Thursday, April 29, 2010

False Advertising Perhaps

Whilst waiting for the bus the other morning I saw a truck drive past. On the side of the truck was the company name - "T&A Tree Services". I guess the first thing that came to mind was that if they were true to the name you'd expect to see a bikini clad woman with a chainsaw in hand. Sadly it was not to be. The person driving the truck was a burly guy with a safety vest on.

Should have them up for false advertising.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Anzac Day Dawn Service 2010

The day started early. Well, it started four and a half hours before I awoke but I was out of bed at 0430 hours. Much the same time as the first landing at Anzac Cove at Gallipoli took place. I was much more comfortable in my surroundings though. Let's not forget that it wasn't only Australians and New Zealanders that landed in Gallipoli on April 25th 1915. During the campaign there were thousands of Brits, Frenchies, Senegalese (French West Africa), perhaps a few Belgians (possibly), Indians and Punjabis (British India). Probably some Sikhs also. I think that Canada may have had some troops involved too (could be wrong on this one). But I digress.

The roads were green lights pretty much all the way. I guess that that was to be expected so early in the morning. Mind you, there weren't too many parking spots near Kings Park and that was to be expected. Masses of people were in attendance. It was cool but cloud-free whereas rain is quite often received on Anzac Day. Somewhere between 45,000 and 50,000 people ventured to the State War Memorial for the dawn service and that was a record number.

Only one whinging kid nearby, thankfully. Concerning thing was one youth, all of about 20 years old, complete with a lower jaw line beard and back-to-front cap who was part of the official wreath laying ceremony. I mean, how disrespectful was his appearance? And it appeared that his mother was next to him. Perhaps his father was a fallen serviceman though so maybe I should be a little leniant.

The Last Post - played by a lone bugler at the Anzac Day Dawn Service in Kings Park, 2010.

I was on my way out of Kings Park when I thought about the fact that the trees lining the roads have been planted in memorial of approximately 10,000 fallen West Australian servicemen and women. I took a number of photos of the memorial plaques and that was more moving than the ceremony that I had just attended. These men were only just that and died in such disparate places on distant shores. And it is mainly their mothers who are named as having planted the tree. Take a moment to reflect what it would have meant to that soldier's family and what an affect it had on such a young country and a young colony.

Anzac Day Dawn Service in Kings Park, Perth, 2010 Photo Album on Facebook.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Strange Lights In The Shopping Centre

Visited the shopping centre on my day off on Monday. And it was a rather strange sensation as there was a power cut at the time. To walk around the place with only backup lights or emergency lights on was weird. Took some photos as I just happened to have my camera handy. Look at the contrast.

Target - in the dark.

Target - in the light.

Stalss - in the dark.

Stalls - in the light.

Myer - in the dark.

Myer - in the light.

Food court - in the dark.

Food court - in the light.

Introducing The Newest Addition To Our Family

I'd like to introduce the newest addition to our family. I'd like to, but I can't. We found a 12-18 mth old Maltese x Shih Tzu at the pound. He'd been found the previous day and if the owner didn't claim him within seven days he was ours.

Newest addition to our family.

Yesterday I spoke to the ranger. Nobody had claimed him. The ranger rang us this morning to arrange for us to collect him. The ranger rang again at 2:30pm to ensure that we came to collect him and told us how much money was required. They had muddled the figures a little bit. We were due to arrive at 4:15~4:30. At 4:08 the ranger rang. We were less than 10 minutes from the pound. Apparently the owner had come forward to claim the dog. Nothing like leaving it until the last minute. In fact the ranger had never experienced someone collecting a dog at the last moment when another person was there to purchase it.

We could have made it uncomfortable for the owner but the ranger gave him a decent telling off. He made it known that some other people were coming to buy the dog and if he didn't care for the dog properly that he should give it to someone who would. When I saw the dog leaving with its owners it was quite obviously in the right hands. He was pretty happy to see them.

The Boy was most upset. Can't blame him. The dog seemed remarkably placid. Now I've just got a heap of doggie goodies and food therefore gotta get hold of a dog sometime in the next twelve months or so.

Cinema Almost To Ourselves

Funny feeling the other night when we went to the movies. Our movie of choice was Clash of the Titans and it was showing in 3D. Being a Monday night, obviously not a popular movie-viewing night, it was a bit quiet in the cinema. So quiet in fact that there was only one other audience member. Surreal. I almost felt like a billionaire with my private cinema with seating for several hundred.

