The Great Return to School (and other stuff)

Back to School

Today saw the great return to school across New South Wales. Although term 4 started two or three weeks ago (depending on which schools you use) only a small number of kids actually went in. The rest remained at home doing their remote classes online. Today, everyone went to school. And the extra traffic on the roads was definitely noticeable.

The lockdown began when the end of term 2 school holidays began. So, all of term 3 and about 25-30% of term four has been done at home for the majority of kids. Wow! That’s way more than the ‘long’ summer holidays!

Let’s hope that the children enjoy being back at school, even if they may not be allowed to do all the pre/post school activities they would like (for a while at least). It’s not right being kept at home to study alone. School is as much a social thing as a learning experience. Especially for the younger kids. How can we expect them to work and socialise together as adults if  they don’t do it as kids.

He’s still going out with that old bag…

Santa Claus that is. And over here they are already well prepared in the shopping centres. As evidenced by this photo taken in one such shopping mall last week.

I don’t care what anyone says. It’s too early for this!

I couldn’t bring myself to take any more photos of Christmas decorations. It’s just not right having them this early. Maybe this long lockdown has confused people. Normally we get that annual spook-fest over with before people start gearing up for Christmas.  Speaking of which…

Halloween approaches.

While Christmas is being advertised Halloween is not getting a fair crack of the whip this year. That said, I do think people in and around the area are making a good effort this year. There are plenty of spooky Halloween decorations adorning a lots ff houses in the area. More so than I remember from last year. And why not? The kids need to be kids. They need a bit of fun. Maybe it’s a kick-back against the lockdowns and the kids not going to school. Who knows? But I think next Sunday the kids around here will have some fun on Halloween. There will be a post dedicated to that one of course.

Swimming Lessons

Meanwhile the weather has been improving. Well, we are in the middle of spring down here. Swim schools have also been starting again while indoor and outdoor swimming pools have been allowed to reopen. This term Dani is returning to swim classes – outdoors. And what a great setting to be improving his swimming.

That’s Daniel in the middle practicing his kick holding a float.

Getting The F*#k Out of Sydney – Finally

Getting the F*ck Out of Sydney. 

At last. This weekend we were able to get out of Sydney. Not out of “Greater” Sydney, but at least out of the fecking city. It’s been too long. For me anyway. A lot of people like Sydney but for me it’s just OK. And it’s only OK if I know I can get the hell out of it at the weekends…

So where could we go and still be in “Greater Sydney”? Well, actually, a place that has been on my radar for some time now. In fact ever since one year and one month ago! When we visited Wattamolla beach in September 2020.

The place? Bundeena in the Royal National Park and a coastal walk to Wedding Cake Rock.

Bundeena

Situated on the south side of the Hacking river estuary the small quaint little town of Bundeena can only be reached via the road that goes through the middle of the Royal National Park. One road in, one out. The only other way to get to it is via the water. A small ferry that runs between Bundeena and Cronulla (on the north side of the estuary). It’s more of a village than a town really. A nice little place.

The small ferry arriving at Bundeena
Bundeena beach
It’s not unusual to see some odd street names around Bundeena.

Wedding Cake Rock

The oddly named geological attraction on the coastal walk out of Bundeena is the main reason most people go there. The name is obvious once you see the rock formation.

The path there is stunning all the way. As famous as this part of the world is for its beaches, most of the coastline is actually taken up with sheer cliffs and crazy ragged rock formations.  When we arrived at the Wedding Cake Rock it immediately looked disappointing. Which sounds a bit unfair, so let me explain.

Spectacular scenery like this lies all along this coast.

The rock itself is fenced off. For the protection of idiot tourists who may want to jump on it for a photo opportunity. And let’s face it there are plenty of them out there these days. Way more than ever what with Instagram and all that crap, they all want to star in their own movie. So the fence is there to protect such idiots because the ‘rock’ itself looks like it could fall into the sea – which is some way below – at any time.

Fenced off for our own protection…

That said, you can still get a decent view of it although perhaps not quite good enough for that “money shot”. But in reality none of that matters because the getting there is spectacular enough in itself.

As you can see this thing is going to crumble like real icing off a cake!

