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Shoah (שואה)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 01/12/2019 - 11:12am in



Uncle J wanted to visit the “Jewish Holocaust Museum“. He’d been banging on about it for a while so we decided to take him on a flying trip to visit. The 1 hour flight was cancelled so we drove for 6 hours instead. Sydney was pushy; dirty; noisy and full of impatient crowds, shopping. A shit of a journey but a decent nights sleep in Ultimo.

A more realistic Monopoly set found at the Jewish War Museum
A more realistic Monopoly set found at the Jewish War Museum

The next morning after a seafood breakfast J and I headed to the museum. Groups of school children were being shown around by the volunteers. The volunteers told stories of the atrocities along with video and audio recordings. It was fascinating and terrible and hard to tear ourselves away.

I took a photo of one of the exhibits. A hand-drawn ‘Ghetto’ Monopoly board. I would have been fascinated to learn more about who made it and what might have been written on the Chance and Community Chest cards.

R had been messaging, asking when we could meet for lunch. She had taken H to the Aquarium and had things she wanted to do with us. Sometimes I could do without a mobile phone. On the way out we briefly spoke with a delightful chap, Peter Nash who signed his book for us, before we reluctantly left.

Graffiti found
Some excellent graffiti found in one of the many gay bars J introduced me to

Uncle J had other plans. He wandered into the first pub we saw. It was apparently a main-stay of his youth. It was decorated with rainbows throughout. We had a beer and made our way across the square. I was thinking to book an Uber to get us back across the city but when I looked up J had popped into another pub, another favourite of yester-year.

Four or possibly five pubs later I had been propositioned and subsequently disappointed a young man; we had some homophobic insults hurled at us; threats of violence from a chap who said he’d been in the foriegn legion; we admired the graffiti on the bog walls and enjoyed some circular conversations. A result of the beer I suspect. We finally found our way back to R. It was a trip down memory lane for J.

That night I remembered a day in 1991 when I visited the Chamber of the Holocaust (מרתף השואה) in Jerusalem. Before that time I had not imagined the horrific things ordinary people could do to one another.


Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/10/2019 - 5:25am in



After Chalkahlom mentioned Syncthing on the microblog the other day I think I have found a possible workflow for this blog. So here I am with a keyboard plugged into my phone…

R and I just spent a night in an Airbnb here in Byron Bay. The decor is straight out of Instagram. Real life aping our collective dreams. I wonder if it loses authenticity in doing so?


Neither of us slept much. The rattling blinds and suburban sounds were not home. We did not come to Byron to sit in our accomodation though. Yesterday we poked around the shops and stopped off for cocktails and oysters in several venues. The best thing was to sit and watch the other people. Us humans are endlessly fascinating.

On the way back to our instapartment we caught Ben Jansz singing in the alleyway. It was excellent. Living in Coffs Harbour with it’s crap venues and casino-pubs means I rarely get to hear live acts. Ben reminded me it is worth making the effort.

Travel Photoblog II: France, October 1-6 2019

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 09/10/2019 - 3:32am in

After Krok, I flew from Moscow to Paris via Helsinki. My destination was this conference in the Loire Valley.

My cheap Paris hotel was near this cemetery.

I stayed in Paris just long enough to meet sister radical feminist Cecilia for lunch at a crêperie near Gare Montparnasse.

Leaving Paris on a TGV. France has excellent trains that put the US to shame.

A double rainbow as seen from the train. A trainbow?

Changing trains in Tours.

French trains have dedicated bicycle areas, while in the US, I can’t even take my folded Brompton on a bus between Champaign and Indianapolis without the driver yelling at me.

From the taxi from in Saumur to l’Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud, I saw yet another rainbow.

The “royale” part of l’Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud, the “palais” where artists-in-residence are housed.

Residents eat, chat, and do laundry in this common area. I was not a resident, just visiting to speak at the annual animation conference. But I had to do laundry after 10 days in Russia, so I used their washing machine.

