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14th March 2012

Lunching around Hobart

Many of my friends would know that my favourite meal of the day is lunch. I especially enjoy lunch if there is a nice view, a good book or good company, and sometimes a good glass of wine too!  So it will come as no surprise that one of the things I love about Hobart is the smorgasbord of great places I can to go have lunch within easy distance of my work and home.

Today I was in the CBD running an errand for Owen, so I was short of time, and also feeling a bit strapped for cash. So I decided to head down to the Hobart waterfront and try out one of the floating fish and chip shops they have moored along the docks.

The first one I came to was Flippers, just a stone’s throw from the main thoroughfare of Davey St. Walked down the gangplank and placed my order for some Trevalla (which seems to be the standard fish here in Tassie) and Chips.




Sat down by this statue of Louis Bernacchi (an early Antarctic explorer who attended the same school that my boys go to), enjoying my food and taking in the views of the harbour on a lovely autumn day. While I was there a couple of Japanese fellows somewhat ironically stopped to take their photos in front of the Sea Shepherd anti-whaling ship Bob Barker. Obviously Hobart port don’t strictly enforce the anti-pirate flag regulations that Fremantle do.)


Then I strolled back to my car, enjoying the views of the harbour, city, and mountain before the short drive back to work. Hobart is indeed a great spot for lunching!


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Categories : Tasmania | 0 Comments

10th March 2012

Pedal Board 2012 – Update 1

Since my last pedal board update we’ve moved all the way across Australia and over Bass Strait to the city of Hobart in the island state of Tasmania. As a result of this big move I’m no longer active as a church worship guitarist, but for the moment am just a simple bedroom guitar player… so I thought I should change my board around to a more bedroom sized board.

Consequently I’ve put aside my humungous Diago Tourman hard case and replaced it with a PedalTrain 3 board. It’s relatively more compact, but still large enough for me to fit in all the essential pedals. It also has the advantages of being sloped, to provide better access to the upper rows of pedals, and has enough room to mount a power supply underneath. With the help of a power drill and a couple of screws, my trusty CIOKS DC-10 power supply is cosily mounted underneath the middle at the top, with just a single power cord for the whole board.


Signal path is as follows :

  • Line6 Relay G50 wireless
  • Sonic Research Turbo Tuner ST-200 – possible the most accurate stomp box tuner around
  • Wampler Leviathan Fuzz
  • Analogman King of Tone
  • Wampler Paisley Overdrive
  • Timmy
  • Boss FV-500H Volume
  • TC Electronics NM-1 Nova Modulator
  • Strymon El-Capistan dTape echo
  • Strymon Timeline Delay (with Tech-21 Midi Mouse for preset switching)
  • Strymon BlueSky Reverb
So it’s a slightly smaller board than my old one, but still very versatile in terms of the sounds I can achieve. Even if/when I possibly start playing in public again, I think I’ll still keep this setup in preference to my old board – since it’s a bit more portable and takes up a lot less stage realestate. Plus it’s a bit less ostentatious!
My only problem is that I am getting an intermittent crackly sound through my amp, which has nothing to do with my pedal board wiring. I think perhaps I may need to replace the tubes, which is a bit annoying as it’s less than a year old, but then I guess the rigors of our 4000km drive across Australia may have been a little much. Not sure if there is anywhere in Hobart I can buy tubes or if I will have to source them online.
EDIT – 14/03/2012
So I ended up ordering some replacement tubes off a place in Melbourne via eBay – I went for JJ tubes : a pair of match EL84 power tubes and a set of three gold tipped ECC83 12ax7 preamp tubes.
They arrived today and it was quite a straightforward process to replace them. The trickiest parts were removing the back panel of the amp – firstly because there is a lot of screws – make sure you use an electric driver. Secondly the panel was very stiff the first time I tried to get it off – it did get easier after I’d pried it loose the first time. The other tricky part was removing the left hand preamp tube, which has a metal collar around it’s base – took a while to tease it out. Both these problems were the same as encountered by the guy in this helpful video, which I discovered part way through :
YouTube Preview Image
I’m pleased to say, changing the power tubes completely fixed my problem of a weird crackle in the amp, but I proceded to replace the preamp tubes anyway while I was at it. Overall I’m very glad I did – even though the amp sounded great originally, it sounds even better with these tubes – a richer tone with more depth as well as more of that famed Vox chime. Very happy :)

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Categories : Effects, Guitar, Pedal Board | 3 Comments

8th March 2012

KONY – a can of worms

So the world has woken up today with a new, unfamiliar name on it’s lips : Kony. In what has to be one of the most startling marketing campaigns in history, hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions by now) of people have suddenly learnt the name Kony – but it’s not some new product or soft drink or gadget (although in other news, the new iPad was announced overnight as well) – Joseph Kony is a depraved rebel leader who has killed, abducted, and abused thousands of people, especially children, in rural Uganda and surrounding countries.

If you’ve somehow missed it, here’s the brilliant video that is circulating regarding Kony, and the campaign to stop him :

YouTube Preview Image

Now I have a confession to make – unlike most of the world I knew about Kony before yesterday. I’ve known about him since the first time we went to Uganda in 2006. Kony was a constant topic of conversation around Kampala, and was often front page news. But I’m not bragging about being in the know, since I didn’t do anything about it – I didn’t talk about him on facebook or blog about it (except a brief mention here) or write to the government or anything. To be fair though, what’s one lone Australian guy to do? But this time it’s different – where one person can’t make any difference, maybe millions can?

