Friday, February 29, 2008

The Answer to an Age Old Question

Feeling Lonely?

Go to the beach in China.

One of the great things about Adelaide beaches is that they are almost always deserted except for hot days and holidays. This on the otherhand would be my worst nightmare. Where would the dog run? Imagine worrying about losing your kids.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Brummy Bloke Gorges to Death on Fairy Cakes

This Guys Tombstone will read "Choked to Death by 217 Fairy Cakes"

An inquest is to be held on a man who died during a contest to see who could eat the most fairy cakes.

The man, thought to be from Birmingham, collapsed at a Swansea nightclub during the event at the end of a party to raise funds for an art exhibition.

Police say there are no suspicious circumstances following the incident at the city's Monkey Cafe and Bar during the early hours of Friday.

I love the bit about no suspicious circumstances. So watch out mums when you plan those kids fairy parties.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Green Week in Adelaide Ends in a (V8) Roar

Adelaide had more than its fair share of green thinking blue sky thinking this week with the Green Cities Festival, the Solar Cities Congress and hosting Professor Ross Garnaut who suggests that Australians should cut greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent. Great stuff and right up the Vision Thang that Mike Rann, the State Premier, loves to float without backing it up with much action.

Too bad somebody scheduled all this with the V8 Supercar Motorsport Festival to reinforce the sobering environmental messages from earlier in the week. As the correspondent in the Australian put rather eloquently.

The Clipsal 500 will fill the city's streets with fossil fuel laden ear shattering, petrol guzzling, green house gas emitting V8s for the next four days. Every litre of high octane juice provided to the monsters with deliver over 2kg of greenhouse gas at the other end.

I was reading earlier that the Clipsal had hired a firm to work out their carbon emissions for the event and some clever types were out all week measuring and evaluating. No doubt there will be a big tree order for somebody. Some of this kind of carbon offsetting seems a touch cynical. Why not just not have such a polluting event. Apparently even Ford here in Australia has seriously questioned the value of the V8 Racing Teams in an era when people are looking to buy more environmentally sensitive cars.

So my challenge to Mr Carbon Neutral SA (after I retire) Rann, how about thinking up some practical ways of cutting carbon emissions like converting the race to renewable energy only or just cancel it all together. You could hire a huge sound system to create the noise of the cars, which is the part that appeals to most people.

Only half serious here since supporting the Clipsal is a bit of a badge of courage here in South Australia and I may want to apply to become a citizen someday. It is one of the biggest events in South Australia and brings gazillions of dollars into the economy. My Australianness may be challenged by suggesting such a thing. Clearly I am exactly the type of person that Kevin Foley, the South Australian State Treasurer and Chief Headkicker doesn't want living here in South Australia. What next they may say? Ban the floats from the Christmas Pageant?

On a related topic, V8 branding is one of the few things that really get peoples juices flowing here in South Australia. Holden or Ford, Adelaide or Port Adelaide, the two AFL teams are the two big ones and they define you. Most of the people in our office are Holden Guys since Holden has a large manufacturing plant here in Elizabeth. Me being contrary am a Ford Guy, which is good as it will get up their noses with Ford dominating the weekends events. Nothing like sport (is motor racing a sport?) to get Aussies talking. The reason I think that it may be considered a sport is that it is covered on the sports programmes, and so must be sport.

And yes I have been to the Clipsal. I went last year and enjoyed the hospitality put on for our clients and the community focus of the event. Other than a short novelty factor however, you can keep the racing itself. I found it pretty boring pretty quickly.

Thriller 25 Years On

My American girlfriend bought this in LP format around 25 years ago when I was a poor impoverished student on a trip to Edinburgh. Funny to think that was the highpoint of his career. I liked it then and still like it now and have it as a CD, somewhere in a cardboard box in our shed. Apparently it is popular with a new generation here in Australia with the rerelease near the top of the charts. The music companies must be pretty desperate. Why would you want to mess with a classic. I listened to some of the tracks on the radio this week and it seemed over engineered and flat. I didn't know that Generation Y and the like bought plastic music. I thought they only spent it on ITunes.

Wollongong Council to Boost Productivity

Sleeping on the job has been banned.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

How to Put Kids Off Fast Food

Try this.

Makes most meals in a tin look gourmet.

