Sunday, December 31, 2006

Overheated Scotsman at New Year

This makes me all nostalgic as we head into 2007. It has everything, optimism, winter, Scottishness, a connection with my kids through the Raymond Briggs books, Irn Bru.... (just joking). It is very disconcerting for average Scots to head into New Year when the temperature is around 30 degrees at midnight (and I am not talking about fahrenheit). I take solace in the fact that we had hailstones yesterday.

This is more the way I remember it.

Happy New Year Everybody.

The Cost of Water

As South Australia gets ready for Level 3 Water Restrictions tomorrow, where you can water your garden on alternate years, Rex Jory, who hangs out on the back page of the Adelaide Murdoch Comic has some sobering statistics on the cost of water.

In South Australia, 1 litre bottle of drinking water costs around $3 at the store. On the other hand a thousand litres of potable water from the tap costs around $1.

Seems pretty obvious that the cost of water from the tap will have to increase dramatically, if people are to seriously consider making changes in the way that they use readily available water.

You can legislate restrictions all you like, but the wallet is where this area of public policy will have to head. The danger is that this State Government will just pocket the money, rather like their favourite "taxes", speeding fines. On the other hand, a bit of rain may help a little.

Update: The Attorney General, who lives just round the corner, tonight invited the Citizens of South Australia to "Dob in their Neighbours" if they spotted any outrageous residential garden watering abuse. The Water Police will be round pronto. Scary Stuff. The day before the restrictions went into place, South Australians used an extra 30 percent water compared to the previous weekend. Must be filling up those water bottles.

Hello Possums

Dame Edna's plan to solve the drought in Australia is outlined in her Annual Seasonal Message. Fill a bottle and send it to Australia. We need it.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Romantic Stuff. Yuck

The Keys to Your Heart

You are attracted to those who are unbridled, untrammeled, and free.

In love, you feel the most alive when everything is uncertain, one moment heaven... the next moment hell.

You'd like to your lover to think you are stylish and alluring.

You would be forced to break up with someone who was ruthless, cold-blooded, and sarcastic.

Your ideal relationship is comforting. You crave a relationship where you always feel warmth and love.

Your risk of cheating is zero. You care about society and morality. You would never break a commitment.

You think of marriage pessimistically. You don't think happy marriages exist anymore.

In this moment, you think of love as something you can get or discard anytime. You're feeling self centered.

Friday, December 29, 2006

England's Bowling Plans Nicked

With all the funny hoo ha about who nicked the English bowling plans from the MCG, The Spine has a very funny take on the Australian Bowling Plans which have mysteriously appeared after the bashing. If only England had seen these beforehand.

Victor Harbor Pelicans

For Christmas we went to visit Granny who just had her house built in Normanville, south of Adelaide. Mr Fixit was busy with all sorts of minor Bob the Builder type things, while the kids played with the new plastic contraptions so favoured at this time of year.

When we were there, we went to Victor Harbor, major holiday destination in South Australia. Many people go to see the whales, which hang out at various times of the year. Personally I like the pelicans. I can still remember seeing my first one in the wild on Kangaroo Island, the first time I came to South Australia. They are ungainly, very interesting birds. Hannah used to hate me for calling them Smelicans.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Elfamorphise Yourself

You can be a dancing elf for a few minutes. My kids really liked this one.

No Convicts Here

Today is the 170th Anniversary of Proclamation Day in South Australia, the day the non convict Brits claimed their piece of the action in Australia. The flag was raised in Glenelg by Colonel Hindmarsh in the name of the Queen. The rest as they say is history.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Denver Airport in the Snow

Interesting before and after picture of Denver Airport with the snow. Makes it look like a microchip.

Toadbusters Step Up to Quell Invasion of the Cane Toads.

Cane Toads have finally hit Darwin. The poisonous reptiles have left a path of death and destruction since their introduction in the 1930s to assist in the eradication in crop pests in Queensland. They have finally made the long march to the Northern Territory, leaving behind a trail of death and destruction by poisoning.

A fun new blood sport has been developed in the Darwin suburbs as families go out at night armed with blunt instruments to quell the marauding toads, an interesting spin on Neighbourhood Watch.

The RSPCA recommends the application of haemorrhoid (try that one for the spelling bee tie breaker) cream and humane freezing, but it seems most Toadbusters follow the advice of a local MP to squish them with a blunt instrument.

Shane's Big Day at the Office

On a day when I learned that my kids know who Shane Warne is and what he looks like, it was deja vu all over again. The somewhat patriotic English Cricket Blog Middle and Off suggests new careers for todays actors and we are not talking about Shane.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Dopey Individuals Guide to Avoiding "You're Nicked"

A North Carolina woman was arrested after complaining to a police officer that the crack cocaine she had just purchased wasn’t very good, authorities said.

Eloise D. Reaves, 50, approached the Putnam County sheriff’s deputy at a convenience store Friday, telling him that another man had sold her “bad crack” that contained wax and cocaine.

She pulled an alleged crack rock out of her mouth and placed it on the deputy’s car for inspection, the Palatka Daily News reported for Tuesday editions.

Aside from not making crack-related quality control complaints to the local police force, it is further recommended that you refrain from calling 911 to report stolen marijuana plants.

A Wichita man called 911 to report he was the victim of an armed robbery. The theft? A pound of marijuana worth about $1,100 that he had been trying to sell at his home.

The victim told police Thursday that a buyer had pulled out a sawed-off shotgun and stole the drugs.

