Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Pay For Your Petrol People

Big news today. A man was shot dead after not paying for petrol. There is more to the story than just the headline. He was possibly a Victorian, based on the licence plates of his vehicle which, incidentally, was a Holden Commodore. Obviously the man had some serious issues to deal with.

The police officer involved may be flown to Perth by the Royal Flying Doctor Service as he may be suffering from bleeding on the brain. He has a broken nose and other facial injuries.

So, the guy allegedly drove off from a petrol station without paying for his fuel. His actions were reported to the police and the guy was tracked down. The police officer was on individual duty, i.e. no partner, so perhaps the driver felt he could overpower the officer. We won't find out what happened for a few days at least but it will be interesting to hear. What brought the police officer to the conclusion that he was required to use his weapon, which is considered to be a method of last resort?

What can we do to avoid being shot by the police?

Pay for your petrol.
Don't portray yourself as a Victorian (perhaps he had done the right thing by leaving Victoria with the reputation of the Victorian TRG - I guess we'll find out later).
Stop driving Holdens. You're just making yourself a target.
I May Have The Dreaded Lurgi

Yesterday I developed a sore throat and today has seen a few more visits to the Little Boys room than normal. Not feeling the best. Yu-Jin has been suffering from a runny nose for a few days and Miky got some medicine for him on Saturday. I'm not sure that he should even go to taekwondo tonight.

This morning I said to him, "You gave me your sore throat," and he replied, "No I didn't. I've still got it."

Can't argue with that reasoning.
What Was Our State Education Minister Thinking?

On Sunday we were told by Ljiljanna Ravlich, the Education and Training Minister, that denim would be banned in Western Australian schools next year. Obviously it is seen as "too fun" and has no place in school. There was a bt of an outcry from parents, although this is probably a beatup, as it would be too expensive for many families to purchase school uniforms.

Excuse me but, don't a good pair of denim jeans cost in the range of $100-170? School trousers won't cost anywhere near that much. I'm all for having a uniform. There is no pressure on kids to have the latest and greatest wardrobe and less pressure on parents to spend money on fashionable clothes. Actually, I give the thumbs up to Miss Ravlich on this subject. And I'm glad to hear that teachers wouldn't be able to wear denim either. It might smarter up their appearance a bit too.

Next day there is another anouncement that businesses may be asked to invest in our schools with naming rights a possibility. Methinks that a big opportunity has been blown here, namely, Levi's Jeans investing any money. If the denim was allowed then maybe they could sponsor school uniforms. What about that, MP Ravlich?

On the other hand, can you see McDonalds and Hungry Jacks having naming rights to classrooms or ovals, etc? You can't be picky about who is allowed to sponsor, can you? That would be discrimination. What if a brothel wished to name the social studies classroom?

Methinks this requires a bit more thought. Mining companies sponsoring a geography classroom isn't such a bad idea. We'll have to see how this develops.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Bits And Bobs

Golf was pretty weird yesterday. Not least of all because I looked like the Wicked Witch from the East. For a couple of days I had had an incredibly sore nose. I couldn't touch the tip of it without a lot of pain. Then, of all places, out popped a pimple. And there wasn't a lot I could do about it. Best thing was to let it dry of its own accord.

We have a household rubbish collection due from this Monday. You put old furniture, stoves, fridges and other junk onto the kerbside and the council picks it up. It's a great idea and saves people having to get a trailer and visit the dump. Fairly cost-effective program and better for the environment. People are also less prone to throwing dumping their rubbish in the rivers and other places. I cleaned up the computer room and threw out and old desk that had been used to sit my toolbox and a few other tools and it had kept a few of Yu-Jin's pictures and toys in. We now have a cupboard for games in the living room so it was time to go. As I headed out for golf the next morning the desk had disappeared. Somebody must have had use for it. Then I noticed it in front of the neighbour's place. They had quickly decided that there was no use for it.

Back to the golf. I'd booked to play at Peninsula Golf Course in Maylands. I used to be a member of this club and had a handicap of 18. There used to be no trouble if you didn't hit the fairway and the fairways were probably worse than the rough anyway. Nearly every tree was staked and very young as it had been an airport back in the 1920's. Nowadays this is not the case. The trees have grown quite large, the fairways were like carpet and the rough was unforgiving. Very unforgiving.

My new swing and the ability to land on the fairway after hitting a straight drive was not evident. At least not on the first four holes. I hit the green on the par-3 5th and parred it. Then came a booming straight drive, along the boundary fence, where my second shot landed in the picture below.

I'm a firm believer in "play it where it lies", even on the fairway with preferred lie, but this is bordering on the ridiculous.

Of course I took a drop. It's a man-made obstacle and immovable. Another booming drive on the 7th and pitch to just in front of the green. Chip on and three putts to make a double-bogey. Pretty depressing after creaming it off the tee. Whilst waiting on the 8th tee we saw the Japanese group in front of us fossicking through the reeds.

We had two groups of Japanese golfers in front of us. And they had quite different levels of playing ability. This guy found his ball but then hit it back into the reeds.

They were quite comical really. Although they were a little too slow. On the same hole as the reeds we decided to drive the green. It was a par-4 240m hole but our tee was about 30 metres closer to the green. Shayne put two balls out of bounds and Joe and I sat both of our tee shots next to the green. Joe chipped near the hole and I only had 10-12 metres to the hole. I duffed the chip, chipped on and then three putted for double-bogey. Aaaagh!! Joe proceeded to rib us about "Have you got a birdie yet?" until the par-5 14th which is along the river with the jetboats and jetskis flying about.

Jetskis and powerboats hoon around on the Swan River next to the par-5 14th.

