Saturday, December 31, 2011

Book Review - Pelé - The Autobiography

Last book review for 2011. I promise.

Can't say that I saw Pelé in action but I know of him as the most famous soccer (football) player in history. And he's remained in the spotlight long after his career on the pitch came to a close. Just had to grab his autobiography for the $4 it was listed for at the Save The Children Fund Book Fair.

What a fabulous read. Pelé certainly led a charmed life. He could have fallen out of a train window when a youngster but his dad pulled him back in. He almost drowned and had to be saved from a river by a stranger. It's heartening to hear of all the struggles that he endured as a child playing soccer in the street with the local boys with newspaper wrapped in a sock for a ball, trouble to organise a team with kit enough for all players and the financial difficulties for the family.

I guess the story was always going to be heartwarming as we well know that he turned out to be a superstar and would always have a great story to tell. But the way his life story is told is compelling. I read this book in a period of two days whilst on holiday and even didn't turn the computer on when I returned so that I could finish it.

For a man that achieved so much he doesn't come across as conceited but I did get the impression that it was perhaps a little sugarcoated. He mentions almost nothing of his two legitimate daughters and finally makes mention of one daughter born to a woman who was not his girlfriend (later his first wife) and then another daughter that was born whilst he was married. His first son, from his first marriage, finally became a professional footballer, as goalkeeper, but got involved with the wrong crowd and spent time in jail. At the time of writing he was still incarcerated. You can feel a father's pain but it also seems to be written as though Pelé is trying to maintain his image.

But, what a life he has led. Even if you've never seen footage of him playing the beautiful game, joga bonito, a phrase which Pelé coined apparently [not, according to Wikipedia], but you are a fan of the game you should read this book. It is a marvellous story of one human being who is truly hard to define.


- Fear of life is fear of the worst kind (a reference to not being able to provide food for the family).
- Happy is the child who can play out in the street.
- Some people have suggested that I was able to see more than other players because my eyes are further apart than normal. That's not true but I did end up doing tests and I do have very good peripheral vision.
- Determination brings success.
- There are few true friends in the world without any self-interest.
- People who are idolised mustn't disappoint their public - we wouldn't be half of what we are without them.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Book Review - It's not about the bike - my journey back to life by Lance Armstrong with Sally Jenkins

Latest book that I've completed, It's not about the bike - my journey back to life by Lance Armstrong with Sally Jenkins, was a fabulous read. Certainly one of the most interesting and entertaining non-fiction works at least. I picked it up for $4 at the Save The Children Fund Giant Book Fair.

For those of you who have spent much time living under a rock, Lance Armstrong, US cyclist, upcoming multiple Tour de France champion, suffered from cancer. Testicular cancer. What you may not know is that it also spread to his lungs in the form of about a dozen tumours and reached his brain forming a couple of lesions. Following his treatment he won the Tour de France. The book details his diagnosis, rapid treatment, his doubts, his determination and his struggle to overcome the disease. I have a far better understanding of what people who contract cancer go through with chemotherapy treatment. And the truth is confronting and a bit disturbing. Armstrong didn't hold back when explaining anything. But he had the best doctors, a wonderful support team which included his mum, and his wealth behind him to devote to treatment and recovery. Only at the end of the book do we really find out what the doctor thought his chances of survival were.

Other features of the book include how he grew up, without his father, with a cheating and beating step-father who supplied his surname, and how he got into cycling. Armstrong began as a poor swimmer who turned into triathlete that was too good for anyone in his age group. He was a hot-head who was force to struggle as his mum spent much of her time as a single parent. This provided Lance with more freedom than was usual at his age and he was used to getting his own way.

Due to his chemotherapy prior to getting married he and his wife used IVF treatment. And the book doesn't hold back in describing the fear, anguish and hurt that they went through. I have a lot more respect for couples undergoing this as it isn't nearly as straightforward or pain-free as many would imagine.

I like to obtain a few quotations from the book and now is the time to share them.

- "Make an obstacle an opportunity, make a negative a positive." - Lance's mum
- Give an inch, make a friend.
- "Who's going to work hard for someone who doesn't win?" - Jim Ochowicz
- You can teach someone how to control their strength, but you can't teach them to be strong.
- "You ever hear about how when you stab somebody, it's really personal? Well, a bike race is that kind of personal. Don't kid yourself. It's a knife fight." - Chris Carmichael.
- Cyclists are computer slaves; we hover over precise calculations of cadence, efficiency, force, and wattage.
- The problem was, I attacked too early, as usual. I went with 25 miles still to go, and on a downhill portion. Two things you never do: attack early, and on a downhill.
- I had learned what it means to ride the Tour de France. It's not about the bike. It's a metaphor for life, not only the longest race in the world but also the most exalting and heartbreaking and potentially tragic. It poses every conceivable element to the rider, and more: cold, heat mountains, plains, ruts, flat tires (Ed. - bloody American spelling), high winds, unspeakably bad luck, unthinkable beauty, yawning senselessness, and above all a great, deep self-questioning. During our lives we're faced with so many different elements as well, we experience so many setbacks, and fight such a hand-to-hand battle with failure, head down in the rain, just trying to stay upright and to have a little hope. The Tour is not just a bike race, not at all. It is a test. It tests you physically, it tests you mentally, and it even tests you morally.
- I thought I knew what fear was, until I heard the words You have cancer. Real fear came with an unmistakable sensation: it was as though all my blood started flowing in the wrong direction. My previous fears, fear of not being liked, fear of being laughed at, fear of losing my money, suddenly seemed like small cowardices. Everything now stacked up differently: the anxieties of life - a flat tire, losing my career, a traffic jam - were reprioritized into need versus want, real problem as opposed to minor scare. A bumpy plane ride was just a bumpy plane ride, it wasn't cancer.
- There is an unthinking simplicity in something so hard, which is why there's probably some truth to the idea that all world-class athletes are actually running away from something.
- The more I thought about it, the more cancer began to seem like a race to me. Only the destination had changed.
- I was very attentive - there is something about staring as your brain metastases that focuses a person.
- While I was sick, I told myself I'd never cuss again, never drink another beer again, never lose my temper again. I was going to be the greatest and most clean-living guy you could hope to meet. But life goes on. Things change, intentions get lost. You have another beer. You say another cussword.
- I found myself out in front among the top climbers in the world, working alone I intended to make them suffer until they couldn't breathe.
- "If you ever get a second chance in life for something, you've got to go all the way." - interview following his first win in the Tour de France.
- Things take place, there is a confluence of events and circumstances, and we can't always know their purpose, or even if there is one. But we can take responsibility for ourselves and be brave.
- Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quite, however, it lasts forever.
- But if there is one thing I don't want to hear, it's that I can't do something. Telling me that is the best way to make sure that I'll do it.- We drove down to the hospital, where I spent some time with my old friend the MRI machine, which revealed a fracture of the C-7 vertebra. Basically, I had broken my neck. After years of trying, I had finally done it.
- We remind ourselves that it's a myth to say that I beat cancer. The drugs beat cancer. The doctors beat cancer. I just survived it.
- I still ride my bike into the hill country above Austin, and the trucks still blow by. But now a lot of the truck drivers recognize (Ed. damn Yankee spelling again) me in my U.S. Postal team jersey. Some wave. Some take a hard look. And some still try to run me off the road.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Adventures of Tintin

Following the Boxing Day sales today we went to the cinema to see The Adventures of Tintin. Exquisite. Was worth every cent. Oh, that's right. I used some free movie tickets. Pity that the cinema was pretty well packed and our seats were chosen for us about 20 minutes prior to the commencement of the movie.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Day 10

Took some fruit for breakfast. Drove to Port Arthur to visit Remarkable Cave in the Tasman National Park. It's a long cave that the waves have carved out. Didn't stick around for long. Drove across the isle to view the convict coal mine. Spent most of our time at the barracks and the cells of solitary confinement. Couple of other toursits out there but it feels a bit remote. Put $10 of fuel in as the fuel guage was getting low very quickly.

