Posted by Chuq
About time for an update! We had another meeting with the architect on December 22nd. Over the last few months he has been working with the engineer, drawing up structural, plumbing and electrical plans, and made a few minor changes to the floor plan to account for these. We also went through the glazing schedule, confirming the sizes and types of all the windows. We also met the builder for the first time!
Latest plan revisions:
There were another 20 or so diagrams/plans with these ones but I won't upload them all - things like updated elevation diagrams, subfloor plan, roof plan, and so on, I won't scan them all :)
- A niche running all the way around the top cornice area of 3 sides of the house - this was because the roof support structure needed a bit more space than what was available (and raising the roof level would have required going back to planning approval) so to keep window sizes the standard height they added a gap. This works out well because it provides a spot where blinds etc. can be installed and then be hidden when they are open - and also allows some niches to be built into some walls.
- Laundry chute location confirmed, after about 4 different options were attempted!
- AV/network cabinet location changed - made it bigger and placed it between the theatre and the garage. Discussions with many AV enthusiasts have let me to believe that cat5/6 will be used for AV in the future (there are adaptors to do so now) so as a result it made sense to consolidate the network and AV runs.
- A step before entering the garage - because the garage is 300mm higher than the rest of the lower floor. I think the step may get in the way a bit, so will raise some alternatives with the architect!
We've also confirmed some floor surfaces:
- Polished concrete in the downstairs hallway (as well as hopefully a polished concrete benchtop)
- Modwood for the decks - modwood is made of sawdust and recycled plastic milk bottles, doesn't require oiling every year or other maintenace, and doesn't splinter!
I've also done some sketchup mockups of some areas to give the architect and builder an idea of what we are after.
(Appliances are Electrolux oven & induction cooktop, F&P fridge, Robinhood rangehood and Asko dishwasher)
And my work of art, the AV unit!
Construction is now expected to start in March 2011.. which means we may not be in there before Christmas 2011 as we had hoped, but that's ok, we'd rather it be done well than done quick!
That'll do for now, electrical and plumbing to come in a future update!
A year ago, Australia was the favoured nation to win the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Two weeks ago, FIFA's technical reports said England, United States and Australia were the three bids best prepared and capable of hosting a World Cup - Russia and Qatar, the most high risk. Yet, on Friday morning, Russia and Qatar were declared the winners, while England and Australia were eliminated in the first round of their respective votes. What went wrong?
Frank Lowy stated that before the vote, they were confident that they had at least four votes in the first round - maybe as many as six - meaning at least three ExCo members had looked him in the eye and lied. Even afterwards, two members have claimed responsibility for the single vote. Who can he trust?
Clearly politics and backdoor deals played a role, but it isn't as simple as "whoever donates the most money gets my vote". The voting pattern is a curious one:
The number of votes for Qatar and Japan actually decreased after the first round - leading to suggestions that some blocs of members planned to vote in pre-arranged ways in particular rounds, targetting individual nations one by one. USA, Qatar and Australia were the only nations seen as the likely hosts of the event (not to say the other bids weren't good - but too soon after their 2002 hosting). Australia was probably identified as the easiest of the three to "get rid of" early.
Now for a game of "what-if" ... notice how Japan had an extra vote in their first round as opposed to the second? What if that vote was originally going to Australia but was "switched" to Japan just to knock Australia out, as it was deemed a bigger threat? Japan and Australia would be locked 2-2 for last place, leading to a "knock-out" voting round between the two.
A poster on the FourFourTwo Australia forums, girtXc, appears to have some sort of insight into the workings of the FIFA ExCo and has posted an interesting theory. Apparently when the Tahitian delegate Temurii (I'm going to assume people know all about that!) got suspended it had bigger ramifications than just losing a single vote. His theory about the Japan vote is that powerful Qatari ExCo delegate (and Asian Football Confederation chief) Mohammad bin Hammam arranged it so that Japan wouldn't go out in the first round, therefore keeping Japan ExCo delegate Oguru's honour (very important in Japanese culture) and thus ensuring Japan's vote went to Qatar after Japan was knocked out. Talk about swings and roundabouts!
The theories about how it happened can go on forever, and we may not ever know... but what happens from here, for Australia?
The sad thing about losing is that, as well as not hosting, it makes the moronic anti-sockah brigade in this nation think they have the right to spout rubbish about the sport. Rebecca Wilson is already at it. I won't go into detail about this one, if you read it, you know about it, and if you don't believe it happens I'm not going to change your mind.
The corruption has hit several major nations hard - the USA and England are even discussing a breakaway governing body to FIFA. Australia could potentially be a part of this but we don't have the standing to do so - any form of dissent and the AFC - headed by bin Hammam (conflict of interest much?) - will send us back off to Oceania.