Police brought in a drug-sniffing dog to the house and located more marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

The victim was booked into Sedgwick County jail on several charges, including possession with the intent to sell drug.

Shamelessly stolen from Road to Surfdom, but in the spirit of sharing, made available to you.

Green Porridge Sewage Bar

And the one you all wanted to read about. From The Australian

An overwhelming majority of Australians would be prepared to drink recycled sewage to help ease a national crisis in urban water supplies that has forced escalating restrictions on water use.

In an exclusive Newspoll for the Australian, almost seven out of 10 people favour water from sewage treatment plants being supplied to homes for all household uses, including drinking, provided it is treated to the same quality as existing water supplies.

Most of the remainder say they would be prepared to use recycled sewage for non-drinking purposes, such as flushing toilets and watering gardens.

So there you have it. I am very surprised that so many people are prepared to consider this. I am trained and work in the environmental field and I have many doubts about this, not least the numbers of chemicals required to get to the point where you could safely ingest the water. Personally I will stick to beer. That was the safest liquid when I lived in South East Asia, where most of the drinking water was contaminated with ecoli. Bit expensive for bathing however. Perhaps I could start a recycled sewage mineral water business. Guaranteed to fail I don't doubt.

Something other than Cricket is Happening in the Universe (Apparently)

Headlines From The Australian Web Site December 26 2006

Fairytale as Warne captures 700th scalp

At tea: All hail Warne, in class of his own

Warne's record: Most wickets in test cricket

Majority (including Shane Warne?) would drink recycled sewage

Tough water rules not enough (to save English Cricketers) not enough rain delays?)

Record (Shane Warne) spree looms as tough go shopping

'Tis the season to be grateful (says Shane)

Amid the embers, no one dreamed of a white (wash) Christmas

Christ (Shane Warne???) returns as reason for celebration

(Cricket) Stars give kids a Wiggly Christmas

Tsunami drill marks anniversary (Finally some news)

Aceh hit as floods and landslides kill 80 (Finally Real News)

Minor edits all mine, but you get the point.

Identity Theft That Could Happen to You

Be Aware Be Very Aware

This could happen to you. This guy, slightly left of centre and proud of it was well read in Australia and one day somebody stole his blogs, deleted the contents and reregistered the blogs in their own name. Although his politics did not appeal to everyone, it is a despicable violation of his privacy. Imagine if you tried to log in to your blog and you got "wrong password". Imagine if you googled your own site and it was blank??

Update January 1
Jeremy got his blog back. Google investigated and his blog was restored. Scary all the same.

Bloody Batteries

I hate the fact that so many little kid Christmas presents need batteries. I tallied it up and our tally (which we didn't have), was 14 AAA and 12 AA. False economy if ever there was one. What is the point of having these fantastic gadget toys and no juice.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Tagged 7 Best Things for 2006

I have been tagged by Bel and Jeremy Not too sure I like these things, but in the spirit of peace and goodwill, my 7 Best Things for 2006.

Starting and continuing blogging. Almost a year now.
Finding a job back in my field, with flexible hours and going back to work after four years staying home with the kids.
Arranging my schedule so that I can take my kids to school and pick them up, be around for them and go to their assemblies.
Volunteering at the kids school, running the book club and participating in the Governing Council.
Following the Soceroos and Trinidad and Tobago in the World Cup
Trips to the fantastic Adelaide beaches with the kids and the dog.
Going to the Ashes Test in Adelaide, sitting near the Barmy Army and enjoying the atmosphere.

Mangled Subtitles

Ivan the Terrible has a Site of the Week Feature. The latest is English Subtitles in Hong Kong Films. Very funny. I used to live and travel around Asia for many years and enjoyed some of the mangling of English. I should temper that by the fact that I think many of our attempts at Cantonese or Mandarin are likely worse. Probably not as funny however.

Take these punks.

I am damn unsatisfied to be killed in this way.

A normal person wouldn't steal pituitaries.

Quiet or I'll blow your throat up.

You always use violence. I should've ordered glutinous rice chicken.

And the classic I'll fire aimlessly if you don't come out!

Thanks Ivan for brightening my day.

Home Home in Australia

You Belong in Australia

Sunny, upbeat, and cute
You make the perfect surf bum
Now stop hogging the vegemite!

This is the second of these types of quizzes that I have taken that suggests that I should live in Australia. Must be destiny.

No more stupid quizzes today.

Stressed?? Moi?? Sometimes!!

Your Stress Level is: 59%

You are somewhat prone to stress, especially when life gets hard.
When things are good, you resist stressing over little problems.
But when things are difficult, you tend to freak out and find it hard to calm down.

I am an intermittent stresser, usually when dealing with my kids in the morning and have spent too much time blogging or doing other things and have to get them moving quickly. I always underestimate time and this can be stressful for me and for them. I release stress by shouting, which makes the kids more stressed. Self perpetuating cycle, I know and I try not to. I think I sometimes stress at work, but work to control it. It shows up there as irritation and sarcasm rather than loud outbursts.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Rituals

Although we are not too big into Christmas, we always get a natural tree for the kids to decorate. They have a great time. There is something really satisfying about the tinsel and pine needle combination and the smell is very nice for the first few hours. We went way overboard last year, with a little train that went around the base going "Merry Christmas, Ho Ho Ho", but this years model is more restrained.