Also dropped in to Tasmans Arch, Devils Kitchen (both better viewed from the boat yesterday) and The Blowhole (not on song). The lookout provided a great view. Had fish and chips and squid and chips, and ice cream, at the Doo-Licious van. Being nearby Doo Town it, the name, makes sense. Nice meal.

Filled up the car in Sorrell and headed over to Richmond to search for Zoo Doo Wildlife Park but took the wrong road initially. Found it but it hadn't been signposted too well. For a major tourist attraction I was disappointed that that was the case. There weren't as many animals to view/feed as Tasmania Zoo but we got to hold a snake, feed emus, ostriches and a camel from the safari bus and there were white lions and tigers on display. The feeding of the Tasmanian devils was funny as one of the devils kept attacking the bucket where the food was being held. Lions weren't interested in feeding which was a bit disappointing.

Back to town for a walk around to photograph all of the old buildings and Richmond Bridge - the oldest bridge in Australia which dates back to 1823. Had a drink at the bakery.

Quick drive into Hobart but took a wrong road and missed the city centre. Drove around for 10 minutes or so and then decided to head towards Mt Wellington before turning off at Mt Nelson where our accommodation was situated. Accidentally had to turn off and follow the Southern Outlet. I did notice a sign regarding Mt Nelson later and it turned out, by a complete fluke, that I had struck the correct road. At the top of the mountain was our accommodation - The Signalman's Cottage B & B. Our hosts, Georgie and Loic, were very nice and Georgie gave me a mud map to Sandy Bay to find some dinner and do some shopping. Ended up buying souvlakis @ Mykonos.

Very interesting to see Hobart disappear from view because of cloud and reappear a few minutes later. Not a great deal of off street parking available in Hobart, due to the city being built in the time of the convict and horse and car, and it makes driving around more difficult also. Quite a few one way streets and not much level ground either.

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Photo Album No.2 - Photo 98-152.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Book Review - South - The Endurance Expedition by Sir Ernest Shackleton

I'm not up with my history on polar exploration but the name Shackleton is held in high regard. When I spotted this book for $5 at the Save The Children Fund Giant Book Fair I had no hesitation in grabbing it.

And what a riveting read it turned out to be. At times it was difficult to put the book down. Normally I just read on the bus but I found myself reading at home also. Took about three weeks to finish. The justified text made it a bit difficult to concentrate at time and the US spelling for a book written by someone from Britain added to the difficulty. I had words spelt "incorrectly".

Long story made short - Shackleton assembled a crew prior to the outbreak of World War I for a polar expedition to Antarctica, his third. They sailed south and attempted to land at the Weddell Sea and make a crossing via the pole to the Ross Sea where another ship, the Aurora, was waiting (supposedly) after its crew had created a series of depots with food to allow him to make a relatively easy crossing. Well, his ship became stuck fast in the ice and he didn't make land. Then the ship was crushed by ice and the 26 explorers had to wait it out in abominable conditions. After a few months camped on the floe they headed to the open sea by dragging three boats with them until they reached relatively open water. A dangerous sea crossing was made and they were the first humans to land on Elephant Island. Six of the members headed to South Georgia to organise a rescue from the whaling station there. Just when you thought that things couldn't get worse they did. Continuously.

Sir Ernest didn't have all of the fun though. The Aurora broke its moorings and drifted in a chunk of floe for some ten months before they could break free. They then made it to New Zealand.

Spare a thought for the depot crew on Antarctica who were planning on living on the Aurora - they were left to mother nature and withstood hunger, temperatures of -35C, blizzards that raged for days, lack of dogs for sledging and many other calamities. Three of the ten men survived this ordeal. Absolutely amazing.

Throughout my reading I jotted down notes of interesting quotes and writing. Here is where I share them.

- Killer whales posed a danger to men on the ice as they wouldn't differentiate between man and seal when hunting and could smash through quite thick ice.
- Ice bubbles 40ft across by four or five ft high were noticed.
- Strieted.
- Mirages were seen regularly, sometimes in duplicate or triplicate.
- Strange phenomenon of the sun setting and rising twice, another mirage.
- Arthwartship.
- Parhelia, double suns noted.
- Frost-smoke.
- "A man must shape himself to a new mark directly the old one goes to ground." - following the loss of his ship.
- sinecure.
- Farinaceous - Made from, or rich in, starch or flour.
- The fact that the men did not know what was coming gave them a sort of mental speculation, and the slightest variation was of great value.
- Imbricated.
- "No housewife ever had more to do than we in making a little go a long way" - Lees
- The men would forage for the smallest scraps of "food", not something modern people in the land of plenty would contemplate.
- Avidity.
- "It will do us all good to be hungry like this, for we will appreciate so much more the good things when we get home" - one of the men.
- Shackleton's men ate the dogs when food was very low. "Just like beef, but, of course, very tough." Strangely, it was written that the last two teams of dogs were shot on April 2nd but mentioned they were still feeding them on April 18th.
- "Loneliness is the penalty of leadership, but the man who has to make decisions is assisted greatly if he feels that there is no uncertainty in the minds of those who follow him, and that his orders will be carried out confidently and in expectation of success."
- "The trappings of civilisation are soon cast aside in the face of stern realities, and given the barest opportunity of winning food and shelter man can live and even find his laughter ringing true."
- The old adage about a short cut being the longest way round is ofter as true in the Antarctic as it is in the peaceful countryside.
- "The scene from our camp as the daylight brightened was magnificent beyond description, though I must admit that we viewed it with anxiety."
- Distances are much more difficult to judge because of the clear air in Antarctica and differences in elevation were almost impossible to determine which lead to sledging teams tipping over on many occasions.
- "The fairy princess who would not rest on her seven downy mattresses because a pea lay underneath the pile might not have understood the pleasure we all derived from the irregularities of the stones, which could not possibly break beneath us or drift away; the very searching lumps were sweet reminders of our safety."
- First person to set foot on Elephant Island, Blackborrow, the youngest expedition member, actually stayed lying in the surf after being dumped overboard for the honour. He was badly frostbitten on both feet and couldn't possibly walk and Shackleton forgot this in his endeavour to give him the honour. Whoops.
- "Man's sense of honour is always most easily stirred by the petty misfortunes of his neighbours."
- Morainic.
- Nunataks.
- A roaring glacier on South Georgia Island which, sounding much like gunfire as icebergs were being calved, kept them awake.
- Once Shackleton, Worsley and Crean had reached civilisation and bathed, changed clothes and had a hair cut both head and facial, other members of his crew failed to recognise Worsley upon their return.
- "It is evident, therefore, that a complete knowledge of the weather conditions in any part of the world, which it is understood carries with it the ability to make correct forecasts, can never be obtained unless the weather conditions in every other part are known."
- Sir Ernest was greatly concerned that the humpback whale was threatened with extinction and called for universal legislation to protect whales from early commercial extinction.

For those of you who love non-fiction - read it. It's a harrowing tale of human survival against all odds.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Day 9

After going to bed at 11 last night we had to be up by 8 o'clock for breakfast. I'd ordered a continental breakfast for 8:20am but then I went to check on it, as we had to leave at 9am for a 9:15 tour, and it hadn't been made but was soon delivered. Had to cook the toast myself though (unlike yesterday's breakfast).

Arrived at Tasman Island Adventure Cruises on time and were issued with gore-tex suits to keep out the wet and cold. A coach picked us up and we were driven to the boats at Eaglehawk Bay. Our pilot, Mike, and deckhand, Damo (former pearl diver in the Kimberley), were hilarious and very knowledgable. Saw a great deal of the coastline and entered caves and passages. During the, at times, freezing and wet conditions, we spotted albatrosses, dusky dolphins (NZ), petrels and humpback whales. The tour was fantastic and turned around at Tasman Island which was adjacent to the 1,000 ft cliffs of the mainland. There were an enormous amount of shearwaters about and they looked like mosquitoes on the horizon.

