Blink and you miss it…

“Thank you facebook!”

Hmmm. So it’s been two and a half years since I posted an update?? What’s that about?! The answer might be: EAVB_EXRNGYOPGC

A large part of the blame rests with facebook. I signed up in October (ish) 2007 looking for long lost Prendies to join in our Class of 1997 ten year reunion. Now I think I start most days with a visit to facebook.

Still… Good or bad? It’s hard to say. Wait until they start making us pay for it.

So just to prove I’m still alive and/or get the attention of anyone who still reads this site, I am creating a post today and will aim to come back again this month. The month of July is more about tax returns than new year’s resolutions, but… whatever.

I’ll sign off for now as I have only one other thing to say (in case you missed it the first time): EAVB_EXRNGYOPGC

And there you go.

So this is 2008

“Not quite as I planned…”

It has been a very long time since I have updated this blog. It has also been about 8 weeks since I could type with two hands (and right now I can still only manage a few paragraphs before it gets too painful) so I hope my peers will forgive me if it is a while longer before any regular posts start appearing.

I had a busy six months between April and October. Everything from a new job to my sister’s wedding to my ten year high school reunion. I found myself with very little free time at all. I managed to keep going to the gym and spent a lot of time on people who mattered to me (at the time). However, the only pages I have kept up to date have been my Movies list and my Fitness page. The rest of my efforts have gone into the reunion website and perhaps Facebook – which I joined to try and track down some more of my high school friends prior to the reunion.

It wasn’t until November that things slowed down and, unfortunately, not in a good way. An accident at work left me with some rather serious damage to my right arm and I am still only a few weeks into rehab. Now I know there are worse things in life, but this is one of the hardest I have done and probably the most serious medical / physical problem I have had to deal with (switching back to left hand only now).

I will probably write a bit more when I can, but in the meantime, I’ve been keeping a photo album of the accident and my recovery over at:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=20646&id=579851101&ref=mf

or

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=20646&id=579851101&l=4826e&ref=share
(for those who don’t want to sign in to Facebook)

When I am closer to fully recovered, I have several half-finished articles (not relating to my injuries) that I want to get up on this site, but it’s just going to have to wait…

Hi to everyone who has helped me out lately or offered me encouragement.

Happy New Year to you all!

America @ The Sheraton

“Where there ain’t no one for to give you no pain”

For the past few days a band you might just have heard of have been staying at the Sheraton. They are called America. There must have been a concert here in town somewhere, but in between times the band members had time to hang out at the bar with the regulars (me included, I suppose) just like everyone else. One such regular, Keith, who is on an extended holiday from Cambridge in the U.K., has been chatting to them every night this week – he is more of a fan than me because he’s a little bit older than I am and grew up listening to their music. Most people from my generation would recognise their first single, “A Horse With No Name” (1972), but not much else. While a few of my personal favourites also include “Lonely People” (1975), “Tin Man” (1974) and “Ventura Highway” (1972), which you might recognise from the 2001 Janet Jackson hit “Someone To Call My Lover((♫)) which re-used the distinctive guitar riff from the original song ((♫)).

In any case, I said hello a few times whenever I happened by, but I guess I am getting used to celebrities passing through and brushing past at the bar, because I didn’t even think to take any photos. Although last night when Vanessa and I stopped in together one of the band members decided that we were probably, “…an actor and his model wife.” We quickly pointed out that we are not married (just a couple of comfortably single people keeping each other company; though I’m happy to be thought of as an actor), but maybe the reality is that anyone could be famous – an actor, singer, musician or model – given the right opportunity and preferably a little talent too! They fly out tonight (in about an hour), so it might just be me and the other barflys in The Lobby Lounge tonight. :)

Amongst the famous faces who have happened by in the past 12 months [almost] that I have been living here in town, there’s been Guy Sebastian, Snow Patrol, Slayer (better yet, check this out), Mastodon and now America. I am sure there were others, but I’m not there every night…! The regulars, such as Des and Keith, are always around, chatting to Jose, Riccardo, Vanessa, Lochlan and Rocky who are all superstars in their own right. (Cameron and Celine have both moved on now.)

And then of course, we have had our very own resident piano players, Ric Stern and Chris Martin. When I first got there Ric was playing four nights a week and we became good friends. He does some amazing stuff including covers of Sinatra, Gershwin, Bacharach, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and show tunes out of everything from Cats to Love Story to Casablanca. It really was great to hear those famous old songs played live while drinking a scotch or brandy on a Winter’s night. Ric has also since moved on, but I grabbed a couple of autographed albums before he left and we still keep in touch via email.