A fresh batch of international animation residents had just arrived, and I joined them on this tour of l’Abbaye.

Cloisters galore.

The magnificent late-Romanesque cathedral.

More cloisters and animators.

The view from my window in the morning.

It looks so peaceful, doesn’t it? But they were doing construction most of the time, and the drone of power tools and compressors was nearly constant on weekdays.

The architecturally magnificent chimney towers of the ancient kitchen were under scaffolding and submitting to power tools as well. They say they’ll be done in 2021. I may apply to be a resident then so I can come back and see them in their full glory.

The conference opened with displays and presentations from the animators-in-residence. I didn’t take many pictures of the conference itself, and I have no photo from my own talk, with Jayne Piling, but it was apparently well received. I think my take on copyright abolition made some heads explode.

I got to eat breakfast at the swanky hotel, where they had this over-designed tableware. Instead of having a ridge like a normal saucer, this one had a curved cone protruding from its center, on which nestled the reciprocal inverted cone of the teacup.

It was design-for-design’s-sake, serving no purpose but to remind diners they were somewhere expensive, which was probably the point.

I took more photos around the ever-photogenic Abbey my last morning.

The French famously respect comics as an art form. In a bookshop in Saumur I came across this large hardbound graphic biography of George Orwell, among many other handsome and diverse comics.

After a few more French train rides I checked into this Ibis hotel at the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.

It had a pretty good view, considering.

The next morning I took my cattle-class seat on the plane to Chicago, and now I’m back in Urbana, IL, which feels even less glamorous than it did before (which was not at all). Au revoir, France! Das vedanya, Russia!

Travel Photoblog: Krok, Russia, September 21-30, 2019

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/10/2019 - 3:11am in


Festivals, Travel

Krok is an International animation festival that takes place on a riverboat in Russia or Ukraine or, in the past, both. Political issues have recently forced it to sail in Russia only, even as it continues to be organized by animators in both countries. This year it cruised from St. Petersburg to Moscow, making various scenic stops along the way. I was invited to lead the jury and watched lots of films between taking photos, trying to use the insecure internet in the bar, eating, rehearsing a song for “Carnival”, pretending to drink vodka, and sleeping.

On the drive in from the airport.

Our boat, the Konstantin Simonov, docked in St. Petersburg.

The hallway

My cabin

My cabin’s little bathroom.

A good omen: a rainbow the day before departure in St. Petersburg.

About 800 rubles (approximately $12.50) worth of snacks and provisions I purchased up the road from the boat in St. Petersburg. Those “CHAKA” peanuts-and-mixed-nuts snacks were the best. None of the energy bars tasted good, but I kept one on my person at all times to keep low blood sugar at bay.

A visit to St. Petersburg prior to the Festival Opening.

Distinguished jury members doing the mandatory lifejacket safety test.

Our Itinerary.

Our first stop, Mandrogi. Someone called it “Russian Disneyland”. Yes, it’s a tourist trap, but a rather charming one.

Mandrogi’s “Art Saloon” included this Matryoshka doll painting studio, proudly displaying photos of Putin’s visit a few years ago with his resultant masterpiece in the center.

I rented this bike for a few hundred rubles. Fun, and the only biking I got to do my entire trip.

The world-famous Vodka Museum. Every Russian tourist trap needs one, but Mandrogi’s was recently upgraded at great expense. I didn’t go inside because they charge for entry now. (I visited Krok in 2000, and Mandrogi and other tourist stops have been massively developed since then.)

Next stop: Kizhi Island and its magnificent wooden cathedral.

I remember this structure from 19 years ago. They’re doing a lot of reconstruction now.

Tourists everywhere, including me.

I thought this log “staircase” was cool.

Wood architecture on Kizhi.

I wanted to walk more on Kizhi, but had to turn back so I wouldn’t miss our departure.

Bye, Kizhi!

Fellow juror Isabelle, her Mann Jochen, and fellow juror Daniel “posed” for this photo in Petrozavodsk.

