Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And I thought only kids got it...

On monday I developed a bit of a sore throat, and a lump on one side of my neck.

Yesterday I woke up (if you can call it that) unable to swallow without looking like I was eating fire, and with the side of my neck almost bulging out comically. I slid out of bed at 8am, then back in at 8:30am. I got up and went to the doctor at 11am, leaving with the diagnosis of 'tonsillitis'. Loaded up on anti-biotics, then went back to bed at 12:30, surfaced around 3pm for a few hours, then back in at 7:30 when my kids went to bed.

And I thought only kids got it...

Luckily its only on the right side, cause if this was on both sides, I'd be VERY hungry about now. Came to work today, I'll see how I go. Not sure how the office christmas lunch will go on friday, I might find myself home quite early this year.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Time keeps on slipping...

I’ve been doing some thinking lately on the concept of time. Not time, per se, as a passing of the inevitable, more time as a commodity that is saleable, irreplaceable and somewhat monetary in nature.

Naturally, time has always been associated with money in the investment world. You need only look at ‘short-term, high-risk’ strategies to understand that narrowing the time margin increases the risk margin, and vice versa. Should you attempt to make 5% return on investment (as opposed to 5% p.a.) in 3 months, your money will be subjected to a higher risk than a 5% return in 12 months. As the time extends, risk decreases. Never to a point where there is zero risk, though.

And what are you buying, when you purchase nearly any commodity? It can all be boiled down to time.

Say you buy a shirt. Break it into components.
- Raw materials
- Assembly
- Supply
- Sale

Raw materials:
Plastic buttons? Someone had to garner raw materials = time. Someone had to manufacture = time.
Cotton? Someone had to plant, tend, grow, harvest = time. Someone had to extract and form into thread = time. Someone had to supply to manufacturer = time.

Someone had to stamp buttons = time. Someone had to weave = time. Someone had to pattern, cut, stitch = time.

Someone had to ship it to the store via truck, ship or air = time.

Someone bought the material and manufacturing time in the form of completed buttons to put onto their garments, and woven cotton fabric to cut and sew into shirts = time.

Someone had to stand in the store to be there to attend to you during the sale = time.

So you’re buying more than the sum of its parts. You’re buying the equivalent of (possibly) hundreds of man-hours in production from raw material to sale, all for what you probably think is an outrageously high price. But think about it this way. If you had to go out, mine, farm, manufacture, ship and sell that same shirt, what would your charge out rate be?

For some, their time is cheap. By our standards. For others, they have deemed their time to be so valuable that they command thousands of dollars a day for their skill and knowledge. But lets see a barrister farm cotton to make his shirts, or wool to make his suits. Granted, his business is high risk, but why would the humble farmers business not be risk? His land floods, his crops fail, he has no livelihood. And it’s unlikely that he has a superannuation fund or investment as the barrister may.

Even if you’re reading this on a broadband internet connection, you’re buying someone’s time. ISP’s invest in technology, and what is technology but someone else’s time that they used to develop it? You invest in the speed of the network, removing a certain element of time from your day for other uses, or fitting more into the same amount of time.

There’s a lot of inequality in the world, and time is just another one of those. Sure, we all get 24 hours in a day no matter who or where we are, but for some people they demand they get more money for their utilisation of that time.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

STUFF! (that looks like other stuff*): Part 3

With great delight I present Part 3 of...

(that looks like other stuff)*

No pictures from me or my scribes on this one, but another blog that contains some excellent examples of Stuff:

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*A shamelessly stolen idea, thanks Ben.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

STUFF! (that looks like other stuff*): Part 2

With great delight I present Part 2 of...

(that looks like other stuff)*

Is it a tree? Is it a Mr. Grim, come about the reaping? You decide, with "Stump of Death":

Picture courtesy Miss Bunny

Secondly, a photograph entitled "Heart Shaped Pox":

Is it a sign of love abounding, or merely a blob of last night's dinner that got jettisoned onto the sink during the washing of dishes?

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*A shamelessly stolen idea, thanks Ben.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Sydney to the Gong 2007 full report

2007 MS Sydney to the Gong Ride
November 4, 2007

5:45 Alarm

6:00 Leave house after getting dressed, eating a banana and staring at the cloud-filled sky and wet driveway for five minutes, thankful for loading bike in car the evening before

6:45 Park car in McEvoy Street, near the start, with about 50 other riders and families setting off

7:00 Ride the 2.4km to the start line, realising that there were many parking spaces much closer

Not the actual start line, but just over the hill. Very wet. Very rainy.

7:14 Ring dad to find him, no answer

7:15 Ring dad to find him on the opposite side of the building I was standing under

7:30 Set out in pouring rain to start line with dad & his regular ride mate John

7:45 Meet their other regular ride mate, Bill, after finding he’d already had one puncture pre-ride

7:50 Walk across start line

8:00 Finally get on bike in rain

8:01 First bottleneck

8:10 Get riding seriously, raining, easing and patches of blue starting to show already

8:30 Chain starts to skip, stiff link due to rain and grit

8:40 Stop to check chain, nothing I can do, push on

8:42 Hit sweet rhythm as we hit La Perouse, stiff link begins to ease as sun comes out

8:43 See first crash, mountain biker weaving in and out comes unstuck, nobody really stops

9:00 Stop to see Bill changing second flat for the day, Sutherland turn-off

9:30 Rest break at Loftus, bean-up

The steeds make it to Loftus in one piece and much dirtier.

10:10 Reach Waterfall and turn off main freeway, held at top of hill awaiting recovery of crashed rider #7 for the morning

10:15 Reach mid-point of descent as woman goes over side into bush at medium pace, no injury

10:20 Reach bottom, start climbing already

10:40 Lunch break at Cedar Flat

11:40 Leave lunch for climb out of National Park

12:10 Finish climbing out of National Park after passing lots of granny-geared MTB’ers

From the lookout atop the National Park climb. Note the eagle scouting for dead cyclists.

12:45 End of Seacliff Bridge for photo opportunity

South end of Seacliff Bridge.

12:55 Lift toppled lady off kerb and dad’s bike, try to loosen her pedal tension unsuccessfully, remount and start the final run

1:57 Get flat rear tyre, limp last 500m to finish with squeaky, bumpy rear wheel

2:00 Finish

2:30 Get back on bike to ride to adjacent sports facility to meet a friend for a ride to his place and warm shower

Trip computer:
4:38:41 riding time
18.5km/h average
58.3km/h maximum speed

Polar HR monitor:
137bpm average HR
185bpm maximum HR
6:44:00 running time (includes stops)

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Dont you hate it when...

...your bike suspension fights itself? Pay attention to spelling.

Their website has some pretty nifty gear on it though, aside from grammatical errors.

It's like all those bikes being peddled with 'peddles', as opposed to being peddled with pedals (or indeed, pedalled with pedals). Or those that come with a free German national. What Helmut thinks about being given away for free is anyone's guess.

Nitpick plus for today.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Sydney Gong 2007 - brief report

86km showing on the computer
4:38 riding time
18.5km/h average
- all right where I thought the figures would be.
4 - stacks
1 - no-helmet fool
3 - kg backpack (with water)
4 - bottles consumed
1 - rainy start
1- warm, sunny finish
1 - flat tyre 500m from the end and no way I was changing it that close
too many - bikes that hadnt seen a spanner since last year
I'll enlighten you all more later.
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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Three days to Sydney-Gong

Three days out from Sydney to the Gong 2007 and I think everything is ready.

