Christopher O'Riley

Christopher O'Riley (official site, wikipedia entry) is a classical pianist and U.S. radio show host who has a blog. Although I normally wouldn't listen to classical piano music, I was put on to Christopher's site when I found out he had just released an instrumental cover album of one of my favorite artists, Elliott Smith (fan site, wikipedia entry).

I was initially worried that an instrumental cover of the late Elliott Smith would sound like muzak without Elliott's distinct, honest, self-harmonising vocals, Beatle-esque, melodic guitar and occasional, skillful piano. But it's clear when listening to Christopher O'Riley's arrangements that he has infused the songs with skill and played them as if they were written for classical piano (which either adds to the song, or takes away from it, depending on your opinion). Christopher has also done two cover albums for Radiohead, another artist I like.

There's free samples of both the Radiohead and Elliott Smith tracks at Christopher's audio downloads page. I recommend "No Surprises" (an 11MB MP3 file) which is a live piano performance of 3 Radiohead songs ("No Surprises", "Nice Dream" & "Let Down") - amazing.

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[Listening to: No Surprises - Christopher O'Riley - Syracuse University-Setnor Hall-1.20.04 (12:07)]


Nathan's New Blog

My brother Nathan has started a new blog...go bro!

He joins brother Simon in bringing us news from, well, Australia. Which is great because Simon lives in Perth, and Nathan lives in Newcastle, and although I don't get to see them or speak to them very often I can now read about their exploits.

Nathan has had lots of cool experiences and has diverse interests, as well as being a husband and dad.



In related news: I just read today on David Sifry's (founder and CEO of Technorati) blog that in April 2006, Technorati recorded over 75,000 new blogs a day - one new blog was started each second.

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[Listening to: When Nothing Satisfies - Jennifer Knapp - Lay It Down (03:42)]

Goodies, the Scouts, and new Scout Badges

Via Boing Boing - Worth1000 is having a competition to design new, modern Scout badges. Worth1000 is a site for Photoshop enthusiasts to alter/morph/fabricate real-looking stuff. The brief for this competiton is:

In the past, we have had contests of Merit Badges for offbeat accomplishments here at Worth1000. But what about real life? Like a merit badge for the driving/cellphone/mascara trifecta. Or the Bad Hair Day Badge. The sky is the limit...
My favorite badge so far is the "Bad Boss Badge":


Other notables are the PacMan completion badge, the using chopsticks badge ("Catching fly with chopsticks is an entirely different badge"), and the quoting Monty Python badge.

Synchronicity was at work in the Scouts connection: earlier this week I'd cackled and giggled at the classic 1970's UK TV series The Goodies (BBC, Wikipedia, Fan Site), particularly the episode where Bill and Graeme succeed in having the Scouts declared an illegal organisation. Meanwhile, Bill and Graeme are secretly working towards their "World Domination" badge. Classic.

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[Listening to: King of Glory - Third Day - Offerings: A Worship Album (06:21)]

I'm Doing Weight Watchers, And Proud Of It

I've been going to Weight Watchers (site, Wikipedia entry) for nearly a year now (I last mentioned it in January). Coupled with going to the gym (which I first covered in August 2005), things are working: to date I've lost nearly 13 kilograms and feel fitter and healthier.

It's my goal to get to 100KG by mid July. My eventual goal is 90KG...that might take a little longer.

I know even the word "diet" can be a bad thing (not that I'm really too interested in debates about diets). Weight Watchers has worked for me, and I'm happy to be moving in the right direction (back towards health) rather than upwards (I was nearly 120KG at one point).

On a side note, it looks like Weight Watchers are doing the standard "market it in a black container"-approach for men with their WWFM site :-)

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A Small Observation

Not quite a golden rule, but a small observation I can make from experience:

The things that your wife does that may drive you crazy, your kids can do, and make those same things look cute.
I hope this doesn't give too much away about my wife (who shall remain nameless)!

For instance, Maya is prone to sudden changes of mind (which I see as funny, and her making her way to independance). She is quite assertive and not afraid to speak her mind (which I see as good for communication with my daughter). She doesn't mind hard work - in fact, often she treats a suggestion to pack up the toy room as pure joy, while TJ suddenly runs off and finds something inconsequential to do until you ask him directly (and I enjoy working with someone, so it's fun to pack up with Maya sometimes, given she's so enthusiastic).

Actually, reading over that list highlights qualities in my wife, that I'm glad I see in my daughter! And yes, those qualities sometimes drive me crazy :-)

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[Listening to: Jam for the Ladies - Moby - 18 (03:21)]

Thomas Samuel Williams II

My Grandpa was Thomas Samuel Williams II ("Tom"). He was born in 1919 and died in February 1990 aged 70, after being sick for a number of years. My Grandma (a subject for another post) survived him for a further 7 years.

I'm not too sure when the photo here was taken - it shows the typical Grandpa cheeky grin, barrel chest and distinctive white hair. He always referred to me as "his namesake" and I loved him a lot.

I remember him most vividly while spending holidays at his and Grandma's house in Rye, Victoria, right across from the back beach. He'd teach me how to play cards, or show me how to shoot tin cans with the air rifle, or let me use his telescope to check out ships, or I'd just sit with him and listen to the radio or watch the ABC on TV.

It seemed to my childhood mind that it took long hours to drive to and from Rye, often in the dark. Grandpa and Grandma didn't have many neighbours close by; the houses that were near were often unoccupied summer holiday houses. So around my grandparents' house and across the road was kilometres of sand dunes where my brothers and cousins and I would play for hours in the summer. There was also prickly coastal scrub to hide in, and crab shells and other assorted bits and pieces to find.

Us kids weren't allowed to go to the beach by ourselves (it's not that safe for swimming, but does have good rock pools to explore), but there was always plenty to do otherwise.

Later in life, Grandpa and Grandma moved to Noble Park and we used to see them a bit more often. Towards the end, Grandpa found it hard to get around and used a walking frame to come out of his room for lunch. He spent a lot of time in his room at the front of the house in bed. He was still good for a chat, or listening to music (I remember he often played me Fats Waller's "Big Feet" and songs like "Every Aussie boy needs a shed") or playing cards sometimes.

Sometimes I think about my Grandpa and how much I miss him, how I wish I'd got to know him more. But I'm very grateful to have had him at all.

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[Listening to: Harbour - Moby - 18 (06:28)]

 

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