Monday, 27 December 2010

2010, the last six months

Click here for the first six months.
So by June, we’d moved back to Sydney after a two year stint in London, spent six weeks travelling, learned that we were having a baby (due 6th December), found a new apartment to live in and both secured work.
July: Start off the month by buying a second hand car. A vehicle of some sort is essential in Sydney, not only is the public transport here is diabolical, but it is compounded by the fact that everywhere is so far apart. I wanted a ute, but we end up with a Holden. No more baby scans for another 10 weeks almost, still seemed as if Ingunn was going doctor appointments every other day through. Break the news of a impending Grandchild to the families back in Europe, much surprise/delight. Start to worry about how different our lives will be after a baby, and why some couples seem so comfortable during the pregnancy stage? Come to the conclusion that the best approach is to try and be as realistic as possible, which means being informed; after initial hesitation, we sign up for ante-natal classes. Just hope we don’t get all the horror stories.
August:  Still life goes on, starting to feel slightly more relaxed, I start guitar and cartoon drawing courses on Tuesday and Wednesday nights; discover I have no talent in either. Ingunn’s bump is starting to show, and we feel slight movements. The foetus is about the size of a mandarin, but still didn’t feel real, is a baby really in there? Towards the end of the month decide that we need to find a new place to live, the only place a baby could fit in the Avoca St shoebox is in my sock drawer in our bedroom. Prospect of apartment hunting again is appalling, it is getting towards the busiest time of the year and means about 3 or 4 Saturdays spent viewing apartments and bidding against 50 other equally desperate couples.
September: I start a new job with Westpac energy trading, Ingunn finishes her current contract and begins a new one till end of October. Going to interviews whilst you are pregnant must be one of the hardest most awkward tasks, very proud of her. Buy a new surf board, and loving it, aswell as the new job. Last two Saturdays of the month we attend the ante-natal course at the Royal Randwick Hospital we enrolled back in August, so much for apartment hunting. The course covered pretty much every conceivable outcome of a pregnancy, and ultimately how to care for a newborn. Felt quite reassured, although some scenarios are terrifying, forewarned is forearmed i guess.
October:   Out of the blue a regular midwife appointment reveals the baby might be slightly on the small side for it’s current gestation. Not to worry though, was done with a tape measure, got a scan booked for 3 weeks time. Weekends are taken up with apartment hunting, situation begins getting a little desperate, so many other people looking for places at the moment, facing possibility we may end up moving in November, not ideal. Stroke of luck and we finally have a tenancy application accepted for a Coogee apartment, still no idea how we got it?  Moved into the apartment 23rd October, the apartment is on the top floor with no lift, so my back is broken and arms are now 3 meters longer. Monday 27th, Ingunn has a scan which reveals the baby is indeed smaller than it should be, reduced blood flow from the placenta looking like a culprit. Ingunn is told to stop working immediately, go home and do nothing. Literally, nothing. Follow up scan on Friday (29th) morning; lots of dark thoughts, but we are reassured this is a common procedure and all will probably be ok.
October 29th –31st: These three days felt like a month in itself. It began at 8am, arriving at our follow-up appointment at the Royal Randwick hospital, I swear Ingunn had got bigger in those few days so was expecting to be on out of there and on my way to work within the hour. The scan was conducted by 2 doctors, they were checking the blood flow around the placenta and how much amniotic fluid was around the baby.  After a short time they decided further tests and analysis are needed. And, by mid morning, a doctor confirms that blood flow from the placenta has got lower, and that the baby is running out of space: “Better out than in” we were told.  Oh boy, wasn’t expecting that. Ingunn is admitted to hospital then and there told the baby will be delivered by caesarean section in 48hrs (the two day buffer was allow a couple of steroid shots (helps prepare babies lungs)) It is at this stage when events were happening so quickly that we began to feel very out of control, terrified, in disbelief, confused… yet strangely excited. In 2 days time we knew we’d be parents, this wasn’t supposed to happen for another 6 weeks at least. The next 48hrs were spent sat around agonising, waiting, worrying, reflecting, furiously trying to work out a name.
Sunday morning went backwards it felt. The caesarean was booked in for 13:00, and the closer it got the further from reality the whole situation felt. Ingunn seemed so calm, i wanted to run around like a madman. Killed time by deciding on a final name; Markus for a boy, Jessica for a girl; how on earth had we managed to decide in such a short space of time?? Impossible.
1pm arrives, we are taken to the operating theatre. We are in a room with a line-up of suited nurses and doctors. Ingunn has a epidural administered and having realised I'm the only male there am sat in a corner feeling quite emasculated, like a little boy. The doctor performing the operation tells me to make sure i have my camera at the ready.. wasn’t planning on using it, but i mumble yes obligingly. Taken aback how calm everyone is there. The operation takes 15-20 minutes during which jokes and stories are told. At 2.21 the doctors tells me to get my camera ready.. my hands are shaking.
Out comes a very small baby, with a foot in it’s mouth, i bravely managed to focus and press the button. Silence…. then a gurgle, then she begins crying..
November: Jessica Elise Goodman, my daughter is very much alive and kicking. She is taken straight to the special newborn care section of the Royal Randwick for premature babies where she will remain for the next 3 weeks. Tests confirm that she is healthy, albeit very small for her age (-5 1/2 weeks). Ingunn was walking about less than 24hrs later, you can hardly tell she has been pregnant, amazing. I’m pleased my prediction of a girl is correct, means a year of shirts being ironed. The remainder of this month is spent going back and forth from our apartment to the premature baby section. Exhausting and frustrating, just wanted to take her home; but it gave us a chance to recuperate buy some baby gear, and pick up a few tips from the nurses. 2 1/2 weeks later, that spare room in our apartment had a resident.
December: Adjusting to about 3 hours less sleep a day, watching the Ashes, loving the Australian summer once again, and watching an amazing little girl blossom.
As I write this, Christmas has come and gone, England are thumping Australia in the cricket and the sun is shining outside.  I can hardly believe how much has happened in the last 12 months, and am wondering what the next year has in store?

