Sunday, 30 January 2011

How Do You Know

Athletes Reese Witherspoon and Owen Wilson both wonder 'How Do You Know' you are in love in this romantic comedy which I found to be neither romantic nor particulary funny.
There is nothing surprising or charming in this paint-it-by-the-numbers film where the outcome is obvious from the outset. It is a very wordy film and some of the characters' lines had me completely lost.

One quite neat sight gag comes late in the film but it is over in seconds and can't compensate for the other 120 minutes of stale predictability.

A bloated looking Jack Nicholson has had better days.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

My embarrassment is complete...

I spent the day with friends at Palm Beach and have returned this evening to find the 'sinking tanker' of my previous post well and truely afloat. Not only that but now that the vessel is back to being well above the waterline I can also see, for the first time, the wording on the side of the vessel...

...'Dockwise Yacht Transport'.

Thus concludes my brief and spectacularly unsuccessful career as a maritime expert.

Postscript: I wasn't the only one who thought the vessel had been sinking.

The harbour triangle

Occasionally moderate size tankers or liners anchor mid harbour off Double Bay. It doesn't happen often and usually the vessel moves on to berth at a wharf or departs the harbour within 48 hours. A small tanker has been anchored off Double Bay for the past two nights and when I woke this morning I noticed through my sleepy eyes - and without my glasses on - that the tanker appeared to be sitting much lower in the water than the day before.

Sure enough, looking through binoculars I could see the water line was virtually at deck level. The tanker appeared to be sinking. I'm not sure what is happening but I took the following zoom photos of the scene from my apartment between 7.45am and 8.45am.

(Click photos to enlarge)

Low in the water with small leisure craft in attendance
Another tanker passes by as it departs the harbour
The wider scene as the other tanker heads down harbour
A Manly ferry passes by
Leisure craft circling the tanker as one of the tug boats that accompanied the departing tanker returns to the scene
I can't see the Water Police nor any emergency services present nor is there any mention of this situation on radio news broadcasts so I'm not sure what is happening but it all looks dramatic to me.

Postscript: I've been fooled. An hour later and tide and breeze have shifted the angle of the 'sinking' tanker in relation to me. I now see that some of the leisure craft I originally thought were alongside the tanker are actually floating over what I thought was the deck of the tanker. The vessel may well be a sort of floating dry dock. Looks like it may be providing maintenance services for the leisure craft. No wonder there was no interest from police or emergency services.

Friday, 28 January 2011

My adventures with Telstra - Episode #612

Two weeks ago I detailed my latest upset with Telstra. The upshot was that at the third attempt I was upgrading my internet plan as I wanted to do but at the cost of an additional $60 per month which I was not happy about. I was told that the change would take about 48 hours to effect.

That was two weeks ago and as at yesterday my plan had not changed. I was beginning to think that my third request, like the two that preceded it, had evaporated and I was coming to terms with staying on the plan that I have paid for these past few years. Then, unexpectedly, I received a call yesterday from Telstra asking whether I still wanted to proceed with the change. I was curious about the call and it's timing and was told that my request had been lost in the system and that the caller's area having been made aware of it was now working through 'the backlog' of requests; thus suggesting that I was not alone in being lost in Telstra.

This is familiar territory; excuses and lame explanations for lack of service by the communications giant. I'm afraid my tolerance threshold was pretty low and I politely but firmly informed the caller what I thought about Telstra adding for good measure that I would not pay Telstra a cent more than I do now and that they can keep their plan ('where the sun don't shine'; implied). End of call.

And then I pondered. I'd been a bit hasty. I'd forgotten the reasons I'd decided to change my plan in the first place. I couldn't get these thoughts out of my mind. Two hours later and realising that I wanted the changed plan - despite Telstra - I bit the bullet and rang them back.

Starting all over...and with another operator...this is Telstra after all...I was back on the 15 minutes long muzak-hold whilst my request was being 'provisioned'; whatever that means. According to this latest operator my request will take effect at midnight. Maybe, but I've received many promises like this in the past that have not been met.

But...and here is the fascinating thing, my changed plan this times comes at no variation in price. None at all! I queried how this could be, pressing my luck I know, and in a tone a parent might use to a truculent child the operator informed me that Telstra is always looking to be competitive and so they can offer me four times my current entitlement for the same price. Really?