My Lovely Horse in a toy shop in Petrozavodsk.

A cold and rainy morning in Vytegra.

Animators just have to “pose” for every photo. On the right is fellow juror Svetlana, with her signature leg move.

Wood construction in Vytegra.

Our boat went through a lot of locks.

Deck view from inside a lock.

The scenery from my cabin window was ever-changing…

Out on Lake Something-or-Other

On Goritsky I took the tour of the monastery.

The monastery is on a small lake. I went off-tour for a while and passed this local who’d dismounted her bicycle to go fishing.

Back to the tour herd.

Back on board, we passed this church tower of a sunken city buried by a dam.

We all went out to take pictures of it. This was a rare moment the sun was out too.

A bit soured on tours after Goritsky, I didn’t keep up with the group in Dubna. This was my loss, because this tour was necessary and interesting, and I missed it. After getting lost, I found my way back to the boat and looked it up on Wikipedia:

Finally, we neared Moscow. Here’s fellow juror Ülo at breakfast.

After much deliberation, we made our selections as best we could and then signed a pile of certificates.

Then, Red Square w00t! I’d been to Red Square just a few months earlier, but was happy to see it again with my new friends.

You can’t have too many pictures of yourself standing in front of St. Basil’s cathedral.

Lenin’s Tomb was closed that day. Even a corpse needs a day off.

Moscow. I loved this Art deco building at the end of the street Ülo is walking down.

More Moscow.

And finally, the Moscow Airport, where I departed for Helsinki and then France. My next installment of photos will document the latter!

The Bicycle

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 23/09/2019 - 8:05am in



A bicycle ride back in 2006 with my boys
A bicycle ride back in 2006 with my boys

The brain-cinema has been showing bicycles for most of my life. In my former desk jockey days I would while away the ennui geeking out over bicycle ephemera such as Cycle Chic (Thank you Copenhagenize); Rohloff Hubs; the writings of Sheldon Brown; Rivendell Bikes and a thousand and one bike nerd blogs. I never liked the lycra clad racing bicycle culture. I had always been a ‘ride-as-traffic’ city cyclist. Drivers must have hated me. The feeling was absolutely mutual. Most drivers seemed to be in their own little dream world ignoring bicycles until they suddenly found one in their way. Couriering in London in the early nineties I would aggressively assert my right to the road. Prior to that I’d spent much of my life pedalling along leafy lanes in Cornwall. Daydreaming amongst foxgloves, campions and sycamores. To me cycling has always boiled down to getting to the pub/school/work/beach often with a streak of mud up my arse.

I went on a cycle ride with some friends a few weeks ago which got me admiring their Thorn touring bikes. These are the SUV’s of the bike world. I expect they could tow a sizeable caravan. They are appealing to the long distant, long time tourer because they will probably rarely break or require much complex maintenance. I would of course love one but being a perpetual skinflint I may never own one. If I did I would have to renounce my comfortable life and justify my Thorn ownership by pedalling off to be a Bicycle Hobo. This would fulfill a life long dream but I would probably get lonely after a few months.

Tim Stredwick is a framebuilder down in Tasmania. The Jota is a fine looking bit of work. I saw a little video of Tim at work in his shed and found it quite inspiring. I would like to build myself a little shed for (at the least) fixing or (preferably) building bicycles. For years I have been interested in Tassies Wooden Boat Festival, although the video on the website puts me off. I think I would love to take my bicycle down to Tassie (or even the Melbourne handmade bike show) for a visit.

Nice Bikes

Not Necessarily Folding Bikes:


Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 21/07/2019 - 1:38pm in



Graffiti - security forces
Melbourne Graffiti - overstated security?