I took the flat bar out for a road test on monday night, and aside from a pinch-flat rear tyre, everything seems to be working well. No creaks, no undue noise, and no muscle/positional discomfort. The repaired chain took a bit of hill work without protest and no visible signs of expansion or stress. The bag is packed with tools, energy food and clothes.

Rain is forecast for sunday though. I've got a rain jacket tucked in the bag, and the bag has a rain cover, so aside from being uncomfortable, I should be right. The arrival and return plans are in place, and a 7:30 start at St. Peters beckons.

I can still smell tyre patch glue on my fingers from last nights repair job.

I must be ready.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Got my shoes replaced

A week or so ago I told you about my road cycling shoes coming apart.

I took them back to the store, who were only too happy to change them, saying that 1 in 100 carbon soled shoes comes back due to lifting of the sole plate. As the carbon is so stiff, the first thing to give it the bond between plate and shoe, rather than having any flex in the plate.

Big up to Pedals Plus at Mona Vale.

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Land of the free to do what you want even if its going to kill you

For all the truck driving, tobacco chewing good old boys out need to damage the environment by spitting out the windah's any more...someone has come up with a solution!

The MudJug

They also have these.

Dear lord, make it stop.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I've said it before, and I'll say it again...

Dave Grohl is a legend. He is a rock musical genius.

This is the second track off the new Foo Fighters album, and it's probably the best track on the album. They're all great, but this one is the one I come back to. This one and 'Stranger things have happened' are my personal standouts.

The song starts out quite restrained, and builds over the first couple of minutes, until the middle of the song. It busts out with a brief blast, then comes back to the previous melody. You just know something is coming, but not when you expect it. Just as you think it might tail off, it busts out again in a fantastic guitar tone till the end of the song.

All songs should be this good.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Bad luck coming in threes...the cycling gods frown upon me thrice

They say bad luck comes in threes. I guess this proves it is pretty much correct.

Sunday on my regular road ride, I pull up at the turnaround mark with the other rider I was with, and step off the bike. Left foot down, swing the right off, just like usual. Put my right foot down and immediately thought "something doesnt feel right". At first I thought it was just my knee flexing out, which was painful from kicking a football around for an hour the day before. Stepped over to a large table where we sit for a drink and a stretch, and look down.

Not good.

The sole plate of my right shoe is coming away from the shoe itself. 5 month old shoes! After a little swearing and inspection, I figure I'm right to get home. Luckily I was, but now I'm real annoyed. I'm supposed to ride a 90km charity ride in two weeks, and I dont think I'll get a replacement in that time. And I'm sure not spending any more money for a short term pair. It'll be back to SPD and a different bike, which doesnt leave me much time to tune the position.

You'd think a medium-high level pair of shoes would last longer than 600km. I'm not a power sprinter, nor a particularly powerful climber. I like to blast up shorter hills now and then, but nothing your average recreational cyclist wouldnt do. And certainly nothing as tough as your amateur racer or triathlete would work. I dont walk around in them a lot, and its not the side I put on the ground when I stop. At best, I hope its just a case of swap them over, and the store can claim warranty on them and send them back. It has made me slightly sceptical of another pair the same, but I hope I at least get a chance to test another pair and see if it wasnt just poor quality of one pair of shoes.

That should be my run of bad luck over for a while now.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Greatest Inventions: #76

Stretchy shoe laces.

Yes, they're yellow. I like them. You can get them in other colours, but these ones were on sale last night.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Poll Dance #1

The curse of the commute

OK, so a couple of weeks ago I decide to ride to work. It's got a few hills in the way, nothing I couldnt go over at a nice easy rate. But, halfway to work that first time I break the chain. Roadside fix, get to work, no biggie. Going home, the thing threatens to bust again, so I stop, call the family, and they come rescue me from the roadside. At least the two guys who passed me as I sat under a nice tree asked if I needed anything.

So, yesterday, for an Australia-wide initiative originating in Victoria called 'Ride to Work Day', I do the same.

Pretty much halfway in, again, this...

I noticed the back was going a little squirmy, and look down to see a slowly deflating rear. Stop, climb off, break out the mini-pump. The second I put the pump head on and flicked the lever, the valve completely detaches itself from the tube.
So, quick change, fresh tube, pump it to 60PSI (about as good as I can get with the mini-pump and enough to get me riding), and off to work.
I was trying to figure out why this happened, as its never happened to me before. I'm thinking maybe I ran the ring too tight against the rim, and in using the floor pump to hit 110PSI its stressed the joint so much that riding has pushed the limits of the tube. That, plus a 90kg rider, and a few bumps on the way has seen the flex in the valve overcome the tube. Cause the valve was pretty tight against the rim it has had nowhere to go. Except for out.
Maybe if I'm doing this more often I should get some 28C wheels instead of 23C's.
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Monday, October 08, 2007

Chain, dang

This is not really what you want to see when you hear a noise riding home from work on a warm friday afternoon.

Especially after having fixed the same chain after it broke riding TO work that morning.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Try, try again

The Australian Open tennis is coming up early next year. It seems Lleyton Hewitt succeeded in getting the courts changed to his liking.

It had better help.

Now we have 'True Blue' (seriously, they trade marked the colour name) plexicushion courts in place of the rebound ace of past opens. I've said it before and I'll say it again: If you're good enough, you'll win. No matter the surface. Roger's proved that. OK, so he hasn't won a slam on clay. Does he moan and ask the organisers to change it? No. He gets on with it.

Let's hope by changing the surface that it doesnt mean someone else will find it even more to their liking and roll through the tournament in straight sets.

Lleyton had better perform at this Australian Open, or he's going to have a lot of voices aimed squarely at him. Questioning.

Answers? We'll see.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Idiots, averted!

Well, it nearly happened sunday.

Another bike crash, averted!

Riding through Narrabeen, some clown in a taxi decides to turn left right in front of me. And I do mean right in front of me. Lucky I was already over the brake hoods so I grabbed them both hard. Which of course resulted in unweighting the back wheel and locking it up for a nice long skid a fixed gear rider would've been proud of. We're talking 9 metres here. I could've won a skidding competition, I tells ya.

Not sure if the cab driver didnt see me, or just had no idea of speed v. distance, but this was as close as I've been without actually hitting the car. I did manage to get the boot slap as he turned across me, his wide-eyed stare from the drivers window as I two-finger saluted him perhaps indicated that he had no idea I was there.

I understand. You can easily miss seeing a guy in a red and silver long sleeve jersey, bright blue knicks, riding a silver bike, in sunshine.

This following a fellow rider crashing into another inanimate object and destroying his front end two weeks ago. He says he was lost in thought. Probably his next thought was 'how did I get down here?' as he lay on the concrete pedestrian safety island. There's still a black mark on the front edge where he went onto it. A couple of fractured ribs, a fractured shoulder blade and two weeks of headaches later, he'll probably be back riding soon. He'll need a new helmet too, after splitting the old one into two pieces.

