Thursday, December 30, 2010

Australia Likely To Tax Internet Purchases

My prediction is that the Australian Government, headed by the Labor Party and the Greens, will begin to tax purchases made on the Internet from foreign countries. I believe that online retailers in the US enjoy a tax-exempt status as they complained bitterly that it would hurt their fledgling businesses. This was in place for the first ten years of online business and was extended - correct me if I am wrong.

Currently Australian citizens can purchase goods online from an overseas country GST-free if the overall value is less than A$1000. This figure is also the same as the amount of goods that can be brought into Australia as tax-free purchases when you've been on holiday. It's a pretty generous figure I think you'll agree as it's much higher than most other countries. This probably came about so that Australian politicians could avoid our 12-32% sales tax, at the time (pre-GST), on any purchases they made offshore during travels. At least it's been extended to all and sundry. Citizens and permanent residents that is.

Aussies like a bargain. Our country provides a huge amount of commodities such as wood chips, oil, gas, coal, copper, iron ore, etc. The rest of the world requires these commodities to manufacture goods. They then seem to charge us more than our fair share for a comporable product. Don't believe me? Check your local iTunes store. The majority of singles cost A$1.69 - $2.19 apiece. I'll wager that in the US it's closer to US$0.99 a track. Xe.com informs me that the Aussie dollar is worth 1.01745 USD this morning. So, US$0.99 is closer to AU$0.973. Parity in the dollar but no parity in the pricing from Apple.

But there are many other companies from whom you can purchase a product at a much lower cost than you are able to in Australia. Take cameras for example. When I was hunting for a camera this time last year the price ranged between $249 and $399 in Australia for one particular model. I was able to purchase it from a company based in Hong Kong and, including DHL shipment, it came to only $202. Plus they offered a spare battery for an additional $22 when I couldn't purchase that in Australia for less than $65! That purchase was a bit of a no-brainer. And I'm not the only Australian to have noticed that money can be saved online.

Some major retailers in Australia have noticed the competition and called for purchases made overseas but online to be taxed with the GST. They include Gerry Harvey from Harvey Norman, Bernie Brookes from Myer and Solomon Lew from Premier Investments (which owns Just Jeans among others). They argue that the $1000 tax-free threshold is hurting their businesses. Heck, you can buy a couple of pairs of denim jeans from the States and have them shipped to Australia and it's still cheaper than buying them from a department store in this country.

Bernie Brookes has stated that Myer will open an online store so that customers can purchase directly from a China warehouse and avoid paying the GST. It will make purchases appear more attractive to the shopper and it's an attempt to keep your dollars flowing through to Myer.

Not long after that statement by Mr Brookes and Gerry Harvey said that he was planning a similar move.

Check out what Michael Pascoe, a well-respected finance commentator, has to say about the issue. He considers that the retailers are more concerned that Aussies know how much the goods are really worth and how much mark-up the retailers have.

The Australian Government has launched an investigation into online sales and the implications for avoiding payment of GST. This is due to take nine months to complete and certainly wouldn't help retailers this year in Australia make up for "lost" sales.

Make no mistake - there is a lot of money, and foregone tax revenue, going overseas from online purchases. And when the government has this spelt out to them in black and white you can be assured that this loophole will be closed. I forsee that tax-free purchases made overseas will be limited to those that are made when you are physically overseas and not online. Internet purchases will be made subject to the GST.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Great Time To Be Sick?

I wouldn't have considered that Christmas was a great time to be sick. I remember many years ago when my mum came down with the mumps on Christmas day and it completely ruined the day for her. Couple that with the fact that we were spending it three hours from home and it just added to the excitement.

As I hadn't had a break from work since the first week of Feb I thought that I might get sick due to relaxing too much and the body falling victim to the exhaustion that it should have experienced sometime during the year. That's happened before. This time around it was a little different.

On Christmas Eve my tummy didn't feel well. In the early hours of Christmas Day there I was talking on the great white telephone. I was calling Ralph although he wasn't answering. I thought that that would be the end of it. If something doesn't agree with the guts then the guts deals with it, right? Not in this case.

Two more days ensued of headaches, tiredness and general tummy upsetedness. Then came the runny poo. From 12:30 until 4:30 in the morning. The end of it? Nah.

Couple more days of nausea, not that I considered pregnancy to be a concern, before everything finished. One of my colleagues said that his father had the same issues and apparently it was going on at school just before they broke for the summer holidays too. Glad to hear that it wasn't just me.

Great. Sick on a Saturday (Christmas Day), Sunday and two public holidays and no sick leave. Hah. Not to worry. Did it ruin Christmas? No. The Boy was only interested in the presents and the missus in the Boxing Day sales. Everybody else got what they wanted. I just happened to have Christmas lunch a few days late. And to think that on Christmas Day I only ate a piece of toast and a cup of soup. No turkey for this turkey.

I'm all better now. Back to my sort of normal.

Just Remember People....

Just remember people - If you win an escape holiday that you will have to return to work. There is no escape.

Just remember people - A good haircut is known as a hairdo whereas a bad haircut, such as a comb over, is called a hairdon't.

Just remember people - The last minute has a disproportionate amount of work crammed in making the rest of the work process appear to be inefficient.

Just remember people - Phones were invented so that kids who didn't listen at home when growing up can call mum or dad for advice that had been given over and over and over and......

Quiet week this one. Gonna give this a rest for a while. Need a bit of inspiration. Hope you enjoyed this little series.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Photo scandal girl needs help: AFL

There's a rather interesting story at the moment involving a teenage girl in Melbourne and a nude photo of St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt. Although the girl claims to have taken the photo it appears that she may have stolen it. Didn't stop her from asking for $20,000 to hand it over before publishing it. Apparently this girl has slept with some 21 footballers and is pregnant to one of them.

The AFL issued a statement that the girl needs help. I'll say she does. A decent manager could have gotten closer to $50-75k for that.

Monday, December 20, 2010

You Could Knock Me Down With A Feather

I don't believe it. I just don't believe it. I received a USB stick from a supplier about a year ago. It was 1GB and probably worth about $12 retail. Considering that they are a huge multinational company their buying power possibly puts it in the $2-4 range. Still, it was a very nice, and handy, gift. Had to take a work colleague's vehicle the other day and took along my FM transmitter and the USB stick to play some music as it was about half an hour drive there and the same back. His car stereo plays MP3s very well and in an inspiring manner direct from USB.

At the end of the day I removed my stick and remember balancing it on the bags I was carrying before opening the front door. After that I was unable to locate it. Almost turned the house upside down in an attempt to find it. There wasn't much point in asking my colleague as I clearly remember taking it.

Roll onto tonight when I put a pair of shorts on. The pocket felt a bit strange as though I had a pocketknife or nail clippers in them. Reaching in I found the USB stick. Hmm, it had been through the wash and hung out on the clothes line to dry. With some trepidation I tried it on the computer. Imagine my shock when I found that the files were still intact and it still read them. OK, the little red light indicating file transfer doesn't work but I don't care. Who said electronic equipment is not hardy? You could knock me down with a feather I am so gobsmacked.

If I did have any naughty files on there I guess that they would have been cleaned up by now.