Thanks Stuart from Secluded Habitat

After School Trip to the Carwash and Park

Pay to Pee (or Poop)

When I lived in Singapore, I was reintroduced to the concept of paying to use a public toilet. The idea being that by paying, people would value the service I think. Singapore certainly had generally very clean toilets with the government publicly supporting and funding clean toilet awards. Here in Australia we have a national toilet website where you can search for the nearest public toilet. Where we lived before, invariably they were disgusting, had drug paraphenalia, vandalised or locked. I was quite surprised a couple of nights ago that the toilet in the park that I went to with the kids was open and pretty clean. Quite rare in areas closer to the city.

Functioning and clean public toilets are a good measure of a functioning society and a pleasant reminder of some of the good things about suburban areas.

Along the same lines, Mr Eugenides has some quiet thoughts on a plan for private businesses in the UK to make their toilets available to the public in return for some public dosh.

In fact, instead of bribing private businesses with my fucking cash, I have a better idea. If local councils are really so concerned about the lack of toilet facilities in our towns and cities, they should fucking step up to the plate themselves. Why don't we require councillors to open their homes to anyone with a full bladder? Let every MP's constituency office be fitted with swing doors to welcome emergency urinators 24/7; let the foyer of every government building be equipped with hand dryers and pot pourri for the convenience of passing punters.
Let a thousand pissoirs bloom.When did the requirement for local councils to provide public toilets stop. Is this not a public health issue?

Obama - Big in Japan

Obama, Japan, is Barracking for candidate Obama, hoping that if he becomes the US president he will put this ancient fishing town of 32,000 people firmly on the tourist map and, just maybe, choose it for an international summit.

Supporters in Obama -- which means "small shore" in Japanese -- have held parties to watch election results, put up posters wishing the senator luck and plan a special batch of the town's "manju" sweets bearing his likeness.

Learning Japanese at School

Hannah is learning Japanese this year after having had Italian for a number of years at here previous school. We were a little shocked by her text book that she brought home.

Alister Darling Set To Take the Reins at St James Park

Kevin Keegan is set to get the heave ho as the new sponsors of Newcastle are set exert their authority. Ticket prices are set to double to assist in paying off the debts acccumulated in paying of Toon Fans to stay loyal after another season of crap football from the St James's Park Boys. Scotland Yard are investigating the link between the collapse of the bank and the sponsorship deal.

If Mr Abramovich, a successful business man can lose 100 million pounds on Chelsea, just last year, then look for even bigger losses in the North East if the new owners' track record is anything to go by.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Australian Cultural Primer

This is very worthwhile reading if you are interested in Aussie Culture.

An Australian from Perth living in America. Read and digest this, take a few elocution lessons, watch Crocodile Dundee, get a fake tan, some thongs, a beer and a barbie and you could pass as an Aussie (Mate!).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bottled Water Gets Bashed Again

Apparently the UK Government is comparing bottled water to cigarettes as an immoral cancer on society.

Drinking bottled water should be made as unfashionable as smoking, according to a government adviser.

"We have to make people think that it's unfashionable just as we have with smoking. We need a similar campaign to convince people that this is wrong," said Tim Lang, the Government's naural resources commissioner.

Bottled water generates up to 600 times more C02 than tap water

Phil Woolas, the environment minister, added that the amount of money spent on mineral water "borders on being morally unacceptable".

Their comments come as new research shows that drinking a bottle of water has the same impact on the environment as driving a car for a kilometre. Conservation groups and water providers have started a campaign against the £2 billion industry.

This is utter bollocks. Cigarettes kill and maim millions of people worldwide. I am not sure the same could be said of bottled water. I live in a hot place and from time to time I think it is reasonable to be able to buy some safe and cool refreshment. Are we supposed to drink Coke? Seems to me that the carbon footprint of flavoured water and fizzy water will be even higher.

Another one of those please move to a cave and stop living philosophies from our glorious leaders. Get back to your chauffeur driven carbon emitting limousine and leave us alone.


Carbon Neutral Baloney from South Australian Government

Premier for life Mike Rann is going to hit up the taxpayers to meet his environmentally friendly and expensive commitment to reduce the environmental footprint of the government.

"This Government is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the state," he said.

"We hope that our determination to reduce our carbon footprint will, in turn, inspire and encourage industries and other governments to follow our lead, thereby increasing demand for green energy.

"In other words, from little things, big things grow.''