Thinking it through I can see five possibilities;
(a) I am paying far too much for my current plan and Telstra can offer me a new plan for the same amount still at a hefty profit to themselves,
(b) I will be paying far too much for my new plan and Telstra can offer it to me for the same amount as my current plan still at a hefty profit to themselves,
(c) The operators have no idea of Telstra's price structures and simply pluck figures out of the air,
(d) None of the above but there is a secret price formula which is beyond my capacities for understanding,
(e) All of the above.

If I were a betting man I would put my money on (e).

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Self portrait

Reflection in the mirror and shop window on Queen Street, Woollahra

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Fly past

A Qantas A380 flying over the harbour for Australia Day

The plane continued over the Bridge and heading west in a sky murky from the heat and high humidity. It returned from the west about five minutes later flying low directly overhead but was so quiet that by the time I realised it was back I was too late to capture a photograph.

Australia Day 2011

The anniversary of European settlement in this continent and country in 1788.

As is our wont, many of Sydney's celebrations centre upon our harbour and waterside locations but not everything happens by the water as I would no doubt have witnessed if I were in a rural area today. Whilst I haven't wandered far from home today I did relax for a while at nearby Centennial Park where the celebration of the holiday and our Australian spirit, new or old, was clearly evident.

(As usual, click on photos to enlarge)

Social game of cricket
Family picnics
Flying the flag
A land of immigrants
Boys at play, not a female in sight
Fall of wicket, the dismissed batsman grinning broadly
The fielding side celebrates the fall of wicket

The batsman essays an ambitious hook but the ball passes unhit perilously close to the bails. Note the Esky in the field; on a day of 33c (91f) heat drinks were kept close to play and were partaken of with great regularity.

Post no bills

Courtyard dining at Woollahra

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Renovator's nightmare...

Australia Post plans to close a number of long existing post offices in Sydney suburbs including the one at Woollahra less than 10 minutes from my home.

The plans have drawn criticism from the affected local communities and last week a rally was held against the intended closure of the Post Office at Glebe at which Government Ministers spoke in support of the protesters. Given that Australia Post is a Government agency are those Ministers bringing their weight to bear on their own Government decision-making or are they simply paying lip service to an electorate whose votes they are desperate to keep?

Now we have the unedifying sight of a 'For Lease' sign replete with realty mumbo-jumbo adorning Woollahra's outlet.

Woollahra Post Office last Saturday

Monday, 24 January 2011

The Lord Dudley

The (always a 'The') Lord Dudley is a pub about five minutes walk from my home that has been a haven for the rugby set and British expatriates for as long as I can remember. Although a non drinker I frequented it for a while in my early twenties even though I don't belong to either category. It was a case of friends of friends social activity.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Saturday in the park

A gorgeous day in Sydney today with the temperature at 29c (84f) and people flocking to leisure areas such as Beare Park by the harbour at Elizabeth Bay.

Sunbathers, dog walkers, book readers and fishermen
Smoko time
Back to business
This is a better way to go fishing

Thursday, 20 January 2011

I'm No Twit

I must be into a routine with my blogging as I didn't notice the third anniversary of this blog pass by on 11 January.

I'm not averse to modern technology and new fads even if my participation is a beat or two behind the advance guard. I was a Facebook addict for all of three weeks some years ago but my addiction quickly dissolved under the weight of mindless email updates, a flood of compete stranger friend requests and countless unwanted pokes that the network generated. I left my account open for a while but then thought better of it and privatised it, or whatever their technical term for making it go invisible is, after I realised that the mechanisms for removing the account altogether were deliberately made impossible for mere mortals like myself to achieve.

I also tried the next must have accessory...a Twitter account. This seemed like a good idea at the time if only because you couldn't post an item of more than 140 characters (including spaces) thus providing less of a literary challenge to me to produce an interesting item for publication. At least, that's what I thought. As I soon realised, the minimalist restriction in fact made it more difficult to produce interesting comments. Flowery language and lengthy metaphors disappear ignominiously at character number 141 no matter how profound the thought.