Very Bittersweet Irony - Boat People Tragedy

Australia has a bit of a problem with asylum seekers arriving by boat, otherwise known as boat people, to the tune of about 1500 per year. That pales in comparison with some refugee numbers in European countries but it is considered to be a big deal in this country. Nobody says too much about some two hundred thousand odd people a year who have arrived in the country legally and have come on planes, usually overstaying a visa and/or living/working illegally. You would have thought that it would be much simpler to keep an eye on these people and deport them once they've overstayed their welcome as you know who they are, when they are supposed to be leaving and would have a fair idea of where they are staying.

Back to the boat people. They can stay for years in detention centres waiting to be identified and granted asylum. Of course this leads to unrest, protest and violence as you can expect from people locked up for great lengths of time when they have come here for a better life.

Last week, on December 15th, a boat was smashed on the coastline of Christmas Island. The search for survivors has now been called off but those who did survive will be called upon to identify the bodies. I heard a report on the ABC news this morning that half of the 30 people known to have perished have been identified.

How very bittersweet. Instead of taking years to identify people in detention who are alive we can identify dead people within a week. What does this say about our processing of asylum seekers? We can do a much better job if we really want to. Maybe we haven't proven who they are though so it's not quite the same and they wouldn't be in a position to be granted asylum and released into the community if they were alive.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Just Remember People....

Just remember people - Don't think that it's possible to swim in ever decreasing circles as it's technically a spiral. And you're spiralling downwards in any case.

Just remember people - a bird in the hand will probably peck you.

Just remember people - it's not the thought that counts. It's the accountant.

Just remember people - luckily Jack thought highly of his mother or he might well have sold the old cow for a handful of beans.

Just remember people - you can be sure that the owners of 7-Eleven, Seven & I Holdings Co. of Japan, are rather glad that Al Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Centre, The Pentagon and in Pennsylvania took place on September the 11th and not July the 11th as it would have darkened their name considerably.

Just remember people - If you have multiple personalities it only takes one to know one, it takes one to tango and one is a crowd.

Just remember people - the difference between being the most sexy and a discriminator on the basis of gender is just an ecstacy tablet.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Why Did Australia Miss Out On Hosting The World Cup?

Sure. You've heard the news. Qatar is set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Australia, very hopeful of gaining the honour, after years of effort from Frank Lowy, scored one vote in the first round of voting and was eliminated. Japan and then Korea bowed out leaving the choice between the US and Qatar.

Maybe Japan, Korea and the US were being a bit greedy in trying to host the tournament again as they have all hosted it within living memory. But Qatar? A country with a population of 1.7 million, of whom approximately two-thirds are foreigners, and with a World Cup-time temperature averaging 46C? Over Australia? With a population of 22 million, existing stadia, reasonable transport, great destination, stable politically...?

Perhaps we were a little naive in our bid. Obviously we had no idea that money talked. Although there were rumours of improper vote-buying (gifts) for delegates or their wives from the Aussies. Maybe the bribes, as some have seen them, weren't good enough. It certainly wasn't the fault through lack of effort on Frank Lowy's behalf or the joining of the sales pitch by Julia Gillard. The result was quite seriously decided long before then. Why did we waste some $45.6m on the bid? Maybe we shouldn't have called those cheats from Italy cheats. Must have been seen as a blight upon the game or bringing it into disrepute.

Good luck to the Qataris. Nobody is going to want to play in those sorts of temperatures. Qatari football is not well known for its prowess. I'm shocked that they won the right to host the 2022 World Cup but not surprised to see that Australia missed out. Rather humiliating exiting in the first round of voting though.

Beware of Scammers - Windows User Call

A couple of weeks ago, on the weekend, I received a call from someone asking to speak if they could speak to Mr Me. I replied, "You are currently." The guy didn't understand this so I realised that I wasn't talking to someone who used English as their first language. Great start. He gave me his name and the company which he worked for and when I asked him to repeat the company name I still didn't catch it although it included "Technology" in the name.

I asked him what was the reason for his call. Was I using Windows on my computer? His concern was based upon the fact that malware was coming down from the Internet and had affected Windows users. His company was ringing all Windows users in my state to warn and assist them. "So you're calling all of the Windows users in my state?" I asked. "That must be four or five hundred thousand people."
"Well, there are other people calling as well," he responded. Apparently he wasn't on his own.

I ended the call with a polite, "So, you want me to turn on my computer so that you can ask me to find a few files and then inform me that they're malware and that I should download your program to fix them when it will, in fact, allow you access to my computer and steal my personal information and identity? Go and stick it up your arse."

With that I hung up. I've heard of this sort of scam. Don't let yourself become a victim. This cold calling amazed me but there must be some serious money in it for them if they do gain control of your computer.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Third Ashes Test Observations From Day One

A day of carnage for the Aussies on the opening day of the Third Ashes Test in Perth against England. Here a few observations made.

The Cancer Council's message has gotten through to the Aussie cricketers - stay out of the sun.

Including Beer in the team would have been akin to the Aussie selectors admitting that we had an ailing side. Terrible pun that.

There's no truth in the rumour that the Australian selectors were all lined up at the booth at the WACA near the entrance which was entitled "CHANGE".

Only Shane Warne is sticking it up the English.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Overheard on the Street

Overheard by me, and probably several others, a one way conversation between a cyclist and a BMW X3 (or 5) driver the other day.

"Indicate, you motherf*&#er!!!"

All I could do was give him a thumbs up as he passed. There was nothing that I could add in words. I like a man who speaks his mind.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Taekwondo Grading - Red Belt

Following our Christmas party at work on Friday I was very sore from a day of snorkeling and beach cricket. I didn't train on Friday night but did so on Saturday. Sunday morning I had grading to attempt for 3rd geup - red belt with one stripe.

Nervous as hell. Why do I feel like a kid about to enter an exam before grading? I guess we all are nervous about passing and take nothing for granted. Just couldn't wait to get on with it. By the time you start you done enough pattern practice to really confuse yourself.

Luckily once we started I didn't have to wait, the blue twos did but the blue threes graded, and the nerves faded away. Managed to do my three patterns ok without stuffing them up. Did muck up one of the line exercises but in a more difficult way. Oh well. My jumping back kicks were nothing to write home about and my spinning kicks were far from desirable. At least I didn't fall over and embarrass myself. Sparring was ok.

Then we had to sit and watch the blue twos. One big guy, good friend of mine, had no partner so when it came to self defence and sparring I had to help out. I knew that I would be asked to do this as I am the same size, less 15kg, as him and nobody else at the grading was even close. Man, did I feel stuffed afterwards. When I sat down the girl next to me said, "Are you dead yet?" Yes, it was also a warm day and I did feel knackered.

Reasonable pass so now I'm a red belt. And with that comes responsibility. Ok, maybe there's not too much responsibility. But there were a few bruises.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Just Remember People....

Just remember people - everybody is in a race. The human race. Although some people aren't doing so well and don't look like getting a place.

Just remember people - Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer probably had a severe cold and shouldn't have been out working late especially in that cold weather. He should have joined the union movement and obtained sick leave.

Just remember people - success breeds success but bogans breed bogans.

Just remember people - the way to distinguish between a Muslim and non-Muslim woman during summer is quite easy. The Muslim woman wears non-revealing clothes so that only the eyes can be seen. The non-Muslim woman wears a large pair of designer glasses to hide her eyes and very little clothing.

Just remember people - it takes one to know one but it takes two to tango.