I hit a monster tee shot down the guts just on 250m. Man, did that feel good. A hundred and seventy metres out, downwind too, I took a five iron and lobbed it next to the green. Poor old Joe was in the trees, out of bounds, back into the trees. My ball almost stopped dead and I had about a ten metre chip for eagle. I chipped short, a sin (I know), but then dropped the birdie putt in. You beauty. Joe said it didn't matter because he scored the first birdie. I said that we should see who gets the second birdie then.

Two holes later, on the par-3 16th, I putt my tee shot on the green and then drained the putt for another birdie. Wow, I've never had two birdies in a round before!! We strode to the par-5 18th, I put my drive into the trees, but Shayne hit his down the middle. His second shot was good and his chip went onto the green. Standing over a one foot putt makes him worry and he had a good 12-15 footer which he knocked in for birdie. Amazingly we all scored birdies and totalled four overall. Can you believe that we only hit three pars between us?

Some stats for you:

Mark - 49 (19) + 46 (15) = 95 (34 putts)
Joe - 49 (14) + 56 (17) = 105 (31 putts)
Shayne - 58 (22) + 53 (16) = 111 (38 putts)

Maylands has four par-3 holes, four par-5 holes and 10 par-4 holes.

Par-5 Par-4 Par-3
Mark +6 +16 +2
Joe +11 +16 +6
Shayne +8 +21 +10

What a strange game of golf.

I spent a bit of time over the weekend kept busy with Yu-Jin making battleships and towers out of some blocks that his aunty in Korea bought for him. What a great toy. This is the big battleship that we constructed and somehow it survived the wars that Yu-Jin enjoys playing out so much. Keeps us busy for hours.

It was Chinese New Year yesterday. We had pizza for lunch when I returned from golf but Miky made a really nice rice cake soup, and I hate rice cakes generally, along with some baked salmon. Something a little bit special but not over the top. Good tucker. Apparently you are supposed to give your kids money on New Years Day. I don't know where that idea comes from. Can't say I subscribe to all these new-fangled ideas. My kid gets quite enough pocket money as it is.

Watched the Men's Final at the Australian Open and was saddened to see Marcos Baghdatis go down in four sets to Roger Federer. The dream is over, at least for this year. Drove Miky crazy with flipping the channel during breaks so I could watch the cricket. Women - they say than can concentrate on more than one thing but when we men want to watch two sporting events on different channels concurrently, and manage to do so quite successfully, they can't handle it. I dunno. I'm sure she won't go for two or three TVs in the living room so that I don't have to flick channels.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

My Most Glorious Sporting Non-Achievement

This Saturday, the 28th of January 2006, must go down in the annals of history as one for the worst losses in sporting history. No, it wasn't a loss at Battleships, that hasn't happened yet against Yu-Jin. Nor at tic-tac-toe. Definitely not chess.

Here's a great online Battleship game - my best score is 4520.

Battleship - the classic boardgame

No, it was far worse than that. This was more skilful and competitive and took the form of Lego Football. I think that it was Lego Soccer when I bought it initially but things change quickly around here. Never have I been beaten before. Today marked the end of an era. After having trounced Yu-Jin in the first game we swapped sides and he delivered a right royal thrashing. I came back from 8-4 down to challenge at 8-7 but he steadied and won 10-7. Oh, the ignomy. Oh, the pain. Oh, the bragging rights that are going to be put into such good use.

The pitch. Scene of the massacre.

That No. 9 in white (Yu-Jin's team) looks like a right thug.

Battlefield football.

Overhead view of the battlefield.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Australia Day 2006

First, a couple of pics of the sunset on the day before Australia Day. 'Coz I'm too lazy to do a separate post.

Now onto the day celebrating when white man landed in The Great Southern Land to set up prison facilities, all 218 years ago. Never mind that the Aboriginals have been here for 40-50000 years. It is another day that can be used as an excuse for downing lots of beer.

I invited my Mauritian friends, Ben, Anne, Sophie and Jessie, for a BBQ lunch starting at 10:30. I felt that the early start was necessary because all Australians have a BBQ on Australia Day and the number of barbies in the park nearby was limited to four hotplates. Every man for himself. They arrived about 11:30 having slept in because Anne was so tired from working last night. I had reservations about the hour or two we would have to wait for the barbie. It just didn't make a lot of sense using my own barbie for the job.

The park is only a two minute drive away, which was lucky as we had to go home for some mozzie coils and knives, and surprisingly wasn't too crowded. Miky set up the travel rug under a tree and we could have cooked immediately on a BBQ at the other end of the park but we decided to use the one nearest the playground and carpark. Unfortunately one of the hotplates didn't work, how un-Australian, but the people using the other one informed us of the fact prior to us starting the cooking. The obligatory, "Thanks mate" was thrown in their direction.

Had to amuse ourselves for 15-20 minutes until they were finished cooking otherwise we would have needed to carry everything to the other end of the park. That didn't make a lot of sense so I preferred to wait. Sophie had brought her bike so I brought Yu-Jin's bike as well. Good for the kids to ride around freely and enjoy themselves.

Finally we, the men, got down to our Australia Day duty - the cooking on the BBQ. I'd purchased some lamb chops especially the night before. Miky, like many Asians, can't stand even the smell of lamb so it is something that doesn't appear on our menu often. I can remember when lamb chops were $2.99/kg (even $1.99/kg on special) and these set me back about $15.99/kg. But they were worth it. Miky wanted some sausages so I bought those very Australian style chevupchichi - skinless sausages. Add some sweet potato and onions and Anne's lovely chicken.

Bloody nice way to celebrate Australia Day. Little washing up to worry about and it was nice and cool, not like the normal 40-odd degrees that we have at this time of year. Quite relaxing. I guess that is my cooking duties completed for the year.

Following lunch there was a bit of skywriting on show. Lotto sponsors the fireworks that take place on the city foreshore every year. I heard on the news that a few people were arrested and there were a couple of stabbings. Even so, the police reported quite a subdued Australia Day celebration.