Well Mr Rann how about starting by getting rid of the six and eight cylinder motor fleet that shuttle Ministers and other public servants around the state. How about supporting electric cars and other public transport.

Other governments around the world have made similar pledges, but not in Australia.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark has set a target of taking the whole country carbon neutral.

Mr Rann already runs a carbon-neutral Cabinet, with ministers reducing their carbon footprint and buying credits (at tax payers expense) to offset any remaining emissions.

South Australian MPs have been encouraged to follow suit to create a carbon-neutral Parliament.

All very well, but how about some real action and not empty promises from Captain Smiley Empty Promises and his merry bunch of Carbon Neutral Yes Men.

Greenwashing Eat Your Heart Out.

This phone will self destruct in ten seconds

I recently got a fairly whiz bang new mobile phone for work. I have had an older Nokia for years and really like it for its simplicity and intuitive understanding of how it works. I got the new phone so that I have a camera for visits to new sites. I got a whole lot more as well, most of which I have not figured out.

My daughter on the other hand had it figured out within five minutes. She had changed the boring ring tone to one she sang, changed the start up photo and wallpaper, recorded some videos and was hassling me to download some games. No peace for the wicked.

I laughed looking at this cartoon, thinking that I am more like an old person than a young person when it comes to technology. In the back of my mind there is always the worry that the phone will self destruct if I press certain combination of buttons.

Thanks Gizmodo

Monday, February 18, 2008

South Australian Cane Toad Roundup Kicks Off Tonight

The discovery of a Hobo Cane Toad near a rail marshalling yard in suburban Adelaide, this week has lead to a major frog roundup. Cane Toads turn up now and again in Adelaide and this one seems to have hitched a ride on the Ghan heading south.

Ye Croak!

Bird Shit Inspires Famous Socialist Republic of Barnsley Football Win

A well aimed bird shit inspired the Barnsley Football team to a famous win at Anfield against fellow strugglers, Liverpool.

As the Dickie Bird said, it was the most famous win of his sixty five years of supporting Barnsley.

I wonder if there is any beer left in the town.

My colleague, who is a die hard Liverpool fan was more than a little subdued this morning. All the more so for sitting next to the General Manager, who is a die hard Manchester United fan. I seem to remember a similar result the year Barnsley were in the Premier League in the late 1990s, when they knocked out the mighty Red Devils. My colleague at that time grew up in Barnsley and was more than a little happy.

The joys of the FA Cup. A fantastic competition.

And as for Rafael Benitez. Shit Happens!

It's a Snake eat Frog eat Snake eat Frog World

This is just like one of our kids stand up and fight to the death screaming matches.

The Clever Clogs who got the Shot

My New Kilt

I have ordered a new kilt and all you have to do is pop it to see whether I am a true Scot.

The kids liked this one. There are some more tasteful ones too.

Thanks Insight of Nothingness

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Joys of Pie Floaters and The Carnival of Australia

This week I had my first ever pie floater. I have lived in South Australia for almost six years and only this week, on a whim, when I went for lunch to Cafe Villis, I was able to sample this gourmet delight.

A pie floater, a South Australian delicacy consists of a traditional Australian meat pie covered with tomato sauce and inverted in a plate of thick green pea soup. It was recognised as a South Australian Heritage Item by the National Trust of Australia.

As you can see, mine had a lot of soup. Delicious.

Speaking of Australian Cultural Icons, the latest Carnival of Australia is published here. Or you could take the slow path by scrolling down.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Acquaintance Night

More Wordless Wednesday

Australian Government Says Sorry

Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were stolen generations - this blemished chapter in our nation's history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Thirty Two Ways to Piss People Off

