Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Only In India

Whose idea was it to widen a road from four to two lanes?
Should It Stay Or Should It Go?

Have your say. Should the goatee stay or should it go? Not trying to bias the results but the missus hates it. She put up with the beard ok but refuses my right to wear a goatee. It's a good stir.

Should the goatee stay or go?
Stay - you look like a man.
Go - change to a moustache.
Lose it - get rid of the fuzz face.
Free polls from Pollhost.com

McDonalds - Guilty As Charged

Not only are McDonalds guilty of filling our bodies with shit but they're also guilty of filling our minds with shit.

Everybody knows that there are only eight planets in the Solar System yet McDonalds continue to promote otherwise. What are our kids learning from them?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Nature Puts On A Better Show Than The Fireworks

Recorded last night during a thunderstorm overhead. It wasn't far away as the boom of the thunder arrived moments after the lightning bolt was visible.

Another lightning vid - without the boom. Might have to wait for it to become viewable.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Comments About My Beard

"Oh, you're growing a beard for yourself?" - Yes, I'm not growing it for anybody else.
"Your wife hasn't left you, has she?" - No, she wouldn't leave me. She'd kick me out.
"You're the only person I know that can grow a beard and not look any older." He must have wanted money from me.
Nicole Kidman's Spin Doctors In Overdrive

The cynic in me thinks that Nicole Kidman's little on-set accident where she was slightly hurt and taken to hospital was staged. Reasoning behind this thinking is that she's now in a fairytale marriage and the only headlines since have been about Keith Urban, the hubbie, and his drinking, drugs and sexual exploits right up to their wedding. It's not as if Nicole doesn't enjoy being the centre of attention and it is certainly damaging to her image to have an apparently unfaithful, boozed up and drugged husband.

Don't feel pity for her people.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Crime Hits Our Home

Somebody, or bodies, ruined our side fence last night. Miky was shocked to discover the fence lying on the plants in our garden. The neighbour's fence was damaged too. I've called the cops and they said they'll investigate but it's most unlikely that they'll catch the bastards. If I caught them it might be a different matter.

Our damaged fence.

Our damaged fence. 2.

Our damaged fence. 3.

The neighbour's damaged fence.

The neighbour's damaged fence 2.

First they kicked our letterbox. Then they graffitied our letterbox and now the damage to the fence. I'm getting a bit sick of this. Our neighbourhood appears to be a bit quiet but there are too many yobbos about the place.

Not a great start to Australia Day.

Postscript - My neighbour thinks that it was just the wind that knocked the fence down, which I couldn't agree with. Then she considered that it may have been a very concentrated wind. If that were the case there would be some damage to the grass near the fence I would assume. I'm not sure what to think but I'd better ring the insurance company, I guess.
Just Once I'd Like To Hear...

Just once I'd like to hear an actor say, "I read the script and I thought to myself, 'What is this crap? Who wrote this rubbish? I'll still do the movie to show everyone that I can act and I'll save the movie.'" I'd much rather hear that than the cliched, "I read the script and loved it. I knew that I had to do this movie."

Last night we watched History of Violence starring Viggo Mortensen. A very powerful movie with great acting and a terrific story line. It wasn't a typical Hollywood movie in that there was just enough dialogue and the viewer is left to think about the sub-plots themselves. I enjoy movies like that more than having anything and everything explained to me.

We enjoyed it so much that we watched all of the extras on the DVD which is something almost never done in our household. Great movie.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Is It April Fools' Day Or What?

I read in the paper that the Liberal Party is considering taxing the collection of rainwater. Yes, you heard right, rainwater. Australia, up until about a week ago when a rain-laden cloud band then deluged much of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales and brought about flooding, we were experiencing some of the driest weather on record. I believe that at my parents' place they experienced the driest year ever last year. Mum said in the last couple of days they've had 249 points of rain - two and a half inches.

Because of the big dry there is a push to make people install rainwater tanks. And rightly so. When I first arrived in the big smoke I couldn't believe that people didn't have their own rainwater tanks. I grew up in the country where we had a 5000 gallon (22000 litre) tank which went close to going dry on a couple of occasions but only overflowed a couple of times too. Town water wasn't much of an option. But in the city people depend upon it.

Recently the Western Australian government started offering rebates to householders who installed tanks. I believe that the dams around Perth are around the 30-35% capacity mark which doesn't bode well for a burgeoning population.