Gosh, that whale was difficult to spot and once we decided to search for it on the way back and had taken off, and Damo commented that this would be the time that it would be spotted, we spotted it. In fact, it came up very close to the boat. Damo had smelt the whale beforehand, and told us so, and coupled with the oil on the surface, he knew where to look. On the way back we were swooped by three or four giant petrels which was very unusual.

The Boy sat in the forwardmost adventurer's seat for the whole trip. It was, apparently, the wettest tour day they'd had. And was he glad to get back to the hotel for a hot shower or what? We watched a bit of the Bathurst 1000 before heading to the cafe for hot chocolates and to give The Boy a chance to go on the (free) computer for a while. At 4pm we headed back to the Port Arthur Historic Site for another look including the audio tour. Had just missed the harbour cruise and so took the last walking tour of the day with tour guide Mark. It started raining fairly soon afterwards. Half an hour later we were left to our own devices and spent another 60 mins doing the audio tour. A fabulous and well recommende tour - you need to do all three - ghost tour, walking tour and audio tour.

Watched Shrek 2 that night.

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Photo Album No.2 - Photos 61-106.

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Day 8

Both of us had had a comfortable nights sleep. Our room was very nice and I'd certainly recommend the accommodation. Eula, one of the proprietors, served a hot breakfast at about five past eight which we enjoyed very much, along with one of The Boy's socks, which had become lost whilst doing the washing. Chris, her partner, mentioned that the Blowhole was worth a look and Eula said the high tide was at 6:30 that morning.

Down at the Blowhole it started to rain every time I had the umbrella but stopped when The Boy took hold of it. And the Blowhole was on song. We enjoyed our time there.

Headed down the road to Triabunna, as we'd seen a sign for fresh fish, and popped into the info centre for a chat - about the pronunciation of the town's name, ghosts, fish and chips, etc. Ordered fish and chips from the van across the road and walked, in the rain, past Dead Isle, the first cemetery, whilst we waited. Ate lunch and while The Boy was finishing his I drove around town looking at Cusick Cottage, Cuff's Cottage, St Anne's Church and the cemetery. In the town's cemetery I noticed Davey Jones who was a boat builder.

Bought some food from IGA and even got them to wash the carrots. Looked at the Old Barracks and Triabunna House. Back on the road and we visited St John the Baptist Church in Buckland with its 14th century stained glass window. On to Port Arthur. Stopped at Pirate Bay (Tasman Lookout) and the Tessellated Pavement before going to Eaglehawk Bay and the Dog Line.

Into Port Arthur and we stopped at Tasman Island Adventure Cruises to discuss a Tasman Island cruise and all the other tourist activities in the area. Practically next door was the Port Arthur Historic Site and we visited for 45 minutes. So much to see and do. Bought Ghost Tour tickets for 9pm. Had a good look around in that time.

Found our hotel in Nubeena, 10 kms away, and Susan Ellis, the proprietor, upgraded our room as she said they weren't busy. The Boy watched a movie, Garfield, before we headed to The Tavern which Susan had booked for us for a roast pork dinner. Had half an hour to kill after the meal so we played darts which was good fun. It started to rain at 8:30. The ghost tour started at nine. Talk about creepy stories and buildings. We got quite wet but really enjoyed ourselves although The Boy wanted to sleep with me. Took a few photos but didn't capture anything out of the ordinary. Pity. Some scary moments though.

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Photo Album No.2 - Photos 1-60.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Day 7

Checked out of the Batman Fawkner Inn and walked to City Park to check out the Japanese macaques. Wandered around some of Launceston to get a few photos of the lovely buildings before driving through Scottsdale on the way to St Helens. We came across a sign for Mt Paris Dam and decided to take a look. After 13 kms of white, corrugated metal road travelling through some deforested area with thick smoke we came across a four wheel drive track. That's where I stopped the car and we walked down to the dam. Well, some ruins anyway. The further we went the better it got until we found the Cascade River and followed it as far as we could walk. Lovely spot.

Back on the road and drove through the hills. Came across a few idiot drivers who kept cutting corners or just straddling the lane in each direction. These people shouldn't have been on the road. Once I got past I soon left them behind.

Reached St Helens just before 2pm and searched for lunch. A jacket potato looked nice, as did the salt and pepper squid, but we did some shopping first. Grabbed the squid and then was told that the jacket potatoes were sold out and the kitchen was closed. Bummer, missed it by 15 minutes. Filled the car up with fuel.

Visited the information centre for some info on the Bay of Fires. Drove out to have a look. Nice spot, bloody cold and reasonably coloured. A Korean couple, whom we'd seen at the takeaway shop, parked next to us. The guy got out and said, "Hi" to which I responded, "Annyeong haseyo". He quickly replied with "How do you know?" I found that reaction to be hilarious.

Some large waves nearby and we also searched for birds' eggs but failed to locate any. Apparently the birds nest in the areas near the beach so we were interested if we could find anything.

Took the hill road, as opposed to the coast road, to Bicheno but almost went the wrong way at St Marys. Arrived at our hotel at 6pm. Carried out the washing and had a shower. Into town for tea at the RSL for a roast but they'd had 60 people already and were sold out. Tried Pasinis and bought lasagna and spaghetti - did not taste great. And we had to leave the shop as they were closing (7:45pm).

Finished the drying and watched The Mummy Returns. Had a bit of a disagreement with a NSW couple who had parked in my spot, and half of the next, who didn't want to move. When I finally convinced them the bloody Bicheno Penguin Tour bus parked behind both of us.

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Photo Album - Photos 152-200.

Bad, Bad Browser

I've been having quite a lot of difficulties with my laptop of late. Had to use the missus' netbook even. She doesn't have Adblock Plus installed so gets all of the advertising junk taking up her screen. Mind you, the browser doesn't always play the game. Notice the error message?

Is this a message from the company scolding the browser for not rendering the advertisement correctly? Why would the browser be sending a bad request for an ad? Tsk, tsk.

Book Review - Cricket's Hall of Shame by Dave Warner

I love statistics and cricket is a sport that oozes them. The author, Dave Warner, is not the Australian who made his test debut against New Zealand in Brisbane over the weekend.

I got the book at the Save the Children Giant Book Sale for $3. There is a huge amount of stories of ineptitude and failure amongst test cricketers referenced in this work. It covers the worst bowlers, wicketkeepers, fielders and batsmen. There are the lowest team scores, the slowest scorers and heaps more. I was slightly disappointed in some of the content but maybe my expectations for the material were a little bit much. Having said that, if you are interested in cricket it would be worth borrowing from the library to read.

Book Review - Rude and Politically Incorrect Jokes by Allan Pease

Another book finished a bit over a week ago. Was quite funny and good value for $3. Contains so many jokes that I've heard, must be around 80% of them, but some crackers that I hadn't seen before. Not suitable for children, it must be said. Pretty crude in some places and tasteless in others. That's what made it so enjoyable.

These Guys Know How To Have A Sale

These guys, Austin Computers, certainly know how to have a sale. Look at the bargain prices for shopping online.

On The Mend

Six and a half days after grading I'm definitely on the mend. I took my instructor's advice and visited a sports physio. He said to keep the thought of a fracture in the back of my mind, as he had had no opportunity to view the x-rays, but that ligament damage was the most likely cause. He told me that I need RICE - rest, ice, compression and elevation. As if I don't have enough of that in my diet already.

Had to see the doc on Thursday and his advice was to walk on it to aid the circulation. My wife was so concerned about my foot that she picked me up from work to take me to the clinic. I asked the doc if he would write my wife a note about walking on it. His reply? "I don't write notes to wives. It's too dangerous."

