Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Running out of Time

I've spent all day in front of two computers working on Newspapers for beach mission at Augusta and making minimal progress. Desktop publishing is easier than it used to be that doesn't mean it's easy!!
Fighting the vagaries of MS Publisher, cutting, pasting, cropping, editing, writing, scouring for content. I'm only about 60% of the way there, with one day left and lots of other stuff to attend to!
And tomorrow night being New Year's Eve it will be a big night in the taxi.
New Year's Day we have to leave for Augusta!
It does not seem physically possible that I'll be ready by then!
Wish me luck, or pray for me, or both!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Casting Crowns

This is very cool.

Warning: Contains Traces of God! :)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Family & Friends

Scenes from our family Christmas celebrations in Perth last weekend.

We're back home in Busso after a great visit to Bridgetown. I came back to drive the taxi tonight and Mrs Holt Press has to work at 7 tomorrow morning.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008


More of the same and just as good.

Apart from waking up with a sudden cramp in my left leg that required emergency action in pushing my foot back against the rafter of the A frame ceiling next to the bed.
I managed to get it under control although it's still sore.

Balderdash has just finished. Most people are going to bed.
Luke Alan and I are about to play a "quick" game of Trivial Pursuit.
That's the theory anyway!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Boxing Day

Another day, another round of family feasting and fun.
One crew left for Busselton but were replaced by new arrivals from Perth.
We played Trivial Pursuit again this arvo and tonight had another hilarious round of Balderdash.
The afternoon saw most people engage in a drawn out water pistol fight while I struggled manfully to do some work and protect the computer from a drenching. I ended up soaked but the laptop survived.

I was not greeted kindly this morning, every man and his dog blaming me for disturbing their sleep with my snoring. When you're sharing a dormitory sized bedroom with 8 people there are inevitably going to be disturbances but even though I waited until well after everyone else was asleep before retiring apparently that was not enough.

Tonight they've got an even bigger head start because Pop and I have just been sitting and talking for the last two hours. (The time is now 10 to 4 in the morning BTW) We used to do this (sit up late and talk for hours) more often but distance and circumstances have made it less frequent the last few years; it was good to do it again. My father is an intelligent man with views and opinions on most topics you'd care to raise and a ready sense of humour. We don't share the same faith or politics so we do not agree on everything, in fact sometimes we agree on very little, thus the discussions can be wide ranging and challenging but I'd like to believe that there is more than enough mutual love and respect for us to be able to talk about any subject in a mature and reasonable way. I respect Pop's wisdom and life experience and have learned a lot through listening to him and watching him. I've told him before but told him again tonight how much I appreciate the support he gave us when we set about buying our first house and how good a move that has worked out to be, all the more so since our move to Busselton nearly five years ago. He said there is no need to thank him because it was something he wanted to do but regardless of that, I am very thankful.

Just as I am thankful that I live in Australia and enjoy all of the benefits and privileges that go with it. I value the freedom we have to live in peace and prosperity and the way that we have been blessed. I believe we are better off than any other place in the world and I thank God that my family live in Australia.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Day: Bridgetown

We've had a great day in Bridgetown, continuing the Christmas celebration with the extended family and friends.

I introduced them to the wonderful game of Balderdash tonight and many laughs were had. Just in case you happen to stray across the path of my father's blog, don't believe everything he says about playing Balderdash because quite frankly, it's likely to be balderdash!! It was at times hilarious.

Once that finished and most people went to bed the hard core game players stuck around for round three of the Trivial Pursuit battle. Ian, The Heir, The Hair and Sammie took me on. I jumped out to a big pie lead of 5-2, they pulled back into the contest at 6-4 before I managed to bring it home with 4/6 on the final card.
We introduced a new Holt Press Family rule to the game which I think will become a standard.
The Pass and Veto Rule. Each team is allowed three vetos if the question they are reading from is too easy, and three passes if the question they're trying to answer is too hard. These P & V's were used strategically during the game and added a tactical dimension to the challenge.

It's late. Santa's job is over for another year. 16 house guests have gone to bed, and I'm about to join them.

I hope your Christmas was as good as ours.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Hey Rex

Hey Rex! Did you steal my SD Card?
It's missing from my camera and I can't find it!!
I know where you live!!

On the other hand, Rex, thanks for working on the computers, most things are improved and running well. The old PC is working on the net. Strangely I can't get the external CD drive to open. I downloaded a stack of updates for my phone in order to upload about 200 pictures and now the computer is giving me an error message when I try and open the picture folder! The joys of computers.

We'll be over sometime this afternoon, looking forward to the BBQ'd seafood.


Christmas Eve in the taxi was pretty quiet until the pub closed when it got busy for about an hour. The night started well, with a $30 tip from my second customer but after that there was a lot of waiting in between jobs. I used the down time for frequent visits to home to work on little jobs on the computer, buy food, get Vanilla Diet Coke and listen to the radio.
I swapped with Marty and took his late finish for him which meant I worked through until after 3.30. The upside of that was the $5 surcharge for Christmas Day on each fare after midnight!!

People were pretty friendly and happy and not too drunk which made it a pleasant evening.

