Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Top AFL Tipper Of The Week

Last weekend I tipped 8/8 for the AFL. It's the first time this season, in 17 rounds, that this has happened. It's been a pretty sad year really for tipping. The competition is hard to pick and some lesser-known teams are shining at present. I thought that I would be up there with the best in the AFL Footy Tipping competition. After that great result I am now ranked 57,622 out of 163,971 tippers in the 2007 AFL home and away season. Surely the weekly result must have been right up there? Taking into account the margin game from the Friday night, which was a blow out when I had expected a tight contest, and my ranking, I came in at a lowly 1093rd best for the weekly tipping. A total of 1576 people scored 8/8 for the round.

Some of the people ranked higher than me for the round scoring eight had names like "I hate footy tipping", "Go Dees", "bomber boy", "Colinrearbum", "russianbabe", "imhot" and "boof". The names people call themselves cracks me up.
What Does Your Personalised Number Plate Say About You?

Lots of people have personalised number plates on their cars. It's a way of telling the world a little bit more about you. People put their names, their football team, their birth year, nicknames and all sorts of things on them. I spotted one this morning that made me think - JULES COX. Was this the personal number plate of Miss Julia/Julie Cox or was it a rather promiscuous woman who also enjoys sparkling jewelry? I'm not sure.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Frugal Bastard's Tips For Husbands

- Don't answer rhetorical questions.
- If you must answer a rhetorical question, lie. People that ask rhetorical questions usually can't handle the truth.
- Don't pretend to know anything.
- Never make the mistake of having made the decision. It can only end badly for you.
- Never do or say anything wrong as you will hear about it for the rest of your life.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Couple More Blogs On The Scene

Sense & Sensibility is authored by Tanzeela from Singapore. I met her and her husband on a plane when heading to Korea in 2001. I've kept in touch with her hubby since - we were both involved in IT.

Ramblings of a Welsh Bird is written by one of my cousins. Obviously she wants to keep herself a bit anonymous so I won't give her away. Haven't seen her since 1994. In Wales in fact.
Frugal Bastard's Tips To Combat Obesity

- Print emails more often to a printer that is far away from your desk and so you have to walk to retrieve them. Bugger the trees. They don't care if you're fat.
- Look out the window more often at work. Ensure that your office doesn't have a window so that you have to get off your fat arse to do so.
- Replace your knee joints with lighter, plastic joints. And while you're at it why not get those heavy elbow joints done as well. If you are a politician you could have your spine removed completely. No-one would notice and you'll be considerably lighter.
- Leave your keys in your unlocked vehicle. This will encourage you to walk to work once your car has been stolen.
- Have a poo 30 minutes before it's ready to come out, not when the turtle is poking its head. The extra effort required will certainly burn calories.
- Learn and copy the behaviour of anorexics.
Just A Thought...

Do vegan actors get involved in "meaty" roles including murderers, rape victims, kidnappers and undercover agents?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Five Things I Have Never Told Anyone On This Site Before...

I've been tagged by Lori to tell you five things that I've never told anyone on this site, but I will resist the challenge to make them about saving money. This should test the old brain cells.

1. I once went about 12 months without swearing. Bugger that for a joke.
2. The longest I've stayed awake for is 32 hours. Then I fell asleep on the back of a motorbike.
3. I enjoyed playing netball at primary school electives when overlooked for any of the boy's sports. Held my own let me tell you. Did it again for the following electives.
4. Took a screamer over the opposition captain in a football grand final on his home ground and then proceeded to kick underneath the man standing the mark.
5. I've never been beaten at the board game Ubiquity.

Who to tag - I'll try Joe and Hammy's Mum.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Time To Wear Black

With the passing of Kevin Sheedy, as coach anyway, I think it is time to improve on the black armband. Normally when somebody associated with football passes away the players sport a black armband. I say all Essendon supporters should wear black this week, instead of the team's colours of black and red, following Sheedy's demise. We can do away with the red strip for one week, can't we?
Civil Engineering Disgrace

I've said it before and I'll probably say it again but the drainage in Perth is an absolute disgrace. Ok, so it's the middle of winter and we've had a bit of rain. That's no reason for the streets to be flooded. It's not like we've had one month's rainfall in one hour like parts of England this month - somewhere in the vicinity of four or five inches (100 - 125mm).

Flooded street in Perth

Not quite knee-deep water

Flooded suburban street

The roads in these photos had experienced less than 25mm of rainfall within a 48 hour period! Bugger all and yet the drains couldn't handle it. The civil engineer responsible needs to do one good job and drop dead.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tribute To Kevin Sheedy

I follow Essendon Football Club. I've only known one coach - Kevin Sheedy. He's been coach of Essendon for 27 years. Twenty seven years people. That's pretty much unheard of in this day and age of professional sport. That's so long that about three generations of footballers have played for the club in that time.

Sheedy is an institution at Essendon. In fact, he should be part of the constitution. Sheedy's been the face of Essendon, a change agent for the game and should be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Legend of the game.

Who will fill his boots at the Bombers? They have to be larger than life and able to add more words to the footballers' vernacular along the lines of "seagull", "marshmallows" and "Martians". Sheedy was nothing if not eccentric.

They will probably need to be a former Bombers player or they stand little chance of being accepted. Of those I see Terry Daniher, Mark Thompson, Gary O'Donnell or Neale Daniher as the most likely for a successor to be chosen from. Mark Harvey has just been appointed caretaker coach of Fremantle Football Club so I don't think that he'll be offered the job, although he has been an assistant coach since 1998 so he's probably a decent chance. I favour Gary O'Donnell with Terry Daniher, TD, being a dark horse.