Went back to our place to play games, watch cartoons and muck around on the computer. It was all too much for Ben. Must be something to do with his Government job. For tea I stuck with the theme of Australian and had Vegemite on toast. Can't be more Aussie than that.

I watched the tennis last night - Nalbandian vs Baghdatis. My support was behind Baghdatis. Nalbandian is a bit bland and Baghdatis is quite flashy. And unheralded. What a fabulous match. Coming back from 6-3, 5-1, even though he lost the second set, to level at two sets all it was a long and enthralling match. When he lost his service in the fifth set and was trailing 0-2 I was worried. He broke Nalbandian but then lost his serve again. Broke again and got to a lead of 5-4. Baghdatis was serving for the match and then a downpour hit the stadium. Unbelievable. It was approaching 11:30 and I had to work in the morning so I wasn't sure if I should go to bed or not. I didn't and the players came out to warm up shortly afterwards when the roof was closed. Baghdatis got to 40-30 and hit a winner for the match. There was a slight pause, as it was very close and nobody seemed clear that it was a winner, then the umpire overruled with an "Out" call. Hawkeye showed that the ball was in by 22mm. Oh no! What high drama. What if Baghdatis lost the match from this position of having hit a clear winner and having won the match? What level of litigation could this lead to? No need to worry. He won the next point for advantage and then served an ace for the win. Very climactic. Very entertaining.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

We Have An Industrial Spider

I don't know what drugs our pet daddy long legs spider is on but she has woven an interesting web.

What is this spider on?

As mentioned previously I had a run in with the hairdresser. Here's the result. Arnie eat your heart out. Now all I need to do is join the armed services. Army, namely. None of that Navy "tiddy oggie" rubbish.

That was a close shave.
Send Her Down, Hughie

What a contrast in the weather yesterday. It started off quite warm and most of the day we had thunderclouds overhead. We were supposed to get to 37 degrees C but it only reached 32.8. The drive home was interesting as most people had their headlights on and there was still plenty of daylight left. Visibility was very poor and that was due to a large bushfire about two hours drive south of Perth. Smoke meant that you couldn't see across the other side of Matilda Bay from the Kwinana Freeway, if you know a bit about Perth.

Luckily tea was almost cooked by the time I arrived home as I had to take the boy to taekwondo. I don't see any point in him training only once a week so twice it will be. In Korea he trained five times a week. It started raining before we left home but it was not really heavy although the raindrops were a decent size. Bit heavier than just drizzle. I took the umbrella from the car to the taekwondo lesson even though it wasn't raining hard enough to neccesitate its use. About 10 minutes prior to the lesson finishing it became a neccesity. Outside it was pouring as the storm hit.

I pitied those poor unfortunates who hadn't come prepared and were huddled under the verandah waiting for the rain to clear before dashing to their vehicles. No, really, I did. Not a lot mind you.

Perth roads are shocking in the wet. The Town of Victoria Park uses those yellow sodium vapour lights and you can't see any markings on the road. Not that you could see a lot of the road itself as there was a great deal of it covered in water. Drainage in Perth is abysmal and downright dangerous. I didn't go any faster than 50 km/h. Then I discovered the traffic and street lights at the Manning Rd and Leach Hwy intersection had failed. Great. Thankfully there wasn't a great deal of traffic so that was safely negotiated.

Perth itself had something like 8mm of rain overnight but Mandurah, 70km south of the CBD, but still part of Perth, had 62.2mm of precipitation. Unusually wet for January.

Quite slow on the drive into work this morning. Lot of traffic worried about driving in the rain. Nice cheap way to get the car cleaned. Needed it too.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Couple Of Headlines

Whale vomit find may net $1m for family - You can just imagine what people will be offering on Ebay in the weeks to come. Just ripe for copycat activity.

What makes arsonists tick? (Seen on Channel 7's Sunrise ticker) - I'm betting it is along the lines of "They have a burning ambition".

Bali Nine's Sukumaran Faces Death - Obviously conditions are about to be improved at Denpasar Jail for Sukumaran. Lucky boy.

Govt urged to do more to boost nurses numbers - If anyone knows how to fudge the figures it's the government. Perhaps they could be seasonally adjusted.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Haircut Sunday, Haircut Monday

Yep, had a decent haircut yes'dee. Miky has been at me for a while to get my nose hairs trimmed as well. So this morning, after noticing that the longest hairs on my head were those that were poking out of my nose, the decision was made to cut. Miky got the sharpest tiny scissors in the household and I said "No way". One slip and half my nose would be hanging off. She got the safety scissors and made me look less Frankenstein-like.

Two haircuts in two days. Not quite a record. I had a haircut once and went back the next day to get it fixed up. Never got a flattop from that hairdresser again. And he never offered to cut my hair again.
Quiet Weekend

I was going to play golf this weekend but my playing partners were working and seeing the dentist. Bit worried about the tendonitis in my knee but when I woke up on Saturday morning the decision had been made for me - I had a crick in my neck. No golf for me this weekend.

Yu-Jin's project at Bunnings was painting a pot plant and planting a plant. He rather enjoys the art and craft and I hope that augurs well for school. Next stop was Wooldridges to get a booklist for school, I'm disappointed that the school hadn't sent us the booklist firstly, and purchase his school supplies. Plenty of textas, pencils, glue, scrapbooks etc. The only text books are a handwriting book, maths and spelling.

Had to have a laugh when the name of Princess Mary's baby's name was finally made known. I think that it was on the tv and they said "Christian Vladimir Henry John". I thought, "Where the hell did they get 'Vladimir' from?" It turns out that his second name is Valdemar.

