Wednesday 10 August 2016

The things I do for my ears

In my first year in radio, an Audio Engineer I greatly respected told me about his tinnitus - the constant ringing which kept him awake at night and drove him to despair.

He got it from loud studios and louder concerts, and didn't want me to make the same mistakes.

"Whatever you do in this business, protect your hearing, because once it's stuffed it won't be coming back."

I have worn hearing protection to every concert since. And I take great care that my studios don't get too loud.

Despite my precautions, I have lost some of my hearing. Just enough to make it difficult to hold a conversation in a crowded room.

I don't need hearing aids, but I do have to address the issue socially. So rather than nodding and smiling when I don't understand someone, I explain that my hearing isn't great and ask them to repeat themselves.

Earlier this year at a public event, I was exposed to a very loud bang, much like having a gun go off next to my head. I've had tinnitus ever since. It's maddening.

So I went back to my audiologist Nick Modrovich for more testing and advice. While he was at it, I got him to make me some custom ear plugs, for future concerts.

Here he is, injecting the moulding material into my ears.

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Wednesday 3 August 2016

Tasting notes from Whisky Live in Hobart

I went to the Whisky Live tasting event in Hobart and kept a video diary, recording one entry per hour, trying to keep it together while drinking quantities of single malt.

My thanks to Simon and Dave who came with me and held the camera. It's Simon you can see dancing behind me around the halfway mark.

It was a fantastic night, where around 20 whisky companies sent their most knowledgeable bartenders to educate us about their products.

We didn't try everything, but we made a damn good attempt!

Before I share my opinions, you should know that I'm a bit of a light-weight when it comes to whisky - I prefer smooth whisky with a lighter flavour. So take it with a grain of salt. (And a suck of lemon,if you like.)

Also, my memories are perhaps a tiny bit hazy. So I'm only mentioning the ones that stand out clearly in my mind.

Dry Fly Triticale: this isn't made with your usual malted barley, but rather a hybrid of wheat and rye more often found in bread and pasta. It offers a brighter flavour and goes down very easily.

Dry Fly Cask Strength:  I'll admit I was a little worried about this - it's made of wheat and is extra strong at 60% alcohol, so it had all sorts of ways to go wrong. But it turned out to be a highlight of the night, incredibly smooth and delicious.

Box The Messenger: the most palatable of the three Scandinavian brews I tried. They all had something slightly odd about them. This one wasn't bad, but it wasn't particularly good either.

Glendalough Double Barrel Irish:  supposedly one of the best Irish whiskies in the world. It was pretty nice, but I don't know if it was all that.

The King's Ginger:  a ginger based liqueur. Quite sweet, especially after tasting smokey single malts. Surprisingly smooth for something with such a strong tang of ginger. I really liked it.

Lark Distillery Classic Cask:  has a delicious fruity tang. A very classy drop from Tasmania's first modern distillery.

Overeem Port Cask:  Deeply coloured and deeply flavoured too. Perhaps a little intense for my tastes, but there's no denying the quality.

Paul John Classic: smooth and full flavoured. It's from Goa in India, but don't hold that against it - they've been making whisky for 200 years there. Terrific value, you get excellent whisky for the price.

Paul John Peated:  fantastic. They import the peat from Scotland and use it to smoke their own local barley. Smokey and sweet and drinkable.

Redlands Distillery New Malt:  you can't really call this a whisky. It's basically the distilled spirit which will eventually become a whisky if you leave it in a barrel for a few years. I think they really jumped the gun in releasing this, as it's horrible.

The Singleton of Dufftown Spey Cascade:  very pleasant, especially when paired with (believe it or not) a wedge of chocolate coated turkish delight. We drank it and all approved, then found it was probably the least expensive thing on the menu. Punches far above its weight.

Starward Single Malt:  pleasantly smooth but perhaps a little bland, possibly because I'd started on the smokey ones by the time I got to this.

Sullivans Cove American Oak Single Malt:  pure class. Golden in the bottle and on the tongue. Your head swims with the complex flavours for a full minute after each sip.

Talisker Storm:  a powerful smokey potion. Demands a pepper steak to go with it.

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Dancing cosplayers at Oz Comic Con

Let's make some cosplayers do the Running Man challenge, shall we?

This footage comes from Oz Comic Con in Melbourne.

I was there to interview some cool people, like Robert Patrick from Terminator II and Samuel Anderson from Doctor Who.

But there are so many people wandering around in amazing costumes, it just seemed a shame not to put them on video. Doing something silly. For no good reason.

If you've never been to a con before, it's a hell of a lot of fun. Here's a little guided tour of the event, which I originally put out on the Periscope app.

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