Back to Kevin Sheedy. Essendon has won four day premierships and a further six night, or pre-season, premierships under his tutelage. Complete list of Essendon premierships. And his very long term win-loss record is around 67%. He started the jacket waving that is conducted by victorious supporters of Essendon or the West Coast Eagles after Essendon won an epic contest by two points. Such was the emotion of the man. Perhaps it is fitting that, if the Bombers don't make the finals, his last game will be against the Eagles.

I am just glad that he hasn't been sacked. His contract won't be renewed and that will leave his pride slightly intact. Alan Jeans said that sacking was a part of life for coaches. "There's only two types of coaches. You're either a sacked coach or you're going to be a sacked coach" - I can't locate the quotation exactly. Thankfully, Sheedy doesn't fit the mould, still. It'd be an ugly mould anyway. He does look like a Toby mug.

So long Kevin. I wish you well. Thank you for all the premierships, great players, unforgettable moments and your love and promotion of the game. Life will be different without you at the helm.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Narky Bus Driver

I had my hands full this arvo. What, with a big jacket, backpack and an umbrella. So I hailed the bus with my umbrella. I gave the bus driver a friendly, "G'day mate," as I boarded the bus and his response was, somewhat delayed, "Please show me your hand when you want a bus."

What to do, what to do? If I catch his bus tomorrow should I;

a) pop my hand out of my sleeve at the last moment?
b) bow as well as lowering and raising both hands in homage?
c) do a Hitler salute?

I could have fun with this guy but methinks he doesn't have a great sense of humour.
A Wise Man Once Said...

"Price has absolutely nothing to do with the value of an object."

That is a statement that I would have to agree with. I had to buy some material the other day and I could get it much cheaper from a company 200km up the road than from a local company. And, I used to work for a distributor and the price of an item was based on who wanted to buy it, what position they had in the market, how much competition we faced in selling the product, etc. It didn't have anything to do with how much it cost us in the first place.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Trials Of Buying A Car

Miky wanted a new car. Not a new new car. Just a much newer one than the one she had. Her preference was for a 2005 Toyota Corolla hatchback. We bought the paper, the Autotrader and the Quokka but didn't locate much of interest. Not in our price range anyway. Couple of other tacks to try - Carsales.com.au and Shoprite.

I'd used Shoprite before to buy my car in 2000. They searched for a car that met my specifications and did a great job. Their commission was taken from the selling price of the car and not added to afterwards. To gain membership either you had to be a union member (I'm not any longer) or a Friendlies Chemist member. It cost a total of $11 to get a Friendlies Chemist membership for the rest of the year.

Carsales.com.au had lots of 2005 Toyota Corolla hatchbacks on offer in our price range. I rang a telephone number, after hours, and left a message. The next day the car salesman, Greig, rang back and we had a few phone calls back and forth before getting hold of each other. I asked if they were part of a fleet buy and he said yes. Booked an appointment for the Wednesday night to view.

By this time the guy from Shoprite, Ken, had located a car at the upper limit of our price range, but it was a sedan. He tried to warn us off buying a hatchback, and when I mentioned our appointment that night he said that they had been purchased from Bayswater Car Rental and should be avoided, but we still wanted to view it.

We arrived at New Town Toyota. No-one came to greet us. It was a very cold evening. Nearly ten minutes past before someone came and gave us a very smarmy, "Can I help you?" Not being in a good mood I replied, "Only if your name is Greig." He then muttered that he would find him for us. Then he just walked back to the guys he had been talking to. More time went by and I headed up to this group of salesmen. Another, younger bloke boldly stepped forward and asked if he could help. I said that we hadn't had any service and he interrupted me with a, "But we've only just seen you." My response was "That gentleman (loosely used term accompanied by finger pointing) spoke to me five minutes ago and said that he would look for Greig for me." No comeback. After being told that Greig was probably buying himself something to eat I waited another five minutes and then he showed, having been called. Surely the first guy could have done that.

Greig was a young man, with smoker's breath, who hadn't been in the job for long. Miky hit him straight up. "Are these ex-rentals?" - yes. "Why are the cars right at the back $1000 cheaper?" - they had no stamp duty paid and were just to get people to the shop. I was staggered by the honesty. We took one car for a drive which was $2000 dearer than the cheapest one of the same age and mileage.

The car was ok, nothing special. But it certainly had come from Bayswater Car Rental. Ken had also warned us that these cars generally did 50000km without a proper service and just had the oil filter changed, if we were lucky. The vehicle we took for a test drive had a big chip out of the bonnet too which our salesman hadn't noticed. Didn't appear to know the car too well.

Rang Ken and said that we were coming to see his recommended vehicle. I had to meet Steve and Ken would pop by later. Drove to John Hughes in Vic Park. Asked for Steve and was speaking to him. He rang Ken and took us over to the car immediately. Young, fresh-faced, knowledgeable, friendly, courteous. He removed the painted price from the windscreen, moved another car out of the way and took us for a test drive. A couple of streets away we swapped so that I could drive. This sedan was a nice little car with a big boot and an MP3 player. Following our drive we were left alone to discuss this whilst Steve gathered some hot drinks for us. Ken dropped in and he and Steve appeared to bit very pally. I asked if Ken had worked for John Hughes and he said that he had about 34 years ago.

In no position to make a decision we decided to take some time to think about it. Steve mentioned on the way out that he'd spoken to the manager and, if it would help with making a decision tonight, they were prepared to knock a further $500 off the price. But only for tonight. I thanked him and said, "I'd rather have my second thoughts first." And with that we left.