On the 23rd Day of Christmas........Two Wascaly Wabbits

The kids were very happy this morning, when we walked over to a friend of Elizabeth and picked up two 8 week old rabbits. Hannah has been bugging us for about a year to get some rabbits and had pretty much given up on us. We think that they are the same sex, but apparently if not they are ready to go for it now. They can be desexed at 12 weeks, so we are holding our breath. Regardless there is a boy bunny, Ben and a girl bunny, Daisy. Welcome to the menagerie.

My rabbit memories from childhood, include chasing them in our large backyard with my younger brother, armed with forks. We had some Black and White Dutch rabbits that escaped and interbred with the locals, making for some interesting hybrids. And finally, I have only ever eaten rabbit once when my Grandmother tried to pass it off as chicken. The thought of eating cute little rabbits was enought to pass on that, although my Greek friend Mary swears by rabbit for stew.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Global Orgasm for World Peace Today

Today is the day you can do something for world peace, in the comfort of your own home with the partner of your choice. I suppose since you have the internet, you can do it by yourself. The energies of gazillions of people making out will change the course of world history. So in your own time an in your own way, go for it.

Thanks to Waiting for the Stampede

I love the Title of the Post Jouissance Mondiale Roughly translated as World Enjoyment or Whatever Gets You Off (in an enjoyable way).

No Dead Parrots Please

From the Australian

More Loony Politics from the only slightly loopy Environment Minister

In a statement timed for the start of the Christmas silly season, federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell has finalised the farce that has been his handling of the great Orange-bellied Parrot controversy (no, this parrot is real, Monty Python's was the Norwegian Blue). Back in April, Senator Campbell vetoed a $220 million proposed wind farm, at Bald Hills in Victoria's Gippsland, because it would put the parrot at peril. According to the minister, with only 50 breeding pairs left, all these parrots are precious and the risk that the wind farm could kill even one of the birds was unacceptable. That blocking the project might give the Coalition an edge in the marginal local electorate did not get a mention. Nor did the way the minister ignored his own department's advice, acting instead on a commissioned consultant's report that concluded the wind farm was a risk, albeit a small one, to the parrot.

However, the more the facts of the matter were considered, the more absurd Senator Campbell's reasons for blocking the project appeared. A minister charged with encouraging alternative energy had blocked a major wind farm when an expert suggested that on all the evidence the facility might kill one of the birds every thousand years. For months, Senator Campbell attempted to dig his way out of trouble, claiming that he was both pro-parrot and anxious to expand alternative energy. In the process, he annoyed on the one hand the environmental activists who think the benefits of Bald Hills in reducing greenhouse gas emissions are worth the risk to the parrot, and on the other the sceptics, who suggest wind energy is inefficient and expensive. And he upset the Bald Hills project backers, who took him to court. Senator Campbell finally clambered out of his hole yesterday, announcing that he had agreed to a revised Bald Hills proposal, which was better designed to protect the orange-bellied bird. Some of the changes are worded to seem significant, such as the requirement that no turbines be built within two kilometres of the coast. Others do not appear of epochal importance, such as the requirement to keep wind turbines up to 800m away from a wetlands reserve. And some seem severe. The new plan specifies that after the death of a second orange-bellied or swift parrot, or a white-bellied sea eagle, acrosss the life of the project, all operations for a kilometre around "the mortality site'' will cease immediately and only start again with ministerial approval. Senator Campbell is well-known for getting worked up over wildlife, conducting himself like a sea-green zealot in his campaign against whaling, but even by his standards this is over-kill.

What started as a win-win for the minister, collecting kudos from people who did not want a wind farm on the their patch by knocking back the project on environmental grounds, has turned into a lose-lose. Senator Campbell has made a fool of himself by blocking and then allowing the Bald Hills wind farm. And he has demonstrated an absence of policy nous and basic political skill to all, especially John Howard. Whether or not the Prime Minister has a reshuffle in mind, the case for moving Senator Campbell to a less-demanding job is incontestable. Maybe the minister will complain this is all unfair, that he has been the butt of too many Monty Python parrot jokes. Perhaps, but another of the conditions of the Bald Hills approval requires an independent on-site monitor, charged with advising the minister in writing of the death of a member of a threatened species within 48 hours. "This is an ex-parrot'' should do it.

So if you are a parrot identification expert, with skills in morbidity and you like wandering around windswept portions of remote Victoria, this is the job for you. In all seriousness, I am curious how you could comply with the 48 hour requirement.

Warne's Legacy

From Strewth in the Australian

While all the pundits dug deep to describe Shane Warne, South Australian Premier, Mike Rann took the poetic romantic route, dubbing Warne.

"Australian eucalypt forever burned, toppled and crashing in splinters, yet forever rising and blooming again".

Must have been written by a Spin Doctor.

Meanwhile, Victorian Premier Steve Bracks suggested a bronze statue, or perhaps the renaming of a stand in the MCG, to honour Warnie, the Peoples Cricketer. Except cynics noted the Warne stand would soon become, in popular parlance, the One-Night Stand.

Never has so much creative language been written in a short period of time about one man.

The only time I saw him live, he was walking down North Terrace in Adelaide with his mobile phone glued to his ear.

Downside to trying to impress girls.

Apparently this unfortunate, rather expensive ($300,000), Ferrari was piloted by a dude with a blood alcohol level almost 5 times the limit. While trying to do burnouts after leaving the pub, he hit an inopportunely located post. Insurance void. Merry Christmas.

Why do Ferrari's have to be red? My wife wants one (as long as it is red).

