The year that was ... 2011

It's that time of the year again - I've posted so few blog updates this year that it would be entirely reasonable for even dedicated readers to not know what has happened in our lives in 2011!

The biggest change of course happened on 24 August - when our beautiful daughter Isla Abigail was born. What a change to the household... we are now outnumbered in our own house by our own children, and I am outnumbered by the females in the house! As much as we (or parents in general) like to complain about the challenges of parenthood, or their bad behaviour, or the lack of sleep... we are very lucky to have three happy, healthy, children who all make us smile every day.

I would like to say it has been a relatively easy transition - but honestly, I think most of the credit goes to Emma - having to look after three of them, by herself, three days a week - I don't know how she does it!

It seems to have been the year for babies - welcome to Eloise, Eleanor, Sofia, Lucie, Addison, Monte, Magnus, Charlotte, Max, Samuel, Oliver, Eli, Charlie, Sophie, Olivia, Quinn .. and I know I am going to forget at least one baby - but there have been so many!

The other big event this year was the start of construction of our new house in June. I won't go into detail as I have done that in other blog posts - but as of the end of the year, the frame for the upper floor is almost completed. We should be at lock up stage (cladding, windows and roof) by the end of January, all going well. The contracted end date is in May 2012. When I say end date - there will be some rooms incomplete as we wait on the sale of our current house. We can live with that - for those who remember when we moved into our current house - no flooring, no insulation, no fences, no decks, no concrete paths/driveway, no retaining walls - this won't be a problem for us to deal with!

Emma's business, Wrap 'Em, is going very well - she now has five major suppliers in Europe, and it seems a new shipment arrives at least once a week on average. The most recent one came about when they contacted Emma and asked if she would be the Australian reseller - which was a great vote of confidence!

Emma is also very busy education wise - as well as continuing her training for her Certificate IV in Breastfeeding Education via the Australian Breastfeeding Association - she is also enrolled in a Diploma of Music Performance at the University of Tasmania's Conservatorium of Music - fully funded thanks to an arrangement with the Hobart City Band!

Speaking of band - we travelled to Adelaide at Easter where Emma performed with HCB's wind symphony and brass band at the Australian National Band Championships. Among other things, we learned that there is a fully fenced modern playground just north of the city, which kept the kids busy, and Charles sane. We also managed to sneak in a quick trip to Adelaide Zoo (that was Georgia's fourth zoo in as many states!), as well as watching the ANZAC Day march on Easter Monday.

Apart from that, Emma and Hamish had a few days in Melbourne in June - a trip that was lengthened slightly by the Chilean ash cloud! Charles also had a weekend in Sydney in July to take part in Wikimedia Australia's strategic planning workshop. Charles was re-elected to the WM AU committee for another year in September.

Charles also joined the board of the Tasmania United Taskforce in November. For those who don't know, Charles has been an active campaigner for Tasmania having a team in the A-League, and this makes it official - looking after the website and social media channels of the Tassie bid!

Work wise, Charles is still in the Corporate IT department at Transend Networks - although changing focus for the first few months of 2012 to work as an Infrastructure Administrator, assisting with looking after the server and SAN infrastructure (translation for the non-geeks - the bigger, more expensive boxes with flashier lights). Certainly a welcome change of focus!

2012 will certainly be a year of big change for us - as well as moving, Georgia will be starting school (three days a week in kindergarten) - yes, already!

Once again, I will get in early for next year - have a Merry Christmas 2012 and a Happy New Year for 2013!

The first three months - digging!

I just realised my last update ended with the words "hopefully future updates will be more often than every three weeks" - how embarrassing!

A picture tells a thousand words ... these photos show the progress until the end of September.  The most disastrous thing was being delayed an extra week due to some of the dirt wall collapsing.  

(Note the curved wall - it isn't curved, it's just a side effect of the panorama software!)

Also here is a close-up of the rear of the house - this has confused a few people!