There was no comparison. The sedan was in much better condition than the hatchback and appeared to be a much nicer car. I decided to think some more and visit City Toyota as they had some ex-demos on sale. We could pick up a 2006 model sedan for $2000 more. The salesman, a bit arrogant he was, wasn't prepared to talk a deal unless I was willing to put an offer on the car. So, I had to be willing to buy it before we could deal on the price. Not happy with that.

I was able to use the ex-demo model value as leverage to negotiate with John Hughes. I rang Ken and said that we would offer a further $500 below the special offer of the Wednesday night. He wasn't so sure but rang for us and made the offer. About five minutes later he rang back and said, "You must be a believer. I'm a believer but I didn't think that they would accept the offer. But they did. Congratulations."

We picked the car up the next Wednesday. Miky wasn't happy about not getting a hatchback. In fact, she was quite upset about it. We had seen a nice 2006 hatchback for sale but it was $5000 more than we wanted to pay. I told her that in two to three weeks she would have forgotten about her disappointment as her car was very nice.

It's been those two or three weeks and not one complaint has been forthcoming. I tell you, that $11 for Friendlies membership was well spent. There's no way I could have talked a car dealer down four or five thousand dollars on my own. Do your homework when buying a car people. And deal with a dealer, unless buying privately, that you feel comfortable with. And I heartily recommend Shoprite.
Update On The Jetstar Flight

A few weeks after returning home I provided feedback by way of email to Qantas Frequent Flyer relaying the message that I wasn’t happy with our treatment on the flight to Hawaii. I also explained that I had receipts for $72 for meals that I had been forced to purchase even though as a Qantas passenger I was entitled to.

All I received was an automated response thanking me for my feedback which said that not all emails were responded to. A couple of weeks past and I hadn’t heard anything. So, Friday last, I decided to send some more feedback. Just before doing so I thought that it required a phone call this time. I spoke to one guy who then put me through to a lady. This lady, his supervisor, listened and offered to refund the charges that I had receipts for. This resolution made me much happier.

The next night on the way home I dropped in at Harvey Norman as they were having a special of 15 cents for digital prints up to total of 200 photos. It’s not far from the post office so I wandered over there too. To my surprise there was a letter from Qantas. Surely they couldn’t have posted a letter the same day I had complained again? No, they hadn’t. It was a letter nearly two weeks previous apologising for the experience. Enclosed was a Qantas Gift Voucher for a total of $150 which I could utilise in the next 12 months.

One annoying part of the letter stated, “While I can appreciate your disappointment with the difference in service provided, all information about product and services is available online when you make your booking.” I failed to notice the terms and conditions that stated outbound flights wouldn’t be serving meals and inbound flights would be. They just had to have the last word – we’re apologising but we’re still right.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bus Drivers Can't Have Dreary Jobs

I've often thought that bus drivers must have dreary jobs. They drive the same way each day, unless they are on some sort of rotating shift, meet the same people, experience the same traffic congestion, etc. You hear them on the radio back to base occasionally and seeing as there must be about 2000 buses on our roads, (I'm only guessing) surely something happens.

Yesterday I was standing on the bus as all the seats were taken and I heard a lady bus driver on the radio. She was calling the base to alert the police to an assault. Apparently a light-skinned aboriginal woman was being beaten up by a darker-skinned aboriginal man in Thornlie. The woman had blood running down her face. The bus driver was a bit distressed about the situation and had tried to get the woman on the bus but the man assaulting her wouldn't allow that to happen. Comments like, "She doesn't deserve the beating she is getting", and "She's getting the crap beaten out of her" indicate that this bloke wasn't holding back and didn't care who saw.

Would you intervene? The driver had tried to intervene but was unsuccessful. I guess if you had tried to help out the assailant would realise that you are a regular user of that bus service and there's every chance that he would target that route until he found you. I think that aboriginals are quite violent when provoked, perhaps slightly moreso than the general public, so if I'd had the time to think about it I'd be unlikely to intervene. Let's hope the police caught the guy responsible. And let's have not of this "alleged" bullshit.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Don't Speak Ill Of The Dead

From an early age I was told not to speak ill of the dead. It is considered quite rude to do so. It's not as if they will hear you.

According to the Guinness Books of Records 1/13th of the people who have ever lived are alive today. Now, I just checked out a population clock and it tells me that there are 6.606056697 billion people in the world - 21:59 GMT on July 18th 2007. Doing a bit of maths I arrive at the figure of 86 billion people that have ever lived, or, to put it another way, some 79 billion that lived and are now dead.

If you can't speak ill of the dead you are missing out on 92% of the target audience. That seems quite unfair and I think this unwritten law should be scrapped.

Anyway, I think that it is sad when a celebrity dies and then they only become better known once they are dead. My mum told me recently that Stan Zemanek was dying from cancer. Who? Then the reports on the news and online media published photos of him, sans hair, and I still didn't know who he was. Following his death they showed clips of him on a tv show - Beauty and the Beast, and then I realised who he was. A rather loud-mouthed, argumentative, opinionated self-promoter. Why didn't mum say that the first time around? It's only now that he's dead I know who he is.

And to think that I'm not allowed to say anything unkind about him.
Frugal Bastard's Hawaii Trip 2007 - The Blog

After finally finishing writing about our trip to Hawaii this year I have collated the posts into another blog so that everything is together in the one place - Frugal Bastard's Hawaii Trip 2007. And I've put it all in chronological order. Just for posterity's sake, you understand.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Frugal Bastard's Hawaii Trip 2007 - 31/5/07

Spent the day at Ala Moana Center buying clothes. Lunch - Yu-Jin had a McDonalds cheeseburger Happy Meal (TM) which I purchased with a travellers cheque. Miky had Japanese food I had tacos from Taco Bell.