Friday, 24 December 2010


What a year, it’s worth recapping.
New Years Eve 2010, spent in the Curtains Up pub West Kensington pondering what the next 12 months had in store over a few glasses of mulled wine. We really had no idea.
January: Still in London, had decided to move back to Australia by now though. This wasn’t a spontaneous decision by any means, and to be honest still weren’t totally sure about it.  Ingunn had already quit her job, i was still working with Elliott, and planning to finish up in February. Starting to plan our route back down to Sydney, do we go through South America: Inca trail, Patagonia, Galapagos Islands, or North America, Tahiti, New Zealand , or perhaps via Asia. By the end of the month we were boxing up all our belongings once again, and shipping them off Australia.
February: Starting to feel sad and guilty about leaving London our UK/Norwegian families behind. Alot of last minute soul searching, but decide returning to Australia has more opportunities to offer us for the moment. Discover that the Inca trail is shut indefinitely, so our route back to Sydney is decided: New York, California, Tahiti and New Zealand. Tickets booked, we’re leaving Saturday 20th. Start saying good bye to friends family, and frantically packing our remaining belongings, the last couple of weeks really were intense, there is alot more involved in moving to the other hemisphere of the planet than just packing your bags.  I finish my job on Friday 19th, the next morning,  we fly out to New York.  Doesn’t feel real yet.
March: A blissful month of travelling, some of my highlights:
  • Seeing a plum of elephant seals in the wild near San Simeon, CA.
  • Spending a night in the Sequoia National Park and visiting General Sherman
  • Kayaking around the coral reefs of the island of Moorea, Tahiti. We stayed in the Linereva resort; run by an exceptionally hospitable French couple would certainly go back there.
  • Bicycle tour of the New Zealand Marlborough wine region.
  • Trekking around NZ south island, place of exceptional natural beauty.
We arrived back in Sydney 25th March, felt great. Some of the bad feelings about leaving London had dissolved, replaced by excitement, anticipation.  I promptly flew to Melbourne with Jon for the Grand Prix that weekend (27th) – our annual pilgrimage. That evening, I get a txt message from Ingunn saying that the hotel she in is disgusting and that she has a little surprise for me..
April: So we have just arrived back in Sydney, and have discovered out that Ingunn is pregnant. Experiencing that news is a real mixture of emotions. Absolute joy, wonder of how this is going to change your life, followed by sobering fear and a sense that we really need to get ourselves in a position to support a newly born baby. At this stage we were living in hotels, had no jobs, not even started looking. Neither of us had the first clue about babies either, I mean they feed and put themselves to bed each night right? A long chain of sleepless nights soon turned worry into panic, should we just head back to the UK/Norway was a recurring 3am thought?  The rest of month was spent looking for apartments (not easy in Sydney, here are some tips) whilst looking for work. And more importantly is this baby going to be a boy/girl?  My bet, a daughter.
May: After turning down a couple of offers, both were still looking for work at the beginning of the month, we had however found somewhere to live in Randwick, and a short walk to Bronte beach. Eventually take a job with MetaBit and some of the stress is alleviated. The reality of a baby had really sunk in now, starting to buy hundreds of books to find out what is going to happen for the next 8 1/2 months? What hospitals do we need to visit, doctors to visit, terrifying. We are here in Sydney alone, feel incredibly isolated/helpless at this point. The job market seems to be slowing, but Ingunn picks up a great contract by the end of the month, our belongings have arrived from the UK by now too; happy days.
June: Life starts returning to a familiar pattern. A scan confirms the baby is healthy, we see “it” for the first time but decide not to learn the sex. The baby name debate is starting to get complex, so I create a speadsheet which allows to to vote. Some massive storms hit Sydney, the surf is the biggest it has been in along time; rains shrimps.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Jeg Day 48