Interesting that he had quite an opposing view and I tend to trust the physio more as he actually treats sports injuries instead of just diagnosing them.

As you can see from the photo the bruises have cleared up quite a bit. My missus was worried that I might get some form of blood poisoning and told me that in Korea the doctors will remove the blood in the bruise. I don't see the point in interfering with the natural healing of the body.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Book Review - Ablett Greatest Ever by Ken Piesse

Finished another book off tonight. This one was called Ablett Greatest Ever and was written by Ken Piesse. The foreward was done by Rex Hunt but it was mainly used as a chance to blow his own trumpet. Not the most professional of works. Maybe it doesn't matter considering the target audience.

This book was more a collection of (very interesting) anecdotes and interviews than anything else and didn't feel like a biography. Great collection of photos and cartoons included though.

Still, after finishing I don't feel as if I know this enigma, Gary Ablett Snr, any better. This is despite the wonderful amoung to information about him and his footballing life.

Had to wait until chapter 29, which was devoted entirely to, before the only match I ever saw Ablett play in first hand was discussed in depth (chapter 28 mentioned the number of goals kicked and opponent). It took place on May the 1st 1993 at the MCG against Essendon and Ablett kicked 14.7. This was his greatest haul in a match at league level. The book referred to his banana kick for his 11th goal but the video shows that it was, in fact, for his 10th goal. And it is stated that 46,588 people in the crowd were enthralled. My recollection of the attendance that day was 44 thousand. But his figure is backed up by this Website. Maybe the scoreboard didn't record the figure correctly.

Having spent a few hours during this week in the medical centre waiting room I managed to finish the book in five days. I found it to be a good read, especially as I picked it up for $3 at the Save The Children Fund Book Fair, but you'd certainly need to be at least a football fan to have an interest in this book. It went a long way towards explaining why many consider Gary Ablett Snr to be the greatest ever Australian Rules footballer.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Black Belt Grading

Two years and one month ago I took up taekwondo. It was one month prior to my son gaining his first dan black belt. I've found it to be a very enjoyable pastime and sport whereby lots of friends of all ages have been made. It's certainly never boring at training as there is always something happening.

Today The Boy and I took part in a black belt grading. Him for his second dan and me for my first. Thankfully it wasn't a really hot day like The Boy's last grading. The higher dans went first, then The Boy and finally the red threes (first geup). I was in the last group. Found it a little difficult to hear the head instructor calling out at times with the shouting going on so looked a little bit slow. Think I only made one wrong move in my five patterns so that was a huge relief. Sparring was a different story though - I did a turning kick to one of my friends and connected quite strongly with his elbow. And this was in the second of about eight spars. A couple of spars later I did the same thing to another opponent and that really hurt. Perhaps that was the loudest that I yelled all afternoon. Once the sparring was complete we had to break two boards. Well, even though it was my right foot that was sore that was the one that I used - successfully.

Man, you'll have to call me Bigfoot from now on. The foot really ballooned. Don't know if a blood vessel was burst but I suspect that it's going to be pretty black by tomorrow. And it's very difficult to walk on. Had to drive home using only the left foot. Good thing that I have an automatic.

Best news for the day was that The Boy passed well and I passed also. Two black belts in the family. I'm a happy boy myself.

Note: I get quite nervous prior to grading and on the morning it is pretty bad. After lunch I had a bit of food stuck in the back of my mouth and used my finger to try to get it out. Whoops, involuntary reaction by the stomach. Managed to stop it just in time. But then I had to have a deep cough and up came lunch. Or about half of it. Oh, well. Didn't ruin things but I could've done with a bit more energy during the grading.

Black Belt Grading Photo Album on Facebook.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Book Review - Everest from sea to summit by Tim Macartney-Snape

At the last Save The Children Book Fair at UWA I purchased Everest from sea to summit by Tim Macartney-Snape. Turns out that it is an autographed copy, although with my name not being Margaret its' probably not worth quite as much as it could be, and not a bad buy for $6.

As soon as I saw the title I knew what the book was about. It's the personal account by New Zealand-born Australian Tim Macartney-Snape's trek from sea level in India to the summit of the world's highest peak. Without oxygen. On foot. Wow!

I like his style of writing and found it to be quite engaging. Not that I'd say as though I felt that I was a part of the journey but he has a lovely way of describing his experience and you find yourself wanting to be there to share the experience. India was a bureaucratic nightmare, maintaining a team of personnel to help was eventful and the wait around base camp prior to his summitting the mountain was painstaking. Even the journey to the summit had me hanging on during his struggle. And I knew that he'd made it beforehand!

It's a great read and Tim Macartney-Snape is a bit of a philosopher who wanted to examine the human condition. What more reason do you need to scale Everest with the start point being 1000kms away?

I picked out a number of quotes from the book that I'd like to share:

p11 - Heroes provide role models and encourage lesser people to strive harder - Richard Cashman.
p45 - To a certain extent the probability of an accident is determined by the caution and judgment you exercise.
p52 - I believe the path to a greater spirituality is through self-knowledge and understanding, not resignation to mysticism; through mastering consciousness, not blocking it out.
p94 - The danger faced is mostly the result of one's own mistakes.
p105 - ...on any journey the only way forward can sometimes be backward..
p129 - We can only look forward to the time when the cause of human upset has been eradicated by an understanding of our condition.
p130 - By making the object of the journey the destination rather than the journey itself, we rob ourselves of an important element of living.
p155 - There is pleasure in hard physical work, a celebration of the remarkable and perfect teamwork of the body's individual parts.
p167 - ...even our greatest mountains are but the tiniest crinkles on the Earth's surface and it is only because we are so small that we perceive them as grand.
p169 - Comfort should not be gained from an airy promise of some mystical afterlife but from the certainty that we are inextricably part of the continuum of life.
pp169-170 - Caring for the environment is a question of education and common sense. The more we are alienated from nature, the more that sense is hidden.
p172 - "to rought it you've got to smooth it".
p212 - Impatience is an easy attitude to cultivate, and it tends to be blind to future possibilities.
p220 - Nothing has ever seemed as lonely and desolate as leaving that wreck of a camp at 3.30 in the morning to head up an icy slope that seemed never to end.
pp224-225 - Criticising others is a natural thing for us to do; it offers us relief from our constant, subconcious self-criticism.
p229 - Even the most insignificant act can help realign the mind in a positive direction.
p245 - One should not go to a famous place if one seeks solitude, even the top of Everest.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Day 6

Even after an early night it was difficult to get out of bed. The night was cold and I had to put more clothes on. Coco Pops for breakfast - you know that you are on holiday when that is on the brekkie menu. Found our way up to Cataract Gorge Reserve without too many problems - thanks to the assistance of my human GPS.

Took the Zig-Zag-Track, designed for hikers, to the top. The view was pretty good. Bit of work to get there. Back down and we took the (expensive) chairlift across the gorge. Great view from the seat. Spotted a potoroo upon our exit. Wandered down the Cataract Walk before turning around to go over the Alexandra suspension bridge. Saw another potoroo when going to the lookout. The chairlift is the world's longest single chairlift span. A very pleasant spot to visit.

Next stop was Tasmania Zoo. So many different creatures to see and feed. We arrived at 12pm which was an hour before the Tasmanian Devils' feeding time. The wedge-tail eagles were magnificent and the Australian Dogs were beautiful. Great to feed the emus, calves, pony, parrots (except for a cockatoo that bit The Boy) and wallabies. Certainly the highlight of the visit was the feeding of the devils. There was a rooster that chased The Boy around the zoo a bit which was funny. He really enjoyed feeding the wallabies. We bought some souvenirs and left at 2pm to head to Beaconsfield. I had thought that the entry price was a bit steep but changed my mind after all of the animals that I had seen.

