Phil Noto is back drawing a Star Wars book

The actual STAR WARS book, in fact. Also, Greg Pak!

Phil Noto is the artist that helped me really pay attention to the artwork in comics. I think I discovered his work via Dan Benjamin on BACK TO WORK podcast. His take on the 60’s Marvel heroes was spot-on.

In the last few years I’ve purchased costly but well worth it floppy editions of many of the titles he’s drawn. BLACK WIDOW and the CHEWBACCA limited series were my favourites.

This week it was announced that Noto and Greg Pak will be taking over the main, totes canonical STAR WARS book when Kieron Gillen and Angel Unzueta step down.

Greg Pak! He wrote WORLD WAR HULK. The one where the Hulk is exiled into space, prints enough pamphlets to start a revolution, comes back to Earth and beats up literally everyone. This is a great fucking team!

I’ve been been following STAR WARS on and off via Marvel Unlimited. It’s going back on my pull list at Graphic from issue 68.

lifeguard diary

A Farewell To Shorts

I went to the pool on Sunday and found my favourite pair of swim shorts hadn’t made it through the last wash intact. I’m not sure when I purchased these purple Speedo shorts but I think it has to have been some time in 2001 or 2002. Almost two decades of service.

I wore those togs in the Pacific Ocean, the Tasman Sea, Cook Straight (kindof), Wellington Harbour, Motueka River, several streams in the Abel Tasman, and pools in half a dozen towns and cities. They have doubled for regular shorts most days at camping grounds. The dark purple was very light by the end. They were good togs.

I was lucky enough to have a backup pair so I could still swim. I did an informal retest of my 400m time but lost count of laps towards the end. I’ve either shaved off 30 seconds or 90 seconds. The regular swimming and lessons have made swimming feel so much more natural and regular that I’m hoping it’s the second.

lifeguard diary

Son, I’ve decided to become a lifeguard

My kids are both Nippers at Titahi Bay Surf Life Saving Club. Most weekends over summer you’ll find me either in the water being a human buoy while the younger kids wade or boogie board past a group of us parents, or at a competition–we call them carnivals–wrangling a group of twelve year olds, making sure they’re at the right event and doing stuff like holding their towels.

It’s actually quite fun. It’s a fantastic sport for parents. Much better than cricket or rugby. I get to the beach often. I have a great excuse to be in the sea. There are cheap beers and really good hot chips at the club afterwards.

As my eldest has gotten older his commitment to the sport means I’ve spent longer periods at the beach, more often. He swims a long way. He paddles further. He gets to ride fun waves. This year I’ve found myself more than a little jealous.

There’s really nothing stopping me from getting involved more with the sport. And the easiest, best way is to become a lifeguard. So that’s what I’m doing along with a bunch of other people at the club, including my kid’s mum. We’re calling ourselves the Crustaceans.

The surf lifeguard award requires demonstration of quite a few things: tube rescues, sea swimming, first aid. The biggest hurdle to me is a timed pool swim: 400m in under nine minutes.

We did a benchmark swim last weekend. My time was 10:49. That’s a hell of a lot of time to cut off but I do have six months to get it done. We’ve enlisted the help of another club member to get our swimming technique right and we’ve committed to swimming three times a week at least. Just with the couple tips I learned on the weekend I can already feel a difference and I’m pretty confident that working on technique will take me a long way towards my goal.

I intend to keep writing about all parts of lifeguard training here. For now it’s entirely swimming, but things will really come to life around August.

I’m really looking forward to getting back into the sea. To learn about helping people in the water. To swim really far and paddle further. It’s going to be fun.

this happened

I went on a first aid course and I’m still talking about it weeks later

Hey, how do you know if somebody is choking to death?

You ask them.

At the end of January I completed a First Aid course run by St. John. It was a game-changing experience. I learned a lot. I was almost tempted to kick in the middle-management gig and retrain as a paramedic. The photo of a guy who’d manage to lop off his finger with his garage door put me off. But I was really gung-ho about it until then!

I had had some experience with first aid courses before. Before my first child was born I learned infant and child CPR. Last I followed along with parts of first-aid course aspiring life guards are required to take as part of their training. So of course I thought I was a bit of an expert in some stuff already. And of course it turned out I was a bit of a doofus when it came to some stuff.

