December 2009 Archives

2009 Year in Review

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This will end up being my year in review post.  When I actually get around to writing it ;)

Just putting a placeholder here cause MT is pretty crap at back dating across months.

..

So. 2009.  

Certainly not as *big* a year as 2008.

We've been in our house over a year now, but it's still not really "settled".  We did buy a nice big dining table, but that's about it.  We still haven't fully organised the rumpus room (although shelves are finally on order!!), and so "my" hobby room has been held up because of that (and because I've been too lazy to try and Freecycle all the crap that's been dumped in there).  We've only put hooks in the wall for one thing (my big Lego mosaic) so most of our pictures are still waiting for somewhere to go.  The spare bedroom has continued to be really really useful, and we've had a steady stream of people staying the night (mostly my brother heh).  The pool has been *brilliant*.  Mostly got the hang of taking care of it, so hopefully we don't get any algal blooms this year.

Work has been variable again this year.  The first half of the year feels like a bit of a blur.  I got a couple of big projects completed mostly on schedule.  The second half of the year was mostly working on the one thing, which we tried but failed to get into production by Christmas.  All through the year it was just insanely busy.  Not as insane as Stu's work though.  He was essentially doing three people's work and the stress of it all was taking a toll on his health.  So when an ex colleague had a positition advertised, she said he should apply.  Which he did, and he got it.  So a new year and a new job for the sweetie.

Our big holiday of the year was a trip to Japan for two weeks.  It was a significant challenge to try and organise because we went with a total of six people.  In the end Nat and I did the majority of the planning which worked reasonably well.  The holiday was *fantastic*!! - had a really great time.  Wish we could have stayed longer - at least twice as long would have been the bare minimum I think.

Went to Sydney a few times - in January over the long weekend while Stu played in Cancon - just caught up with lots of my friends and family.  Also in October for a primarily touristy weekend - even stayed in a hotel!  And then for Christmas and again for New Years.  Went down to Malua Bay with DC three times in March, April and October.  Mostly just us and him, but we did get Neil down for the October weekend.  And to Kangaroo Valley for Chris B's 50th which was a lot of fun.

Our fish tank numbers remained stable at seven.  We did lose a huge number of fish in the heatwave in February (where we had three consecutive 40C days with no cooling down at night).  All the julis, all but one of the adult multis, and all the tetras and the other little fish died.  The young multies and my angel were the only upstairs survivors.  I replaced the tetties with some leopard danios.  The multis grew up and have been breeding like rabbits.  Stu brought home the three julis he had at work and got some leleupies too.  The kribs downstairs I think need to have their tank rearranged, as they just sit there and do *nothing* all day.  Guppy breeding has slowed down dramatically too, not sure what's going on there, maybe needs some new genes..

Fairly quiet Lego year.  Made a nice big mosaic of Australia, and now my mosaics have a hanging place in the spare room.  I dug out and sold a bunch of Space Lego which cleared a little space - but have a long way to go!  And over Christmas built the Star Destroyer and Millennium Falcon to have them on display together.

Movies
  • The Reader - a bit disjointed but interesting
  • Star Trek - really good, although changed too much cannon for my liking
  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - a lot of fun, but a bit weak as a movie compared to the book
  • Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea - very sweet
  • Up - pretty good, a bit dulled by the 3D glasses
  • Avatar - beautiful, but killed by the 3D glasses
Books (this is possibly not all of them)
  • Shere by Michael Crichton
  • all the TOS Star Trek movie books
  • Unreliable Memoirs by Clive James
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • Roald Dahl Fizwizzing collection (except the autobiographies)
  • Inner Space by Nathan Elliot
  • The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
  • The Daily Coyote by Shreve Stockton
  • First four Little House books by Laura Ingalls-Wilder
  • Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy
  • The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
  • E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial by William Kotzwinkle
  • It Sucked and then I Cried by Heather Armstrong of Dooce.com
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams

Other snippets
  • Had some car trouble - battery was only a year and a half old, but kept dying, probably because of the central locking draining it.  NRMA battery dude who eventually replaced it after Christmas didn't seem overly competant
  • Got frustrated with the *crap* sold at computer fairs - most of which simply does not work
  • Went to a balloon fiesta in March.  Still haven't been up in one!
  • Went to the Darwin exhibition at the museum with DC
  • Saw The 39 Steps at the theatre with DC
  • Two dust storms - dust so fine the pool filter won't get it out
  • Several anime nights
  • Got a Wii and spent many many hours playing on it
  • Two work trivia nights that our table won, so we got nominated to run the next one.  But it was cancelled at the last minute due to lack of interest.  Also came second in the TAMS trivia night at the stadium.
  • Hard drived died, so got a new one and have been trialling Windows 7
  • Had a Monty Python night - watched the three movies and drank Holy GrAil
  • Frustration with my hosting provider, who did an upgrade and broke my captchas.  Then they did something else that broke logging in October and that hasn't worked since.  For me, it's a case of you get what you pay for (which is nothing, so I can't complain).  
  • Went to Air Guitar championships with Nat - extremelly noisy - would take ear plugs if I went again
  • Went to Newcastle for Stu's grandmother's funeral
  • A couple of fondue nights (cheese/chocolate and meat), and Singstar afternoons at Windy's.  Did a couple of chocolate fondue nights here with ourselves and friends.
  • Went to the snow twice on consecutive weekends - a Sunday then a Saturday - both times with Steve W.
  • Had a hanami festival in our front yard under our blooming cherry tree
  • Went to Floriade Nightfest
  • My highschool penfriend, Pirjo, from Finland, came to stay with us and we went out to Tidbinbilla to see the kangaroos up close
  • Hottest November on record (we completely skipped spring and went from winter to summer)
So there you go.  Happy new year everyone :)

Avatar

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Avatar After dinner at Hog's Breath Cafe last night with Nat&Andrew and Gaelian&Stefanie, we all went along to see Avatar.  

I hadn't seen a single preview for it, or read any reviews, so I went into it with no idea what to expect (which I usually find is a good thing heh).

Stu's complaint was it was totally predictable, and James Cameron ripped off other people's ideas yet again.  And that is true.  But you have to remember that this is a James Cameron Hollywood blockbuster - of course it's going to be like that.  You don't go to a movie like this really expecting any new ideas.  

What you can expect is a movie that visually is utterly stunning and incredibly beautiful.  As someone who likes bright shiny coloured things I was enraptured by the forest at night :)

A big downer for me actually was the 3D.  The glasses really dull the colours and brightness of the picture to the point where even scenes in the sunshine look subdued and lifeless.  I think there's more to lose from the 3D than to gain from the experience (which is fairly distracting anyway).  

So anyway.  The test of a good movie for me is in repeated watchings.  Maybe we'll see it again in 2D ..

Tidying up

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Here's a couple of photos that have been sitting in my "to blog" folder..

A moth..
Moth

Sunbeams..
Sunbeams

Not a photo, but proof that the previous owners of this place must have watered their garden - a lot..
Water usage

Here's a couple of cool Christmas presents I got..

A Spa Bar!!!  Have wanted something like this since we got the pool - way cool!!
Spa Bar

A Princess Peach Racer!!  (I always race with Peach, and using this cart too :) )
Princess Peach Racer

And some cool bars of chocolate we saw in the shops today..

Funny chocolate bars
Funny chocolate bars
Funny chocolate bars
Funny chocolate bars


Been keeping busy

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So we've been keeping busy doing not a lot :)

Realised last night we hadn't left the house in four days :)  Bliss!!

Yesterday morning I finished rebuilding the Millennium Falcon.  It only took twelve hours this time instead of eighteen (so that was six hours of my life last time just hunting for pieces in the bags!  This time each little section was in its own bag from when I pulled it apart carefully).    I found the two 2x3 grey plates which I couldn't find during the first build.  I think I must have added them by mistake in the engines.  Either that or I just missed them this time around :)  But the missing left wing never showed up, and I was still left with a right wing instead.  So think there must have been a mistake in the packaging - doh!  

Look at the difference in colour between the "old" light grey and the "new" light grey!
Star Destroyer and Millenium Falcon

Not quite the same scale :)
Star Destroyer and Millenium Falcon
Last night Nat and Andrew came over and we had some pasta to go with our cheese, and then played lots of Wii into the early hours.  We had fun dressing up Nat's Mii :)

Nat's Mii
This morning the little brother had a look at my battery and confirmed my suspicions that the thing was, in fact, rooted.  So called NRMA out again (last time they came in 20 minutes, this time it was closer to 120 :/  - me poor little brother was trying to leave but very nicely waited around for them).  So they sold me an overpriced battery but the good news is it seems to be working ok now, *and* we decided it was probably the central locking draining the battery too quickly, so that has been disconnected.  So hopefully will be betterer for a while now...