It's easiest to think of it in three sections:
- The left of the picture, with the extra height retaining wall, shows where the house will end
- The middle of the picture shows where the back deck will be - it will cover the two enclosed areas below.  Of these areas, the back section houses the water tank (and will also house the hot water cylinder and the external part of the heat pump) and is accessible from the rumpus/storage room on the ground floor as seen in the previous pics.  The section nearest the camera iis void/inaccessible.  The roofline of the house will cover the deck.
- The right of the picture shows the two terraced grass play areas which will be accessible from the deck via a couple of steps.  No, these aren't rooms - just big concrete boxes full of dirt!

House update: Excavation (weeks 1-3)

I've been meaning to do this every night for the past three weeks... well, here it is!

This is the view from the front-right (south east) of the house - the last one was taken on July 21!

A lot of bluestone boulders but nothing that couldn't be dealt with, fortunately!

Panoramic view from the eastern side:

Again the last picture here was July 21.  Notice the house seems to take up the whole block?  Well, not really - the flat section in the last picture (just right of middle, below the house with the red roof) is where the water tank will be - under the rear deck - so the house will end just to the left of this.  The excavation work to the right is all related to the deck and levelling of the backyard.

All the timber which you see is only temporary - to support the construction of the giant wall.  The wall will run alongside the edge of the driveway, along the edge of the ground floor of the house.  At the back it will surround the water tank (enclosing it, almost - there will be a small entryway) and then run partially into the backyard - enabling us to terrace it into multiple flat sections.

This is our driveway - with 7 1/2 month pregnant Emma - and the view!

That's it for now - hopefully future updates will be more frequent that every 3 weeks!

The Mercury: Fair and balanced

... and now, the top soccer stories in Tassie newspapers today:

The Examiner - "Launceston may host Harry Kewell".
The Mercury - "FFT investigates brawl".

Just another example of how biased The Mercury is.

Still not convinced?

Of the thirteen top stories in the Mercury soccer section, six are about the "racial abuse" issue (the rest are local club news and match results).  However, in that time period (19 June - 8 July), The Mercury has also published articles about soccer workshops during World Refugee Day ("Kicking off a new life", 26 June) and an update on the Tassie A-League bid ("Tassie A-team in the pipeline", 30 June).  Why aren't these articles included?  Too positive?  Don't they suit The Mercury's point of view?

This isn't unique to the Tasmanian media - it happens all across the country, sometimes it is subtle, often it is patently obvious.  In any case, nothing is going to change if we stay silent!

An open letter to Marti Zucco

So not only do we have Hawthorn and North Melbourne playing matches in Tassie - the latter due to a fair bit of effort from Hobart City Council Alderman Marti Zucco - but it seems now he is trying to get Melbourne Storm to play in Hobart.

This seems strange to me - an NRL team, instead of an A-League team, for a few reasons - first, Tasmania is certainly not known as a rugby league stronghold - it would be the #3 or #4 football code in Tassie.  Second, because Marti Zucco is Italian - and although generalisations about a person due to their heritage are not always correct, he is very proud of his roots.

Dear Mr Zucco,

I'm writing to you since you have been in the media recently, due to your actions in trying to attract national club sporting events to the state - not only the AFL games at Bellerive Oval, but also about the announcement last week of a possible NRL pre-season game at North Hobart Oval.

As you may know there has been an A-League pre-season match (featuring Melbourne Victory) each July for the past five years at Aurora Stadium in Launceston, generally drawing 5000-8000 spectators.

It would be fantastic to see a similar event in Hobart.  For the coming A-League season (October 2011-March 2012), Football Federation Australia has marked five matches to be played at a "regional venue - TBC".  I've contacted both Cricket Tasmania and Launceston City Council about the possibility of hosting one of these but have not received a response.  Going by the enthusiasm you have shown in drawing AFL and NRL matches to Hobart, I hope you would have a similar interest in negotiating an A-League match.