Our plan was to visit the Beaconsfield Mine & Heritage Centre but, unfortunately, it didn't include a tour of the mine as it is still a working mine. So we had a look around the ruins of the old mine and the exhibition to the trapped miners, Scott Russell and Brant Webb. That was interesting. Sorry to say that it wasn't what I'd hoped to see and I left a bit disappointed.

Wanted to grab a bite to eat in town but, as it was Launceston Show Day, most shops were closed. The Club Hotel was serving meals from 6pm which didn't help us as it was 4:30. Popped across the road for a hamburger and chicken schnitzel burger at Pot of Gold. I rang Shirley at Low Head Penguin Tours and she said that we needed to meet her at about 7:30pm.

It only took half an hour to reach Low Head Penguin Tour area - just keep following the road and you finally reach it although it isn't signposted really well. Had about half an hours sleep, or so, before venturing out. Shirley was there and said we should go to the pilot station whilst we were waiting and we did. There was a plaque to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the sighting of the Tamar River by Bass and Flinders in 1798. Nice little time filler.

There was supposed to be about another 10 people show up, but there were only two more, and they'd probably been put off by the rain that had been falling since 4:30. Taylor (girl) was our guide, must have been 19 or 20 years old, and Shirley popped down afterwards. Almost as soon as we arrived at the viewing platform we spotted four penguins who had come ashore. They were preening themselves first before heading to their burrow. We had a chance to walk up the track where they would be headed so that they walked straight past us. You had to wear dark clothes, watch out for the South African box thorns and the guide used an orange light so that the penguins didn't become frightened. The fine for touching one is $3,000. On this tour you are still allowed to use a camera but no flash. Other tours have banned the use of cameras altogether. Shirley, who runs the information centre in town has been doing the licensed penguin tours for 16 years and she told me that she expected that rule to come in here as well. We must have seen 12-15 penguins in all, in an hour, with the last couple under a bush quite some way from the beach. They did make a few calls. Two penguins were spotted heading out to sea.

On the way back to Launceston, the rain got heavier the closer we got, during the 57km drive. In bed by 10:30pm.

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Photo Album - Photos 91-151.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Weekly Golf Comp at Burswood Park Golf Course

Some of the guys at work have decided to start a weekly golf tournament. Tee time is 6am and nine holes are completed before work. I've decided to join in as I love golf and don't have the time to play otherwise. It's not far from work so not too difficult to join in.

The first hole, the 10th, wasn't a great start with three 4-iron shots to start with. Hit a double bogey and considering that it's been twelve months since I've had a hit that wasn't too bad. Another bogey, double, bogey, bogey followed by three straight pars and I wasn't looking too bad. Hm, that put the mozz on myself. Couple of balls in the drink for a quadruple bogey on the last. At least I broke 50, with my score of 48, but I would have been much more satisfied with a 45 or so. Second best score off the stick for the eight of us so not too bad.

Drove to the car park near work and heard a thumping sound from outside the car. As I slowed so did the frequency of the thumps. As I checked my tyre, check the photos, another guy drove into the car park with the same sound. As I crossed the road to go to work a 4WD went past making the same noise. Somebody dropped a few on the road - bastard. As I left work that evening I noticed a woman with a flat rear passenger side tyre. She stopped for the traffic lights and I attracted her attention. She had no idea that she had a flat tyre. I'm a little amazed by that, in fact. How can you drive a car and fail to notice?

Strange scene in the car park when I noticed a bra on the rear dash of a car. I know that you need to be careful around people who leave a hat in that position but what's the concern with someone who does that with a bra? Bit of a worry.

Burswood Park Golf Course photo album on Facebook.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lolcat - With Our Dog

I made a Lolcat - with our dog.


Not Quite In The Same League As "Hot Enough To Boil A Monkey's Bum"

As you know, I like to point out journalistic errors. They're even funnier because the journalist has made the error and it may have been an oversight on behalf of a sub-editor and/or editor to allow it to pass. I found a rather strange expression, although it has to be said that it's not in the same league as Monty Python's "Hot enough to boil a monkey's bum in here, your majesty" from the Bruce skit, in an article the other day.

It begs the question, "'What are dead ears'"? Perhaps the journalist meant "deaf ears".

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chemfest 2011 At Curtin University

Attended Chemfest yesterday. No, it wasn't about a group of druggies getting together and shooting up, snorting powdery substances or popping pills. It was about some companies, a few of the local universities and Scitech putting on an informative display to get school-aged children excited about studying chemistry.

We saw displays for memory metals, how different household cleaners contain chemicals that would destroy your eyes, fingerprint viewing and everybody's favourite - slimy goo made out of different polymers.

Scitech's own presentation whereby they used liquid nitrogen, fire and made elephant's toothpaste was great. It had the kids', and many of the adults', attention. Check out some of the photos.

Chemfest Photo Album on Facebook.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

When Does Manslaughter Get Relegated To The Entertainment News?

Looking at the news headlines on Google News yesterday and noticed an article about a manslaughter trial posted underneath the Entertainment News section. Thought that that was a bit weird. But there was a connection - it was Conrad Murray's trial for the death of Michael Jackson.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Day 5

Headache receded somewhat but still feeling a bit out of it. Difficult to get out of bed. Had brekkie and a shower before storing our larger bags at the hotel. Caught the train into Flinders Street Station and grabbed a no. 35 City Tram (free) on which we circled the city once. Not really impressed with Docklands which is still being built. Walked around Federation Square for a bit before catching a tram back to the Shrine of Remembrance so that The Boy could buy a souvenir.

Had an ice cream before grabbing our bags from the hotel and catching a train back to the city. Tram to Southern Cross Station for the SkyBus where I wasn't able to upgrade my single ticket to a return. Gotta try. Arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare. Had a yucky gnocchi - neither of us felt like eating junk food. Found out that our gate changed and the flight had been delayed by 30 minutes to Launceston.

Uneventful flight with Qantas AirLink, with better service than Jetstar, to Launceston in a pink plane. Got a bit of sleep on the way. After obtaining our luggage I went to pick up the Avis hire car. Just before signing I was hit with an insurance bill of $34.12/day to remove a $3,348.90 excess for any damage regardless of fault. To say I was not happy would be an understatement as the hire car cost had suddenly doubled. And I had to read the lengthy insurance paperwork - I'm sure this made the hire car representative uneasy too. Then when I finally got to the car there was some damage to the number plate and wing mirror that wasn't on the initial paperwork. Back to the office to inform them.

Driving from the airport to Launceston posed no difficulties and we parked the car near the street where the Batman Fawkner Inn was situated. Not knowing where we were headed it was a bit of a fluke. Actually getting inside was more problematic as no-one was on reception although they were supposed to be. And when they opened the door they wanted me to pay twice for the room which I think had more to do with the booking being made for two adults instead of a child and an adult - the booking process hadn't allowed me to book properly and I'd sorted this out, or so I thought, by email before arriving. The girl on reception promised to provide sheets on about three occasions before finally doing so. Towels cost $1 each. No problem with that.

Behind the inn was a pizza shop where we had a tropical pizza and minestrone soup with garlic bread. Not feeling so well we were unable to finish it.

One thing I've noticed in Tassie, if not a few, you don't really need to do a penguin tour as all of the women are obese and waddle like penguins, homes on the hillside are two levels and every television I saw was a widescreen plasma.

The girl from reception gave me directions to the shopping centre but the other side entrance to City Park was open although a gate on the inside was closed therefore I had to walk up the hill and go the long way around.

The Batman Fawkner Inn was where an historic meeting took place that led to the settlement of Melbourne. And it has a great, hot shower.

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Photo Album - Photos 86-90.

Canning River Regional Park Ride

There's quite a bit of water in the Canning River Regional Park area. This morning I took a bike ride so that I could take some photos. Before you know it the weather will have warmed up significantly and all of the water will be gone. And much of the bird life with it.

The area is quite beautiful and peaceful. Surprising as it is so close to a major shopping centre and not far from the city. Lovely area for a walk or a bike ride. Lots of people walk their dogs there too.