After a few hours sleep I was awoken by Sport Boy, the youngest member of the Holt Press family telling me it was time to open our presents! Fair enough.
He was very pleased with his loot, a scooter, Converse sneakers, The Chronicles of Narnia series (books) and a few little bits and pieces.
We had the joy of sharing Christmas with The Heir's visitors and there was much oohing and aahing and laughter and pleasure as all the goodies were unwrapped.
I gave Mrs HP a fold out queen size camping bed which I'm hoping she'll share with me, it will make camping at Augusta next week a lot more comfortable.

The Hair got home yesterday so he was able to join the festivities, and since he's been working, was even able to get a few presents for people. He's very generous, all the kids are in fact, although nobody goes over the top. Small and thoughtful gifts were common and thus much appreciated.

We'll be heading over to Bridgetown soon in a three car convoy. Two cars will be returning tomorrow but I've managed to switch my Friday night shift in the taxi so I won't have to come back until later. That means maximising our time with Vicki Rex and Dad cause they won't be here too much longer.

Better go and have a shower, pack the car and hit the road!

Merry Christmas to all my faithful, and unfaithful readers.

Peace on earth and goodwill to men, the King is born.
How did the fat bloke in the red suit get to be the star of the show, it's not even his birthday?
Jesus is the reason for the season!

Merry Christmas

Ho Ho Ho

Merry Christmas.

I drove the taxi all night and now I'm knackered.

Gotta go to bed because there'll be present opeings in the morning that require my attendance.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

No Vacancies

We're home again and have a happy house full of guests. The musical beds have been sorted out, leaving me on a blow up mattress on the lounge room floor!
I got a really good sleep-in this morning so I'm not complaining.
We stopped for lunch and a brief look around Mandurah on the way home, which meant Vicki and Rex got here before us. I told them where the spare key was so they were able to get in and make themselves at home.

We went out for dinner tonight, planning to go to El Gringos Mexican restaurant only to find it closed. Why would you not have your restaurant open in one of the busiest weeks of the year in a tourist town? A good question to which I don't know the answer.
Their loss, we took our business to The Goose overlooking Geographe Bay and the jetty.
The food was very nice, I had seafood linguine followed by apple & date cake with caramel sauce! Mmmmm!
We took a little tour of some of Busso's more speccy Christmas lights on the way home then Rex set about fixing a couple of problems I've been having with the computer and the laptop.
Mrs Holt Press went to bed because she starts work at 7 in the morning. Vicki followed shortly after. Favourite Daughter and Sport Boy are on the fold out sofa bed.

The Heir cooked a late dinner for the UK Crew then I challenged them to a rematch at Trivial Pursuit. This time I won but the girls were asleep by the end. Ian kept the rivalry alive by declaring, "That's 1-all"! The battle will be rejoined in Bridgetown I suspect.

The only small disappointment of the day was having to miss the chaplain's Christmas BBQ at Steve's place. I dropped around to give my apologies and have a quick drink. They understood the family priority, in fact a couple of other people had also had to give their apologies due to family commitments. Docker Dave and family will be staying in Busso for a couple of weeks in the new year so I invited them round for a BBQ when we get back from Augusta.
Talking of which, if any Perth friends want to come down south and need somewhere to stay, our
place will be available in early January. Let me know:)

Sport Update
Spurs lost 2-1 at Newcastle to a last minute goal but the NY Giants beat Carolina to clinch home-ground advantage throughout the NFL play-offs. The Aussies lost the first test to Sth Africa who made the 2nd highest 4th innings score to win a test match in history. Heads look like rolling for the Boxing Day test.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rest Work and Play

It wasn't easy to get out of bed this morning after such a big day and night. I don't drink so it wasn't a hangover but I could have easily slept another 2-3 hours if I hadn't had to be in Shenton Park by 11 for rehearsals. The team and I p in a solid 4+ hours of rehearsing the 4 plays we are putting on at mission this year. They're based on Max Lucado's stories about the Wemmicks, little wooden people and I am the Narrator/Eli, the wood carver who made the Wemmicks. We made a fair bit of progress but I am still nervous, I've never lead the drama team before and we are trying a different style this year, something that I suggested so I feel a fair bit of responsibility for the outcome. The stories are good but lack a little bit of creative humour so I'm looking for ways to add jokes and puns and funny lines. It's a challenge.

While I was rehearsing the rest of the family went shopping. Once we were finished Mrs HP came and picked me up and we headed out to Hillarys for dinner with the rest of the family, fish and chips at the beach, followed by ice cream. Sport Boy, Uncle Alan and I then had a round of wacky putt mini golf which was full of fun and surprises.
As we were leaving Hillarys I ducked into a cafe looking for the rest of the family when someone called out "Marcus". I looked around and discovered Mark Nicoski, he of West Coast Eagles fame, sitting around a table with a large group of guys and girls who all turned out to be former Carine students I had coached in the school footy team. It was great to see them and catch up for a few minutes. They were there to celebrate Kris Nobbs' birthday which to my "horror" was his 26th!! Nothing is more certain to make you feel old than seeing kids you worked with at school all grown up!!

We have returned to Favourite Daughter's place in Maylands for the night. The Heir and crew headed back to Busso this arvo. Tomorrow we'll head back home too and look like being joined by Vicki and Rex.

