Thursday, February 24, 2011

Book Review - Reader's Digest True Stories of Great Escapes

I picked up True Stories of Great Escapes by Reader's Digest at the book sale back in October. It cost me $4 and has a number of great escapes from around the world. The first tale recounted was that of a young Winston Churchill who was captured by the Boer in 1899. If I had based the rest of the book on this story I would have stopped reading. Deathly boring.

Luckily I didn't and discovered in the rest of the book are stories of escape from East Berlin by plane, assumption of an Austrian's identity by a chess-playing Hungarian to get away from the Russians and an amazing tale of a Pole who helped someone take flight from Austria and return to Poland with the Russians chasing his passenger who ends up saving his life. There's 98 pages dedicated to escapes from Colditz Castle which makes great reading. I also found the story of a little English woman who journeyed to China to take up God's work and who saved a hundred orphans before going on to early Taiwan during the revolution after surviving the attack by the Japanese. By far the best story was of an Australian escape from a Japanese prisoner of war camp in Asia - it is depicted so graphically it's almost unbelievable.

If you enjoy true stories of courage, determination and the will to survive then you should read this book.

Reader's Digest True Stories of Great Escapes

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Afternoon At Cottesloe Beach

It was warm on Sunday. But only 31C warm whereas it's been 33~35C all week. In fact there's only been two days this month where the maximum was below 30C, up to today, and the lowest maximum was 29.6C. Warm enough for the beach, anyway. Took the family down to Cottesloe Beach. Had fun in the sand and surf.

Afternoon at Cottesloe Beach photo album.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How To Get Rid Of A Telemarketer - Lesson No. 2

The phone rang about 5:30 or 6 tonight. I answered in a posh English accent. The lady on the other end introduced herself as Paula and asked me how I was.

"I'm fine Paula. Thank you for asking. And how are you?"

She responded with an English accent herself, which wasn't obvious at the start of the call. Catching, eh? Paula explained that it wasn't a sales call but she was just ringing to give some advice.

"Are you a working homeowner?" she enquired.

"Oh, no. I'm not," was my reply. You see, I'd finished work for the day so didn't consider myself to be a working homeowner.

"Are you retired?" she asked.

"Retired for the day. Thank you. Bye."

Looks Like A Full Moon Tonight

Peering over the fence this evening whilst watering the garden and I noticed that it looks like a full moon tonight. Grabbed the camera and took a few shots before it became too bright so that you couldn't make out any detail.

Full Moon 17th of Feb Photo Album.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Video Of Our Dog Running Around In The Backyard

Ain't Hunter cute? Short video compilation of his antics in the backyard - chasing his tail, barking, drinking water, pouncing on ants and running around.

Our dog, Hunter, at play in the backyard.

Monday, February 14, 2011

What is there to see in Los Molinos, California?

Wikipedia doesn't have too much to say about Los Molinos, Cal. The population is less than 2000 and less than one percent of the area is covered by water. So, lakes aren't a big attraction I'm guessing. Although The Sac looks interesting. The median house price is under $200k. Is that pricey? Maybe the Old Tehama County Jail is worth a visit. Or the Lower Sacramento River. I see that Palermo isn't far away but not the one in Italy. There is the Umpqua Bank and that's a rather strange name. Anyone care to tell me about this particular establishment? And if you take Google Street View down Railroad Avenue heading north you'll find yourself stuck behind a truck. I notice the Mill Creek Restaurant nearby Nu-Way Market. Maybe there is a bit going on in Los Molinos.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Is This The World's Most Boring Three Minute Video?

Here's my attempt at creating the world's most boring three minute video. Not quite as exciting as watching grass grow but that's the point. Otherwise it would be pointless.

Is This The World's Most Boring Three Minute Video?

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

ODI Australia vs England Feb 6th 2011

I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the ODI between Australia and England at the WACA on Sunday. It was the final match in the series and with Australia already leading 5-1 they rested a star (Shane Watson) and a non-star (Michael Clarke). I was hopeful that there would be some young talent on display due to the two vacancies. England had their own injury concerns and were down a few stars. Cricinfo has the result here.

Had a great spot in the Willow Lounge in the Prindiville Stand so the day was very well catered for. The view of the pitch was excellent also. I thought that the Aussies batted too slowly early on and were 15~20 runs short of par with their total of 279. David Hussey and Adam Voges, who must have told his wife that he was playing golf to allow him to play for his country, put on a great partnership and got Australia back into the game.

England started badly, with Shaun Tait bowling a beast of a delivery to Andrew Strauss second ball, and then lost another wicket in the following over. Just when it looked like Kevin Pietersen, whom I considered to be in imperious form, got out following my thought England began to struggle. Michael Yardy batted really well and even tonked Doug Bollinger for six which I captured on video.

Michael Yardy hits Doug Bollinger for six.

I had a great day which finished early in the evening. Australia won by 57 runs as England fell short. We'll see what the World Cup brings in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh though.

All afternoon we could see smoke coming from the hills around Perth. Latest count is some 72 houses destroyed and 32 damaged. All this started by a guy with an angle grinder. I'm glad no-one was killed but feel for the people who have lost their homes through no fault of their own.