When will Australia get another chance? The disappointing thing is that these opportunities come up so rarely for Australia. FIFA has had vague continental rotation policies in the past - usually the rules are changed before a full cycle occurs. With the 2018 and 2022 bid process, the rule was that once a continent hosted, they were not able to bid for the next two. Although it is possible that this will change in the future, if it continues, then 2026 would likely go to the USA, and 2030 to Europe. That puts Australia's next chance at 2034 at the earliest.
I will be 56 by then. Frank Lowy would have well and truly fallen off his perch - he will be 104 if he makes it that far!
... and the big question is - will the government at the time support it? We were lucky in that we had bipartisan support from Kevin Rudd (a "foreign affairs nerd prime minister") and Malcolm Turnbull. It may not be that easy for a government to fork out $45m again, depending on the political landscape at the time.
But then again, in 1986, Melbourne unsuccessfully bid for the 1992 Olympics. 11 votes out of 85 in the first round. Brisbane bid for the 1996 Olympics, 12 out of 86. Imagine if those two experiences were derided as being "wastes of money" - it may have stopped the AOC supporting Sydney's bid for the 2000 Olympics - 30 votes out of 88 in the first round, defeating Beijing 45-43 in the final round, and going on to host the "Best Olympic Games ever!"
In the meantime, lets support the Socceroos at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup - strangely enough, hosted in Qatar in January - after all, it is the game on the pitch that matters!
This is a meme going around Facebook at the moment and, I haven't written a blog post for a while so this is as good as place as any!
For a geek I've done a rather poor job! (I've tagged both mine and Emma's in the one list!)
- Three months after activation, the number of homes connected in Tasmania is 262. Including homes that have requested a service but connecting is pending, it is 436.
- The number of households passed with the fibre is reported between 3000 and 4000 in difference sources. (Note: The source that said "4000" was from The Australian)
- Dial-up internet had been around since 1994;
- In November 1998 (four years later), 13% of households in regional Australia had internet access.
- FTTH over NBN has been around since July 2010;
- In October 2010 (three months later), 10-14% of households in regional Australia had signed up for a service.
(More discussion can be found in this Whirlpool thread!)
Enough about our house.. here are some of the other fantastic houses (and houses-in-progress) that I've found on the HomeOne forum. It’s a great resource if you are building a new house, with dedicated sections for everything to do with building a house - kitchens, bathrooms, heating and cooling, lighting, AV, automation, security, flooring, landscaping ... it’s not even restricted to the work itself, with sections on investment, real estate, being an owner/builder and so on.
People in Glass Houses is Michelle and Tom’s blog. They are nearing the final stages of completion of their architecturally designed 5 bedroom house in a bushland area only 5 mins from Hobart’s CBD! It is a very modern design with lots of angles and designed for a big family similar to ours.
Chris and Kelly’s blog is called Housearama. They have just finished building a passive solar designed 4 bedroom house in Adelaide, roughly based on a Longridge Madison 255. It features a separate home office, a great kitchen (including a professional wok burner – which is a story of its own!) and lots of “cat features”. This is of course on top of all the smart environmental features like retractable shades, opening skylights and power monitoring features.
Building Our 9 Star Home is the blog of Rodney and Elizabeth in Melbourne. Hopefully the key feature of this house is obvious. Their house will actually be ranked as 9.1 star! Not only do they use passive solar design, but they are going to great lengths to ensure the house is as friendly to the environment as possible through choices such as materials used in their kitchen and type of paint used. One of their friends owns the block next door and they will be sharing a backyard for their vege garden and chickens. Construction hasn't started (last I checked), but I think this is going to be a great one to follow!
Big Red's Castle is worth the link just for the amusement of this post!
And last but not least... they don't have a blog that I can link to but sis & bro-in-law Ben and Laura are also planning to build soon, and drawing on Ben's experience in AV & automation they are planning some pretty smart things for their house! As an example .. they will have an automated watering system for their garden - not that unusual - but the system will take into account time of day, current temperature, recent rainfall, water tank level and weather forecast for the next few days! So long as it isn't called Skynet ...
Posted by Chuq
As I alluded to in a previous house update, here are some "before and after" plans of some parts of our new house, compared to similar areas in our current place.
This is one of the areas to gain the most in the new house. One of the hardest parts about doing the map above was working out what room was what in our current house to make the comparison!
At the moment the dining room is the first room that people walk into when they come in the front door, which is not ideal considering how much mess babies and toddlers make when eating! It also means part of the room is basically a hallway which only makes it smaller. The new dining room is twice as big and also features a length of daybed storage (similar to the master bedroom).