Took this one this morning. Her eye colour has been somewhat of a mystery; starting off brown it has recently turned into a very intense blue. If you look in the top right of the picture you can see where she gets it from.  Wonder what they’ll end up like?

Blue Eyes

Saturday, 27 November 2010

More Jessica

Day 28, although due-date is actually 8 days away. We’re off for a stroll to the hospital this afternoon to weigh her and have a chat with the nurses at the special-care unit. They are the fountain of premature-baby knowledge and I always come away with full of tips and tricks to try out.

Update: 2.64kg; exceeding expectations.

All of these were taken today.


On the beach with the mobile bed

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Jessica Elise

Born in Sydney,  Sunday 31st October 2010 : 14:21pm; 1975g, 46cm. 

Jessica Elise Goodman

She arrived 5 1/2 weeks earlier than expected so is currently in special new born section at hospital but doing very well.  More to follow.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Now governed by the empire. Try it.

Here’s the inside of our new car (on the way to the Northern Beaches)

Inside the new car

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Jobs in Sydney

.Net developer in Sydney looking for contracts?  - here's a spreadsheet I knocked together awhile back which may come in handy..  just gets the latest lisitngs from seek and jobnet rss feeds.  It forces google to auto-refreshes every minute or so.


Sunday, 20 June 2010

Star Trails

Another clear night, so back off to Centennial Park, armed with the camera, tripod, remote shutter control and a intent to capture star trails. The lesson I learnt from the previous night was to use a distant street light to get your infinite focus (just AF on it, then switch to manual). I had my remote shutter control so was able to use the BULB exposure setting. For all pictures, i was using the widest focal length my camera would allow (F32 i think). I left the camera exposed from anywhere between 10-25 mins, and got some great results. Here’s my favourite (25 min exposure):

Star trails

Next time i’ll try a night when the moon is in a waning crescent (nearly full at the moment so alot of light pollution), and will definitely not use the Long Exposure NR (Long Exposure Dark-Frame Subtraction Noise Reduction) setting on the Nikon D90 as it essentially doubles the amount of time you have to wait. Not sure why Nikon even have this setting on the D90 infact.. a throw back i guess.

Another star trail here.

Here’s a shot of some people playing volleyball on Coogee beach this afternoon:.

Volleyball @Coogee

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Starry Night

Just around the corner from where I live is the Centennial Park, an expanse of grasslands and tropical plants/trees. Due to the lack of anything nearby, at night time it becomes very dark and an ideal spot for someone who wishing to take pictures of the night sky.  So, wanting to take pictures of the night sky in a dark open area, I headed down there last night to have an attempt at capturing the fantastic view of the galaxy.

I’m using the 10.5mm fisheye lens with my Nikon D90 and a tripod. I was doing exposures from 10-30 seconds on 600 ISO, white balance set to Tungsten.  The initial issue I had was focus, so i ended up switching to manual and infinity.