Canning River Regional Park photo album on Facebook.

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Day 4

D, T and M picked us up just after 9am and drove us up into the Dandenongs visit Grants on Sherbrooke to feed wild birds (tres cool) and to the SkyHigh cafe atop Mt Dandenong itself for the lookout and The Giant's Chair. There was a nice view of Melbourne and the CBD looked rather small from a distance. Melbourne is an expansive city however.

Quite a long drive down the Mornington Peninsula and we stopped at Sorrento for lunch at Just Fine Foods - although I wouldn't say the same about the service. Fish and chips x4 off and a chicken and leek pie for myself, followed by the best vanilla slices around (self-boast on their behalf). Weren't bad. We walked down to the beach and out onto the jetty where the breeze was quite chilling. D drove us to Cape Schanck and we wandered down the boardwalk to Pebble Beach after looking at Bushranger Bay.

The Boy and I both had headaches from getting dehydrated the day before. By this stage it was after 5pm so the nearby maze that we'd planned to visit had closed. Back to D & T's house for a rest before going out to Ghin Thai Cafe for a nice dinner. The cafe was very quiet but that was because everyone else was ordering home delivery. D drove us back to our hotel by 9:30pm and we went pretty much straight to bed.

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Photo Album - Photos 65-85.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Damage By Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos

There's a number of red-tailed black cockatoos, Calyptorhynchus banksii, about. Without looking I thought that it was obviously named after Sir Joseph Banks, the famous botanist, as a Latin name ending with a double "i" indicates naming after a person.

Enough language lecturing. These birds are noisy and destructive. They like eating gum nuts and throwing away the branches that were attached to them. If you look closely at the photos around the base of the trees you'll notice a huge amount of leaves and branches. And I think the birds have only been feeding on this particular tree for about a week. When I tried to get a photo up close the birds flew away before coming back to land higher up the tree. Little bit touchy and private.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Early Evening Telemarketer Call - Another Scam

The phone has been ringing hot this evening. Well, there's been three telemarketers call anyway.

One of them, quite rudely, asked me to confirm my name. No, it's my phone so she can tell me who she is. Cheryl Baxter, apparently, from the Melbourne head office of Virtual PC Doctor. Oh really? Then she crapped on about viruses and bugs having been uploaded to the Internet, etc, and how I'd have to check my family PC for this. I wasn't sure what a "family PC" was so she explained that it was the PC or computer that I had in the house. But I hadn't mentioned anything about a computer. So she prompted me to admit if I had a computer or not. Hmm, I wasn't sure. So she asked me to go check if I had a computer. I left her waiting whilst I checked. Even though it only took a minute to work out if I had a computer or not she wasn't there when I returned to the phone. Pity, I was having a bit of fun.

Strange, she didn't really sound like her name was Cheryl. A quick check on Google revealed that this, shock! horror!, is a scam.

Ed - a fourth call before finishing this post.

Did Somebody Get Dressed In The Dark?

Bit of a surprise on the bus in the morning yesterday. No, it's not a new style in clothing. I just reckon that someone didn't have the light on when they got dressed. Funny to sit behind them though, camera at the ready.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Errors and Error Messages

Any programmer worth their salt is aware that an error message should be informative and not confusing to the user who is going to experience it. And everyone who uses the Interwebs knows that error messages aren't all that informative on occasion. I've come across a few of late so thought that I'd share them.

A gigantic error occurred - you don't say?! Isn't that informative?

That message wasn't composed very well in terms of HTML being translated into text.

Just a little bit too exacting with the market depth methinks.

When does an object refernce not refer to an object? Didn't help me get the game score in an AFL match earlier this season.

Generic_tf - WTF?

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Day 3

Shower and brekkie followed by a train into the city which took only seven minutes. Walked a couple of blocks to catch a no. 96 tram to the Melbourne Museum for the Tutankhamun exhibition. The very informative Egypt 3D movie ran for 25 minutes. We spent almost two hours inside the exhibition which had many wonders of the ancient Egyptian world on display. We're talking 3,300 years old here. Especially impressive was the sarcophagus of Tjuya, aunt of Tutankhamun. Spent about 15 minutes in the souvenir shop deciding on what to buy. Tutankhamun And The Golden Age Of The Pharoahs was great.

Melbourne seems to be the smokers' capital of the world. The air is difficult to breathe in sometimes.

Back to the city for lunch at McDonalds with an Irish/Chinese family from the Gold Coast. Don't know if I'm missing something, or if McDonalds is, but I didn't see a toilet seat on the toilet.

Change in plans as my friend, Din, will not be getting back from his trip until late so won't be able to meet us for tea. No probs. Caught the no. 96 down to Luna Park in St Kilda. Free entry but unlimited rides were $33.95 for kids and $43.95 for adults. Individual rides priced at $9.50. Pity I didn't find out about the 10% discount for showing your Met ticket beforehand. Went to put our bags in a locker but they were all being utilised.

First ride - Ghost Train. Wait was for 45 minutes. Absolutely crap ride. And they didn't even set up the camera properly to take your photo at the "scary" moment. Metropolis roller coaster was OK, Enterprise really good, Scenic Railway roller coaster (with 25 minutes wait) was very bumpy (99 years old!) but quite good, Coney Drop OK and the Spider was quite good. The Boy went on Pharoah's Curse and really enjoyed it. I knew that my lunch would have some trouble keeping down so I gave it a miss. G-Force ride was OK. I let him do lots of rides, including Twin Dragons, by himself as my stomach isn't as good as his. We spent five and a half hours there and it was well worth it. Caramel popcorn was delicious. Luna Park closed at 8pm so we headed down Acland Street for tea.

Found La Roche Cafe - all smoking seats outside were taken and there was, thankfully, a table for two available inside. Had a lamb pizza and calamari. Very reasonably priced, for those items on Monday, and a very enjoyable meal. Considering the number of people there and the conversations it was surprising that you were able to talk and be heard. Caught a no. 79 tram back to the hotel which was only 20 minutes away.

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Photo Album - Photos 50-64.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

G'day Your Majesty

HRH Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh were in town today for the Great Aussie BBQ before nicking back off to Old Blighty. I managed to catch a bus into the city, seeing as many of the streets were closed off for the royal motorcade and CHOGM, and just managed to cross the road before it was closed off to pedestrian traffic. Pity I was on the side of the ride where Prince Philip was as I'd come to see the Queen. Still ended up only a few metres away and got a half decent photo.

After the motorcade had passed I went onto Langley Park and took part in the charity BBQ with a couple of snaggers on bread and a soft drink. Couldn't get close enough to the Esplanade where the royal party was on stage prior to a walk amongst the people so ended up watching proceedings on a large screen. Reports are that there were over 100,000 people in attendance.

Got another look as they went past on the way out to the airport. Just read another report that they took off at 1:01pm. Not bad considering that they left the Esplanade at 11:55am. Not like many Qantas passengers who won't be going anywhere seeing as the airline has been grounded by management.

Whilst I didn't get to say "G'day" it was a bit of a thrill to see her. Did I mention that I am a republican? One who believes in maintaining membership of the Commonwealth though. Still, currently she is the Head of State so deserves a little respect.

Queen Elizabeth II's Visit to Perth Photo Album

Friday, October 28, 2011

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Day 2

Subdued start to the morning. Discovered that instead of putting my watch forward for daylights savings I had advanced my alarm. Went down for breakfast, which we didn't have much time for, consisting of cereals, fruit, tea/coffee and toast. Grabbed an all day Met ticket for $3.20. Great value on a Sunday in Melbourne for public transport.

First stop was the Shrine of Remembrance. This is a building that truly commemorates the sacrifice of soldiers from Victoria. A total of 4000 medals were on display - one for every hundred that served and six that fell. We took part in a short service at the Unmarked Grave with the Ray of Light. Had a look around from the balcony. The crypt holds a special statue saluting father and son.

