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?


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 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


Fairy floss aftermath

Nitro ride at Canning Show

Dodgem cars at Canning Show

Super Nova ride at the Canning Show

Fireworks at Canning Show

Bees Are Busy Working At My Place

I did the fruit and veg shopping this morning and when I arrived home couldn't avoid hearing the buzzing of many bees. They're busy collecting nectar and pollinating our berry tree out the front. In fact you need to avoid them a bit trying to enter the house because there are so many of them. I did notice one who was a bit larger than the rest, his eyes appeared to be bigger and he wasn't doing a lot of work. Dashed inside to grab the camera and took a few pics of the bees close-up.

Do you see what I see B1? What do you see B2?

Bee at work

Bee close-up

Bee coming in to land

Bee hiding

Bee levitating

Bee not doing much collecting

Bee with big eyes

Bee with head down and bum up

Busy bee

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Is Michael Clarke The John Hewson of Cricket?

Michael Clarke, as stand-in captain, has lost the unlosable one day international against Sri Lanka. The Boy turned the telly on when we got home from taekwondo training and Australia was clearly on top. Very soon the Sri Lankans were 8 for 107 chasing 240 for victory. Plenty of time but not many batsmen left and only one recognised batsman, Angelo Mathews, at that. Lasith Malinga came to the crease and started swinging. The Boy tried to make a $20 bet that Australia would win although I didn't take him up on in.

Unfortunately The Boy had to go to bed and missed out on seeing a world record partnership for the ninth wicket in ODIs, match 3065, of 132 runs to level the scores. Fantastic batting by Malinga and Mathews and they tore the Australian attack (yes, I said attack but you'd hardly call it that) apart and hit them to all parts of the ground. Only looked like being in trouble when running between the wickets but they didn't have to do too much of that with the boundaries that they were hitting. It was one of the most enthralling games of cricket I've had the pleasure of watching. Well done Sri Lanka for coming away with the win.

Michael Clarke appears to be the John Hewson of cricket. Dr John lost the unlosable election to Paul Keating in 1993 and Pup seems destined to go down the same path. There's no way as captain that he should have lost a match from the position that they worked themselves into. On their home ground too. What an embarrassment. But what great viewing from a Sri Lankan's, neutral observer's and cricket lover's position.

Book Review - The Ilustrated Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (Abridged & Introduced by Richard E. Leakey)

Always wanted to read The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. I've never had Creationist tendencies and this book is supposed to explain it all. One of the fellow taekwondo fathers saw me with it and said that he'd read it many years ago and that it was "very dry". How right he was.

The 6th edition of this book was written in about 1870 and the abridging and introduction by Richard E. Leakey is included in this printing from 1979. Dr Leakey was very insightful and his clarifications throughout the book are most helpful. It assists in bringing Darwin's findings to light as science understood them some 30 years ago. The pictures and photos made the book much more reader friendly than otherwise would have been.

The language that Darwin used was scientific and dated. Many terms are not used any more such as animalcule (a minute animal). He refers to the bumble bee as the humble bee. Fossiliferous was another of my favourites.

Darwin covers variation under domestication, variation under nature, struggle for existence, natural selection or the survival of the fittest, laws of variation, difficulties of the theory, miscellaneous objections to the theory, instinct, hybridism, imperfection of the geological record, geological succession of organic beings, geographical distribution and mutual affinities of organic beings: morphology, embryology and rudimentary organs.

His sections on hybridism and rudimentary organs made most interesting readings. I could extrapolate much of that to humans today and why we have reproductive problems just from the point of nature. Our understanding of change is very limited as we can't grasp geological time and the changes that it will bring.

Did you know that the bone structure and features of bats, porpoises, whales, horses and humans are very similar? You would have great difficulty in determining whether an embryo was that of a dog, bat, rabbit or human due to the similarities? Or that hybrids are often sterile and that comes down to genetic makeup?

Pretty much everything can be explained by genetics today. With that in mind the book was easier to understand. What we know now was touched upon by Darwin but had not been discovered in his time. He was one smart man.

For reading I'd give this book 3/10 but for content we're looking at 8/10. More examples to explain would have been of much greater assistance. Darwin repeated himself too much and that surprised me seeing as there were six editions during his lifetime. As such, the book could have been reduced to half its length without losing any of its message. There were many convincing arguments to debunk the debunkers. I did find that the justified text made it more difficult to read though.

P.S. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect was in the four weeks that it took me to read I never had the opportunity to sit next to a particular God-botherer who occasionally takes the same bus. Three days after completing my reading I happened to sit alongside him. Bugger. I don't mind a bit of a stir.

The Ilustrated Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (Abridged & Introduced by Richard E. Leakey)