Just remember people - if beauty is in the eye of the beholder then ugly must be kept somewhere else. I'm guessing that it's probably burnt into an area in the brain.

Just remember people - two minute noodles take closer to five minutes to eat so don't believe the hype.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

What Would You Do With A Lazy $110 Billion?

It would seem that the US of A has more money than it knows what to do with. Well, it has some useless money, some $110b of it, that it has to guard as it wasn't printed properly. And to think that they cost in the vicinity of $120m to produce it's a rather costly exercise. They aren't sure how the money should be disposed of. Might have to look at making a few suggestions.

What would you do with a lazy US$110b?

- The Yanks could pay off about 0.0795% of their national debt.
- You could buy-out Carlos (Slim) HelĂș and Bill Gates - Forbes list of billionaires.
- You could get about 75% of BHP Billiton Limited at current market capitalisation.
Argentina's foreign debt could be paid off - Wikipedia List of countries by external debt
- Plenty of nice Pacific islands going cheap enough.
- You may have enough to buy Chelski, er Chelsea.
Put the money in a high interest rate account, say 6.20% at Bankwest, and live off the $6.82b/yr it would pay. But seeing as the maximum in the account is $2m you'd need to set up 5,500 term deposits. And the term is only for 7 months. That would keep you rather busy. Too busy to enjoy your money perhaps.
- Might buy my son an ice cream. Might even buy the Mr Whippy van.
- Pay off my home loan. Buy the bank too.
- Maybe the Yanks could buy the Wikileaks Website.
- Purchase 57.8% of Google.

Any suggestions?

Julian Assange and the Sex by Surprise Charge

So, Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, has been charged by Swedish authorities with "Sex by surprise". That's a rather strange charge but the linked article explains it relatively well. It's amusing that the Swedish government wants to extradite him from Britain when the maximum penalty is only 5,000 kronor (less than a grand). What's the bet that the US has some interest in the extradition.

If they have a law against sex by surprise surely they must have a law against non-surprising sex. Can you imagine being charged with being unadventurous in bed? In Sweden, of all places?

"You, sir, are boring in bed. You've brought the act of sex into disrepute. You have been charged with non-surprising sex."

What would the punishment be? Free lessons? I've seen the shirt - Sex Instructor - First Lesson Free.

Linkin Park in Concert at Burswood, Perth

The Boy and I went to see Linkin Park in concert at the Burswood Dome on Tuesday night. The support act was a local band called Sleepwalker who weren't too bad but didn't have too many songs that were notable.

I'm afraid to say that the gig wasn't a sellout and they closed the entire upper sections, where I had a ticket, and we were seated a little further back from the stage. I took earmuffs for The Boy and earplugs for myself as my ears were ringing for six days after their concert three years ago. Perhaps that took away from the enjoyment a bit, I'd say a lot actually as I listened to the last song without them and it sounded so much better, so that was a bit of a bummer. I'm getting old. Also, took my camera and filmed a few songs but unfortunately, and I didn't find out until the next day, the sound is distorted as it was so loud. Got a few good photos though. It was still quite an enjoyable night. And those three words at the conclusion of the concert from The Boy meant everything - "Awesome. Thanks Dad".

Mike Shinoda exploding

A little bit more mellow

Nice set and a jumping crowd

If you get the chance to see them on their A Thousand Suns 2010-2011 World Tour do yourself a favour and do so.

Linkin Park in Concert, Perth on Facebook.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Michael Clarke's Bat - Collector's Item

The Sunday Times has a competition whereby you could win Ashes tickets to the match in Perth and meet and greet Michael Clarke and grab his signed Slazenger bat.

Win Michael Clarke's signed bat

Okay, tickets to the match sound great. But will Michael Clarke be at the match as I, and many others, think that he should be dropped as his form with the bat is abysmal? He doesn't deserve to be in the team even if he is the vice captain. Assuming he does get picked for the starting 11 you won't have much time to meet him as he'll either be spending most of the time fielding as the Poms are rather difficult to dismiss currently. If the Aussies are batting you may miss your opportunity to meet him in the frenzied rush to and from the pitch.

At least his bat will be in mint condition. There shouldn't be any nicks or red marks on it as he's hardly put bat on ball this series. Should look just like a bought one.

Gillard Has Declared 2011 a Year of Delivery and Decision for her Government.

So, Julia Gillard has declared 2011 a year of delivery and decision for her government. Well thank goodness the Labor Party has actually achieved something after three years in charge - a decent slogan. Is anybody still buying this shit? And how the hell are you going to increase job opportunities when unemployment is hovering around the 4% mark which is generally regarded as full employment?

Wake up Australia. The years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 we just as good for delivery and decisions. Still plenty of time this year to deliver and decide. I'm sick of this political spin and bulldust.

Curtin Robofair 2010

The Boy and I attended the Curtin Robofair yesterday. There were quite a few robots on display and lots of children in attendance. Even the police had a couple of robots to show including a bomb disposal robot. My favourite was the robot spider which you could play with. We were there for less than an hour though. A little bit disappointing. If we'd gone a bit earlier we would have had time to build a model robot.



Curtin Robofair 2010 Video

Pity that the engineering students don't have to spell properly. I would have thought that code has to be exact for a program to compile.

Just Remember People....

Just remember people - Mein Kampf is not a child's story recounting a school camp.

Just remember people - shops that advertise sales as "Personal shoppers only" are discriminating against those shoppers who wish to be impersonal.

Just remember people - A short survival guide for American gays in the military - 'Don't arse, don't tell.'

Just remember people - there's a level to just how crazy words are.
ornamental - 60%
sentimental - 55%
departmental - 50%
experimental - 50%
governmental - 50%
developmental - 46%
environmental - 46%
temperamental - 46%
interdepartmental - 35%

Just remember people - tradesmen may drive the quickest and most erratically on the roads but they are still late for appointments.

Just remember people - if shit is going to hit the fan then you have a short period of time to act and try to save the situation before it actually hits. Alternatively you have some time to make your escape.

Just remember people - there's probably an inventive Nigerian who is collecting royalties everytime a "Nigerian" scam is mentioned in the press as he's trademarked the term.

Just remember people - fish makes for a versatile food. If it's cooked properly you can serve it as fish. If it's not cooked properly then you might be able to get away with calling it sashimi.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Dancing Robot - Ed-E from Keepad

Attended Curtin Robofair 2010 today. Here's a video of one of the robots on display - he dances!


Ed-E the dancing robot

Friday, December 03, 2010

Funny Cricket Scorecard

I thought that I saw a funny line in the cricket scorecard at the second Test match today in Adelaide.

WatSON c. PieterSEN b. AnderSON for 51.

Ok, not quite as funny as Lillee c. Willey b. Dilley for 19 which happened in a test match in Perth in 1985 if my sources are correct. Wikipedia says that it happened in 1979.

And what about the Patel match?

Cricket Masterchef - New Program

You've seen Masterchef Australia. You've watched, but not necessarily understood, Iron Chef. You've been amazed by Junior Masterchef Australia. Now prepare for the latest culinary and gastronomic tv series - Cricket Masterchef.

Cricket Masterchef stars the Australian Test Cricket team but you'd have to say that the variety of dishes is sadly lacking. There's very little spice and not much zest included in the ingredients. Let's have a look at some of the dishes forthcoming from the second Ashes test match being held in Adelaide.