Yu-Jin and I went to Office Max so that I could check out some 4GB flash drives. They had the Internet available so I set up some games online for Yu-Jin. Bit surprised to find the cheapest 4GB flash drive was US$89.90. I checked on the Net back home and could pick up something similar for A$54. Very disappointed in the prices available. Caught a couple of buses to return to the hotel.

We had a swim in the very cold hotel pool. After tea we went t-shirt and leather goods shopping. Bought a few shirts, a wallet and a handbag (not all for me). Bit of a late night with Miky packing most items which, quite surprisingly, fitted reasonably well into our luggage.
Frugal Bastard's Hawaii Trip 2007 - 1-2/6/07

Up at 5:40am to have breakfast and to the rest of the packing. Caught a taxi just before 7am and the driver helped himself to the continental breakfast that was on offer.

At the security screening at the airport we were chosen, as a family, for an additional pat-down search. It must be the wife. She has to be jinxed.

Gate 33 was a long walk and after Miky chucked a spaz about water, followed by me purchasing 1L for US$3.65, Yu-Jin and I caught a small shuttle for half of the walk.

At the gate there was more paperwork to fill out. This time it was a questionnaire relating to how much money you spent, where you stayed and how long you stayed for.

Eleven hours on the plane back to Melbourne. Uneventful. Played card games with Yu-Jin and read him a book that we bought. Wasn't interested in watching the movie and got about an hours sleep. We had breakfast before leaving and brought our lunch with us. I asked a stewardess what were Qantas passengers entitle to in the way of onboard services. She said that we were entitled to meals and unlimited drinks. After what happened on our flight over to Hawaii we weren't going to be caught out again and it sure left a bitter taste in our mouths. It made my blood boil seeing as we had missed out on one meal and had to pay for them on the flight across.

We arrived in Melbourne about 10 minutes early. Lots of people couldn't wait to alight the plane but the ground staff were unable to line-up the platform to disembark. Everybody had to sit down while they moved the plane forward. So much for the early landing.

Had quite a bit to declare to Customs - shells, food and plant material. All ok though. Had to fill in an entry form for immigration for Yu-Jin although I was sure that on the plane they said it was one per family. My mistake probably.

There were three hours to kill and we found some half decent and reasonably priced food at the airport! Yu-Jin fell asleep just before boarding time. He'd been awake for 18 hours. The flight to Perth with Virgin Blue was eventful. There were a group of three boisterous, and probably slightly pissed, guys yelling out "Tazza" every minute or so in front of us. Obviously went to the footy recently. We had asked for a seat closer to the middle of the plane to escape screaming babies and were put in row 23 instead of our intended row of 28. Thank goodness for that as there was a screaming, crying kid around row 28. Mind you, we had a drunk behind us who kept headbutting our seats as he fell forward and grabbing the seats every time he wanted to move as he wasn't too steady on his feet.

It was so cold that I couldn't get to sleep and there were no blankets available. Long four hours that. Did kip for about an hour after Miky slept with her legs on me which warmed me up a bit.

Quick ride home in the taxi and I'm glad to see that the new overpass on Leach Highway has been opened.

Honolulu petrol prices on 1st of May 2007
Frugal Bastard's Hawaii Trip 2007 - 30/5/07

Miky spent the day shopping. Yu-Jin and I caught #52 bus up to Pupukea Beach (meaning "white shell") after reading about the great snorkelling there. It was a 1 hr 45 minutes ride from the Ala Moana Center. The beach wasn't that impressive but there were quite a few people there, including many Texans. Few fish to see but a great many sea urchins. I was too scared to put my feet down. At one stage I counted 16 sea urchins on one rock on the side that I could see. Yu-Jin didn't want to snorkel but did a lot of swimming.

Pupukea Beach

Click it or ticket - I love Hawaii's seat belt slogan

After having a shower and getting changed I asked one guy with SCUBA equipment if there was a place to eat nearby. He thought that the nearest place was five miles away in Waimea.

We walked about a minute and came across a grill. Whilst waiting for our burger and fries one guy sitting next to us was feeding the chickens that surrounded us. He even fed them a piece of chicken. Just as we finished our meal we made our way to the bus stop - which was located across the road from a Foodland supermarket.

Two hours later we arrived at the Ala Moana Center. Looked around for a Linkin Park CD and bought a pineapple ice cream. Back to the hotel where I had a short nap. After tea I went to my mate Wayne's house and didn't return until nearly 2:30am. Good to catch up with him - we travelled around Japan and Seoul together in 1996.

Coconut Plaza Hotel balcony view

Monday, July 16, 2007

Attack Of The Little Johnny Eyebrows

I wish in the bathroom at work today, washing my hands after doing my business, when I spied in the mirror a horrendous sight. No, not my face. I had a monstrous eyebrow. Ok, it was a bit longer than the others and it stuck out like a dog's hind leg. So, I pulled it out. To my horror it was about two inches long.

That's reminiscent of a mad scientist or like Little Johnny, our prime minister. Did you know that John Howard has his eyebrows trimmed? Even more reason for me to remove the eyebrow hair. Besides, I don't have the green and gold tracksuit that is warranted should the owner have eyebrows like that.

From - http://images.google.com.au/imgres?imgurl=http://www.theage.com.au/ffximage/2006/06/23/john_howard_wideweb__470x320,0.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.theage.com.au/news/aussie-update/pm-leads-the-chorus/2006/06/23/1150845362165.html&h=320&w=470&sz=27&hl=en&start=1&um=1&tbnid=k30XE9gMSysUSM:&tbnh=88&tbnw=129&prev=/images%3Fq%3Djohn%2Bhoward%2Btracksuit%26svnum%3D10%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-GB:official%26sa%3DN"
Frugal Bastard's Hawaii Trip 2007 - 29/5/07

Packing up and washing day. Only trouble was the washer took 33 minutes but the dryer about an hour. Did two loads of washing and whilst waiting for the second drying sequence we checked out and did some shopping in Lahaina.