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Glory of Winning

Leaving aside all the Surrender of the Ashes Ho Ha, which you can find everywhere on the web, it is great to see a tremendous sporting challenge fulfilled. It was executed like a well planned business take over and entertaining at the same time.

England know how to compete. Australia know how to win.

Memorable Bad Predictions

Thanks to Matt Murrell for this.

I like these two.

  • "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." -- Western Union internal memo, 1876.
  • "The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys." -- Sir William Preece, chief engineer of the British Post Office, 1876.

Children Drive Broadband Market

From The Age

Broadband has finally overtaken dial-up connections as the main way Australians connect to the internet at home — and families with children are the households driving the change.

The Bureau of Statistics yesterday reported that the number of Australian households with broadband access to the internet almost doubled last year to 2.3 million.

This was still little over a quarter of Australian households, and about 40 per cent of those with home computers. By contrast, the OECD reports that 86 per cent of South Korean households had broadband connections two years ago. At the other extreme, 40 per cent of Australian households still have no internet access.

But heavy usage by households with children means that broadband has become the main avenue for Australians to use the internet at home. The bureau found almost two-thirds of children with internet access at home had broadband connections, suggesting that it could often be the children who drive parents to sign up.

Overall, 90 per cent of children aged 12 to 14 now live in homes with a computer, and 78 per cent are connected to the internet. Roughly 40 per cent use it every day.

I know that when we had dial up, our neighbours kids, whose dad works for the provider we use and consequently gets zooper dooper fast broadband and who were a little older than ours were incredulous at the pace of a dial up connection. They just did not know anything else. I know our kids would be unhappy if we went back. I think that broadband is good value and besides, I doubt that I would blog if I didn't have a broadband connection.


40 is the magic number for Maple Syrup in Vermont, the largest producer, with about 40 percent of the worlds maple syrup production. It is my kids favourite sugar based product. It takes about 40 years to get a tree ready to tap and it takes 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of maple syrup and the temperature range has to go from freezing to around 40 degrees fahrenheit, to get the sap moving.

In one of my previous lives I used to go to Vermont regularly, despite the 10 to 12 hour drive, to see the relatives. In spring they always had a temporary sugar house where they would boil up the sap to make maple syrup. In fall, the maple trees were a glorious red.

I read a funny article once, where Vermont Maple Syrup growers were asked to sample the new California Maple Syrup. They gave it a universal thumbs down. Turns out it was a gag, since weather conditions don't permit maple syrup production, and they were actually sampling Vermont Maple Syrup.

I like it on porridge personally.

Buster Busted

From the New York Times

Arthur's friend Buster is getting into trouble for showcasing alternative lifestyles, making American Conservatives mad and threatening a second series.

In “Postcards From Buster” documentary footage of children from different cultures is combined with animation of Buster and his friends. This season includes only 10 episodes, which began in November and will run through February, a far cry from the 40 produced for the show’s first season.

Children first came to know Buster Baxter, the animated bunny who is the show’s star, as the best friend of Arthur, the animated aardvark who is the title character of another PBS series. But Buster became better known midway into the show’s first season, when word got out that an episode about maple sugaring, called “Sugartime!,” would feature children in a Vermont family with two moms.

Play School got into trouble here in Australia for pretty much the same thing. With more and more families not resembling the one dad and one mum model, so beloved of conservatives, I think that it is fair enough that alternative ways of living are show cased in children's entertainment. I mean the show wasn't about their personal life, it was about making Maple Syrup. Scary stuff.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Pop Gun Howard Rattles Rudd with Baloney Buckshot

By Nicholson

The Season of Goodwill to All Men got underway in style this morning, with this from The Australian

His Royal Highness King John Howard has launched a fiery pre-Christmas attack on Kevin Rudd, accusing his Labor rival of "hyperbolic overreach" and a "crude demonisation" of the Government, based upon an "absence of solid facts."

The Opposition Leader's "rhetorical device of choice is the straw man", Mr Howard says. "He conjures up a bogus image before proceeding to knock it down. He has invested heavily in the charge that I am an "extremist" and a "market fundamentalist."

Labor's new leadership team hit back last night. Deputy leader Julia Gillard said Mr Howard's attack proved his "best days (are) behind him".

And she said Mr Howard, who is seeking a fifth term in office, was "clearly rattled" by Mr Rudd's solid start and Labor's rise in public support.

So not only does Howard get a free kick in an Opinion Piece in the Murdoch Rag, it is also written up as news and no doubt commented on by Matt Price or Dennis Shanahan in a Vaccuous "Blog" Piece entitled Kevvie is a Dill What do you think??

'Ems fightin words for the Season of Goodwill. Definitely more sabre rattling to come from Pirate Howards End and his Merry Band of Mean Spirited Swashbucklers from the Bad Ship Tampa.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Warholise Yourself

This is cool.

Thanks to Deleted by Tomorrow

Tall Story

The world's tallest man has saved the lives of two dolphins by delving into their stomachs to remove chunks of plastic that they had accidentally swallowed at their aquarium in northeastern China.

Bao Xishun, 54, a shy herdsman from Inner Mongolia, was called to the rescue after staff at the Royal Jidi Ocean World in the northeastern Liaoning province had failed to remove the shreds of plastic using surgical instruments.

Kill Osama New Terrorism Strategy

From The Australian

An Indian state government has issued shoot-to-kill orders against a rampaging elephant named Osama bin Laden.

The rogue bull elephant has killed at least a dozen people in the northeast Indian state of Assam in recent weeks, including three in a single day.