Saw a nice tattoo yesterday at the petrol station. If I ever get one then I want one of the Essendon Logo. The bloke filling up next to us had one. I mentioned it to Miky and she said, "What if you change your team?"
When I replied that she doesn't understand football supporters and that that never happens she said, "What if that guy from Collingwood (Eddie Maguire) bought Essendon?"
"In that case I would have to get a gun and shoot him. There's no way that I would change my team."

Yu-Jin and I had a swim at the pool yesterday and he is certainly improving and isn't afraid to go underwater. I cooked a BBQ for tea and Miky made the salads. Watched Sharapova vs Hantuchova last night. What an excellent game of tennis. I was actually disappointed to see Hantuchova lose. I have a bit of a soft spot for Slovaks. Too tired to watch Ljubicic vs Johansson even though the skills were of a very high level.

Friday, January 20, 2006

As If Any More Proof Was Required That All Subaru Drivers Are Dickheads

A couple of instances popped up yesterday to prove the theory that all Subaru drivers are dickheads. There is an intersection in Subiaco, near the markets, where the righthand lane is for turning right only. Guy in a Subaru takes the shortcut down this lane, as there is little traffic, and then changes lanes through the traffic lights. Dickhead. Not only that but at the next set of lights, some 40-50m down the road (it is a bit of a silly setup) there was another Subaru driver who did exactly the same thing! I found that a little bit difficult to believe.

Miky started a new part-time job yesterday and wasn't interested in cooking so we went out for sushi in Vic Pk. She told me where she wanted to go and when we got there there was no sushi shop. Her normal comments like, "You're wasting my time", "You're wasting my day", "You've ruined my life" sprang to mind. Did I refrain from using them on her? No. We can laugh about that sort of thing.

I noticed the Kabuki Japanese Takeaway on our walk so we popped in there. Nice enough. Just pricey as Japan, without the atmosphere. After doing our grocery shopping at the nearby Woolies we went back to the car only to find a Subaru parked right near my front bumper. Not happy, let me tell you.

Is any further proof required?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Thoughts On The Golden Globe Awards

Watched a bit of this last night. The missus had it on. I would have preferred to watch Mark Philippoussis at the Australian Open. Have I mentioned that I got his autograph when he was only 18 or 19? Also got Martini Hingis' autograph when she played at the Hopman Cup a few years back.

I thought the guy who will be playing Superman in the new movie looked remarkably like Christopher Reeves as Clark Kent. Spooky.

One bloke, didn't catch his name as I was doing the dishes, gave a great acceptance speech by pretending that his wife wrote it and gave to him. It was full of praise for his wife. Hopefully he won his award for writing scripts.

Desperate Housewives
. I've only seen a few episodes. Might be nice to look at but I don't think that they are great actresses. What were they thinking as they were being introduced as nominees by Chris Rock?

Marcia Cross - "Sucked in bitches. I got named first."
Teri Hatcher - "Sucked in bitches. I got to present an award."
Felicity Huffman - "I don't need to clap myself, bitches. I have more class than that."
Eva Longoria - "I'm the only one that the public notices." Or, "This is the most difficult acting by anyone here tonight, apart from Sandra Oh from Gray's Anatomy (never watched) and her over-the-top acceptance speech, as I have to pretend that I like these bitches."

All together, when the other nominee won - "Who's that bitch?"

I surprise myself. I know the names of the actresses but not their character names. It's almost pure drivel anyway.

Anthony Hopkins (why did Gwyneth Paltrow insist on saying "Antony"?) being presented with the Cecil B. Demille Award was very touching. Marvellous actor.

And that's a wrap.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Miky Has Had An Affect On The English Language

Just had a quick look at visitors to my site and one in particular caught my attention - Double-Tounged Word Wrester. I visited the site and found that one of Miky's words had been quoted as a new entry that is undocumented or under-documented from the fringes of English. What a laugh. It's Konglish (Korean English), not English. Perhaps I should provide a bunch of Mikyisms.
I'd Be Depressed Too

I was quite surprised by Geoff Gallop's resignation as Western Australian premier yesterday. Can't blame him for being depressed though. What, exactly, did he have going for him?

He was premier for five years and all the news reports can say about him was that he put an end to old growth logging, created a bit of electoral reform and signed the biggest gas deal in WA history. Doesn't sound like he achieved a lot.

Look who he had in his team:

Eric Ripper - Treasurer and, relatively, placid deputy premier (not much of a threat). Not too many redeeming features.
Allanah Mactiernan - Former Minister for "Drink Driving" and now Planning and Infrastructure, which could also be called "How to waste money on a metro rail project".
Michelle Roberts - Minister for "I have no idea how to run a police force", otherwise known as the Police Minister. Could also been known as the Minister for Escapees at Large.
Ljilljana Ravlich - Haven't seen too much of her but she doesn't inspire me with her handling of the Education ministry.
Jim McGinty - Attorney General, Minister for Health, Minister for Electoral Affairs. Overseeing a criminal justice system not held in high regard. Bit spineless.

Yes Geoff, I would be depressed too. The cynic in me says that he won't be seeking treatment in the public health system. Now I see that as a failure of your government.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Need To Go To Work For A Rest

I've had a busy weekend. I guess we all have. On Saturday Yu-Jin and I went to Bunnings so that he could do some woodwork. Bunnings do some do-it-yourself projects to keep kids busy during the holidays and they are very popular. Saturday's project was a noughts and crosses board. I'm hoping that Yu-Jin will listen to instructions better by attending these classes - still requires work in this area. I was a bit surprised to bump into one of his old childcare friends, who has since become a non-friend as he is selfish and a bully, and the child's father. A few awkward moments ensued but the kids forgot all about their troubles and organised to play in the playground after they had finished their project.