Back to the article. National Water Commmission chief Ken Matthews said: "Legally, all water in Australia is vested in governments." That means that water could be privatised. "If 1000 homes were to install 5000-ltre tanks with an annual yield of 57,000 litres, this is 57 million litres that would not have reached a river or groundwater system or - viewed another way - is taken from either the environment's entitlement or another productive use." - taken from The Sunday Times, 13/1/07.

So this organisation is saying that the environment is entitled to the water and people who collect rainwater are depriving the environment of this entitlement. What an absolute crock. If city people installed rainwater tanks you would find that most of the water would be used on the garden anyway and it would find its way back to the environment.

If the government privatises rainwater will they pay compensation for acid rain? Well, if the rainwater belongs to the government surely they are responsible for damage that that water does also. Would you pay more tax if you have a larger roof collecting rainwater that doesn't belong to you? Will we have to pay for sunshine collected by solar-powered devices next? I don't see much difference between rain and rays - we are both subjected to them and have no control over them. Tasmanians may pay higher rainwater taxes but lower sunshine taxes. Perhaps people getting sunburnt could be charged with stealing sunshine.

Maybe the Liberal party has had too long in office and is looking for a way out knowing that if the Labor party was to win office they would be voted out at the next Federal election because of their incompetence. Perhaps they want three or four years of people not hating them and just want to be loved again. It's all a plot for the Liberals to become popular again, methinks. Not that Labor would remove the taxes once they were in place. That would be silly.

Monday, January 22, 2007

I Am Not The Messiah

I have had a few comments recently that lead me to believe that a few people are confused about my appearance. Let me get one thing straight. I may be a very naughty boy but I'm not the Messiah.

Since the Christmas break I have not shaved apart from a bit of tidy-up. The first reaction I garnered from two work colleagues was, "Jesus Christ!" I don't think that the beard was quite long enough myself. Then another colleague, who hadn't spoken to me for two and a half days, turned and asked me, "Mark?" He now greets me with a, "Hi Jesus".

It looks a bit scruffy up close, and I do look a bit like death warmed up early in the morning, so I can understand the confusion. But, for all you believers out there, this is not the second coming.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Comet McNaught

After hearing about McNaught's Comet on Sunday night at the picnic I was excited to have a chance to view it on Monday. But alas, the clouds rolled in just around sunset. Seeing as the comet is quite close to the sun at present there were quite a few disappointed would-be astronomers in Perth. Comet McNaught pics. Comet McNaught info.

Last night, about quarter to nine, I decided to go for a walk and see if I could catch a glimpse. I've seen Halley's Comet twice, no I'm not at least 76 years old as I saw it approaching the sun and leaving the sun, so this was an event not to miss. Besides, I'd heard that it was the brightest comet since 1965 and Halley's Comet wasn't all that bright.

It didn't take long to spot it. My, what a beautiful sight. Managed to get a couple of pictures that turned out ok but really didn't do it justice. I don't have any professional equipment for capturing photos. If you do get the chance have a look. Maybe I'll brave the mozzies tonight and take the telescope out. Could be fantastic.

Comet McNaught.

Comet McNaught - 2nd photo.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Nice Way To Spend Sunday

Had a nice Sunday, did I. The morning was spent letting the young fella play computer games whilst I caught up with some zeds. I then joined him to play a zombie-killing game. After breakfast I read the news and a few blogs. Then Miky wanted to use the computer so Yu-Jin and I watched a documentary on the possibility of a super volcano and super eruption in Yellowstone National Park. Bit of an eye-opener that.

Following this the one day match between Australia and New Zealand was on so Yu-Jin and I played Trouble, fish and poker while I managed to see a bit of cricket. It was 38 degrees celcius outside so I didn't feel terribly like doing much anyway. We read a bit of his Batman - The Ultimate Book of the Dark Knight book for a while before constructing a racing track out of blocks. After all this attention the little bugger still complained about having nothing to do.

Friends of ours invited us out for a picnic. I had been worried about it being too hot for his wife and was thinking about attending the football to see Bobby Despotovski's last game for Perth Glory but I'm glad that we went to the picnic instead. Our friends, Ben and Anne, have some lovely friends and the kids certainly enjoyed playing together in the park. Hale Park inside Kings Park, I think. Nice spot. Once the mozzies came out it was time to go home though. Didn't get home until about 9pm. At least the evening was cool enough for a picnic.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

New Hybrid Cricket Match Required

Perhaps with Australia dominating world cricket so comprehensively at the moment it is time to introduce a new hybrid form of the game.

Firstly, Australia destroyed England, and Wales let it be said, in the recent Ashes tournament 5-0.