  1. Leave the copy machine set to reduce 200%, extra dark, 17 inch paper, 99 copies.
  2. In the memo field of all your checks, write "for sexual favors."
  3. Specify that your drive-through order is "TO-GO."
  4. If you have a glass eye, tap on it occasionally with your pen while talking to others.
  5. Stamp on little plastic ketchup packets.
  6. Insist on keeping your car windshield wipers running in all weather conditions "to keep them tuned up."
  7. Reply to everything someone says with "that's what you think."
  8. Practice making fax and modem noises.
  9. Highlight irrelevant information in scientific papers and "cc" them to your boss.
  10. Make beeping noises when a large person backs up.
  11. Finish all your sentences with the words "in accordance with prophesy."
  12. Signal that a conversation is over by clamping your hands over your ears and grimacing.
  13. Disassemble your pen and "accidentally" flip the ink cartridge across the room.
  14. Holler random numbers while someone is counting.
  15. Adjust the tint on your TV so that all the people are green, and insist to others that you "like it that way."
  16. Staple pages in the middle of the page.
  17. Publicly investigate just how slowly you can make a croaking noise.
  18. Honk and wave to strangers.
  19. Decline to be seated at a restaurant, and simply eat their complimentary mints at the cash register.
  21. type only in lowercase.
  22. dont use any punctuation either
  23. Buy a large quantity of orange traffic cones and reroute whole streets.
  24. Repeat the following conversation a dozen times.
    "Never mind, it's gone now."
  25. As much as possible, skip rather than walk.
  26. Try playing the William Tell Overture by tapping on the bottom of your chin. When nearly done, announce "No, wait, I messed it up," and repeat.
  27. Ask people what gender they are.
  28. While making presentations, occasionally bob your head like a parakeet.
  29. Sit in your front yard pointing a hair dryer at passing cars to see if they slow down.
  30. Sing along at the opera.
  31. Go to a poetry recital and ask why each poem doesn't rhyme.
  32. Ask your co-workers mysterious questions and then scribble their answers in a notebook. Mutter something about "psychological profiles."
Thanks Art Lung

Jigsaws and Geography Love it or Hate It.

If Jigsaws and Geography drive you batty, don't go here.

I used to hate jigsaws after being put off by life by sitting with my Grandmother, who loved them. It was my Christmas Day nightmare after lunch, the invitation to come and help with a ten million piece jigsaw of a forest with some grass. I have never quite got over it.

Geography on the other hand I enjoy. I did that in sixth year of High School as my specialist area and started off a University degree. Unfortunately that got lost in a year of drinking and partying and I ended up getting a degree in Sociology. How did that happen? More drinking and partying and that was all I could graduate with. Luckily my American girlfriend of the time paid for a ticket to the US and the rest, as they say, is history. I did get to see a lot of America, so I suppose that was a bit of geography.

Aussie Carnival of Sorry, Love, Whales and Other Stuff


Well at least you didn't have to wait until John Howard said Sorry for the all new Bonza Carnival of Australia to show up. Grovelling apologies as my life resembled a cake icing funnel with too many things trying to squeeze out the end. Now that I have got that out of the way, I can now focus on cooking, cleaning, fixing, building, tedious work stuff and the like practical self improvement measures.

This Carnival of Australia is brought to you at no cost by a fantastic range of high quality Aussie Bloggers. No warranty implied or otherwise is required and no compensation will be paid. Enjoy.

Enough of this self pity and on with the show.

With much of this week dwelling on Sorry and what it means, Megan has highlighted a topical post by Adam Valvasori (Values Manager), on the Body Shop Corporate Blog.
The Body Shop Australia are activists. Not only do they have a corporate blog that overtly flaunts their excellent corporate social responsibility, they also encourage peaceful social action to create change for a multi cultural, non racist and inclusive Australia. In this post by Adam Valvasori (Values Manager), the "Sorry" movement is aided by Adam's pointing toward a "handy" website: Australians for Native Title & Reconciliation (ANTaR) has a fantastic, creative way for you to commit to justice for Indigenous Australians, it's called the Sea Of Hands Online.

In the season of the valentine, Kathie has a beautiful rose to share. I understand that they are very expensive this year. We got lucky with our neighbour giving us ten established standard roses and bushes that he was taking out of our garden. I know that it is not a dozen, but not too bad.

Duncan Macleod on the other hand reckons underwear is the way to go.

Personally I would stay away from this. I am sure I would get the wrong thing. Better to stick to easy things like chocolate and diamond earrings.

Lightenings advice for new parents is to listen to your heart.

I learnt a very valuable lesson that day. To listen to what my instincts were saying. I’m not saying I’m a perfect mother. That I don’t make mistakes. But learning to “listen to my heart” has been the most valuable lesson that I’ve learnt in my decade as a mother.

I can really identify with this post, because we had some health issues which Hannah had when she was born. Luckily we sought the right advice and Hannah's illness was correctly diagnosed.Good advice.

