Sunday, May 29, 2011

Personal Details for Sale, Anyone?

Gotta wonder how much your personal details are worth and how readily available you are to sell them. We have some mega chemists (pharmacies, drug stores, apotekes, etc) called Chemist Warehouse. Most of them are run by Chinese people and I dare say they have studied in Perth and are making the most of their parents' money. Good on them. If it's not the Chinese it's the Indians. They still view Australia as the land of opportunity and I'd hate to see us lose that moniker.

The service changes and being the sceptic that I am I only see it as ultimately benefiting the proprietor. Take yesterday for instance. The missus needed a prescription filled. Instead of waiting by the counter the pharmacist gave her a buzzer and a shopping basket. "I'll buzz you when it's ready," he said. So, you go wandering around the shop looking to spend more money as you become bored. If you had parked your arse next to the counter you wouldn't spend any more money than you had intended to.

My missus thought that there wasn't any air fresheners. We were standing next to a display of them and she said, "No, the natural air freshener." I replied that they are called "windows" and that the pharmacy didn't sell them.

Then I had a thought about what would be the next service/money making idea to be installed from a business perspective. It struck me that instead of the buzzer they take your mobile number (who doesn't have a mobile these days?) and text you when your script was filled. That way they could have all of your contact details in their database. You could be contacted whenever they had a sale and it would cost bugger all for them to market to you. When we sat down to wait for the medication I noticed a sign proclaiming that a free SMS prescription reminder service was available. Damn, they've already stolen half of my idea. Clever Chinese.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Entertaining Bus Ride

Grabbed a bus home last night as usual. That's where normality was suspended for a while.

The driver took the wrong route. One of the passengers told her and as she was calling the base to explain that she'd made a driver error she cut across two lanes of traffic and almost took out a car who wasn't expecting that particular move. At the next corner we went over the kerb which caused us to lurch to the side. It wasn't long before one of the stops was missed. Around this time some guy got on who looked a bit like a sophisticated Gene Wilder with glasses. Honestly, he looked like a cartoon character. Bit further down the road we picked up another passenger who looked like one of the weirdos from Gary Larson's The Far Side. One side of her face was about an inch lower than the other.

Down the road a bit more and there was a person waving to the bus from the bus stop. The wave stopped and a look of bewilderment came over her face as the bus just drove past, even though the bell had been rung and someone wanted to get off. We stopped a little bit away from the bus stop to collect this new passenger. It was about this point that the driver mentioned she was having a bad day. At another stop somebody tagged off but the back door wasn't opened so she had to leave the bus from the front door. As soon as this happened the driver opened the back door. A young couple got on and discussed where they were heading for a while. At the end of Albany Highway the driver announced that this was the last stop on Albany Highway. One guy alighted and so did the couple. The driver called out to them that the bus did go past Carousel Shopping Centre, where they were headed, so they got back on. In actual fact, when the bus reaches the end of Albany Highway it turns onto Albany Highway and travels down it for another 5-10 kilometres. I think the driver became confused with the Shepperton Road bypass as we don't leave Albany Highway once we're on it.

Very entertaining bus ride as it turned out.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What a Car's Colour Says About Its Owner

From the Chicago Sun-Times via Reader's Digest.

The British Royal Automobile Club compiled a list of what a car's colour says about its owner:

Black: You're ambitious and status-seeking.
Green: You're very traditional and an elitist.
Blue: You're a team player and very sociable.
White: You're aloof, dutiful and methodical.
Grey: You're understated and cautious.
Silver: You have a sense of style, but you can be pompous.
Red: You're outgoing, impulsive and easily bored.

I've only owned two cars in 22 years. First was green coloured and the current vehicle is silver (argon actually). Does that mean I was traditional and elitist but have garnered a sense of style with pompousity?

Perhaps I should add that I reckon anybody with an orange, yellow or pink car has a weirdness gene issue and is a rampant attention seeker. What does your car tell everyone about your personality?