More nothing

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Did a whole lot more of not much today.  Made good progress on the Millennium Falcon.  Watched some Queen music videos and documentaries.  Was inspired to watch Highlander tonight.  Cooked an epic nom pasta bake for dinner.  Played some Wii Winter Olympics.  

Not entirely in that order :)

Epic squee!!!

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Epic want!!!

Epic Squee!!!

More Green Stuff

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Another quiet day at home.  Humidity really began to permeate this arvo.  And tonight the green stuff is back with a vengeance :)

Canberra rainfall

Today's effort

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(started last night)
But finished this in eight hours this time, instead of twelve the first time.  Dividing the pieces up into sections certainly makes a huge difference!

Lego Star Destroyer 10030
Also played some of Nat's Wii games and Sports Resort.

Christmas Day 2009

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Today we got up fairly early.  Well actually we got up at normal time for a weekday :)  Did a bit of a present thingie with the sweetie.

Then headed out to Yass for Stu's family's party.  Was a really wet day, but at least a lovely temperature :)  
Heaps of great food, ate way too much!  I still haven't had any dinner.. hrmm.. :)

Christmas Lunch
Christmas Lunch
Christmas Lunch
Christmas Lunch
The kids
Tonight I dug out my Star Destroyer and started building it while watching Love Actually :)
Love Actually is one of Fifi Box's favourite movies.  She saw it over and over again at the cinemas.  And I have to admit that it's grown on me too.  The first time I saw it I enjoyed it but it passed my test of repeated viewings, and in fact I think I enjoy it more each time.  Or maybe it's just Christmas :)



Green Stuff

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So last night I thought I'd top up the pool after vaccuuming out the last of the dust from the dust storm.  Except it was just before I started dinner preparations and I forgot to set a timer.  Then we were watching carols and I completely forgot about it.  Until I was sitting at my computer and hear water splattering all over the ground :(  Was most depressed that I'd wasted so much water :(  And then at 3am it started raining.  A lot.  The pool will be overflowing yet again.  On a lighter note, at least there's been so much rain that the catchments will have been replaced with all the water I wasted...

3:30am:
Canberra rainfall
6:50am:
Canberra rainfall

From Kazza the Blank One, ("the wishor") to you ("hereinafter called the wishee"), please accept without obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally-conscious, socially-responsible, politically-correct, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the summer solstice holiday, practised within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practise religious or secular traditions at all, and a financially successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2010, but with due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures or sects, and having regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform or dietary preference of the wishee.

By accepting this greeting you are bound by these terms that:

- This greeting is subject to further clarification or withdrawal.

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- This greeting may not be enforceable in certain jurisdictions and/or the restrictions herein may not be binding upon certain wishees in certain jurisdictions and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wishor.

- This greeting is warranted to perform as reasonably may be expected within the usual application of good tidings, for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, which ever comes first.

Trivia Question

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If you were to receive all the gifts in the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas", how many gifts would you receive?

 

Answer tomorrow :)

Orion

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Orion was rising over the house last night and I couldn't resist photographing him..

Orion

Shorts

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It's a disaster!! 

Shorts that I've had since high school have disintegrated in the bottomnal region!!

I suppose I shouldn't complain - I've been wearing these shorts for probably eighteen years or so.  Timing could have been better though - now I only have one pair of shorts to wear over the break - the less comfortable denim ones (that I got in about 1991).  

Which means I'm going to have to go shorts shopping over the break.  I haven't bought any shorts in eighteen years.. I wonder if it'll be hard to find something I like that fits.....

Epic fail continues

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One of my lesser favourite days in the past two years.  Debated on more than one occasion just leaving and not coming back :/   At least until well into next year anyway.

Got home and almost immediately went out again to do the shopping.  (via Dumpling Inn for shredded beef Peking style :) ).  At least Coles is relatively peaceful at eight pm, even three days before Christmas.  

Have got food organised for the next few days, although we didn't buy much in the way of "real" food tonight - just lots of snacks.  Roast pork will be had, but probably Christmas Eve since we have other plans for Christmas Day.  

And plane spotters should open this URL in Google Earth and go squeeee!!
Four days, three parties, and a big fail ....