You can see right away how it got its name. It’s almost like layers of icing sugar. But also looks like a stack of old mattresses from one angle. To be fair there are probably better shots available on the internet somewhere but these were the ones we made today.

More like a stack of old mattresses if you ask me…

Even if – or more exact, when – this rock crumbles into the sea, this coastal walk will still be well worth the effort.

Some rocky cliffs that are slowly but surely breaking up and falling into the sea. A bit like  the Perrito Moreno glacier
I just love being out of the city. I could sit here all day.

The coastal path walk goes on for another few kilometres as far as Marley Beach. We stopped and turned back a little before that. Even so, in the end the round trip came to 11km! More than enough for Dani’s spindly little legs. He was totally knackered!

Marley beach at the far end of the coastal walk.
Good safety warning. But Dani was too tired to care at this point.

Then back to Bundeema for a beer and meal form one of the (relatively) many restaurants/cafés. For a day out of the city this was the perfect antidote to the four month long lockdown. And of course any part of the Royal National Park is always worth a visit.

The ferry departing, as seen from Bundeena beach

How Do We Expose the Santa Fraud?

It is getting close to Dani’s birthday. His eighth. Less than a month to go and we are considering presents for his birthday and others maybe for Christmas. Even though the shops have only just reopened here in Oz (after the lockdown) some already have Christmas trees and decorations out. Even I was amazed at that. But that’s not the point here… He will soon be 8 years old and still believes in the fat man with the beard, red suit and (more importantly) the sack of presents.

It’s great in a way. Better than great if I am being honest. But I think he needs to know before finding out the hard way…

How do you tell your kid(s) that Santa isn’t real?

He has known for some time that the giving of gifts at Christmas time comes from the Biblical story of The Three Kings turning up bearing gifts for the new born Jesus.

Whether you are religious or not, that is the simple truth. Being Spanish he knows and celebrates the Three Kings and knows where that comes from. He is also inquisitive enough to wonder, or rather question himself, as to where Santa comes from and why he exists. Understanding one and not the other has already led him to question the Santa story in the past. A ‘problem’ his mum dealt with.

I just don’t want him finding out the hard way and being ridiculed for it. Not having any older siblings he is sure to find out from the kids he plays with at home or school – all of them older than him. Kids can be cruel and if he is not careful he will stumble into a huge pitfall. And why should he be careful? He is a Santa believer! But for sure some kids will pick up on something he says in the next month or two and the game will be up. And he may not forgive us…

It wouldn’t be the first time… 

It’s a bit like the time last year when his class was discussing science stuff and the question of the hardest thing known to man came up. “Diamonds” said one of the girls in his group. “No it’s not” he replied. “It’s vibranium.” Ouch! That’s what comes from watching too many Marvel Comics movies with his old dad.

He was noticeably upset by the whole episode as he explained to me later that day when I walked him home. He had argued with the other kids and even his teacher that “vibranium” was in fact the hardest thing on the planet. Then someone (a fellow super-heroes fan classmate) explained that it wasn’t a real thing. He was obviously embarrassed. I want to save him from that embarrassment again. If possible…

A Couple of Ideas…

We have two plans. First is to watch a movie (or two) where the existence or reality of Santa is questioned. There is a subtle hint towards this in one of my favourite Christmas films Elf. And a more obvious querying in another great, more recent, Christmas movie The Christmas Chronicles. Dani loves both of those too so I will watch them with him and see what questions he comes up with. Then break it to him gently – ish…

There is also a scene in the movie Gremlins – a film he would probably like to watch – where one of the characters explains how she found out that Santa wasn’t real. That may be a more crude way of getting it out there.

The second plan is linked with the first. After breaking the bad news I can tell him that we need to make his mum believe that Dani himself still believes. Then we can buy her a present and label it “From Santa”. It’s that old double bluff thing. He likes that sort of thing. Hmm…maybe he will then be ready to watch The Sting; another great movie. But I am drifting off track a little now…

One alternative – I read about – is to just rip off the sticking plaster, hard and fast. Get it over with all in one go. Santa, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, the lot! Expose all of those frauds. But maybe not WWE wrestling though. Not just yet…

It’s an interesting angle but I am going to go for them one at a time. Oddly enough that bloody tooth fairy has hardly earned her (or his) stripes in our house. This kid has still only lost two milk teeth!! That fairy still has some serious money to hand over.

