Friday, 1 October 2021
After a busy final few days of the non-carnival, we've made it through to what was originally going to be a rest day. It rained a lot yesterday and it's still drizzly today so it's nice to be tucked into our house in front of the heater with only the slight whiff of wet washing to bother us.
Zali has hitched a ride back to Hobart so she can enjoy our house without us for a few days. Jett is staying on with us until Sunday although he's probably regretting it now I've racked up my 2nd chess victory in a row against him. Jon is re-reading Dr Zhivago under a blanket on the couch.
Later on we're heading over to Clare and Jo's place to celebrate Clare's 50th birthday.
Tuesday, 28 September 2021
We're back in St Helens having just competed in the forth event that comprises the remains of the twice cancelled Australian Orienteering Championships Carnival.
Day 1 was held in Launceston - and after originally having the role of IOF Event Adviser (i.e. Fun Police), after the cancellation I was able to slide into a more hands on role and help with getting the event off the ground. Despite not having visited any of the control sites in real life before the day, the event went off without a hitch, and the 100 Tasmanians and 50 or so brave (and stubborn) interstate competitors enjoyed themselves in beautiful weather.
Day 2 was the Tasmanian Middle Distance Championships. I had a steady run which was just enough to win my class. Once again the weather was fantastic and the location by the river near Avoca was delightful.
Day 3 was a 45 minute score event near St Helens. On the start line I cajoled JoM into running it with me so we had a fun time making up the course as we went along and only being a bit late back at the end.
Day 4, today, was a sprint event around the foreshore of Bicheno. I have always loved this area - it's just so spectacular. Once again a steady run proved to be enough to win my course by 15 seconds over Clare.
We're staying in an Airbnb place within walking distance from the shops at St Helens. It's pretty new and we've been checking it out for things we would and wouldn't do with our own holiday house. One thing I'd certainly do would be to provide a big enough dining table with chairs for the number of guests in the house plus a few more. I'd also provide a saucepan large enough to cook pasta (or rice) for the total number of guests the place has capacity to host. Having said that, this place has lots of features I'd like to copy as well like the delightfully soft carpet and nice looking vinyl flooring.
Tonight we went around to Denny and Robin's own rental in Steiglitz for dinner. The Flemings are up here to bike ride and explore the area, so we had an impromptu almost-family-dinner with Paul and Dani too. It was a fun night and I became the slightly-disputed Bananagrams champion of the world.
We've got two more days of orienteering then a couple of days of relaxing before we head back to Hobart.
Our lovely Jett is now 16. Amazing. Here he is modelling some new gear he got from his SA family.
He's just as cute as he always was.
Zali and I had a crafternoon last weekend when we attended a floral workshop down at Kingston Beach Arts Centre.
It was fun and it reminded me of when I used to do quite a few of these in Sydney with my friend Julie.
Monday, 23 August 2021
Fact 1: My sourdough starter died in summer when we went away for a few days so it's been a while since I've made sourdough bread.
Fact 2: Salt and Bicarb Soda look very similar when the jars are positioned like this
Fact 3: If you replace salt with bicarb soda you get bread that looks normal from the outside, but is actually yellow on the inside and has a strange tang.
Fact 4: Well it's more of a tip - rotate the jars before using.
When I'm not side hustling as an orienteering coach, I'm working from home with my cat companion. It's nice.
Kempton is one of those places you drive past on the way to Launceston, but since the bypass in the 80s, almost never drive into.
But for the last 3 weeks I've been running orienteering sessions with all the kids at Kempton Primary School so I've been driving into the cute old town.
Teaching the kids is kind of fun but I have the whole school from K-6 and I may as well be teaching the kindergarten kids how to file a tax return as I am teaching them orienteering - without a grasp on shapes and numbers it's a lot to ask them to interpret symbols on a map. Still they seem to enjoy the modified sessions which is the important part.
Friday, 16 July 2021
Today I had a big day. I left home at 7..
and drove 2.5 hours to Launceston. Then I wandered around the UTAS campus for a few hours in the rain checking control sites.