I find this Kony campaign interesting in a couple of ways.

1. Firstly, it shows what a strange new world we live in – the power of social media. We’ve already seen this in some of the recent uprisings in Arab nations, but I don’t think a full scale mobilisation of this sort has taken place in the West. Amazing how in the space of less than 24 hours, suddenly everyone is talking about a story that has been ignored for over 20 years, and with still very little coverage in the mainstream media.

2. Secondly, although I deplore Kony and would be overjoyed to see him brought to justice, I’m still not sure what the specific goals of this campaign are. Is it just to maintain awareness of Kony so the US Govt will maintain it’s limited assistance to Uganda? (assistance that has so far been very unfruitful over a number of years), or is it ultimately to the the US Govt to commit even more resources to the hunt for Kony?

In the middle of all that, what do we as Australians (and other non-US citizens around the world) hope to achieve by being part of this? I’m happy to share this story, sign their petition, maybe even wear a shirt and post some stickers around – I think it’s long overdue that it is brought to the world’s attention – but I don’t know what more can be done from an Aussie perspective. Will writing to our local parliamentarian or foreign minister (I wouldn’t even bother with our useless PM) make any difference? What practical steps do we hope to gain from that kind of action here?

Also, it’s unusual for such a big grassroots movement like this that this is anything but a pacifist campaign – we are used to things like “save the rainforest” “feed the children” “forgive the debt” “free Aung San Su Kyi” etc which all have peaceful aims. This campaign is specifically designed to bolster a military presence to capture Joseph Kony (although many would also be happy with seeing him dead, in my opinion he should be caught alive and brought to answer for his crimes). But would catching Kony be enough to stop the LRA? Who’s to say another leader wouldn’t rise up in his place and the crimes continue? Perhaps in calling to remove Kony we are really calling for a full scale military intervention to defeat the LRA? Would the US Govt have the stomach to send it’s soldiers into one of the toughest areas of the world?

And then, if Kony is captured, and the LRA is defeated, what about other evil warlords in neighbouring Congo? We hear about the LRA and Kony and the invisible children in part because Uganda is a relatively safe and accessible country where westerners (like me) can visit and hear and bring back stories like this. The DRC is a much more inhospitable and dangerous place to visit, so even though similar or worse atrocities are happening there, it is even further under our western media radar. Would it be fair to defeat Kony and then send all the soliders home, while the carnage continues in Congo? And if you were to commit troops to Congo, well that’s a quagmire far bigger than Iraq or Vietnam…. (think Equatorial Kundu, any West Wing fans out there)

So you can see this whole Kony thing potentially opens a big geo-political can of worms. I’m not saying I’m against it – in fact I’m in favour of stopping Kony (especially because I have a personal connection to Uganda) and any other similar war-criminal – but I just think we don’t know where this could lead…  Most likely, nowhere much. Obama will do the safe political thing and just maintain a minimal effort to stopping Kony. Eventually they will get him, we will all celebrate and the troops will go home, whilst the inhuman crimes in the deepest parts of Africa continue to be ignored by most of the world. Anything more will require some kind of ‘new world order’ that I doubt we are ready for just yet.

As is always the case in Africa, there are no simple solutions…


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Categories : Africa, Uganda | 0 Comments

6th March 2012

Catching Up

As I took the bins out in the rain this morning, and looked across at the Derwent, I was thinking that it still spins me out sometimes that we are here, living in another city on a big island on the other side of Australia. It feels like we have been here for ages and we are settling in very well in all areas of life, but just once in a while I just stop and think “Wow, we really are here!”

Our big trip over here in January now feels like ancient history, and it occurred to me that I never got around to blogging about it or posting photos (although my facebook friends got a lot of photos on the way across). So in lieu of a detailed story of our big road trip, you can check out all the photos on my flickr set : 2012 Perth to Hobart Road Trip. I’m in the process of adding some descriptions to the photos, which will make it a bit more interesting, but there’s a lot there, including photos from every hole on the Nullarbor Links Golf course (the world’s longest!), the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, National Sports Museum, and much more…

Otherwise things are falling into place in most departments here. We love the suburb we live in, convenient to the city, easy walk to the river, shops, cafes etc – short drive to work and school etc. Our rental house is a bit cramped and old but it’s worth it for the location. The boys are thriving in their new school, and we are thrilled with the opportunities they are getting there. Owen has developed a passion for cricket, and as it was too late in the season to get him into a team, we have started private coaching for him, with a really nice guy who is an ex state player. He is doing very well. As I mentioned in a previous post we have found a great church and are starting to get to know a few people there.

Work-wise I am enjoying my new practice. It’s a great location, close to the beach and with plenty of good lunch options within easy distance (It’s less than 10 minutes to the CBD so the options are endless). The patient mix is good – not too many old people, increasing numbers of kids, and a lot more travel medicine – which means I’m finally starting to put my Masters of Tropical Medicine and Public Health to good use. The only problem is that the billings here are still a lot lower than before so finances are still somewhat of a stress.

Anyway I’d better get back to work, but thought it was worth giving a quick update so you all know that we are doing well, and loving in here in Hobart.

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Categories : Australia, Family, General Practice, Housekeeping, Paul, Personal, Tasmania | 1 Comment