More to the point I went into a state of mental paralysis as I tried to think of something...anything...witty or interesting enough to publish in 140 characters or less to the universe at large. As a consequence my Tweets quickly dried up. There were only so many times I could Tweet about the weather or where I was coming/going or what I was eating/drinking before I felt less like a Tweet and decidedly more of a Twit.

Despite this paucity of quality Tweeting I managed a small...very small...list of followers although tellingly almost to a person each follower only emerged after I had started to follow them. Tweeters are certainly considerate and polite in this aspect apparently not willing to hurt my feelings by resisting what surely would be the tiniest of urges to be the automatic recipient of my once in a blue moon puerile pronouncements.

One Blogger/Tweeter I am a follower of works in the media. I enjoy his blogging and whilst his Tweets are less of interest to me I found once in a while a useful announcement from him about some or other radio broadcast. Unfortunately because I rarely checked in on Twitter-land I was discovering these interesting Tweets too late to catch the broadcast. What to do? Fortuitously..or was it?...I discovered the facility to receive Tweets on my mobile and so I linked said Blogger/Tweeter's Tweets to my phone. This seemed a good idea...for a while. Certainly, I was now receiving said Blogger/Tweeter's Tweets - (aside; is this starting to read like an elocution lesson?) - in a timely manner including the occasional broadcast announcements and verily this was good. Unfortunately I was also receiving his less interesting (to me) Tweets in just as timely a manner and verily this was bad especially as I had not figured on us having different lifestyle habits; that is, I was in bed trying to be fast asleep as my phone beeped his latest missive at 1am, 2am and occasionally almost 3am. Sadly, I disconnected said (good Internet mate) Blogger/Tweeter from my mobile but at least I still have my daily read of his Blog to keep me going.

Whilst my Tweet inadequacies are glaringly obvious to anyone who comes across my account other Tweeters are clearly going gangbusters. One interesting aspect of Twitter for me is how one account opens up gateways to countless other accounts and a casual trip along the Tweet alleyways reveals an entire universe of fascinating publishers. Their accounts are so colourful to the eye with an endless array of personalised styles and layouts. Most of the Tweets are incomprehensible to me but their pronouncements scroll on page after page in a dizzying exchange within their community of Tweeters.

How much time must some of them spend in Twitter-land? One Tweeter I came across this morning was sending messages out at a rate of every two minutes almost everyone of which was a comment on some other Tweeter's Tweet. How does he do it? He must read a host of other Tweets all the while responding to them as he does so. There was no indication that he stops for meals, a rest or even, for goodness sake, toilet breaks.

No, that's not for me. I'm not a twit.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Like sands through the hour glass...

...these are the streets of my life. Not all of of them of course but these are the significant streets on which I have lived in Sydney from my birth in 1949 until the present day.

West Street, Darlinghurst
I was born at nearby Crown Street Womens Hospital, which no longer exists, and my parents were living in West Street at the time so this was my first home. However I have no memories from my days there.

National Street, Rozelle
My first ever memories date to my life here in the inner west of Sydney in a two storey semi-detached house. These were pre-school childhood days when I first started to walk. Rozelle in those days was very much working class with docklands and power houses nearby but nowadays it and adjacent Balmain are very fashionable and in parts extremely expensive.

Wylde Street, Potts Point
Back to the eastern suburbs and not far from my start at West Street. My childhood, pre-teen and primary school days were spent here with the Navy on one side (hello, Sailor!) and 1950/60s Bohemian Kings Cross on the other. Could both be factors in my losing my virginity here at...well, let's just say...a very young age?

Yarranabbe Road, Darling Point
My parents economic situation improved and so did our residential status when we moved to Darling Point, even in the 1960s, a posh place to live although we three were still in a relatively inexpensive and tiny flat with a sensational view of the harbour that meant nothing in monetary terms then but adds squillions to property values now. My teenage years, high school, university and first few years of adult, early twenties, working life were spent here, still living with my parents.

Hedges Avenue, South Strathfield
My mother's long cherished wish to live in her own standalone house was finally realised when, with my reluctant father in tow, we moved to South Strathfield in 1972. After years spent in the eastern suburbs this western suburb of Sydney seemed to me to be a long way from my friends and my lifestyle activities. My parents were to live there for twenty-four years until 1996 but I spent less than four years (1973/74 and then 1976/77) in that house, the only time in my 61 years alive that I have lived in a standalone house.