Cinema almost to ourselves

Pick a seat. Any seat.

I enjoyed the movie but thought that a Greek story which included an Australian lead, an Irish co-star and an Englishwoman as a demi-god was a far-fetched. The 3D effects were better than Avatar but nothing to get too excited about.

Interesting Number Plates

Came across a few interesting number plates recently. Well, within the last few months anyway. I've been saving them up for a while before being in a position to share them.

THE BOX (of what?)

DBIGFELLA - You know what they say about blokes who brag about it.

BUBBLEGRL - did she marry the Bubble Boy from Seinfeld?

2BAD4U2 - Too bad for you too.

Google Translate

Recently, whilst browsing my home town's ezyzine, the Border Chronicle, I noticed that they had a number of flags on the page. Imagine my surprise when clicking on the Korean flag and Google Translate translated the page into Korean. I'm not sure how good the translation is but it certainly looks to have become a very powerful tool. In the early days Google Translate was a bit clumsy but it now translates as you type - real-time translation is a possibility folks.

Ok, so I studied the html on the page. There has been about an hour and a half of tinkering to make it work on my blog. Just try choosing one of the flags underneath my profile pic if you wish to read the blog in one of 10 other languages including Korean, Japanese, German, French, Italian, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and simplified Chinese. If you wish to change to another language you'll have to hit the back bar for the previous page and choose another link. I'm not sure what the problem is but it's probably good enough for now.

Let me know what you think. I could send you a copy of the code if you'd like to use it.

P.S. My missus says it doesn't make much sense in Korean. Perhaps it is because I don't write in structured English and the translation tool isn't quite powerful enough to understand colloquialisms, etc.

Monday, April 19, 2010

We Have A Squatter

Squatter - noun. (in Britain) a person who occupies property or land to which he has no legal title [Source - Collins English Dictionary]. It's also a board game which was quite popular when I was a kid. That's last century folks.

We have a squatter. At least in the sense of British usage of the word. The dictionary goes on to say in Australia it refers to a person who occupies a tract of land, especially pastoral land, as tenant of the Crown.

I was sitting at the computer last night when I noticed a pair of antennae poking out from inside the printer. That was rather unusual and so I grabbed my camera. Couple of photos of our uninvited housemate are below. He's not really attractive but he is pretty big. Damn I love the fact that my camera can take some decent photos. Now, if you're not too squeamish....

Cockroach in the printer.


Cockroach close up.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Qualifying Rounds of the Red Bull Air Race 2010 in Perth

I attended the Red Bull Air Race in Perth today thanks to the generous hospitality of a couple of blokes I spend a lot of money with for work. They didn't skimp on the tickets and purchased Race Club tickets which entitled us to all the drinks and food we could eat along with seating in a grandstand. And we were right up close to the planes near the chicanes just after the start/finish gate.

It was a beautiful day full of sunshine and reached 26.7°C. The hosties did a wonderful job and you couldn't fault the hospitality. Red Bull puts on a great package. Managed to grab a few videos and nearly two hundred photos. That was nothing compared with the one-legged Japanese tourist who sat next to me. His camera was capable of taking 5-8 shots per second and boy did he take some photos.

Hannes Arch's 2nd Qualifying round Red Bull Air Race Perth 2010 over the Swan River on April 17th. Quality commentary from the Red Bull commentary team.

Matt Hall's 1st Qualifying round Red Bull Air Race Perth 2010 over the Swan River on April 17th.

Matt Hall's 2nd Qualifying round Red Bull Air Race Perth 2010 over the Swan River on April 17th.

Peter Besenyei's 1st Qualifying round Red Bull Air Race Perth 2010 over the Swan River on April 17th.

Peter Besenyei's 2nd Qualifying round Red Bull Air Race Perth 2010 over the Swan River on April 17th.

Dorky looking bloke in the stands.

Red Bull Air Race control tower.

Red Bull Air Race commentary team at work.

Red Bull Air Race advertising.

Japanese tourist with a serious camera.

Starting the second lap.

Paul Bonhomme's smoke is definitely on.

Nigel Lamb successfully advertising for Breitling.

Nice shot through the start gate.