Miky attended a gym class whilst we were at Bunnings. After that we went grocery shopping. It's been a while since I've been allowed to do that. Bumped into some friends from childcare I haven't seen since I was allowed to go shopping and their son. Yu-Jin and their son were very good friends but haven't seen each other for ages. The boy is doing taekwondo on Saturday mornings. Seeing as it was a nice day I bought some food suitable for a BBQ. Upon our return home I prepared food for the BBQ and then cooked it. Noice. Had to rush Yu-Jin with eating of said BBQ as his taekwondo class started fairly soon afterwards. Just had time to put some bread pre-mix in the breadmaker and add some sultanas prior to leaving.

It turned out that Yu-Jin had a couple of free classes to see if he liked it and Saturday was his second class. He required quite a bit of help during the stretching exercises as the instructions were uttered fairly quickly and he has this problem with listening. Hmm, I don't think that I was any different. Too keen to get on with it so it's not entirely unhealthy. Come fighting time and he was full of enthusiasm. I found it really strange to listen to the few words in Korean that the instructor used. Taekwondo classes in Korea were guided far more towards fitness with lots of exercises included. In Australia they are two-thirds stretching then one-third fighting/technique.

Back home I did a bit of plasterboard work in the passageway. The new bread was scrumdiddlyumptious. Had to eat the lunchtime leftovers for tea, I didn't have time to prepare anything, because Yu-Jin and I wanted to go to the movies to see Chicken Little. Quite an entertaining movie as it turned out. We stopped at McDonalds for icecream cones, complete with Flakes, afterwards.

Sunday morning saw me up very early as I a 7:55 tee off north of the river with friends Shayne and Joe. Shayne came to my place and I drove as he took me to Hammersley Golf Course last time. Fairly warm day and we drank lots of fluids. I had a run of three pars at one stage and six overall but the three 8's and four 7's didn't help. A mixture of nice golf and some rubbish. Following last weekends lesson I have adapted my swing a bit and that, coupled with brain failure to a lesser degree, lead to at least three complete shanks off the tee. Putting was pretty good and I had 31 putts with no three-putts. Three times we had a longest drive competition for a drink and only once did anyone put their drive on the fairway. 1/9 wasn't a good return. We did have a nearest the pin comp on the 16th and my tee shot finished just short of the green. I did par the hole though. It feels funny to say this but my 4-iron was my best club for the day. We mightn't have played too well but we had a good time. I've picked up a good case of tendonits in my left knee thanks to the golf.

Mark - 100 (31) - 47 and 53
Joe - 102 (35) - 52 and 50
Shayne - 115 (36) - 57 and 58 [sorry mate, I have to include the two shot penalty for you hitting Shayne's ball on the 14th]

Returned home for lunch and then I finished off the plasterboard in the passageway. Yu-Jin helped put the plasterboard cement on the back and he even helped cutting the plasterboard by holding it steady. Holding it steady until he came to the realisation that it was too heavy for him to hold. We had a moment there were I threw away my knife to catch the plasterboard and almost got him in the foot. Whoops.

Outside to kick a footy for a while before we rode our bikes to the petrol station to get a newspaper. Not too pleasant on the tendonitis actually. Our neighbour came over to get my signature on a mortgage application and hopefully that will lead to her having enough money to put a patio on the front so that we can make our sunroom/entrance. That's a little bit further down the track.

Whilst waiting for Yu-Jin to finish his tea I was able to relax a bit and read quite a lot of the paper. We then watched a few fairy tales on a DVD I bought around Christmas time. Shower, story and off to bed. For Yu-Jin at least. I washed the dishes before heading that way myself.

Like I said, I need to go to work for a rest. Pretty good way to spend the weekend though. I don't know why I have to wait until school holidays before I spend so much time with my son. It might have something to do with the fact that his day is quite busy when he is at school whereas at the moment he spends a lot of time at home during the day.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Holiday, Like The Honeymoon, Is Over

No, not a commentary on our marriage. Just using a cliche to capture your attention. I am referring to the fact that people have returned to work and made my trip to and from work less pleasant.

I don't normally take the freeway to work as it is really crowded. The period after Christmas until the end of last week it was the ideal way to travel though. Mileage in my car improved noticeably as traffic flow was very good and much faster than normal. No more stop/start driving through the 'burbs.

This week I have maintained my freeway drive, just to see when I should give it up, and it appears that time is nigh. On Tuesday at a merging point with lanes joining the freeway I was nearly sideswiped by a young woman who came from behind and was quite oblivious to the fact. Noticing that she had a P-plate (Probabationary driver - inexperienced, not on parole) it made a lot of sense that she had driven in that manner. While I was yelling a few obscenities and commenting to myself on the situation I came to the realisation that I was going to collide with a 4WD owner and his rather large trailer who was crossing a solid white line (no overtaking or changing lanes allowed) and who wasn't far away from my wing mirror. That really upset me. The bastard then had the audacity to stick his arm out the window and make a motion with his hand like an ostrich talking. WTF?! I wasn't in the wrong here.

It's times like these that strengthen my belief in road rage. Everyone should have a length of iron bar behind the seat to bash idiots like that. Yes, the holiday period is over and the roads are once again filled with selfish idiots who can't drive.

Ironic Music

I was talking to somebody on the phone yesterday at work and was put on hold whilst they looked for an item for me. The on-hold setup they have is to play one of the local radio stations. Amusingly the next song to come on was one by Blondie - "Don't leave me hangin' on the telephone". Little things like that brighten my day.

Yoga Is Definitely Relaxing

Miky went to a yoga lesson last night. She needs to chill a bit and also keep herself occupied. Not that you aren't occupied when you look after Yu-Jin all day. Yoga proved to be very relaxing for one of the men in the class as in one particular excercise they had to lie down and Miky could hear snoring coming from behind her. Yes, he had fallen asleep during the class. Miky said that it was dangerous to drive home afterwards as she felt quite sleepy.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Stupid Stupid Stupid Stupid Stupid Husband

I've just perpetuated an unbreakable, hidious cycle.

