Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Michael Clarke - Balanced Journalism Required

When Michael Clarke made his Test debut, Australia was in trouble in the match against India. I can't remember the score but Clarke made 151 and proved himself as a man. All the commentators said that it was a difficult situation to come out to bat and what a head he had on his shoulders to be able to handle the pressure.

In the second Test versus New Zealand, after being proclaimed as someone who would be a great, by virtue of his Test batting average being better than Sir Donald Bradman at the same stage of his career, he came to the batting crease with the score at 4/445. Situation was that New Zealand was on the ropes, bowling was crap, batsmen on top and Australia in a commanding position. Clarke made only seven runs.

The commentators, led by Greg Chappell, mentioned that it was a very difficult time to bat. Were we supposed to feel for this guy? He had proved himself when Australia was in trouble and then when the situation is set up for him he fails, and the only description is one that was used previously.

If Clarke had not been Australian I feel that the description of the situation wouldn't have been put so favourably. Mention of his fantastic debut innings would have been darkened by his very poor showing with the bat when the chips were certainly not down. A failure is how it would have been described, not to feel sorry for the poor young man put in a difficult situation.

Come on Chappelli, balance your journalistic skills.
Christmas Party - Sleepover

A few weeks back we invited one of Yu-Jin's friends, Jesse, to our home for a sleepover. He was a little scared about sleeping away from home and so declined.

Last Thursday, the day that Miky started work, we were invited to the staff Christmas Party, to be held on Saturday night at Gavino Restaurant, an Italian restaurant, in Subiaco. Their Website is very difficult to find. We had to look at the menu to pre-order as it was going to be a large function.

Yu-Jin had to stay at Jesse's house for the night. He wasn't bothered by this at all. We had a great night as I got to meet many of Miky's co-workers and they seem like a great bunch of people. Miky's boss, Denise, came over to chat for a while and she is very nice and mentioned that Daneechi is a family-friendly workplace.

We arrived home just before 1am. Just before 6am Miky woke me up and said, "Let's get my son." Mothers! Give me and the friends looking after Yu-Jin a rest. She seriously wanted to go straight to their house and pick him up! Her excuse was that she was worried about Jesse's parents, not Yu-Jin. We picked Yu-Jin up about 9:30.

It seems that the boys raised a bit of hell. They were running around until nearly 11 o'clock until Jesse's mum mentioned that a police car had gone past and if the neighbours complained about the noise the police would take them to jail. That shut them up and they went to bed. By 6:30 they were up again raising hell. As soon as we arrived there was an argument between the boys, probably caused by tiredness. We took him home, showered him, and made him go to bed. He snored for the next two hours!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Orgasm Lady At The Fashion Show

Miky's class of leavers from Clothing Production III from Swan TAFE Bentley had their graduation-style fashion show. Seated next to us was Stella, who has a Greek/Cypriot background, and is one of Miky's classmates. She invited about 30 (or was it 50?) of her friends and family to come for the show. As you can imagine, there was a great deal of Greek being spoken by people with big noses, but I digress.

Stella's range came before Miky's and the woman behind us, who belonged to Stella's group and had been reasonably quiet up until such time, burst out in rapturous prose.
"Oh, it's gorgeous Stella!"
"That is the best dress!"
"Oh, I love that dress Stella!"
"You've done a marvellous job."
"They're all so good!"

I thought we were sitting in the middle of a When-Harry-Met-Sally episode there. She was positively gushing.

Stella's gowns were nice. At least when Miky's range came out this woman still came forth with the praise. A couple of Miky's pieces looked very nice and there was a bit of interest shown in them afterwards.

True Praise

Kat Duncan had a nice main gown on display in the show. When the model walked onto the stage Yu-Jin let out a loud, "Wow!" Obviously he was impressed. When asked later which dresses he liked the best his reply was a very diplomatic "I like all of them."

After the show Yu-Jin wanted to look at the gowns and went right up to them. He was really interested and I'm glad that he behaved himself on the night.

Open Mouth To Change Feet

Our compere for the night was Nathan Morris, from Nova FM and Big Brother fame, and he made a bit of a balls-up. Amanda McKenna won a couple of awards. For the second award Nathan announced her as Amanda Keller (a presenter on TV) and then quickly realised his mistake.

I guess it was way past his bedtime as he starts his radio program at 6am and it was about 9:40 by this time. He can be forgiven.

Serious Commentary

I met up with one of my friends, Joe, from uni at the show. He was one of the last people I would expect to see but it was great to catch up. After the show he gave me some of his thoughts for the night. He didn't like the dress that accentuated the bottom of the lady wearing it. In my opinion it looked like a button mushroom, and Yu-Jin thought that it looked like a hot air balloon, but Joe thought that women would not be happy with that sensitive part of their body made to look larger.