Nice rounding of the chicane.

Just missed the competitor in the Red Bull Air Race.

I think the race stewards can see the smoke quite clearly.

Approaching starting gate on second lap.

Appears to be heading straight for the pylon.

This pilot has the best job.

Qualifying results.

Excellent vantage point.

Not sure what this plane was but his jet engine made for a great display.

The Roulettes in action.

The Roulettes in formation above Perth.

Mirror image formation by The Roulettes.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I'm a White Australian and in the Minority

I'm white. Have been all my life. Except when I was born and then I was probably a greyish colour. And apart from times that I've been sunburnt and I was more of a deep red colour. And not forgetting the times when I was younger and was around girls that I was attracted to and my skin went a blushing pinky hue. But, you get the picture.

White Australians. We're supposed to be the majority. It's why we had the White Australia Policy - so that Green Day wouldn't have to sing about us. I found out recently that I am part of the minority - or so I thought. Honda has a new slogan which I thought was "8 out of 10 people who test drive a Honda buy one". We test drove a Honda Jazz just over two and a half years ago. Nice, zippy little car but we didn't buy one. Ended up getting the world's favourite car, a Toyota Corolla, instead.

The actual slogan relates to a Honda Civic, not the Jazz, so it would appear that I'm not in the minority after all. Just sadly mistaken. Perhaps I do belong in the majority.

8 out of 10 people who test drive a Civic buy one.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Taekwondo Grading

Yesterday I attended my third grading for taekwondo. Luckily it wasn't a hot day as you have no opportunity to rest or take a drink but it's all over in 10 to 15 minutes anyway. My partner for the grading was Steven, a yellow three (seventh geup) whom I'd not met previously, who was grading for his blue belt. I was a yellow two (eighth geup) going for yellow three.

Only five weeks after learning my second pattern I thought I did rather well and considering that I was invited to grade after having only learnt it for three weeks and then had a week off for Easter it wasn't too bad at all. Much easier than learning the first pattern which took about three months.

I scored a 70 for my self defence and that was probably my most worrying technique to be honest. It was also my highest score but I'm pretty pleased with my pass. Now I have to concentrate on a new pattern and remember taeguk 2 (the second pattern) to get to blue belt. Maybe another 12 months down the track I can go for red belt but there is still much to learn. And I'm enjoying learning it.

Who Says You Can't Remain Anonymous On The Net?

Lots of people crave anonymity on the Net. Be it for nefarious reasons, wanting to escape attention of bullies, insecurity, etc. But why would you want to be anonymous whilst playing Scrabble on Facebook? It kinda makes keeping track of the score a bit difficult?

Who says you can't be anonymous on the Internet?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Book Review - Gallipoli by Les Carlyon

You might have noticed a bit of a theme in the books I've read recently. There's been a book or two about Don Bradman, the SAS, the Korean War, H. Norman Schwarzkopf's autobiography, Vietnam : The Australian War and Mein Kampf. Yes, war, is high on the reading list. C'mon, what do you mean Don Bradman has nothing to do with war? He was fighting the old enemy, England, on the pitch. That's close enough in my book. Geddit? Book. Ha!

Gallipoli by Les Carlyon

This is a fantastic book. It lays bare the truths about the campaign and why it failed. By the time you have read it you will understand The Ode - a few lines from it are below:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Let me attempt to sum up the story about an eight month campaign covered in 543 pages by Les Carlyon. The British wanted to remain friendly with Russia and Tsar Nicholas II by keeping the Dardanelles open so that Russian could continue exports. Winston Churchill and Lord Kitchener decided to hand over Turkey to Russia and a quick campaign at the Dardanelles would allow this to happen. By refusing to deliver two ships paid for by Turkey, or return the money, the British allowed Germany to gain an ally as the Germans were quick to offer a couple of warships in return for allegiance. [Why does allegiance look so similar to the French word for Germany - Allemagne?] The British bombed Turkey from warships for three months before landing any troops. Enough warning for anyone to realise that war was imminent.

