Dust and Cobwebs

A new year starts with a clean, sweeping away cobwebs both physical, mental and metaphorical. Our house was a sty, my workshop looks like a whirlwind has hit it and I have at least seven projects on the go all untouched for over three weeks.

Today marked the first day back in Cobar of 2018. We arrived back home from our adventure in Queensland yesterday afternoon. Big changes are afoot for everyone this year. I have not accepted a class this and I’m limiting my availability for relief teaching at the local schools to three days a week. I will also be taking up tutoring again to keep the income flowing in. Five year old L will be starting school here and I will be taking at least one day a week as primary carer for F and L and devoting at least a day a week to my own art and projects.  I am thus reviving this blog primarily as a way keep myself publicly accountable with my creative output. I have quite a backlog of videos to edit and publish on my two channels and more than a few projects needing my attention.

In addition we are planning an exodus from Cobar later this year, most likely to the Sunshine Coast hinterland in Queensland. The sooner the better as far as I am concerned, but a great deal has to be sorted out before that move can happen.



A rough draft of the Black order set

Teaching myself Tinkercad so as to be of use as a teacher of it for my students, who will be learning the program so that the 3D printer can be put to work. It is a basic and quite powerful modelling program. The controls are a little bit idiosyncratic and it has a tendency to dump the user back the main menu when doing hard operations, though it has so far not lost progress doing so. My first self set challenge is an Order vs Chaos chess set.

I splashed out and bought a couple of rolls of printing filament from these guys mid week so that I can get some personal printing done at work guilt free.

On Saturday N and I made the Dubbo run leaving the children with grandparents. A shockingly expensive shopping and very long drive later we made it home safe and have cupboards chock full with food and a shed full of timber and paints for projects.

I’ve been commissioned to build a set of portrait photography boxes and among the supplies purchased were two sheets of 12mm ply cut down to fit in the car. This project provided me with the first opportunity to put my mitre saw to use and my what a pleasure that machine is. All pieces are cut and ready for building and I even ripped down some off cuts to make parts for a nesting box. Assembly to happen later in the week.

Tuesdays are staff and year level meetings each week, meaning that I am usually not home until near six. I have found out that there is a Judo class on from Seven in the school hall on Tuesday evenings. I would like to attend but the mental hurdle of returning to work is a big obstacle. Wish me luck.


A few links to share from the last few days:

A beautiful representation of the causes of Global Warming.

Finalists of the Smithsonian Photo Competition

Do Want: Colour 3D Printed scale models of astronomical bodies.

I periodically return to the works of Simon Stålenhag (Sale site) Disturbing, fantastical and somehow totally believable they conjure a deeply uncomfortable alternative world. Someday I’ll commit and buy a print. I just haven’t settled on which yet.








Hot days melting into one another. Did I catch that dragonfly yesterday? wait what, Saturday!

A bit of painting, a bit of Lego, a bit of unpacking and sorting classroom materials, a fair bit of slowly hand sewing costume parts while watching trash (Sewing machine still MIA) and a lot of swimming have passed the time pleasantly.

There was a death at the pool this morning. A heart attack in the lap lanes and failed resuscitation on the edge. No one we know, a big old fella who swam laps most days. So it goes. Ambulance and pool closing merely a dramatic interlude in our day.

Mortality has been on my mind lately, what with discussing organ donor ship (BTW a resounding yes to the lot, though I doubt they’ll want my lungs or liver), euthanasia (Definitely getting a ‘DNR Please’ tattoo someday), life insurance, wills and funeral preferences (as biodegradable as possible). And on top of all that a new focus on my own health and fitness and general lifestyle sustainability. Privileges I have not previously been utilising well.


I’ve also been wrestling with unfinished projects and trying to get into a space to start pumping out cards again. Foiled at every turn by technology and time management but trying. Today it was tablet drivers, yesterday final resolution on a decision we have been weighing for some time. Replacing N’s barely functioning computer. A hard decision because although every component in her computer is good quality, it has never run well and now at over four years old upgrading is expensive and potentially pointless.



800m of Childish Freedom

Somewhere in a photo album there is a photo of a a 6 or 7 year old me dressed in stonewash and a loud 80’s shirt standing proud as punch with a bright red and orange BMX in front of my mothers house in Balmain. This house:

Photo snapped by my good friend Steven Kiernan on the way back from dinner a few nights ago.

That bike granted me freedom. A great deal of freedom. Much as the cop in ‘Stranger Things’ describes it; ‘A bike Like that is a Cadillac to these kids’. With it I had freedom of the neighborhood and I used it. The most common journey for me was of course the seemingly epic ride to my school of the time. This weekend I decided to see just how far that really was. As it turns out it was only 800m and often done in company but often as not alone or on foot. The route I most often took is plotted below.