Well, it has been quite an eventful few days in the world of Australian politics. Noone really knows who our Prime Minister will be. All the analysts are currently saying that the coalition will have 73 seats to Labor's 72. On first glance this points to a coalition victory, but it isn't as simple as that!
Enter the independents - or more technically correct, the crossbenchers! Three of them - Bob Katter, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott - are sitting independent MPs from regional seats in Queensland and New South Wales who have be re-elected by their elecorate. They are all from rather conservative National Party backgrounds. The other two (Adam Bandt and Andrew Wilkie - noting Wilkie's position is not confirmed) - are from a different background - both representing urban seats in Melbourne and Hobart, and both from the left side of politics - Bandt being the first Greens representative in the lower house, and Wilkie being a former Green member.
On face value it could be assumed the first three would side with the coalition and the last two with Labor. It is never that simple! After all you would assume that the four independents are no longer members of their party for a reason.
Which brings me to what I personally believe was the only policy in the election that clearly separated the two major parties - telecommunications.
While watching the television coverage over the weekend, as expected there were live crosses all over the nation including the three conservative members. And a picture spoke a thousand words - or rather, no picture. The live crosses were just a still image with audio provided by a grainy mobile phone call. Even though the members pointed out that telecommunications was a big issue in their electorate, the fact that the current situation was being clearly demonstrated only served to reinforce this!
The Greens and Wilkie also ran on a platform of supporting the National Broadband Network so it could be assumed they would side with Labor in this regard - not to mention the fact that the Greens and Liberals are polar opposite ends of the spectrum.
The other factor that gives hope to Labor is that the crossbenchers have indicated that they want to support a stable government. It is not in their interest to see the country go to another election in six months time. These comments have made specific reference to the Senate. After the massive surge to the Greens - their number of Senators will increase from 4 to 9 - perhaps the independents think that a conservative government would not work with a left leaning upper house? It is worth mentioning that the Senate does not change until 1 July 2011. Until then, a Labor Government will need the approval of either the Coalition, or all Greens senators, Family First senator Steve Fielding, and Independent Nick Xenaphon, to pass legislation. After the new senate term starts, only the Greens will need to be appeased. Probably not an issue for a Labor government but it could be a challenge should the Liberals form government.
(As I write this, news has come to light that Wilkie may be not as likely to win Denison as first thought. If it did go Labors way, it may put it at 73-73 for the major parties. That's probably a sign that I should stop writing this, every few hours there is something new!)
It's been a long time since the last update, but plenty has been happening! I just haven't kept the blog updated... here is a roundup of the last few months ... and this post will be light on text, high on pictures!
At our May architect meeting, we saw a cardboard model of the house!
It is long lasting and very low maintenance - basically needs cleaning once every ten years - which is great for people who are, lets say, home maintenance challenged such as ourselves!
Our plans are currently with the Hobart City Council and were advertised publicly on July 21st!
The public review period has ended and I don't know if the council received any submissions, but we did receive one call from a neighbour - saying that if we had any clean fill to get rid of, we are more than welcome to have it dumped on his block!
Last of all, I have been playing with Google Sketchup (which incidentally runs quite well under WINE) to design some of the joinery areas. The most complete one so far is the kitchen:
One person seemed to be rather displeased with the suggestion when he suggested that "These people will destroy Tasmania!"
It's quite obvious that no-one looked at the design in context. It is an entrant in the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale - an international architecture exhibition. Entrants have been asked to explore possibilities for urban developments 50-100 years in the future. Room 11's entry, Island Proposition 2100, sets out a design which answers the question - "If, in the face of climate change, Tasmania had to accept 5 million eco-refugees, how would they do it?"
The bridge is only one part of this proposal - obviously the Mercury used it as a headline grabber - but it doesn't give credit to the rest of the design. The basis of it is a high-density, urbanised spine running from Hobart, through the Midlands, Launceston, Devonport, Burnie, through to Smithton - and then continuing on in the form of a bridge to King Island and Victoria. This "spine" would contain infrastructure such as high speed (maglev) rail as well as energy generation (wind and solar) and grey water processing.
All these details are available by simply reading the website - obviously many of the comment writers are incapable of doing so!
Tasmania's small, decentralised population and physical separation are the root of so many issues in the state - here is a concept which would solve all of them in one go! And it is just that, a concept. It is designed to make us open our eyes and look at things from a different perspective. But we could never have that in Tasmania - the "can't do" state - could we?
Posted by Emma
Do not have fur, they need contact with other humans for warmth.
They can't walk or run away from predators. They don't camouflage too well either.
They can't find their own food.
They have high energy requirements but a small stomach, so need to feed frequently.
Are rather a lot like Australian marsupial babies, being born helpless and needing to be close to their parents well into toddlerhood. We could learn a lot from koalas and kangaroos.