So strange was this suburban lifestyle to me that I had difficulty sleeping the first few nights we were there. I had never before heard the sounds of dogs barking at night in neighbouring backyards and was kept awake by this unfamiliar noise until I became accustomed to it.

I was posted to London in 1974/75 with my employment and then again to Hong Kong, Beijing, Suva and Canberra in turn from 1977 to 1987.

Meryla Street, Burwood
Finally back in Sydney in 1987 I lived here until 1990. Burwood was only two suburbs from my parents in South Strathfield and felt marginally more urban than my parents' suburb but at the time there didn't seem much difference.

Edgecliff Road, Edgecliff
 The lure of the eastern suburbs, the harbour and the ocean were too strong and I moved to Edgecliff in 1990 not far from my childhood homes at West Street, Wylde Street and Yarranabbe Road.

And here I remain to this day, now a retired senior citizen with memories of near and far.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Balmain fruit

A couple of mates and I did our 'seniors' thing today and took the ferry across to the 'trendy' suburb of Balmain in the inner west of Sydney. We wandered up and down the main shopping area in Darling Street soaking up the village atmosphere as well as checking out the numerous cafes before deciding on one for our lunch.

There were some very interesting businesses along the strip including these two fruit and vegetable shops located only a few doors apart.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Sarah's Key

It is 2009 and an American journalist in Paris is researching an article about the deportation of Jews from France in 1942 when she realises that one of the deported families lived in the apartment of her French husband's family into which she and the husband are about to move.
The journalist, Kristin Scott Thomas, embarks on a search for what happened to the members of that Jewish family which takes her back to the USA and to Italy. Like 'Blue Valentine', 'Sarah's Key' is a mix of present day and flashbacks.

This sad tale of love, relations and sacrifice is nicely acted.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Blue Valentine

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are a couple whose marriage is showing strains. Both are weary and whilst Gosling tries to rejuvenate their relationship Williams appears to have given up on it.

The film shows how they got to this point through a series of flashbacks interspersed between the current day footage.

Fine performances drive this agonising, slow moving film.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Telstra's arrogance

Telstra's arrogance has no bounds.

Yes, it's my favourite whipping subject. My internet, pay television, landline phone and mobile phone provider has upset me again. As a long term customer of no less than four of it's services I might have expected they would treat me with consideration even if long ago I lost any expectation from them of service efficiency. Why oh why I still expected a reasonable business-like response from Telstra when all my exchanges with them for, at a guess, the past five years have ended only in frustration and rage on my part I cannot say.

Towards the end of last year my broadband internet connection was slowed to worse than I experienced in the old 'dial up' days and became just as unstable. The reason for this effective loss of broadband according to a series of automatically generated emails Telstra sent me was that I had reached the 12GB monthly entitlement for my plan. I was surprised by this as I had never previously exceeded my plan and had always assumed I was well within my entitlement, although in fairness I was not in the habit of checking my useage meter and for all I know I might have flirted with the limit in the past.

I followed the advice in the emails to check my useage meter and noted also that the emails indicated an option to upgrade my plan if I so wished. After checking the online information I decided I would upgrade my plan from 12GB per month to 20GB per month for an additional $20 per month which I did by following the various prompts. A message from Telstra confirming my upgrade request stated it would take effect from midnight that day and, rather confusingly, would take effect after certain checks which would require approximately three business days. As my online request was made late on a Friday with a weekend and a public holiday Monday to follow I assumed Telstra's contradictory messages could mean a week's delay before the upgrade took effect. I did not understand why a function performed online would need that processing time but hey this is Telstra so I bided my time.

A week passed and no upgrade occurred. I waited a few more days and when still no upgrade was evident I went back online and submitted a further upgrade request. This produced the same contradictory messages as previously. I waited another week but still there was no upgrade.

Now it was time to phone Telstra and oh how I detest doing that. As usual a call to Telstra meant passing through a series of automatic gateways and after the usual irritating messages and recorded greetings I finally reached 'Michael',  a call centre operator. I explained my problem and waited patiently through the Muzak for 'Michael' to sort it out.