Then it was back into the car for the 2.5 hour drive to St Helens. I had some daylight hours left so I went straight to Humbug Point and went for a run.
It was a pretty nice 10k run but the last few kms were a bit challenging! The tide was right in and it wasn't possible to get through the tight tea-tree forest at the edge of the water - so it was a matter of wading through the weeds, hoping I didn't step in a hole!
I made it back and drove back to town to find my accomodation. Tomorrow I've got a day of checking bush control sites before heading home.
Sunday, 11 July 2021
Jon and our kids, and 10 other orienteering kids were supposed to be at national junior training camp in QLD this weekend. It had been exhaustively planned and booked and they were even going to get time to go to Movie World before flying home. So it was a bit sad that it had to be cancelled when things started to go wrong again on the mainland.
Luckily some kind orienteers with a spacious shack on the waterfront in Coles Bay very bravely offered it to the group and we were all able to go there for a long weekend.
It wasn't QLD but it was still really nice. We spent the weekend doing a few orienteering training exercises, hiking (the kids went up Mt Amos with most of the other adults while I jog-hiked the hazards circuit), watching the broadcast of the world orienteering champs from the Czech Republic and just hanging around at the shack eating toasted cheese sandwiches. The weather was amazing - cold but sunny & calm. The kids and other adults were great company and everyone pitched in with the cooking/cleaning and everything else. I put out a lot of controls for the training exercises and I just had to take photos of the amazing views the controls had while they waited for customers!
My trip around the hazards was lovely - although it was part of a very big day which included putting out controls in the morning, doing the 17k loop, then participating in the night event (because I couldn't help myself) in the afternoon. The veggie curry that Allison made for dinner was bloody delicious after all of that!
All of this just demonstrates again proving how very very very lucky we are to be living in Tasmania.
Sunday, 20 June 2021
People who regularly attend family dinner at our house rarely see Pinto the cat in person feline. In fact, if they didn't know we had a cat, except for the occasional bit of cat hair in their dinner they'd probably never even suspect it - Pinto keeps a very very low profile with strangers.
Not with us though. Once all the strange people have left our house, she's very affectionate. Most evenings she lurks around the couch area looking for a lap to sit on for the rest of the evening. Once she's settled she's happy to be passed around from lap to lap as people need to get up and get on with things.
She's really been loving Euro 2020 because each morning someone invariably sits down on the couch to watch the morning wrap ups, thus presenting a new opportunity for a nap and a pat.
She's a lovely cat:
Friday, 11 June 2021
My last few weeks have been pretty hectic. First I was juggling jury duty with working my normal job and trying to start a new job. Then once jury duty finished I just had to deal with two jobs but shortly after that both our cars were out of action and Jon was away. Thankfully Jon's back, the cars are fixed and I'm back to just juggling two jobs and prepping for my uni exam next Tuesday. Yeah it's still busy! I have two more weeks of my old job, then a few weeks break from uni before my final semester. Things should get easier.
One thing that has been really nice amongst all the stress of all that juggling has been my commutes. When I catch the bus from Kingston I get to walk down by Whitewater creek to the bus stop:
and when I park near town I get to walk down the Hobart Rivulet Track:
When I was headed to the supreme court, I got to walk through St David's park
Even when it's cold and barely light it's still a nice way to start the day.
6. You don’t need to remember everything. Or maybe even anything.
At the end of the case, the prosecution summed up everything. This went for so long that they then summed up their summing up. Then the defence counsel summed up their case. Then the judge summed up the law as it applied in this case, and then summed up all the evidence that was presented. THEN we went into the deliberation room where we were provided with all the video evidence (on dvd of course - not usb) and all the transcripts from the other witnesses. So really, I could have just turned up for this block of 3 hours ! No - I’m just joking, there was actually a lot gained from seeing the witnesses in person.