Book Review - Australia - A Social and Political History edited by Gordon Greenwood

Gee, has it really been almost three months since my last book review? This latest book, Australia - A Social and Political History edited by Gordon Greenwood, has taken quite some time to read. There's 437 pages and I'd be lucky to complete six on the bus trip to/from work. As the book was first published in 1955 it is written in older style language and reads much like a British politician speaking. But, I found, the subject matter was fascinating.

Most of you will know that Australia started off as a penal colony for mother England. A few more settlements to house convicts were set up but when South Australia was settled they didn't want convict labour. Western Australia didn't have convicts to begin with but found them necessary when not enough labourers were available. The book details how many convicts were in each settlement, how the colonies grew and interacted, what were the driving forces behind their population growth, etc.

By about 1890 the call for independence, but with a hint more of autonomy, was quite loud. In fact, there had been discussion about independence from around the 1850s when the gold rush in Victoria meant that their colony's population was larger than that of New South Wales which was settled some 48 years earlier.

On January the 1st 1901 Australia gained independence from Great Britain and a Federal (or Commonwealth) government. I loved the way the book critiqued each of the early prime ministers, of whom I have learnt little during my life, and how they appeared to be more statesmen than we have today. There were some fine leaders early on in our federal history.

Prior to federation, the joining of the states, each state could tax its citizens however it deemed fit. The constitution, so it was ruled in the High Court, considered that it should be that income tax was the same for all people regardless of which state they lived in. This could only be overseen by federal government and so state income taxes were abolished. A Tariff Board was set up to determine protection levels, which seems so strange in our free trade world that we aim for today, and they had wide ranging powers.

Most interestingly Australia didn't have a foreign affairs policy/minister until the early 1940s. For 40 years we had sovereignty but no foreign affairs. Blindly following Great Britain into wars and adopting the same policy with respect to other nations meant our soldiers suffered great hardship and unnecessary deaths and it took the second world war to bring about this great, and necessary, change.

Did you know why the White Australia Policy was introduced? It came about to stop the flood of cheap labour from Asia, in particular, to a young and non-populous country which would have been detrimental to the living standards and wages of ordinary Australians. The fact that it survived so long is a bit of a surprise.

Perhaps what I found most astonishing is that the Labor Party has made the most significant changes federally even though their main aim was to ensure that each man was not socially disadvantaged. The beginnings of the Labor Party were very much socialist and so I was a bit shocked to see the greatest change in the country had come from them. The constitution is written in such a way that it makes it possible for the federal government to take control of almost anything - during WWII workers were assigned to particular industries by the government!

This book, written by six university teachers of history and edited by Gordon Greenwood, was hard going at times. But the depth of research that has taken place is extraordinary. Anyone that wants to know the social and political history of early Australia should read it. Highly recommended. And to think that I paid $5 for it at the book fair. Money very well spent.

Australia - A Social and Political History edited by Gordon Greenwood

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Weather Shots

I enjoy taking photos. If you are like Jimmy Olsen, and always have a camera at the ready, you'll get a few shots that are worth the effort. The weather offers a wide variety of photos - be it a storm, autumn leaves, God light or whatever. I've put a few together and will probably expand on the package at a later date.

Weather Shots photo album on Facebook.

Monday, May 02, 2011

V8 Supercars

Had a great day at the V8 Supercars held at Barbagallo Raceway on Saturday. The program ran from Friday to Sunday but I only attended on the Saturday. As the program started just after 8am I left home at 6:30. The raceway is way up north in the sticks. Really, it's pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

Met up with some friends. We saw the superbikes racing for pole position, touring car masters, Porsche Carreras, V8 utes, Fujitsu V8 Supercars and, of course, the V8 Supercars. I was really surprised how close you could get to all of the garages. And how friendly the quite decent looking chicks were who were modelling for their respective sponsors. Managed to walk around nearly all of the track and took over 500 photos so that at least some of them would turn out.

A fabulous days entertainment as it turned out.

V8 Supercars Photo Album on Facebook.