After a while 'Michael' returned to inform me that I have a 'bundled' service and that my online request had a generated an error message because 'I had tried to change my plan without applying to change my bundle'. In other words it was all my fault. Never mind that I followed the online prompts exactly. Never mind that the online prompt reads 'change my plan' and does not read 'change my bundle'.

Anyway, the everhelpful 'Michael' could upgrade my plan but not to the 20GB extra $20 per month offered by the online service. Why not? Because that plan is only a 'standalone plan' and is not offered within a bundled service. 'Michael' could offer me the equivalent upgrade within my bundle but at $60 extra per month! I could get around that by purchasing the upgrade as a 'standalone plan' but then I would incur a penalty for breaking my bundle contract. Either way, an upgrade performed by 'Michael' would need about 48 hours to take effect. Of course!

As I said at the outset, Telstra's arrogance has no bounds.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Black Swan

I enjoy classical music and have frequently attended the opera and concerts. I can sit through an opera and enjoy the stirring music and thrilling singing and not be deterred in the slightest by the most improbable of story lines. But I have never had the same interest for ballet. I can appreciate the obvious; that high class ballet involves exceptional skill, courage and dedication but I would have little aptitude for recognising good ballet dancing from that which is merely competent and I am hopeless at deciphering a ballet story line simply from the choreography. However I do enjoy the famous music moments; in particular the passionate music of Tchaikovsky.

In all my years I have only attended the ballet on three occasions. The first was a mixed performance of classical and modern excerpts at Covent Garden, London which included an appearance by Rudolph Nureyev back in 1975 which I thought would be a good first, and perhaps only, exposure to the art form. The other two occasions, by coincidence, were both to performances of 'Swan Lake'. The first was in Guangzhou, China in 1981 when I attended as virtually an obligation to my hosts so as not to cause offence. Even to my untrained eye the dancing, by a local company, seemed at best struggling. The second occasion was several years back when Matthew Bourne brought his all-male, or rather mostly male, version to Australia. I found this production very entertaining and whilst still not really appreciating the plot, the stunning climax where the swan (black or white, I don't recall) is brutally attacked moved me literally to tears.

And so to 'Black Swan'. Natalie Portman is the uptight and obsessed ballerina desperate to be cast as the Swan Queen. Mila Kunis is the carefree and seemingly effortlessly talented new arrival to the ballet company who both fascinates and terrifies Portman from the outset.

I knew that I would gain enjoyment from the film if only for the music and it's there by the decibel load. Although the film provides two brief and almost identical explanations of the Swan Lake plot it was little more than my already cursory understanding and I found myself wishing I knew much more about the work. It is pretty obvious that the film provides a parallel contemporary narrative. I'm sure I missed much of the nuances and ballet references in the film's plot through my lack of knowledge and as a consequence the second half was a somewhat baffling thriller/horror experience for me.

'Black Swan' must have one skinniest casts lists ever. I have never seen so much skin and bone held together by ballet tape in my life. Sadly I think my own body mass index exceeds that of the entire cast combined.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Staying away

There really wasn't any need to wait for that confirming call. The quickly worsening news from Brisbane yesterday made it clear that even if our friends wanted us to visit as planned that we'd only be in the way in a very difficult situation.

By 7pm last evening I had cancelled my flights and accommodation arrangements. Subsequent events in Brisbane simply confirmed any visit at the moment would be untenable. Hopefully the Brisbane (and SE Queensland) bloggers I frequent have experienced minimal damage, injury and stress. Thankfully all my friends in the region have been spared flooding.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

'...and Thursday will be devastating.'

Those were the words uttered by Brisbane Mayor, Campbell Newman, this afternoon as I watched on television the flood situation in South-east Queensland spreading and worsening with stunning speed.

I was booked to fly into Brisbane on Thursday afternoon for a gathering with friends which was arranged months ago. A quick text to one of those friends in Brisbane and that get-together is almost certainly postponed. I'm waiting for a confirming phone call before contacting the airline to cancel my flights.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Morning Glory

Rachel McAdams is the producer of a struggling regional breakfast television show who is sacked just when she believes she is to be promoted for doing a good job. Unable to find another position, McAdams obtains a producer's position at a once successful national network with the instruction to lift it's miniscule breakfast show ratings. That a national network would turn to this woman of no profile in it's hour of need struck me as an unlikely premise but then the movies are full of unlikely plots.