Another comment from Joe was regarding a very frilly and layered down complete with top hot and vest. "Serious gender issues" was how he summed it up. If only we could have sat together for the whole show.

Rainbow Poo

Yu-Jin saw some white bird poo today and remembered that human poo is brown. He then mentioned that if we ate food with lots of colours then we would have rainbow poo. I like his thinking, wishful though it is.

Dumb Question

Another subject with input from Yu-Jin. We received some chocolates last night at the show and Miky said, "chocolate's nice."
"Why is chocolate nice?" Yu-Jin asked.
I thought that that was a stupid question but then it struck me, why the hell did they make carob chocolate? It is chocolate but tastes terrible.
Letter To Santa

I wonder how long it takes to get a letter to Santa at the North Pole. He lives just outside a city in Finland called Rovaniemi, which itself is situated on page 140 N2 of The Tmes Concise Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition. Not that it really stands out on the page. Bloody cold place, as I have visited there. Didn't get to Santa's village though.

Anyway, back to the story. How long does the letter take to reach Santa? A damn sight less time than a letter being sent to South Australia from Perth is my guess!! Pick up your game Australia Post.
Last Wicket Stand Of Gillespie And McGrath Reminds Me Of The Time...

We played table tennis at physical education class in high school. My friend, Friendy, and I were the most hopeless in the class. We tried to hit the ball too hard and had the shortest rallies of anyone. Then they announced a competition to see which pair could do the most hits in a rally.

Guess what? The no-hopers chalked up over 400 hits and beat everyone else by a country mile. Kind of like Gillespie and McGrath knocking hell out of the Kiwis.

Noongyar Patrol

There is a Noongyar Patrol in Northbridge as the local Aborigines cause a bit of trouble and need to be kept in line. Interestingly on Saturday night it was only a bunch of Asians causing strife and the Noongyars behaved themselves. Wasn't much call for the patrol. In fact, they were all sitting outside a restaurant/cafe and stuffing their faces.

Hearing Test

We've been worried about Yu-Jin's hearing for some time now and Miky finally found the time to take him to a hearing centre and get his hearing tested. It was all above normal although the pattern in either ear was quite different. One ear had a nice convex curve and the other was almost a flat line - not ideal as it turns out. The doctor wishes to test him again in February and has told us that swimming lessons are out. Yu-Jin has taken it rather well as he was really looking forward to going to swimming lessons.

Frugal Bastard Cooking Show

I've had an idea to do my own cooking show. And keeping with the theme I am guessing that it wouldn't cost too much to produce. Let's see - there would probably only be one show as I don't know how to do a lot of cooking in the first place. I could prepare all of the ingredients firstly but I would be putting all of them in the cooking vessel as I hate wastage. Can't stand these people on TV that go to the trouble of cutting something up and only getting three quarters of it into their saucepan because it sticks to the bowl that they had it in. Don't cut so much up if you aren't going to use it!

There would only be a few simple recipes - meat and veg, spaghetti bolognese, microwave pasta and banana cake is a pretty exhaustive list of my cooking talent. Then there are the cooking utensils and vessels - probably limited to a saucepan, knife, cutting board, frypan and egg flip (spatula).

There you have it. A cheap show that would be cheap to produce and would showcase all of my talents in the kitchen. I guess I could show everyone how to wash dishes as well.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Lyrics Update

My mistake. The lyrics for "Do they know it's Christmas?" song are actually "Feed the world" and not "Food for all" as previously reported.

Highlight Of My Test Match Career

Well, my test match watching career. We did our shopping yesterday and Miky wanted to get her hair cut in the city. I'd had enough and wanted to go home and watch the cricket, the first test match between Australia and New Zealand in Brisbane. It was an absolute highlight to see Glenn McGrath, Australia's no. 11 batsman, I use that term loosely, scored his first test 50. As I type this he has just gotten out for 61.

The most amazing thing, apart from no. 9 and no. 11 putting on a 114 run partnership for the last wicket, was the world record for the no.11 test batsman was 68 runs and Glenn McGrath, almost the no.1 bunny in the world and playing his 102nd test match, with an average of 6.65 (I think it was), almost became the world's best no.11 batsman in one innings. He raised his average to 7.27 following that innings.

Onya Glenn. An absolute highlight.