Downtown Lahaina

After shopping, the temperature was 100F if you believe it, we folded up our clothes and spent 1 1/2 hours driving to Pai'a heading for Hui No'eau Visual Arts Center - some art house that Miky had seen in an art magazine. It certainly was not worth the trouble as they were renovating and there was almost nothing to see. We ate our lunch in the post office car park as there weren't too many places to park in the town of Pai'a.

Hui No'eau Visual Arts Center

Hui No'eau Visual Arts Center building

Totem pole at Hui No'eau Visual Arts Center

Returned to Kahalui and went shopping at Big KMart. What a disappointment. The guy in the electronic department didn't understand English too well and wasn't interested in serving me. I asked about a top 20 album chart and he told me that only Walmart did that. I don't understand how KMart expect to sell anything, especially if a Dolly Parton album is about the latest offering. Hair colouring was cheap though. Miky found some Kelloggs classic style mugs, bowls and plates to buy.

Filled up the car with fuel, damned expensive on Maui, and found the airport easily enough. Checked in and whilst going through carry-on screening Miky got picked on again for her cosmetics. They didn't say anything about the 236mL of sunscreen that was in my bag.

Yu-Jin had to sit in the row behind us so he had no-one to talk to as the passenger next to him was Korean. Only arrived at the gate 15 minutes before boarding time.

Hotel, Aqua Coconut Plaza, in Honolulu is ok with only a king size bed. Kitchen utensils are a little lacking. Two and a half stars is about right.
The Boy Is Sick And So Is Transformers The Movie

As it is school holidays here I wanted to do something special with the boy. I promised to take him to see Transformers. I grew up watching the cartoon, which is still on tv, and the boy has about three Transformers figurines including one of the new ones that we picked up in Hawaii.

Yu-Jin even helped out around the house with some vacuuming, emptying of the bins and tidying up of his toys. Before we could eat lunch he had a sleep as he was sick and I had to make sure that he was up to watching the movie as it goes for nearly two and a half hours. He said that he would be.

Lunch was at Chef Han's Cafe as they offer $10 movie tickets with your meal. In the cinema that holds 300 people there were about 70 bums on seats. I did notice that the latest Harry Potter movie was full for the day so no guesses as to which movie was popular.

Transformers was great. Action-packed nearly all the way with humour at other times. I would say that the movie was as close as one could expect following the cartoon. The special effects were brilliant and Yu-Jin commented that it must have cost a lot of money to make. Afterwards he said that it was probably the best movie he has ever seen. Not that he's a movie afficionado or similar. Great movie though. I noticed Steven Spielberg's name in there. Hardly surprisingly really. No problem for a sick child to stay awake which was surprising for a movie that long.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Frugal Bastard's Hawaii Trip 2007 - 28/5/07

The Makai Inn was right on the sea and so you could hear the waves all night. Rather pleasant.

Dawn at the rear of Makai Inn

Miky was up really early. In fact she was up before sunrise and she was really please about what she saw. The early morning at the beach was worth getting out of bed for. Whilst Yu-Jin had breakfast we did some shopping at Safeway and I booked a luau.

D. T. Fleming Beach

When we finally got going we headed towards the north coast, through Ka'anapali and up to Honolua Bay. From the scenic lookout above, after viewing a sandy beach (D. T. Fleming Beach) from a golf course previously, we spotted Honolua Bay and thought that it would be a good spot to snorkel. There were already a couple of commercial catamarans in the bay with day-trippers. I double-parked in the parking bay so that Miky and Yu-Jin could get changed. Then I found a parking spot and got directions from a local on how to reach the beach.

Overlooking Honolua Bay with catamaran

Honolua Bay - no sand on this side of the beach

Honolua Bay - no sand on the other side either

Interesting bird at Honolua Bay

Yu-Jin wasn't happy about the fact that there was no sand and that we were going snorkelling again. The beach was quite busy and some people even brought SCUBA gear. At one stage Yu-Jin was about 40-50m out and halfway to the boats. I swam out to get him which wasn't a bad idea as his goggles filled up with a bit of water and then he got a mouthful on the way back to shore.

There were lots of sea urchins, parrotfish, wrasse, colourful coral, a 4 ft long thin fish with a strange beak and one large school of silver fish - much like a scene out of Finding Nemo. It was very enjoyable. Even Yu-Jin had a good time. Had our lunch when finished. Miky insisted on having a shower so we drove back to D.T. Fleming Beach, voted best beach in America 2006 (I don't know why, personally), and used the showers.

Drove into Napili region and bought ice creams and looked at a craft fair. Few nice local photos on display and for sale. But you expect that being in Hawaii and surrounded by beauty.

Headed south to Lahaina to watch some surfers and ended up at Launiupoko Wayside Park. Not very many waves but quite a few surfers. Spent an hour there and then it was time to pick up the tickets for the luau, no parking to be found in the vicinity (of course), then quickly home to shower and get changed.

Launiupoko Wayside Park surfers

The luau was hosted at Royal Lahaina Resort which was about six miles down the road. We arrived just before 5pm but had to form part of a long queue. My tickets said we had to check-in by 5pm to obtain our front row seating. I'd paid an extra three dollars for those seats. Paid US$62.99 for the seats and Yu-Jin was free. Saved about US$20/head for the tickets.

Luau queue

Lots of people at the luau

After waiting for about 40 minutes in the line we entered and had our photo taken as a family. We were about to be seated near the sun but three seats were available right in front of the stage. Brilliant. We had to change to the other side of the table when three VIPs came but that was ok.

