Saturday, September 30, 2006

25 Ways I Save Money

Dawn over at Frugal For Life, formerly here, had a post relating to "25 Ways I Save Money". Now, there's something I can relate to. I've decided to put a quick list together.

- I have a rule whereby all cheques received go into my home loan account to pay it off more effectively.
- I pick up money on the street.
- I pay bills online to avoid cheque fees, postage and time/petrol.
- I compare prices on items before I buy.
- I use the FuelWatch Website and fuel discount vouchers.
- I use shopper dockets if they offer something that saves me money.
- I buy non-perishable goods in bulk.
- I walk instead of drive if possible. Riding the bike is also an option.
- I make good use of free calls on my pre-paid mobile.
- I buy Christmas cards in bulk and post after November the 1st when postage is cheaper domestically and significantly so internationally.
- I pay my insurance and registration premiums anually to avoid a greater overall charge over the year.
- If I have to I make long distance phone calls off peak.
- I like to buy quality goods that will last a long time and therefore have a lower TCO.
- I used to work as much overtime as possible so that the shops weren't open when I wasn't working and so that I couldn't spend any money. This was a very successful tactic.
- Leftovers are eaten and not thrown away.
- Lunch is taken to work.
- The lights are turned off when no-one is in the room. I don't live in a lighthouse.
- When it's cold I put on more clothes and only use heating when absolutely necessary. Doors to rooms that don't require heating are closed.
- My son plays free online games - - instead of buying expensive computer games. If he gets bored there are hundreds of other games to try.
- Make use of the library instead of buying new books or magazines.
- Buy childrens books secondhand. They are in great condition and unbeatable for value.
- Plan my shopping so that it doesn't coincide with meal times. If you're hungry you'll probably buy unhealthy, processed food for groceries and have some junk food to tide you over.
- I drive conservatively and utilise cruise control. No hooning.
- Clothes are dried on the clothes line and not in a dryer - I don't own one.
- My credit card is automatically paid on the due date so that I never pay interest. If the bank applies a charge incorrectly I fight them and have a very good record against them.
- I only buy things on credit card if I would be prepared to pay cash for them otherwise. If there is a credit card surchage I pay cash. I make sure that I collect my frequent flyer points and put them to good use.
- I use a free Web publisher - Blogger.

Friday, September 29, 2006

I Bought My Wife A Necklace For Our Wedding Anniversary

Yes, I splashed out on a nice little number for her. It looks great and she really likes it. My wife is such a difficult person to buy for and so hard to please. So, I am very glad that she is happy.

Yesterday she told me that she had bought it as her anniversary present and that she was most thankful. It wasn't quite what we had discussed but a man has to get it right every now and again.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I Have A Bone To Pick With Australia Post, Again

A short while ago I wished to purchase another battery for my digital camera. When you go somewhere interesting, as I expect Melbourne to be next week, the camera always dies just when you don't want it to.

I rang the company where I purchased the camera from initially as they should be the first point of contact. The guy told me that it would cost $55 but they didn't have any stock. If I rang their sister company they would be able to tell me. Duly rang the sister company but was informed that as she didn't have any stock on hand she was unable to scan a unit to find out how much it cost. WTF? Obviously didn't have the item on her stock database. I mean, I did have the part no. required.

Went online and the third result in the Google results that I was presented with was from an Australia company. They had my item on special for only $18.55 plus $10 for postage. So, I purchased one.

Within a day or so they emailed me a receipt and then another emailed followed with a tracking number for an Australia Post Registered Post package. Alarmingly they told me to expect nine days for delivery, i.e. it should arrive on the last day of my employment and the last day before I leave for a holiday. The package had my company's name as well as mine.

I waited a reasonable amount of time for this item to arrive. Yesterday I called Australia Post with the tracking number provided to find out just where this item was. Christy told me that it should have been delivered on the 22nd of September. For some reason it wasn't delivered and no card was left. I told her that there was somebody at our office from a quarter to eight in the morning until seven at night so the office was always open during the period that a delivery could be expected. Christy rang West Leederville PO to see if the item had been left there. No was the answer but it might be at the Osborne Park Mail Centre. Anyway, she was unable to tell me where the package was and that I should contact the sender to get them to locate it! WTF?!

I rang West Leederville PO myself, the guy told me that he had already spoken to Australia Post, and that I should call Wembley PO. Well, Wembley PO didn't answer the phone but they were only a 10 minute walk away. Headed down there and they could find no record of the package under my name. I suggested that it might be at the Osborne Park Mail Centre and they lent me their phone but said to tell them who I was because they wouldn't answer their questions if they were coming directly from the post office. After five engaged signals I finally got through. The lady was very helpful and after five minutes she informed me that the package was at Wembley LPO. "But I'm at Wembley and they tell me they don't have it," I said. The lady at Wembley LPO then took the phone and discussed the package.