The two teams then played a Twenty20 match in which Australia scored an international record score of 221, at the rate of 11 per over, and then restricted the Poms to about seven runs per over in their run chase, winning by 77 runs. So much for the "hit 'n giggle" game, as it has become known.

Now we are back to the more traditional from of limited overs cricket, 50 overs per side. Australia beat England fairly easily again.

As I write this Australia are taking on New Zealand in a limited overs match in Tasmania. They are on top at the moment.

Perhaps we need to handicap the Aussies. In taking on England, the second-best Test-playing nation in the world, we could introduce the TwentyTest format. Australia bats for twenty overs, England bats to Test match standards, i.e. bat until you get out, then Australia gets another twenty overs before the Poms get a chance to bat again. Do you think it would work? It would certainly bring the Aussies back to the field.

That said, the Aussies will probably lose a couple of matches and not be the dominators of the world in all forms of the game for too much longer. Tiger Woods was nearly unbeatable but he is human and it is more difficult for a team to maintain its dominance continually. The West Indies Test teams of the 80s were almost impossible to beat but it didn't last. It'll last for a while, hey, three Kiwis have been dismissed since I started writing this piece, but not forever. Might make the game a bit more interesting though.

Little People

Yu-Jin is a bit small for his age. We try to get him to eat lots, and people who have seen him at meal time have said that "He puts it away", so there will come a day when he starts growing and there will be plenty of fuel for that growth. I've started calling him by a new nickname. I call him "Midge". I was going to call him "Midget" but he's too short to even be a midget.

Ok, not quite.

Last night we went out for ice cream. Seated at the table in front of us were a group of people including two women suffering from some form of dwarfism. Let me tell you, it's not a pretty sight to have a midget's bum crack in your face when you are trying to eat an ice cream. As the lady in front got up she waved her bum cleavage in my direction. It was almost enough to put me off my dessert.

How To Upset Unsuspecting Customers

I think that Hewlett Packard, HP, are making a big mistake when it comes to keeping customers happy. Look at the ad below and, on the face of it, it appears to be a fantastic deal. Buy an ink cartridge pack and photo paper to receive a printer worth A$179! Sounds too good to be true?

I can imagine a large rush of people going out to buy this ink and photo paper for a free printer. But look at the fine print people. The ink is not compatible with the printer. People caught out by this, in my opinion, stupid marketing ploy, will have two printers to purchase ink for now and won't be too happy with that outcome.
Australian of the Year 2007

Just a hunch. Call me crazy if you want. But I just wonder if Steve Irwin will be awarded the first posthumous Australian of the Year Award. If John Howard has anything to do with it there is the possibility. He's all about promoting true blue Aussies and battlers.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Oprah Winfrey's Leadership Academy

Article on the news yesterday told us that Oprah Winfrey's Leadership Academy was due to open soon in South Africa. Nice idea that. It's something that Oprah pledged to Nelson Mandela a few years back to do.

I must congratulate her for this. To give underprivileged kids the opportunity to gain an education in such a poor country is great. The school cost in the vicinity of US$40m to build and will have the best teachers/instructors/life coaches etc and the students are not allowed to get pregnant. It is for girls only. And these girls must come from an underprivileged background and be straight A students. You will see girls that fit the bill busting their arses to get into this school.

My concern is really that it should be called Oprah Winfrey's Leadership Academy for Underprivileged Over-Acheivers. It doesn't really fit the bill of looking after the students that have been over-looked and forgotten. Rather, it will be an elitist school which will have intangible benefits for the poor communities. Results to improve the lives of people in the communites surrounding it will only materialise once these students have graduated and started to put something back into the communities that they came from. Perhaps the students will all be scholars and head overseas never to be seen again and lost to their country.

Probably the worst publicity that could be generated is "The first Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Student to be Murdered" or "The first Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Student to Become Pregnant and Expelled" headlines that are inevitable. It's a pity that Oprah couldn't have done a little more to help out at the grassroots level. Still, we shall see.

Having said all that I do firmly believe that some genuine world leaders will emerge and create much betterment for their brothers and sisters.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Short Break Over New Years

We stayed at a "chalet" in Cottesloe to bring in the new year. The room was very nice but the beds were terrible.

We didn't get off to a good start for the holiday. Miky unlocked her car and we started loading it with gear. Took a while to do so. During this period in time Miky did some more packing, a bit of gardening and had a bit of a tidy-up.

Then her keys went astray. It was approaching the time to depart so that we could check-in. We turned the car upside down. We turned the luggage upside down. We turned the garden upside down. We turned the house upside down. After 45 minutes of searching for the keys we decided to take my car. I said, "It would be ironic if the moment we load up my car we find your keys. I give you a 10-15% chance that someone stole your keys."