Friday was 37.9 degrees C. First day of summer weather really. Saturday, prior to taking Yu-Jin to a taekwondo lesson a week before it started (thank you Miky), I cleaned the air conditioner. Got up on the roof, pulled off the covers, dodged the spiders, brought the covers down and put detergent on them, sprayed them with the hose, cleaned the air conditioning unit (want to avoid Legionnaires disease), reassembled the covers and kicked it in the guts - started it, for those of you who don't speak Strine.

Sunday we went for a walk and I got Yu-Jin to climb his first tree by himself. Following a thirty minutes free golf lesson that took one hour and fifteen minutes, which I had won using my business card in a competition, at Whaleback Golf Course with pro Mike Keneally, Yu-Jin and I purchased more plasterboard at Bunnings and some board to make battens and hooks so that I could install some venetian blinds. The blinds themselves have been sitting in the sewing room for 12 months awaiting installation. Look alright too.

Why am I so stupide? My wife nagged me to clean the air conditioner and install the blinds. Now that I have reacted to the nagging and done what was required she'll be more likely to try nagging to get what she wants. I've shown that nagging is effective.

I apologise to husbandkind for my stupidity.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

New Year Is Here And That Can Mean Only One Thing

And what could that one thing be, you ask? Why, it's hot cross buns of course. Now that Christmas and New Years have been put on the back burner the supermarkets are preparing us for Easter. In the first week of January too. Do they start advertising Thanksgiving turkeys in the US in March or something?

I'm a little surprised that Christians aren't up in arms about this. Hot cross buns are supposed to be served following the 40 days of lent. How many Christians go without eggs and dairy products for 40 days anyway? I'll say one thing for Muslims and Ramadan - at least they stick to their religious beliefs.

Let's see some more fundamentalist Christian activism in upholding the traditions of Christianity. Not that I care, as an atheist, anyway.
Frugal Bastard's 2005 Trip - All In The One Place

Yep, I've gone to the trouble of putting the 2005 Trip to Korea and Japan in order. Apart from Nov 22nd doing a runner. Ah, found it. Please visit at Frugal Bastard's 2005 Trip.
Hammy's 2005 Trip To Korea And Japan - Dec 9th

After a few hours shuteye we are greeted by a very different dawn with deep red colours. Definitely back in Australian airspace. The pilot has just welcomed us and told us that we will be landing at 5 to 5 in the evening. Maybe he was served alcohol instead of orange juice. I certainly plan to land in the morning. Didn't receive enough arrival cards for Australia - bit poor really. Miky did have them but travelling had frazzled her brain to such a point that she didn't realise or forgot.

Immigration/Quarantine took 1 hr 15 mins and they are very thorough these days. Had to hire a maxi taxi as we had so much gear. The cabbie was an Indian and he wanted to know about Korean food. Nice to be able to talk with a cabbie again. Didn't get the chance in Korea. Got home a 20 to 7 [Editor's note - regret not taking a photo of all the luggage to compare with when I left].

Three sales calls within the first 11 hours of returning. I should just leave the phone turned off I think. Went shopping at Woolies and appreciated how cheap their expensive bread is in comparison with Korea. The streets are much wider. Fuel is only just over half price in Australia. Asians don't dress very well in Australia but are very fashion conscious in Korea. Drivers aren't as crazy. I wish people would give me the prices in Korean.

There was a channel on the plane devoted to Quranic Verses. Odd. At KLIA Yu-Jin had asked me, "Why are there so many brown people?"

Friday, January 06, 2006

Hammy's 2005 Trip To Korea And Japan - Dec 8th

Our 7 o'clock wake up call came at 7:22. Finalised packing and walked to the airport shuttle bus top which was just around the corner. The hotelkeeper walked Yu-Jin to the bus stop and came running back soon afterwards with a glove that we had left behind. Didn't have the heart to tell her that we didn't want it. I left my trusty old sneakers for someone else to get some good use out of them.

On the bus to the airport we passed a part of town where nearly every shop was a bridal/wedding shop. Miky said that it was next to the top women's university. What exactly are they encouraging their top female students to do immediately following completion of their degrees?

One street has three crossing signs - a timer, a bunch of descending arrows and the little green man. How many ways do people need to be told how much time they have?

Huge land reclamation going on along the foreshore of Hangang. I hate Korean distance bus drivers - accelerate, coast, accelerate, coast. Don't these guys know how to drive at a set speed? Surely you use more fuel driving in that manner too. Airport shuttle bus was only 8000 Won/adult and they didn't charge for Yu-Jin. At the last stop before the expressway they warned us to put our seatbelts on. Don't these guys realise that bus drivers are at their most dangerous in the city?

At the airport Miky wasn't happy with a 3000 Won fee for a small postage box and 9000 Won for postage. It was just a shirt or something. Daylight robbery actually. Could have sent about 6kg of stuff back to Australia for that price. She wandered off to get a coffee and was gone for the next 20 minutes.

I didn't that we would get our carry-on luggage aboard as it was quite bulky but I was proved wrong. Miky had her bag screened and they confiscated a knife. They screened the bag again but left her scissors inside. So much for airport security. After reaching the gate we only had 45 minutes before departure. Not enough time to find the cheap booze for my workmate as in an earlier duty-free shop I had visited.

Bit of an annoying flight as we had a very loud Korean family with two boys behind us kicking the seats and dropping and closing the table continuously. Yelling and carrying on was a bonus. Didn't get a lot of sleep before arriving in Kuala Lumpur for a nearly three hour stopover.

I wonder who gets paid to wind the headphone wires nicely, and how much. Would've preferred a window seat to get a few last pics of Korea.