These days, Chris Martin has the place to himself and he’s on most nights of the week and the weekend, if you are passing by…

Chris Martin?

Yes, Chris Martin! The guy from Coldplay. …Nah, just kidding. Same name, but it’s not him. Though he does play that song! Chris keeps making this joke and somehow, it hasn’t got old yet. He really is a great entertainer, mind you.

Chris will take requests and chats to the audience throughout the night. His repertoire includes a variety of modern and well known pieces from James Morrison and Billy Joel to Robbie Williams and Jamie Foxx. I personally like his cover of Walking In Memphis, which is usually followed by several encores. He also plays one or two songs that he has written himself. I’ve asked him for lessons, but he’s a bit busy at the moment and I’ve just this week found somewhere else I can go to learn… (More on that later.)

So there you go, the Superstars and Legends that you’ll meet in the Sheraton Lobby Lounge any night of the week.

We haven’t had Kylie or Billy Joel drop in just yet…

…..but I can keep hoping.

TTFN

– Jonathan

Personal Training Session #4

“No… more… push ups. *blech* “

Before I write anything else – let me just say

H A P P Y   2 1 s t   B I R T H D A Y !

to my brother Toby who is 21 TODAY.

He is planning a party soon, so I am told. However we (including him) are all so busy over the next week or two that he has postponed the actual celebration until it won’t interfere with getting on with uni work or anything else the morning after. It will happen (I’ll make sure of it), but it may be a week or two away at the moment.

Now on with this post…

Some people would find this hard to believe, but I actually look forward to going to my personal training sessions. Sure, it’s hard work, but that is good because I probably achieve more when I have someone pushing me to keep going, but also qualified enough to judge what I should be able to handle. So far, I have been very happy with Claire at CBD for the very professional blend of coaching, instruction and encouragement that she manages to provide.

Each week she is pushing me a little harder it seems. From a basic chest and arm workout using the machines, I am now moving on to lifting weights and alternating to short bursts of cycling in between to let me “relax” while keeping my heart rate up. I am basically forced to do a minimum number of ‘reps’ on each exercise, get through a certain number of push ups without stopping and when told to keep within a particular rpm range on the bike there are “penalties” for slowing down or speeding up – i.e. more time on the bike doing the right speed.

By the end of a personal training session, the thought of doing another push-up makes me physically ill. On the plus side, it is no problem to go and cycle for a while – which is exactly what I do. I have gone from struggling to get through fifteen minutes, up to 30 minutes to now spending a full hour on the bike – which covers a distance of anywhere up to 15kms and burns more kilojoules than I will consume when I go home and have dinner. So while the training session is helping with muscle building, the cycling is helping me lose weight. I.e. more muscle, less fat. I am already feeling and seeing the difference and my bathroom scales will back me up (now in Week 16).

So are there any side effects to getting fit?

There certainly are!

Not only have I started feeling like I have more energy and looking a little trimmer (and healthier), I find myself doing really odd things like jogging into town without getting puffed and doing push ups while waiting for the spin cycle to finish when doing my laundry. Truly disturbing!! I also own a belt which has mysteriously grown larger, forcing me to wear it one size smaller for it to fit. Weird!

If all of that isn’t enough to put you off (/sarc), CBD sent me a couple of freebies. One for my birthday and one for Easter. I have no idea who to give them to right now, so if you want one drop me an email or claim them below.

——8<——————————————————————————————————————

logo-plus-info-cbdVOUCHER #1 – valued at $120

One Month Membership at
CBD Health Spa or Lady CBD.

Includes Free Health Assessment and
full use of the gym and fitness classes.

——————————————————————————————————————>8——

logo-plus-info-cbdVOUCHER #2 – valued at $99

One Month Membership at
CBD Health Spa or Lady CBD.

Includes Free Health Assessment and
full use of the gym and fitness classes.

——8<——————————————————————————————————————

I am not too sure why they are worth different amounts as they appear to be the same thing…

Either way, they are sitting on my desk until someone claims them. Care to join me? Respond below or drop me a line.

TTFN

– Jonathan

Code Update

“Better. Stronger. Faster.”

I have always enjoyed programming. Mainly because it is an opportunity to blend technical skills with creativity when creating something from scratch. Web programming even more so, since there is a stronger visual element to it and virtually everything you code (and type) is on display.