7. Is this even legal?
When we do an escape room, it’s emphasised to us that we are not actually locked in. Down at the supreme court they are a bit more free and easy with the whole deprivation of liberty thing and you ARE actually locked in. Really! We couldn’t get out and not only that but there were two heavy doors (one after the other) on each of the two exits. So we were 4 doors away from being heard in case of a fire. We just have to hope the person assigned to look after us remembers us when the court goes up in flames. It was only on the very last day that we were shown that there was a buzzer to attract attention once we had reached a verdict. Maybe they didn't trust us with that knowledge earlier.
8. Sometimes courtroom drama really is like a tv courtroom drama.
Even through it was often hours or even a day since we’d last been in court, the case started up again as soon as we sat down in our jury chairs with out any pre-amble or welcomes, or ‘this is what we are doing todays’. It was like we turned the TV back on at the exact moment the episode recap was over and the new episode began. It was a bit weird.
9. It's probably worth it.
Even though it's a pain, and inconvenient, and unpredictable, my overwhelming feeling is that it’s worth doing jury duty. Even if the case is a bit lame (like my first one) it's really interesting seeing how it all works. I guess the exception would be any sort of case that is so distressing it has lasting effects on your mental health, or one that runs really really long.
Wednesday, 9 June 2021
I realised I didn’t actually mention anything I actually learnt in part 1 - so I’ve added some headings to this part of the story.
1. Don’t try to plan anything.
If you are on jury duty, but not actually on a case, you have to ring an answering machine after 5pm each day to find out if you are required the next day. Yep an Answering Machine (there must be only about 5 left in the state!)- I don’t think I’ve intentionally rung one since the 90s when we used to ring one after frisbee games to advise the comp administrator of the score. The supreme court answering machine rings and rings and rings before the message finally starts up.
I’m flabbergasted that we can’t just be texted, particularly as the messages can be complex as they might only need part of the potential jurors (i.e surnames A-M), and some people like myself can’t turn up for the re-trial of the trial we’d been dismissed from. It’s not like they don’t have our details.
Anyway - with cases starting, stopping and re-starting, going longer than expected, or finishing earlier, it’s impossible to plan anything around it.
2. The courts are still in the 90s
In addition to the answering machine, the supreme court seems to have an aversion to technology altogether - one of the potential jurors tried a number of times to ring in sick one day (as we were strongly advised to do), but no-one answered any of the phone lines we were given. So when his number was called up for a jury and he wasn’t there, the Sherriff’s office sent people to his house and to his work (apparently creeping around to a side window when no-one answered at the front - freaking out the other workers). He says they could have just rung him.
On that, there was so much paper. Each jury member gets a physical copy of the evidence paperwork ,photos and maps. In the first case that meant half a morning of piling up loose charge sheets and evidence lists and 30 printed photos (so they had to actually print 360 of these!), and walking in and out of court fearing dropping them all over the floor.
The second case the prosecution team were a million times more organised - we each got a binder at the start of the trial full of the evidence that was going to be presented - all nicely partitioned and labelled. We were under instruction not to look ahead as we wouldn’t have the context yet - so it was just like a home escape room game! It must have taken someone ages to put these together - each of our binders included numerous sets of printed photos, maps, arial photos with overlaid GPS tracks, DNA testing results, GPS data (this alone was 5 pages of a3 sheets).
Of course we could have easily looked at of this evidence on a tablet or similar device - and they could have drip fed the items to the tablet as they needed to. Surely someone is working on this project (and surely that will lead to the loss of some full time jobs somewhere printing out police photographs!)
3. Actually we live in the 1800s
What are those wigs anyway? Are we still doing that?
4. It’s ok to judge people by appearances.
In the second trial I was on, the old people were allowed to stay (so we actually included a juror who was excused from the earlier case), but people who looked like they might have had a tougher life were sent away. By the time we had a solid 12 I noticed that there were only 4 women to the 8 men, so when the judge asked if there was anyone who was going to have trouble making every day of the estimated 5 day case I raised my hand and said that I was starting a new job. I was actually in two minds about doing this - I definitely wanted to make my life simpler (as Jon was also going to be away), but I was also worried I might be replaced by another male - which didn’t seem right particularly as the judge had told us some details of the case. So I was actually glad when the judge said that it wasn’t a good enough excuse to avoid this case and I had to stay (I wonder if he noticed the gender imbalance too or maybe it’s just a common occurrence).