Celebratory Tea

We went to Northbridge last night to have a celebratory meal. First stop was Mama Maria's - it had closed down. Not a great start to the evening. We had a look at a few more menus. Outside Sorrento an old Italian woman tried to coax us inside. She looked at Miky and asked "Japanese?".
"No, Korean."
Then she continued to prattle on and ask us if we knew this woman that she had a picture of. The woman was Japanese - why would we care? Just drop it. Needless to say, we didn't have our meal there.

Found a reasonable Italian restaurant, nearly all restaurants in Northbridge were Italian or Chinese, and enjoyed our meal. At one stage, the Northbridge parking guys broke into a car across the road that was parked in a no parking zone, but they couldn't move the car because it was parked too tightly. It was the Italian woman who had complained about the car and she let the police know about it as they drove past too.

Following our pizza, which Yu-Jin wanted, and linghine (their spelling), we moved next door to have cake at Dome Coffee. That's when the interesting stuff began. There was a big fight across the road

Glenn McGrath has taken a wicket in his first over

where many plates were broken, the table and umbrella overturned, and lots of blood on the shirt of one of the combattants. He was advised to leave the premises (Biaggio) which he did in his big Holden Commodore.

Ten minutes later he was back and another fight ensued. The table was overturned again but no more plates were broken. The lad was asked to leave once again and that was the end of the fireworks.

Not a bad night out.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Did I Mention The Weather?

I said yesterday that it was seven degrees in the morning. At the time that I was up, it was only five degrees. And that was the coldest temperature in Perth for a November morning on record. Interestingly, the weather records are now recorded at the inland suburb of Mt Lawley, where it would be considerably warmer than the previous record site, of Jandakot which has much more wide open expanses. How cold was it really yesterday morning?

No need to answer - I've found it. The temperature in Jandakot yesterday morning was 0.8 degrees. Here's the proof.
Ladies And Gentlemen - We Have A New Taxpayer

Miky has landed a job!! And a pretty good one by all accounts. She will be a pattern maker at Daneechi. They have something like 25 employees and so there will be a great variety of work.

In actual fact, every company that Miky has had work experience with have offered her a job. In this case, Miky applied for a job that one of her lecturer's mentioned was going, and was given a trial period. Up against another girl she had the goods.

She's taking me out to tea! To a nice restaurant. Does anyone know of a nice restaurant in Perth? Being the frugal bastard that I am I don't know of any nice restaurants. Apart from a good friend's restaurant in Sorrento, Fratelli. Sorry, they don't have a Website.

A Balanced Family Relationship

The Korean women in my life try to create a balance.

Mother-in-Law - shiksa, shiksa. Meaning "eat, eat".
Wife - stop eating, that's enough, you've eaten enough, you're fat, it's time you started doing some exercise, you should eat less....

Glad My Boss Pays For My Parking

I had to drop some equipment off to one of our customers in the city yesterday and managed to find a parking meter nearby that offered me 10 mins parking. I put 20 cents, of the company's money, into it and it registered two minutes. I thought "Bloody rip-off meter. Make you pay for someone else's 10 minutes first and then you start on your time." I threw another 20 cents in and to my horror it only registered four minutes.

This parking meter was charging $6.00 an hour!! Glad that I wasn't paying for it. When I got back to the meter it was at -1 min. Not too bad I suppose.

Dinner Party

I found out recently that one of my good friends from uni was heading back to Singapore and not taking PR (permanent residency) as I had expected. I invited her to a dinner party with one of Miky's friends, who also studied at Curtin Uni, and it was a good night. Lots of gossip to catch up on and it was tinged with some sadness that she is leaving our shores. The half an hour, late at night, that I spent cleaning the dishes afterwards was worth the lovely meal that Miky cooked. We have to invite people around more often. Miky outdoes herself with the food.
Korean Blonde Strikes Again

Miky had another of her Korean blonde episodes yesterday. She put her ANZ bankcard into a Westpac ATM and tried to withdraw money. Well, it can be done, and would have cost this frugal bastard in the order of $1.50, but their was no option for "Other Account" and that is what saved me. It was only then that she realised she was at the wrong bank's machine.

Tinny Bastard

I had to deliver some items to three different companies yesterday and got a little bit lost. I parked the car near where I thought one of the companies was only to find that the street wasn't there. On the way back to the car I noticed a one dollar coin. It was only when I picked it up that I realised it was a one pound coin - i.e. a three dollar coin!

Miky had a dream about money the other night, just before she went to work for the last day of a trial. This put her in a good mood as she thought that it was a sign that she would get the job. On the way to the bus, this time taking a longer walk to get to a quicker bus, she found a five dollar note. I think that it is the first time in her life to find money. I do it all the time. Then she became disappointed as the dream obviously only meant the five dollars and not getting the job.