Kitchener was, if you'll pardon the pun, a loose cannon. He made decisions on the go without consulting those that should be consulted, i.e. the War Cabinet, and Churchill believed so strongly in the campaign at Gallipoli that he convinced pretty much everyone to go along with the idea although it was never thought out properly. Ian Hamilton, one of the old boys, was charged with making the landing and taking over Turkey but without a real plan, ammunition, supplies or men. He was guilty of not reporting how the battle was really faring as it might upset the guys in charge back home. Let me take the last sentence from chapter 28:

"If there is one thing worse than a man who deals in half-truths, it is a man who decides things are so bad he needs to tell you the truth."

Young men - Australians, New Zealanders (of course - Anzacs), Britons, French, Senegalese, Indians and Gurkhas. Now I knew about the first three but who would have thought that the rest of them were there? Even the Turks didn't know too much about New Zealand and the Germans had to reassure them that it was a country. In fact, the British and French lost more soldiers than the Australians or Kiwis. Who'd have thought that either? These men were the best, youngest and fittest of their respective countries and thousands were sent needlessly to their deaths. Mind you, it was the way war was conducted back in those days. One other fact that made my blood boil was that when these men charged enemy trenches, more often than not, very well defended by machine guns, they had to charge with bayonets on their unloaded rifles. How absolutely ridiculous. Surely after the first charge someone in authority would have realised that this was a completely stupid and avoidable loss of life. Not so it seems. Make no mistake, the soldiers involved were immensely brave. Have another look at The Ode, the link is a good one, and you'll start to see what I mean.

Amazingly the Turks lost more men than the Allies. They had the high ground, literally, were better supported with artillery and knew the terrain. I hold the ground forces of the Allies in very high regard after reading that.

Hamilton didn't even have proper maps of Turkey. The terrain was vastly different to what they thought they knew. They landed miles down the beach from where they were supposed to, many attacks were conducted at night where they didn't know what they were facing, lots of plans didn't realistically take into account the unknown terrain, basic things such as supply of water and medical aid weren't thought out properly and they even brought in the Australian Light Horse (deployed without their horses) to fight on the cliffs at Gallipoli. Madness. Honestly. They even had a second landing with several new divisions in August and landed at the wrong place once more. Even Monash lead a charge up the wrong hill and poor maps can take much of the blame.

War correspondents had to maintain the army's propaganda so that recruitment numbers wouldn't fall. All correspondence to be published had to be approved. You must remember that this was not the time of the professional soldier and criticism or adverse reporting could significantly affect recruitment. And it seems that the generals didn't understand modern warfare. Charging men, without loaded rifles, were no match for machine guns. Even after bombardment of the area where the enemy was thought to be prior to the charge.

Carlyon goes into such detail about the major offensives that you almost feel like you are there and you may be forgiven for thinking that he was there. The landing, the Nek, Lone Pine, the August offensive - they're all so well covered, including the background happenings in Britain, that it isn't difficult to imagine yourself in the middle of it. And there would be something wrong with you if you didn't sympathise with the combatants.

I was constantly appalled by what I read but full of admiration for the men who carried out the orders of incompetent boys' club members, posing as generals. I would urge everybody to read this book if you want to understand Gallipoli. It doesn't glorify war but it exposes what we should know about this campaign. And to think that the Australian government didn't want to know what was really happening as we were seen to be doing our bit for Old Blighty [Ha! Blogger thinks that Blighty should be "Blighter" with its spellcheck] no matter how incompetently run the battle was. This book is the real history and the real story.

As Anzac Day approaches I have a much healthier respect for those that gave their lives in defending our ideals in far-flung places that they probably shouldn't have been in. Read this book and you will be left in doubt as to why that is. It is a wonderful piece of literature.

Monday, April 05, 2010

I See Why Classical Music Is So Lengthy

I have discovered why classical music is so lengthy. It was devised as on-hold music hundreds of years before the telephone was invented. Those composers were a clever bunch of buggers. Look at Ravel and his Boléro. It goes for some 17 minutes, at least one recording that I own does, and that is probably a bit short for today's usage.