ODI Australia vs England 6.2.2011 photo album on Facebook.

Canning River Regional Park Fire Aftermath

On the weekend the Canning River Regional Park went up in flames. It happens every year. During summer the grasses around the river become very dry and the whole area is a tinder box. It's just waiting for some idiot to light a fire. I guess it happened again on the weekend. Actually, I'd say it's the most widespread fire that I've seen in the area in my time.

When I was riding my bike this afternoon to take some photos I saw an old bloke who was walking his dog. We got talking and he said that a woman had seen the guy who lit a fire in the area a few years ago was in the area only a day or so before. Makes you wonder why they don't shoot arsonists.

Canning River Regional Park Fire Aftermath photo album on Facebook.

How To Get Rid Of A Telemarketer

Tonight around dinner time the phone rang. I was voted to get it and answered in Korean. This didn't deter the telemarketer who was on the other end. She started off with her spiel so I interrupted her, as she sounded very familiar, with, "Why do you keep calling me? Why wife will think we are having an affair. Stop calling me!"
With that I hung up. Perhaps she'll get the message. Perhaps not.

I like to mess with the telemarketers.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Flood Levy or Flood Levee?

Following the devastating floods in Queensland, Victoria and even Carnarvon in Western Australia, PM Julia Gillard has said that we must have a flood levy. No if, buts or maybes. Must have. The Australian taxpayer is to fork out for the repair to infrastructure, mainly in Queensland, and I'm presuming if that is even state property. I've got no issue with Federal property being repaired with Federal money but state property should be fixed by the state in question.

Gillard's plan is to introduce a flood levy whereby people who weren't affected by the flood and who earn over $50k per year will be hit on a sliding scale for somewhere between $1 and $5 per week. There's a few more details here. Doesn't sound like much, does it. Considering that 60% of Australians will pay less than $1/week it sounds to me like another tax on the rich. Typical Labor Party tactic. Do they not think that "rich" people are already mortgaged to the hilt, along with those in the mortgage belt, and that they have plenty of excess money to give away?

There's a few things that irk me here. No consideration is given to those that have donated already and should be exempt to the extent that they have already given. If you have a greater income you will pay a higher share. The State's responsibilities are somewhat overlooked and the Federal government will be bailing them out (which is perhaps okay given the sheer size of the devastation). Where is the claim against town planners who allowed people to build on river flood plains? People that didn't have insurance shouldn't be bailed out as this sends the wrong message. The younger generation is likely to think that the government will bail them out. If you can't afford car insurance when you buy a car you can't afford the car in my book. And Australia should just borrow the money to rebuild infrastructure instead of worrying about getting the budget back into surplus. Hell, they'll only be taking $1.8b from the taxpayer due to the flood levy. Still has to get through parliament though.

Man, I think that it should be a flood levee instead. Pay to build a mound of earth around these rivers and that would be a better way to spend the money. Just rebuilding in the same place is stupid and very short sighted. Heck, why not send the useless and unwanted buildings for schools that wasted some $20b to Queensland and be done with it.

On the other hand we should be helping out a mate in the old banana bender. Now is a wonderful way of creating a purpose built infrastructure but nobody has that far-sighted vision. It'll be pretty much a straight replacement and no improvement. Much like Julia Gillard was for Kevin Rudd.

Who Will Win The Allan Border Medal This Year?

I know that it must be the talk of the sporting world. Who will win the Allan Border Medal this year - Cricket Australia's version of the Best and Fairest without necessarily being the fairest. So, who has been the outstanding Australian cricketer of the last year.

Ricky Ponting?
Michael Clarke?
Mitchell Johnson?
Brad Haddin?
Mike Hussey?

Nah, it's Shane Watson. By the width of the flooded Brisbane River. He will romp it in. Considering that he's played all three versions of the game - Test, ODI and T20 (not so much Sheffield Shield) - and done well in each. Most players don't play all forms so he will be hard to beat.

But does anyone really deserve this honour this year? I'll be at the final ODI of the seven match series between Australia and England (& Wales) tomorrow at the WACA. With the number of withdrawals, to attend the medal presentation in Melbourne on Monday night, and England's injuries it looks more like Australia B vs England A. Michael Clarke and Shane Watson will be rested for the final ODI ahead of the medal presentation. Does that indicate that they are serious about playing for their country?

Well, maybe I'm being too harsh. But if you want to be the best player for your country you should at least be playing for your country. And Clarke needs the batting practice more than anyone. Which idiot did the scheduling anyway. Who would play a match in Sydney followed by a game in Perth which is one day before a medal presentation in Melbourne being hosted two days before the team flies out to India/Sri Lanka/Bangladesh for the World Cup? Honestly. You'd think that nobody has any planning skills in this country.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Short Visit to Kings Park

Babysitting today as school doesn't start until tomorrow. Made a visit to Kings Park, played some soccer, had a drink and toured the War Memorial. Pretty warm day but nice to get out of the house.

Short Visit to Kings Park Photo Album.

Let me know if you can't view the pics.