800m of freedom. Also of note at the time Mort Bay park was a derelict and forbidden wonderland that I was furiously lectured for exploring more than once. 

That journey is illegal now. Until the age of ten NSW children are apparently unable to even cross the road without assistance and police have been known to threaten DOCS involvement for independent children even when crossing a road is not required.

I was lucky then and lucky as a teacher at West End, my year four class of two years ago repeatedly won the ‘Golden Boot’ award for active travel with 100% of students walking, riding, Public transporting or Park and Striding (Driven but dropped off 500m distant). That is a rare thing and a credit to the West End public community. But only a handful traveled truly independently. I have also lived on the main access street for one of Brisbane’s most prestigious private boys schools and the twice daily traffic jam of furious, stressed and ultimately dangerously driven luxury vehicles is memorable by comparison. Self reliance is not a skill that gets magically switched on at eighteen, it takes years and experience to develop. Only by giving children the trust to find their own limits and learn their confidence in their own abilities can it blossom. I believe walking to and from school independently is one of the safest and best ways for children to develop resilience and self reliance.

We are looking to live in a town/ village or community where children still play outside and where trusting children is normal. Such places do still exists but they are rare.

I would really like to see some more examples of others childhood walking journeys.

Not for competition mind,


but because I think it would be nice to have a raft of good digital reference to use as a reality check for the more extreme variety of hysterical parents.  It is easy enough to do.

Start at google maps.

Search for the school or other feature you travelled to independently.

Select the directions button





Change the start location to where you began your trips and select the method of travel. You can drag the line of travel to match your preferred route.







Screen shot the result. In windows the built in screen cap utility ‘Sniping tool’ can be found by beginning typing its name in the start menu. On Mac, buy a PC.

I kid, I kid. Command + Shift + 4 will give you a custom area screen cap.

Upload to an image host of your choice, or email them to me to edit in here.

Thanks for participating.

Also check out free range kids if you like the idea.


Edit: First responder, my brother in law Ken Wilson provides this map of his walk from about grade 3 (probably 8 or 9 years of age) onwards with his sibling. Sandgate is a major road but the crossings are clear.

Monkey Day

It is Monkey Day.

Not of real significance to me.

Part of my daily teaching routine is checking the ‘On This Day‘ Wikipedia page. It is always the day of something, though I’ve never noticed this one before. Monkeys are cool, apes are even better. Cut out Palm Oil!


Image from my collection, origin unknown, even Tinyeye is of no help. 


Tomorrow we depart on our festivus adventure.

Today we have created a web of irrigation poly that will allow our nominated waterer to set three timers every other day and thereby keep our garden alive in our absence.

Our rough itinerary includes;

A night in Orange, a few days in Sydney, a night on the road north, a few days in Brisbane and a week in Maleny before making the return trip to Cobar.

I need to get packing and I’m hoping to put the sewing machine to work before bed.


Habit Forming

Today I finally got to mess around with the local public school’s 3D printer. I am really looking forward to putting it through its paces. I’ve received the keys for my classroom and begun scheming the decorations. I’m also getting my head around the finer points of the NSW Syllabus and my practical planning requirements.

I am have adopted a new app Loop. I have no particular attachment to this one app, just the function it performs and I will likely experiment with a few to find my ideal over coming weeks. The app I was recommended isn’t available in my ecosystem, but the principle is worth a shot. I do respond well to gamification as a general rule.

So for now my daily habit prompts are:

Drink 5+ glasses of water – my glasses are large ‘Loop’ doesn’t allow for repeated reminders throughout the day without making extra habits anyway.

Get 7+ hours of sleep – reminder at 11PM.

Eat Clean – We are aiming for less than 3 meat meals a week and I eat way too much sugar, hummingbird style.

Meditate – 6:10 AM daily.

Gratitude and visualise – Count my blessings and picture goals.

Make or Play – With all the things.

Blog – Everyday.

Move your body – Everyday some way.

Now I am not off to an altogether flying start, but it is working.

Today the boys woke early and the orphan lambs we are minding for a day or two were desperately hungry so no meditation for me. We ate free range chicken meat for tea and I’ve had plenty of sugar. I didn’t drink water from after breakfast until I got home, though I’ve since made up the difference. I haven’t run, danced or worked out. I have counted my blessings and visualised my future class room. Making is listed as separate to blogging because although some posts do tend towards works in and of themselves the purpose of this blog is accountability about art and creative endeavours and on that note I’ve art to make.


Finally can put a name to the debating technique that stopped me watching Q&A pretty religiously a few years ago. when an IPA rep spouts ten spurious statements in as many sentences entirely confident that their opponents cannot hope to rebut even a fraction of them it is a Gish Gallop. A debating technique taking full advantage of Brandolinis Law; The amount of energy required to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude greater than that required to produce it. 