The only downside of having all the family and friends around is it makes me less motivated to do the work I have to do in preparation for beach mission. I've got newspapers to write and compile, a quiz night to prepare and various other tasks associated with being co-director and part of the team.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Family Christmas Celebration

We've had a wonderful day celebating with the family. There were 21 of us around the table for a feast of festive food, turkey and pork and all the trimmngs, yum.

An extra special surprise was having Favourite Daughter join us. She returned from Esperance on Friday in order to join us for the big day and Mrs Holt Press was very pleased to see her.

Vicki was in surprisingly good spirits throughout the day which was liberally sprinkled with laughter and stories and fun and games. After lunch we gathered around the Christmas tree for the distribution of presents and it was great fun, giving and receiving and watching the expressions of different people as they opened their gifts. Like many families we now have a secret Santa where each of us draws a name from a hat and gives that one person a gift. I gave Bruce's partner Paula one of my paintings which she seemed to like. I received something very special from Mum, a set of lawn bowls badges that had belonged to my grandfather, her Dad, including his name badge, Alex Burmeister. Mum knows I have become an avid badge collector but I had no idea she possessed such a treasure and that she would give it to me. My elder brother Alan has Pa's signet ring which Nan gave him after Pa died as he is the eldest grandchild. I have always admired it for all that it signified. To now have my own personal heirloom from Pa is very very special. Mum also gave Vicki a china swan that belonged to Nan and sat on their mantelpiece for at least 50 years. It is a precious reminder of Nan and I know Vicki was very glad to receive it.
At the end of the present giving Rex and Vicki gave out a small extra gift to everyone and there was great hilarity as people opened and in most cases read out what they'd been given. Mine was a sign that reads: If it wasn't for the last minute Nothing would get done!
Rex surprised all of us by producing one final present for Mum and accompanying it with a poem/tribute to her as the central character in our lives, it was very moving and beautiful and there were plenty of tears around the room. The moment was abruptly altered when she unwrapped the present to reveal yet another gnome like creature to go in the garden! For those not aware Mum hates garden gnomes!!

Next came the obligatory family photo session with all its different
permutations and shenanigans.

The Heir's four friends from England were with us for the day and fitted in easily and had a lot of fun and received some presents too!
Afterwards I challenged them to a game of Trivial Pursuit, me against all of them! In the end I was competing against 12 opponents, it was close but they wore me down with flukey answers and easy questions at crucial times which is my excuse for why I lost! We had a lot of fun in the process and they know a rematch is coming!
The rest of the evening was spent telling more stories, looking at old and new family photos on Rex's laptop and laughing at all sorts of nonsense.

Round two of the festivities will be in Bridgetown on Christmas day and Boxing Day with most people regathering there and the addition of The Heir who will be home from the harvest for a couple of days.

Sport Boy had a great time and told me tonight that he loves being around all the family when everyone is laughing and having fun together.

We have come over to Favourite Daughter's place to stay for the night.
I have drama rehearsals for Augusta tomorrow while Mrs HP and the kids will do some Christmas shopping then the whole clan will gather again at Hillarys boat harbour to have fish and chips for tea.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

This Just in, and Brilliant

On the 12th day of the Eurocentrically imposed midwinter festival,my Significant Other in a consenting adult, monogamous relationship gaveto me:

TWELVE males reclaiming their inner warrior through ritual drumming,

ELEVEN pipers piping (plus the 18-member pit orchestra made up of membersin good standing of the Musicians Equity Union as called for in their unioncontract even though they will not be asked to play a note).

TEN melanin deprived testosterone-poisoned scions of the patriarchal rulingclass system leaping,

NINE persons engaged in rhythmic self-expression,

EIGHT economically disadvantaged female persons stealing milk-products fromenslaved Bovine-Americans,

SEVEN endangered swans swimming on federally protected wetlands,

SIX enslaved Fowl-Americans producing stolen non-human animal products,

FIVE golden symbo ls of culturally sanctioned enforced domesticincarceration, (NOTE: after members of the Animal Liberation Frontthreatened to throw red paint at my computer, the calling birds, Frenchhens and partridge have been reintroduced to their native habitat. To avoidfurther Animal-American enslavement, the remaining gift package has beenrevised.)

FOUR hours of recorded whale songs

THREE deconstructionist poets

TWO Sierra Club calendars printed on recycled processed tree carcasses

ONE Spotted Owl activist chained to an old-growth pear tree.

So… Merry Christmas. Happy Chanukah. Good Kwanzaa. Blessed Yule. Rockin’Ramadan. Serene Solstice. Divine Dewali. Happy Holidays!
(unless otherwise prohibited by law)*

*If you are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), please substitute for this gratuitous call for celebration the alternative suggestion that you have a thoroughly adequate day.

Borrowed from Sue in a comments dialogue at Bits & Pieces who may have borrowed it from someone else, or may be a genius.