The joys of riding. Probably get less injuries on a mountain bike riding trails.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Song of the Week: Black Velvet Band

Black Velvet Band
words and music traditional

In a neat little town they call Belfast
Apprenticed in trade I was bound
And many's the hour of sweet happiness
I spent in that neat little town
Till bad misfortune befell me
That caused me to stray from the land
Far away from my friends and relations
To follow the black velvet band

Her eyes they shone like the diamond
You'd think she was queen of the land
And her hair hung over her shoulder
Tied up with a black velvet band

As I was out strolling down broadway
Not intending to go very far
I met with a frolicksome damsel
Applying her trade in a bar
Well a watch she took from a customer
And she slipped it right into my hand
Then the Watch came and put me in prison
Bad luck to the black velvet band

Before judge and jury next morning
For our trial I had to appear
The judge, he said, "My young fellow,
The case against you is quite clear.
Well seven years is your sentence.
You're going to Van Diemen's Land.
Far away from your friends and relations
To follow the black velvet band."

So come all you jolly young fellows
I'd have you take warning by me
Whenever you're out on the liquor
Beware of the pretty colleen
For she'll fill you with whiskey and porter
Until you're not able to stand
And the very next thing that you notice
You've landed in Van Diemen's Land

The Dropkick Murphys version has a few changed lyrics that pull the song more into their Boston punk/rock lineage of traditional Irish cover versions:

DKM: Black Velvet Band

In a neat little town they call Brockton
Apprenticed in trade I was bound
And many an hour's sweet happiness
I spent in that neat little town
Then bad misfortune befell me
That caused me to stray from the land
Far away from my friends and companions
To follow the black velvet band

Well, I was out strolling one evening
Not intending to stay very long
When I met a frolicsome damsel
As she came t-ripping along
A watch she pulled out a'pocket
And slipped it right into my hand
On the very first night that I met her
Bad luck to the black velvet band

Her eyes they shone like the diamonds
You'd think she was queen of the land
And her hair hung over her shoulder
Tied up in a black velvet band

Before judge and jury next morning
Both of us did appear
A gentleman claimed his jewelry
And the case against us was clear
Now seven long years transportation
Right down to Van Diemen's land
Far away from my friends and companions
To follow the black velvet band

Her eyes they shone like the diamonds
You'd think she was queen of the land
And her hair hung over her shoulder
Tied up with a black velvet band

So come all you jolly young fellows
I'd have you take warning by me
Whenever you're out on the liquor
Beware of the pretty colleen
She'll fill you with whiskey and porter
Until you're not able to stand
And the very next thing you'd know
You've landed in Van Diemen's Land

Her eyes they shone like the diamonds
You'd think she was queen of the land
And her hair hung over her shoulder
Tied up with a black velvet band

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Monday, September 17, 2007

This is (witticism here ending in AAAAAAAA)

I've been getting into the internet meme that is of late.

Those of you who have seen 300 (I, as yet, have not) will recognise the scene. The face of the lead character has since been morphed into many, many other locales with humorous results. Those of you who dont know it, by the time you follow one or two of the links, will recognise it if you've spent any time on message boards, chat rooms or humour sites.

Mirth aplenty here:
livejournal entry
ED entry
Dossier: Les parodies du film 300
This is Harold

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Of Real Racers and Road Roughies

Real Racers

Following allegations of theft and subterfuge in the Formula 1, the World Motor Sport Council has announced a decision regarding the McLaren/Ferrari saga.

In a big call, McLaren have been fined US$100million for after they were found to be in possession of Ferrari technical data, and may have incorporated it into their 2007 car.

Full report here.

Naturally, Ferrari are satisfied with the verdict. This hands them the 2007 title in an undeserving car. McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton are able to score points individually, but the team is barred from accruing any more constructors championship points.

With such a small community as Formula 1 designers, engineers and drivers, the passing of data is inevitable. But the large amount that the McLaren designer had amassed obviously warranted investigation. Whats to stop someone taking a photo of a Ferrari test, taking it back to the McLaren labs and divining the science behind it?

I cant shake a feeling...Ferrari are Italian, correct? Serie A, anyone??

If Ferrari were honest about this, they'd turn down the constructors championship this season, as would everyone else.

Road Roughies

To the bloke in the maroon Magna that tailgated me along Frenches Forest Road yesterday evening:
1. Learn where the nose of your car is or learn to be patient.
2. Dont get stuck into me cause you cant keep up once we travelled from the 50km/h zone to the 70km/h zone.
3. Dont go off like a frog in a sock cause you dont like the two finger salute.
4. You obviously fail to see the irony in giving me the 'nobody thinks big of you' finger wave as you drive by me at 25km/h over the speed limit.
5. Next time you do it I WILL BRAKE TEST YOU, BE AWARE!

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

STUFF! (that looks like other stuff)*: Part 1

In what is hoped to become a semi-regular series, I bring you part one of...

(that looks like other stuff)*

Firstly, a submitted picture entitled Ham Happy:

There's nothing like a cheerful face greeting you first thing in the morning, is there now?

Secondly, incontrovertible proof of dinosaur activity in Melbourne (sometime pre-2007):

Or it might just be bark.

Thirdly, the natural occurrence of the bicycle, with bike fork twig:

Then again, it might just be an upside-down stick.

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*A shamelessly stolen idea, thanks Ben.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Yet another web presence opportunity -

In the multitudes of corners of this thing called the internet, there are a great many places and spaces (as they are increasingly called) where people can put portions of their lives, loves, or lovelives on display.

For cyclists, there are a few. Some highly specialised, like Fixed Gear Gallery (catering to, you guessed it, fixed gear bicycles). Not that I have anything against fixed gear bikes, but a Billy Connolly line springs to mind when he talks of being a vegetarian. "I had a wee problem...I didnt like other vegetarians!" Insert 'fixed gear riders' in place of vegetarians and you have a fair idea of the culture behind it at present. Enough on that from me. For a good blast at that whole scene, read BikeSnobNYC. Super blog.

I have succumbed, again. Aside from this blog, my other blog (albeit far less frequently posted to), and a couple of other things I may or may not have forgotten about, I have posted a bicycle of mine on

Velospace describes itself thus: "velospace has one goal: to connect bike enthusiasts". In order to avoid flame wars between the road bike/mountain bike/fixed gear masses, Rule 1 of the site simply states: "Rule 1. Don't be a jerk."

Anyway, enough of that. Here is the link to my bike. Feel free to wander over, then wander around. I challenge you to try to navigate this site simply by the random button and NOT get a fixed gear hipster doofus bike within three clicks. Cant be done. They're like rabbits, breeding incessantly. At least until someone deems them uncool and they all sell them and start riding Vespas again. It doesnt say I cant be a jerk on here or BSNYC now, does it?

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

When famous friends are very helpful

This is something that sh*ts me no end.

Mark Waugh, ex-Australian cricketer, caught speeding a few months ago in country NSW. 123km/h in an 80km/h zone. Claims he "didnt even realise it was an 80 zone". Fair enough. Yet, last time I checked, the maximum speed on NSW highways is 100km/h, aside from the 110 on the freeway system. So, be it an 80, 100 or 100km/h zone, you were still speeding you knob.

So, ex-Australian cricket captain Mark Taylor and ex-Australian Rugby Union coach and broadcaster Alan Jones write glowing letters of reference to show the law what a nice guy he is, and how this such an out of character move for Mark. Never mind the 5 speeding infringements over three weeks in 2001. That must have been very out of character.