McAdams finds herself in a hostile environment with the on air talent, Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton, and behind the scenes employees alike, treating her as a passing nuisance who in all likelihood will move on quickly if she is not moved out first.

Burdened by an unlikely premise, McAdams is also presented with the herculean task of portraying two rather contradictory personality traits. On the one hand she presents as a giggling, girlish, clunkily garrulous date whilst at the same time in a hostile work environment she is decisive, manipulative, focussed and determined. As likeable as McAdams is I didn't find her split personalities particularly convincing. In fact, her romantic interludes seem an unnecessary distraction from the remainder of the film.

Keaton is well cast as the former beauty queen who turns the breakfast charm on and off at the cue of a director's finger. Ford looked uncomfortable, behaviour which suited his character but made for less successful comedic effect.

From what I have seen in Australian breakfast television programs and those from the USA which screen here on delay this aspect of television is ripe for satirical treatment. 'Morning Glory' seems to work best with those scenes that portray the ridiculous tightrope these programs walk between hard news and 'human interest' items and especially their tendency towards zany stunts. Some of those scenes generated hearty laughs from the audience at the session I attended. The rest was a bit ho hum.

Friday, 7 January 2011

I wanna stick around a while and get my kicks*

('Jailhouse Rock' by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller)

This weekend every year - the second in January - the regional town of Parkes holds it's Elvis Presley Festival and every year the media reports on the Elvis Express, a train which conveys participants to the festival from Sydney.

Reporting the event this year I heard James' ABC refer to the various Elvis Presleys travelling as the 'Elv-eye'. I presume this is now the approved term for a number of Elvises.

That's fine by me.

The Elv-eye have left the room.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

The Tourist

It seems that every member of the police forces of Britain, France and Italy is in hot pursuit of Angelina Jolie as she leads them a merry chase across Europe from Paris to Venice. Along the way she inveigles tourist Johnny Depp to tag along in this stylish thriller.

Turn the clock back 55 years and 'The Tourist' would have starred Grace Kelly and Cary Grant and would have been directed by Alfred Hitchcock. This is a reasonable likeness of a Hitchcock inspired thriller. Jolie is a worthy substitute for Kelly replicating her glamorous and aloof bearing. Jolie must have a good ear because she manages an excellent English accent without missing a beat as far I could tell.

Depp, however, never matches Grant's effortless debonair manner; probably under Director's instructions so as to disguise later developments in the plot but even allowing for that constraint I doubt that Grant would ever have allowed himself to be so sullied in the same situation.

The gorgeous scenery of Venice and to a lesser extent Paris provide incentive to see 'The Tourist' and even with it's red herrings and implausibilities the film is an entertaining yarn.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Dancing Queens 007

We ventured to the Powerhouse Museum yesterday for the first time in years where the current star exhibition is ABBAWORLD.

This is more James' territory than mine but I am partial to ABBA's music so the visit was not exactly a burden. I doubt that the exhibition in Sydney is the definitive critical study of the band with as much peripheral material on display as ABBA specific items. For example there are video clips of Kylie Minogue singing Dancing Queen at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics...

...and a front page from Sydney's now defunct Daily Mirror during the group's visit to Australia in 1977...and look...the paper only cost 10c in 1977.

There was no doubting the high spirits of everyone in attendance. This was especially the case in what for me was the highlight of the exhibition, a stage where you could sing ABBA songs along with holograms of the group. Families lined up to take their turn on stage and I was spellbound as father after father marshalled their little ones into performing Dancing Queen and Mamma Mia.

I don't think I have seen as many straight men going gay with complete abandon as in this karaoke delight. It was difficult to capture a clear image with so much hip swivelling movement.

A secondary exhibition at the museum is Top Secret: Licence to Spy.

Although aimed at children this exhibition was popular with the dads too who clearly were seriously into the spy mission.

We heard plenty of dads, who only minutes earlier we'd seen lip-synching ABBA, earnestly taking charge of their childrens' handling of the mission.