I thought that the review was going to be a bit cheesy with a big lady on stage singing Hawaiian songs. She was funny, entertaining and could really shake her tush. Anyone who wished to hula was invited on stage. Only two guys did so.

Hula dancers and our hostess

Then the pig was unearthed from the imu and displayed on stage.

Hawaiian oven - imu

Luau pig

Little bit more singing and then we were taken to the buffet centre. Some people, out of the 500 or so in attendance, filled two plates with an enormous amount of food. Later, much of the food was wasted. It is difficult to accept how wasteful the, mainly American, attendees were.

The kahalua pork and turkey were nice, poi was ok, coleslaw, macaroni, hot dogs, chicken nuggets (lots of traditional Hawaiian food here, notice), Hawaiian sweet potato which was purple and cakes were included. You could go for seconds, which I did, but I don't think that too many others did.

The dancing by the men and women was very good and Dwight, good friend of one of the VIPs at our table, was great. Fire dancing was good too. A very good night out which finished at 8:15pm. Nothing on my plate was wasted.

Four ladies dancing - they changed costumes a lot

Hawaiian sunset on Maui

Funny man Dwight in the review

Hubba-hubba or hula-hula?

Fire breathing and fire dancing

Fire dancing extraordinaire

Went back to the Inn so that Miky could change and we dropped her off in town so that she could check out the galleries. I put Yu-Jin to bed and went to pay for the accommodation. Ended up talking to Susie, the proprietor, about travel for the next hour. Went to pick Miky up and do a bit of shopping myself, just prior as I was a bit early.

As it was Memorial Day the shops closed a bit earlier than usual. Closed at 10pm instead of 11. Caught up with her in one of the shops. Bought some knick-knacks before we went out for a drink.
The Things You See When You Don't Have A Gun

I dropped Yu-Jin off at taekwondo and went to do a bit of shopping at Coles. Grabbed a few items to make mini pizzas with and then I noticed someone familiar in the meat section. He had a couple of kids with him so I greeted him with a, "You've been busy." It was Luke with his kids Oscar and Maya. I don't believe that I've seen either of his kids.

Go back about six years ago and Luke and his wife were our downstairs neighbours. They moved out to the couple before his wife had their first kid and I didn't see any more of them. Talk about a shock to find out that he has moved twice, popped out another sprog, and moved pretty close to where we live.

And to think that he remembered my name along with that of Miky and Yu-Jin. Gotta hand it to the man. I wasn't sure if he was Lucas or Luke but worked it out a minute after we parted. Then I bumped into him at the checkout.

It worries me that if he has another kid it's name will be "Wiener".

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Frugal Bastard's Hawaii Trip 2007 - 27/5/07

Woke up at 8 this morning, rather surprisingly. Had brekkie and then went shopping for lunch and tea. Bought some more seafood as Hilo has some nice stuff on offer. Back to the hotel to cook the food and then checkout.

Pick-up truck

Huge banyan tree

Old Hilo buildings - Hilo isn't well known for modern architecture

Every town has a Palace Theatre

Headed off for a scenic drive along the coast, overlooking the bay, followed by a visit to the Rainbow Falls before heading back to the Japanese garden near our hotel to have lunch. Yu-Jin saw some boys catching fish and wanted to join them. We encouraged him to talk to them and see if he could borrow a net. The boys were friendly and he had great fun with them. He caught six fish and they had crabs and what looked like a baby barracuda.

Rainbow Falls

Another banyan tree

The banyan trees grow strangely

Japanese Garden in Hilo

Kids fishing

Following lunch we headed to the petrol station where I had difficulty using the credit card and then replacing the nozzle when I had finished. Three different octanes are efed from the same hose and nozzle. That's different. We did 256 miles on US8.176 gallons. Petrol was US$3.409/US gallon. If you wanted the Full Service it cost US$0.50/US gallon extra. Bugger that. Short drive to the airport. Miky's carry-on luggage was searched by security, probably because of the food in it.

In the waiting lounge we sat next to a couple who had had their 1pm flight delayed and were "bumped", therefore they couldn't get a flight until 5pm. There was a passenger on their earlier flight who had a 5:30 wedding to attend in Honolulu who was going to miss the wedding. Bummer.

None of us were seated together. Yu-Jin was in row 21, Miky in row 19 and I was in row 10. At least it gives Yu-Jin the opportunity to talk to someone else and make him a little more responsible for himself. Heading to Maui (Kahalui airport) via Honolulu.

Just my luck. I'm sitting up near the front so that I could disembark quickly and our plane was the one ongoing to Maui so I didn't even have to get off. Still had to wait for all disembarking passengers before I could change seats. Bummer.

Miky and I were seated together for the second flight. Taxied out to the runway then the pilot did the pre-flight checks and an electrical fault was detected with the flight computer. Therefore, we had to turn back to the terminal. When we stopped Miky wanted me to get an apple from her carry-on luggage. I wanted to wait until the seat belt sign was switched off and so she chucked a spaz, again. She dropped the bag on my head. This woman has no patience. And as soon as she stood up the seat belt sign went off so she wouldn't have had to wait any longer anyway.

The electrical problem meant that one of the black boxes has to be replaced, facilitating a 20-25 minutes delay. Some people on this flight were due to take a later flight but boarded this earlier one and were contemplating changing planes. They were a little dismayed to hear that the other plane was delayed and we were still due to leave earlier than it. The flight crew announced that you were welcome to leave the plane but had to take your carry-on luggage with you but that the plane would leave without you if you didn't re-board in time. It made me wonder what they would do about the luggage in the hold if this was the case, what with terrorists and the like.