Now admittedly WordPress has done most of the hard work for me. Nearly all of it in fact, but, in the few weeks since I started this web page, I have still had to brush up on some basic HTML coding skills in order to get things to look the way I want them to. Every time you see a link to another page, formatting such as bold, italics, “quotes” or colours, or photos embedded within a page, there are commands being entered in between the English text that actually makes up each post. This is what makes a page interesting to look at, allows better expression and organisation of ideas and allows me to incorporate links to other sites so that, hopefully, while reading my page, the reader (that’s you!) will be able to follow the leads to further reading and resources on a topic that interests them. If you have ever spent a serious amount of time reading Wikipedia, you will know what I am talking about.

Basically I am trying to make my pages less two-dimensional. I want something more than just words on a page. I want things that grab your attention, lead you around the site, keep your attention and spark off new ideas as well. So a lot of work has gone into the details and time has been spent working on the other pages that make up this blog as well as all the behind the scenes stuff that keeps things consistent and makes the content more readable.

For instance, you will notice that I have tweaked the About Me, My Life, PC-PHIX and Cars pages, while neatening up the rest of the site too. Every week I update the Fitness section when I “weigh-in” on a Saturday morning, and again, I have enhanced the layout somewhat and added some graphics. Then I made some improvements to the static elements (left and right hand columns that run all the way down the page) including breaking up the “Links” section (it is now Friends’ Sites, Links, Meetup and My Other Pages) and edited the plain text sections Latest Song, Latest Movie and Latest Book to include links for anyone who wants to know more or see/hear for themselves. I then re-uploaded all of the graphics I had used but at a better resolution and optimised everything for resolutions other than what I use – 1680×1050.

Last, but my no means least, I have completely updated and reworked the Phictionary and Movies pages to include an index that lets you jump from section to section and then back to the top to make it easier to find what you are looking for without endless scrolling. This is a fairly simple idea that I was using in these two unpublished pages from the PC-PHIX website.

There has of course been one side-effect to all this hard work. So for any of you who have noticed a significant delay between the date on the post and the day it actually appeared, now you know why. The posts were still written on the day that it says. Most were either typed up or at least dictated as soon as I got home on that day. But by the time I got around to proof-reading, editing and adding the links and photos… things were running a little behind. On the plus side, I have nearly caught up and future posts will be a lot easier to do now that all the other work is out of the way. At least now if there is a “slow news week” I can work on putting up any unfinished posts instead, so there is always going to be something fairly recent on the front page from now on.

As always, any comments, criticism, suggestions or corrections (!) are always welcome. Just drop me an email or leave me a comment below.

TTFN

– Jonathan

Hip Mo’ Toast @ Jazz Fremantle

“A toast to you.”

While looking around online last Wednesday for upcoming jazz performances in the area, I was pleasantly surprised to see a very familiar name – Hip Mo’ Toast Big Band. Before reaching for my “top hat, white tie and tails”, I checked out the full details on their website and then emailed Les to see if he and Cat would join me.

After spending the afternoon walking around Freo (might blog about that later), we arrived, just before 4pm, at Jazz Fremantle which is hosted in the Navy Club in High Street. The place was quickly filling up, yet we managed to grab front row seats – score!

The stage was occupied by a Kawai upright piano, double bass, Yamaha drum kit, three trumpets, two trombones, a tenor saxophone, two alto saxophones, one baritone saxaphone, several microphones and a collection of percussion items that included plastic fruit and a garden trowel….. This should be good.

I will explain at this point that the three of us (certainly Les and I) have been fans of this particular band for some time. I first saw their lead vocalist, Libby Hammer, in concert back in 1995 performing with WAYJO at the Perth Concert Hall. I was 15 and still studying music and she certainly made an impression. We were then introduced to Hip Mo’ Toast the band, back in November 2003 while doing some work for Phantom Music / MGM Distribution. These guys are a Perth-based record label / distribution company and at the time, PC-PHIX was supplying and maintaining their computers, networking, printers and CD production facility. Since he knew Les and I are both very interested in music, Rosco would occasionally pass along an album to Les or I (depending on the artist and who was doing the work at the time). Rosco has worked with some very well known artists including John Butler Trio, Cartman, Fourth Floor Collapse, Spencer Tracy, Crawlspace and a favourite of mine, The Whitlams, but this time around Les scored a copy of Mischievous Girl by Hip Mo’ Toast.