Come to think of it, that elf on the shelf isn’t earning his keep either. Maybe it’s time to blow his cover too.

So, over to you…

Does anyone have any ideas on this tricky subject? Is there a quick and easy way of doing this?

Footnote: There are a few posts on The Three Kings. Such as here , here and here by the way. The donut post is a good one LOL, I had forgotten about that one…

King Cnut and The Emperor’s New Clothes

New South Wales starts to emerge from “lockdown” tomorrow. So here is my take on two tales that blend well with what has been going on in Australia recently: The stories of King Cnut and The Emperor’s New Clothes.

Cnut or Canute?

I think the first one is right, but it is pronounced as the second. Anyway, King Cnut was born around the year 990 and reigned in the early 11th century as king of England, Denmark and Norway and what is now part of Sweden. It is said that he was so convinced of his power as ruler of the north sea countries that he ordered his chair to be placed on the sea-shore as the tide was coming in. He is then said to have ordered the rising tide not to come any further onto the land that he was ruler of. Naturally, the tide came in and wet his legs. At that point the king is said to have realised that he and his powers were not as great as he had thought. Supposedly saying something like “Let all the world know that the power of kings is empty and worthless, and there is no king worthy of the name save Him by whose will heaven, earth and the sea obey eternal laws.” Well, you get the point…right?

Cnut attempting – or even pretending – to command the waves of the sea is supposedly a true story. Even if it is an old myth then it’s still a great example of how power goes to some people’s heads. As the old saying goes: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I seem to recall mentioning King Cnut in an old post back in February 2019 – Wow! Not long after we arrived in Oz, and just as this scamdemic was gaining momentum. That post was predominantly about Electric cars but is well worth a read if you missed it (click here).

Going naked…

King Cnut actually existed whether the tale of the waves is true or not. The Emperor’s New Clothes however is a children’s fairy tale written by Hans Christian Anderson in 1837. I am sure you all know it but here’s a quick recap…

Two conmen meet an emperor who spends lots of state money on clothes rather than genuine state matters. The conmen spot an opportunity and pretend to be tailors. They offer to supply him the most amazing clothes that just so happen to be invisible to anyone who is too stupid to see them. The emperor hires them, and they set up equipment as if to start work. Government officials, and even the emperor himself, visit them to check their progress. Everyone can see that no equipment is being used but pretends otherwise to avoid being thought a fool. Finally, the ‘tailors’ announce that the emperor’s suit is ready to wear. They pretend to dress him and the emperor sets off on a tour of the city to show off his new clothes. The people of the town feel awkward but go along with the pretence, for fear of being called “stupid”. Finally a child blurts out that the emperor is wearing nothing at all. The people then realize that everyone has been fooled.

And here’s what it means…

It is a cautionary tale about something called ‘pluralistic ignorance’. “What??!” – I hear you cry. Well pluralistic ignorance is described as a situation in which the majority of a group of people privately disagree with what is seen as the norm, but go along with it anyway because they assume (incorrectly) that most others in the group accept it. Put more simply; “no one believes it, but everyone thinks that everyone else believes it”.

The term “emperor’s new clothes” has become an idiom that is familiar to young and old alike. Pretty much everyone knows what the term refers to yet why are so few speaking out at this present time when we have so many obviously artificial ’emperors’?

For what it’s worth, this is exactly where I believe we are right now. Not only in Australia, although it is more prevalent here at this moment. Everyone knows the stories of Cnut and the naked emperor. The majority also realise what those tales mean. So let’s hope enough of them wake up and equate those tales with what is currently going on.

We have politicians who think they have absolute power and can reach a mythical “zero covid”.  There are health/medical “advisors” telling them what they want to hear while simultaneously massaging their own egos and exaggerating the scale of the supposed “threat”. All the while enjoying their new found fame as they appear on TV 24/7. This whole thing is aided and abetted by the media who (for whatever reasons) do not want to stray from the party line. The media never properly question anything. Not even remotely.