Friday was the last of our Friday work parties.  We went bowling and I won the loser's er, learner's prize for coming last .. :)  And then we went out for lunch, and then some drinks.  A very pleasant afternoon :)

Learner's prize
Saturday we drove to Sydney and went to two of my cousins's kids's Christenings.  All sorts of cool memories of various Greek events, a good party (if a little too noisy), and catching up with family.  Wished I was coordinated enough to do some Greek dancing, but ended up doing a little ordinary dancing to popular music (and even mum joined in - freaky! :) ).  

Lake George
Various Johnsons
Christening cake
Stu with Leonard
More Johnsons
Sunday was Christmas lunch at the parents'.  The aunties and uncles on mum's side, and the B and SIL came along, so was a great afternoon.

Cockies
Christmas table
Christmas wreath
Pam and Pims
Storm Trooper Last Supper
If at all possible, avoid Macca's at South Goulburn.  It's seriously the worst in Australia.  Even when there's noone there they aren't organised enough to take people's orders and get them right.  Longest wait times ever!!  Stu didn't get what he ordered. Epic fail!!

Maccas sunset
Today was back to work and what should have been a fairly seemless rollout turned out to be epic disaster.  We ended up having to roll back and it was all very depressing.  This product seriously sucks donkey balls.  *sigh*

Four days to Christmas and have barely done any Christmas shopping .. doh..

Still alive

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Contrary to what a lack of blogging for four days might indicate, I am still alive, and I might even blog again tomorrow..

Rainbow Serpent?

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Not a camera toss, but a camera twist...  :)

Rainbow serpent
That's just with the little Sony.  I could get longer exposures on the big one which has a manual shutter setting.. but is not as easy to twist around :)

Camera twist

Please Stop

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*sigh* MT just ate my post.  Well I was going to snip it anyway.

I give up.

Parties, Pizza, Pooped

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So Friday to Sunday.

Friday was the second of three Friday work parties where entirely too much wine was drunk but it was a pretty good party (and I did a round of Christmas trivia).  Dinner of pizza, but ate entirely too much when my stomach wasn't ready for food yet.

Saturday was up at stoopid-o'clock after not having gotten much sleep the night before, and my stomach still wasn't ready for food.  So packed a three-tonne truck full of stuff instead.  Only then did I get hungry.  But then it was off to Hall Showground for yet another party.  This one was a lot of work, but did get to wander around for a while in the morning and even go on a few rides.  Nat wants to go next year.  Packed and unpacked the truck again, and got home at 6:15pm.  Whereupon I had a shower and then we headed out again - to Nat and Andrew's new place.  More pizza for dinner, and Wiiing.  And raspberry nomms for dessert :) Got home very late.  Lucky we didn't fall alseep at the wheel on the way home.

Sunday was collapse in a heap day.  Did pretty much nothing all day.  Kinda needed it.

The bogans moved in on the weekend.  Already being loud and bogany, and parking on the nature strip in front of our house.  This is the one thing I really really dreaded from new neighbours.  Guess God is just laughing at me.  They do have a pretty cool fish tank though, and a cute little puppy.  Should prolly go down and say hello to them soon...

Tomato Bake

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I was going to post tonight about my Friday and weekend, but after three hours of TV (Glee, Bones and Castle) I ran out of time.  So here's the promised Tomato Bake we do.

First up we have our ingredients:

Tomato bake

Yup, that's right, four ingredients!!
Tomatoes (whatever your favourite is), olive oil for drizzling, basil and mozarella cheese.

So first up we chop the tomatoes up.  Place face up in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.

Tomato bake

Bake for about an hour until the tomato is reducing and going mushy.

Tomato bake

Top with chopped basil and cut up mozarella cheese.

Tomato Bake

Stick back in the oven (you can turn the oven off at this point) until the cheese has melted.

Tomato bake

Be careful not to burn your mouth as you devour the nommy goodness :)
400uF-gonebad.jpg
Looks like the elephant foot from Chernobyl.. slightly less dangerous though..

Cheesy Noms

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Talked to Andrew about nothing and felt a bit better.  Especially after cheesy noms...

Cheesy noms

The System

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<snip>

Nothing to say

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Sorry I really have nothing say tonight.

Oh yes I do.  I think the pilot of Tuniter Flight 1153 got a really rough deal getting jailed for their plane crash.  

Quadruple

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So apparently the father-type-person survived his quadruple-bypass today - hurrah!!

And just for fun I put in a twelve hour day today, starting at 3:50am.. gotta love UPS blowups..! (not!)

