Thursday, 13 February 2014

Fri 14/2/14 - The Homework's Started, Camera Mishaps & This Week's Wristwatches.

Friday, 2:24pm  AEST

Still wore the Omega planet Ocean throughout last weekend;

Classes are now getting a little more serious. There's quite a bit of work coming up. For example, I'll have to take a close look at-

-and the list goes on with half-a-dozen more sites. I got no problem with the major players, such as Twitter and Blogger, for example, but I have a real aversion to setting up a Facebook page. The lecturer stated that it's not necessary to set one up, but it would appear that it'll make things a little easier if I do.  I just wait and see. It should be doable without having to set it up. 

Meanwhile, I took the Olympus Trip 35 film camera to school with me. I had planned  to perhaps take some pictures with it to see how it ran. I didn't end up taking any snaps and, when I got home and took it out of my bag, I noticed that the entire lens element felt a little loose and wobbly. A quick net search revealed that this is a common occurrence with these cameras. I quick tutorial and I was able to remove the front lens element to expose three brass screws which were pretty loose. I tightened those and put it all back together. Only one problem; I didn't re-calibrate the lens. There was film in the camera so I measured a distance of three feet and took six or seven photos. 
I got them developed and found that the last six photos were indeed completely out of focus. I had left out one crucial step when I took the lens apart. I had forgotten to mark where the lens was set. 
And so, I'll be setting up a photo shoot and, turning the lens element a few millimetres at a time, I'll take a series of photos and get them developed to determine which ones show the best focus. And then I'll re-calibrate the lens and tighten some screws. That should do it. I called a camera repairer and he quoted me $150 for a full strip-down of the camera. Seemed a little excessive, so I think I'll take a crack at fixing it myself first.

I switched over to the Omega Speedmaster Professional, since I'd been wearing the Planet Ocean for two weeks. 


However, wristwatches became pretty insignificant to me on Thursday morning when I read the news story about an eleven year-old boy named Luke Batty, who had been murdered by his estranged father after a cricket practice session in a nearby suburb called Tyabb. I don't want to go into the details of it, since it can be found on the web, but I just found it an absolutely heartbreaking, callous and cowardly crime. I couldn't help but wonder what terror the boy must have felt and thought at the time. I just do not understand how a father can do something like this to their child. It turned out that the Dad had mental issues. I say 'had' because when the police arrived, he lunged at them with a knife. The officers used pepper spray, to no effect, and, as he threatened them again, he was shot once in the upper body and died later in hospital.
There have been a few crimes of this nature that have occurred in Victoria over the past decade. Robert Farquharson was given a life sentence (with a 33 year minimum) for murdering his three sons by driving his car into a dam in 2005, claiming that he lost control of the wheel after suffering 'a coughing fit' while driving. 
Arthur Phillip Freeman was convicted of murder for throwing his four year-old daughter, Darcey, off the West Gate Bridge in 2009 during morning peak-hour traffic on what would have been her first day at pre-school.
Fifteen or twenty years ago, I would have read something like this and thought; "Oh, that's awful." And I probably wouldn't have thought much more beyond that. 
However, I became a father on Christmas Day, 2000, and my wife and I welcomed our beautiful daughter into the world in September 2002. My perceptions of crimes like those above certainly changed since I had children of my own. 
We don't bring children into this world in order to treat them this way.

As an aspiring writer, I sometimes tell myself that I can put myself in the shoes of my characters in order to understand their motivations within the story. However, I cannot, for the life of me, fathom how or why a man could do something like these crimes. Mental instability, in the cases of the Tyabb father and Arthur Freeman, can explain some of it, but not all of it, in my opinion. As for Farquharson, he was shown to be of sound mind, which merely tells me that he was operating from a dark corner of pure malevolence.
If there is any good to come from the murder of Luke Batty, I hope it takes the form of stronger laws and restrictions towards divorced parents who become embroiled in complicated custody battles. I hope it brings about better methods of safeguarding children from the possibility of harm such as this. I'm in no way well-informed enough in the machinations of The Family Court or Child Protection Services here in Australia to be able to provide a solution to prevent situations like these. I just hope that the powers-that-be can come up with strategies to ensure that these kinds of crimes don't happen again.
RIP, Luke.

Literature and Hollywood can throw all manner of created horrors our way, but it is the real horror that occurs all too often which shows a level of evil far beyond our understanding. And the victims of these horrors are often those who are the most innocent, the most pure, and the most defenceless.
I made an iced chocolate for my son when he got home from school later that day. 
A few hours later, he walked into the lounge room and gave me a hug, as he sometimes does. 
I held onto him a little tighter. A little longer.
And felt my eyes well up again that day.