He'd "understand the gravity of the situation", as Alan Jones puts it, more if he got a nice fat fine or a few months free of the encumbrance of a driving licence like a normal citizen.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Best Song Ever

A while back I did a post on the Best Australian Song ever written.

Following a bit of listening to my past collection of music, I've decided to publish my opinion on the Best Song ever written, ever...ever...

Brace yourselves.

The award goes to...the Jimmy Webb penned, Glen Campbell vocalised "Wichita Lineman".

Lyrically perfect, musically sweet, mournful, sweeping, (insert next superlative), etc, etc.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

In praise of the female bass player

There is a fine tradition of rock and grunge bands in particular having female bass players.

It is nearly mandatory to mention above all for several reasons one Melissa auf Der Maur. Having played with bands such as Hole, and replacing D'Arcy in the Smashing Pumpkins, she's a great player, she's a redhead to boot, and (forgive me for being shallow here a minute) she's sexy while she does it.

The Forerunners

You cant even start this section without mentioning Suzi Quatro. Her career started in the 1970's and is still running. She is the archetypal female bass player. She rocks, and she loves doing it.

Of course, there are many other notables including, but not limited to:
Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads
Margot Olaverra and Kathy Valentine from The Go-Go's
Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth

From the 1970's to the early 1990's the female bass player started growing in stature (not literally, of course). And the Go-Go's are still playing to date as well.

The Second Batch

I've tried my best to arrange these in chronological order, so don't get stuck into me if I've duffed it. Some of these girls may have gotten into bands due to the names above, maybe not. Maybe they just decided that bass was what they wanted to do. Whichever, they do it well.

Michie Nakatani and Atsuko Yamano from Shonen Knife
Jo Bench from Bolt Thrower
Jennifer Finch, Gail Greenwood, and Janis Tanaka from L7
Michelle Leon and Maureen Herman from Babes in Toyland
Kim Deal from The Pixies
D'Arcy from The Smashing Pumpkins
Josephine Wiggs from The Breeders
Kira Roessler from Black Flag
Paz Lenchantin from A Perfect Circle
Nadja and Rayna from Coal Chamber
"Yoshie", Yoshiko Yamaguchi and Akiko Omo from The 5,6,7,8's

Many of these girls are still playing, and damn well. The latest couple that I've listened to and enjoyed their subtle work are:
Nikki Monninger from Silversun Pickups
Ginger Reyes from The Smashing Pumpkins

The Australian Connection

This is also a fine tradition in Australian bands, featuring forerunning all-girl bands of note, such as Nitocris and The Blitz Babiez. And it's some list:
Peggy Frew from Art of Fighting
Janet from Spiderbait
Kellie Lloyd from Screamfeeder
Patricia Young from The Clouds
Rayke Stapleton from Pollyanna
Vanessa Thornton from Jebediah
Stephanie Ashworth from Something For Kate
Irit from Cor'delle (shameless plug for my brothers band)

Of course, if you want a well put together, complete, comprehensive list, see

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Blame the coach and other fundamental problems in professional sports

Four AFL clubs have sacked their coaches after poor team perfomances so far this season. It happened in the NRL as well, with one coach walking away mid-season.

The teams are not performing. Hey, why not question the coach? Sure. He can be held responsible for the forwards not kicking goals, the defenders under-performing, no go-forward from the big men, sloppy ball handling, etc , etc.

Perhaps the organisation refuse to believe that someone they are paying $100,000 a season, in many cases more, cannot possibly under-perform. Too many articles regarding footballers of late are complaining about salary cap pressures and wages, forcing players to look to other clubs.

Here's an idea: perhaps, by doing this, and the grab for money that professional sports has become, the club administrations and competition controllers are making a rod for their own back. Clubs complain about not being able to afford high numbers of skilled, quality players to lead a team. Understandable, when they're all asking $250,000+ a season. As a result, they let many go, rest it all on one or two guys, then bring in other players from juniors and outside areas. When the team doesnt come up to scratch, blame the coach.

See how it works?

Perhaps we need a return to footballers doing something post-football instead of becoming "commentators". Lots of players in the 1980's and 1990's had day jobs. OK, so the professionalism push has demanded more training, making day jobs impossible for many. 'Save for a rainy day' seems to have been stretched into 'save for a post-football life'. There's time to gamble, drink and lark about. There's also time, therefore, to study, is there not? So you wont make $100,000 a year up-front being an accountant, or real-estate agent, or fireman. But the $100,000 a year you do make for your professional 7-10 years will see you through the first ten of another profession without too much hardship, surely.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

J'ai une nouvelle bicyclette. C'est très bon.

Yes, another bike...this bring the total in the garage to somewhere close to 8, if you include kids bikes. I'd have to say that we could probably lose a couple but that's not the point! "Fitness for purpose" is a phrase I embrace in this regard.

Built up from an ebay sourced frame that included forks and head stem that went for a reasonable price; wheels, derailleurs, seat and post I already had from a previous purchase; and a smattering of remaining parts that were bought because they were cheap, yet not neccessarily nasty. I'll spare the details for the non-caring types.

Just need the LBS to tighten the bottom bracket and trim the cables, and its ready and waiting to be used.

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I ♥...

I ♥ carbon fibre.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mad as a cut snake...


Visit my other blog, The Cut Snake.

A place for those outraged 'letters to the editor' that I've always wanted to write to stir, complain, or just be narky. What Martin/Molloy used to term 'the cut snakes'.

"When will the ABC come to its senses and replay each and every episode of Birds of a Feather? I found it positively delightful!" - Mick Molloy

It's in its infancy, but it will grow. Feel free to request guest posts.

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G.E.R. is a B.I.T.C.H.

A few troubles over the past month or so led me to consult the family doctor.

A chest x-ray, a reassurance that I wasn't about to have a heart attack or stroke, and a couple of weeks later, I have been diagnosed with G.E.R. Some people use G.O.R., which I guess is more correct once you read the extended name.

G.E.R. is gastro-oesophageal reflux. Different from G.E.R.D. in that is not a disease, hence the lack of D., and implies a short term inconvenience rather than a non-reversible disease. If you read the articles, you'll see there is various symptoms. My main symptom is the shortness of breath. Which can prove a mite difficult now and then, especially after eating.

The majority of the 'net based information says lose weight, stop smoking, minimise coffee intake, dont eat fatty or acidic foods, and eat less at one time. It can be controlled with diet, or in extreme cases, once you earn the extra D., surgery may be required.

It's funny, but I dont have the breathing difficulties if I'm riding, only if I'm sitting still, at work, or driving home. Maybe this is 'The Sign' that it's time to lose weight? According to the Australian Health guidelines, I am 'Preobese', with a BMI of 26.881. Get it under 25 and you're magically healthy! Harry Potter and the Chamber of Exercise...

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Why does anyone give Harold Scruby the time of day?

Harold Scruby is a VERY nearsighted man.

Andrew Fraser is not much better.

Both of these men are outraged in response to an auction by the NSW Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal of a drag-race joyride.

Sensationalism at its finest, and yet another opportunity for Harold to get his name in print, his voice on radio and probably his head on television. Any time a long bow can be drawn, you'll find Harold holding the other end.