75 Bands Challenge

I have My Pictures Slideshow as my screen saver which I really like; with somewhere around 20,000 images stored on my computer there is a never-ending kaleidoscope of pictures to enjoy. Usually. Lately an odd little black and white photo has been appearing on a regular basis and I have no idea where it came from. It looks like a peninsula landscape, a triangle of land protruding into the ocean. It vaguely reminds me of Wilson's Promontary in Victoria but that's just a guess. So tonight I went looking for it! Next time I'll try finding the proverbial needle in the haystack! I did not find it. But, I did find a lot of interesting stuff, and a lot of duplication which I set about deleting. I think I regained 1000MB of space on the hard drive, possibly more.
In one folder I found this picture: "75 Bands".
Again, I don't remember downloading it, it may have been me or perhaps one of the kids. Either way, it's an interesting picture. Why? Because "hidden" within it are the names of 75 rock and pop bands. Not that I can verify all 75 but I can recognise about ten without too much effort.
Led Zeppelin, Guns N Roses, Smashing Pumpkins, Scissor Sisters, Gorillaz, The B52's, Queen, Matchbox 20, The Rollingstones for a start.
So, if you've got a little time and reasonable powers of observation maybe you can add to the list. Add any more band names you find in the comments and we'll see if we can crack the full 75.

I'll give a prize to whoever finds the most! Woohoo!

BTW, if you click on the picture it will "enbiggen" and you'll make your searching easier.

Good luck.

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Friday, December 19, 2008


The school year is finished and I'm officially on holiday.


I do need to go into the office and finish off a couple of things...

and I've got to write the newspapers for Augusta...

and prepare and rehearse with the drama team...

and write a Christmas letter....

and drive the taxi tonight....

so, life will not be totally relaxed for a little while yet!

Having said that, there is a lot to look forward to over the next few days and weeks.

Starting with family Christmas in Perth on Sunday, in company with Dad, Vicki & Rex, the Heir's 4 visitors from England and the rest of the usual crew, family, feasting, fun and festivity.

A few days in Bridgetown for round two around Christmas Day.

A couple of BBQs with friends.

10 days in Augusta with all the beach mission "family" from New Year's Day.

And then 2-3 weeks of rest and relaxation with time for painting & pottering, walks on the beach, playing cricket with Sport Boy, having a garage sale, sleeping in, going to the movies and generally enjoying life without the usual pressures of work, deadlines, expectations and obnoxious year 9's!!

As it says in the classics....Bring it on!!

I should report on my last chaplaincy job for the year, driving staff to and from the Christmas Dinner at Tides in the maxi taxi. The trip there was pretty mellow, the trip home on the other hand was a rowdy affair which revealed a different and more colouful side of a few people!!
I got them all home safely which was the main mission, and made a little bit of money in the process which will help with Christmas looming.
The dinner was very nice and I had a couple of good chats but when the drinking and dancing kicked in in earnest I was happy to take one group on to their next engagement and spend a couple of hours at home with Mrs Holt Press until I got the call to go and collect the hard partiers. If anyone needed any proof of my advancing age, this would do it!

I don't often post requests on here but I would very much appreciate prayers for my sister Vicki who has a serious illness and associated health problems stretching back many years. She lives with constant pain and discomfort and the prognosis for recovery is not that encouraging.
She and Rex have come over to WA to spend Christmas with the family which we hope will be a real tonic for her but it could also wear her out. My Dad has blog friends from around the world praying for her and he's a heathen (Hi Pop!! :)) so I can't let him have more prayer supporters than me!!! Seriously though, your prayers for Vicki would be great. Thanks.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Brittany was perhaps the most determined and committed contestant on the CSRC and her Mum is equally determined, having worked out the destination of camp site two by completing the internet quiz. Good work. I may recruit her to be part of the team next year!
I'm still struggling to sort out the money from the camp, I have to itemise every amount spent by every staff member, it's doing my head in! I don't know how Big Brother the Accountant manages to keep his concentration working with numbers all day, 1/2 an hour and I have to take a break or I blow a fuse!

I enjoy spending money though and today I got to do a bit of that. With the school year about to end and money still in my account, it's either use it or lose it so I went and spent it today on:
A new office chair to replace the one I broke on Monday, it tilts to the left now and I'm getting a sore back from trying to sit upright and compensate for the lean.
A scanner. (Can you believe how cheap printer/scanners are?).
A digital card reader, I was unable to download at least half the kid's photos at the camp because they had different typres of memory cards, this will solve that problem.
A digital photo frame, so I can have a constant display of kids pictures playing in my office window for them to see as they walk past. I may even try to work out how to add in a few "ads" and messages to the slide show.
A thumb drive and extra memory card for said digital photo show.
Spare printer cartridges.
And an MP3 player to use at Phat Phriday, camps, carnivals etc.

In honour of (and to make way for) these purchases I cleaned up my office today and threw out or relocated a whole lot of stuff and reclaimed about 5m2 of floor space in the process, as well as discovering the open jar of baby food Toni aka Winchester hid in my office after the final Phat Phriday! She is a mischievous little tyke!!

The Heir and crew have gone up to Perth for a few days. We'll see them at the big family Christmas gathering on Sunday.
Sport Boy finished school today and brought home a very good report.

I finish tomorrow although I'll be on duty late into the evening as I am the designated driver charged with getting everyone home safely in the maxi taxi at the end of the night.
In the meantime I need to finish the camp accounts, meet with Gaultie for a handover of the House Coordinator job, and try and write a thank you letter for the camp. Wish me luck, I'll need it. Especially compared to tonight! I've begun writing and compiling the daily newspapers for beach mission at Augusta on Publisher. That part went well and I got the first one done. Then came the "fun" trying to get it to print as an A5 booklet on A4 paper! No matter what I tried or where I looked I could not convince it to print it as a newsletter/booklet, I even resorted to using "Help" but it didn't!! If anyone out there has any helpful suggestions please let me know!!!!!