Simon Katich - he's prepared a duck, the platinum (or diamond) version after being out without facing a ball.
Ricky Ponting - he's also prepared a duck, a golden duck, after departing first ball.
Michael Clarke - his speciality is goose, of which he's made himself out to be, after only making two runs. It could be said that his preparation was unassisted and that he has cooked his own goose.
Ryan Harris - another golden duck. So litte imagination in the kitchen these Aussies.
Doug Bollinger - he's a bunny.

I'd like to have seen a batsmen score zero and play at his best. That would be a Peking (peaking) duck. You'd have to say that it was a pressure cooker situation for the Australians in the middle at the Adelaide Oval today. And didn't they get a basting from the Poms? Mind you, the Poms aren't very imaginative when it comes to cooking either. They just had the Aussies on toast.

The Australians didn't get to enjoy their dishes today and the only cooking that they've tasted for a while is humble pie. Well Ricky, revenge is a dish best served cold and we can see that the Aussies are not cooking with gas. With the Aussies' cooking skills it will probably end up as Ashes anyway.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Spanish Woman Claims Ownership of the Sun

Well, I've heard some downright stupid things in my time but my time obviously isn't up as this takes the cake. A Spanish woman has claimed ownership of the sun. Apparently she wants to charge for usage of the sun and pay 50% of the proceedings to the Spanish Government, 20% to the national pension fund, 10% to research, another 10% to fighting world hunger and keep a measly 10% for herself.

And you thought that it could happen only in America. Not so. Just what does she think she is going to charge for? Sunlight? Waves (generated by the sun, actually), heat, promotion of plant growth, etc?

We have laws in this country whereby fruit from a neighbour's tree that is in your property becomes your property. Doesn't that also mean that sunlight in my backyard belongs to me? Anything that is freely available and invades my personal space surely doesn't belong to anyone else. How can you charge for something that you have no control over? Sunlight falling on a solar collector that I own belongs to no-one else, does it?

Gee, would I even give her two years before the lawsuits start? People will sue for premature aging due to the sun, skin cancer, sunstroke, faded curtains, dried up dams, depletion of the ozone layer, global warming, damage to the Antartic ice shelf, melting of glaciers, damage to roads, bending of railway lines and subsequent train derailments, people burning feet on roadways, purchase of sunscreen, fires caused by sunlight on broken glass, cracks in render... I could go on. Has she really though this through? I don't think much of her claim, "I am not stupid, I know the law," as I really don't think that she has seen how much trouble she could be asking for. And how many jurisdictions would she have to defend herself in? What do the communist states think of this?

What sort of money raising taxes has she imagined? Is she going to charge a commission from every state/country that uses daylight savings? Will we have to pay a commission of the solar energy collected on our roofs? What about those countries that are in the Artic and Antarctic circles and experience 24 hours of sunlight - will they pay more but get a rebate in winter? Will the charges be in Euros? What about countries that are not able to access foreign currency?

I think that it will be some time before a more stupid idea is brought to life. Maybe she had a siesta in the sun for a little too long. Or received a great dose of sunstroke herself.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Who Wants To Bowl For Australia?

The Australian bowlers, with the exception of Peter Siddle in England's first innings, where he picked up a hat-trick, struggled to make any sort of impression in the first test match at the Gabba. So, who is going to be dropped and who will replace them?

Mitchell Johnson didn't have a great game. In fact, it was the first test match, his 39th, in which he failed to take a wicket. Coupled with his duck and a regulation dropped catch he didn't have a great match. By those figures Marcus North appears positively lethal with his score of one with the bat and all of the England wickets that fell in the second innings (one). North could even elevate himself to a frontline bowler with that effort.

I'm an admirer of Johnson. He's terrorised batsmen and performed very well for his country. On a wicket that offered nothing for the bowlers as the match went on I don't think that he can be singled out for his lack of penetration with the ball. Get rid of the moustache and the sleeve tattoo and he'll be back to his best.

Siddle will probably hold his place. Hilfenhaus, who bowled beautifully at times, is also under the pump. But the coach doesn't want to make wholesale changes. Let's see how much fortitude the selectors have.

Still, Dougie Bollinger looks a likely replacement and Ryan Harris, if he wasn't susceptible to injury, is also making a strong case for a call-up. I think that getting a match at the Adelaide Oval for a fast bowler is a bit of a poisoned chalice as it's usually a flat track and doesn't offer the quicks much. Look at England to post around 600 runs in an innings.

Overheard on the Bus

A few weeks ago I overheard part of a conversation on the bus. A women said to a guy, "I worked with a guy who suicided himself."

Suicided himself? Sure he didn't suicide anybody else? Talk about murderising the English language. Maybe Dr Death could have suicided somebody else.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Creepy Crawlies and Critters Around My House

Over the last couple of days I've taken a few photos of creepy crawlies and other critters around my house. There's quite a bit going on in the world of miniature creatures in your backyard. If you're a bit squeamish you may not want to look.

Creepy Crawlies and Critters Photo Album
on Facebook.

Monday, November 29, 2010

2000th Post

Gosh. This is the 2000th post on Frugal Bastard. To think that I started it back on the 30th of March 2004 and it's been going for six and a half years. I'd say that the style has changed over time - First post. Just over 71,000 visits later and what have people received for their money? Not much, really.

Why did I start Frugal Bastard? Well, I guess I'm a bit of a mouth on a stick and if I have something to say I like to say it. Blogger gives me a mouthpiece to shout to the world. It's just a case of 'Is anyone listening?' Perhaps I've become more spiteful during my time as a blogger but I also realise that you have to be careful what you put in print as it stays there, on the Internet, in some form or other for eternity.

You may wonder where the name comes from. The guys at my previous job noted that I was tight when it came to spending money. One of my colleagues referred to me as a frugal bastard and I thought that that sounded like a great name for a Website. And the nickname has stuck. Some things never change.

My first experience with blogging I called Japan/Korea Blog and that's had some 84,000 visits which isn't too bad considering that it's only 36 posts in total. Not sure when I started that as all of the posts were published on in March of 2004 so that they appeared to read as a diary of my first trip to Japan and Korea. I uploaded scanned photos to a storage facility on the Web as Blogger didn't even have storage back then.

Blogger has become much easier to use. Nowadays you don't have to know much about HTML to link to a news story or other article on the Web whereas when I started it was quite important to know. The storage of photos, as mentioned, has become much more user friendly (still not quite as good as Facebook). The autosave feature has saved a post on more than one occasion.

Why do I continue to do blog? Well, I get a kick out of people commenting on what I have to say and the feedback is great. Gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling. I've met some great people through blogging even though I've never met them in person. There is a community feel about it. Those that blog are similar to me (Ed - poor bastards). There aren't too many that I follow from my early days that are still blogging though which is a bit of a shame. Man, did I have some material to read in the old days (Ed - old days? It was only six and a bit years ago!). If someone has something interesting to say and you comment (be nice people) then it is easy to make friends. If not, just move onto the next blog. There are plenty of bloggers out there with things worth listening to.

Thank you to all of my readers. There can't be many of you that have stuck around for all of this time.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Just Remember People....

Just remember people - someone has to throw the first snowball to start a snowball fight.

Just remember people - Johnnie Walker. Drink responsibly. If you get plastered and stumble about like a cheap drunk you'll ruin their reputation.