It would be great to get to the stage where there are regular matches in Tasmania by Melbourne Storm, Melbourne Victory, Melbourne Heart or even the Melbourne Rebels super rugby team. Such events could hopefully be the precursor to the development or upgrade of a rectangular stadium - such as North Hobart Oval - in the state.

For reference the available match dates are:

  • Wed 7 Dec 2011 - Sydney FC v Perth Glory
  • Sun 11 Dec 2011 - Gold Coast United v Sydney FC
  • Wed 14 Dec 2011 - Wellington Phoenix v Brisbane Roar
  • Wed 18 Jan 2012 - Melbourne Heart v Central Coast Mariners
  • Wed 25 Jan 2012 - Adelaide United v Newcastle Jets
Full fixture list:

Cricket Tasmania (
Aurora Stadium (
Football Federation Australia (
John Boulous, (CEO Football Federation Tasmania) (
Michelle O'Byrne (Minister for Sport) (
Mark Shelton (Shadow Minister for Sport & Rec) (

Never attribute to malice...

".. that which is adequately explained by stupidity". - Robert J. Hanlon.

If you get your information about the National Broadband Network from the mainstream media, you couldn't really be blamed for thinking that the sky is falling in.  A lot existing media companies, including television and newspapers, have had their industry turned on its head by the internet, and as high speed communications becomes ubiquitous this is only going to get worse for them.  They are struggling, just like the music industry did in the 1990s and 2000s.

However that isn't what this blog post is about!  Sometimes you find someone who is well intentioned, but just doesn't do their research!  This article from the 22 May 2011 edition of the Launceston Examiner is a perfect example.

Tasmania faces long NBN wait


22 May, 2011
To start with, the premise of the article flawed...

LAUNCESTON could have to wait until 2021 to be connected to the National Broadband Network.
... the company has not identified towns and cities to be connected to the network beyond last week's announcement on the project's first and second stages.
This is easily refuted by this press release from Stephen Conroy's office which was published over a year ago.

Also note the end date of 2021 - this appears to have been calculated by adding the ten year build time onto this year - ignoring the fact that construction started about a year and a half ago.

There are also comments such as:
"Tasmanian NBN users have told The Sunday Examiner that communication with internet users with a lower digital bandwidth was much slower than the one-gigabyte-a-second promised."
Gold. Confused by two different things in one sentence! The maximum connection speed of an NBN connection at present is 100 megabits per second, not 1000 - which, although it is within the network capabilities, it is not available to residential customers as yet.  He then fails on the difference between megabits per second and megabytes per second.  Easily confusing to the lay person, but someone educating the public should be better informed.  For those playing at home, a 100 megabit per second connection should result in a throughput of around 12 megabytes a second.
One Smithton business owner, Brett Dawes, said from his six months' experience, internet users must be on the same bandwidth for the network to work properly.

"There is not much point having a patch connected here and a patch connected there - it's all or nothing," he said.
Poorly worded, but I see the point he is trying to make... however, it ignores the fact that people in one house could be using the single FTTH connection to use several different services!  You could have someone watching ABC iView on their laptop, someone else streaming a movie in the lounge room, a third person one a video chat with the grandparents in another part of the house, and the teenager playing online games in his bedroom.  All with enough bandwidth left over for general web browsing and making phone calls!  Not to mention - a lot of the time the "other end" will not be another end user, but a data centre with huge pipes to the outside world!

There is enough misinformation about the NBN floating around in the media - from other news sources and opposing political parties - without errenous articles such as this one!

Just a note on the Hanlon quote at the top - I'm not suggesting stupidity in this case - just lack of research! 
  • Postscript: Andrew from Digital Tasmania is in the process of contacting said journo, to offer advice in future instances!

Nobody Loves a Neglected Blog!

Hmmmm no they don't!