Sometimes it is nice just to be able to put a name to things.



On Bullying


I survived bullying. I was called gay from late year five until I left high school and went to Tafe in the city at the end of grade 10.

It didn’t matter that I wasn’t gay, not even slightly. It didn’t matter that family members and family friends were gay and I didn’t have issue with it. The label stuck, provoked a reaction and haunted me for years. The staff mostly didn’t get involved. Close friends wouldn’t hang out with me within sight of school peers. School was a pretty unrelenting misery, I have but a handful of good memories or lasting friendships from that time, barely any which were from within my actual year level. It was a dark and depressing period and it marked me for decades to come. Distrust of authority, body image issues, loneliness and trust issues as well as an overwhelmingly negative view of academia are among the lasting effects I have dealt with and I believe largely overcome.

I have been thinking about posting on the topic for some time. My high school cohort is going to celebrate a twenty year anniversary of a year twelve I didn’t attend this year. I didn’t attend the ten year and I have no compulsion to attend this one. I have mentally forgiven my antagonists but I have no desire or need to see what has become of them.

The announcement that thirteen year old Tyrone Unsworth committed suicide after a campaign of bullying based on his supposed sexuality touched a nerve. It is deeply sad and disappointing that people are still dying for who they love in supposedly progressive societies the world over. I believe his death could have been averted if people had stood up for him, challenged his antagonists and demanded better from them. The school will doubtless have to audit its monitoring and management procedures. I hope that among their responses is the introduction of  the Safe Schools Program

There will be a lot of baying for blood from “concerned citizens” targeting the alleged bullies families and the alleged oblivious staff of the school. This is deeply unhelpful. Believe me when I say that there was a time when I wanted to see violence visited upon my antagonists. I and the thousands of other bullying victims around the world understood, to our shame, a little of what drove the Columbine boys to their awful end. Every authoritarian punishment based response to bullying I have observed has backfired, often badly. I have seen restorative justice both succeed and fail to deal with victimisation of students peers. In fact the only actually successful anti bullying technique I have ever encountered is the ‘Method of Shared Concern‘. Blaming and hating on the perpetrators doesn’t help the victims, it just makes the perps better at hiding their crimes.


Programs which normalise acceptance, compassion and community are the strongest weapons we have against bullying and the bigotry and medieval morality of an outspoken group of religious fundamentalists should not be permitted to get in the way of their implementation.



Homework and preparation for the big drive.

Tomorrow morning we embark on a four day expedition to visit Candlebark and explore the surrounding suburbs.

On Politics

I have participated in two elections this year. I voted remain in the UK and Green in the Australian federal election for both houses. Both of those elections were close and extremely disappointing. Obviously the AU Greens were never in with a shot at many more seats in the house of reps but the LibLab battle was a close one. The depths of my dissapointment in the Australian electorate cannot be overstated. Yet another three to four years of corrupt, visionless, selfinterested nincompoops in charge.

As for Brexit… Well lets just say that I’m glad my UK passport is via Scottish heritage. UK Labor continues to shoot themselves in the foot and seems willing to spend decades in opposition rather than, you know, listen to their constituents and represent some progressive democratic socialism.

I obviously cannot vote in the US election.

Earlier in the year, back during the primaries I watched with bated breath as Clinton and Sanders battled it out. Even as a Clinton Candidacy became a forgone conclusion I predicted vocally that if it became Clinton V Trump, Clinton would lose.

I really, really hope I was wrong.

I backed Bernie and I think it is one of the great tragedies of modern politics that thanks at least in part to malfeasance within the DNC we didn’t get to see Sanders actually wipe the floor with Trump.

Depending on where you look the US presidential election looks either a sure thing for Clinton or scary close.


Until recently I  honestly wasn’t sure who the worst candidate was. It is very much a Beast vs Smiler affair and there was not an immediately apparent least worst option for me. Don’t get me wrong, I am saying that I don’t like either of them with fairly equal vehemence. Clinton is a neolib a warmonger and firmly represents the status quo, she has deep social and fiscal ties with the fossil fuel industry and the banksters. She will perpetuate some of the worst elements of American foreign policy through the next decade. Worst of all I have absolutely zero confidence in her willingness to act decisively on climate change, which is now beyond urgent.


Trump though, Trump is a monster. He has clearly outed himself as the worst option. He is perceived as an outsider candidate, to paraphrase Michael Moore, he is the Molotov the poor, disillusioned and disenfranchised can lob into the parliaments that have failed them. He will of course, if elected, fail them in new, interesting and spectacular fashion. The fact that he was and is even given the dignity of attention represents a failure of the media globally. I mean this is a man who managed to bankrupt a casino, A Casino! That shouldn’t even be possible. He should be treated like the repugnant prolapsed sphincter that he is and forgotten.