Hey, Harold. I've got an idea for you. Pull your head in. The auction is for a drag-race joyride in a controlled environment.

Anyone who highlights the previous accident as a reason not to promote this type of thing is plainly missing the point. "Less than a week ago six people were killed in a drag racing charity event in the US after an Australian pro-driver skidded out of control during a burnout." Yes, on a public road, with pedestrians standing beside that road, and limited or no safety or guardrails to speak of. Quite the opposite of WSID. Safety abounds! Control galore!

You cannot even compare the two without having someone laugh at you.

What better opportunity to display the way young drivers should be testing and driving their cars than a safe, organised, sponsored off-street event? Tell us, Harold. Please.

I want to know. Don't point out a problem. Offer a solution and maybe we'll listen.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bill of Sanity - A New American Constitutional Preamble

Whilst trawling through the various sites, I came across this. A sensible piece of home truth if ever I read one.

Clicky clicky!

For those to lazy to click and follow, I reproduce the preamble here:


A New Preamble for the Constitution

"We the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to help everyone get along, restore some semblance of justice, avoid more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior, and secure the blessings of debt-free liberty to ourselves and our great-great-great-grandchildren, hereby try one more time to ordain and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt ridden, delusional, and other liberal bed-wetters. We hold these truths to be self evident: that a whole lot of people are confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim they require a Bill of NON-Rights."

ARTICLE I: You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV, or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteeing anything.

ARTICLE II: You do not have the right to never be offended This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone -- not just you! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc.; but the world is full of idiots, and probably always will be.

ARTICLE III: You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful; do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.

ARTICLE IV: You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes. (This one is my pet peeve...get an education and go to work....don't expect everyone else to take care of you!)

ARTICLE V: You do not have the right to free health care. That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we're just not interested in public health care.

ARTICLE VI: You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim, or kill someone, don't be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair.

ARTICLE VII: You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat, or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won't have the right to a big screen color TV or a life of leisure.

ARTICLE VIII: You do not have the right to a job. All of us sure want you to have a job, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful. (AMEN!)

ARTICLE IX: You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means that you have the right to PURSUE happiness, which by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an over abundance of idiotic laws created by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights.

ARTICLE X: This is an English speaking country. We don't care where you are from, English is our language. Learn it or go back to wherever you came from! (Lastly....)

ARTICLE XI: You do not have the right to change our country's history or heritage. This country was founded on the belief in one true God. And yet, you are given the freedom to believe in any religion, any faith, or no faith at all; with no fear of persecution. The phrase IN GOD WE TRUST is part of our heritage and history, and if you are uncomfortable with it, TOUGH!

This has been attributed to State Representative Mitchell Kaye from Georgia. This guy should run for President one day...

How about that, have you ever thought about what you would write? Is it like this?

Mine would be very similar I suspect!



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Monday, June 04, 2007

Your month by the stars - June

Gemini - May 22 - June 21

This is the time that your long-held idea for a business will come to fruition, particularly at the local sports stadium where a sudden influx of bees combines with a dust storm, resulting in an allergic crowd of truly epic proportions.

Lucky number: 0

Cancer - June 22 - July 22

Try to avoid any tea-leaf, palm- or tarot-card readers this month, as June is their annual Month of MadnessTM. Just for fun they might tell you that a tall, dark stranger will enter your life and steal your heart. More likely, they will enter your house and steal your TV set while you are asleep.

Lucky number: 10

Leo - July 23 -August 21

Do not go to your hairdressers this month and say, “I’m a Leo, so give me a haircut that suits my star sign”. Not unless you want to be laughed at by adults or have schoolchildren make growling, roaring noises to your face.

Lucky number: 9

Virgo - August 22 - September 23

Not for long, you won’t be.

Lucky number: 17

Libra - September 24 - October 23

Learn the Heimlich Manoeuvre. Get a job at a local restaurant. Get your teeth whitened. Make sure to be working on June 15th at around 8pm. Save space on your wall for a framed copy of the June 16th newspaper front page.

Lucky number: 15

Scorpio - October 24 - November 22

Don’t sit there. Please. Keep this number handy: 000 (if in Australia), 999 (if in England), 911 (if in America). Yodel loudly if in Scandinavia.

Lucky number: 134,906,283

Sagittarius - November 23 - December 22

You don’t even think you could find the place on a map, but someplace north of Prague, towards the border there, there is a little town that will be forever etched in your memory. Just as the local’s fervent distrust of outsiders is forever etched on your upper arm.

Lucky number: 33

Capricorn - December 23 - January 20

Your long distance relationship will very slowly start to drain your bank balance as your purchase of multitudes of stamps. Sending packages to your beloved in Turkmenistan will turn out to be not such a good idea as all contact suddenly ceases once you send her a pair of diamond earrings.

Lucky number: 21

Aquarius - January 21 - February 19

Your personal crusade to turn every day into St Patrick’s Day will not only result in “the wearin’ o’ the green”, but also the “punchin’ o’ the face” and the “callin’ o’ the ambulance”. Luckily for you, it won’t quite stretch to the “identifyin’ o’ the body”.

Lucky number: 22

Pisces - February 20- March 20

A lack of decision making from your direct superior will lead you and two other orderlies on a wild goose chase this month. Neither arguments, a swift boot to the groin, or a flat phone battery will assist in extracting you from your predicament. Keep a knife handy to cover the eventuality that you do actually capture your ‘wild goose’.

Lucky number: 2¾

Aries - March 21 - April 20

Your month looks bleak. A sudden case of stigmata will throw a spanner in your holiday plans as you pass by a convention of South American nuns at a local community centre. Be prepared for a longer stay in Nicaragua than planned.

Lucky number: 5

Taurus - April 21 - May 21

Rampaging through Morocco with a dozen other footballers and their wives will give you a fresh insight into the other universal language, violence. The local police and embassy staff will ignore your argument that the words from the bazaar stall keepers were incomprehensible, and that you received no warning that your collective a*se was about to be kicked.

Lucky number: 0.3489

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What is it with Christians?

What part of scientific fact can you dispute by looking at a book that may or may not have been written owing to the influence of one man several thousand years ago?

Now a group called Answers in Genesis in the US, where this Creationism furphy seems to be rife, have opened the Creation Museum in Kentucky.

Some quotes from the article (, May 28, 2007):

"Here exhibits show that the Grand Canyon took just days to form during Noah's flood, dinosaurs co-existed with humans and had a place on Noah's Ark, and Cain married his sister to people the earth, among other Biblical wonders."

Cain married his sister? I thought there was Cain, Abel...and thats it! The human line ENDS THERE! Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel. Did they write a sister in later to revive the plot? Perhaps I didn't read my Bible close enough. Or far enough. I do have one, I should get it out.

"A Gallup poll last year showed almost half of Americans believe that humans did not evolve but were created by God in their present form within the last 10,000 years."

Where did they take this poll? At a Fundamentalist Christian Conference next to an American Scientists Convention? Can carbon dating be so inaccurate? God sure didn't create INTELLIGENT people, cause we'd realise that we're ruining the world through overpopulation and overuse.

"Three of 10 Republican presidential candidates said in a recent debate that they did not believe in evolution."

Help. These people want you to vote for them to let them run your country?