She went out the back and found the package in our company's post box. She expected that somebody would come within a few days to collect this mail. Pity they filed it under the company name and not mine. Interestingly, our company post box is at West Leederville. I asked if there was any other post waiting. After being told that there was I asked to take it but was informed that a key was required to get that mail. Ooh, our company has a private post box at another post office. Even our receptionist, who collects the mail, was unaware of this. How intriguing.

I voiced my disatisfaction at having to track down my own mail when it is supposed to be delivered with all the safeguards of being registered and having a tracking number. Why pay for the service if it doesn't work? In Australia Post's defence I could say that our office does not have a letter slot in the front door, even though it is the old Jolimont Post Office building, but they should have opened the door and at least attempted to deliver it. Not good enough I'm afraid.

Australia Post should change their slogan from "We Deliver" to "It's coming but you need to find it yourself".

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Happy Wedding Anniversary

It's nine years to the day since we were married. Ah. Gee, where did all the time go? We are nearly halfway to being grandparents. We celebrated this little milestone, not millstone, yesterday by having a lovely lunch together at Sicilian Restaurant in Subiaco. Miky has to work today and wouldn't have had any time available. Seeing as she doesn't work on Tuesdays we decided it was best to have it early. I took an extra half an hour for lunch and nobody at work said anything. What are they going to do anyway, sack me? My last day is Friday so I don't really care.

Miky had a seafood linguine which was quite nice and I had Sicilan beef lasagne. I've never eaten so much eggplant in all my life and, come to think of it, I've never had eggplant in lasagne before either. They served it just a bit warmer than cold and I had to ask for it to be heated up. Nowhere near as good as my mum's or Miky's lasagne. After lunch we went to Vero Cafe and had green tea and a berry cheesecake. Now wasn't that just scrumdiddlyumptious. Then I had to wander back to work.

We don't get to spend too much time together so yesterday made a really nice change. Just need to find more occasion to do it. Oh, and the time. Even though we work near to each other Miky generally doesn't stop for lunch as she has limited working hours, gotta drop-off and pickup the boy, so lunch is usually out of the question. And it will be when I start my new job in the city. We need to do this more often though.

My parents are celebrating 37 years today, we married on their wedding anniversary which makes it easy to remember, and that seems like such a long time. My mum can probably vouch for that. I'll call her later. Thirty seven years, eh? Sounds like a sentence for a double homicide.

Be good to your families.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Brownlow Medal Night

The AFL’s night of nights was on last night. The night where we look at the girls in their dresses and the girls that are almost in their dresses. Oh, and the Best and Fairest player in the league is awarded the Brownlow Medal.

The ladies were a little more refined this year as all of them were covered up unlike two years ago when Rebecca Twigley wore that dress. Miss Twigley was much more demure this year.

Nice to see Adam Goodes win a second Brownlow. I would love to have seen Scott West take it out though. He's a fine player and I think this is the fifth time he's finished in the top four.

Probably the best part about the night was the fact that the highest position by an Eagles player went to Daniel Kerr who was ineligible for the medal as he had been suspended during the year for punching an opponent in the nuts. Leave that sort of behaviour on the rugby field. It has no place in Aussie Rules.

Bring on the Grand Final.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Highlights Of The Weekend

It was pretty much business as usual this weekend but we did manage to fit a couple of extras in. The Canning Vale Weaving Mills, world famous for its quality towelling products, has closed its manufacturing facilities as it is unable to compete with Chinese imports. Despite receiving Federal grants its profits tumbled and it will now become an importer. This meant that there was a three day sale whereby all quality towels were being sold at $14.99/kg. We bought a couple of 4-packs, bath mats and some oddments. Considering that the stock was probably being sold off at a quarter of its retail value we did alright. It was pretty busy down there on Saturday afternoon.

On Sunday we all went to the Old Mill in South Perth. Miky wasn't too thrilled about it actually but I thought the boy would like to see a bit of history. Once Miky looked inside the homestead she changed her tune. The building is older than any in Perth, so they tell us. The homestead was home to the miller, Mr William Kernot Shenton, his wife and thirteen kids. At times Mr Shenton's brother and his wife also stayed. Must have been pretty cramped.

All the buildings at the Old Mill in South Perth.

The Old Mill. Don Quixote eat your heart out.

Old style scales. No digital readout in those days.

The shed could do with a bit of a makeover.

Plaque dedicated to the Swan Colony's centenary.

The millstones used in the Old Mill.

The homestead at the Old Mill. This was home to Mr and Mrs Shenton and their 13 kids.

Old kitchen tools. Not like your modern day kitchen, eh?

Fireplace centrally located.

Comfortable bed. Probably for six.

And this is the ensuite in the main bedroom. Running water was at a premium in the olden days.

The mill was constructed in 1833 and was a wooden structure. In 1834 it was burnt down. Rebuilt with limestone in 1835 it still stands. South Perth is a reasonable place for a mill with sails as it's quite windy in the area. Full operation meant the grinding of some 25 bushels, about 675 kgs, of wheat per day. By 1846 it was unable to compete with other mills built in wheat-growing areas and was unprofitable. The last flour was produced there in 1859. The Old Mill in South Perth subsequently became a wine saloon and then a poultry farm. It's been patched up over the years as it had fallen into disrepair.