Hawaiian Airlines, known for having the best on-time record, is in disarray. Service is still not as poor as Jetstar though which left a worse aftertaste. We haven't had much luck with Hawaiian Airlines yet but it was a good idea to pre-book all of our inter-island flights. This is supposed to be the low season but the flights have been full, in general. Hotels are busy too. Last night, whilst waiting to return the torches to the front desk, I heard the receptionist say that only one room, an ocean view kitchenette, was available at the price of US$154.

Yesterday arvo I had to ring five hotels in Maui and only three of them had rooms - $135, $165 and $195. Hawaii is busy.

Observations -
Not a lot of people indicate to change lanes.
Nearly everybody drives about 10 mph above the speed limit.
People have no qualms about talking on their mobiles whilst driving.
Helmets on bikes and motorbikes are not compulsory and I've only seen one girl wearing a helmet whilst riding her bike.
Not a lot of rain so far on our trip. A little bit fell on the drive down the mountain last night and a bit whilst driving around today.
Local calls from a pay phone cost 50 cents but inter-island calls cost 25 cents for the first minute and then US$4 for four minutes, if you wish to continue, no part payments of $4 accepted.

Was disappointed to learn, as we were leaving, that we were entitled to a complimentary Aloha Breakfast during our stay at Hilo Seaside Hotel Uncle Billy's. Having a kitchenette we made our own meals. Having someone else make breakfast would have been appreciated.

Quite a few Aussies on the trip to Maui. Uneventful flight. Picked up a silver Dodge Caliber from Dollar Car Rental. This car rental mob provided me with their version of a pre-inspection report on dents, paint nicks, etc which I had to sign. Then I carried out my own inspection and the first thing to note was that somebody had been smoking inside.

I asked for, and was given, directions for Best Western Pioneer Inn in Lahaina. Drove to Lahaina, went down the local strip where walking is almost as fast as driving. Didn't find the Best Western Pioneer Inn and so stopped to look at a map. Miky asked some guy on the street for directions. He pointed it out and it was about one block from where we had turned initially. No parking was available and the lady had told me that there was lots of parking available when I had booked. Went inside, after asking for directions as the hotel part wasn't too obvious, and there was no reservation under my name. It was then that I discovered I had driven to the wrong hotel. We were booked for the Makai Inn. Stupid me. A feeling of horror ran through my body as it had taken about 45 minutes to get here, it was late, and my missus would be very annoyed if that was the case.

It turns out that the Makai Inn was only 10 minutes away. The directions given included, "Half a block past the Cannery Mall." Now, half a block, in my book at least, does not equate to half a mile. Found it ok. The we did some shopping as we were worried about the Memorial Day holiday which was due the next day.

No tv at the inn. No smoking or loud noise allowed either. Could be interesting. I'm so glad that the hotel, after our 45 minutes drive, wasn't located back in Kahalui. That would have been more than a little interesting.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Where Does The Weekend Go?

Saturday morning did see a bit of excitement with that accident. The boy had a birthday party to go to just after lunch. Once again it was at Jungle Gym in Willeton. We haven't seen the family of his best friend since last school holidays. He had a good time but during the meal the boys were only interested in burping and farting. Seven year olds. Later that night we went to our favourite Japanese restaurant in Vic Park - Senoji. The kangaroo that Yu-Jin and I had was fabulous.

Jungle Gym in Willeton

Another pic of Jungle Gym

Sunday morning saw us fruit and veg shopping in Subi. And who should we bump into but the birthday family from yesterday. Then the boy and I went to Auskick in Riverton to see if he would like to play. Yes, was the answer. Back home for lunch and to clean the house. Following that we headed off to Belmont to watch a taekwondo tournament. We knew a few of the competitors who ended up winning trophies. There were some great skills on display and a few poor fighting techniques. Good for Yu-Jin to see what goes on. I managed to stay up to watch the first set of the men's final at Wimbledon. It was the first time I'd seen any tennis as the tv coverage is abysmal in Australia. Shame on you Channel 9 for ruining one of the world's major sporting events.

I didn't get time to read more than a few pages of the sports section in the paper. The weekend just goes.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Lexus Smash On Albany Highway This Morning

Being a Saturday I drove in to work early this morning. I received a bit of a shock on Albany Highway when I came across the wreck of a Lexus. There were a few people around and I parked my car to see if my help was needed. All you could smell from at least 50 metres away was oil.

As I arrived at the scene I noticed a guy on a mobile calling for emergency services. Then I saw legs and boots hanging out from where the car door should be. And they weren't moving. I've done first aid before but my mind was a bit blank. My first thought was about danger - DRABC. The traffic was minimal. The guy with the mobile was talking to the driver, explaining that he had been in an accident and that he shouldn't move as he may have broken bones. About one to two minutes later the driver moved the sun shade out of the way and got out of the car. He didn't have to move much wreckage as the whole top of the car was exposed. When asked if anyone else was in the car he said that there was a friend. No-one else was in the car but the passenger side door didn't have a scratch on it so it is feasible that a passenger was there and had left.

Amazing. This guy walked away from the car! The airbag on the drivers side had inflated, his car seat appeared broken, almost nothing was left of the drivers side of the car but he walked away! Another thing that struck me was the smell of alcohol surrounding the car. I cleaned about four broken beer bottles away from the only lane of the road not blocked so that traffic could pass by.

About a minute later he was about to do a runner. The guy with the mobile was quite upset with the driver and told him to sit down. These two nearly came to blows as the driver was in a hurry to leave the scene. Quite understandable if he was drunk. The mobile phone guy yelled at the driver, "If you get up again I will put you down again!" There was no way that this guy was doing a Ben Cousins.