The death sentence on Osama, a wild makhana (male elephant without tusks), was announced in the Guwahati State Assembly by Forest and Environment Minister Rockybul Hussain. A licensed hunter had been hired, Mr Hussain said. "We have asked him to kill Osama before December 31."

Under Assam law, elephants declared rogues have to be killed with a single shot. But in the past three years, five have been sentenced to death and only one killed.

Admitting it was a painful decision, Mr Hussain said: "We don't want the elephant killed, as it is people who have forced the animal to go on a killing spree. But the accused elephant has been smashing down huts, crashing through the fields, and trampling people."

Perhaps Dubya could learn from this strategy.

Pantomime Withdrawal

One of the things that I miss around this time of the year, especially now that we have kids, is The Pantomime.

We used to go to see Puss in Boots, Aladdin, Snow White and other likely characters. The cheezier the jokes and the songs, the better. Generally there is also at least a few contemporary adult jokes.

From Wikipedia

Pantomimes are a tradition throughout the UK over the Christmas Holidays. Containing both good and evil characters, the English Pantomime descended from Commedia Dell'Arte, a form of comedy popular in Italy between the 16th-17th century which later spread throughout western Europe and finally arrived in London in a slightly different form.

  • The leading male character (the "principal boy") is usually played by a young woman (although this tradition appears to be dying out).
  • An older woman (the pantomime dame) is usually played by a man in drag.
  • Risqué double entendre, often wringing innuendo out of perfectly innocent phrases.
  • Audience participation, including calls of "he's behind you!", and "oh yes it is!" or "oh no it isn't!" The audience is always encouraged to "boo" the villain.
  • A community song, re-written lyrics to a well-known tune. The audience is encouraged to sing the song, often one half of the audience is challenged to sing "their" chorus louder than the other half.
  • The pantomime horse or cow, played by two actors in a single costume, one as the head and front legs, the other as the body and back legs.
  • The good fairy always enters from the right side of the stage and the evil villain enters from the left. In Commedia Dell 'Arte the right side of the stage symbolized Heaven and the left side symbolized Hell.

So roll on the day when I can take the kids and join in with the booing and the hissing.

Christmas, Winterval, Summerval Wishes

All the begging and pleading is over and the kids will just have to settle for what they get.

For me I know what I want and it is not the chance to take part in the Scottish Santa Run.

And for everybody else, be careful what you ask for, you may well get it!

Last Day of School for the Year

Friday was the last day of School for the kids for the year. It is the long holidays now.

I am so grateful for the great work that Teachers do for our kids. There is a really strong bond with the teachers by the end of the year. Hannah was very upset because her teacher is leaving after 10 years in the school.

The School Principal is also leaving after 10 years and the School Secretary after 36 years.

The school will be different next year, not least because they are chopping down the beautiful gums in the car park, because they are becoming dangerous. Sad but inevitable.

Life will go on, but this small stage in their life is over.

Now it is play play play

Goodbye Mrs Kris, who is just starting a ten year appointment at the school. She was great with a class of mainly boys.

Goodbye Mrs Pawson, who has been the musical leader and the bestest teacher ever according to Hannah. A very lovely person, who has landed in a great job for next year as a full time music support teacher.

Santa Goes to School and Work

That Santa guy he gets around in broad daylight. He was at school with the kids to say goodbye to the School Secretary on her last day after 36 years of service. This, after going to school there for 7 years. People are just not as loyal nowadays. I thought ten years in my last job, in four different locations and lots of travel was a long time. Kaye spent 43 years out of 60 years at the school. Even her parents and grandparents went to the school.

Then Santa went to work and offered photographs to my colleagues. Nobody took him up. Santa has now gone into Christmas preparation mode by having a rest. The reindeers however, are being trained up for the big night.

Personally I am still adjusting to 40 degree Christmases. Not being a great fan of Summerval (apologies to all those Winterval advocates), I enjoy it for the kids. They think it is ace.

Family Circus and Cirque du Business

Going to the Circus is fun with kids. The best one we have been to is a real family affair, where the relatives pitch the tent, sell tickets, put you in your seats and do the acts. Not like these guys, who we saw on the Padang in Singapore many moons ago. My abiding memory is sitting next to the person who won a mobile phone. That was about as close as I have been to winning a raffle, although I did win a gardening book at a quiz night once.

Our kids go intermittently to the Circus School in town. It is great fun and they learn useful party tricks like spinning plates, juggling and stilt walking, along with helpful balance and coordination skills, but I sense that it is a tough life if you have to earn a living at it. The earlier article talks about the performer who had a hernia and the contortionist whose back fused at age 17. My personal experience is tough landings on stilts and a few close calls on the unicycle, which I learned to ride in my teens.

There is no doubt that Cirque du Soleil is a fantastic theatrical event with spectacular effects and high skills (along with a hefty price tag). Personally, however, I would prefer to go to the one with the family member selling the popcorn.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Twistin' the Night Away

How evil are you?

Countdown to March 14 St Kitts and Nevis

As Australia turn the screws on England in Perth, likely securing the Ashes at the same time, Scotland cruised to a 6 wicket ODI thrashing by Bangladesh in the first of a two match series.

The second match of the Cricket World Cup between my country of birth and country of residence is likely to be pretty one sided, with the first ten over score likely to be 6 for 47 or 176 for no wicket. Us patriotic Scots can only hope that it is not a rout. My colleagues cannot understand why I quietly support England when I am Scottish. I mean I detest the English Football team with all the overpaid prima donnas and yet I have a sentimental affection for the English Cricket Team. I will likely have to take the day off on the 15th. Even the most optimistic cannot hope for a result.