The album was an instant favourite with both of us (I play something from it at least once a week even still) and years later, seeing them on stage was even better than I thought it would be! Libby is expecting soon, as you can see from the photos, and needed to take a break every so often, but they still managed to power through 3 x 50 minute sets that included two of my favourites, “My Wee Bonita” ((♫)) and “Kiss Of Fire” ((♫)), a decent version of “Sway” and the very amusing “I Said No”. The rest of the pieces included smooth jazz, ballads, funk and some distinctly latin pieces with the trumpets used to full effect. It was quite a range of styles and sounds, meanwhile Libby chatted casually and candidly to the audience throughout.

At the end of the performance, we stopped to say “Hi”. Les got his CDs signed and everyone left with a big smile on their face.

I will certainly be looking out for future concerts.

Other than that, here are a couple of photos to give you some idea what it was like…

2007-04-15-hip-mo-toast

TTFN

– Jonathan

Slayer @ The Sheraton

“At Dawn They Sleep.”

What a surreal experience!

Last night I stopped in to see the guys across the road at the Sheraton for a “drink” after work. Everyone there knows I’m not drinking any more so we’re working hard to come up with mocktails instead. I am rapidly getting tired of orange juice and pineapple juice and I’m supposed to be avoiding soft drinks too (the diet).

I get talking to a guy called Jack Pearson and we have a few laughs. He works for SKM, but lives in Canberra, I vaguely know the area he is talking about from my trip last year. He mentions the only bar I know in Canberra (The Hippo Bar) and it turns out to be his favourite. Next thing we are discussing work and drinking “Pearson Spritzers” – a drink of his own design; again alcohol free. It goes: Tall glass; soda, lime, bitters (until the glass is half full); top up by layering orange juice over it; garnish with a slice of lime and/or orange. Rocky at the Sheraton lounge bar has it perfect after a couple of goes and promises to try to have it added to the menu permanently.

Next up Jack goes to talk to some friends and a new couple sit down beside me. They start asking me questions about scotch and it turns out they are also IT people. They offer to buy me a drink (a scotch) and I decline. The stunning blonde of the pair explains she works for Rio Tinto and is in town to give a presentation tomorrow (today). We chat for a while, but they seem a bit (a lot) smashed and are more into each other. I hang out with Jack some more who has brought a bunch of friends down from a conference upstairs.

About midnight Slayer and Mastodon (and their crew) roll up. The place is packed. Sheraton staff, Rio Tinto people, my friend Jack and his friends from the conference, 2 heavy metal bands and me. We all hang out.

I have a few interesting conversations with Jeff Hanneman and meet the other band members too. Jeff constantly holds up the fact that I am wearing a full suit as proof of the point he is making. “This guy likes our music and he turned out OK.” “This guy is wearing a suit and he’d support the death penalty.” He gives me a solid explanation of why they sing about the things they do. It’s reality. He doesn’t want to sing about “sunshine and flowers and love and that bullsh*t. F**k that!”. Later me and Brent Hinds from Mastodon get kicked off the piano (sorry Chris!) by security and everyone complains and threatens to “break sh*t and leave”. It’s very rock and roll. I’m posing for a photo with Jeff when Brent shoulders in. He spills Jeff’s VB and Jeff storms off. I get a photo with Brent instead.

2007-04-13-brent-hinds-and-me

I could have removed the red-eye or taken another photo, but it seemed appropriate to leave it as it was… heh heh.

It’s about 3am when I finally hit the road and the guys from Mastodon give me directions on how to cross the road to my house safely.

These guys are in their mid-forties doing the same thing they were doing when they were in their mid-twenties. I watched them drink pints of VB with shots of Jägermeister (and vice versa), martinis, cocktails and shots of sambuca. The humour was fast, witty and satirical. But these guys are basically just normal guys – musicians who’ve enjoyed success and continue to get up and do what they believe in.

I got an autograph from Jeff, some guitar picks/plectrums from Dave and some photos. I didn’t take many or ask them to pose (though they seemed willing to do so) because really I was more interested in just hanging out and talking to them. Some other people there that night got a few posed pictures. If I get hold of them I’ll come back and add them here.

In meantime…

2007-04-13-slayer-at-the-bar

A set of photos take at various points in the evening. Look closely and you’ll see a few famous faces.

2007-04-16-slayer-autograph

My autographed Sheraton napkin (signed by Jeff) and guitar picks from Kerry and Dave.

I only managed to get a few hours sleep last night (enough to do my job this morning), but it was an awesome way to start Black Friday.

TTFN

– Jonathan

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