No sooner said than done. As I had loaded the last of the luggage into my boot I had a look in the wheel bay of Miky's car. Guess what I found? Yes, her keys. No matter.

Cottosloe Beach was nice but with the wind playing up for the three days that we spent there the surf was up a bit. Didn't make conditions ideal for sticking your head in the water searching for nice shells. Luckily I brought Miky's goggles.

Let's hit that surf.

Look out for the waves.

Doin' "the ostrich".

Cottesloe Beach with the Indiana Tea House.

Our Merboy.

I only got sunburnt on the final day. Must say, it was nice to go the beach in the morning and then again in the arvo with a nice shower in between.
Busy beach at North Cottesloe.

Last of the sun for 2006.

Coppers on the beat.

Indiana Tea House on New Years Eve 2006.

One day we headed to Freo to visit Fast Eddie's for lunch. In fact, it was the only reason we went there. After finding a parking spot we discovered that the premises was boarded up. It had been sold not too long before. Bugger.

We were awake for the countdown to the New Year. Couldn't really avoid it as our chalet was next door to the pub which was packed with revellers. Didn't bother me too much.

It was a nice holiday. And it allowed me to grow a half-decent beard.
A Short Break At Johnno's Property

Shortly after Christmas Day the boy and I headed up to my friend's, and former boss's, farm for an afternoon. The missus didn't want to come as it was an hour's drive away and she wished to go shopping instead. Funnily enough, John's wife did the same thing. So it was a bit of a lads' day out.

Not a bad little drive out to the country and there wasn't a great deal of traffic. The property is tucked away a little bit but with the right directions it's pretty easy to find. I thought Yu-Jin might enjoy being able to mix with the sheep and he did enjoy feeding them. The farm is a hobby farm but John's sheep look very healthy so he looks after them ok.

It was really nice to be able to kick back and just talk on a beautiful summer's day. When we were working together we could have a chat but not really an in depth, heart-to-heart sort of chinwag. Good thing that I brought some meat for lunch as John had ingredients to prepare a salad and it made quite a satisfying lunch. We had a wander about the whole property and man, is the country dry at the moment. He has a creek at the front but I think it should be named Bone Dry Creek. There's not a skerrick of water in it.

You can make out the noise of the highway from the house, which has lovely high ceilings, but it doesn't bother you too much. Almost the perfect place to get away from it all. I think that was the initial intention as it is a relaxing atmosphere. We found plenty to talk about and sat on the front porch for hours like a couple of old codgers. Yu-Jin found ways to entertain himself, surprisingly, but after about five hours he'd had enough of that. Time to go home. I really enjoyed the day though.

Must be called Bone Dry Creek.

Not much of a shack to stay in.

Yu-Jin feeding the sheep some pellets.

Said sheep eating the pellets.

Spooky fence post.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Trust Is Ruined By Technology

We borrowed a few DVDs over the holiday period. Not much on telly, don't see enough movies and generally not enough time to see them during the working part of the year. Borrowed five per week or so. Hostage with Bruce Willis was great, Rumo(u)r Has It with Jennifer Aniston (not a fan of) was very good, some movie I watched with Arnie in it, Collateral Damage (that's it), showed that he is too old for even his style of action movie and would barely rate 3/10. Master and Commander with Russell Crowe was excellent and The Machinist with Christian Bale was very dark but well written and strangely enjoyable.

A couple of days ago I returned from holidays and there was a message on my answering machine saying I had a Batman DVD overdue by nine days. It intrigued me that nobody notified us of this on the last occasion that we borrowed DVDs. You would think that this definitely should have been brought to my attention earlier. I rang them up and was informed that two other movies were two days overdue also.

My recollection is that Yu-Jin dropped off the DVDs from the first lot whilst I was in the car. The second lot, with the two other outstanding DVDs, I distinctly recall walking into the store with him and he had trouble holding them all before depositing them in the returns slot. I thought that my assistance would be required but he didn't want any help and put all five of the DVDs in the slot. This is quite clear.

Anyway, the video guy said that he would check if they had been put back on the shelf without being booked back in. And, thankfully, as I don't wish to pay some extravagent charge for replacing lost DVDs that I haven't actually lost, they were found and an apology was issued for having put me through the worry.

Was it the system that broke down or was there a failure with the technology? In any case my trust has been lowered of the system and I wish to hand returned DVDs directly to the video people and have them check them off immediately. I can't trust them to be taken care of otherwise.