I am curious if the Tartan Army Bagpiper will be allowed to play?

Lest we Forget

Mike Whitney has a resonant suggestion that the likely future Iraq Memorial should be on the White House Lawn.

Let’s tear down the rot-iron gates surrounding the White House. Let’s remove the cement abutments and the cyclone fencing. Let’s put up a 10 ft high crescent of black marble on the White House lawn skirting both sides of the presidential walkway. That way, we can be sure that any future president will be forced to pass by the stone monuments that bear the names of the men and women who lost their lives in Bush’s Folly.

Not going to happen, but a public recognition of all those anonomous senseless deaths in Iraq is warranted.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Real Monty

Monty Walks on Air and the Barmy Army Trumpeter was allowed to lead the Cheering.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Supertrooper Transporter Things with Special Powers

Brian Appleyard pointed me to this one. A tremendous little boy or adult geek resource. Go at it like the millions before you. Very impressive.

Lets Write the Findings First

The Paracite who reigns over this wonderful country is a master at defining terms of reference and packing inquiries to ensure that the conclusions match what he wants to hear. The latest whitewash after Cole, Nuclear Power, Taxation...., is the Carbon Emissions Scheme. All the big polluters at the trough with an all you can eat menu and a blank cheque. All he needs is an expedient solution to see the Coalition through the next election.

Thanks Gary

Me Want Cookies

I have been psychologically profiled as a blue hairy biscuit chomping puppet. I can go to work and feel good now.

Survey Says

Here is why are you Cookie Monster.

You are both sloppy. You might not always know where everything you need is. Perhaps you don't even care. Hopefully you don't shovel food into your mouth at least.

You both are partially concrete and abstract thinkers. Cookie Monster knows what he wants (cookies!) and he consistently works toward that goal. However he comes up with imaginative and unusual strategies in pursuit of that goal. You have a good balance in your life. You know when to be logical at times, but you also aren't afraid to explore your dreams and desires... within limits of course.

You are both somewhat introverted. Cookie Monster might not have the most sophisticated syntax, but he does have some friends. He is close with Ernie. You probably like to have some time to yourself, but you do like spending time with your friends, and you aren't scared of social situations.

The Your SESAME STREET Persona Test

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sad Sad Sports Sacks

It is a degree of loyalty which may never be put to the test, but Australian men have pledged their willingness to abstain from sex in return for their cricketers reclaiming the Ashes from England.

Confirming that there are few things in life more dear to Australians than sport, a survey found that 41 per cent would forgo for a month the pleasures of the bedroom in return for victory.

Thanks to Tim Worstall for this important piece of social commentary. Based upon the behaviour of my Australian colleagues, I think that this is probably true. Some would probably commit to a year in return for a clean sweep.

Come on Kevin!! Don't let it happen.

Hannah's Face Mash

Another timewaster

Aussie Citizenship Test on the way

If I decide to become a fully fledged Aussie some time in the future, I may have to take a Citizenship Test if El Presidente Howard has his way.

This is all red flag code for shoring up white Australian support and anti muslim sentiment running into the next election.

Australia is a highly successful multicultural society with more than 6 million migrants since World War II successfully integrating generations of migrants into the community. The citizenship requirements of two years' permanent residence, basic English and a public pledge to Australia and its laws and democracy seem to have worked well.

The test will be 30 multiple-choice questions drawn from up to 200 possible questions, with subjects including:

■Core civic values and responsibilities of citizenship.

Undying support for Aussie Sports Teams

Loving to beat the Poms at Cricket

The Right to Slip Slap Slop

The Right to play football with a Rugby Ball

The Right to own and use Vegemite

Making sure children wear a hat in the sun

Compulsory voting on Australian Idol

Defining mateship to a new Sudanese refugee.

Knowing the names of the Bananas in Pyjamas

■Australian settlement and reconciliation with indigenous Australians.

How the white man came to Australia, stole the native Australians land and never having to say that you are sorry.

■Australia's system of government, including the three elements of federal Parliament: the Queen and her representative, the Governor-General; the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Australias system of government united under one God the Liberal Party under the leadership of his Excellency John Howard.

■How laws are made and administered and the rights of citizens.

John Howard decrees and so it came to be.

The right to drink beer
The right to watch and play cricket, footy...
The right to own and operate a barbie
The right to wear thongs.....
The right to get skin cancer

I'm off to to the pub to start studying now.

My question is how many Australians would do well in this test and if they fail, are they tossed out?

No Worries Mate!

Perhaps they can learn from the British Experience.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tall Poli Syndrome

When Even a Weedwacker wont Cut It

Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan recently stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy — almost impenetrable forests of 10-foot-tall marijuana plants.

Gen. Rick Hillier, chief of the Canadian defense staff, said Thursday that Taliban fighters were using the forests as cover. In response, the crew of at least one armored car had camouflaged their vehicle with marijuana.

"The challenge is that marijuana plants absorb energy, heat very readily. It's very difficult to penetrate with thermal devices ... and as a result you really have to be careful that the Taliban don't dodge in and out of those marijuana forests," he said in a speech in Ottawa.

"We tried burning them with white phosphorus — it didn't work. We tried burning them with diesel — it didn't work. The plants are so full of water right now ... that we simply couldn't burn them," he said.

Even successful incineration had its drawbacks.