Jen tells a fantastic tale about a day at Port Adelaide. My son Ryan did this trip with his school class last year and loved the light house. They also went on a trip on the Port River to look for Dolphins. Our kids plan to have mum and dad fork out on a monthly basis to support one of them.

Talking of large marine mammals, there has been plenty of coverage of the nasty harpoonists trying to supply the Japanese cravings for restaurant supplies research supplies.

Xavier Forrest writing in Celcius tackles the emotive issue of whaling.

Flametree has some thoughts on whaling too. You can make a support song using whale and nature sounds if you follow the link. Better be careful or the Yakusa will hunt you down.

Gavin R Putland tells the story of this photograph of two whales.

During a family gathering, my father wondered aloud whether one could see whales on Google Earth. He even nominated Hervey Bay as a good place to look...

Suzie Cheel asks an important question.

Do your words affect the results you get in your life? I know mine often do.
Life would be challenging with young kids without these words.

Megan offers an invitation to join the Teddy Tour to support abused kids a sistership project between All for Women and Imaginif.

Home is not always the safest place to be. Parents unable and unwilling to care for her, they shipped Jamila Rose off to her Uncle. After repeated rapes by him, Jamila took to the streets of Sydney where her misery and fear were further exploited. Now 36. Jamila Rose is getting her life back to where she wanted it to be.

Help women like Jamila have a voice.
D Robinson is not happy about the Commonwealth Government dragging their feet on implementing a paid maternity scheme.

Every time there is a change of government, we see the paid maternity leave issue placed on the agenda, only to see it cast aside in favour of our issues assigned a higher priority. It’s time the government stopped dragging it’s feet on this issue and give Australian women access to paid maternity leave.
I understand that civil servants get maternity leave, but many in the private sector do not. Some action is warranted I think.

Planning Queen addresses our generation of parents who may be raising a generation of battery farm children.

I was one of the 80% of 7 - 8 year olds who walked to school on their own (or with siblings). Yet I am not comfortable about letting my eldest son to do the same.

I am with you here. Our kids are ferried to and fro regularly. I wrote about the injustice of being deprived of my car and being forced to walk and take the bus with the kids last weekend. My mum didn't learn to drive until I was nearly in High School, so the car was only available on Saturdays to ferry us around. We are so lucky to have access to our gas guzzling chariots. My wife's attitude is that they can walk to school when they start College. Only semi serious there.

Anne has some thoughts on appropriate food for Australia Day and it doesn't involve Sam Kekovich or witchity grubs. How UnAustralian.

Australians really are lucky with the range of food available all year round. I still remember the very seasonal nature of the Scottish greengrocer. Everyone got excited when the turnips and the spring potatoes came in.

Lights Camera Action! Charly Banana presents The Christopher Robin Interview!

Where's Pooh and Eeyore? Actually it is a band. Duh! Where's the mosh pit?

Miscellaneous Mum has an exciting announcement!

Yeah from me! Pretty complicated stuff pulling together a kids book. I was interested to hear Mem Fox talk about the challenges of integrating the illustration with the text one day. The visual sides of her books are one of the most appealing things and she didn't even do it.

Craig Harper has some career advice.
Being the poster girl for compliance is great for everyone around you, not so good for you. It's gonna kill you. Maybe not literally, but emotionally, psychologically and creatively, you will continue to die a little bit more each day. You know that. You've known it for a long time.
Pretty confronting. I have mixed feelings about this one, but anything you say Craig.

Gavin R. Putland presents some more interesting economics stuff. This post has the intriguing title of How the Left Could Get to Like Retail Tax.
Conventional wisdom holds that replacing income tax with a consumption tax would be regressive, and that it would devalue past savings by raising prices. Both objections assume that gross wages and salaries would stay the same. If, instead, net wages and salaries stay the same, both objections disappear.
I had no idea that anyone liked retail tax. I think I will leave that one to Gavin. A little over my head.

Rob Moshe presents Live Your Best Life By Serving Others.
As I reflect further, I see that I always feel best when I am serving others. It is a great feeling to move beyond yourself and help others achieve their dreams and goals.
Craig Brown presents Better Projects: What skills do business analysts need?

This blog discusses project management and business analysis. This particular post looks at the results of a scan of job ads and identifies the key skills employers are looking for in business analysts.

For potential real estate moguls, the third Craig presents a summary of the ANZ Property Outlook for 2008.