Finally before I close I just want to correct an oversight and right a wrong. In my summary of previous Cool School Race Camp winners the other day I inadvertently left out the 2005 victors, Balcatta SHS, former stomping ground of my good mate Birchy. Just to be clear, this was a genuine mistake and was in no way intended to snub or besmirch the achievements or reputation of that fine school of up and coming mafioso market gardeners.
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rocking the House

The mop up of the camp is proving to be a bit of a pain, trying to reconcile all the money, staff allowances and acquittals, getting the accounts paid etc. I'm hoping to streamline the process next year!!
I made my debut as the new House Coordinator at today's school assembly. The House system has been neglected the last year or so but we're aiming to relaunch it and amp it up next year as part of a strategy to improve the tone of the school. We're going to introduce a colours and honours system as well, an idea I've borrowed from my time at Carine. Today I conducted the House Point draw, giving digital cameras to 4 kids who had received house points for good behaviour and attitudes. I made a unilateral decision to not give awards to kids who weren't in attendance or who were out of uniform! I also took the opportunity to give a Christmas message and briefly recount the Christmas story, how the baby Santa had been born to save the world by encouraging people to spend lots of money, eat and drink to excess and watch cricket! The odd chuckle indicated that a few kids picked up on the joke but I fear others may have gone home and repeated the updated version of the Christmas story, which may lead to confusion in later years!
Two days to go till school finishes for the year and I'm hanging out for it! Shame about all the work I need to get done before then!

The Heir's English visitors have been staying with us for the last few days and have been easy to get along with and good fun. He has been playing host, taking them on the tourist treks etc. They're off to Perth tomorrow to pick up the 4th member of the crew, Ian. We'll catch up with them on the weekend when we head up to Perth for the Family Christmas Gathering.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oh Happy Day

Tonight was Sport Boy's Christmas Concert at school and it was great. Lots of fun songs and acts from pre-schoolers to the graduating year 6's. for us the highlight was the yr 5 performance of a song from Sister Act. The kids were all decked out in robes like a southern gospel choir and as the music started Sport Boy took centre stage and began a very convincing mime of Oh Happy Day. He was fantastic and lots of people laughed as he "sang". The rest of the kids sang and bopped along to the chorus then other kids took the lead role, but, in my humble and completely unbiased opinion, SB was the best!

Now I'm about to adjourn to the lounge room to watch the finale of Survivor!
I don't care what people say, I love Survivor and this season has been a ripper! Jeanette, a fellow fan has just arrived and I'm about to break out the candles and snuffer so we can have our own little tribal council extinguishing ritual!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cool School Race Camp Winners 2008

The boys team from Mandurah Catholic College who were the winners of the 2008 Cool School Race Camp, a pretty good effort at their first attempt. Interestingly no school has one it twice since it became a multi school competition, previous winners being Carine, Duncraig, Busselton and Newton Moore. There were 8 schools in it this year, 23 teams, 182 students and 28 staff.

I have a hunch there'll be even more interest in it next year as word spreads.
This year's camp was probably the most successful and smoothest running camp we've had, with the last day in particular a stand out. In previous years I have been guilty of making the race on day three too hard and too long but this year 19 of the 23 teams completed the race before the deadline and a further two finished shortly after.
Similarly the process of working out where camp site two is has been too difficult for many campers in the past, causing them frustration and me disappointment as check points and detours were not getting used and the preparation time before camp was going to waste. This year I dialed down the degree of difficulty in order to make it run more efficiently and this helped although it's fair to say that many groups still struggled with the internet quiz. Now that search engines like google are so powerful I've had to write questions that require more than one bit of information in order to find the answer, or require teams to search images on google earth and recognise specific objects. If you're not sure what I mean, click on the link for the quiz in my previous post and have a go. All of the answers can be found by using google and a bit of deductive reasoning.
More groups also decided to sacrifice some of their funds to buy the answer to camp site two rather than lose a lot of valuable time looking for it when they really needed to be scoring points taking photos, especially the four mandatory pictures. The going rate for the answer to camp site two was $100, a significant amount considering a group's total funds for the camp were $280. Helpful hints to the quiz questions cost $5 while an answer sold for $10, a choice several groups made when they were stuck.
I was especially pleased when a couple of groups rang the helpline listed on the back of their ID cards, and even more impressed at the calibre of their questions. They were only allowed three so they couldn't waste them. One group rang to ask the sloution to the traffic jam puzzle which they had to solve while on the train to the next checkpoint. Another team asked the location of the most valuable photo, a picture of a rock carving worth 50,000 points that was extremely difficult to find.
Lots of other things worked out really well, the staff did a great job and were very positive about the camp, the 110 pizzas I ordered for dinner on the second night kept everyone fed, and the gourmet pizzas I got for the staff were great. The camp site were both terrific, the support and encouragement from the manager at CS1 in particular was outstanding. CS2 was pretty cozy with 200+ people all sleeping in the one hall but they settled down well when we put the lights out. Our daring raid to secure extra gym mats for people to sleep on worked perfectly despite the Heir's doubts. I'd like to go into more detail on that one but I can't!
Talking of the Heir, he did a brilliant job as my right hand man on the camp. He drove the big hire van and did all sorts of transport and resourcing jobs over the three days, all with a minimum of fuss and often under pressure of time or as a result of a sudden idea or inspiration. He was truly invaluable and it was great work with him and have some extra time together in the process.
All the editing of the task/hand/photo/score books before camp was worth it as there was a minimum of mistakes or omissions.
The success of day three really convinced me of the overall success of the camp. There were a lot of logistical tasks to complete before the race began, packing and transporting all the gear to 6 different destinations. Having a couple of spare staff from Mandurah and a couple of extra cars to move things made the whole thing work out. In terms of the race itself I felt like we really got it right, achieving the right mix of challenge, competition, fun and timing to enable a high percentage of teams to complete the whole thing and still have time left at the end to do the scores and wrap it all up. We even got away 20 minutes ahead of schedule.
One of the Busselton teams won the race in a very tight contest with the lead changing more than once over the last couple of legs.
The kids from Mandurah were very happy and excited about their overall triumph to win the Cool School Race Camp trophy.
After all the hard work I'm looking forward to a bit of a rest, but I'm also looking forward to planning next year's camp and making it even better.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cool School Race Camp