"A couple of brown plants on the edges of some of those (forests) did catch on fire. But a section of soldiers that was downwind from that had some ill effects and decided that was probably not the right course of action," Hillier said dryly.

One soldier told him later: "Sir, three years ago before I joined the army, I never thought I'd say 'That damn marijuana.'"

People do the Darndest Things Y'all

This little episode has to rank up there with these two characters. At least the other two did their deeds within the comfort of their own homes and did not endanger the other passengers on a commercial aeroplane.

What was funny was that it was the smell of sulphur, which gave it away.

Thanks Curious Hamster for enlightening me.

What does it take to win?

Ian Chappel dissects the 2nd Test in Adelaide.

If ever confirmation was needed that the Australian way of playing cricket is superior to the English method, the final day of the second Ashes Test provided the ultimate proof.

Australia has a strong belief in winning and the players to make it happen, while England is uncertain about when to seek victory and is further handicapped by poor selection.

While Australia was still desperately searching for wickets on the fifth morning, England was largely batting with survival on their mind. If you look at Test match records, games are won either by so many runs or wickets and that is why both are critical to the ultimate result. The moment you stop trying your darnedest to accumulate either, an opponent senses an opportunity and you don't need to offer a bowler of Shane Warne's class a second invitation.


As I was saying to my Dad tonight, when he called from the shellshocked UK, England just does not have the killer instinct (other than the self inflicted type). I think, given the right conditions, and players playing to their capabilities the teams are fairly well matched technically, with the exception of Ponting and Warne. Where the difference is stark is in the inner self belief that they can win, and of course the home field advantage. I sat through the third day on Sunday, where England were a sniff ahead for most of the day, enjoying the occasion and thought, these are two pretty well matched teams batting easily on a placid wicket. How could things change so dramatically. It reminded me of the last series in Australia, where there was even less self belief and Steve Harmison was even more erratic. Anyway there is always the next Test and with the more positive showing against Western Australia, maybe there will be a better result for England. I hope so.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

In the Spirit of the Game?

From Cricinfo

Stephen Fleming, the New Zealand Captain had no regrets about the controversial dismissal of Muttiah Muralitharan in the first Test at Christchurch on Saturday, saying Muralitharan made a mistake and paid the price.

Muralitharan was run out after completing a single which gave Kumar Sangakkara his century. His wicket ended the Sri Lankan second innings at 170, leaving New Zealand a 119-run target for victory, which they achieved for the loss of five wickets.

After grounding his bat to complete the run, Murali turned back to congratulate Sangakkara. But the ball had not been ruled dead allowing Brendon McCullum, the wicketkeeper, to whip the bails off.

The dismissal stunned the Sri Lankans, who considered it was not in keeping with the true spirit of the competition. "The whole team is disappointed," Mahela Jayawardene said. "Legally it was run out, the ball was alive but we play in an age where we talk about the spirit of the game. Hopefully it won't happen again. It's not the way to play cricket."

But Fleming argued it was within the law. "It was pretty disappointing that it takes the gloss off what I thought was a fantastic 100 by Sangakkara, but the ball was still alive and the game doesn't stop when a player gets 100," Fleming said. "You can't just wander off when the ball's in mid-air and if we'd had an overthrow I'm sure they would have taken that.

"To my mind the ball's still alive and .. certainly in the cut-throat environment of this competition it's a mistake you can't afford to make on their behalf."

Apparently this does not happen too often. Certainly shows that human emotions and team bonding can unhinge batsmen.

Here are a few more violations of the Spirit of Cricket.

Ozzie Banana Cartel Up and Running Again

After a year of shutting out reasonably priced bananas from average Australian families and being blamed for contributing to inflation, the good old Ozzie Banana is back on the shelves under $5 a kilo. Banana plantations destroyed by Cyclone Larry have been replaced and the first harvest is starting to hit the shops. Still not cheap, but beginning to be affordable. The banana lobby held firm and will once again control the market. So much for the free market. It is fine if it is manufacturing and companies are allowed to go to the wall, but don't mess with agricultural commodities. Must be an election coming up.

Iconoclastic Personality Disorder?

Some of the quizzes that are on the internet are very odd. This pseudohistorical one takes the biscuit. Some of the questions are to say the least out there. I most nearly matched Friedrich Nietzsche. Apparently I am an egotistical maniac, and am so very iconoclastic that I am probably currently lost in a post-modern Jupiter, I mean jungle of self-definition.

Apparently I should not let this get me down though, someday, through a willful onslaught of reinterpretation of dated forms and ideas, I will strike on something that passes as remotely new, and people WILL be into it on the basis of how hip it is alone. Also, the average espresso drinker looks up to me (whatever that means).

The Results

Friedrich Nietzsche


Miyamoto Musashi


Adolf Hitler


Dante Alighieri


C.G. Jung


Jesus Christ


Stephen Hawking


Sigmund Freud


O.J. Simpson


Charles Manson


Mother Teresa


Steven Morrissey


Elvis Presley


Hugh Hefner


What Pseudo Historical Figure Best Suits You?
created with QuizFarm.com

So I most closely match a wacky Philosopher, a famous Japanese Samurai and a famous mid 20th Century Dictator. Not sure about Hitler. I think my iconoclastic side (I mean I had to look it up), is limited to a healthy disrespect for organisations, including religious and political. Not sure that I would go to the lengths of overturning or destroying them. My passive aggressive side is limited to supporting the underdog, be it a telephone company or the English Cricket Team.

