Friday, June 24, 2005

colds in the cold

The Last Quarter Moon is on Wednesday June 29. Mercury, Venus and Saturn form a straight line close to the western horizon in the twilight, with Mercury and Venus quite close together. You can cover them all with your hand. During the week Mercury and Venus rose to meet Saturn.

Sunday June 26 Saturn, Mercury and Venus will form into a spectacular tight group
that you could cover with your thumb. On Monday June 27, Venus and Mercury will be so close together it will be hard to tell them apart.

The nights were clear and cold but some of the fine winter afternoons were (briefly) very nice. Walking the dogs at Julie's house around midday is quite pleasant -- but don't leave it too late because at this time of year the winter sun starts to dip below the hills once it gets past 3 o'clock. The encroaching shadows give one a preview of the colder weather that will follow sunset.

I thought I was shaking off that virus, but I find I'm sneezing a lot whenever I go out into a cold wind or walk down the other end of the house into a cold room. It makes one speculate on the relationship between the two words "cold" and "a cold". Temperature forecast for tonight: 2°

As part of Hobart's Midwinter Festival, Hadley's Hotel is running a tour of the hotel's Amundsen Suite. My sister Julie and a friend took the tour and spent the afternoon looking over the historic spot.

In 1911 Roald Amundsen led the first expedition to reach the South Pole. Their first landfall after leaving the Antarctic was Hobart and Amundsen went ashore alone, taking a room at what was then known as the Orient Hotel.

The hotel looked askance at their unkempt guest, still dressed for sailing the icy Southern Ocean, and gave him a "miserable little room" in the least fashionable part of the establishment. Not until telegrams began to arrive from the King of Norway and reporters besieged the hotel did they realise they were entertaining a historic guest.

"With hindsight, the hotel has dedicated its most prestigious suite, The Amundsen Suite, to this remarkable explorer," says the notes distributed to those taking the tour.

Julie reports the tour as being mildly interesting but was not amused when the promised Devonshire Tea consisted of precisely one scone per customer.

I was surprised last weekend at the quick result to one of Julie's projects.

She said that she wanted to repair the shelter over the bird-feeder in the back garden and after a few minutes hammering had completed the job.

The very next morning I looked out the kitchen window and there were two Rosella parrots sitting in the feeder having breakfast.

What do they say in the movies? "If you build it, they will come."

This month's free concert at the Moonah Arts Centre was BASS JUMP, Nigel Hope's group that encompasses vibraphone, drums, sitar, percussion and his four different basses. Their music style is described as a blend of "blues, jazz, world music, classical and funk".

I don't know if you call it a quintet when the five musicians never actually all play together at the same time. Nigel Hope started off with the drummer and the vibes, then played a couple of solos before being joined by saxophone and sitar.

"You might get a surprise during the next number" he said. We weren't expecting his wife dressed as a belly-dancer (though I had wondered what the square of carpet in front of them was for).

We fluked seats right in the front row -- the vibraphone was practically in our laps (who knew they had so many moving parts?).

A great sound. We look forward to their next appearance.

While Tony Delroy has been away for a fortnight, his chair on the Late Show has been occupied by Libby Gore, better known in her television days as Elle McFeast. She's done quite well and has been sensible enough to take the midnight quiz The Challenge seriously.

But even the best presenter is at the mercy of the person who compiles the questions. The Wednesday night quiz featured a section on Governors and Governors-General. One fairly straightforward question was "How many State Governors are there?". The first contestant said quite reasonably that since there were six states there should be six governors.

"No, the correct answer is five," said Libby.

The unanimous reaction amongst all the following contestants was to say "I thought there were six."

Embarrassing for the host, but you hardly need to be an expert on the Australian Constitution to count up to six.

Now available is the PDF version of Futures Mystery magazine.


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