Is The Newlyweds Show Over?

I think I have seen a total of five minutes, in total, of the garbage they call Newlyweds, with Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachy. Now that they are in the news for splitting up I guess it means the end of Newlyweds. Perhaps the producers thought that it was time for a spin-off series entitled "Newly-Separateds".

I think I may be adding to the English language here.

No Respect For The Game Of Cricket

Another thing that has irked me recently. The position of 12th man, the first replacement to the test cricket team of a nation, is really being treated with disrespect. It should be seen as a position of honour and should not be toyed with. The 12th man is the first reserve, not good enough for the first eleven, but next in line for a spot. His duties are to field if someone is injured, bring drinks/messages/new gloves/new bats to his teammates. It is almost like an apprenticeship position.

And what do we have now? Brett Lee is named as 12th man for Australia against New Zealand. Rather than attend to his duties he will be released to play a one-day game for NSW. Why bother naming him as 12th man if he won't stick around to fulfil his duties? Is he still getting paid as though he is the 12th man? Give the job to someone more deserving who will hang around for the five days and do his duty.

Everyone knows that Billy Birmingham is the real 12th man.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

What Has Happened To The World's Greatest Christian Country?

No, I'm not talking about the Holy See. The title is probably more self-proclaimed than anything.

The good ole US of A. Dubya won the presidential election almost entirely on the back of the Christian vote. Well, he is such a man of God. A born-again Christian, he is.

What irks me is in the country where they print "In God We Trust" on their coinage, they can't bring themselves to say Christmas. Take the new movie, Bad Santa. I heard an excerpt this morning on the radio.

"What do you do after the holidays?" some woman asked Bad Santa.
"Nothin' 'til March. Then I'm the Easter Bunny."

Pardon me. Shouldn't the question be "What do you do after Christmas?"? They can't mention the word representing the period that they have holidays but they vote somebody to be their president because God and himself are on the same side?

Like I said, it irks me.
What's Going On?

My mate Nick Souter is now taking pictures of trees and putting them on his blog. He has hit the big 3-0 and seems to have lost the plot.

Bring Back Spelling

If there is a job that is under scrutiny it must be that of the person who writes the news ticker. You know, that little band at the bottom of the screen that scrolls along and feeds you tidbits of news. I had Channel 9 on the other day, please don't ask why as I HATE Channel 9, and there was an article about Yevgeny Kafelnikov. He doesn't seem to have an official Webpage - how odd. Yevgeny, whom I watched at Wimbledon in 1994 on Court 14 (if my memory serves me right [no pun intended]) when he was just starting and instantly became a fan of his style, has decided to retire and become a professional poker player. That's not how Channel 9 described it though. In their words - professional POKA. I'm sure nearly every fourth grader in the country knows how to spell "poker". But not the one that works for Channel 9, apparently.

Telstra Does It Again

Telstra called me on Tuesday night. Well, Duncan, representing Telstra, called me. He wanted to tell me all about the great rates they had at Telstra as they had dropped their prices. I told him that I didn't believe his as I had spoken to someone from Telstra last week and I'm sure that they wouldn't have dropped their rates again in the meantime. He was surprised that I had been contacted. Talk about a waste of his 16 cents.

Worst Cover Song Ever?

I heard the "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Song for 2004 the other day. Talk about a horrible cover version. It was worse than the original. And I hated the original. Having said that it sounds worse, it is easier to understand. I thought the original song said "Jesus, woo hoo oh" when it seems to be "Food, for all".

Wish The Weather Would Make Up It's Mind

We have had a couple of days of rain in Perth and the temperature has been bobbing around the 18-22 degree mark. Marble Bar, up north, had 45 degrees yesterday. Scheisse. That's cook-an-egg-on-the-shovel weather. We've had a few days of 32 degrees over the weekend and then the cold wave. By Saturday it is supposed to be 35 degrees again. It's seven degrees this morning. Bit nippy.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Fifth Birthday Fun

Today was a special day. Yu-Jin's friend, Alec, was having his fifth birthday party today. Below is a page with all of the photos that came out.

Birthday party pics.

Lots of kids arrived and we were quickly moved outside. A wise choice as it turned out, otherwise the house would have been flooded with kids and parents. It was quite busy outside and when the animal farm arrived there was a slight amount of pandemonium that ensued. All of the kids wanted to touch the animals - there were ducklings, chickens, bantam roosters and hens, a lamb, a piglet, rabbits, kids (of the goat variety) and a pony. Ok, the pony came last and was the centre of attention - at least until the smaller animals were given to the children to hold. I didn't see too many kids that didn't want to hold an animal. Talk about excited and some of the pics came out very well. Even Miky got in on the act!!