Miky bought some rings and cosmetics duty-free. I told her where we would be when she had bought her cosmetics but she didn't show up. Looked for her for five minutes before finding her and she was a bit peeved as she had spent quite a bit of time looking for us and couldn't understand why I was upset. Typical woman. I told and showed her where we would be but it had failed to register with her. No harm done. Entered the draw to win a Mercedes Benz.

Three travellers on the plane.

The boy needs to grow a bit to fit into the headphones.

Next to me on the flight to Perth is Jerzy from Poland. He has a 33 hour journey from Warsaw to Perth via Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur. He noticed some gas coming inside the plane at the ventilation near the exit sign in the middle of the plane prior to takeoff.

Post-landing at Kuching at 11pm and I am really struggling due to lack of sleep retty much for the last two and a half weeks. Miky has had enough. Yu-Jin is being irritable. Not due to lack of sleep - he's bored.

It's nice to hear a few more Aussie accents. When travelling in Asia I have really avoided contact with non-Asians. I guess when in Asia I only want to see Asians and think that foreigners shouldn't be there. It is only then that I think about myself.

Jerzy thinks that we made an emergency landing in Kuching - his 2nd in four months. I can't convince him that this was a planned stop. He managed to get a three month visa for his 40 minutes on land and only just happened to get back on the plane in time.
Hammy's 2005 Trip To Korea And Japan - Dec 7th

Up at 6:40am. Shave, ablutions and had a look at the paper [Editor's note - the paper reading didn't take long]. Woke Yu-Jin at 7:30 to get dressed and tell him to be a good boy. Ready to leave at 7:45 to meet the tour guide and just about to walk out the door when Seun-hyeun and Mr Kim appeared, quite shocked at the fact that they had slept in so much. She had wanted to make my breakfast but that wasn't a problem as I wasn't hungry anyway and was going to buy some snacks on the way to the meeting place. Mr Kim rang Mr Jo who hadn't arrived during the night and Mr Jo said that he had to have a coffee before coming. We had to meet the tour bus at 8:10 at Dongnimmun.

I bought some chocolate cakes and kimbap snacks with flavoured milk for the day. Arrived five minutes early and was met by Mr Hong Yoon-shik. There were two Japanese tourist from Fukuoka that were already waiting in the bus. Mr Jo was late and Mr Hong wanted to call him. I only had Mr Jo's wife's number so he called her and got his mobile number. He said that he was two minutes away. And so he was. Mr Hong spoke Korean, Japanese and English.

The following are notes for the DMZ tour as it was being taken.

Passed the World Cup Stadium and a rubbish dump that had been turned into a park. There was a shopping centre, gas and electricity generation - all built on 20 years of garbage. Passed by Yonsei and Ehwa Universities.

Main road north is called Freedom Rd and it travels along the Han River. Five lanes wide each way whilst still in the city. There are big lumps of concrete, some 10 tonnes, suspended above the highway called Dragon Teeth. If North Korea attacks then dynamite inside the structure will be detonated so that the concrete blocks the road and buys the South Koreans more time to mount a defence.

Naming convention isn't too great up this way. Il San Shin Do Shi - New City Town.

Barbed wire runs for 155 miles along the river and army patrols are used to detect North Korean (NK) spies. NK spies used amphibious vehicles to land and were killed not too long ago. I expected to see more army vehicles along Freedom Rd.

Interesting that the Korean National Soccer Team's training centre is opposite an observatory not too distant from the North. There are hopes to have both squads unified and training there.

The first view of NK over Imjin Gang (river) is of a fake city. There's a Christmas tree wth a Buddhist symbol shown to the NK's to demonstrate freedom of religion in the South. NK mountains have no trees as they were cut down for fuel. Not for Christmas trees as I thought.

You don't see too many restaurants north of Seoul whereas they are all over the rest of the country.

No photos were allowed to be taken on the bus in the DMZ. If you take a photo you will be removed to a "Learning Centre". And your film/memory card will be destroyed. Everybody on the bus will have to wait for you to get "learned". Only 60 US soldiers are in the DMZ as the rest are in Iraq, etc. Usually a lot more on duty. Also known as the JSA - Joint Security Area.

Civil Limit Zone - starts at Imjingang. There are 13 bridges between South and NK. There is the story of the founder of Hyundai who stole a cow from his father and fled to the South. He became mega-rich based on the stolen goods and once he had the power to do so he returned to the North bearing 1000 cows as payment for his debt of 60 years. Obviously his father wasn't still around to receive it.

Imjingak, where the tours start from, has a Bell of Peace and sees a lot of tourists.

Bell of Peace. You can book to ring it three times for 10000 Won.

Buses for Japanese tourists, schoolkids, at Imjingak.

Unification Village - free land use. No chemicals allowed (must be a distinct lack of terrorists operating in the area), everything is totally organic and the price of ginseng is very expensive.

Freedom Village - inside the DMZ, no tax, no military service, no land fees. Current population of about 200.

Only soldiers are allowed to build in the DMZ. It is a heavily mined area therefore the trees are untouched and it is a paradise for wildlife. Those that enjoy tiptoeing around unexploded ordnance, that is. Estimates are roughly 70000 mines left in the DMZ.

DMZ Theater - seven minute video to get you started. Rush into the next section before having a look at the monorail into the 3rd Tunnel of Aggression.

There appeared to be some American soldiers on the tour and about half a dozen Japanese as well with their own interpretor. The Japanese, not the Americans.

Monorail for 3rd Tunnel of Aggression inside DMZ.

A reunification statue.

NK on the top.
SK on the bottom.

DMZ Tourist Info - tourists are well catered for. Postcards are hideously expensive.