Posted by Chuq
"Footy saved from World Cup threat" read the front page of the Herald Sun yesterday. What an alarming title – you would think FIFA was going to roll their tanks in and destroy the AFL headquarters from a headline like that.
So what has actually happened? Let’s pick a few key quotes from the article.
The AFL and the “biggest show on earth” will co-exist if Australia hosts the soccer World Cup in 2018 or 2022. Co-exist is a funny word. It implies some sort of equality. For example, the AFL and soccer don't "co-exist" at the moment - for the best part, the AFL totally dominates it in the media. Does the AFL expect that this will happen during a World Cup hosted in Australia? It won't even be 50-50 - the World Cup will, dominate. The AFL's season continuing during the World Cup is not about whether it is legally allowed to - it is whether the AFL wishes to commit financial suicide by attempting to do so.
Skilled Stadium [Kardinia Park in Geelong], Subiaco Oval, Gold Coast Stadium and Adelaide Oval would also be off limits to the AFL during the Cup. Oh yes, the FFA/Federal Government is taking these venues, modernising them, upgrading their capacity, using them for a couple of months – and then handing the nice shiny new venues back to the AFL to play on year after year. Not to mention the MCG and Homebush. Are we supposed to think the AFL is doing it tough?
The government guarantee appears to contravene a FIFA regulation that a major sport can’t run in the host nation during a World Cup. Actually, the truth is a little simpler than that – the AFL is not a major sport. The FIFA regulation relates to events such as Wimbledon, or the Ashes series. Even Major League Baseball continued in the United States in 1994, and MLB is much bigger than AFL.
[Demetriou said] "We’ve always said we would be providing the MCG and Skilled Stadium [Kardinia Park]" How nice of him to be able to speak for the Victorian State Government and the City of Greater Geelong. Did the AFL "provide" the MCG for the Commonwealth Games, or was it simply that it isn’t theirs to provide?
The AFL has also been concerned FIFA would require the MCG for longer, before and after the tournament. This refers to a proposal to "rectangularise" the MCG temporarily, requiring the ground for longer for conversion, which was announced publicly in December last year. However, this proposal had already been eliminated by the bid taskforce privately before this time and also again publicly about 6 hours after the news story was published (in the Herald Sun, no surprises there). For some reason, despite the fact that it is not going to happen, it gets brought up time and time again by the AFL and the Herald Sun, alongside the equally unlikely threat of "cancelling a season and sending clubs broke".
In fine form as usual, the Herald Sun has followed up with another article today, "League compo for cup games". This is all about the compensation they will receive for ... hang on - what are they being compensated for? They apparently aren't going to stop their season or reduce the number of games. They are mathematically perfectly capable of honouring their existing stadium contracts even with some of them being unavailable, so no issues there. They are going to have to play some games in reduced capacity venues for 10 weeks, certainly - but this is negated by the fact that they are also going to play in increased capacity stadiums for years to come - surely hundreds of millions of dollars worth of government funded infrastructure is enough? In fact, the United States bid - our closest competitor for the 2022 World Cup - is already taking advantage of the ammo being provided to them to promote their own bid - how much compensation is the AFL going to pay the federal government if it is their antics which causes our bid to fail?
Melbourne's self proclaimed title of the "sports capital of the world" is now a joke - nowhere else would you see the largest newspaper in such a city against the World Cup.
I really feel sorry for the hundreds of thousands of Victorians who support both codes, as well as the hundreds of thousands who have no specific interest in soccer but want the World Cup to come here. Unfortunately to the rest of the country and the rest of world, their local media is portraying the state as extremely insular and closed minded.
... and to think that if the World Cup comes here, the Herald Sun would be the first to complain when Melbourne only hosted six matches and Sydney hosts twenty! But why shouldn't Sydney get more? Not only are they upgrading their largest venue - Stadium Australia - by adding 5000 seats and installing a retractable glass roof, they are also offering their secondary stadium (Sydney Football Stadium) as well as offering to build a new 40,000 capacity venue in Western Sydney! The New South Wales Government and the people of Sydney obviously want to host World Cup matches, not treat it like some sort of invading threat.
The AFL can't really be blamed for their actions - their job is to look after their sport - but the Herald Sun is supposed to be a media outlet, not the AFL's PR department.
If I were an international football fan planning the best location to base myself during a World Cup in Australia, I'd be looking at the city with three venues (and within commuting distance to Canberra and Newcastle). Melbourne wouldn't even be on the radar. Is the Victorian Government looking after the interests of the state, or the interests of the AFL?
Last week, Football Federation Australia submitted its "bid book" - a 750 page document on how Australia would host the 2018 or ...
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