The status quo is not good enough, but it is nowhere near as bad as a Trump presidency could be for everyone on earth.


The link that got me started:

“Also, the large number of people that was unable to interpret our tool as anything but an effort to support or oppose a political candidate — and that was true for both liberals and conservatives — speaks to me about an ineffective public sphere. And that’s something I think we should all be concerned about. This polarization is not just a cliché. It is a crippling societal condition that is expressed in the inability of people to see any merit, or any point, in opposing views. That’s a dangerous, and chronic, institutional disease that is expressed also in the inability of people to criticize their own candidates, because they fear being confused with someone their peers will interpret as a supporter of the opposing candidate. If you cannot see any merit in the candidate you oppose, even in one or two of the many points that have been made, you may have it.”


Discussing this tool: https://clinton.media.mit.edu






Almost three weeks back and Cobar is beginning to feel like home again. We have settled in and are currently expecting to spend the remainder of this year and the 2017 school year here.

Tutoring and teaching work has started trickling in and the projects are piling up. A class at the local state school for next year is looking like a promising prospect and there is no shortage of relief work available regardless.

The problem with leaving blogging even a few days, let alone however many months it has now been, is that every gap adds to the amount that needs told and makes the posting more daunting. I’ve had plenty of excuses for not posting but ultimately I use this blog to track my work and I have not, aside from a couple of small things I will share over coming days, been working.

That has changed, the posts are coming back.

I do after all have a lot to track.

Projects currently in the works:

Valley cards galore. I am really behind the curve on these. I’ve been experimenting with ways to improve my work flow a bit over the last week. Not much to show for it yet though.

Editing and sorting travel images. We have so many…


Near the top of Ben Udlaidh


At the peak of Liathach the lower western peak beyond

Editing and posting a couple of short vlogs from travel. Including crossing the pinicles (a section of the Liathach walk part of which is just visible in the lower left of the image above)

Creating costume armour and weapons for the children’s Christmas presents to order.

Extending garden paths to use up the last remaining brick piles, making room for food gardens and giving joy to little boys.

Constructing more raised garden beds for food production. The Cobar tax on fresh food bites hard.

Getting the hens and tractor back from the farm. Surprisingly three of the four survived the winter. I had half expected a fox or snake to have taken them all.

T-shirt print image ideas x3.

Children’s books x3.

Polishing a giant fresnel lens.

Fencing the front yard. For child safety and so the hens will be able to free range more.

Re-creating my classroom charts and displays. I gave away most to peers in Brisbane and I may yet have a class of my own next year. Timelines, wordwall headings, behaviour charts all need recreated.

Trying to find a way to see some of the Great Barrier Reef over the Christmas break as it is N’s birthday wish.

Deciding how and where we will live post 2017. There are many possible options right now.

Getting fitter again.

Habitualising blogging again. See you tomorrow. 😛














It’s been six long calendar days since the last post. This being the first day where humanity feels restored it is time to recap.

The night before we flew out of Sydney F fell ill with a head cold. The whole family became affected as travel wore on. Thanks to paracetamol, antihistamine, saline sprays and for the grown-ups pseudoephedrine the flights were trying but uneventful. The constant attention required by travelling with children is very exhausting. Sick children doubly so.

Our flights started with an overnight jaunt on Qantas Sydney to Tokyo. Which is a lovely airport as such things go, clean and civilised with small children’s play equipment.

From Tokyo we flew north with BA cutting quite close to the pole across Russia and south along the Norwegian coast to Heathrow. Unfortunately thick clover obscured the ground for most of this twelve hour leg.


Heathrow 5 is not such a friendly airport, cramped, expensive and uncomfortable, fortunately our stay was short lived. Sticking with BA we flew north arriving in Glasgow to the welcome greetings of our hosts who we have since to our horror infected as well.


Headcold, jetlag and adjusting children to life where it doesn’t get dark until after 10PM have eaten up the last few days. We have been soaking up the breathtaking scenery and learning the ropes of managing the property. Calling ourselves settled in from today. I’ve not accomplished anything creatively in weeks apart from the few instructional sketches created in the last day or two. I am keen to get painting again.


We have had plenty of clear skies too and we are surrounded by sublime mountains. I just haven’t downloaded those pictures yet.

An interesting thing happened yesterday. A great green box full of Lego arrived from some kind stranger in Luxembourg care of the Redditgifts Lego Exchange. I’m feeling a bit miserly about sending only two small kits to a stranger in Italy, though in fairness the postage cost more than the Lego.