The kids on the camp have to solve puzzles and work out clues in order to find camp site one and camp site two. After retrieving a letter from Post Restante they were directed to ebay in their search. Here's what they were looking for.

On the second day teams had to answer 15 questions in a quiz on the Cool School Race Camp web site. If you'd like to match wits with them and TMBTCSRC the password you need to get started is Robinson.

Leave me a comment if you work out where we stayed!

This year for the first time I included a new task; teams scored 1000 points for each photo of a personalised number plate they took. As the world's leading collector of personalised plate pictures, this stroke of genius enabled me to add 100s of new pics to my collection in one fell swoop thanks to the collective efforts of 180 eagle eyed campers prowling all over Perth.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I'm Back, Hope You Missed Me!!

I'm home.

The camp went brilliantly.

I was pretty wrecked at the end of it.

I slept in and took my time coming home today.

Only Sport Boy is home and he is staying at Noel & Steph's tonight.

The Hair has gone to work on the harvest at Corrigin.

Mrs Holt Press is away at Northam till Sunday.

The Heir's friends from the UK have arrived.

Favourite Daughter is in Esperance.

And I'm off to drive the taxi.

I'll blog more tomorrow.

Bye bye.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Cool School Race Camp - Leaving Ready or Not

The time has come. I've done everything I can think of to prepare and get ready and pack before leaving for Perth. The crunch will come about an hour into the trip. If it's going to happen that will be the time that I remember something I should havebought, brought, done, rung, emailed, packed or arranged.
My lists are all ticked off but that's not 100% guarantee that I'm finished, there are so many little details to take care of on this camp that things easily slip past. I've put in some very long hours over the last week, hopefully enough.
I'm driving a hire car to Perth, complete with cruise control and air con and a massive boot which is now crammed full of gear.
The Heir and Toni left this morning, I'll see them in the morning.
When I get there tonight I'll pack bags for the groups with all their books and clues and mascots and bitsand pieces. Hopefully Dave has got the ID cards all finished and ready. I located the missing lanyards, they are still at Carine from last year's camp, I'll pick them up in the morning.
I've got $3000 in cash advances and a bundle of cheques to provide the staff with their daily allowances and pay for everything over the next three days.
The books are all printed and bound and ready.
We lost about 5 kids across the 8 schools over the last two days, the usual attrition rate just before camp, but I did pick up a couple of new kids from a 9th school this afternoon for a net loss of three.
The kids will gather at 5.45 tomorrow morning and board the bus at 6.
We aim to arrive by 9.30 and start by 10 but I suspect we'll be a bit later than that by the time we get everything and everyone organised. Managing 180+ kids in 23 groups and over 25 staff is a big operation.
well, let's hope all goes well.
Blogging may be sporadic over the next few days.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Pillow Fight Basketball @ Phat Phriday

This game ticks all the boxes, it's a winner.

Cool School Race Camp Countdown: -3

Friday was busy. Camp prep is in top gear now and much progress made, especially as I've just put in another 6 hours at the office tonight. I give thanks for modern photo copiers which work quickly and without breakdown, unlike the old dinosaurs I used to wrestle with in the early days. Now it's set and forget.
Add the joy of a folding machine pumping out folded pages of clues and the like and the job is much quicker and easier all round.
There are 184 kids, broken up into 23 teams of 8 coming on the camp so there's a lot of stuff to prepare. Staff will number 30 this year, with 8 schools participating. Tonight I finished the Staff Hand Book, a 67 page document detailing all the ins and outs and rules and conditions of how the camp runs. Thankfully with computers most of it just requires updating and editing each year but there is still a lot of tweaking and adjusting to get it right and make it better each year. I enjoy putting it all together but it's time consuming. One more solid day's work should see everything finished although I keep adding little jobs and things to take to my To Do List. I'd be lost without that list!!