Just remember people - decompression is not a combination of the dot com bomb and depression. Unless you had heaps of expense Internet-company shares that suddenly became worthless perhaps.

Just remember people - before India became the world's call centre it used to be Houston, Texas. Think back to, "Houston, we have a problem"?

Just remember people - being a republican doesn't mean that you ran a pub once, changed jobs and then are running a pub again.

Just remember people - the customer is always right. He might be a right nuisance or a right pain in the arse but he's still right.

Just remember people - everything can be fixed. Even that which is not broken.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ashes Prediction

In case you've been robbing a pub with a machete and been gunned down by the police (see previous post) or have just been living under a rock, there's going to be a huge cricket test series taking place called The Ashes. It starts in Brisbane on Thursday. Australia versus England (and Wales). Well, Australia versus England/Wales/Scotland/Ireland/South Africa/West Indies and any other cricket-playing nation that can provide them with decent cricketers. But enough of that.

The Teams:

Australia - Ponting, Clarke, Bollinger, Doherty, Ferguson, Haddin, Harris, Hauritz, Hussey, Hilfenhaus, Johnson, Katich, Khawaja, North, Siddle, Smith, Watson.

England (and decent players from Rest of the World) - Strauss, Cook, Anderson, Bell, Collingwood, Pietersen, Bresnan, Broad, Davies, Finn, Morgan, Panesar, Prior, Swann, Tremlett, Trott.

The Venues:

* 1st Test - The Gabba - 25th-29th November 2010
* 2nd Test - The Adelaide Oval - 3rd-7th December 2010
* 3rd Test - The WACA - 16th-20th December 2010
* 4th Test - The MCG - 26th-30th December 2010
* 5th Test - Sydney Cricket Ground - 3rd-7th January 2011

The Gabba. Brisbane. Usually steamy with the ball doing a great deal in the opening session. Nightmare for batsmen early on. If England were to bat and survive the first session without losing a wicket I'm afraid the Aussies are done for. If the Aussies were to have them 4 for then we're in with a shot.

Adelaide Oval. Adelaide (of course). Great batting pitch. I expect the Poms to bat better than the Aussies and this match could be a draw only because England decide to make 700 runs instead of 500 "just to be safe".

The WACA. Perth. Should be 38C. Every day. The heat should take it out of the Poms and I expect the Aussies to win this match. Extra bounce might be difficult for the Poms to get used to.

The MCG. Melbourne. One of the greatest sporting arenas in the world hosting a magnificent contest. That is if England isn't already 3-0 up and has won the series. Weather plays a bit part in Melbourne. Expect it to be dry, windy, cold, wet and then sunny. All before the first drinks break. Expect more of the same after the first drinks break. Should be just like playing in England. Except for the dry and sunny bits. England to triumph.

SCG. Sydney. Traditional turning pitch. Aussies having already lost the series will include Hauritz, Doherty, Smith, North and Clark as spinners desparate to win a match. Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar will show them how to bowl and England will still win. If the weather holds up.

betfair odds (23/11/2010):
Aust $2.06
Eng $2.86
Draw $5.70

Reasons that I think Australia will struggle to be competitive include;

Mitchell Johnson doesn't have enough support from the other bowlers to enable him to be the frontline bowler that we all know he can be. He'll try to hard to bowl England out and not concentrate on putting the ball in the right spot. Not enough discipline from the bowlers to keep the pressure on.

Michael Clark appears to just want to maintain a decent batting average and in no way attempts to push the scoring along when batting with the tail. Steve Waugh did this very effectively. Perhaps it's a blessing in disguise that he's injured and we might actually unearth someone who is a batsman.

Ricky Ponting is past his prime with regards to his batting and captaincy. Time for Brad Haddin to replace him. If we lose this series, as I expect, although the bookies don't, he'll lose the captaincy.

Hussey and North will be batting to retain their spots rather than batting with supremacy over England. Not going to be consistent enough.

Watson and Katich should be the best performing Aussies bats, followed by Johnson (at least in average) as the ball won't move around as much as the England bowlers are used to. But with Watson having injured himself in the last Shield match Australia will miss his bowling ability.

Collingwood will be a thorn as he is difficult to remove and a great fighter. Reminds me a great deal of Steve Waugh.

Broad is a great young bowler with some fire in the belly. Also a tad petulant but will give as good as he gets. Decent bat as well and with tired Aussie bowlers will score a fair amount of runs.

Pietersen could change a test match during one session. Expect to see this happen a couple of times during the series.

I’m tipping England 3-1. Hard to see any match not having a result.

Why Would Cops Bother With Tasers?

So many reports about cops assaulting criminals with tasers these days. I think that I've just found out why we should not be arming our law enforcement agencies with tasers, batons, capsicum spray, etc. They are obviously wasted instruments for controlling non law-abiding citizens. The gun is the best, and probably only required, tool for a police officer.

The news article this morning was - Man shot dead by police in pub robbery officers only armed with guns

Notice how by this evening it has changed to Surveillance operation turns deadly: plainclothes officers shoot robber? Even the link is redirected.

Maybe somebody considered that the headline wasn't too intelligent and required change. Perhaps the police union had something to say. It wasn't the best bit of journalism.

I was surprised that the news article made much regarding the fact that the police officers
didn't carry any weapon other than a gun. They dealt with three robbers armed with a machete.
Does anybody, in their right mind, honestly think that capsicum spray would be good enough to subdue the criminals? Gotta say, cops armed with guns and not afraid to use them is probaby the best deterrent. What other weapon would have been useful in this situation? And didn't the cops, off-duty cops too, do their job properly?

Surely we should be commending these fine officers for carrying out their duty efficiently and protecting innocent citizens. We shouldn't even be trying to enter into a debate about what weapons the police should be carrying. Unless we're talking about getting rid of the rest and arming them with guns only. What business has anybody running around and assaulting/robbing people with a machete?

Police 1 : Crims 0

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Full Moon

Looks like there's a full moon tonight. Took a few shots with the camera and found a new feature, quite by accident in the dark by pressing a few buttons, which waited 10 seconds and then took three photos. Only managed to get a small number of photos that aren't a big blurry or bright spot on the screen.

Nice exposure

Wispy clouds envelop the moon

Spooky moon shrouded in cloud

Just Remember People....

Just remember people - take medication only as directed. If symptoms persist then there really might be something wrong with you.

Just remember people - stick and stones may break my bones but machetes are more more effective for occasioning grevious bodily harm.

Just remember people - there is one thing worse than your kids asking, "Are we there yet?" It is when you're in bed with your wife and she asks, "Are we there yet?"

Just remember people - you can forget all of your worries if you have amnesia.

Just remember people - persons who steam cook their eggs don't appreciate being labelled as poachers.

Just remember people - going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in the garage makes you a car. (I didn't make this one up)

Just remember people - motion refers to physical movement but emotion doesn't mean electronic movement in the same way that email means electronic mail.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cottesloe Beach Hotel Christmas Party

Explosion off the coast of Cottesloe

It's safe to show my pink shorts now that the world is at an end

A few weeks back I was invited to attend the Christmas party of a supplier to our company. I generally don't turn down these invitations as, apart from free drinks and nibbles, they are a good way to network. That's the reason they exist anyway. The invitation said to make sure that arrival was by 6:45 pm to catch the sunset. I arrived ten minutes after said time but just managed to view the sunset. So, that's what people pay the big dollars for when it comes to Cottesloe?