Then it came turn to give the lamb, piglet and kids some bottled milk. The children almost rioted to be given a turn. The piglet stole the show when he got away and ran into the house! What a scream.

Once the pony rides were announced almost all of the kids forgot about the smaller animals. Considering it was supposed to be 32 degrees today and the children had to line up for quite a while waiting their turn, they were very well behaved.

Packing up time was interesting also. One of the little girls who came to the party, in a very nice dress mind you, decided to pick up the piglet and take him to the front of the house but he managed to get away. I raced out to grab him so that a car didn't make him breakfast bacon for tomorrow.

Talk about well looked after at this party. There were two icecream cakes and a chocolate cake too. My kind of party. At this stage Yu-Jin was looking forward to going home so that he could get a lolly bag. Aren't kids so mercenary?

Something I noticed - the parents of the kids from Alec's childcare stayed together and the parents of the kids from Alec's kindy stayed together. I guess everyone was happy with the level of familiarity. It was nice to talk to people who you irregularly see but should be spending more time with. As it turns out, Alec only lives about 15 minutes from our house. And Yu-Jin likes his sister too, as the first photo is a testament to.

It worries me that the last two 5th birthday parties we have attended included a bouncy castle and an animal farm. How are we supposed to top that? I guess our kids deserve it and it isn't too much money in the big picture. The kids have a great time and will never forget it.

Who Says Google News Is Biased?

I did read a report on the Internet a while back that mentioned a possible bias in news reports by Google News. It is where I read the majority of my news, I must admit. But the thing is, when I pick up the Sunday paper after reading Google News on a Saturday, I read the same stories, practically word for word. Where is the bias? It is almost like the Sunday Times in a Website, but with a lot more stories. It's updated a bit more regularly also.

Yu-Jin's Mouth Does It Again

Yu-Jin and I were shopping yesterday for a present for Alec. I spotted one of Miky's lecturers from TAFE and wanted to have a bit of a chat. We were chatting away and then Yu-Jin got this ball and pushed it against me and announced, "It's on your willy."

Time to go, exit stage left.

Definition Of Unlucky

Some things are just meant to happen. A few weeks back, buggered if I can find the news report, an engineering student from UWA had been to a late evening study group. Approximately 1am she fell asleep at the wheel and crashed her car. Some passers by helped her and she was apparently only a little shaken. A few minutes later, two cars on the other side of the ride collided and one of the vehicles careered into this young woman, killing her instantly. She was only three weeks away from graduating. Such a waste. And definitely unlucky. What must the odds against this double accident happening be?

Win With Insulation

I spotted an ad for sealed thermal insulation which I mentioned recently. Was given a quotation the first work day following filling in a form on the Net. Did some more research last weekend and found that ShopRite members get a 15% discount. I bought my Falcon through these guys so I know that they do a reasonable job. Rang the company and tried to squeeze them a bit more. The guy who quoted me earlier said that the special offer was 15% off the retail price but as I was an existing ShopRite member he would give me a further discount, making the 3.0 insulation the same price as the 2.5 insulation.

I would call that a win for a Frugal Bastard.

Saturday, November 13, 2004


Why is it called "menopause" when it is women that go through it?


I was buying our fruit and vegetables from the market yesterday and I overheard something. One women asked one of the shop owners if she could cut some fruit up for her to taste and if she liked it she would buy it. A few moments later I heard her say, "My mother told me there was a saying in Ukrainian, 'nich stov ye vost doon' (I dunno what she said), which means 'It tastes like grass.'"

Just what the hell was she talking about? It really threw me, and I come from European blood, way back. I don't know how the poor Vietnamese women took it. Probably as an insult. She cuts some fruit up, gives a taste, and then gets some story about it tasting like grass.

You overhear some funny conversations at the markets.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

It's Over... Almost

My madness is almost over. A return to sanity is on the cards. I finished doing Miky's damn homework tonight and boy am I glad. As of tomorrow, Miky will only have a few classes to attend as her range will be finished and undergo judging.

Now, I wouldn't say I am a guru with Microsoft Word, but I can do a hell of a lot more with it than she can. It pretty much goes like this -

- Instructions are handed out
- Instructions are carried out
- Instructions weren't followed too well (perhaps they weren't as clear as they needed to be in the first place?)
- Much screaming ensues (calm down bugger it, it's only a bit of formatting)
- Formatting is changed
- Marriage safe
- Words of gratitude uttered

Earlier today, Miky rang me in a bit of a tizz because her Corel Draw pictures, that we went to great trouble last night to put on my memory stick from the computer at TAFE, wouldn't load at home. I knew that it was because TAFE has version 11 and I only have version 10. Not a big deal, just go to TAFE and save them in version 10 format. Wailing, howling, the end is nigh sentiment ensued.