The Worlds Most Expensive Curry?

A group of English cricket fans watching their team play in Australia were so desperate for a curry from their favourite chef that they ordered one from Britain, and the restaurant's managers promised to deliver.

Nasir Abdul, manager of the Bombay Nights restaurant in Bath, western England, said it was furthest takeaway order the restaurant had ever received, although it had flown food to Germany for soccer World Cup fans this year.

"We were shocked when we first got the order and thought someone was having laugh, but we then realised it was genuine," said Abdul on Friday.

Abdul and his business partner hope to fly to Perth on Monday to deliver the order of lamb tikka masala, lamb dansak, mushroom pilau, tarka dhal, sag aloo and pratha bread at a cost of 1,500 pounds for food that would normally cost about 140 pounds.

Based upon my own experience in Adelaide, there are some pretty good Indian Restaurants around.

Ho Ho Ho The Babysitter Era Begins

Elizabeth and I went out to our intimate Company Christmas Party at the Convention Centre. It is a huge event where companies can buy tables. So over 3,000 hearty revellers turned up. As I walked in Santa advised me that I should consider getting a flashing sporran to go with my flashing Santa hat. Anyway the evening was very enjoyable with the highlight being exhibition dancing on stage with the only other guy with a kilt (he also had bagpipes) and the band and mooning the audience. It was a satisfactory way of answering the question that seemed to be on many womens minds, based on the number of times I was asked what was under the kilt.

One of the occupational hazards of dancing with modified Scottish Regalia is that the kilt pin and the Skean Dhu sometimes fly off. Luckily some nice people handed them back.

Another highlight was after my performance being asked "Ure no a Real Scot!" by a fairly drunk Glaswegian gentleman.

Anyway the real reason for the post was last night was the first time that we had to hire a real professional baby sitter. We have been lucky up to now with arranging sleep overs, to allow our limited going out social life, since our relative support network is limited here in Adelaide. Things went very well and the kids adopted her immediately.

Will that be Large or Extra Large Sir?

Apparently most condoms are too big for average Indian men. An extensive survey, including detailed measuring of penises, down to the milimetre has determined that the dumping of internationally sized condoms on the Indian market is not appropriate and that a wider range of sizes should be made available (discretely).

When I lived in Singapore, I met somebody who ran the Condom Shop on Orchard Road. She told me that nobody bought small or medium sized condoms and that XL outsold L by over three to one. It is hard to imagine men going in and asking for anything other than large and extra large.

In India with a very high HIV transmission rate, it is an important public health issue.

Christmas Singles Suck

Not having lived in the UK for over 20 years has many benefits, including not having to listen to the Cliff Richard (or the like) Christmas Single incessantly for weeks on end. A seasonal event that I have never much cared for. Beau Bo D'Or reminds me what a good thing this is. Oh by the way, did I mention the weather as another good one.

Friday, December 08, 2006

South Australia Water Pricing

The price of water is going up by about eight percent next year, not to address the water shortage, but to recover revenue, according to our glorious Treasurer. A difference of approximately $32 for the average bill. Well Whoopdydoo. That will really make people stop and think.

An Adelaide Water Economics Professor has sensibly suggested that that is fine, but excess usage needs to be slogged by hundreds of dollars of excess charges once a reasonable household allowance is used. That will force that green lawn and lush vegetation brigateto consider making investments is other capital investments such as rainwater tanks and internal plumbing rearrangements. I still they need to look at large users. I mean it is pretty bad now. What happens if there is no rain next winter?

Apparently this is one of a range of options that that the State Government are considering and that SA Water are reviewing with a view to a change in policy, sometime next year.

Rolf's PC Mea Culpa

From This is London

Rolf Harris has apologised for using racist language in Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport - the hit song that launched his career.

The original words he wrote for the 1960 hit - sung to the accompaniment of his famous wobbleboard - included a verse referring to Aboriginal workers as if they were slaves.

The opening lines tell of a dying stockman giving his friends instructions on how they should treat his pet animals, such as 'keep me cockatoo cool, Curl' and 'take me koala back, Jack'. However, in the fifth verse comes a slur on Australia's indigenous population: 'Let me Abos go loose, Lou, Let me Abos go loose. They're of no further use, Lou, so let me Abos go loose.'

In an interview with Radio Scotland to be broadcast on Sunday, 76-year-old Harris admits that those lines were racist and he wished he had never written them.

Asked whether he regretted having included the verse, he said: 'Of course - dear, oh dear.' He said he now has a 'great love and respect' for Aborigines.

The song was written in 1957, when Aborigines were not allowed to vote, were not counted in the census and were often indentured workers in conditions approaching servitude.

Harris later dropped the verse when re-recording the hit, with the word 'emus' substituted for 'Abos'. But today his website contains a set of lyrics with no mention of emus or 'Abos'.

I just think that he is a great entertainer. We used to love to watch his paintings develop and the wobble board on his TV show. I mean come on it was the 1960s. I can remember growing up in Scotland the Scots were some of the worst parochial racists (they still are) in the world. I don't remember reading much into the lyrics. My kids love him now. Go Rolf.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ashes to Aussies Dusting to Dusting

Despite all the doom and gloom, Englands Ashes winning captain Michael Vaughan has made a stunning run leading into his speculatated inclusion into the Ashes Third Test in Perth. His spectacular return to cricket has included a duck and nine in two innings against the West Australia Second XI. OK perhaps they will have to recall Beefy or follow my earlier suggestions as a backup plan.