Victoria Barracks, across the road from the Shrine of Remembrance, looks beautiful. Tram to Flinders Street Station. Some Korean tourists were having their photo taken so I asked the photographer, in Korean, if he wanted a photo. He was surprised and said that he was a guide. Took another tram past the Fitzroy Gardens to go to the MCG.

Quite a few cars still parked at the MCG. We came to visit the National Sports Museum and were informed that it wasn't available as it was the open arena day. Oh well, we'd come this far. The open arena day, held once a year after the grand final, meant that you were allowed onto the MCG for a kick. What a bonus. The Boy took part in a handball competition for a chocolate prize after scoring a bullseye with his third attempt. We visited the MCG Superstore half an hour later to buy a football and hunted high and low for an Essendon one. Must have been the last in existence. Kicked the footy for about 40 minutes before grabbing two 4 'n 20 pies for lunch. Well, you can't go to the footy without eating a pie, can you? Just managed to grab an MCG tour with MCC member Barrie Johns. What an amazing stadium and so full of history. Ninety three steps to the top of one of the stands - nosebleed section obviously. Tour took an hour is I'd highly recommend it.

Next stopwas the National Sports Museum, which was open, for a look see. No cameras allowed, which was probably a good thing, and we kept our visit down to about an hour and a quarter. Olympic Games memorabilia, AFL Hall of Fame and Legends of the Game, James Hird and Shane Warne holograms, Melbourne Cup, Cricket, etc all wonderfully displayed.

Had another kick on the 'G until 4:30pm. Walked along the Yarra River back to the city and grabbed some tea. Caught a tram to head to the Polly Woodside Maritime Museum (closed) before walking back to the Eureka Skydeck 88 Building. Good view but too many reflections from the windows. Not until you step out onto the balcony, which was absolutely freezing, do you get a great view. Glad we didn't pay money for the Edge Experience as you couldn't even use a camera inside it. Personally, the Rialto Building provides a better view.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at the Shrine of Remembrance which looks fantastic at night (9pm by this stage). Had to wait quarter of an hour for the next tram but it was OK. Bed at 11pm. Wonderful day at the 'G.

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Photo Album - Photos 9-49.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Case Of "Pimp My Ride" Gone Wrong?

There's a TV show by the name of "Pimp My Ride" whereby they get an old clanger and do it up. I'm just wondering if one of the neighbours tried this and failed.

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Day 1

Holidays are finally here. Last night, when walking the dog with the missus, I made the discovery that her flight was on Sunday and not Monday as she had thought (she was heading off to Korea). Lucky, as she was making shopping plans, dog grooming plans and cleaning plans accordingly. Had to throw those plans out of the window.

Up early to do a final check of emails as I'll be disconnected from the virtual world for the next two weeks. Popped over to see the neighbours to ask if they could collect my mail while I was away. Had a nine o'clock appointment with the dentist - boy, do I know how to enjoy my holidays. Rang the boarding kennel to book Hunter in two days early.

Miky wanted to buy some gifts for friends in Korea and seeing as we still had some time, even though the appointment at the dentist following mine had come early and made my appointment late by half an hour, I drove her into the city. We were also able to buy Subway for lunch.

All the way out to the airport Miky kept asking how to drive home. Easy, stay left leaving the airport, turn left and then turn left on to Tonkin Highway, etc. Got dropped off, said our goodbyes and proceeded to check in our luggage.

In the waiting lounge we ate our lunch and then plonked ourselves in front of the TV to watch the first quarter of the AFL Grand Final between Collingwood and Geelong. Saw Stan Lazaridis in the departure lounge. Quarter time coincided with our boarding call. I rang Miky to find out if she had arrived home OK only to find out that she had become lost twice after heading right on Tonkin Highway instead of following the straightforward instructions. She'd only just arrived which probably left only enough time to wash the dog, have a walk with him and then drop him off at the boarding kennel.

No problem boarding our Jetstar flight. No screens to watch the footy though. And no live ABC radio to listen to the match either. One of the cabin crew was Korean so he was quite shocked when I asked for water in Korean. So shocked that he asked me if I was Korean. Gee, must have really caught him off guard. Bottle of water set me back $3.50. Score update - Pies 71, Cats 73.

Screaming babies - seem to be a staple component of Jetstar services. People should realise that the headrest of the seat in front of you doesn't constitute a handle to pull your fat arse out of your own seat. But, with a Collingwood-supporting husband, what else could I expect?

Geelong 119 - Collingwood 81. Yahoo! I'd picked the Cats by 14 points. Bit of a cheer on board the plane. Grizzling from behind me. Heh heh.

The baby behind us screamed for all of the descent and carried on after we landed. Ears must have been sore. Or she was a Collingwood supporter.

Waiting for the baggage took almost as long as the flight. Well, not quite. Quite cold in Melbourne. Wet too but not raining. Grabbed a Skybus to the city which arrived just as I bought the tickets. Quick ride to the city. It was 7:30pm by this stage and not much info on hand at Southern Cross Station. The VLine (train) info lady gave me some info but I couldn't find the tram info that she spoke about. We left the station and The Boy found a map on a street pillar. It pointed out a free tram, the Circle Tram, which would take us to the No. 8 tram that we required. Got off the tram one stop too early. Walked with baggage to the Flinders Street Station and waited. So many happy Cats supporters and many fewer sad, despondent Magpies supporters. Drunk and cheerful Cats supporters everywhere. Caught the No. 8 but got off about three stops too early. Finally found the hotel. Checked in. Room was spartan.

Went out to find something to eat on Chappell Street. One woman yelled out, "Go Bombers" and clapped as I walked past with my Essendon jacket. Back to Falafel House across the road from the hotel. Lovely chicken souvlaki and lamb kebab. Ate in the shop. Pakistanis, I think. Back to the hotel for a shower and watched Die Hard.

One thing that can be said about the ladies in Melbourne who are hitting the town for a good time - the more attractive they are the less clothing they wear. Even in the cold weather. It was supposedly 9C when we landed.

Melbourne-Tassie Holiday 2011 Photo Album - Photos 1-8

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ironman Nearly Drowns And Google News Considers This To Be Entertainment

It amuses me to see a news story relating to Joe Hockey, shadow treasurer, to be put away in the sports section of Google News. OK, that's just the name confusing the issue. It worries me, slightly, to see a story with the headline "Ironman nearly drowns at Coolangatta Gold" and it is considered to be entertainment. At least it should have been in the sports section, methinks. Are we that interested in blood sports today?

News Stories

Here's a few news stories I saw during the week that I found to be interesting.

Sydney man stabs and kills intruder armed with stun gun

- It's time the government realised that anti-gun laws are having a detrimental affect on the lifespan of robbers. I thought that this country stood for a fair go for all.

Faster than light particles found, claim scientists

- Particles faster than light? Are they sure it's not a daylight savings error and that they didn't synchronise their watches?

'Decamillionaires' on the rise in Asia as wealth shifts away from Western nations

- Dammit, one list I wouldn't mind being on.

Julia Gillard TV sex scene causes outrage in Oz

- I hear that the diggers aren't happy at the image portrayed in the show, At Home With Julia, as thousands of men have died under that flag. I wouldn't be surprised if the guy playing her partner, Tim Mathieson, "died" also.

Amorous Squid Seeks Partner: Any Sex Will Do

- And to think they just spit in our eyes. It could be worse.

UK’s slowest broadband street revealed

- Sounds like snail mail is faster than broadband in West Sussex and Hampshire.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Farewell Russell Woolf - Former ABC Weatherman

Russell Woolf has been axed as the Perth ABC weatherman. I'm deeply saddened to see him go as I've very much enjoyed his humour and down-to-earth demeanour over the last five years. He's never been full of his own self importance, take note other stations, nor has he been the best looking weatherman (weatherperson for you PC types), but it didn't make any difference. Hardly a weather report would go by without him fluffing his lines and reading the wrong value. But he would correct the mistake and not try to cover up and pretend to be perfect.