Sunset

Ships in silhouette at dusk

A bump on the horizon

The party was held at the Cottesloe Beach Hotel, known to the locals as The Cott, and they put on a free bar and some delicious food. I got to meet most of the employees of the company doing the entertaining and what a varied bunch they were. Topics of discussion ranged from politics (first meeting topic appropriateness?), home loans, football, credit card fraud and unwashed lycra bicycle pants. It was a very nice evening and being on a Wednesday the area was quiet. Not many people at Cottesloe beach at 10 pm.

Cottesloe Beach Hotel

A deserted Cottesloe beach

BHP Billiton AGM

Last Tuesday BHP Billiton held their annual general meeting at the Perth Convention and Entertainment Centre. I went along to this AGM as well, an interested party. What caught my attention, before entering the building, was a political activist rally whereby they were protesting the mining of uranium by BHP Billiton. Not very many people were in attendance but they were getting a bit of media coverage. I did notice that they were not able to spell very well, when it came to their protest banners, so perhaps they were trying to protect their rights for not having to spell properly.

Anti uranium mining banner referencing the current Western Australia Premier Mr Colin Barnett

Ban uranium mining banner

bhp biliton - violating human rights to poor spelling

BUMP - Ban Uranium Mining Permanently

Gathered uranium mining protesters, media and onlookers

No uranium mines in W.A.

Nuclear waste - where does it go/

Toxic Traders?

This meeting, unlike Wesfarmers' AGM, was held upstairs. There were quite a few TV cameras to record the event and some professional photographers in attendance. But the display before entering the room before the meeting was to be held wasn't as good as Wesfarmers last week. There was very little paraphernalia on display.

BHP Billiton shareholder registration

Marius Kloppers, the managing director and CEO, surprised me by how young he looked. I expected someone much older to be running a company as big as BHP Billiton at appear to be also are quite mild mannered. This is something I certainly wasn't expecting. I had anticipated that he would sound much more like a bully. Where was all the chest beating?

Unlike last week's meeting there was only one row of seats reserved for all the directors. A Noongyar "Welcome to Country" was delivered by Neville Collard, who wore a kangaroo skin called a booka or with a red cockatoo tail feather. It was Neville's opinion that the early settlers, white men, were spirits of deceased family and so the local Aboriginals welcomed them.

This gathering was for the 150th anniversary of BHP Billiton. Not that they made such a big song and dance about it though. Chairman of the meeting was Mr Jac Nasser and I thought he did quite a good job. I must say it was much more lively than last week though and they were quite a few political activists who were taking part in the meeting. People were protesting the likelihood of a uranium mine opening at Yeelirrie. A few locals had made their way down to attend a meeting and they were quite vocal. When Jo Valentine, a member of Friends of the Earth Australia, got up to talk there was a murmur around the crowd as she is very well known. A couple of members of the Australian Conservation Foundation spoke too. One guy from Colombia came all the way to talk at the meeting. Tully McIntyre, also from Friends of the Earth, wanted to know what BHP Billiton had to say about their 44% share in Deepwater Horizon, the doomed oil rig off the coast of America that caused so much environmental damage, but the Chairman promptly told her to get her facts straight as BHP Billiton has no interest in Deepwater Horizon.

One local Aboriginal who lives close to the proposed uranium mine site warned that it was a place of death. He said that the custodians of the land, the Aboriginals, want partnership in the resources and that it was legalised robbery as BHP was just taking the land from "our people". One member of the Conservation Council of WA wanted to know if Western Australian uranium would find its way into nuclear weapons and why had BHP Billiton blocked a public enquiry. Another member of the Australian Conservation Foundation welcomed the slide that showed percentage of nuclear power used in the production of electricity wasn't likely to change in the next 20 years according to slide shown earlier in the meeting but the Chairman soon told him that the overall demand for electricity was going to increase greatly in that time frame.

Malcolm Broomhead, one of the directors, was standing for re-election. This was opposed by one shareholder as he stated that Broomhead had stolen $30-$40m from Orica when he was CEO of that company. This guy certainly was vocal.

When it came to voting on the items on the agenda they were introduced individually and the Chairman put forward the motion for each and added his voting intention before asking if there were any questions. When it came to the item for the Chairman who was seeking re-election he handed over the chair to John Schubert who handed it straight back once the item had been dealt with. One particular item was declared a special resolution, that of the share buyback, as it had been announced the previous day that it would be going ahead and so any vote would not be binding on the board.

Alex Vanselow, Group Executive and Chief Financial Officer, appeared to drift of to sleep during the meeting as he had nothing to say. No questions were asked of him.

Some points of interest brought to my attention by the Chairman were that China had just overtaken Japan with regards to GDP but with a population 10 times that of Japan there was quite a potential for growth. Coupled with India, which has 90% of China's population, and a GDP of only about a quarter there is a strong driver for growth in the export of commodities. The emerging new economic powers appear to be Brazil, Russia, India and China. Also, mega cities in Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey, Brazil, India and China, including Delhi, Kalkota, Shanghai, Beijing and Sao Paolo, were likely to drive growth in the region.

Hundreds of millions of people in poverty were being helped by BHP Billiton's 100 operations in 25 countries worldwide with 100,000 employees and contractors. Community programs received 1% of pre-tax profits during the last financial year with the total donated reaching $200m.

BHP Billiton maintains a simple management style and represents a scalable organisation with expandable assets. Coupled with disciplined execution of projects and fewer, larger assets that are low cost and expandable, it is poised to do very well in international operations.

I saw a few familiar faces in the crowd and Mr Hardwick and Mr Campbell whom I saw last week got up to speak and make some very relevant points.

Following the meeting we were invited to partake in refreshments including hot and cold drinks, sandwiches and desserts. Very nice indeed. I was waiting for Marius Kloppers to make an appearance but all of the exits were attended by bodyguards and I rather got the opinion that he was a protected species. Whilst having my lunch Alan Boeckmann, one of the directors, came up to me and started a conversation. Actually, I had something quite relevant regarding the company I work for and his so that might have surprised him somewhat. It was nice that he was approachable and wanted to chat. He asked about my feelings regarding the meeting and I said that the agenda was much the same as the AGM I attended last week but the procedure was quite different and the Chairman had conducted it quite well. We spoke about the level of political activism that was evident and he mentioned that meetings in the USA attracted many more nutjobs than this one had.

Then it was back to work.

Boy Scout Trick To Light a Fire With a Magnifying Glass

I honestly didn't think that it would work. Yesterday the temperature was 38° C and we took a magnifying glass out into the sun to burn some ants. I focussed the light onto some old dry leaves and they just burst into flames. That was really surprising! If you're going to do this at home make sure you have a clear area and do it under supervision. We found the ants a little too difficult to focus on because they ran away.


Boy Scout Trick To Light a Fire With a Magnifying Glass

Book Review - The Last Tsar by Edvard Radzinsky

I've just finished reading The Last Tsar by Edvard Radzinsky. The book goes into incredible detail of Nicholas II - the last tsar of all the the Russias. The reign of Nicholas II begin in tragic circumstances when his father Alexander III was murdered. Nicholas took the throne and during the mourning period and married his childhood sweetheart Alix of Hesse from Germany. One could so that that was not the start to a happy reign.