Maybe life has gotten in the way a wee bit lately for writing blog posts, but we shall endeavour to fix that... I think that as more starts happening with the house the updates will be more forthcoming.  Two months and there should be plenty to write about :D

As for a life update from us, we've been to Adelaide for the national band championships over Easter.  Lots of Daddy and Kiddy park time whilst I was playing then a lovely family day at the Zoo on ANZAC day before heading home.

It's now less than 100 days until our EDD for baby #3, but in reality it will probably be at least a week more than that until he/she makes their big entrance... 41 weeks seems to be the normal baby cooking time around here!  Having 2 small children already there isn't all that much to do in preparation for the arrival... we need to tidy out a corner of our bedroom for baby's things and I'd like to do a bit more general decluttering around the house and cook ahead some meals that we can eat in the early days but otherwise, we're pretty good.

The children delight, surprise and frustrate us every day :)  It's amazing the buttons a 3.5 year old can push... lots that yo u didn't realise you had.  Her questioning and logic skills are amazing though, she asks some fantastic questions and draws some brilliant conclusions on her own.  We are doing our very best to encourage and nurture this natural inquisitiveness but bedtime isn't the right time to be asking brilliant questions!

I'm also plugging away at my business, have had a few sales in the last fortnight so am desperately hoping that things will pick up from here, that would be great as we've invested quite a bit of money and many hours so far into setting up.  Obviously there are still so many things that need to be done but all baby steps.

The last thing I've been doing is knitting... I've rediscovered knitting over the last few months and have actually COMPLETED over 20 items... yes ok, they were all for children but still, that's a record for me. It means I've been spending less time on the computer and more time creating which is good for me :)  Knitting is definitely a separate, picture heavy post though, so watch out for a knitting post from me in the coming days.

Anyhow.... *waves, we are still here!!! :D

House update: All systems go!

How many updates was I going to do this month?  Did I promise three or four?  It is now 11pm on March 31 so I guess I should get this one out there pretty quick!

Last week we signed the contract to build our new house!

Construction is due to start between April and June; the contracted end date is 1 May 2012.

As expected we will have bits and pieces left to do afterwards; the guest room, home theatre, storage room, and so on - but that's fine by us.  The upper level will be where we will be spending most of our time so that is the important bit for us.

The latest plans:

... and it has occurred to me that some people haven't seen the view from our block!  Apologies for the blurry panorama stitching issues!

Other random items of note...

- The geothermal heat pump came in at close to $100k... so it was swapped for a ducted electric heat pump... which came in at about $35k - it is now a $10k ceiling mounted unit for the main living area and panel heaters for other areas!

- Some windows have disappeared - the glazing came in at $30k more than expected.  Quite a few have gone (eagle eyes can check the plans!), this also helped to get our star rating up (it came in at 5.7 in the end ..)

What is annoying is that the modelling used to calculate star ratings can't "cope" with "different" houses. eg. our cladding will be alucobond/vitrobond. They don't have an equivalent in their system (does everything have to be brick or render???). Our windows on the first floor have a niche which runs all the way around 3 sides of the house - making the roof height at the edge and therefore window height 2990mm. The niche is only about 290mm x 290mm, big enough to fit a roller blind, so the height for the rest of the house is 2700mm (think of it like a giant sunken ceiling). The problem is the star calculations can't deal with that shape of room and must base the calculations on the entire house having 2990mm ceilings, that is a LOT more space to heat! So in practice our house will perform much better than the ratings say in theory.

A little bit about the bathroom plans - the joinery details include: Square above bench sinks, mixer tapes coming from the wall; square ceiling mounted "rain head" shower heads; built in niches in showers for shampoo etc. Tiles are 600x600mm for floors, 600x300mm for walls. Colours can be changed but we have specified slate for now. The best bit - my cousin owns a bathroom superstore - so I'm getting all that stuff through him and supplying the builder/plumber :) Also, underfloor heating for the bathrooms has been estimated at about $1000 a bathroom - so we think we'll go for that.