Following our visit to the Old Mill we went to the Boat Shed and bought some ice creams and a coffee. Yu-Jin then played in the playground for about half an hour whilst we talked. Walking back to the car we noticed a large group of people hauling a drag net in. They were doing some sort of study on fish numbers and were especially interested in the number of blowfish, commonly known as blowies, that were in the catch. In fact, there were more blowies than anything else.

Some people conducting a fishing study on the Swan River.

Lots of blowfish to be caught in the Swan River.

Bought some potting mix on the way home and Miky did quite a bit of gardening including transplanting the strawberries that she has growing. I cut most of the lawn in the backyard with my shears. It's amazing that some of the lawn was nearly up to my knee and other parts were barely an inch high. Soil quality has a lot to do with it. The really high lawn was in lovely condition. Had to water much of the garden as it has been a bit dry of late.

Miky made wonton for tea. Mmmm, chicken. We watched Australian Idol after tea and couldn't believe that the judges were watching the same performances as we were. The ones that we loved they hated and vice versa. Then we saw Bruce Almighty and had a good laugh.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Shelley Primary School Library Opening

Last night we attended the opening of the Shelley Primary School Library. The Principal, Mr Hambling, mentioned that the library was on the initial proposal when the school was constructed in 1974 but had never been built. Every year for the next 30 years the school applied to have a library built. Then Mr Hambling bumped into somebody from the Education Department at a shopping centre and this situation arose in conversation. The guy told him that he should apply for an upgrade and nota new library and there would be no problem.

And so it was the case. Two years later the structure is finished. They invited the Federal Member for Tagney to open it but a fill-in represented him as he had lost his pre-selection for the seat and was in the middle of an appeals process. The fill-in was a councillor who said that a crowd of four people was considered to be large for council meetings. There were a couple of hundred people in attendance last night.

The Shelley Primary School Choir sang Advance Australia Fair and then a medley of Village People songs. Special guest was the local member for Riverton, Tony McRae. He was more than happy to yell into the microphone, stand atop a block so that he could be seen and announce his happiness at having been part of the last six years of effort to get the library built. He presented a plaque and read out the inscription including, "The Honourable Tony McRae - that's me". I was surprised that he didn't start kissing babies.

The Principal, Mr Bruce Hambling, conducting the opening ceremony.

The school had a competition to discourage people from smoking. Here is a poster that was on display but didn't win a prize.

Almost more computers than books in this library.

We were able to visit the children's classes after the opening ceremony and see what work they had been up to. I don't get much of a chance to visit the school so I enjoyed the opportunity. And you get to see some familiar faces and meet a few new people. I met a guy that I have corresponded with via email for work and that was a bit strange. We went to his house afterwards to have a cup of tea.
I Worry About The Diet Of Our Local Snails

Early morning walk was taken by myself this morning. It had been wet overnight and the snails were out in force. I must have killed at least 40 to 50 of them. But I do worry about their diet. Perhaps there isn't enough calcium in the food that they consume. The reason for my concern is that only one or two snails gave a decidedly large crunch when stepped upon. A great number of them just squished with no discernable crunch. The protection provided by their shells was negligible and inadequate.

Locals, please feed your snails properly so that I get an enjoyable crunching noise when I squash the little bastards. Make my life a bit more enjoyable.
The Real Estate Profession Needs More Professionals

A few weeks back Miky received a call from one of the local real estate companies asking her if she would like to receive a obligation-free valuation. Sure, why not. Within a day or so the agent dropped by with this carefully prepared document which had a picture of our place the last time it was on sale, who the registered owners were (us), and how much we paid for the property. The valuation part was a bit of a fraud as it mentioned the median house price and as such was not a true valuation of our property. Never mind, we didn't ask or pay for it. There were several forms at the rear of the document to fill in if we were wanting to sell. Somehow, I don't think so mate.

Yesterday some mail, which you can view below, arrived from the same real estate company.

What I deem to be particularly unprofessional is the fact that neither myself or my wife go by the name of Han. They could get the name correct on a faux-valuation but not on some marketing campaign where they are desparately trying to sign us up to sell our residence. She wants to provide me with tips for prepare my home for the spring season? Since when has ther been a spring season for selling homes? Let me give you a tip, lady, don't keep bugging me and don't keep bugging me with my name spelt incorrectly.

Coincidentally, at work we sell Allen-Bradley automation products. Gary, my offsider, took a call recently from an Indian-sounding chap who wished to speak to Mr Allen. When informed that there was no Mr Allen working here he asked to speak to Mr Bradley. What a bloody laugh. Spam telephone calls. You've got to love them.
Bye Bye Mr Pineapple Face

Just recently I was afflicted with a pimple on my jaw. A couple of times the head was knocked off accidentally and then it seemed to subside. On Tuesday morning my face looked as though I had the mumps. Not that there was any pain but the right side of my face was terribly swollen.