I began this post about three hours ago and, to be honest, I don't really feel like continuing. I hadn't set out to write so much about this crime, but perhaps I just had to get this out of my system somehow, even though I never set up this blog to use as a soap-box. My apologies if I've spoiled your day, folks. As I wrote earlier, I hope that there is some good to be found from all this and my heart goes out to Luke's Mother. I hope she will reach a point where she can make sense of it all. Tyabb is a small, tight-knit community, from what I've read, and this crime has had a deep and far-reaching effect. My thoughts are with all those affected by this senseless tragedy.

Thanks for reading.


  1. It is a sad world at times. Regarding the camera, open it up without film and place some translucent adhesive tape over the film gate opening. This will act like a primitive ground glass viewscreen, at pretty close to the same position as the film sits. If you can get the shutter to stay open in bulb mode (is the Trip a leaf shutter camera?) then you will be able to adjust the lens for best sharpness.

  2. I did find a tutorial for resetting the lens in the manner you've outlined, Joe, but I think I'd need four hands to do it successfully. The Trip 35 isn't a leaf shutter. Oh, this is gonna be fun, I can tell you.

  3. Firstly, to the fun stuff. The Camera sounds like you've got a lot of work on your hands, but I like your thinking man's solution. Excellent idea. But I know it is going to be painful. All I can add to this is that you also add a tape measure to the mix or some kind of detailed scale running away from the camera. When you shoot, I'm guessing you'd be opening the aperture right up, so you'll have a shallow depth of field. This way, you'll have an idea on if a particular adjustment was slightly too forward or back from the intended focal point, and you'll be able to adjust appropriately.

    Secondly, I think as a writer such detail is something that you cannot fathom, as you aren't in that person's mind. Look at it this way. Many of us have had thoughts about wanting to inflict violence on someone when we are at our angriest, or most depressed. But we don't. In Australia the murder rate is 1.5 to every 100,000 people. So there is a point that you can never understand where the person has stepped over the line - what the motivation that was enough to take a life and why it influenced them to do so.

    While it is a dark subject to think about, I personally feel better when I realise that for the vast majority it is a lot harder to take a life than we think.

    But if you want to get some kind of idea of what happened here, you can do no better than read the statement of his estranged wife who still spoke almost lovingly about the man that killed her son before he threw himself at the police and was shot. She has provided one of the most incredible insights into such violence that I have ever seen. But be careful, you'll need to pack a box of tissues as it is the kind of stuff that rips your heart out of your chest.

    1. I saw the wife make a statement on the news yesterday and it would seem that she has made further statements to the media since then. Yes, she did say that nobody loved the boy as much as the father did, which only adds further layers of mystery to all this. It turns out that there were warrants out for this man's arrest, but due to glitches in the police database, not all personnel were aware that this man was wanted. He had an Apprehended Violence Order against him, which indicates what he was capable of, as well as a history of mental instability. There were numerous red flags, but, for whatever reasons, he was able to do what he did. I fully understand the mother's desire to allow the boy and his father to spend time together, but I'm horrified by the outcome.
      At any rate, this is something for those who can do something about it to DO something about it.

      Regarding the camera, I got out my other Trip 35 a few hours ago to see how the lens was sitting on that one, with the idea of mimicking the same fit on the 'broken' one. Just when I thought I'd matched the placement of the lens, I think I touched the lens on the good camera and may have thrown that one out of whack! I've loaded the broken one with film and I plan to take a dozen to 20 shots of a hardcover picture book from minimum distance (3ft), adjusting the lens element as I go, to see which adjustment provides the sharpest picture.
      Yep, there IS a blog post in all of this madness, too. May as well document my findings for future generations. Assuming I succeed, that is.

  4. Sorry, that's a bit jumbled. But you get the point.

  5. Nice watches.

    You've got a challenge on your hands with the lens. Best of luck.
    Required FB? Oh, I think I'd find a way for a fake name although that is getting more difficult from what I read.

    Too bad about the boy. Very very sad. I thought only terrible things like that happen in the States. If any good came about the murderer got his and saved the tax payers the expense of a trial and perhaps a very long prison term.

  6. It's a little too easy for me to find reasons to dislike humanity. I try to distract myself when I see too much of them. With that in mind, I'm so jealous of that Speedmaster.

  7. @ Bill M, I managed to get the lens focused to perfect sharpness, but I'm left with some 'light flare' in some photos. I thought it was because I had removed the vinyl covering from the camera which resulted in one tiny visible hole in the back of the camera which I assumed was letting in light. I masked it off with a small square of electrical tape and took 12 photos with a new roll of film. Light flare still appears in some of them. I think the seals will need replacing. If that doesn't do the trick, then I'll have to let an expert take a look (and charge me a fortune).

    And I too thought that the murderer got what he deserved, but realised that he got exactly what he wanted. The theory was that it was premeditated right down to him wanting to commit 'suicide-by-cop'. Can't believe there's an actual phrase for it. And his death leaves many unanswered questions.

    @ NotAgain, if you can squirrel away ten or fifteen bucks a week, you'll have enough in about 4 or 5 years to snag a nice, pre-owned Speedmaster. Not the perfect solution, but a little discipline goes a long way.