Night Sky

Here are a few more, with plenty more trips there planned. I loved the absolute stillness of Centennial Park at night-time, the only sound coming from squawking birds.

Monday, 7 June 2010

The day it rained shrimps..

So, a couple of days ago after a particularly long downpour, I went out on to our patio and found to my disbelief, literally, thousands and thousands of dead baby shrimps everywhere. Here are some pics from our patio. Perplexing, perhaps cats & dogs have gone out of fashion?



Raining Shrimps



Here some got trapped in the glass candle holder:



Raining Shrimps

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Surf Move #1 : The Wipeout

Last Sunday I was photographing a handful of brave surfers during a especially large swell along Sydney's coast; and lateron came across this picture on my laptop. I hadn't noticed the guy to the left at all at the time, and am abit puzzled as to how he ended up in that position? Possibly he had been surfing the wave then cut back using the wave as a ramp?  Who knows




More pictures up here.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The Pale Blue Dot

Following on from the last post, here is one of my all time favourite quotes by Carl Sagan. It is taken from his 1996 book, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space in regard to the image ofEarth taken in 1990 by Voyager 1 from the very edge of our solar system, 3,781,782,502.403 miles to be precise. Utterly humbling and yet in many ways inspirational, in the sense of living life to the full. Here is the quote in all its glory:

"Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known."

There is a great wikipedia article on the Pale Blue Dot picture itself, and the book by Sagan.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Less Proverbs

I'm a great fan of proverbs, found this Swedish one today :

“Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; love more, and all good things will be yours.”

I certainly need to chew and breathe more. It actually reminded me of this from Socrates :

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”

Both proverbs underlie that less is more. This is a notion that i firmly believe, and am currently being forced to practise as a result of the Australian Quarantine & Inspection Service taking over 2 weeks to inspect our goddamn crate from the UK, and leave me with a backpack full of belongings to live out of. How can it take so long?  On the flip side, i've been forced into using Ingunn's Mac and have come to like it. I've got a copy of VMWare Fusion running Windows XP as a backup, but haven't really been using it that much other than comparison. Things i like about the Mac :


  • Everything just works.  It feels rather like using a DVD player, or toaster.
  • The user interface is beautiful to look at, i find myself just tinkering with menus and marvellng at the attention to detail.  The designers at Apple clearly have exquisite taste, and UI seems to be slightly more intuative than with Windows.


The main problem i have though, is with a lack of delete key, and my Windows keyboard shortcut muscle memories being of no use. Keep trying keyboard combinations which have disastrous consequences.


Going through some old pics today, here's one from the Empire State Building :

Empire State Building

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Friendly(er) spam

I used to think comment spam was the scourge of the earth, however i'm starting to change my mind.  Have a look at this comment received today on one of my old posts:

"Easily, the article is really the best on this laudable topic. I concur with your conclusions and will thirstily look forward to your forthcoming updates. Saying thanks will not just be enough, for the extraordinary lucidity in your writing. I will directly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates. De lightful work and much success in your business efforts!"

Total nonsense, but makes me laugh and frankly a refreshing change from the spam in my inbox informing me off non-existent mortgage applications, or that my knob is too small.

Ia Orana

Tahitian morning


If you ever make it to Tahiti, i'd recommend making takng the extra step and getting the ferry to Moorea, the smaller island to the east. Stayed at a resort called Linereva, formerly a dive centre and run by a friendly French couple. You have a coral reef on your doorstep, kayaks available and bikes to use, and well decked out beach huts. I spent countless hours swimming in / around the reef, plenty of rays, reef sharks and turtles. The pic above was taken standing on the jetty which leads out to the reef.


Thursday, 1 April 2010

Moving to Sydney and looking to rent?

Here are a painful lessons i've learnt in the last 4 days..