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Monday, May 28, 2007

A new toy and a beater

I have a new toy.

Well, its not a toy, as such, nor is it, in point of fact, new. But it is mine, and what a wonderful machine it is. Now if only I had it with me so I could ride it RIGHT NOW!

I've taken to rebuilding the arsenal. Two bikes now. The Avanti 'beater' for day to day and riding with my son, and the 'new' Giant for getting out and just pointing it in the general direction of away and pedalling till you feel like coming back.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

ME/CFS Awareness Day - May 12

Being aware of it's existence, but knowing little other than the effect is has had on an outgoing life, the bringing about of attention to this illness is a good thing.

Monday, May 07, 2007

"Can't buy me class, class..."

A couple of recent weekend trips to various public places has prompted this one.

You. Yes, you. The one in the DKNY sunglasses, or are they Gucci? In the fashionable military style cap, the shirt and jeans that have come straight off last months fashion show catwalk or designer shop on Oxford Street (insert relevant Melbourne street if you desire). Yes, I am looking at you.

Stylish? Without a doubt. Classy? Until you open your mouth and talk like a proverbial toilet. Classic nouveau riche.

Money can buy you style, but it can't buy you class.

In some cases they are quite divorced facts. But you, the one in the Ralph Lauren shirt, Boss jeans and leather loafers. The one having a hushed, laughing conversation with friends. You got it in spades, my son.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Which level of Dante's inferno are you on?


The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Second Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Moderate
Level 2 (Lustful)Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Moderate
Level 7 (Violent)Low
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Very Low

Take the Dante's" Divine Comedy Inferno Test


Quite the lustful demon, me.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Curry and seduction rarely happen on the same night

Went to the Enmore Theatre in Sydney last night to see Dylan Moran in his one-man stand up comedy show.

A show that was funny, biting, self-deprecating, irreverent and darn good. Part story based comedy, part one liners, part sarcasm at late audience members, a highly successful mixture of several genres, if you will. I think part of the Australian love of humour, particularly Irish comedians, is the shared love of taking the mickey out of ourselves, and not objecting when other people do it.

Should he come back to your town (even you, Hobart), go see him.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hi, I'm an Attention Whore...what's your name?

For some inexplicable reason, season 6, or 7, or whatever, of Big Brother has started in Australia.

This is a show that lost its gloss after 2 seasons, as people became aware of the social experiment nature of the thing, and turned it into an overt, gameplaying, testosterone-fuelled, peer-pressured frustration-fest.

I can do without ten people (or however many are there, 16? 41?), attention whores to a tee, carrying on about what turns them on, what turns them off, which other attention whore they'd like to shag, and wondering what they'll do with their 2 minutes of infamy once they get voted out cause society views them as uninteresting enough to not watch.

That is all you'll hear about Big Brother from me, unless someone kills/maims another attention whore; copulates live on national television; teabags, turkey slaps or otherwise interferes with another attention whore's face with their testicles; threatens to leave because the pressure of the attention was too much; puts the word on the host; manages to succeed in putting the word on the host; or manages to get pizza delivered successfully, AND pay for it.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Best Australian Song ever written

Just been thinking about this, listening to a few of late.

There's a lot of songs out there that any self-respecting Australian, regardless of where they are in the world, knows and inevitably hums or sings along with. Loads of AC/DC, the ones we claim as our own like Crowded House, Midnight Oil, silverchair, and doubltess many thousands more.

I have two votes for Best Australian Song ever written.

The first is "Harpoon", by Jebediah. Covered by one other band of note to date, I find it a remarkable song for its musical simplicity, lyrical meaning and tone. Even if not everyone likes Kevin Mitchell's voice.

The second is somewhat of unique in Australian music, as it is perhaps viewed as a song that is somewhat over-rated, yet recognised by many as an Australian song no matter where it is played. It is "Throw your arms around me", by Hunters and Collectors.

Covered by nearly everyone, including Pearl Jam, Crowded House and the Doug Anthony All Stars, this is one of those songs that, done well, I never get sick of hearing. Sometimes I dont even mind that Eddie Vedder totally butchers the lyrics.

On another note, its my dad's birthday today.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Cotton Wool Time

Kids are remarkably resilient. Actually, its sometimes quite frightening what can happen to them, and six months later you'd never know they were even sick.

And then people worry about the dreaded trips to the doctor for needles. And someone takes heed of the mass hysteria and comes up with this. Emla.

A quote from the site: "Research has shown that children think a needle is the most frightening and painful thing about visiting the doctor. It has been shown that a child is likely to retain a fear of needles if they have been traumatised at the doctor’s previously." Now how would that previous trauma have happened? Perhaps mum said that needles dont hurt. A little white lie that wont hurt junior. Or will it? Its often not the needle that hurts, its the dastardly gunk they squirt into your body thats more painful. Maybe its healthy to be afraid of needles, did someone think of that? Every time you get one its to stop something going wrong, because something is going wrong, or something has gone wrong.

I wonder if they make it in a big enough tube for me to numb the feeling of all this namby-pamby treatment surrounding me.

Also, should you be thinking of having a baby, are having a baby, have just had a baby, or just like reading about how other people are mollycoddling their youngsters, go here. I find their claim of "Australia's largest Family website and one of the largest womens sites in Australia" interesting. 100,000 members? Lets do some mathematics.

22,000,000 people in Australia
The average family has 2.3 children.
If families are 4.3 people, then there are 5, 116,279 families.
100,000 members (assuming a member is a family unit).
1.95% of Australian families are members.

If we break this down literally:
22,000,000 people.
100,000 members.
0.45% of Australians are members.

And they're the biggest site?

I wonder how many on the subscriber list for, or

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Your month by the stars - April

Aries - March 21 - April 20

Your month is filled with baskets of promise. If by promise you understand that to mean darning, you’re in real luck. Your role as seamstress for the 54th Battalion will not be questioned unless the men find their toes poking comically out of their socks.

Disease of the month: PROTEUS SYNDROME
Lucky number: 46

Taurus - April 21 - May 21

Your unfortunate choice of footwear will lead people to describe your demise as a ‘bull in a china shop’. Your other mistake for this month will be trying to seek out that new dinner setting you spotted in a magazine.

Lucky number: 0.5

Gemini - May 22 - June 21

The activities of you and your like-minded twin result in two of the Los Angeles Lakers cheer squad applauding your athletic performance in the bedroom. Hiding in the bathroom awaiting your turn will lead to you contracting tinea from the damp shower floor.

Disease of the month: HYPERTRICHOSIS
Lucky number: 276,375

Cancer - June 22 - July 22

Keep a close eye on your cat. Remember the phrase: “keep your friends close, and you enemies even closer”. You should let your cat sleep IN your bed, to avoid him making off with your daughter.

Disease of the month: CAPGRAS SYNDROME
Lucky number: 1

Leo - July 23 -August 21

Your car will need a major overhaul this month, which will cause your mechanic to remark “How did you get that much sand in the sub-frame?” Only the beached whales know for certain, but the local Greenpeace activists will have a fair idea come months-end.

Disease of the month: PICA
Lucky number: 1

Virgo - August 22 - September 23

Your teachers will be amazed when you are the first ever third-grader to count to eleven on your fingers. A quick visit to the emergency room results after you inadvertently flip the bird to two people at once.