This morning, thankfully, it is barely noticeable. If that had not been the case then I would have been paying a visit to the doctor to find out what was behind it. Besides my head, that is. No more looking like Manuel Noriega for me, otherwise known as the Pineapple.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I Hope This Doesn't Mean That I'll Be Kicked Out Of My Home

Nyoongar people win native title over Perth
- Lateline, ABC. They've won title over the whole metropolitan area. The native title claim doesn't cover freehold or most leasehold land but it comes as quite a shock just the same.

Why did they claim native title? Was it so that they could roam Northbridge freely and unhindered? The WA government doesn't accept the Federal Court ruling but what does it mean for the everyday Perthite?
Nearly Had Some Road Kill To Clean Up This Morning

The roads were wet this morning so traffic was moving a little more slowly than usual during peak hour. I decided to go via South Perth as the traffic report indicated that the Freeway was very busy. I was a couple of cars back from the traffic lights and both lanes of cars were not moving as the other side of the intersection was full. Some guy decided that this would be a good opportunity to cross against the lights. He made it past the two lanes of traffic but didn't take into consideration the righthand turning lane. As he stepped in front of it he was confronted with a car doing at least 25-30 km/h which came to a screaching halt. The screaching halt finished about one metre past the pedestrian's swayed-out-of-the-way legs.

He was only inches away from being road kill or, even worse, a paraplegic. I don't blame the driver as he had a green light, a clear road and shouldn't have to worry about pedestrians with a death wish. Perhaps I would have taken a couple of pics before helping clean up the road kill, if it had eventuated, but you never know.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Let's Do Luncheon - 'Bout Bloody Time

John, my boss, and Manfred decided that we must do luncheon with a large client of ours whom we had supplied equipment for two sizable projects recently. Tops idea that. The restaurant of choice was The Boatshed Restaurant in South Perth. I was in charge of making the bookings and inviting the guests.

It's not been often that I've had the chance to indulge at the expense of others. My managing director instructed me "not to go stupid" and John said that I couldn't have the lobster, in reference to the time Rockwell paid and I made sure they paid. Pity that the lobster wasn't on the menu. I chose Atlantic Salmon, cooked rare and with a poached egg. Now, I'm not a fan of food that's done rare. If I have a sheep or some cow I don't want the rest of it still running around the paddock. But fish, on the other hand, well, if it's not cooked properly then it's sashimi. I can handle that.

The chef did a bloody nice job of the food. Presentation was wonderful and my salmon tasted lovely. No bones to speak of and I rather enjoyed it. The hazelnut mudcake for dessert was de-lic-ious. I forgot to drink my cup of tea until John prodded me, as it was time to go, so I drank as quickly as I could.

Nice to be out of the office for three hours and enjoying a fine meal at the expense of the company. Considering the size of the projects and how much work went into securing and delivering them it was a small price to pay.

I can imagine that the restaurant could be a little noisy when full and the muzak was slightly annoying, but not overly, I can thoroughly recommend The Boatshed Restaurant. It's BYO though. That's fine for us teetotallers.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Tax Time - Fun Fun Fun

I took half a days annual leave today just to do my tax. Left work at lunch time and just sat in the car for a while near the accountant's office reading my computer mag. There were a couple of good number plates in the parking lot at the train station.

B AMAZ3D - Classy plate.

JANARI - Typical Strine pronunciation of January.

YMMOT - It took me a while but I reckon this guy is called Tommy.

Miky and Yu-Jin joined me later so that we could do Miky's tax return also. Bit of a mess that. And so was I after I received the bill. Bit of a shock to the system. Miky's return was classified as a business return and mine had capital gains tax. It didn't matter that the same accounting package was used to prepare both of our tax returns but they classified them according to the content and charged accordingly. We went to McDonalds afterwards and had a snack. Yu-Jin had a swimming lesson to attend afterwards and he wolfed down a burger.

SMART AZ - Smart as or smart arse?

I went for a quick drive past my old flat in Maylands before taking the boy to the swimming pool. Parked just down from the place where I used to live was the car pictured below. To be fair I do believe that it had a sticker reporting it as stolen but it makes you wonder about the area.

Don't leave your car parked in Maylands.
My Wife and Billy Idol

We sat down as a family last night to watch Australian Idol. So far we've been pretty disappointed with this years talent. The theme was rock and I guess we were looking forward to that.

Lisa Mitchell came on and murdered Billy Idol's "Dancing with myself". I'm sure she only wanted to sing the sing because of the "Uh-oh-oh" lyrics that she does so annoyingly. She has talent but I can't stand her voice. It's like, aagh, oooh, I'm lost for words here. Her voice is so icky.

