Reviving the past…


When I was a kid I loved to sketch.  I figure this started with the blackboard I had from early age, and gradually I changed to different modes. I loved drawing trees and landscapes, and wished that there was a way to keep a copy of my creations on the blackboard.  These days a mobile phone would do that for you. I’ve been a creative all my life, hence my blogging and photography passions. Recently I’ve had quite a deal of encouragement from a friend and her Mum to get back into the sketching. A while back my friend even bought me what had been my favourite pen — I was happy to see still existed — a Rotring Rapidograph pen. Memories of my art classes at high school came back when I attached the ink cartridge and put nib to paper.

So I started to sketch a landscape using a photo I had taken, but the passion wasn’t there. I think the difference was that when I was a kid, my imagination ran wild; now, all these years on, life (especially through work standards) has conditioned me to be exact, not to go too far outside the “norms” of life. So I probably need to work on changing that. Tonight I was in the mood to read some new blogs, so I used the Discover function of WP. Blow me down but the first one that became available was called Doodlewash. It’s a site that highlights watercolour sketches and paintings — looking at some of the ones highlighted brought that passion for me — this is what I wish to do.  Couple my sketching with watercolours.

This highlighted work is similar to my experience I think.

I especially like what he says, because if I try to achieve perfection, I may never be satisfied enough to finish the work: “I am a fan of spontaneity, and so I never sketch in pencil – I always go straight to ink. Every time I mess up this way becomes a learning experience.

So to progress with this revival of an old passion, I need to get to the art store pronto. While my life is fairly full at the moment, there are things that I spend too much time on (Facebook for example), and cutting back in that regard will free up time for this creative pursuit. I’m excited because I can see something beyond just a sketch.  I can use watercolour to bring my sketch to life.

Stay tuned!  :)


The past…part 2

Back in April I wrote a post about a visit to my hometown of Toowoomba, and the changes I had noted.  I promised a part 2, and here it is.  I can’t believe it’s almost 2 months since I wrote that post — how time flies when life interferes.  :)

So my friend Alan took me for a spin around the city, to places I knew well, and some that had changed over the years. One of the first places we went to was the new Toowoomba library.  As a kid, I spent many hours at the old one.  It’s where my love of reading was born and my expertise in research and subsequent writing was nurtured. This was back in the days before technology arrived, so there was no google or database searches available — we used our hands and eyes to make our way through the various journals and other resources.  I’m sure many of my readers will remember these times.

The new Library is very beautiful in design and functionality. Local materials were used in its construction and especially beautiful are the panels on the sides made out of beaten copper — which looks especially colourful when the sun hits of an afternoon. There is a lot of local granite and sandstone used in the paths leading to the main building, and in line with Toowoomba’s gardening culture (Toowoomba is considered to be the gardening capital of Australia) there are many gardens and trellises for climbing plants. I like that there are also water features and sculptures, befitting a place of learning.

It was late on a Sunday afternoon so we weren’t able to go in, but I can only imagine how beautiful and functional it is. I’ll come back another day and grab some internal shots.

We went for a brief drive around the inner city CBD — I have a preference for shopping in areas like this, as opposed to the mega size shopping centres.  They seem to have some character about them, whereas I find the big complexes a mass of busy people with little time to stop and appreciate their surroundings.  Plus my childhood memories were made way before the big retailers came to IMG_8427_HDRtown. There’s a major redevelopment happening quite close to the library, and I was amazed at how many cranes were working the site. I guess I have become used to seeing them in Brisbane, but it hadn’t really dawned on me that Toowoomba would be undergoing a transformation.

Other places that we visited I wasn’t able to get photos of, due to the light fading as the sun went down. I make regular trips to Toowoomba to visit my Mum in a nursing home there, so I’ll gradually put more photos up for those interested.

