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It Just Stuck

On occasion, you’ll be shocked to hear, my mind’s been known to drift

I tune out now and then, I must confess.

But in the nineteenth over (I think the second ball)

My focus was nigh faultless and my skills were quite sublime,

As those who shared the moment will attest.


T’was a bright and balmy afternoon, the sun was beating down,

An insipid breeze was mooching ‘round the ground.

I remember every detail that my senses could detect:

The glowing growing ruddy orb, the breath that I drew in

And the fizzing as the seam spun round and round.


It’s easier to concentrate when standing in the slips

And a bowler on a hat trick charges in,

But when the value of the wicket’s not as obvious as that,

When the impact on the progress of the game is not so sharp

You forget that grassing chances is a sin.


The smack and sting as ball struck flesh, my fingers closing fast

For an instant all the world was dumb and still.

My eyes felt like a stranger’s as they turned to see my hand

And emotions jostled keenly for position in my mind,

As I registered that I still grasped the pill.


Sometimes there is time for thought, preparing for a catch,

But rarely do you have that kind of luck

This one came like lightning, and sometimes they just stick

Anyway, I held it and the shocking truth be told

I was out there as the square-leg umpire. Fuck.


End of an unknown era

This afternoon, in an unremarkable corner of the world, a long partnership came to an end. I cannot say when it started, but I am sure that it had endured for many years. The players in this pairing each bear scars and marks that illustrate a long, unspoken history.

I only came to know this partnership very near the end, as the last of a long line of third parties that have joined a team of two, inseparable for so many years. Even in my brief connection to the others, I came to take them for granted. With the sturdiness of good wood and the durability of iron, they never complained and they never boasted, but they were always there and they always performed. Until today.

I had been digging a garden bed and I hadn’t noticed the split. It would have started as a very small tear, possibly months ago, but suddenly it was wide open, forming a new shape, like the head of a spear.  As my foot fell to the side of the shovel, this new apex ripped through the leather of my boot and stuck fast. I suffered no damage, but this was the last desperate cry of a shovel who’s time had come. 

The handle may go on, but the blade cannot. I quietly detached one from the other and left them alone for a few minutes, in a silent farewell. As the shadows lengthened across my garden bed, the sun set on a fine affiliation that had achieved much.

Ice Bucket Challenge (sort of)

A friend of mine invited me to take on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. There's no question that ALS is worthy of greater awareness and increased support, but I had some mixed feelings. Here's what those feelings eventually gave rise to.


Plants get sick too

Image by Оля Марусин та Zlir'a (Own work (Власна робота)), via Wikimedia Commons Like so many others, I spent a bit of time recently being ill. In between the sniffles, coughs, nausea and self-indulgence, I had time to think about immunity, but not just my own. I found myself musing about plant immunity. I mean they get sick too, right? Well yes they do and after some quick research I was surprised and impressed at the complexity and ingenuity of immunological response exhibited by those in the other living kingdom. More . . .

The Face of Money

Australia changed from pounds and pennies to dollars and cents in 1966. After a special commemorative polymer $1 note in 1988, Australia moved to a completely polymer banknote system in the early 1990s. The design of the new notes was entirely new –new graphics, new features and new faces. I remember at the time wondering how the people who’s faces had been replaced might have felt. It was just a passing thought. Recently a colleague mentioned a similar thought with specific regard to scientists and engineers featured. I went and had a look and it seems that sometime between the 1960s and the 1990s, Australians changed their opinion about the status of scientists. More . . .