Friday lunchtime saw the last Phat Phriday of the year and The Heir and Toni did a great job, taking charge of all the planning, purchasing, setting up and running of the program, the highlight of which was pillow fight basketball. Hopefully I'll be able to upload some video of this brilliant game tomorrow.

Friday night came and went with a solid 10 hours in the taxi and hardly a break in business the whole night, always good for the wallet. Some of the customers were unusually obnoxious but there were some good ones scattered amongst them too.
With a 4 o'clock finish I slept till 3 today, and with another late shift at the office tonight my body clock is all out of sync! I'm looking forward to the holidays when most of the frenetic pace of life will settle down, especially mid January when beach mission is finished.

Tomorrow is Ironman Triathlon day in Busselton, you might see it on TV even. I'm not volunteering this year, the camp has kept me too busy, but we'll probably go down late tomorrow night and watch the stragglers finish after 18 hours of swimming cycling and running!I've invited a few people round for a BBQ tomorrow arvo now that the patio is clean and tidy again! I might recruit them to help me stuff envelopes with clues, quizzes and answers for the camp.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Pressure Reduced

The pressure built to something of a crescendo around 9.15 this morning when I had an ABC film crew coming to record the behind the White Crosses project and only three kids coming on the excursion! Not exactly compelling television! A last ditch sweep of the school netted about 15 kids willing to give up their classes between period 2-4 to come with me. A succession of phone calls followed as they all gained permission from their parents to attend. The phrases "road safety" and "school chaplain" seemed to melt away any suspicions at the parental end of the line.

Next a nervous visit to the principal seeking late permission to proceed on the basis of verbal permission having been received. A couple of provisos, a couple of checks and I got the green light, not-with-standing the part about telling the four boys out of uniform that they couldn't come. The journo arrived, the kids boarded the bus and we set off, and as we did it started to rain, uncomfortable but strangely appropriate. It didn't last long. The kids didn't quite know what to expect and I was a little nervous and uncertain at the beginning as I talked about two deaths on Layman Rd, one of them only 6 weeks ago.

As the weather warmed up so did I and things progressed smoothly. I pointed out lots of crosses as we passed, then stopped at some to get out and give a more detailed story. As the trip went on the kids became more quiet on the bus and more focussed when we got out at the various crash sites. They seemed to be taking it seriously and tuning in to the message, listening and showing respect. There were a few double takes and set-ups for the benefit of the TV camera but the kids didn't muck around and the whole thing went pretty well I thought. I spent the longest time at the site of a double fatality involving two young people killed 12 months ago.

Rachel from the ABC interviewed me at that site and then did a few vox pops with the kids, asking them their impressions of the project. She told me that they had been positive and supportive. The TV crew headed off to do an interview with the police, I took the kids to one more cross on Vasse Hwy then rewarded them with a stop at McDonalds before we headed back to school. I'll have a closer look at their before and after surveys to get a gauge on how effective it may have been but the warm thanks and genuine comments as they got off the bus made me think the exercise had been well worthwhile.

For those of you with access to ABC 1 in WA the story is likely to go to air on the 7 o'clock news on either Saturday or Sunday night. I know the kids will be keen to watch it, as will I.

With the pilot out of the way I was able to breathe a big sigh of relief and focus all my attention on camp preparations. I'm pleased to say that I'm over the hump, the benefit of working through until 2.00am! My list of things to do is greatly reduced and with 4 days till the camp starts I'm confident I'll get it finished in time. There is still plenty to do but some of the biggest jobs are done and lots of details have been sorted out.

I expect after working an 18 hour day I'm not going to be feeling too good come the morning ; I think I'll sleep in a little!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Pressure is Building

Good news, Dave has recovered, and stopped whingeing, in fact he's hard at work making 200 ID badges for me for the Cool School Race Camp. Good on ya Dave.

I'm putting in long hours trying to get ready in time. And I'm well behind where I need to be!
Five days to go! aaaggghhh!

To complicate matters, tomorrow morning I'm doing the pilot for the Behind the White Crosses project. I'm not sure how many kids I'll have but the film crew from the ABC are coming with us.
I put the finishing touches to the powerpoint presentation tonight.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Catching up from the Weekend

I did two camp briefings yesterday, one at Duncraig for 60 kids from Mirrabooka, Shenton and Duncraig, then another one at Mandurah for 16 kids. I didn't leave quite enough time between the two so it was bit of a rush getting from one to the other. Prior to that we had breakfast at IKEA and afterwards I checked out a few things in Mandurah with a view to using them on the camp. Now that the train line runs to Mandurah it's a lot more accessible.

On the way home I saw a couple attending to a roadside cross about 50km out of Bunbury. I did a U turn and went back to talk to them. I told them about my Behind the White Crosses project and asked them about this particular cross. It happened to be the first anniversary of the ladie's daughter. She told me a bit about what had happened and offered to email me a picture and some info that I may be able to use. It was sad to hear about her daughter's death but I was glad I stopped, finding out info about individual crosses is not easy and I was grateful that this mum was prepared to share her daughter's story with me. The first test run of the project is scheduled for Thursday this week. I'm still in need of more kids to come on the trip and be part of the pilot program.