To prove my point that she murdered the song I took one of my CDs from the shelf - Billy Idol - Idol Songs - 11 of the best.
Billy Idol - Idol Songs (cover)
During the next commercial break I played Dancing with Myself. Miky was in agreeance that the song had been murdered. Then she went on to tell me that she loved the guitar riff. WTF? This, coming from a jaff and classical lover, took me completely by surprise. So, at each ensuing comercial break I played another song - Rebel Yell, Mony Mony and finally, one of his finest songs in my opinion, Don't Need a Gun. Yu-Jin was bouncing around like a rockstar idiot so I know how to switch him on.

I think the first time I heard Don't Need a Gun was at the cinema during the credits of a movie when I was in Ireland. Can't recall the name of the movie but the song captivated me. Billy Idol looks like a bit of a chump but he can sing some good songs.

Back to Idol, the Australian version. Not a lot of typical rock was sung but there were some great performances.

Bobby Flynn - mystifyingly good rendition of "Werewolves of London" - not rock though.
Chris Murphy - I didn't expect this man to have a rock 'n roll bone in his body but he was impressive.
Damien Leith - it wouldn't have mattered if he couldn't sing as "Creep" by Radiohead is one of my favourite songs. Outstanding.
Dean Geyer - needs to learn how to sing instead of just playing it up for the ladies.
Klancie Keough - too country for my likings. Come on girl, it's supposed to be rock.
Lavina Williams - great version of one of the toughtest bands to cover - Evanescence.
Jessica Mauboy - great, this girl can sing, but still a little too Whitney-esque for my liking.
Ricky Muscat - a bit uninspiring with "Take me out" by Franz Ferdinand.
Mutto - great voice. Lovely singer. He'll go far.
Reigan Derry - this girl has special talent but needs to be working it not just going along with it. She sang a song I don't know but did it very well.
Lisa Mitchell - bye, bye.

It is funny how few of the contestants on Australian Idol were actually born in Australia. I guess that is all that this country is about though.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Let Your Endorphins Run Free, People

I didn't get to go for a walk this morning as I had a late night and the dishes were still waiting for me. Unfortunately they hadn't done themselves overnight. The boy had a lunch order today so I wasn't required to make his lunch. So, I thought to myself, why not ride my bike for 15 mins to the post office?

Being a bit unfit and not taking into account the time spent waiting for traffic lights it took closer to 20 mins. Bit of fire in the legs was experienced and shortness of breath. Once I was home though and had finished breakfast I felt great. The body's metabolism works 40% better if you exercise prior to breakfast, so I'm told, therefore it should really help for keeping weight off.

Perhaps the ol' bod released lots of endorphins as although the legs were a bit like jelly during the ride overall I felt fabulous. I heartily recommend letting your endorphins have their freedom. It helps when the day is going to be a sunny 27 degrees also.
Duckworth Lewis System in One Dayers Needs Revisiting

I heard on the radio this morning that in a three nation one-day tournament being held in Malaysia between Australia, India and the West Indies that Sachin Tedulkar made 141 not out in his teams total of 5/309. Rain affected the match with the Windies scoring 2/141 and winning!!

Doesn't make a lot of sense does it? A great batsmen has a great knock, as much as the opposition scores, and his side still loses. Not a lot of justice there. Perhaps cricket to be played inside so that the weather doesn't affect matches and fairer results are possible.

There has been talk on more expert sites about how 20/20 matches are affecting one-dayers where the Duckworth/Lewis system is imposed. I can't help but think that the batsmen are getting on top in limited overs matches whereas 10-15 years ago maybe the ball dominated the bat. Batsmen are far more savvy these days and getting used to chasing totals quickly.
Wolf Creek

Finished watching Wolf Creek a couple of days ago. Warning - it is one ghoulish movie made even moreso by its realism. Don't even click on the link above if you are the slightest bit squeamish. Overall I would say it is a very well put together movie. Just the subject matter is a bit nasty. I rate it rather highly but it's not a movie for the whole family to enjoy.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A Few More Interesting Number Plates

I'm afraid it's been a very slow news week. Not a great deal to blog about so I'll just let you know about some number plates that I've spotted lately.

4US2NJOY - New metallic orange Commodore
HAUDI - On an Audi
WANNA BE - On an old BMW

Monday, September 11, 2006

One Way To Stop The Terrorists

The Australian Federal Labor Party has a great idea which will reduce terrorist activities here in Oz. They want all new migrants to sign a declaration to uphold Australian values (whatever they are) and obviously not to partake in terrorist activities. Wow, what a revelation. That should stop the terrorists in their tracks. They'll be thinking, "If I sign this declaration then I won't be able to terrorise anybody. Maybe I don't want to migrate to Australia."

Perhaps they'll just come on a tourist visa then. Have you thought about that, ALP? Get real. We have sufficient laws to outlaw terrorism now let's get some teeth to enable our forces, police/defence/border patrol etc, to enforce the laws.

Are Christians going to be forced to swear an oath based on the 11th Commandment - Thou shalt not commit acts of terrorism or random violence?
Will Muslims be forced to say "Allah is good, but he doesn't like terrorist activities"?
Will The Church of Scientology be banned? Not that they've got anything to do with terrorist activities but they seem to be a bunch of nutters.