I forgot I had my old Opinel penknife in my bag. The airport security were delighted. What had started as a normal boring morning suddenly had a frisson of excitement. My counter-culture terroristic leanings were only confirmed when I foolishly told them I’d forgotten about my dangerous weapon and had gotten away with flying with it once already this week. What kind of crazy madman forgets he has a murder stick in his carry on. Guilt as charged. Wearing black rubber gloves the security guard dropped my rusty old penknife in the bin. But it wasn’t over… the explosives wiper wanted a go of me too. Young H, who was 10 yesterday, helpfully attempted to cheer up all these mad serious adults with a joke, “He’s probably got a bomb in his bag”. Holy fucking shit, you have never seen such hilarity. Poor H is then also checked for bombs and told he would be fined $14k for scaring the bejesus out of the uniforms. Let’s see what happens when I post this. Listen out for the helicopter gunships.


Long-haul night flight

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/01/2019 - 3:07am in



Kabul? Singapore? I can't remember.
Where in the world am I?

Our flight from London has been a bit special. We flew north over Copenhagen. The sun dropped low and the clouds cleared revealing the Baltic islands rimmed in golden sunlight.

On we flew over the snow covered fields of Estonia and night fell. I dozed with my forehead against the glass. I wondered at my own sanity and sense when I cried at the in-flight movie, Crazy Rich Asians. The moon glinted on the tiny Aral
sea below. The scattered ground lights coalesced into arcing constellations of Kabul and what I took to be a huge military base. It seemed everytime I looked out into the darkness we were flying over another storybook city Lahore,
Delhi and Lucknow all drifted beneath us.

City lights out the window
So many humans and so many cities

More citys below
A constellation of city lights below

The in-flight map said we were over Kabul. I have wanted to travel in this region since I was a young teenager naively reading books like Gurdjieff’s ‘Meetings with Remarkable Men’ and Matthiessen’s, ‘The Snow Leopard’.

The world appears so small and so full of human life from economy class.

Turn About

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 04/01/2019 - 8:00am in



We have less than 20 hours left before boarding our plane back to Australia. I am full of the usual salamagundy mix of emotions. Let’s not trawl through that though.
The past couple of weeks have been intense. Seeing friends and family like this always ends up feeling like an exorcism of their spirits. Their spirits which I carry with me on the other side of this little planet. 

I am not trying to be esoteric or religious when I write spirit. I believe this is perhaps made of the memories that we all carry in our selves. As an emigrant from Cornwall I carry these memories but have no recourse to keep them relevant to my life. Without the occasional interactions with Cornwall and the people my memories stay but rarely get updates. They become zombie spirits.

A long goodbye. Having conversations with those people who are often in my thoughts will, I hope, allow me to exorcise or transform those memories from zombies back into the living.

Extreme strolling in London

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 18/12/2018 - 6:32pm in



We are on the train to Newcastle. We overslept and had to run like maniacs to get here. I managed to misplace my oyster card and my subsequent tube ticket to kings cross. The ticket gate staff were probably too startled by my sweaty panicked luggage humping madness to stop me. Nonetheless we made it with minutes to spare.

London has been spectacular. The casual tourist is well catered to. Seeing the city as I do in brief visits every one, two or three years the most obvious change is the rise of retail. Although I have to say I don’t always visit at the same time of year. I think I should just drop my faux sciencey approach.

The new buildings and city infrastructure I saw were impressive. For example Westminster tube station could be described as a neogothic space dungeon built by titanic forces. The escalators spiralled deeper and deeper underground beneath vast black pipes. Above, below and all around were empty gaping concrete galleries illuminated and netted. It felt like an expession of power by the architect or their contractor.

Cutty Sark

An older expression of power we visited was Greenwich. We visited the Observatory and the Cutty Sark, not for the first time.

In Bombay/Mumbai

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 03/12/2018 - 9:41pm in



Bombay (as the locals I have met insist on calling it) keeps reminding me of my time in Alexandria in the early 90s. I walked a lot and obsessed over the bicycle culture back then too.

A slum laundry?
behind the hotels I found where they wash the sheets and towels

Mumbai Housing
Mumbai Housing

In another life I would happily live here. The chaotic order of miriad cultures. The acoutrements of human life spilling across the roads and footpaths. This stuff is my fuel.