I had to drop my laminating machine off at Dave and Nicole's place at Eaton on the way home. He and Josh are going to make the ID name tags for the kids going on the camp. It's a big job, requiring some 200 tags to be made so I'm really glad to have been able to delegate it. Certainly more glad than was Dave when I threw his Dockers towel in the spa! So desperate was he to retrieve it that as he lunged for it he scraped his leg on the wooden platform surrounding the spa, drawing a tiny amount of blood and a huge amount of whingeing! He was complaining to whoever would listen and was met with very little compassion, his own daughter telling him to "Toughen up Princess"! Click on the picture from yesterday's post for all the graphic detail!
As a devoted reader of this humble blog he had been all excited about being featured on Holt Press but now resigned himself to having to read about his injury and injured pride.

Mrs Holt Press enjoyed chatting with Nicole who has some sort of immune deficiency illness that takes away the pigment in her skin, permanently! She did tell me the name of it but I've forgotten. Sorry Nicole! She seems to be handling the situation with customary good humour and there were comments about Dalmations and albinos being thrown around.
Also there while we visited was Dave's younger brother Mark who earns his living playing in a band on a cruise ship. He reeled off a list of places he visits in the course of his job, all exciting and exotic, but the only one I can remember was Rome.

Madison and Sport Boy had fun in the spa together, conducting their own spelling bee. Nicole dubbed Madison Brain Girl, a foil for the title Sport Boy. On the way home I joked to him it could be a good future match-up, Sport Boy and Brain Girl. No way he replied, she's two years younger than me!!

After all these diversions and delays we were much later getting home than I'd expected and by the time I'd had dinner and looked through my latest parcel of badges and pins from America it was almost too late to put in an appearance at the year 8 camp. I had rung The Heir earlier and asked him to pick up the PA and drop it off at the camp site so they could use it for a disco.
I headed down to the Holy Mile but only made it as far as Monaghans where I was stopped by a police roadblock. There had been a serious crash, a hit and run in which a female pedestrian had been run over, and the road was blocked. The driver had then crashed into a car before finally hitting a tree and being apprehended by the police. The woman is in Royal Perth Hospital in a critical condition.

I made it to the camp this afternoon to help with some sports and games. I reffed my first ever game of basketball and had to endure the quizzical and scathing looks of the newly arrived Chinese student who was clearly unimpressed with my performance and not at all sympathetic to my excuse that I played football not basketball! I told him to stop whingeing!

The rest of my day revolved around camp preparation, as it will for the next week.

I did get to watch the season return of Hustle tonight, followed by the second episode of Survivor for the week!

Speed Stacking

For reasons I can't explain I can't embed this youtube clip on the blog, but hopefully you can watch it by clicking on the link.
Sport Boy got a set of speed stacks for his birthday. He's made good progress but he's got a long way to go to catch up to these kids.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Dave and Family Host the Holts

I know Dave would be disappointed if I didn't get this posted tonight, but, I'm knackered after a few busy days in Perth and need to get to bed, so further explanations will have to wait.
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Monday, December 01, 2008

Happy Birthday to Hugh

Hugh's 60th birthday party was a hoot. We missed the lawn bowling due to the late finish of the mission team meeting in Mandurah but got there in time to cook on the BBQ and join the celebration. Sport Boy was the only kid at the party but he had especially wanted to come because he is so fond of Hugh. I met Hugh about 20 years ago when I took his Perth Mod kids abseiling and caving on camps down at Margaret River. For the last 15 years he has been a founding member of the Breakfast Club, a small group of mates who originally met for breakfast once a month as a support when I started in school chaplaincy. We still get together but not as regularly; I've moved to Busselton and Phil has gone back to Afghanistan, but along with Broadie, the 4 of us meet whenever we can. It was great to be with Hugh and his wide and diverse range of friends for his birthday. I took the opportunity to say a few words and to affirm Hugh and tell him how important his friendship is to me and that I love him. I invited others to do the same and was delighted when several people got up and spoke, telling stories and reminiscences of their friendship with Hugh, amidst much laughter. It was a great night.

We stayed with the Van Wollies last night and tonight we're at Chatteau d'Taffrail with Sally and Warren. Sport Boy has had a great afternoon playing with BBQ Sauce Boy and friends and tonight we all went 10 pin bowling at Cannington.
I was rudely awoken by a blood nose this morning. Once I'd stemmed that I went in search of a swap meet and ended up at Belmont. I concentrated on searching for badges and planes, finding several of both. I was disappointed that a couple of times I was unable to haggle a decent price on some badges but proud of the fact that I walked away rather than paying too high a price for something I wanted but didn't need! Warren reckons I shouldn't have bought the helicopters that were missing their rotors but I countered him by flicking the switch on one of them to demonstrate that not only were the batteries still working but the lights flashed and the military sound effects were fully functional!

Tomorrow I've got CSRC briefings at Duncraig and Mandurah before we return home. Mrs Holt Press wants to go to IKEA. I want to take the train to Mandurah as a test run for one of the activities on the camp we're just not sure If I can do it in the time between briefings.
Sport Boy is just happy to be missing a day of school!

Ironically in our absence, both Mum and Walter and the Robinsons have called in at our place!
Mum and Walter are staying the night and going car hunting in Bubury tomorrow.