I gained permission to leave work early so that I could get Yu-Jin from kindy. Met Miky at the library at TAFE and sorted out the version issue VERY quickly. The things I do. Isn't it great that Miky never reads my blog?

My Japanese Is Ok

My message got through the other night in Japanese. An email was waiting for me from my friend the next morning with her phone number. Hooray!! I did say "denwa bangoo", the last word being Korean for "fart" instead of "denwa bango", Japanese for "telephone number", but I got away with it. Don't mention the war (Fawlty Towers joke).

Christmas Is Upon Us

Bugger me. I received my first Christmas Card for the upcoming Christmas 2004. I'm sure that I've received some Christmas cards already this year but they were just late arrivals for 2003. I have removed my cards from the drawers. I am thinking about writing them people. Thinking, not actioning.

Monday, November 08, 2004

McDonalds Are Famous For It

What are McDonalds famous for? Wherever you go you will be served the same shit. In our case it was the same shit service. A week ago, on Saturday, I took Yu-Jin to McDonalds to have an ice cream only to be informed that they were cleaning the machine. We went to another McDonalds not far away.

Last Saturday I took Yu-Jin to McDonalds for a milkshake, and to meet Miky. I was informed that they were cleaning the machine, again, and that this was done on a weekly basis. What possessed them to clean the machine on a Saturday morning I'll never know. Do it when you are a little bit less busy. Whilst we waited I counted at least 42 flies on the window and five dead ones. That's pretty disgusting. At least Yu-Jin had his own biscuit to eat. Miky came and we went to the other McDonalds.

At the other McDonalds I was told that the chocolate wasn't working. Therefore, we ordered a strawberry milkshake. He tried and the machine broke down. Unbelievable! Yu-Jin and I went a couple of doors down to Hungry Jacks and purchased a chocolate thickshake and took it back into McDonalds to have. Nobody challenged us.

International Phone Calls

I had the urge last night to call some friends overseas, one in Germany and the other in Japan. Unfortunately my address book had my friends' addresses but not phone numbers. This is the reason why I love parents.

Parents never move. I had the phone numbers of both sets of parents. I rang Germany first and it was so funny. My friend's mum was happy to talk to me. My German isn't brilliant but we had a bit of a laugh and I got the telephone number. Then I spoke to my friend's answering machine.

Feeling a little more confident I rang my friend's parents in Japan. Strangely, nobody said anything for the first 5-10 seconds, and I was about to hang up but decided to say something. Then the other end of the sprang to life. Is it not normal to say "Hello" when answering the phone? I asked in Japanese for my friend's phone number and then got heaps of Japanese. Not recognising the voice I made sure that I had the correct people. No phone number was forthcoming. "Bye bye".

Mind you, there was an email awaiting me this morning with a phone number so my message got through. My Japanese wasn't a complete failure. But the call wasn't as much fun as the one to Germany.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Silly Old Telstra

Miky got a call from some of the marketing crew at Telstra on Tuesday. They wanted to come around, between 6pm and 7pm, to match the offer of my chosen phone company to get me to "come back".

Funnily enough, I was home having tea, but felt like going elsewhere during that time. Why would I wait around for them? They didn't give me the telephone service that I was looking for and now they expect me to wait for them to service me? Even funnier was the fact that they didn't turn up. Much as I expected.

The following night, at about 5:50pm, a dude from Telstra came around. He asked me which telephone company I was with. I told him that Telstra know who I am with. Afterall, that hooked me up to the new service provider. This agitated him a bit. He did mention that I had be spoken to the other night. I said that I hadn't. My wife had, but not me. Got him a little bit more offside. My feeling was that he should know the story if he is going to sell me something.

I showed him the current plan with DigiPlus, tell them I put you onto their service if you decide to change to them (we'll both get $10 worth of calls for free. You'll probably need my phone number though. Drop me an email.) and said that they didn't have a credit card charge either. He lamely indicated that on a $100 bill it was only $1.50 to which I replied that was one capped national call of $1.49 with DigiPlus. He looked over my current plan and said that he couldn't better that offer and promptly left.