I have just launched a new online business and have started an accompanying blog to help promote it. Evaluator (the website) is all about ordering property reports. The Evaluator (the blog) is all about sharing knowledge about the property market. Enjoy!
Well that is quite enough Craigs for one Carnival. Next time there will be a two Craig per Aussie Carnival limit.

And last but by no means least, Martin Russell presents information on SendOutCards, a means to promote small business and plans to expand into Australia.

With these I might even remember my relatives birthdays. My wife loves to send out cards and gets upset when she misses birthdays. Maybe this is a service for her.

The Carnival of Australia needs you to post, submit, host or just read this and all other Carnivals. The consequence of not doing this is severe and may include hair loss, high blood pressure and a weekend on a Desert Island with John Howard. Now that wasn't too hard, was it?

This concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of australia using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Technorati tags: carnival of australia, blog carnival.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Fifers Free At Last Free At Last

Forth Bridge

Tay Bridge

Fifers can afford a few extra pints a week as tolls are dropped on the Forth and Tay Road Bridges, making Scotlands roads toll free.

I can remember going on the ferry across the Tay and the Forth prior to the road bridges being built. I also remember a few trips to Kincardine to avoid the tolls (using up the toll cost in additional petrol). What a Scotsman will do to "save" money.

My brother and his wife and their children use the Forth Bridge almost every day. They'll be feeling rich this week.

No doubt this will be a brief hiatus before the cables on the Forth Bridge start to fail and a new bridge or tunnel has to be constructed.

Seeing things in a different way

Yesterday Elizabeth had the car and we realised very late, that Hannah had a party later in the day. I had to work out our public transport options, which in this case was the bus. Despite leaving the house without my wallet, we managed to scrape together enough coins to get a day pass. The kids came well equipped with everything you would need for that type of adventure including books, a sword, a spear and various other essential items for a 10 minute bus trip. We walked from the bus through some new neighbourhoods past some cricket, played on every available oval through the summer on a Saturday.

It was a very unusual experience for the kids. When they were younger, I used to walk with them a lot. Now with our busy life, we drive almost everywhere except the local park. It reminded me how great it was to observe the world in a different way and to be thankful of having access to a car. There is always something interesting to see, nothing more so than this unexpected beauty sitting quietly waiting for her co driver on the same street where we were walking to.

After dropping Hannah off at the party Ryan and I walked back to catch the bus back. It was a major violation of his child rights and he was grumpy most of the way back. Eventually we got to our local park and Ryan played with some friends while I got Spotty, who was pleased to see me. He is still adjusting to his new house and hates to be left behind. We played at the park for half an hour and it was time to go back to get Hannah. We dutifully turned up at the bus stop at the right time and waited and waited.... The joys of public transport. The bus eventually turned up twenty minutes late as the bus driver mumbled some bus problems as a lame excuse. We got off the bus at the wrong stop and had a long walk without a street map to find the party location again. I am pretty good at that after my many years of living in places like Manila, Jakarta and Kathmandu, places where you shouldn't ask for advice, because people will not understand you and if they do, they will give you the wrong advice rather than saying they don't know for fear of offending you.

Not having a car means having to regularly consult a bus timetable and work out what options you have. Going back was more challenging trying to decipher the indecipherable map and the incomprehensible timetable with more symbols and asssumptions than an architectural drawing.

On the way back we found an unusual post box and some very large cactuses, which are very common in South Australia. We ended up getting a taxi, which luckily turned up randomly when it started to get dark and the kids were getting tired.

A fun and different Saturday afternoon and evening.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Order of the Garters Set for New Antipodean Representative?

Former Aussie Prime Minister for Life John Winston Howard is set to wear garters, according to knowledgable types. The award is the sole preserve of Her Majesty. God Bless her Garters.

The Order of the Garter the oldest and most significant Order of Chivalry was founded by Edward III in 1348 and counts among its elite members 24 knights plus Royal knights.
I wonder if Sir John of Tooronga and Kirribilli (Has he left yet?) and Lady Hyancinth will take up residence in a castle and who will wear the garters in that family? They can spend their retirement pretending to be king and queen.

The irony is that the vacancy is that it is to replace Sir Edmund Hillary. Talk about diminishing the value of the award.

Update: Bummer for Johnnie, Wills got the nod.