Come on ALP, pull your collective head out of your collective arse and come up with something relevant.
It's September 11th And You Know What That Means

Yes, it's rubbish collection in Cannington. You should see the piles of junk by the roadside all over the place. How can people accumulate so much rubbish? Oh, maybe they have a shed like myself and never throw anything away. Yes, perhaps that's it. The amount of slow moving traffic has increased greatly in the streets. I don't think that we have a prostitution problem whereby curb-crawlers are the people driving slowly. Not that I've noticed any of that anyway.
And The Third National Icon Passes Away

I'm tempted to say that the third famous Aussie has died in the form of Colin Thiele, but, he didn't die tragically as he made it to the ripe old age of 85. He wrote 100 books with the most famous being Storm Boy which was probably the first movie I saw in the cinema. I remember that it made me cry when Mr Percival, the pelican star of the movie, died. Colin Thiele is responsible for every pelican being referred to as Mr Percival. I couldn't name another of his books but all Australians know his name.
Quiet Weekend

Not too much happened this weekend. Yu-Jin did his usual on Saturday and I stayed home and cleaned the house, read my blogs and went for a walk with Miky. Had meat pies for lunch and went to watch Yu-Jin's taekwondo together. Listened to the second half of the Dockers' finals match on the radio. After coming back home I weeded the garden a bit and played footy with the boy. The canna was pruned, for want of a better word, as Miky and I removed all of the older, yellow canna stalks to leave all of the young stems. We watched Dr Who together that night.

On Sunday we went to Bunnings to get some mouse traps, as there are one or two more of the little blighters running about the place, soil wetta to improve the moisture retention of our garden soil, and some lawn food to improve the back lawn. It made me stink a little bit afterwards.

Sunday arvo we had a BBQ at Dr Glenn's place. We call him Dr Glenn as he wanders around at work and says hello to everyone and appears to have a great bedside manner. He and his missus have done up an old house and they've done a brilliant job. You should see the pictures of what he's done. Anyway, most people from work turned up and chatted out the back while Dr Glenn watched his beloved Western Bulldogs demolish those ugly Collingwood bastards. There were a few other kids there and some trees to climb, along with a swing, so Yu-Jin was in his element and had a great time. After lunch I went to the front yard and played footy with the kids. Yu-Jin got his clothes covered in grass stains from the recently cut grass.

Had a bath after coming home and then played Uno with the boy. His grandma has sent the card game after I mentioned that it would be great to get hold of and we've spent many nights over the last week playing it. I enjoyed it greatly when I was a lad so I knew that Yu-Jin would like it also. Had to have a sleep after that and the boy finished watching his "The Little Vampire" movie that we taped from the night before. I've had a cold for the last week and it has knocked me about a bit. After tea we had another game of Uno and I finally got beaten. Man, the boy understands strategy and combinations well already in Uno. He forgets to say "Uno" when he has only one card left though.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Maintain Your Databases People

Having relevant and up-to-date information in your database is essential people. Our company has just been bought out and letters were sent to customers in our database. I received a phone call from one such customer who was a little upset that two letters had been received by her company - one was for a person that nobody knew anything about and the other was for a guy who passed away five years ago!

I didn't ask her how he died or tell her that it was most inconsiderate for not telling us of his death such a long time ago. No, I maintained a level of dignity. My tongue hurts a bit though.

I also sent out an email to clients that I have dealt with personally informing them of my departure from the company and if they had any business with me that they had a month to sort it out. Some of the personal responses have been lovely and very gratifying. People have even called me up to have a chat. I have some fond memories of projects discussed and implemented over the nearly three years that I've been with the company. There must have been 100-150 email addresses that bounced or timed out but I received some 400 read responses. I emailed everyone that I've had contact with over the past eight months and for that to total about 500 different people is astounding. At least I have a good idea of who is alive or not. He he.
First The Croc Hunter, Then Brocky - Who's Next?

Steve Irwin died on the 4th of September. Yesterday I heard Peter Brock giving an interview on the radio a couple of hours before he headed off to compete in the Targa West Rally. Not too much later Brocky was dead.

I didn't find out until I was driving home. "Bullshit" was my first thought. They say that famous people die in threes so it begs the question, "Who's next?"

Peter Brock was the quintessential racing driver in this country. He won Bathurst an incredible, an unprecedented and unparallelable nine (or 10, depending on who you listen to - there seems to be a little bit of confusion in the media) times. He was a racing driver that I admired but loved to hate as he drove Holdens. His nickname of "Peter Perfect" was well deserved as he won nearly everything. The man was close to unbeatable at times. It was reported that he was the Australian Touring Car Champion a record three times but Dick Johnson and Mark Skaife have won it five times each. Perhaps he was so good at winning it is difficult to keep tabs on his tally.

There are a great many questions to be answered. Was a proper safety check of his car done? Had he had enough sleep after flying to Perth the previous day? Was the car setup in a mechanically sound manner? Was there a mechanical failure? Did he just make a mistake on a tight bend? I'm sure a coroner's report will answer many of these questions but many Australians will still be in a state of disbelief.