Don't waste your time and mine I thought to myself.
Bit Of A Geek

I guess that I am becoming more of a geek in my old age. Just to prove it, I watched the Melbourne Cup on the Internet on Tuesday whilst at work. The Website was BigPondSport.com. Registration is free and the picture wasn't too bad. I think the site was a little overloaded as the picture stopped down the home straight, just to add to the tension.

Can you believe that the phone rang twice during the race? Some people in this country have no idea about the importance of this race. Oh yeah, I picked Media Puzzle in the office sweepstake and got bugger all.

Do Wot John?

Here's my small wrap-up of the US Presidential election. Seeing as Dubya won the popular vote by some 3.5 million votes, as opposed to losing the popular vote four years ago, I think it was a case of "Do wot John?" for his two opponents - Senator John Kerry and Senator John Edwards. The American public didn't know what John was going to do. Anyway, the US Presidential elections are a bit Monty Pythonesque by nature.

The College Electoral system used in the US Presidential elections is quite intriguing. The populace don't actually vote for the President, much like Australians don't vote for the Prime Minister.

Some of this strange system is revealed in the FAQ of www.archives.gov. US citizens not domiciled in the fifty States, or Washington D.C., are unable to vote. So, if you live in a US territory, such as Puerto Rico or Guam, tough luck.

Fourty-eight of the States have a winner-takes-all approach to the Electoral College votes, however Nebraska and Maine have a proportional voting system in place.

There are 538 votes in the Electoral College and this distribution can vary every 10 years, depending on the US Census. There are 435 members of the House of Representatives, and their distribution is based upon the current population. It does change. There is a minimum of one electoral vote for each House of Reps member and each state gets to elect two Senators. Washington D.C., although not a State, gets the minimum of three seats.

I would have thought that in a Federal election, voting methods, whether electronic, punch-cards, or by ballot paper, would have been the same country-wide. It is a bit archaic that each State determines it's voting method and voting distribution.

And what did the world end up with? Another four years of a megalomaniac. Dubya may be an idiot but the American voting public have just shown that they are very conservative. They are just taking the situation as it is instead of making a great change to elect John Kerry and his Administration. At least we all know that Dubya is a dead duck and no-one will be worrying about him anymore. In four years time the world will be rid of him.

I'm disappointed that the old Red Indian curse didn't get him. Still a couple of months to go however.
The Real Cost Of Air Travel

It's much cheaper to travel today folks than it was eight years ago. My mate Grooks was married some eight years ago and I flew return to Adelaide from Perth with Qantas for a cheap price of $369. It was a good deal at that time.

A couple of days ago I purchased some tickets with Qantas, on the Net, for myself and Yu-Jin, to attend my sister's 30th birthday. They set me back some $328.14 each.

Think about it. What has inflation been running at over that time? Two to three and half, four percent? And what about the $12 fuel surcharge for each one-way flight? That is a component of $24 per ticket.

There you have it. Air travel is significantly cheaper these days. Thanks Virgin Blue. Isn't competition great?
The Three Little Pigs - A Story About Why Regulation Is Required In The Building Industry

In the same vein as my revelation of the truth about Goldilocks and the Three Bears, I have decided to reveal the truth about the three little pigs. Everybody knows the story about the three little pigs. It goes a little something like this.

The three little pigs decide to leave home and mummy pig wishes them well. They build their own houses to live in. The first little pig builds his house from straw, the second from sticks, and the third from bricks.

Along comes the big bad wolf who is hungry. He approaches the first little pig's house of straw and said, "Little pig, little pig, let me in."
"Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin," replies the frightened first little pig.
"Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blown your house down," said the big bad wolf.
So he huffed, and he puffed, and he blew the house of straw down. The first little pig ran to his brother's house.

The big bad wolf approached the second little pig's house of sticks and said, "Little pig, little pig, let me in."
"Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin," replies the frightened second little pig.
"Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blown your house down," said the big bad wolf.
So he huffed, and he puffed, and he blew the house of sticks down. The first and second little pigs ran to their brother's house.

The big bad wolf approached the third little pig's house of bricks and said, "Little pig, little pig, let me in."
"Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin," replied the third little pig. He wasn't frightened.
"Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blown your house down," said the big bad wolf.
So he huffed, and he puffed, and he huffed, and he puffed, but he couldn't blow down the house of bricks. So the three little pigs were safe.

Here's the real story.

The three little pigs were just juvenile delinquents. Hair on my chinny chin chin? Just a bit of bum fluff. Rowdy teenagers rebelling against society. There's no mention of their father so obviously they were living with their mother who was unable to control them. That's what happens when you don't have a proper father figure. Single mothers are just crying out for help in the pig society.