Photo Hunt: Heavy

One of our first large projects is to put up a fence at the front. We thought that would be simple, but because of the layout of the garden and a large palm tree, we have had to put up a retaining wall. The rest of the front had a lot of ugly rail sleepers, which were looking very sad. We decided to do the whole lot, so that entailed a day of digging with a bobcat and now the retaining wall is sitting in the front yard like a large lego puzzle without the instructions.

The ten pallets arrived on a large truck with its own tractor to unload the heavy load. The kids have improvised it as a stage and creative play area. We are now a little unenthusiastic about the last preparatory work that has to happen to get the first course laid. Hopefully we will get started today.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Boeing Factory Creates Clouds

The Boeing Factory in Everett, north of Seattle, the largest factory by volume in the world is so massive that it started to develop its own weather system forcing them to design a custom air conditioning system.

A state-of-the-art air circulation system had to be installed inside the monolithic manufacturing plant because clouds - the product of accumulated warm air and moisture - were forming inside.

I don't really know why I found that interesting enough to share. Thanks for your patience.

I lived in Seattle in the 1980s when Microsoft was just a start up that nobody had heard of and Boeing was the only game in town. Their massive factories were interesting to look at for just that reason. The scale of their facilities compared to everything else around was a bit surreal.

I got a feel for the scale of the 747s when I used to commute between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. When you got on in Singapore it was from an air bridge. In Kuala Lumpur in the old airport, you would walk out to the plane and climb on by stairs. Massive, very glamorous and indadvertent cloud makers.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Speed Defies Scientific Logic

I was shocked to read in Popsci.com that the bus leaping scene in Speed was not consistent with the laws of physics. My wife loves this movie and will be devastated that Sandra Bullock was living a lie as she careered off the bridge at great velocity.

Who would have thought that Hollywood would cook the books. What message are they trying to send to hoon bus drivers?

Time to Get Ratty for the Year of Wu Xi

Happy Year of the Rat. Glad I am not in wintery China at the moment. Chinese New Year was a great time in Singapore. Everything shut down for three days as families got together to celebrate. It was the only time of the year when you really couldn't expect to do too much. Very nice in a hustle bustle society.

Mental Hospital Phone Guide

Press 1 Repeatedly.

This made me laugh. Having dealt with the mental health system in the past, all of it is true. The main objective seems to be to categorize you and to provide you with some pills. Once you are categorised in their mind, everything will be fine. I also think that this applies to the bane of my life, the automated redirecting systems so favoured by our glorious multinationals nowadays. Likely they can be blamed for many of the referrals to mental hospitals in the first place. There is really nothing in life that makes me more mad than trying to work with a telephone computer. Hello Telstra, Optus, AGL....... Seems to me that the thinking in their systems goes something like this.

Hello moron, this is XYZ Corporation. If you were mad before, you will be much worse in a few minutes. Before we begin allow me to give you some indecipherable challenges. Say/Speak/Croak/Whisper why the fuck you are calling? Don't you know that we are busy and that our underpaid and overworked customer service personnel have absolutely no interest in talking to you or listening to your whingeing complaints. When you fail to penetrate our impenetrable customer service system, shout profanities down the phone. Now do you feel better? No I thought not Allow me to make you feel worse. Why were you calling again? You want to compliment us on our excellent service????.............

Hello and thank you for calling The State Mental Hospital Telstra.

Please select from the following options menu:

* If you are obsessive-compulsive, press 1 repeatedly.
* If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2 for you.
* If you have multiple personalities, press 3, 4, 5 and 6.
* If you are paranoid, we know who you are and what you want. Stay on the line so we can trace your call.
* If you are delusional, press 7 and your call will be forwarded to the MotherShip.
* If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a little voice will tell you which number to press.
* If you are manic-depressive, it doesn’t matter which number you press, nothing will make you happy anyway.
* If you are dyslexic, press 9696969696969696.
* If you are bipolar, please leave a message after the beep or before the beep or after the beep. Please wait for the beep.
* If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9.
* If you have low self-esteem, please hang up. Our operators are too busy to talk with you.
* If you are menopausal, put the guns down, hang up, turn on the fan, lie down and cry. You won’t be crazy forever.
If you are suicidal hang on the line (for a long while).

Now hang up NOW! before you go crazy.
Thanks Insight of Nothingness