Edvard Radzinsky had access to secret documents in Russia in his ability to cover the incredible amounts of history in the Russian royal family is amazing. He had access to the tsar's diaries which we kept from the age of 13 and which gives us a great insight into who Nicholas II was. I understand that Nicholas was never a strong man for his mother held much power in the empire and his wife Alix appeared to be an autocrat at heart.

Nicholas was in a very privileged position as tsar and when some unfortunate accidents happened during his reign and many people were killed he became known as Nicholas the Bloody although the book doesn't talk about this in great detail it is as though Nicholas didn't know what was happening around him. I would say he was quite sheltered from what was actually happening in the country.

The story about the last tsar has been hidden from the truth the last 70 years. He and his wife had four daughters before an heir, Alexei, was finally born. But the heir was a sickly child and suffered from haemophilia. This illness was kept as a state secret. Alix, although she was queen Victoria's granddaughter, was ignorant to modern medicine which in fact could not treat her son had turned to Rasputin for help. He was a demonic and may and despised by many bodies treatment for the boy appeared to work and his mother had great faith in Rasputin as a healer. She kept the faith in him until her death and her demise can be partly attributed to her belief in Rasputin. The people of Russia did not believe that he, Rasputin, have such power over the royal family and they were condemned for the belief. If How could such a despised men have such great power in the royal household?

Nicolas came out from a large family and there were many grand dukes, his brothers, and they were largely murdered by the Bolsheviks. It is intriguing how much information Radzinsky has been able to unearth about the Romanov family. Did you know that Nicholas and Alix conversed in English and wrote to each other in English? There were over 600 letters from the empress to her husband during their lifetime. Her Russian was never fluent. Considering her ties with the British royal family, and Nicholas also, perhaps it's not so surprising that they used English.

When the second revolution came, the first was in 1905, Nicholas realised that he would have to abdicate to protect his family. This did not have the desired affect though and they were forced to leave their palace in Tsarkoe Selo as prisoners although at the time they may not have realised this. The guards for there for protection of the royal family. I believe the royals felt that they would be rescued by the British royal family but in truth nobody tried to save them. They were kept for some time in Tobolsk which is not far from Rasputin's hometown. This was seen as a good sign by the empress. Their final place of captivity was Ekaterinburg and they were not allowed much freedom here. Their captors were trying to discover the whereabouts of the Russian royal jewels without any success. Very cleverly the jewels were sewn into the bodices of the grand duchesses.

The final few chapters of the book are relating to the execution of the royal family and what happened to the people involved in the execution. At the time of completing another book a strange men contacted Radzinsky and provided documents that were still classified. Some of the royal servants were slain as well and there were meant to be 11 people killed. And just before book was published the Romanov family bodies were exhumed and the number of bodies seems to indicate what was written in the book was true - only nine people were killed and two may have survived. There is a great mystery surrounding Anastasia and Alexei. Did they survive? Radzinsky was not the only one to investigate this possibility and a great deal of mystery surrounds this outcome.

The Last Tsar by Edvard Radzinsky

I enjoyed this book immensely and there are very few books I have read that go into this much detail. The man should have been a detective but he did have access to an immense source of material. The structure of the book actually changes from being a biography to listening to the opinions of the author written firsthand. It is a brilliant book and does not waffle on at any stage. Superb reading and I can only recommend it to you. Not bad for a book picked up for $3.00 at a book fair.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Prince William - Romantic or Cheap Bastard?

Prince William has finally proposed to his long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton. I hear that he has given her his mother's engagement ring. Is he being a romantic or is he just a cheap bastard? There must be one or two jewellery shops around town who would have given their eye teeth to be in a position to sell him a ring.

Don't know that I'd want to accept a ring that belonged to someone who was unhappily married and who met a tragic end. Tragic because I missed a whole quarter of the football match between Essendon and Adelaide so they could tell us the news.

Straw poll - what do you reckon?
1. Romantic
2. Cheap Bastard

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bee Movie - Strange Insect

Whilst watering the plants this afternoon I noticed a rather strange bee that I did see a week ago. It behaves more like a fly as it sits and preens itself rather than collecting nectar. I don't know if this is some other species or variety or just happens to be a deformed bee. Any ideas? Sorry, but there's no Jerry Seinfeld in this Bee Movie.


Bee Movie - not starring Jerry Seinfeld

Just Remember People....

Just remember people - the man who makes no mistakes generally makes nothing. He's generally not very useful though but it does go to show that the more you do the more you stuff up.

Just remember people - atheists never have to be concerned with getting up at an ungodly hour or to suffer from an act of God.

Just remember people - what goes up must come down. Unless it is a tax. Taxes have a nasty habit of defying the law of gravity.

Just remember people - Remembrance Day is for remembering the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and civilians in times of war. Their sacrifice was so that you may enjoy the freedom that you currently do.

Just remember people - don't tempt fate. Fate wins.

Just remember people - although incapable of reproduction the numbers of politicians and homosexuals is on the rise.

Just remember people - good things come to those who wait but much better opportunities are available to those that get off their arse and go out and look.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wesfarmers AGM

Attended my first AGM as a shareholder on Tuesday. Wesfarmers, one of the top 20 companies in Australia by market capitalisation, are based in Perth and held their meeting at the Perth Convention and Entertainment Centre. Not too far from work, my boss let me have some flexitime and I am a shareholder. Well, have been since 1996. Bought time I showed a bit more enthusiasm and I've never really had the opportunity to attend as they are held during work time.

Wesfarmers AGM Shareholder Registration Point

There were hundreds of people in attendance and I have to say that apart from two teenagers and a couple of youngsters who appeared to be there for work I was the youngest there. Mum and dad investors? Hardly. These were grandma and grandpa investors. The majority of the shareholders were pensioners.

There was a brief DVD with former Wesfarmers chairmen speaking about the company. Michael Chaney, one of Australia's most respected businessmen, said "If you're not innovative, you're going backwards."

Dr Richard Walley OAM performed the Welcome to Country from the Noongyar people in Noongyar and English and performed on the didgeridoo.

No cameras or other recording equipment were allowed inside and I even had to check my backpack. Nevermind. Wandered down the front so I could sit in front of the big boys and found that the front three rows had been reserved. Turned out that's where the directors and former board members were seated. That's about as close as I got to rubbing shoulders with them. And the powerfully dressed women with their striking jewellery, face paint and facial features were a bit intimidating.

Chairman Bob Every gave an address before handing over to managing director and CEO Richard Goyder. He provided a very business-like report from each business sector of this multi-faceted conglomerate. Much like the annual report reads so there wasn't anything stark. He did mention that Wesfarmers values were of integrity, openness, accountability and boldness. Good base to work from, methinks.

The second item of business for the AGM was the re-election and election of directors. Some interesting questions from the floor were fielded.

- What is the Gowrie Scholarship Trust Fund? This was directed to James Graham as it was a current or recent directorship and office that he held.

- Does Tony Howarth have the capacity to fulfil his duties as a director as he has a total of five directorships (chair counts as two) and that was the maximum that the Australian Shareholders' Association recommends? Chairman Every stated that Tony attends all of the meetings, does all of his homework and that he certainly has the capacity to fulfil his duties as a Wesfarmers director.