Two ambulances and three or four fire engines/vehicles then arrived and it was time to head off to work. If the driver had been seriously hurt I would have been able to offer assistance but he wasn't too badly hurt.

Passenger side of Lexus.

It looks like the Jaws of Life have already been used but that's not the case.

No need to open the door to get out.

Hardly a scratch on the passenger side.

She's a totalled Lexus alright.

How on earth did the driver walk away from this?

Bit of damage to a fence before trying to take out the building.

Apologies for the images but my camera is no good in the dark and I've had to fiddle with some of the exposures and doctor the pictures to show you the carnage. He's a lucky man. Apart from the damage to the shop that he'll have to pay for, the clean-up bill, the emergency services to pay for and the fact that, if drunk, his insurance company won't be paying for these or his Lexus, he got off lightly. And the Lexus is not a cheap car. The guy was an African so it appears that he had a nice car to show off to the ladies but that's not the case any more.

It appears that he was heading out of the city in a southern direction on Albany Highway. There are some deep tyre marks as he left the road some 15-20 metres before hitting the fence and then colliding with the building on the left hand side of the road. The impact appears to have flung the car about 6-10 metres back onto the road. Two witnesses said to me that they were in a building across the road and heard an almighty crash and came out to investigate. I don't know if the car flipped but I'm surprised at how one side sustained so little damage.

But the driver walked away. I hope he bought a Lotto ticket.

***** POSTSCRIPT *****

Here's the report of this accident on News.com.au - the same article as appeared in the Sunday Times.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Jason Lane Kidnapped In Nigeria

******* NOTE *******

This post has been significantly altered to clear up some inconsistencies so the comments might not appear to make sense.

Jason Lane that has been kidnapped in Nigeria. I studied at trade school with a Jason Lane in Mount Gambier. He was a bit of a dill but I've never heard a bad word against him and wouldn't wish anything bad to happen to him. Further info indicated that the Jason Lane kidnapped is 38, and his father lives in Mount Gambier, and the guy I know would be about 33.

I'm prepared to take the anonymous comment at face value that he is a top bloke and I do hope that he, and his fellow kidnappees, are rescued safely.

****** BREAKING NEWS *******

He's safe - news report.

And the photo included in this report shows a man whom I don't know. Glad to hear that he is safe.
Do Americans Have Differently Shaped Mouths To The Rest Of Us?

Whilst in Hawaii recently I visited Taco Bell. I have fond memories of this fast food business from when I was in Reno in 1995 and they had a special of 12 tacos for US$2.99. You can guess where I had lunch every day of the week. So, I just had to drop in again to grab a bite to eat. Granted, the prices of tacos in Hawaii in 2007 is markedly different to Reno in 1995.

The reason I ask if Americans have differently shaped mouths to the rest of us is based on the drink container that I obtained in a combo meal. It's a plastic container which I've brought home as a souvenir, and use at work, although it is not a collectable. I like it because it is huge. In fact, it holds one litre of fluid, which is a very odd measurement for a country that uses bastardised Imperial measurements. But when you drink from it the lip is shaped so that it is nigh on impossible not to spill some. I'm curious as to how Americans in their millions put up with it and it hasn't been redesigned. I find it most unusual. Don't Americans have any problems drinking from it? Or is it just part of the culture to spill a bit of drink down your shirt?

And one litre of soft drink is over the top if you ask me. No wonder they have such problems with obesity if that is an acceptable drinking standard.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Frugal Bastard's Hawaii Trip 2007 - 26/5/07

Drove into Hilo this morning and wandered around for an hour or so. Had a shave ice, they are advertised everywhere and I thought they must be a local delicacy, which was far too much sugary syrup for our liking, although the boy liked it. The farmers' markets were being held and we had a look at the somewhat poor quality produce for sale. Did a little bit more shopping at SackNSave.

Miky and Yu-Jin had a swim in the hotel pool while I cooked fish for lunch. We watched telly for a while then drove up to Volcanoes National Park together. Showed Miky the steam vents and the crater before heading down Craters Rim Drive. They both slept pretty much all the way.

The sign at the end of the road indicated a 4 mile hike due to take 4-6 hours in the daylight to get to the lava flow. When we arrived at walking marker no. 5 we asked everybody returning if they had seen the lava and how long did it take. Everyone had a different story - 4 1/2 hours, 2 hours there and 2 hours back, go to the 6th marker then walk 45 minutes. Other people said 2 1/2 hours past the 6th marker and hadn't seen anything. We had left the car park at 5pm and stopped at 10 to 7. Then two girls came and said that they had left the lava at 6:05, therefore, it was only 45 minutes away. We decided that I would go on alone and Miky and Yu-Jin would head back.

Impressive lava flow

Miles of lava

Warning Marker No.2

After 20 minutes of very quick walking I decided to turn back. Way in the distance. I had seen something orange but thought that it might be 1-1/2 hours away and wasn't worth the bother. Besides, it was getting quite dark and difficult to see. Time for the torch. Decided to turn back at 7:20. Thought that Miky would be cursing me anyway.

Caught up with them, after asking everyone that I came across if they had seen them, at 8:30. Miky had been really enjoying the serenity and solitude although Yu-Jin was a bit concerned. We arrived at the car park at 9pm. Having the wind at your back certainly made life easier but it seemed that the lava crumbled under your feet so much easier in the dark.

Temperature at sea level was about 73 degrees Fahrenheit after having been about 78 all day long and up at the visitors centre, at 4000 feet above sea level, it had dropped to 55. Arrived home about 10:10pm. My legs acted as though I was on uneven ground still. Had a hot bath to try to counteract the inevitable aches and pains. Dead tired.