The first thing we were told was that the aim of first aid is to save life. The secondary aim is to prevent further harm. We were told that the primary aim outweighs the secondary aim. Over the course of the day our instructor occasionally reminded us about the primary aim. I like to think that I remembered it at least half the time.

The biggest lesson I learned is that most first aid diagnosis and treatment is common sense. When you ask someone if they’re choking they won’t be able to speak, but they’ll let you know they are! If someone’s got a broken leg and can’t walk you just make sure they’re safe and comfortable, call for help, and keep monitoring them. You don’t need to go crazy with a splint and get them to hobble somewhere.

The second lesson I learned is that CPR is used to preserve organs while you wait for help. I’d already learned at the lifeguard training that you should always leave someone and go for help if nobody else can. I hadn’t realised that CPR is only for people who are already, well, dead. That’s why it’s ok to go for help.

The the third lesson I learned is that AEDs cannot shock people who don’t need a shock. You can’t kill someone with one. They can only detect a fibrillating heart – one that isn’t beating properly. If it can’t detect a dodgy ticker it will tell you to do CPR instead.

This is an AED. It can only help save lives. It’s not dangerous to use.

The fourth lesson I learned and relearned over the day is that people will overthink things and abandon what they know to be correct for what they think they remember. Our instructor would tell us the way to address a situation like a diabetic attack, talk for a while, do a demonstration, then ask us if we were comfortable with the demo. More of then than not it was a 50:50 thing in our group.

We argued whether you should give sugar to someone suffering a diabetic attack when you know they have high blood sugar. You should, and I was in the right about that. We argued whether you should remove an object crushing a person once it’s been there for a relatively long period of time. You should, and I was in the wrong about that. I learned how to attend to a bleed and how to make someone with a broken arm comfortable so they could be driven to hospital. I threw up my arms and claimed ignorance when I was asked what to do if it was broken bone sticking out causing the bleeding. Answer: put pressure on the bleed like you normally would and make the patient feel comfortable like you normally would.

You’d think as a veteran of the software industry I’d remember my tendency to overthink things. But there you go.

By the end of the day I’d demonstrated CPR on three types of patients; learned how to recognize seizures, heart problems, stroke; tackled breaks & bleeds; and shown I know when to call an ambulance and when to take a patient to the doctor or hospital myself.

The first aid course was fun and rewarding in so many ways. I kinda want to use my newfound knowledge so I’ve signed up for GoodSAM (no alerts yet). I’ve only just slowed down sharing general first aid trivia at work. I’ve yet to don the hi-viz in a fire drill but I’m looking forward to it.

gaming, music

Dungeons and Dragons and John Darnielle

Once a week a I join a few people at work for a very important meeting: a Dungeons and Dragons session. It’s been going for almost two years now and for most of us it’s our first regular group.

We have an excellent Dungeon Master who’s excellent at creating a fun world. He’s also very patient. We’ve experimented with a few different campaigns and play styles. Our characters have died a lot. Our current band of adventurers has survived one campaign sucessfully and is in the thick of a new adventure. My Fighter, Sargeant Will Sargeant, is Level Four. That’s the highest I’ve gotten.

I would have loved to play D&D in my teenage years but I suspect I would have been laughed at by my friends. I was too chicken to bring it up, in any case. Instead I played few a few Fighting Fantasy books and the like. I read Dragon magazine, borrowed from the local library. Eventually I put it aside and really got into Star Trek. I think 16 year old me would be stoked to hear I’d started playing D&D in his forties.

Late last year I plowed the first season of I Only Listen To The Mountain Goats, a track by track discussion of All Hail West Texas, an album recorded entirely on a boombox. Until this podcast I’d been an occasional listener to John Darnielle’s music. I liked the album with This Year and Up The Wolves on it. I really liked the song Autoclave. The one about the death metal kids was cool.

The idea of a podcast discussing one album track by track sounded right up my alley. And, of course, it was. Like John Roderick, John Darnielle is a perfect podcast host: interesting, funny, educated, full of opinions. So you can imagine my delight when the news of a new D&D themed Mountain Goats album dropped recently.

In League with Dragons drops in April and the first track, Younger, is out now. If you’ve not heard the Mountain Goats before it’s a good place to start. If you’ve not played D&D before it’s not too late!