- Then this doddery old guy gets up. He introduced himself as Mr Hardwick and he'd come all the way from Armidale in NSW for the meeting. He was an emeritus chartered accountant and looked a bit like a mad professor. He started off by stating that "I'm not against women on boards but what would Vanessa Wallace bring to the board, would she be able to stand up to the male chauvinists (and there are a lot of male chauvinists in Western Australia) or was this just tokenism towards woman?" Well, this guy got a good reception from the audience who were obviously initially worried about where the question was leading. Chairman Every responded that women made up 50% of the population and should be more representative on boards and he informed Mr Hardwick that Vanessa Wallace was certainly capable of handling the male chauvinists as he had known her for a long time. [This made the papers although I would have described it as a warranted and expected defence rather than a spirited defence - journalists, eh?]

- A question regarding the illegal importation of phosphate from Western Sahara by CSBP was posed for the Ethics Committee. Chairman Every took this on, without any notes, and stated that the Australian government had not advised of any restriction in dealings of this nature therefore the practice was not illegal. I was surprised that he had the matter in hand.

In general business there were further questions relating to;
- renewable energy
- a farmer not being paid in a timely manner for his milk (not Wesfarmers' doing as it turned out)
- safety in retail versus resources sectors
- had Wesfarmers paid too much for Coles and would there be further payments/dilution of shares
- would Wesfarmers open a foodworks to distribute unsold food
- why was Coles stopping the selling of hormone growth promotant (HGP) cattle and what was the benefit to Coles in this.

It was great to see the manner in which management addressed the issues and there was little fobbing off or "I'll get back to you." They were well organised.

Finally, Mr Hardwick got up to talk again. And he had every one's interest. He started off by saying, as we knew, that he had come all the way from Armidale. He'd attended meetings in Australia, England, the US and somewhere else (I forget that particular detail) and he congratulated Wesfarmers for having the directors front up and answer questions. Then he stated how good his local Bunnings store was and his hope that it would run the competition out of town. He summed up with the fact that Coles had improved out of sight, which he hadn't expected, but the problem with his local shop was that they had trouble obtaining the right staff as young people weren't interested in working. He did receive some warm applause.

At the conclusion of the AGM we went out to the foyer for drinks and nibbles. Let me tell you - old people come alive with free wine/beer and food. The place was buzzing.

I managed to collar Alan Carpenter, Executive General Manager, Corporate Affairs, to ask him a question. He also happens to be the former 28th Western Australia premier. What a great country this is to be able to approach a man of his (former) standing. Anyway, the managing director and CEO cut me off before I had time to finish my question as they both had a press/media conference to attend. I did get his business card though so it was the highlight of my afternoon.

Picked up my free Coles apron, which I shall wear with pride, on the way out. Quite an interesting day.

One Breast Please

Had to go to the shops this afternoon after work. The missus asked me to buy a chicken breast at the supermarket. Having a bit of time to myself I wandered around most of the shopping centre and came to the conclusion that there was nothing that I either needed or wanted on offer. Ho hum. It's not that I'm content with everything that I have in life either.

So I finally made it to Woolworths. Approached the deli section and asked for a chicken breast. You should have seen the look on the girl's face especially when she asked, almost incredulously, "Just one?"
"Yes please. Just one."
"Would you like a small breast or a large breast?"

I overcame the temptation to state that I like large breasts but simply responded that I'd like a large breast. Only once I explained that my wife was defrosting the freezer otherwise I would have purchased a number more did the girl start to look more comfortable and less as though I was some sort of weirdo. I'm a particular sort of weirdo not just some sort. And I couldn't find anything that needed to be purchased as we went shopping last night. Boy, did I feel like a dick at the checkout with my one breast.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Frugal Bastard Presents - Lego Men Telling Jokes

I've wanted to make this video for a while. Got together with The Boy this afternoon to do the voice over and then edited the photos which were taken two and a half months ago. Hope you enjoy it.


Lego men telling jokes

Just Remember People....

Just remember people - you will obtain more excercise from assembling excercise equipment than from actually using the equipment.

Just remember people - he who laughs last was the slowest to check his email.

Just remember people - The term "Like a B52" is a reference to somebody not understanding something as it has gone "straight over their head". It would obviously be more confusing for them if carpet-bombing operations were being undertaken at the time.

Just remember people - having studied biology is not a prerequisite for a working biological clock.

Just remember people - Just because mudslingers throw mud doesn't mean that gunslingers throw guns.

Just remember people - Having a timebomb ticking in your head doesn't mean that you're a terrorist.

Just remember people - Orville Wright didn't have a pilot licence. Amelia Earhart did.

Just remember people - shoot first and question the survivors later.

Sherlock Holmes Movie Review

Last weekend we grabbed some videos and one of them was Sherlock Holmes. The missus had wanted to see it for a while. I quite enjoyed the movie as it is very fast paced and witty. After about half an hour or so I started to realise that it looked like a cross between Iron Man and CSI. It was at that time that I worked out the lead actor was the lead from Iron Man. No wonder.

Sorry, Holmes was too clever by far for my liking and the script written too much like an American crime show whereby they solved every case in great detail. I don't like my movies like that. The storyline was great but an incredibly complex case was solved all too simply.

Not sure that I really enjoy Guy Ritchie-directed movies. I'd give the movie 9/10 for content but 6/10 for viewer satisfaction.

Some Dating Tips For Joel Monoghan

Joel Monoghan, soon to be ex-rugby league player, obviously could do with some dating tips. By now you've probably heard about his sex act with a teammate's dog.

I thought that it was a shocking thing to do and typical of a drunk rugby player to come up with something like that. Having seen a censored view of the photo it isn't quite what I expected and by Bill Clinton's definition he probably didn't have sex with the dog.

Some dating tips for Joel Monoghan:

If your partner is a dog make sure that you've picked her up from the pub, she's at least 18 and she's consenting. Oh, and make sure that she isn't furry or has four legs. Also ensure that she doesn't belong to a teammate. And keep the camera out of it.

Not that I think he'll be doing much dating in the near future.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Canning Show

I took The Boy to the Canning Show last night. The Perth Royal Show is quite expensive, parking is difficult, it's crowded as it's held during the school holidays and we've been a couple of times already. Something different required this year.

Was a little bit surprised to see people leaving as we entered only one and a half hours after it had opened for the evening. Later on I realised why. We had to stretch out our activities for two and a half hours to see the fireworks. The scale of the Canning Show is much smaller than the Perth Royal Show. Budget was still the same for the number of rides to go on and sideshow alley games to play. We had a look at pretty much every exhibition on display and it wasn't a bad evenings entertainment.

Clothing prize winners

Cooking prize winner

Decorated Cake prize winner

Floral Art prize winner

Flower disappointed with second place

Flowers on display

Sewing, Knitting, Crocheting, Toys & Dolls prize winners

Sideshow Alley

Rides that we went on were Nitro (both), dodgem cars (both) and Super Nova (The Boy). Nitro was great, dodgem cars were good fun (managed to smash each other up a bit) and Super Nova was a "you must ride this" attraction. I guess the most eagerly anticipated item, apart from the fireworks, was the fairy floss. Actually, I don't think that The Boy has ever eaten it previously.

Nitro

Nitro at night time

The Boy on Super Nova

Super Nova in action

Super Nova up high

Dodgem cars in action

Fast action on the dodgem cars

Fireworks

Fairy floss aftermath


Nitro ride at Canning Show


Dodgem cars at Canning Show


Super Nova ride at the Canning Show


Fireworks at Canning Show