  1. Get used to the whole house/apartment public inspection, only in a blue moon will an agent give you a private viewing for a place.  Makes you wonder what they actually do at all.
  2. Chances are you won't have employment yet, on your application make it clear you are prepared to pay atleast 3 months + bond upfront, of not the whole tennancy.  We had a couple of applications rejected even though we offered to pay 6 months for a 6 month contract upfront simply because having arrived a few days ago we weren't employed.  Makes no sense whatsoever, but it is just like that.  
  3. Use the fact that you aren't working to your advantage, any inspections after 5pm on a weekday or on a Saturday anytime will be popular (alot of places we viewed must have had over 20 people there), so unless it is breath taking concentrate on those showing 10:00 - 16:00 Mon-Fri, then apply straight away.  
  4. Hand deliver rather than fax applications, found applications got much further if i had a chance to speak with the real estate agent face to face, also led to them telling me about upcoming apartments.
  5. Each applicant needs 100 points of proof, i was carrying my passport, copy of bank statement, copy of credit cards around with me the whole time, means i could quickly make new applications if an agent showed/suggested a new property.
  6. I created a google docs spreadsheet aggregating all the properties i wanted to view for the day.  Could access all the details i needed for properties from the published page on my pda, saved so much time when travelling to and from viewings.  Retrieving property infomation, agent contact details using or mobile search is very slow and frustrating. 
  7. Don't bother visiting real estate agency offices unless you are dropping off an application, all the properties they have will be on domain or realestate. I found using realestate's OpenInspection tool most fruitful.
  8. Phone up an agent before going to an inspection, a couple of times no one turned up and i wasted time and money getting there. If i had my way, those agents would have be hung drawn an quartered.
In the 5 years I lived in Sydney prior to returning i never remember the rental market being so fierce, like a pack of wolves chasing down a small rabbit.  Saw people viewing a property for the first time for barely 10 seconds before handing a prefilled application form to the real estate agent. I wonder what buying a place is actually going to be like?

In other news, here are some of the New Zealand pictures, what an amazing country.

Mirror Lake, Wanaka

Monday, 29 March 2010

Publishing a Google Document and losing fixed width?

Two undocumented querystring parameters in the Google Doc API may help :  

pageview - setting this to 1 will maintain the fixed width view you see whist creating the document after publishing (defaults to 100% width)

hgd : set to 1 to exclude google footer


Open for Inspection

Found a handy tool for any fellow frustrated apartment seekers in Sydney; Open For Inspection from You can quickly see all the inspections aggregated by date for a suburb/city/state, and apply any filters such as price. It would be handy if you could actually see the results on a map, or retrieve it through RSS.. but maybe those features are coming as the product is still Beta. The only way I managed to duplicate this functionality previously, was to search on for all Sydney suburbs, then filter by inpsection time for next 7 days, then sort those by inspection time. Apart from being frustratingly slow, this tended to be error prone as places without any inspection date/time set default to today or some undeterminable point in the future. It is also very easy to access this open for inspection page from a PDA, up till now i've been hacking around with my own google doc spreadsheet which screenscrapes data from domain/, filters then sorts it, allowing me to quickly get at easy whilst mobile.

In the UK I used the all powerful globrix which already has already been running these features for sometime, great to see the Aussie sites building them too.

Here's the fun i've got lined up for today. If only the agents would actually turn up for the inspection now (2 didn't yesterday).



Thursday, 4 March 2010

Diesel, for successful living

Diesel, for successful living
Originally uploaded by Matt Goodman

A random sign on the way to Vegas caught my eye as we were racing along the Interstate 15. Not to far from Barstow.

Monday, 1 March 2010

General Sherman

General Sherman Originally uploaded by Matt Goodman

Spent a couple of days in the Sequoia National Park, south of the Yosemite. The tree pictured here is called "General Sherman", and believed to be between 2300 - 2700 years old. The tree is truly enormous, holding the title for largest in the world. Although somewhat of a mission to get to it, well worth the effort. The national park is stunning at this time of year (end of feb) and free from armies of motorhomes/campers, so had many trails to ourselves.

More pictures here. Now, off to Vegas..

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Plum of Elephant Seals

Elephant Seals, near San Simeon
Originally uploaded by Matt Goodman

A totally unexpected find; halfway along the coast between San Francisco and LA near a town called San Simeon, came across a plum of Elephant Seals in the wild. Lots of grunting snorting and wallowing around, I felt right at home.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Red Rock Island

The only privately owned island in the San Francisco Bay area, yours for only $22,000,000. That works out at around $3.5m per acre.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Returning to Sydney

Back on 25th March by way of New York, San Fransisco, Tahiti and New Zealand.