punkling, have already been written.

I would rather find some of my own.