There are many who can see right through the whole scam but anyone – like the ‘child’ in the story – who shouts out what is really going on is immediately called a fool or worse. And so they go along with it… And here we are…

Last Words…

In summary: The power has gone to the heads of the state Prime Ministers in Australia. “Zero covid” is a crazy policy and is just like trying to stop the waves. The power grab has been done on the back of mass hysteria of an over-egged “threat”. Yes of course there is a disease but it is not as bad as they have made out. There is so much to argue against it but none of them are saying so. Even though they can see it. In this sense they are effectively naked.

All I can say about them all is: What a bunch of Cnuts! (sic)

A New Milk Tray Man in the Making?

If you are as old as me you will remember the old Milk Tray adverts. The man dressed in black, diving into shark infested waters, avoiding stampeding yak to climb a Mongolian castle walls, skiing just ahead of a deadly avalanche, hanging from a helicopter. ‘The Milk Tray Man’, as he became known, performed these death defying stunts and raids like some James Bond type dude. You name it, the Milk Tray man did it.

Why did he do all of those things? Well, they tell you, right at the end of the adverts:

“And all because the lady loves Milk Tray”

To deliver a box of Milk Tray chocolates to a “lady” that we never really see.

The classic ads ran from 1968 to 1984 with the Australian actor Gary Myers playing the daredevil chocolate delivery man. Beats the shit out of Deliveroo eh? (and other such annoying food delivery companies). The same theme of ads returned in the early 2000s and again around 2016 to mark the brand’s 100th anniversary. But I can’t really recall any of the more recent ads. Maybe they are just not as memorable.

Future Milk Tray Man?

What’s all this got to do with being an old dad then? Apart from me being old enough to remember those early adverts…. Well, Dani is building up to his own Milk Tray advert the way he is going. He is getting to be quite an action kid. The latest adventure sport he has been learning is sailing. Over this past year he has skied, surfed and sailed his way around. All things I could only have dreamed of when I was his age. I guess that’s the best part of being an old dad. Your son can get to do all (or at least some) of the things you couldn’t…

But then despite all the action and despite the fact that he really enjoys it all, he would still rather sit at home all day on the bloody iPad playing or watching youtube videos about video games. That’s the way kids his age are these days… I know.

If he doesn’t start to reduce his dependency on that bloody iPad this summer I will help his Milk Tray Man training by throwing him into shark infested waters. Easily arranged in these parts.

Those old ads…

In today’s world, adverts like this would probably be classed as sexist, or some other “ist”. But back in the 70s (and 80s) this series of ads was absolutely top class. It worked too. Everyone knew what these adverts were for. Also they never fell foul to that classic advertising f*ck up. The one where the ads are so good that people remember the adverts but not the product. Oh no! Everyone, absolutely everyone, knew the tag line at the end that mentioned the product.

Here are a few examples if you are not familiar with the ads. Or worse still, you have forgotten them!

 

Audition for the role?

And finally, here is Dani’s new calling card…

Surf Lesson – Again

What a difference a week makes. Last week when Dani had his first surfing lesson the water was wild and there was hardly anyone on the cold beach. Today was another surfing lesson for the boy but the weather was a whole lot better. It was a fairly early lesson but the place was buzzing. The fine weather brought everyone out.

A very busy Bondi beach
With more than a few surfers fighting over the waves…

Surf Lesson

The following photos tell the story of how the lesson goes – generally. The ups and downs of it all…

A bit of coaching never hurt anyone…
The lad takes it quite seriously. Which is good.
It was always a battle with the waves.
Sometimes he can get up…
But not for long…
Try again…
More like it lad…
Well done Dani

He has really taken to it. He loves it in fact. Who can complain about that? If he keeps this up he will be just like a local by the end of the summer.

The best part is that you can see he is annoyed with himself when he falls. Then he gets straight back out there. I must admit I am very impressed with his resilience. He has even mentioned getting his own board. That may be one for Santa. Unless we break that story to him… Then he will get it from us.

 

 

The Birds and The Bees…. And Dogs

I think my son is definitely too young to be having that conversation about ‘the birds and the bees’ . But he did ask me about that subject while we were out walking the other day.

He has developed an interest in dogs. Mostly about the fact that there are so many different breeds. He asked what dogs we had when I was younger and I told him that mostly the dogs we had (and most others had) were cross breeds (aka ‘mongrel’ dogs). So I had to explain what that meant. Including that some dogs were such a mix of breeds that it was hard to tell which pure breeds they came from. But it wasn’t long before he came back with questions.