Farewell Russell Woolf. You have my respect.

Nicole Kidman Heading To Jail?

When I first saw the picture associated with this news article I thought perhaps Nicole Kidman was heading to jail. Then I read the article headline, entitled "Actor Jailed" and I realised that there was no possibility that it was her. She's not an actor. She was previously married to a guy who wasn't an actor either.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The US Department of Defence Needs to Join the 21st Century

Our national radio broadcaster, ABC News Radio, has content agreements with other radio stations around the world including Deutsche Welle, the BBC, Radio Netherlands Worldwide and NPR (National Public Radio - US). From Radio Netherlands yesterday on their The Shape We're In program they interviewed retired Leiutenant Colonel Anthony Schaffer and he spoke about his book, Operation Dark Heart, and his work in Afghanistan as a spook - an undercover operative which is much like James Bond 007. Listen to the interview here.

The US Department of Defence censored the book and then bought all 9,500 copies from the first edition and destroyed them even though Shaffer had obtained clearance for the manuscript from the US Army. When are they going to join the 21st century? What if he publishes it in an online form - PDF, e-book, etc? Then what are they going to do? I don't think that they had very good intelligence on how to deal with this situation. So, of course the book becomes a New York Times non fiction & political books best seller. He must have felt a bit empty about that honour as no-one had read it still.

Shaffer has a story to tell that the US military doesn't want you to hear. I found the interview to be quite interesting and it makes you take a step back and look at what is really going on in the world. Who is good and who is bad when it comes to terrorism?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Challenge – Make $50 This Week

I've joined a financial blogging community - Finance Community - that has just been created. I'd like to use some of my creativity and thoughts regarding finance and share them with a wider audience than I currently reach. One feature of this blog is a weekly challenge. And the challenge this week is:

Make $50 This Week

Well, the rules aren't that rigid. I shall explore a couple of ideas.

Charity - raising $50 for the MS Readathon is not too difficult, if you have a reasonable network of family, friends or know your neighbours quite well. It's great for young people to raise money for this worthy charity and the benefits of reading are wide reaching. Of course, this week would require the readathon to be active and in Western Australia it starts in December.

Personal - gardening for the neighbours.
- collecting cans and bottles for the refund money (might take more than one week though).
- doing odd jobs around the house, like cleaning the pantry or the container cupboards, cleaning the shed, washing and vacuuming the car, etc (more age dependent and aimed at the younger generation).
- delivery of brochures and local newspapers (I understand that the pay rate is closer to $1/hr and not a real earner).

Committing yourself to working overtime is too dependent upon the boss to make it a reliable money-making method. And it's not an option if you are a salaried employee. I think the older you get the more difficult it is to actually make more money outside of your usual employment. That $50 is more attainable by spending less than normal.

Frugal Bastard's Challenge to Make $50 This Week

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Amazing Customer Service - From A Telco No Less!

My missus lost her pre-paid mobile phone recently. As she doesn't use it much it took a few days to notice. The usual trick is to call the mobile and then find it pretty easily. Didn't work on this occasion. Maybe the battery was already dead. Searching the car, house, shopping centre, etc, failed to turn it up.

I did something unexpected. I called the customer service on my mobile account. Surprisingly there was an option not too deep within the menu to talk to a customer service person and I didn't have to wait very long. As I didn't have the password/code for the wife's account they needed to speak to her for verification. I asked if they were able to pinpoint the phone's whereabouts, from the triangulation with the towers that happens constantly but the customer service rep informed me that only iPhones have that tracking ability. She started up an online account for the mobile, after trying to call it herself, and that would enable us to check the last 60 calls and SMSs from the phone. Lastly she put a block on the phone so that no outgoing calls were possible but incoming calls could still be received.

Two separate emails provided the username and a temporary password to this online account. I did make an error using the password, as it contained a "," as a special character at the end of the code and I didn't notice it. Quite frustrating and I made another call to customer service who quickly put me back on track. Few minutes later and I have a complete list of the last 60 calls/messages and the phone numbers that they related to. Brilliant - as the SIM wasn't backed up that meant that all of the contacts had been lost.

Next weekend the wife remembered that she had an old phone, and it turns out that she liked that one better than the newer one, and so we took it down to the Optus store. Before we got there we had a bit of shopping to do and noticed at Woolies that they were selling Optus SIM cards for only $2. Still, I wanted to talk to the Optus people first. It turned out that they were selling SIM cards for $2 as well. The guy, a trainee, even deactivated the old SIM card and reactivated the new one. As my wife had credit left we didn't need to top it up. It certainly cost more than two dollars of his time.

Back home and the phone wasn't charging properly. That was until I rummaged through one of my drawers and found the original battery charger. That was bound to happen as I'm a hoarder and never throw anything away. Few hours later and one perfectly working mobile phone without any contacts. Only cost a phone that the owner wasn't happy with and two bucks for a new SIM card.

Can't believe the trouble that Optus went to to provide customer service. They were so helpful in the store and on the phone. Being pre-paid customers we certainly aren't high revenue by any means. But we are happy Optus pre-paid customers and not afraid to say so. Who would have thought that in this day and age a telco was capable of providing outstanding customer service? Thanks Optus.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pretty Successful Weekend - Includes Taekwondo Grading

The weekend just past was pretty good. Friday night kicked off with taekwondo and the first of the AFL finals for the year. Great game between Geelong and Hawthorn. Finals footy is the way it should be played and the way it should be umpired.

On the Saturday I did my normal taekwondo trainng and shopping. Watched a bit of footy as well.

Sunday morning I had taekwondo grading. I'd have to say that it was the most fulfilling grading I've done and I reached red belt three (1st geup). Pretty pleased with my performance but still have quite a bit of improvement to do to prepare for my black belt grading. Practice, practice, practice!

Back home in time for meat pies and potato chips and the start of the blockbuster 1st elimination final between Essendon and Carlton. Almost all over by the end of the first quarter and certainly over by half time. Those damn Blues blew away my Bombers. Bastards!! They played much better and deserved the win.

Full time in the footy meant time to mow the back lawn and do some edging followed by cutting up of the palm trees that I chopped down two weekends ago. My blisters had healed enough for me to make another attempt at cleaning up the front yard before the greens collection in a few weeks time. I spent two hours cutting up the trees but it was worth the effort as the front yard looks much better.

After a wash up, well, a shower, we went out for tea to Phill Bean in Shelley. It's a newish Korean restaurant. Man, I tell you, the food is great. It's not expensive but it is very cosy so I can see why you generally need to book. Loved the food and will definitely return.

If it hadn't been for my footy team losing it would have been close to a perfect weekend.

Friday, September 09, 2011

New Zealand Have No Hope in the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup

Mark my words - the All Blacks have absolutely no chance of winning the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup.  Why, I hear you ask? Let me explain.

New Zealand are hosting the World Cup.
New Zealand are the No. 1 ranked team playing rugby union.
New Zealand, being the hosts, have the most favourable fixture.
I picked New Zealand in the sweepstake at work today.

There you have it. No hope for the Kiwis. I was asked to run a sweepstake only three and a half hours before the opening match of the World Cup. I even had to ask when it started as I'm not into rugby too much. The only games I take any interest in are World Cup matches. So, I emailed my colleagues and managed to sell the 20 places in three hours. We like a bet, we do. I had two ladies conduct the draw, and they hadn't joined in and were therefore impartial, but as soon as my name and that of New Zealand was drawn out I knew fingers would be pointed at me.

And that has certainly put the mozz on the Kiwis. Anybody remember the FIFA World Cup sweepstake where I picked Brazil and got nothing?

IRB 2011 Rubgy World Cup Odds