Well, I hope this second post has been of interest. I guess it might be of more interest to a Toowoomba’ite.  :)


Revisiting the past…part 1

I was born and raised in Toowoomba, a medium-sized city located at the summit of the Great Dividing Range, in Queensland, Australia. I spent 40 years there until my life journey took a different tack and I headed to the USA for a decade. That’s another story for a future post. Growing up in Toowoomba […]

Re-connections all round…

It’s amazing that since I floated the idea of opening my blog up again, I have re-connected with experiences from the past. One such was a woman I met a year ago when she was visiting a friend’s home.  She is an Aussie who has lived in London for a number of years, and came back to see her new grandson born last year, and then returned to London some time later. She returned this week to see him for his first birthday. So we caught up for a coffee and a chat — because we are both very outgoing and love a chat, the time flew by and lasted almost 4 hours. Random topics galore, just how I like them. I’ve missed that intellectual conversation.

I got to New Farm Park, a riverside suburb of Brisbane, via a ride on one of the Brisbane City Council’s city cats. It’s such a great way to travel – so much better than driving. I once lived in this area, and used the city cat to get to and from work, but now live south of the city.  So this mode of transport was also a re-connection to how I travelled a couple of years ago.  An extra treat for me.  :)

The council has adorned the fleet of city cats with the colours and logos of the city’s and State’s (Queensland) sporting teams.  The cat that I rode in on was painted with the Reds…the state’s premier rugby team.  Its mascot is a koala which you can see if you look closely at the photo below.  I had a chance to get a photo of the cat as it was coming up the river to collect me. In the background is a very busy road into the city, one which I would have had to navigate had I driven in instead of using the city cat. Towering above the road and the river is a hill loaded with houses of varying ages, as can be determined by the different building styles.  What a glorious view of the river each would have.


An old friend returns…

Just over 3.5 years ago, I closed this blog down, as at the time it had run its course. While living in the USA (for a decade from ’96-’06) I created a blog on to use as a way of keeping family and friends up to date with what I was doing there.  A few years into the blog, I moved it across to WordPress, and this one was born.

I kept it going when I returned home to Australia, but the posts were intermittent.  Eventually my interest in terms of blogging went in a different direction, and I created my current photography themed one, Do You See What I See.

But lately I have been considering rebirthing this blog, as I need an outlet for the random thoughts that go through my head on any given day.  So here we are, back to write about whatever gets my attention.  Hopefully I’ll be able to keep posts going to each blog.

Stay tuned 😀

Adios, au revoir, arrivederci, goodbye….

Well, I have decided that it is time to bring my blog to a close. It’s run its course, and has seen various changes over the years. It started out on the Blogger platform late in the 90’s (the only one around at that time), and a few years later I moved it all across to the WordPress platform. WordPress has continued to evolve much like this blog was intended.

But it’s time to say goodbye. My readers will be aware that the content as well as the frequency of posts has declined over time.

I have a photo blog running now, still in its infancy, that I want to spend time on building. But I have something else in mind that is in the planning stages. I won’t say anything more for the time being.

To my readers, thank you for staying with me. I have your email addresses and will contact you once I get back into the world of blogging etc.

Bye for now.


Life Changes

I recently was diagnosed with diabetes; in some ways perhaps I’m not surprised, because of a family history and also (unfortunately) carrying some weight which is not good in general, but particularly so for diabetes.  It gave me the kick in the butt that I probably needed — I’ve never really taken good care of myself, sometimes through apathy, and other times a lack of funds has meant insufficient health coverage.

Interestingly, the general populace in Australia throws off at the health system in the USA.  But my experience is different — I lived there for 10 years and in that time had a knee replacement, and other normal ailments, which required medical attention.  I worked for a University for the majority of the time and had subsidised health insurance.  Many other workers in various employment sectors have a similar type of insurance. The knee replacement was done at a private hospital, with an overnight stay (the surgery is very easy on the body these days) and the out of pocket expenses for me amounted to about $250.  When I went to the GP, my co-pay was never more than $20.  I didn’t have to wait long periods to get in and I found their procedures to be easy to navigate, even for a foreigner not used to the ways and means of the health system.