“So if you if you cross a German shepherd with a greyhound you get a fast dog that’s good for training.” He said as the penny dropped.
“Yes, that’s more or less it.”
“But how are there dogs from lots of different breeds?”
“Well if you cross that German shepherd/greyhound mixed breed with another that is a labrador crossed with a dalmation, what would you get?”
“Ah, yeah. It would be like part greyhound, part dalmation, part German shepherd and part labrador. I get it now.”
“Yes. And so on and so on. Eventually they can be so totally mixed up that you probably wouldn’t be able to tell what breeds they came from.”

Great, I thought. Now he understands the concept of cross bred dogs and mongrel mutts he will be happy with that for a while.

Wrong.

He continued talking about it for a while safe in the knowledge that he fully understood it all (as they tend to do at that age). Then he asked the real question.

“Dad. How do you breed dogs?”
“Well, you put a dog and a bitch together and they just get on with it.” There was a short pause…
“But how do you make them breed? What do they do?”
“I think they just know what to do. They just do it. Nobody has to show them.”

That should be enough I thought. But he was clearly still thinking about it.

Eventually he did that ‘lightbulb moment’ thing. “Ah! I get it.”

Oh, here we go, I thought.
“They breed” he said nodding. Pause. Then, “I get it.”

I think he convinced himself that he knew. He changed the subject – slightly – to what a dog would be like if you crossed breed A with breed B (you know the kind of way that goes right?)

Well, I am not sure he does ‘get it’, but I managed to dodge that one. For the moment. Actually I think when it finally comes around, that particular one will be easier than the Santa conversation. Even easier than the WWE (wrestling is fake) conversation…

Spring Surfing

Today Dani went surfing at Bondi Beach. It was bloody freezing and the conditions a bit wild but he still loved it.

Here’s a mix of photos to get a flavour… With some dodgy music. I may change that…

OK. Changed the original music for this better known track…

Movie Reviews – Films Like Groundhog Day

The thing with lockdowns is every day is kind of the same. I can’t believe that I just used the word ‘lockdowns’ in a (fairly) serious sentence – but hey… Each day can feel a bit like Groundhog Day.

On that subject I thought I would look at some more movies with that Groundhog Day stuck-in-a-time-loop theme. And the first thing I found out was that there are quite a few. Some I had seen. Others I made a point of watching. One each day, for several groundhog-day-like days….

Here are my (brief) reviews of the time loop movies I have seen (so far). So next time you are stuck in lockdown (which may be sooner than you think), you too can go through this list and check them out…

Groundhog Day (1993)

A.k.a. the ‘original’ – as in the first one of this genre/theme that I remember seeing – and best. I have watched this one with my son and he likes it already. I have lost count of the number of times I have watched this one but every now and again it’s still great to watch. This movie is the yard-stick for all others made on this theme. Even though this one was a comedy and some other time-loop themed movies are basically repeat violence.

Palm Springs (2020)

Starring Andy Samberg – aka Rod in Hot Rod, a very funny movie I have watched several times with Dani. That was enough to get me to sit through this one. And it wasn’t too bad. Samberg plays Nyles, who attends a wedding and gets sucked into a time loop that appears in a cave following an earthquake. Unlike most other films of this genre the same thing can – and does – happen to others. One of them is Sarah, the sister of the bride and maid of honour. The two kind of team up once they realise they are stuck in the same day. After a bit of fun Sarah decides to do her own thing on each (repeat) day in an effort to break the time loop. And… well, I won’t spoil it… Fairly similar to Groundhog Day but with a few more adult themed moments. Worth watching. Quite good fun.

Happy Death Day (2017)

Theresa is a not so nice college girl. On her birthday (Monday 18th) she gets killed and has to relive the day over and over until she can find out who her killer is. But each time she is killed she gets weaker as her body somehow retains the scar tissues etc… This is a bit like Groundhog Day meets Scream (or some other slasher movie). I thought it was quite good and had a couple of good little twists at the end. A lot like the ‘original’ in that she starts off being unkind to people then turns into a better person. Oddly enough this one spawned a sequel: Happy Death Day 2U (made in 2019) which I will probably get around to watching soon.