I'm sure that Bathurst this year will be a colourful and sentimental farewell and tribute to the "King of the Mountain". Farewell Peter Brock. You will live in the Nation's memory.

Friday, September 08, 2006

How Out Of Touch Are Australian Politicians?

The everyday Aussie battler gets 9% superannuation contributions from his employer if he earns more than $400/mth. MPs on the other hand were getting up to 69% of their exhorbitant salaries put into a superannuation account on their behalf, by the more than generous Australian taxpayer, until a couple of years ago when it was agreed that new Members of Parliament should only be paid the 9% that ordinary Australians received. Fair enough.

But wait. Common sense and a common sense of deceny for their fellow Australians has once again deserted the Aussie pollies. They have decided, in a bipartisan approach, that new pollies should get 15% superannuation and if they are booted out after one term in office then they get a golden handshake of three months salary. I thought the Government was intent on providing pay increases for productivity gains. The way the system is set up is definitely in favour of the encumbant, in the form of pre-allocated spending allowances and money for every vote gained, and if they don't perform the taxpayer and electorate vote them out. What is this business of paying-off non-performers? Prime Minister John Howard says that without this money the gene pool for talented people wanting to enter parliament will diminish. What bulldust. Why pay people off whom Joe Public has lost faith in? If you're smart you'll make heaps more money in the private sector.

I'm a bit sick of this largesse. There is no safety for normal people who don't perform at their job, and rightfully so, but politicians should be treated no differently. At least they have some form of tenure, most likely between two and three years. Quite frankly it stinks.
Goodbye Croc Hunter

I was in disbelief to hear of the death of Steve Irwin - naturalist, loon, Australian ambassador and all round good guy. When one of my colleagues told me that he was dead I was stunned. She said that she'd tried to get info from ninemsn but the site was down. Not that I understand why anybody wants to get their news from a Channel Nine source. I much prefer Seven who are more "I have no idea what I'm talking about so I'll say it with a smile" than the smug attitude that Nine personnel exude.

Anyway, getting a little bit off track here. For somebody that promoted nature and Australia so well it's a sad indictment that he had to become famous overseas first. Perhaps the Croc Hunter shouldn't have been so specialised - he was killed by the barb of a huge stingray piercing his heart. Should have stuck with hunting crocs. Irwin was only 44 which is too young to die, even if you die doing what you love. I feel for his kids, Bindi and Bob, who are only eight and three I think. I hope that I'm there for my boy.

Australia has lost an icon although I've never been to Australia Zoo or watched his show. I have enjoyed his antics and would never turn away from an interview with him. I guess all Aussies could identify with his larrikin nature. He was a larger than life character and I'm glad that the Prime Minister came out with some nice words. I think Steve Irwin deserved that. It's a shame, but understandable, that his family didn't want to have a State funeral. It would be a fitting farewell.

RIP Steve Irwin.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Call To All You Bomber Supporters

Get your arse to Melbourne on the 5th of October and book a tour at Windy Hill. I'll be in Melbourne the week following the AFL Grand Final and the boy and I are dying to visit the home of the Essendon Football Club. I've enquired about a tour and have been told that one could be done on the 5th but at least five people need to book. That means three more die hards are required. Help a brother out here. We would be looking at a morning tour or I might even splash out for a lunch tour.

Come on. It's for a good cause.
Faction Day At Primary School

It sounds very political but Yu-Jin’s primary school calls its sports day “Faction Day”. He is in green faction which, if I’m not mistaken, has nothing to do with being environmentally friendly or particularly kooky, but it means that his shirt needs to be green along with his hair if he wants to.

His first race as a 50m sprint and after a slow start, daydreaming perhaps, he came home with a wet sail and won. My boy, a 50m sprint champ. Miky captured it on video but she certainly has some work to do if she wishes to become a cameraperson. Needs a few more beta blockers in her system to steady the hands.

And the boy comes flying home. Not that much of it was captured on video.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Smart For A Bombers Tipper But

... not so smart for an AFL tipper.

In the Essendon Footy Tipping competition I came a respectable 963rd out of 7008 tippers with 110 tips for the season. That put me in the top 13.75% of tippers.

In the AFL Footy Tipping competition I came a less respectable 23634th out of 130834 tippers with 112 tips for the season. That put me in the top 18.1% of tippers. So, I tipped more winners but finished further back. My only saving grace would be that the Essendon tippers are a passionate mob and back their team more often when their backs are against the wall. Essendon had a wretched season and only managed three and a half wins from 22 matches. Perhaps they tipped with the heart more than the head.

My colleague, Gary, scored 123 winners for the year in our work tipping comp to win and that would have placed him in the top 400 tippers in the country!!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Fathers Day 2006

I got breakfast in bed on Sunday. Some nice French toast, fruit and a cup of tea. And I received a present that most fathers wouldn’t have – an ear and nose hair trimmer. What is my missus telling me exactly? Along with that came a box of chocolates that made Yu-Jin feel sick and Miky didn’t want as she was in an I-won’t-eat-stuff-that-could-make-me fat frame of mind. Bonus – I get to eat them all by myself. The present arrived at about 6:30 so it was an early start to the day.