Disease of the month: POLYDACTYLISM
Lucky number: 6

Libra - September 24 - October 23

Should you find yourself being followed by a group of unseen, growling animals, remember this sage advice: a concealed handgun never goes out of fashion. You may be spared the animals if the police request you to turn out your pockets at any time prior. Drive carefully to avoid traffic infringements until the 28th.

Disease of the month: FOREIGN ACCENT SYNDROME
Lucky number: 19

Scorpio - October 24 - November 22

No, you cannot fly. Your planning for this year’s UK Birdman Rally in Bognor Regis will take a literal and painful nosedive. Your eventual release from hospital in September will prove ironic, as you will be just in time to see your design achieve the record distance flight in the event.

Disease of the month: RILEY-DAY SYNDROME
Lucky number: 34

Sagittarius - November 23 - December 22

An encounter with a hairdresser will bring new horizons. The quantity of bleach she feels compelled to use on your hair will render you senseless, waking to find yourself cast onto a deserted rubbish tip. You will not recognize local landmarks, or local dialects, and will be treated as an outcast in your newfound society for quite some time.

Disease of the month: ONDINE'S CURSE
Lucky number: 41

Capricorn - December 23 - January 20

An impulse glance in the cabin of a Winnebago at a local dealer will lead to a cross-country trip. In the process of the three-week endeavour, you will find yourself, but lose your friends, family, and pets at various roadside rest stops.

Disease of the month: ALIEN HAND SYNDROME
Lucky number: 27

Aquarius - January 21 - February 19

Choose this month, above all, to stay away from bazaars. That monkey’s hand may look cute now, but it will not be so appealing scuttling across your hardwood floors as you and your husband stand on the couch screaming.

Disease of the month: KORO
Lucky number: 28

Pisces - February 20- March 20

Fortune is in your monthly future, more specifically the loss of. The Sioux Nation Casino does not take kindly to naked, jabbering people running through the banks of poker machines whining about how they’ve “lost it all”. A glance downwards will confirm that you never had it to begin with.

Disease of the month: JERUSALEM SYNDROME
Lucky number: ¾

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Rampant Stupidity Post #1

I’ve been noticing a lot of rampant stupidity in many forms of late. I thought I would highlight to you a few of these so that you may steer clear of such stupidity.

Not realising your tyres are so bald as to be dangerous is rampantly stupid. Vehicles older than two years are required to have passed inspections to be registered. What this means is that you can effectively go up to THREE YEARS without being forced to check your tyres. This is quite obviously stupid. Modern tyres are quite hard wearing, but sports tyres are not, and will often last 20,000km. That might be two year, so you get a third year driving around on bald rubber. Having an accident in such a state may void your insurance. Tyres should be inspected within two years regardless of the age of the car.

Nothing says ‘stupid’ like nice wheels, and rusty nuts. Except maybe nice big wheels that look totally out of place on a bog standard car.

Owning a boat, trailer or caravan and then realising you don’t have anywhere to park it but in a residential parking zone, is immensely stupid. Especially when it quite obviously hasn’t moved for some time. Should you decide to buy such an attachment, make sure you have someplace secure to leave it, without inconveniencing all your neighbours who also don’t have garages to put their cars in.

A shoe that is neither a shoe, nor a thong (flip-flop or sandal for you non-Australian types), the Croc is immensely stupid. What sort of life do you lead that you actually require rubber, anti-bacterial shoes as leisurewear? Don’t take enough showers? Can’t afford that pedicure once a month? Don’t like to feel the bare earth beneath your feet now and then?

Calling your business Layher. ‘nuff said.

But no post would be complete without my own dose of rampant stupidity. For instance, owning a 17 year old car and expecting it to run like a swiss watch is quite obviously rampantly stupid.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

A follow up to Life in Neutral

An as-yet unpublished submission to the Sydney Morning Herald's Heckler column, by The Great White Hype under my real name.


The Modern Day BioDome

It is the year 2024.

Carbon trading and emissions offsets have reached a peak. There has been mass clearing of land by developers under the new government Affordable Housing Mandate (Amended 2009) in order to enable families to own that far-too-large dream house in the suburbs of Sydney by the age of 23.

The decade old law pertaining to the ambitious Carbon Removal Scheme of 2014 and its required contributions has left a monopoly for a handful of firms prepared to maintain the troublesome and flawed system.

The entire Sydney basin carbon emission load, under the regulations of the COT (carbon offset tax), is now borne by one rather large scribbly gum situated in a hermetically sealed bubble that Sydney-siders affectionately call The Dome, in the middle of Martin Place.

The cost of upkeep of the dome protecting the tree from planet-warming, carbon-saturated atmosphere is so great that the majority of the tax dollars go directly to the running of the large pumps and filters keeping the tree alive. Large groups of workers, their faces obscured by filtration masks of a similar nature, gather around the Dome to gaze on its sparse foliage and twisted branches.

Not even three hikes in the tax rate has managed to result in the planned growth of the number of trees (from one tree to two), in order to satisfy the clamour from the general public and large corporations prepared to pay money to relieve their “carbon guilt”. Psychologists have coined the term for the sudden explosion of trembling and feelings of intense shame associated with workmates and neighbours’ discovering your level of voluntary contribution is somewhat less than their own. There has been little or no change in lifestyles to contribute to global problems associated with greenhouse gases, as wages grew exponentially in order to cover the compulsory COT contributions.

The President of Australia, in conjunction with her colleague in New Zealand, is looking at a broad-brush approach, whereby the population of New Zealand will be relocated to Australia. The net result of the scheme would be the replanting of New Zealand, to be used as Australia’s carbon-offset supply for the next thirty years.

This has raised the ire of several fundamentalist groups, but the precedent has already been set. With Hawaii having been emptied of all but a skeleton staff in 2015 to cater for the US east-coast emission trades, the increase in scale is not so daunting.

The government has launched a new campaign for the Christmas gift offset rush. It is hoped that the second tree will be ready and functional by late 2027. It will be located more towards the geographic centre of Sydney, in the Emu Plains Mall.


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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Life in Neutral

There's been a lot of press given to people and companies making their offices and homes "carbon neutral" of late. From personal carbon offsets (whereby people pay money for others to invest in activities that will "offset", or render neutral, their carbon emissions), to companies trading emissions on an open market to avoid the need to outlay for new technology or penalties for polluting, this is this years hot topic (so to speak).

Travellers are even getting the chance to relieve their carbon emissions by a surcharge on top of airline tickets so companies can offset the emissions on their behalf (Travellers to get chance to offset carbon, SMH, March 21, 2007).

Two of the largest architectural offices in Australia have "become" carbon neutral in recent weeks. Woodhead and Woods Bagot have both measured their outputs and set about offsetting their emissions (Architecture Bulletin, March/April, 2007). Paper usage, recycling, air and vehicle travel, electricity and energy usage are areas targeted by Woodhead for reduction. Their model as explained seems to be targeting areas for reduction, as opposed to paying a fee and not reducing loads. The Woods Bagot model appears to start with the latter, with staff able to salary-sacrifice to enable their personal lives to become carbon neutral. Woods Bagot has then taken other initiatives: encouraging 70% of their staff to walk, cycle or take public transport to work (although I wonder if this includes the top 30% of staff, i.e. directors, principals), introducing recycling schemes in their offices, employing ‘green switching’ (turning off lights in unused areas), and establishing teams of experts in sustainable design and building practice, which will perhaps increase the acceptance of sustainable development.