Some of you may know that I have been searching for a new job — my previous one finished on April 20, and despite a LOT of applications, I remain unemployed and getting frustrated no end.  Actually, I will admit that there’s some depression creeping in, so I am in touch with my health support in that regard.  Sad to say, finding employment in this new world of work is near on impossible for anyone aged 50+ — here’s a decent explanation posted by a “jaded job seeker” that gives a very good indication of the experiences one has with gaining work.  To date I’ve probably sent out over 50 applications, and received back at most 5 responses (all negative).  No offer of feedback, and those that I have requested it from have not even responded. Manners seem to have gone out the window in this new age.

So there’s where I am right now.  At least I have a roof over my head (though that could change as my own funds run low) for the time being.  Fingers crossed I find something soon.

Conversations heard

Well I am sitting in a cafe on the campus of the University of Queensland, where I have come for an interview for a job. Got here early, so decided to have a cool drink and relax in the cool shady spot close to where I am having the interview in a little while.

The subject of this post relates to conversations heard. Cheryl kindly drove me to West End where I caught a city cat across the Brisbane River, and then a bus to the campus. So I’ve heard a few conversations along the way. Some in languages I don’t know (UQ has a strong international component to it, so lots of students from all over the world), others in more familiar tones. I’m hearing one right now that is cracking me up – two young females, in a conversation with many subjects — from certain males they like (or don’t), to what they are planning for the weekend, through to the class they are preparing for right now.

What’s making me laugh is the class preparation discussion. As seems to be common the world over, some students do all the work and share same with the others. So one of the women comes across as knowing what she is talking about (sounds like some type of psych class) – the other just asked her how much reading she did – the response, “none, I Googled it”. OMG. Reminded me of when I was teaching computer science at West Virginia University, and the lengths that students would go to to get out of doing the work. I guess some things never change. I wonder who’ll help them come exam time.

I have to say though that it feels good to be back on the campus. I worked here for 9 months when I first came back from the USA. I love the whole university feel, a place of learning, information, cultures, all wrapped together for the ultimate experience – well for me anyway. It’s a breath of fresh air, a change in pace from life on Bribie Island and work in Caboolture.

Yes, I’m going to love living back in Brisbane. I’ve missed the vibrancy, the place is ever growing and with that comes all kinds of experiences.

Vale Steve Jobs

It was a shock to read of Steve Jobs’ passing this morning…my iPhone4 seemed to come alive as the emails from the various news sites I am subscribed to started filtering through.  I guess those of us who have kept an eye on the evolution of Apple weren’t surprised that he retired, but certainly we were that he passed away so soon.  It’s hard to imagine that his genius, his enthusiasm for life and every other thing that he stood for and believed in, won’t be with us any longer.  His visions will though I believe.

I started using Apple products when, as an IT consultant at West Virginia University, I was given an Apple Mac and told to support those Faculty who had jumped the PC bandwagon and had started using these “things”.  That would have been in about 1998, and I had never used one.  I remember my colleagues laughing when they realised that I had no idea where the power on/off button was (it was the Apple key).  But I loved what you could achieve with the Mac, and so began my love affair with the hardware.  Jump forward to now and I am using an iMac, and beside me is my iPhone4.  My MacBook is sitting on the table as well.  I’ve also had an iBook which I loved and a couple of iPods, and maybe sometime in the future, an iPad (or whatever is on offer at the time) will be here with me.

Some people I know go on about the cost of Apple gear, how it is so much more than a Windows machine.  I use the Apple brand because for me it does what I want, when I want.  It just works.  No patches to do, no weekly uploads from Microsoft and co and it just works.  Integration at its best.

But back to Steve Jobs.  It’s been amazing to see the reaction from across the globe, including his fierce competitors at Microsoft and Google.  Bill Gates said it all with:

The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come.”