- Kitchen benchtop - polished concrete bench of that size was, again, going to cost too much, so the architect has changed to an Essastone bench with a finish that resembles polished concrete - at a significantly smaller cost, which we are very happy with!

- The Vitrabond cladding we will be using will be costing about $20k, but installation of it about $40k! That's someone's wages for the better part of a year! The builder is try to negotiate this down ...

- We have also received a copy of the building specification document - which is a 133 page document that specifies the quality expected of the builder on every single detail.. as an example, the dimensions of the doors, number of hinges, minimum sizes of hinges, etc. Includes which Australian Standards they comply to. This kind of thing for every component of the house! Not exactly interesting reading but will be useful!

So that's it for now - deposit being paid next week and hopefully the next update will have a photo :) 


March has started... you know what that means.. we have gone our first full calendar month without making a blog post since we started!  Ooops..

I told Emma that we had gone over a month without blogging and she keenly pointed out that technically that's not true, she has been blogging frequently on her business' blog at -

In an attempt to rectify this we will try to do one a week for the rest of the month!  A house update, a technology update (Sonos and FetchTV), I'll try and get Emma to do a sling or babywearing one, and of course some other news that most of you may know about already ;)

And that was 2010!

I guess I should do a wrap up of the year, similarly to the wrap up of the decade I wrote this time last year!

It has been a busy year - this time last year we had a 2 year old running round the house and a relatively immobile 3 month old - now we have two very active little children who keep us on our toes!

To keep up with them we have done some work outside the house to make the place a bit more suitable for them and to allow the dogs to have their share as well!  The first is to pull down our old picket fence that separated the backyard (which was previously just "the dogs backyard") and have a bunch of black powder-coat gates and fences put in closer to the house itself (for the dogs!).  We have had the backyard area levelled, and in December we finally put in a swing set (many thanks to Denis!) and some lush green turf.  A much more child-friendly environment!

Of course, frequent readers will know that is only temporary!  Much of 2010 has been spent on the design phase of our new house, which we plan to start building in Lenah Valley in 2011.  We are hoping to start construction in February/March.  There has been plenty on this blog about the house already so I won't go into detail here - but at least once a day something happens that makes one of us mutter "I can't wait until we are in our new place!"

Business wise - Emma's role as a Baby BeeHinds reseller has been going well, and she has started another business - Wrap 'Em - selling baby carriers - woven wraps, slings and other assorted baby gear!  

As part of Emma's volunteer work with the Australian Breastfeeding Association, she is undergoing training to complete her Certificate IV in Breastfeeding Education.  By the end of 2011 she should be a qualified breastfeeding counsellor!

In September Charles was elected to the committee of Wikimedia Australia - an official chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation which operates and supports Wikipedia (among others).  It is a non-profit organisation which promotes the distribution and creation of free cultural works in Australia.

We went to Queensland in August-September for both work and play.  Charles attended Microsoft Tech-Ed 2010 on the Gold Coast where he completed his first Microsoft qualification (Windows 7 Configuration).  After that, the entire family flew up, and we visited family and friends in Brisbane, Bribie Island and Caloundra.  The highlight was meeting Charles' Grandma - the first time she had met Emma, and two of her sixteen great-grandchildren!  Not a bad effort for 101 years old!

Our other interstate trip of the year was to Melbourne in May - we spent a week there during Charles' birthday - he and Emma's brother Mark went to see the Socceroos vs New Zealand at the MCG before they headed to the World Cup.  The rest of the trip seemed to be focused on Georgia, with trips to the Zoo, Aquarium and Children's Farm, all of which she loved!

Easter usually involves travelling for us - for the National Band Championships which Emma's band, Hobart City Band, competes in.  However in 2010 the Championships were hosted in Hobart!  The Brass Band was competing in A grade for the first time, after being B grade champions in 2009.  

In 2011, with our house build starting, it promises to be a very exciting year for us!

I might get in early now - have a Merry Christmas 2011 and a Happy New Year for 2012!


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