Naturally, the schemes offered have detractors. The fact that the scheme is offered at all brings up an issue of cost to the consumer, and whether it is simply a short-cut to doing your bit for the environment. If you can afford carbon offsetting, it is a simpler way to relieve yourself of the burden of guilt than streamlining your lifestyle or habits to reduce your impact on the environment. See Poor will pay more to reduce their carbon footprint (SMH, March 26, 2007), for a brief, yet concise article on this part of the subject. And you're not going without your luxuries, at the same time.

Then, of course, you get the true science-fiction solutions to the growing problem of the global environment (Using smoke, mirrors and faux trees to tackle global warming, geoengineers offer far-out ideas, SMH, March 18, 2007). What's kind of worrying about some of the schemes in this article is that the carbon offsets people buy are financing these operations, which may or may not work. Can your carbon offset payment be considered a true "offset" if the scheme you are paying into does not actually result in any carbon reduction? Although I do find the Planktos solution particularly nice, even if it may not work all the time.

Amidst all this is the faint cry of many individuals, myself included, who are protesting that the modern lifestyle is unsustainable at current levels, let alone current growth levels. I admit my lamenting cry is lacking exposure, focussed on a circle of friends and work colleagues who don’t mind me complaining now and then. Coming back to Woods Bagot for an example, the introduction of the sustainability experts into their design teams gives the practice a chance to expose the important requirement for the spaces we live and work in to evolve, along with our lifestyles.

As a last resort, and perhaps most short-sighted of all solutions, is geo-sequestration (Burying the problem of emissions, SMH, March 20, 2007). Granted, I’m no geologist, but to me the practice of burying liquid C02 seems to be asking for trouble once this stuff starts leaching out in 20-30 years time. Lake Nyos anyone? Certainly a natural disaster when it occurred, but are we potentially turning more of the earth into danger zones by pumping this stuff underground?

No true long term solutions are offered by any of these offset schemes. How are they policed? If you pay a few hundred dollars a year to offset your carbon emissions from your vehicle use and power consumption, who is checking that twenty trees are planted in its place? Who takes care of the trees so that they grow to their full carbon-soaking status? As an earlier article states, “Environment groups agree planting trees is the least effective way of offsetting emissions.” At the moment, there’s no other way to offset current energy uses. True ‘green power’ is a fair way off satisfying the mass market. Without fail, somebody is unhappy with coal, nuclear, solar, wind, methane, or any offered source of energy.

Personally, I find wind power a great solution to energy supply for home and office. But apparently that kills too many birds a year to be ecologically friendly. Solar is the next best thing, but storage of energy is the problem, as batteries can be unsound when it comes to the environment.

- Wind and solar for energy.
- Hydrogen powered cars and mass transport.
- Intelligent design for climate.

Its putting them together in a socially acceptable package that’s the trouble.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Political Correctness goes mad, then this?

In a Sydney Morning Herald article of this morning, a former highway patrol officer has been awarded court costs after being brought to stand over a case of abuse.


Claiming that police escalated the offence once they saw his licence, owing to a previous run-in with police over his past, the man offered the following remark: "Bye piggies, oink, oink".

A sure fire way to bring a simple breath test to a higher level is offer a comment such as this. Yet the remark was found 'not offensive' under the law. So its OK to misuse a term such as this to a police officer? If he'd said it to someone in the street or to a woman in the company of any sane man, he would've wound up face down in a gutter with his teeth missing.

Now and then an officer who leaves the highway patrol prove themselves to be of non-standard operating procedure when it comes to being human beings. I'm afraid this guy constitutes one of them.

I wonder what he'd have done if someone oinked out the window at him while he was writing them a speeding ticket.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Filtering out the "bad"

Having been asked to investigate internet filtering software for a medium sized business, I have noted one feature of all internet filtering software websites.

They all contain pictures of children using computers.

If this is not a blatant attempt at blackmailing parents of a generation of children who dont know otherwise, I dont know what is. Why cant the parents take a little more pro-active control themselves, instead of relying on software to curtail their childrens activities? Remove computers from private spaces (bedrooms), and expose them a little more. Restrict hours via a simple push of the "OFF" button.

And what if one of these undesirable sites is allowed to be displayed because it doesnt contain any keyword that the filter will pick up? God forbid, that as a parent you may be forced to explain the difference between wrong and right, natural and unnatural, science and religion...

The push for advertising and the using of children as a metaphor for the new living standards, "your children can have what you never had as a kid!" is quite frankly disturbing. Look at the kind of society that has evolved now that people can "have what they want" at almost any time, and think what it might turn into if another generation is taught the same thing.

There is little or no sacrifice for material gain any more. I myself am guilty of this on occasion. Though I have resisted the urge to go so far into debt that my children will be paying for my life when I am gone, unlike a great many people in my area of Australia.

Only through the values of work, sacrifice, and the earning of material possessions can children be taught the future.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

The art of Ray Caesar

I stumbled across this while following links blindly from a MySpace page I happen to know.

The art of Ray Caesar
Ray Caesar MySpace page

The art on these pages is amazing, for quite a few reasons. Like art should, it provokes different feelings, but I didnt expect them to all come at once over each and every piece. Delicate in construction, delicate in feature, yet strong in subject paradox, Ray's art is mind-expandingly unique.

I dont know whether to be curious, provoked, sickened, disturbed, aroused, sad, happy, or otherwise. Definitely one to browse through the galleries and let yourself ruminate on the progressive thoughts you come up with.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Politics play time

Election time where I live, and soon to be a federal election as well.

Naturally, all the little boys and girls have come out to play, and tout themselves as the champion of the people, etc, etc.

I've decided that I can play political advertising as well as these clowns. Here are my campaign slogans, ready for printing super-sized on placards for my supporters to wave about.

GWH: Not in my f**kin' back yard, you dont!

GWH: Let's put it in someone elses back yard

GWH: For the people, by the people (of my electorate only, all you other electorates can bugger off)

GWH: The other guy must be a w*nker

GWH: Better than the other guy for reasons you couldn't possibly fathom, you simple voter

I look forward to ignoring every "promise" I make in the lead up to the election, and can point to the fact that at least I'm not the other guy you could've been stuck with.

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The phoenix turns into a Toxic Avenger

Big news...I'm about to re-join the ranks of the Toxic Avengers.

Becoming an Avenger again is something I didn't actually think I would do, but decided that circumstances necessitate it.

I can't be totally sure, but I think the Toxic Avengers have a good claim for the longest continuous franchise in Manly-Warringah Basketball Association history. From the originators in 1988-1989 (or possibly a year or two earlier) as the Toxic Avengers, the team nucleus underwent a name change in memoriam to Dorks'R'Us in the mid 1990's. The rotation of players gained and lost rebuilt the core, now under the "ownership" of a worthy guy (not James Worthy, although that would be great). The current team of the Toxic Avengers is not all cut from the same cloth as the originals (i.e. from the same school, the original criteria for joining), but the spirit is consistent and present.

Lucky they didn't take my player profile down when I left, isn't it?

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