After Yu-Jin had played his weekend computer game quota we boys headed off to the zoo. The Perth Zoo is free to fathers on Fathers Day. I rang my old man from the zoo to wish him a happy Fathers Day. Little did I know but my mum had sent me a text message wanting me to ring my dad. As the battery in my phone was low I took Miky’s phone and left mine on the charger at home. That way we could still talk to each other. She had more dresses to make and was unable to join us.

First stop was the African Savannah, followed by the primates and the nocturnal house. Then we saw the elephants, where my camera battery promptly died, before finishing up at the reptile exhibit and the Australian wetlands with the penguins.

Rare white rhinos with calf at Perth Zoo.

Huge lioness at Perth Zoo.

Curious meerkat at Perth Zoo.

Couple of giraffes happily munching away at Perth Zoo.

The elephants appeared to enjoy cooling down at the Perth Zoo.

The entire afternoon was spent cleaning and rearranging furniture. Miky had bought a new TV stand and it looks great. I was concerned about the mass of power, aerial and connection cables between all of the electrical devices and that I wouldn't remember where they all went afterwards. Needn't have worried as the quality of the reception is better than ever. I must have fixed something that wasn't quite right initially.

Yu-Jin is learning to swim so he was desparate to go the pool with me. Grabbed our togs and went to Riverton Leisureplex only to find that there was a mechanical problem and the heated pool had too much chlorine. No way were we going to swim in the unheated pool. So we went over to the new Vic Park Leisurelife but only had 25 mins for a shower, swim and a shower before they closed. A total of 15 mins in the pool. Did my missus go apeshit about that or what. I think she works far too hard on the weekend but things will start slowing down soon. Anyway, she calmed down a bit later.

All in all, a good Fathers Day. And no new socks or jocks in sight.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Spring Is In The Air And A Young Man's Thoughts Turn To ...

Cricket. Yes, training has started locally and the search for new players has begun. Not that I'm thinking of taking it up again or anything. I'm starting to salivate at the prospect of watching Australia take on the Poms in the upcoming Ashes tournament. It was a glorious sun-filled weekend.

Saturday wa quite busy. Yu-Jin had Korean school in the morning so the missus and I went on the hunt for some pantry doors and a front door for when our sunroom finally gets installed. Found a good shop and got ourselves a quotation of nearly $1200. Wow. Stopped at McDonalds to have a drink, choco frappe was nice, before collecting the boy. Home for lunch and a kick of the footy before heading off for taekwondo. I did a bit of shopping whilst he has busy and there was some salmon on special. Unfortunately there was a problem with the scales and so any markdowns had to be hand written. The girl wrote $19.11 instead of the $9.11 that it should have been. I soon put her straight.

Yu-Jin was knackered by the time he arrived home and just wanted a sleep. I walked to the shops and looked for a lamp for Miky's sewing machine. When I asked the shop assistant at Lincraft for a lamp for a sewing machine she took me to a section with external lamps with flourescent tubes. Then I explained the requirement for a light globe to mount in the sewing machine. "I thought that you said you wanted a lamp," was her response. My reply of, "A globe is a graphical representation of the Earth," went over her head like a B52.

Saturday night we ventured to Tiamo Cafe Restaurant in Nedlands. One of Miky's workmates had said it was a nice place to eat. When I made the booking at lunchtime for 6:30 and got a table with no hassle she was disappointed. Huh? Well, if it was easy to get a spot it can't be that good or popular. The furniture could do with some upgrading but the service was fine. One of the waitresses appeared to be working for the first time and she duly instructed us later that that was the case. Quite a nice meal. At the same moment as I was paying the bill the place suddenly filled with people and you couldn't hear yourself think. The manager confirmed that it was fully booked. I'm so glad that we made any early booking.

As we were leaving the restaurant a camera crew arrived on the doorstep and started filming. Some guy road up, in the dark, with his foldable bike and a backpack before entering the restaurant followed by the camera crew. Very strange but it was too cold to stand outside and watch. What was that all about?

Friday, September 01, 2006

I Quit My Job Yesterday

Not that I've succumbed to the almighty Australian peso, er dollar, but an opportunity that will fasttrack my abilities and make a man of me presented itself. Or it will ruin me but I don't want to think that way. It is for a company that we currently have a few dealings with so I know a bit of background about them and how they operate.

It means longer hours, a greater level of frustration, more pressure and a huge challenge. I will get to deal with my current colleagues still, which is a bonus as we are a closeknit bunch, so it's not all bad. It also means that I'll be joining the public transport brigade. Ooh, does that mean that, being an office job in the city, I need to have a briefcase? Oh, the very thought of it.

Shorter lunch breaks also lead to less blogging. Ah well, there had to be some benefit to it all. Ha ha.