Inside the 3rd Tunnel you are not permitted to take photos. There is a camera to watch you at the end of the 265m of what is left of the tunnel on the south side after your 358m, 11 degree decline to reach the actual tunnel. Quite wet down below. Three lots of concrete 10m thick have been used to block the tunnel part that has been collapsed by the South. Not quite tall enough for me to walk through. Coated in coal to disguise usage. NK pretended it was a coal mine tunnel. Only once it was pointed out to them that the rock was granite and no coal existed, the drilling marks emanated from the North and the measurements knotched on the walls were from the North side did they accept responsibility for creating it.

Following the 3rd Tunnel Mr Jo wanted to have noodles. We had about 4 mins to devour them as the tour schedule was very tight. Mr Jo was not impressed.

Having completed the 3rd Tunnel of Aggression tour it took a bit of convincing to get a photo of me with my helmet and Mr Jo. It's not as if I was going to pinch it.

Dorasan Observatory allows you a look at the North. Photos can only be taken about five metres back from the binoculars. Bugger. We were given a briefing by a Korean soldier with an unmistakably American accent. You can see NK's 165m tall flagpole which is a world record. The South gave up on outdoing them height-wise a while back. Unfortunately I couldn't get a photo of it. I saw the glint of a looking device from the North therefore there is a bit of life over there. Someone watching us watching them. Quite a few trucks in the Industrial Complex (IC) that 15 SK companies have set up in the North to take advantage of the cheap labour, er, build relations with the North. Employees are paid about US$200/mth. Next year another 90 companies will join the IC. Plenty of opportunities for NK workers who would be happy to get that sort of money. Quite a bit for them.

Daeseongdong - Freedom Village.
Gijeongdong - Propaganda Village.

Didn't see any NI except for the reflection. Could see Kaesong fairly clearly with the binoculars and by eyesight. It is the 3rd largest city in NK with 380000 inhabitants. Appeared to be smoggy. Must be using the last of the wood. NK's flagpole was considerably taller than SK's flagpole. Binoculars cost 500 Won for two minutes and one American girl let me finish off her time.

Mr Jo could understand all of the Korean tour guide's English, which wasn't flash, but only about half of mine. Hmmm.

Dorasan Observatory.

Army vehicle. Taken clandestinely of course.

Desolate countryside towards Kaesong in NK.

Propaganda Village. No windows as the buildings are uninhabited concrete shells.

Unification Village has 60 telephone lines to connect the South with the North. There is a three hour time limit inside the Civil Limit Zone.

Dorasan Station goes over Freedom Bridge and must be a very lonely post for the station master, apart from the tourists wanting stamps in their passports. Yes, I did get one.

Painting. Sorry.

Yours truly with a South Korean soldier inside Dorasan Station.

My guide, Mr Hong.

Another photo with a soldier. He doesn't look very intimidating.

Not allowed to take photos from the bus so here is one of the bus.

No photos are even allowed inside the barbed wire area but Mr Hong said that I could photograph from inside the vehicle. I had wanted to stop and take a photo of an army outpost. Normally there are signs disallowing photos but they had been removed for construction work.

Lookout post.

Razor wire. As far as the eye can see.

Long day for Mr Jo.

Last stop on the tour was an Amethyst shop. Mr Jo was mistaken for a Chinese tourist and they were quite happy to offer us a 30% discount. Shows how overpriced things normally are for tourists.

Following the early finish to the tour Mr Jo picked up the two Mrs Lees from the Kyobo Building (famous bookstore) and we had lunch near Gwanghwamun. Back to Seun-hyeon's place where Miky joined us. Mr Jo took us to So-eun's school to say goodbye before spending some 20 mins just trying to find the hotel we would be staying in before heading off in the morning. He even asked a taxi driver whilst stopped in traffic for directions.

We repacked our bags and set off to Shinsegae for tea and shopping. I had seafood and green onion pancakes. Miky had hot pot bibimbap. Great view from the restaurant.

View from the restaurant.

Department store decorations on a landing outside were lovely.

Had a strawbery smoothie (5000 Won) for dessert. Quite surprised that it was the cheapest thing on the menu as strawberries aren't cheap. Bananas are 198 Won/100g. Quite reasonable.

Took Yu-Jin for a haircut at Hair Bank. Got to use the Internet whilst waiting. Yu-Jin fell asleep during his haircut. Found out that Perth Glory's coach has departed. Wow - bit of a bombshell.

Yu-Jin being pampered and preened. All whilst asleep.

Miky asked us to "Wait here" and so we did for about 30 mins after the haircut, shampoo and blowdry. I got fed up with waiting, wrote a note for her and departed for the hotel. Arrived at Junggak station ok (next to our hotel) and took one of the exits. There was a guy begging and not showing his face. You beauty I thought as I had seen him as we entered the subway so felt comfortable that it was the right exit. Hotel should be just around the corner.

Walked for quite some way and realised that we weren't in the right place. Bit hard to see landmarks at night time. Asked a street vendor about the hotel, as I had the address on a business card, and she told me quite emphatically in Korean that I had a long way to go. Walked a bit farther and then asked another vendore. The bloke told me in Korean and with sign language that I had one more street to go and turn right. Walked past the right street and turned backwards a bit before noticing Mr Henry's Sausage Shop on the far corner and I recognised it from when we were looking for the hotel with Mr Jo. Found the hotel. All this time I had been carrying all of our shopping and had Yu-Jin in tow. I wasn't lost. I just didn't know where I was.

Miky had arrived only 10 minutes before and called hairdresser's shop and had spoken with the cleaner who said that there was a note but that she couldn't read it. Miky had seen the begger as well and made the same mistake as me. The bugger had switched exits. Then she turned around and told me she had said "Come home".

Lots of packing and repacking took place before going to bed at 12pm. Asked for a 7 o'clock wake up call.