My discovery occurred when I had to purchase some hardware from Telstra for work. I visited the Website for the item in particular, a router for a GPS, and it provided contact details at Telstra. I rang this number to talk to a Telstra Account Executive and had to wait for seven minutes before getting hold of David from Blackberry support. He put me in touch with Sam at Telstra Sales at the ten minute mark of my call. Unfortunately Sam couldn't help me and said that he'd find the right contact at Bigpond. Layla from Bigpond (Residential) answered the phone after 17 minutes. This was even though I had a commercial application which earlier people had been made aware of. Layla put me on hold until 22 minutes whilst searching for the correct contact. I was then forwarded to Eugene in Mobiles (Residential) after 28 minutes. As this wasn't the right person he put me through to Abs in Telstra Business whom I spoke to at the 35 minute mark. Abs knew what I wanted and prepared a quotation for me. Forty eight minutes after commencing my call he emailed a quote. I did ask for contact details in case there was a problem and I had to find him but he wouldn't provide them. All the time I was waiting they played classical music. Even Boléro would have to be looped a few times for the entire period I was waiting. I'm very glad to have a hands free phone so that I didn't get a crick in my neck and could get on with some other work.

Guess what? The email never arrived. Next morning I rang the correct section and spoke to Gary. After seven minutes he faxed a quote which actually arrived. Another thing that gets me about this huge telecommunications company is the fact that they are so hard to communicate with. Gary only provided a fax number with which to contact him. No direct line or email. Stupid really.

Easter Saturday Walk In Kings Park

We were looking for something to do on Easter Saturday and a walk in Kings Park seemed like a good idea. And quite a number of other people obviously had the same idea as we had to drive around the car park a couple of times to find a spot. Took a frisbee and the footy with us. Gotta keep The Boy entertained.

Walked around the section overlooking South Perth, took the tree top walk and ventured past the spot where we were married. Kicked the footy and threw the frisbee for a while. Even Miky joined in. I did spot a couple of kookaburras and managed to get close enough for a photo.

Nice way to spend the arvo.

Carries the footy like an Aussie

South Perth from Kings Park

Perth from Kings Park

Kings Park Tree Top Walk

Strange place for a bird nest

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree

Bushwalking in Lesmurdie Falls Mundy Regional Park

Miky wanted to go bushwalking today. Lesmurdie Falls Mundy Regional Park wasn't too far away so we headed there. Even though we had received some rain recently I wasn't expecting to see actual waterfalls.

Found the place ok and it was a half full car park that awaited us. I guess more people than just us were interested in getting out of the house during Easter. Quite a few families were about.

The falls themselves were not much to see. It's been a very dry summer, only 0.2mm of rainfall, so it was as expected. We did get a 40mm storm two weeks ago but this would have dissapated.

The track was more about rock climbing or mountaineering than bushwalking. Much of the track appears to have been eroded by the substantial storm that we experienced recently. Sturdy footwear is certainly recommended. There were a few numbskulls getting about in thongs.

Lesmurdie Falls Mundy Regional Park sign

Young man and his walking stick

Lesmurdie Falls

People climbing Lesmurdie Falls

White speck, bottom left, is person climbing Lesmurdie Falls

Perth skyline in background

Ants everywhere

Bobtail lizard in Lesmurdie Falls Mundy Regional Park

Pretty useless back legs on bobtail lizard

Not a lot of wildlife was evident. A dragonfly, plenty of ants, a butterfly or two, a moth and we did come across a bobtail lizard. The Boy walked straight past him though. Wouldn't have made any difference if it was a snake.

Bobtail lizard in Lesmurdie Falls Mundy Regional Park

Thankfully it was quite overcast and not hot. I think that humidity coupled with heat would make the class 3 climb more than a little difficult. The view from the top of the escarpment of the city skyline was nice. Factory buildings in some suburbs were just a grey blob.

The track wasn't too well marked which was a shame. As a result we missed a couple of the landmarks. It was an enjoyable little walk that took an hour and a half though.

Much of the path in the park was like this

Seeds have been released from this plant

More seeds released

Waiting for fire to release seeds

Lots of grass trees (yakkas)

Kangaroo poo - faeces, not the cricketer

Hillside in Lesmurdie Falls Mundy Regional Park

Granite was in abundance

A man and a rock

Slippery slope in winter

Not much water around at the moment

Decided to go into the city to look at some buildings in the afternoon. Stopped by at McDonalds in High Wycombe for some lunch. Is every teenage boy afflicted with the need to have multiple piercings in High Wycombe or is it just my imagination? And is a chicken bacon deluxe burger supposed to contain bacon? That was my question to the girl who served me. She asked if I wanted to give them the half eaten burger back to put a slice of bacon in. Preferring to have a new burger I asked her to see what her manager thought. They made a new burger for me.