5. It must be boring being an expert witness
During our case we had 3 expert witnesses come in. The first was a surgeon who came to tell us more about the injuries the victim had sustained (I knew enough info from looking sideways my fingers at the photos as I couldn’t bear to look at them straight on).
The second was a monitoring device tracking expert who came in to explain the maps she’d provided and tell us all about how they work, how accurate things are, what the data meant (and we generally had to get an explanation of every single column of any table we were presented with), and what the data meant for this particular case. She was there for ages, and most of the time was just teaching us how to interpret the data we had. She must be in court a lot.
Then we had a DNA specialist. First up we had a 12 slide powerpoint lecture including diagrams on what DNA is, which was hilariously delayed for half an hour when they realised that the text on the screen was too small for us to read so they had to print out 12 copies of the slides for each of us as well (there goes another tree and two canisters of black toner thanks to the black backgrounds!). After our lecture we then got a thorough explanation of every single column in the testing results table, then we went through every item that was tested and what that meant in the context of the case. It took so LONG! And then of course there was cross examination which in the case of the experts generally meant the defence counsel asking them how long they had done their job for, what their training was, and clutching-at-straw type questions like whether the 400 billion to 1 (I’m not kidding - that was the number we were given) likelihood of the DNA matching a particular person was enough for the expert to say conclusively that it did, and how much less likely was the test which only came back with a 300 billion to one likelihood of it matching. Sometimes the opposing counsel would ask questions that had already been answered or explained thoroughly - they probably had a reason but it came across to me like they weren’t listening which I found annoying and I just wanted to shout out "if you'd listened to the witness you'd KNOW"
Anyway - the experts must get asked the same questions ALL the time - and it must be hard to get actual work done if you are one of these guys. I really wanted the specialist surgeon to get back to hospital and do some real work as soon as possible!
to be continued..
Thursday, 27 May 2021
Aside from my dubious secret skills, I also really enjoy some things which most other people hate with a passion, including putting together flatpack furniture, eating burnt toast (yum), and I've always wanted to serve on a Jury. Not just because Judge Judy and her judgemental ways is my hero and I secretly want to be her, but I've also been curious about how it all works.
We've been back in Tassie for 14 years (gosh!) and I think I've been called up to jury duty two previous times since we've been back. Both times I was in the middle of a hectic project which I definitely couldn't leave for an indeterminate amount of time so I got excused. This time my project with my current job was winding down so I figured I was in finally a position to live my dream and serve on a Jury, so rather than send in an excuse, I told my employer I was going to be away for at least a day, and I fronted up at the Supreme Court of Tasmania. Unfortunately (well fortunately for me), by the time Jury Duty actually rolled around I actually had a new job that was just starting up, so suddenly the timing went from great, to not great at all, but it was too late to back out.
I have actually had Jury Duty once before in Sydney. I hated my job at the time so much I couldn't think of a better way to avoid it than say an 18 month police corruption case so I was delighted to be summonsed. On the appointed date I tuned up all ready to dispense justice (over a very long period of time) only to discover that even if you are called up you have to have your number pulled out of a hat from all the assembled jurors in order to get onto an actual case. The Sydney jury selection area was as large as an international departure lounge but without the shops. Me and the two hundred or so other people sat around for half a day until they did the 2nd round of lotto for an actual case. My number didn't get pulled out so I had to go back to work and I wasn't called in again.
In Tasmania it looked like they only had about 60 potential jurors for the case that was starting on the day I started my 3 weeks of Jury service. I was feeling lucky and sure enough, on the very first case, I was called into the Jury room as about Juror number 8. Once the 12 were assembled, the defence council threw off a few old looking people, while the prosecution threw off quite a young looking person. A few suitably aged jurors were called in to replace them and we were ready. The judge then briefed us all and told us this case looked likely to last 2 or 3 days. Given the jury profile you can maybe guess what the case involved.