As requested.. :)

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As requested by Fiona :)

Christmas tree, 2009
And just for fun:

Star burst
Star burst

Save 10

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Just saw this on telly and it cracked me up.. it works better if you can't quite hear the voiceover, just the music :)


Windy

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Tonight (after a fairly quiet day and a quick trip to the markets) we went over to Windy's for a bit of a birthday gathering.  

They did a meat fondue which was pretty cool.  A pot of heated oil that you dip chunks of raw beef into to cook, then a few sauces to dip the meat into.  Was lots of fun and a bit chaotic, and the BIL asked if we were doing any swinging ;)

Meat fondue
Gingerbread cookies
Windy
After dinner was much Singstar to be had :)
Including a variation I'd not heard of before - reverse Singstar - where you're not allowed to look at the screen!  Freaky!  Really only works with songs you know really well though. I had a go at You're The Voice, which I know all the words for, and did ok at it :)

Davids doing Singstar

It's time

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My current mobile phone contract is up, so I'm in the market for a new phone (why keep paying my current monthly bill when I've paid off the handset? - may as well get a new one).  Which leaves me with a dilemma - what sort of phone should I get?

I currently use a Blackberry 8707 - it's old and slow and doesn't have a camera.  My requirements for a new phone include a camera, and GPS would be nice but not essential.  I would also like a qwerty keyboard, as I've gotten quite attached to that over the past four and a half years.  And it needs to be able to use my current email address (not a telco address) and be able to backup any mail I send on it (the Optus BIS service will let you forward all outbound emails to a nominated address).

So what to get?

I originally would have thought there'd be no other choice than another Blackberry.  It's got the keyboard and interface I like, but the new ones don't have a scroll wheel (I find the ball annoying).  And the web browser sucks donkey balls. Or at least current versions do, I haven't seen the lastest version.

Now something I hadn't considered really until today was an iPhone.  Now I generally am anti any i-anything, for no logical reason other than the i-bandwagon that everyone was jumping on (much of the reason why I refuse to use things like MySpace and Facebook, but I suppose that could go against me since I do use Twitter).  

So I am prepared to be convinced.  Sell it to me :)  Can an iPhone do what I want?  Any pitfalls or gotchas?  If there's convincing enough arguments I'll seriously consider it.

(and if there's any Blackberry users out there, same goes for you :) )

Party Party

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Got most of what I wanted to do for the week done by lunch time, so went along to the first of three work Christmas parties.  This one was ok, although it got better after a few beers ;)

Three pinkies
Came home and jumped in the pool - instant refreshment!!

Then headed out again to Nat's birthday dinner.

We gave her a Totoro hat..

Totoro hat
Dinner was the Turkish Grill Restaurant in Erindale.  They kept bringing out all this food, and I'm eating it happily.  They stopped bringing food and I'm all "I'm totally full" .. and then they told me that was just the entree?!?!?  Gah!!  So didn't get to each much of the mains - was simply too full! Doh!  Nat asked me to blog the pictures I had of some of the food.. it was pretty good food!  And heaps of it with the banquet..

Turkish Grill
Turkish Grill
Turkish Grill
Turkish Grill
Turkish Grill
Turkish Grill

Gak gak

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OK that's not really the sound they make.. it's a lot more squawky.. but the little chicklets they're trying to fend people off from are pretty cute :)

Gak Gak chicklets

Trivial.. again..

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Got a last minute invite to the TAMS Trivia Night tonight.  So wandered along to that (couldn't convince the sweetie to come though :( ).  It was a fun night.  Only six rounds of eight questions and a couple of filler rounds.  Funniest thing was there were at least three questions from *our* trivia night (that we never got to hold), that I knew the answers to because of that.  So anyway we were doing ok, in the top half of scores.  Then at the end they read out third place, which we thought we might have had a chance of winning, but it wasn't us.  But then they read out second, and it was our table, and I didn't even realise, and the others were standing up and I'm .. what?? we came second???  Pretty impressive since we only had seven on our table (should have been ten).  So brought home a bottle of plonk and a $20 IGA voucher :)

Crummy

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Stu got himself a crumhorn today, so he had a play of it tonight..

Stu playing crumhorn
Let's just hope he plays it some more and doesn't just store it in the cupboard along with all his other cool musical instruments :)

Kazza's "Boring Life Of a Geek" aka BLOG

IT geek, originally from Sydney, moved to Canberra in 2007. Married to "the sweetie", aka Stu. Prolific photographer, Lego junkie and tropical fish keeper.

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