This is really a story about shonky builders and renovators, the three little pigs, and a building inspector just doing his job, the big bad wolf. Look at it this way - who ever heard of straw and sticks being used as building materials? Get real, the first two little pigs obviously never read the Building Code. I don't believe that they were ever members of the Master Builders Association. They were just backyard operators out for a quick buck.

What about the poor maligned building inspector? He was going around doing his job of inspecting buildings, making sure that the public was kept safe from shonky builders and dwellings that were unfit for habitation. The little pigs had a propaganda machine in the order of George W. Bush's to make the building inspector out to be the baddy. Just because he looked a little different to all of the other characters in the story. That's discrimination in its worst sense. Would you seriously live in a house made of straw or sticks? Not bloody likely. More power to the building inspector.

Only one of the little pigs had the necessary skills to call himself a builder, or anything close to resembling a tradesman. And just to show that their is no justice in the world his two useless little brothers come running to him for protection for their illegal acts and prosecution. You make a name for yourself by working hard and everyone wants to suck you dry. Isn't it always the way?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Idiot of the Week

Check out Nick's site to see why he is the idiot of the week.

Payback time Nicholas.
Is Anthony One Of The Untouchables?

You know, Anthony Callea, the Australian Idol contestant who has never been in the bottom three. Is he untouchable? Or does he just look like one of the Untouchables?

Yes, that was a wog joke.

Yu-Jin Has A Bank Account

Miky had a fitting last night and so I had to pick Yu-Jin up from kindy. Ok, I picked him up but left his bag and lunchbox there. I am a bit of a newbie as I've not picked him up before.

On the agenda was a bank account for the young man. He had a huge money tin that I had been putting change and any birthday/Christmas money that he received. I rang the bank from work to ask if the branch I wanted to attend had a coin counting machine. I was assured that that was the case and the woman opened an account by taking our details. I just had to walk into the bank basically and deposit the money. So I took Yu-Jin, his money tin and a can opener with me.

We arrived about 3:20 pm and promptly found out coin counting machines haven't been in use for years. I would have to bag all of the coins myself. Scheisse. So for the next 30 minutes I feverishly piled up coins and bagged them. I managed to get through about three-quarters of the tin in that time. There was a little girl waiting with her parents near where we were counting the money and so Yu-Jin played with her and read her some books.

Now for the outstanding totals. There was $165 in notes and my counting totalled $450. So, Yu-Jin has $615 in his bank account. Not bad for four years of saving change! (note: back at home I counted the rest of the change and it totalled $740.90)

When we finally got to do the paperwork Yu-Jin was so excited about the swivel chair that he spent a bit of time just spinning around. There is no social hierarchy with this kid. He talks to everybody as though they are an equal.

"Do you know, I get pocket money?" he asked the teller.
"Do you clean your room?" she asked.
"Do you pack away your toys?"

At least he is honest. Then the teller said something about signing my name and Yu-Jin piped up with "His name is Mark Ham." Who says you need 100 points of identification to open a bank account? Just take Yu-Jin with you.

But probably the funniest thing to come out of his mouth was, "Do you know, my daddy didn't brush his teeth?"
"Did his teeth fall out?"
With a puzzled look on his face he replied with, "Not really."

There was just no shutting this kid up. All he wanted to do was talk.

He fell asleep in the car on the way home. So I got to watch nearly all of the Channel Ten news from 5:15 pm. Yu-Jin was still asleep when I went to bed after 10 pm. I believe that he got up after 11, had some tea and then Miky put a video, Bionicles, for him to watch. About 1:30 am he burst into our room to tell mum about the numbers on the video. It had reached the end of the tape and was rewinding by itself. I'm not too sure about how he will get up this morning.

Eight More Barrow Loads

On Sunday we grabbed eight more wheelbarrow loads of woodchips from across the road. Our front garden looks fabbo now. I'll have to take some pics. I did a bit of wheelbarrow racing with Yu-Jin inside. He loved it.

For those of you statistically minded - I have a total of 38 barrow loads of woodchips at my place. At an average of 25 shovel fulls per barrow that makes 950 shovels. No wonder my back is a bit sore.

Sprinkler Time

It's getting to be a dry time of year and so I put the sprinklers on. We are only allowed to water with reticulation two times a week and we have set days depending upon our house number. Not a bad idea I must say.

There's always one sprinkler that doesn't want to play the game. Out the front one failed to pop up. I took a screwdriver out to lever it up. That only popped the top. Amid trying to screw the sprayer back in and trying to pop it up, I got soaked. That was rather good fun though. No more dramas with the sprinklers. Maybe my grass will live. I could never call it lawn though.