From the moment we started I felt a little bit disappointed about the nature of the case. The whole process was still interesting but I wasn't particularly passionate about the crime the accused had been charged with. I didn't really care whether they were guilty or not, and I was frankly annoyed that money was spent to pursue the case in the Supreme Court. Nevertheless I was mentally prepared to apply the law and see it through, but another Jury member felt so strongly that they couldn't convict anyone for this crime that halfway through the first day of evidence they asked to be excused from the case. The judge allowed this (after a lot of grumbling) and after some further discussion between the judge and both counsels, we were told to proceed with 11 jurors. This was a great relief as I feared we'd get a new juror and we'd have to listen to the evidence presented so far all over again. At lunchtime we were released for 90 minutes which was quite handy as my old work was just a few blocks away, so I returned to the office to make a toasted sandwich and rearrange all my meetings for the next few days and let everyone know where I was going to be. With that sorted I headed back down to the court ready for the afternoon session.
In the first twist of quite a few of my jury service, as soon as we got back into court after lunch we were told that we'd apparently heard about some 'compromised' evidence and we all had to be dismissed. The jurors who hadn't been selected for take 1 were called back the next day, and from them a new jury and new trial began. I noticed that the case ended up taking almost a week - I'm glad things turned out as they did, as the case I ended up on was much more interesting and satisfying.
Sunday, 23 May 2021
Jon and I both have secret skills. As previously mentioned on this blog, Jon has an uncanny ability to find gold when gold panning, and he's also surprisingly good at decorating gingerbread houses. My secret skill is paddling and um.. I dunno - I think I used to say cake making but it's probably caramel slice making now. It's certainly not remembering what my secret skills are as I'm sure I have more.
Anyway - I've decided Jon and I also have a combined secret skill... creating car windows from found items. In fact if we ever find ourselves in any sort of multidiscipline adventure race where one leg requires you to fashion a car window before driving somewhere - we'd smash it - we've had so much practise.
In fact the one we did today was our forth window since 2017 - we used 3 map bags and our trusty gaffer tape (which we have left in the car since our first rodeo).
I know what you are wondering.. who on earth is so irresponsible that they manage to smash 4 car windows? Well the only recurring trouble we've had with our 2011 Peugeot is that every now and again - typically when we are a long way away from home - someone puts a window up or down and there's a sudden crunching sound. The next thing we know the window disappears down into the door with a massive clunk, followed by a sickening feeling in our stomachs as we calculate how far we are from home. It's now happened to all 4 windows.
The first time this happened (our rookie year) was when we were in Devonport for orienteering - 3.5 hours from home, but 10 minutes from a Bunnings store where we got tape, scissors and plastic. The 2nd time was in the car park at Cradle Mountain - 4 hours from home, the 3rd time was conveniently in Kingston and the 4th time was today, in a paddock near Royal George - 2.5 hours away from home.
The particularly annoying thing about this particular occurrence was that I had a feeling it was going to happen - when I drove into Centrepoint Carpark on Friday Morning the window made a sick sounding noise as I raised it after taking the parking ticket. When I left the carpark in the afternoon I didn't want to risk disaster so I opened the door and leaned out of it like a fool in order to put my parking ticket into the machine. When I got home I let Jon know that we had to avoid opening that window until AFTER the weekend and our big trip to Royal George.
And Jon remembered this. It's just that he forgot about the weirdest feature of our car remote - if you hold down the unlock button for too long, the car lowers all 4 windows at once. I'm not sure why anyone would want this, and we never intentionally use it, but we do occasionally forget about it, or try too hard to unlock the car, and it happens. I don't think either of us have triggered this for more than a year but of course today was the day that it would happen!
Luckily we're now experts, and with the minimum of fuss and the maximum of teamwork we taped ourselves up, I put on my headphones, turned up the volume on my podcast and we drove home with no further issues.