12:01 (1993)

Made the same year as the ‘original’ but totally passed me by – until now. It stars Jonathon Silverman (one of the two lads in Weekend at Bernie’s, a daft easy to watch 80s movie – another one I have watched with Dani and he liked as much as me). He plays Barry an office worker at a high-tech electrical company that is working on a particle accelerator. Something goes wrong and the whole world gets stuck in an eternal loop, stuck in the same day. Barry receives an electrical shock just as the particle accelerator is activated and so he is the only one who can recall or realise they are all reliving the same day. He falls for Lisa one of the scientists at the company and when she gets shot he gets as many chances as he needs to solve the crime. Also starring Martin Landau (Mr. Space 1999) as Dr. Moxley.

Whereas Groundhog Day restarts at 6am This one – as the title suggests – repeats at one minute past midnight. Similar enough to the ‘original’ but still watchable. Well, the whole ridiculous idea is the perfect formula for good movies isn’t it?

Boss Level (2020)

Kind of like Groundhog Day with swords and machine guns.

It stars Frank Grillo as a retired special forces soldier who tries to escape a never-ending time loop that always end with his death. The movie co-stars Mel Gibson and Naomi Watts. A good entertaining all out action movie with lots of gore and a high body count. Although it is generally the same bodies being killed – just repeatedly… Definitely worth a watch if you don’t mind a bit of violence.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Tom Cruise plays Major William Cage and army PA guy who gets sucked into front line combat against an alien invasion force. The aliens are known as “mimics”. There are two main types of “mimic”; the Alpha and the Omega. The Omega is a kind of super organism with the ability to reset time. While fighting for his life in his first battle Major Cage gets exposed to the blood of an Alpha and he acquires that same ability to reset the day. Another enjoyable all action violent flick. For those who like that sort of thing.

A bit like Groundhog Day meets War of the Worlds (one version of which also starred Cruise).

ARQ (2016)

Another that just passed me by I have to admit. A Netflix movie that didn’t show up on my radar until now. This is a darker movie than the others in this list but not with the glorified body count of Boss Level and Edge of Tomorrow. The whole day does not repeat in this movie but the time loop lasts only a few hours. The loop repeats from 6.16 (a.m. I assume) to 9.16 (I think) each day in this one. An engineer has built some form of perpetual power machine – called the ARQ – that could help the planet but it turn out to be a time (loop) machine. When intruders enter his house he has to learn how to repel them as he learns more each time. After several repeats however others begin to realise it is not exactly “déjà vu” they are experiencing, and this complicates matters. It is not quite a spoiler alert to say that this movie has an odd ending…

It was watchable- just. But like so many of Netflix productions it just falls short of being really good. Is it me or are Netflix just unable to make really good movies? They always seem to be just about OK. Anyway, watch it for yourself and you decide.

Brownie and Coke? What!?

Dani helped his mum making brownies today. He weighed out some ingredients using the new scales and then mixed them. He was quite pleased with his work so decided I had to check it out.

“Dad. Come and look what I mixed.”
“OK, what?”
“Look” he said proudly pointing. “It’s just cocaine and flour.”
“What?” (laughing)
“Yeah cocaine and flour”
Cocoa and flour” his mum interrupted.

He laughed as if he realised what he had said. But did he?

“Do you know what cocaine is?” I asked.
“No. Not really.”
“Thought not lad.”
“It’s a drug” his mum informed him.
“Oh!” (laughing)

It made me laugh. But where did he get that from?

Where?

I really don’t recall ever mentioning the word at any time in his company. Or any time at all in the last year or so  come to that. I admit I swear in front of him. I know I shouldn’t and do try to cut that out. But mentioning the word “cocaine”? Never, as far as I can recall. I would have had no reason to. It has not appeared as the subject of anything we have watched on TV either.

So where did he get it from? He doesn’t even know himself. I can only assume it has been mentioned in one of those bloody youtube videos he watches about video games. But really not sure. His mum thinks it may be in the lyrics of some song he has heard. Maybe.

For now it remains a mystery. As long as he doesn’t go around school talking about it then I am not too concerned. It’s one of those crazy things that could end up in a visit from the police! I have heard of ‘space cake’ (cake with marijuana) but brownies with coke? It’s a new on on me…