Thursday, December 20, 2007

Quick rant: "Mt Grandpappy didn't fight wars and restore classic aircraft so you ingrates could..."

I'll try and keep this brief. Yep, I chose the wrong time to leave Adelaide. The onset of the gorgeously agreeable yellow-tram-purchasing Mike Rann, rampant speed camera abuse, the commodities boom, and world famous wannabe terrorist David Hicks.

The Premier of SA and his speech writer. (Seriously).

Yep, I can proudly tell the Vics, sure, I know where Hicksy lives. Sharon used to work there. Huge place up on Grand Junction Road. Just around the corner is the original landing site of the Vickers Vimy, after it's historic Atlantic crossing flight in 1919. The aircraft was restored in 1954 by my grand-pappy Wing Commander Jim Gooch and is currently hiding in a hangar at the old Adelaide Airport terminal. He got no credit for the restoration, of course, even though he had to singlehandedly source the individual bits of the aircraft from all over Australia. Apparently he found the prop hanging over the mess hall doorway at Point Cook RAAF base, which is just down the road from where I'm working now.

I say Ross ole' chap, we make a historically significant landing here and they go and build a ruddy gaol round the corner! Poor form what??

But I digress. Hicksy was big news when he finally was freed from the oppression of the evil Dubya at Gitmo and returned to his rightful home and family, who clearly gave him such a loving, stable upbringing. After all, he was just a small town kid who made a few mistakes, hung with the wrong crowd. That's no reason to put him in a concentration camp, hang him upside down for days on end, electrocute him via the testicles and make sexual jibes about his mother for SIX WHOLE years.

I was also a small town kid who made a few mistakes and hung with the wrong crowd so I totally dig where he's at. I too actively sought out training with the hideous terrorist organisation Al-Qaida, underwent training in heavy arms and explosives for 8 months whilst writing to my family that I welcome death in the glorious name of Allah and desire the death of all non-believers from...

...wait a sec, no I didn't.

Now at the risk of sounding way too pragmatic instead of emotional, angry, I-hate-John-Howard-and-Dubya-and-if-I-ever-do-anything-bad
-it's-all-their-fault-because-they-made-me-angry type, here's the facts on Hicks: Terrorists, especially the Islamic kind (which seem to be most of them these days...boy I bet there's a lot of Northern Irish who are thrilled about that) practice a certain brand of deadly attacks on civilians which earns them the title of "unlawful combatants". This concept hearkens back to the days of the Nuremburg trials where, although some German soldiers did kill people lawfully (!) in battle, it was their genocidal habits towards around 6 million Jews and other demographic groups which landed them in hot water.

Oh, by the way, some of Hicksy's jihadist dear-mum letters were venomously anti-Semitic.

Yes I know the concept of "lawful war" is a bit detestable, but we live in a fallen world. What are you gonna do. Anyhoo, the unlawful combatants earn themselves different treatment to that afforded to prisoners-of-war, and do not necessarily earn civil criminal treatment either.

Now normally you'd accept these harmless (sic) hanky-headed jihadis running around in the Afghani desert doing commando crawls in khakis screaming about killing infidels are just full of hot air. In fact it actually looks like a lot of fun through the fuzzy resolution. Likewise, Hicksy never actually killed anybody although he did boast about firing on the Indian army in Kashmir. He was just a small town kid who blah blah bla....

Problem is, these jihadis are more than hot air. The same ideals to which Hicks proudly spruiked have perpetuated 10,200 deadly attacks on civilians in the last 7 years, and countless others prior. A long list of Islamic terror attacks beyond the scope of this blog. Islamic media littered with vile, Jew-hating and West-hating rhetoric. Killing almost daily in Philippines, Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia, Russia, Jordan, "Palestine", Lebanon, Syria, India, slightly less killing in Israel (for some reason Jews have learned how to defend themselves) and...well, you get the idea.

Yet our mass media and entertainment industry are bent on convincing us that Hicksy and his ilk are the victims. Just what we need. Tell the murderers with their hate-filled ideology, which they practice to the letter, that they are the true victims. Talk about empowerment.

Admittedly, it's not hard to make them look like poor abused puppy dogs. After all, as bloodthirsty as these terrorist savages are (with unarmed civilians) I have it on the best advice that when they are confronted with a real soldier, they run screaming like little girls.

Now I'm not suggesting it's okay for some GI's at Gitmo to take nudey pictures of a poor terrorist or point him in the wrong direction for Mecca at prayer time and have a giggle about it. And yes there are shortcomings in the way the Government dealt with this Australian citizen (presuming he still deserves that title).

But I do wish, just sometimes, the cultural elite of our media would show the same outrage for entire villages of raped, murdered and enslaved Sudanese women or their headless husbands, or the mutilation and killing of Pakistani Christian children, or the gleeful joy with which "Palestinian" children declare their desire to kill the Jewish "swine", or the massacre of Phillipinos and Indonesian Christians, or the...well, you get the idea. It's not as if there isn't enough of this going on. And it's not all unrelated. And apparently it was even going on before Dubya was callously invading those peace-loving, human-rights havens like Iraq.

After all, wasn't he just a small town kid who....

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Bright, sun-shiny day

On the weekend of Nov 24-25 I drove to Sydney, raced at Oran Park, then drove home. You can read about that here . Not satisfied with completely over-doing it for an entire month, I thought I'd squeeze in another activity, at least this time, for kid(s). Well, in this case, Sammy at least. The plan was to get up early-ish, drive to Queenscliff, take the leisurely ferry-ride to Sorrento, then drive calmly to Phillip Island for the V8 Stuporcars, since Sammy has become as tragically addicted to car racing as I was when around 12. Sad, that.

Seriously, I actually do think it's sad. The only reason I haven't taken him to a race yet is because I'm kinda over standing on the side of a hill with yobbos who actually think the cars racing are the same as the car they drove to the track .

But no, this time would be different. After all, the previous weekend my van to Sydney contained not only my race kart, but one belonging to the team manager for established V8 Supercar driver Jason Bright. Hence, he owed me a favour. So we would get the full garage tour etc.

How cool. When I was a little motorsport-junkie-tacker, the first touring car race I saw was as a guest of our local Holden Dealer. Things were a little more casual then but still, to be shown through Brocky's car and meet the man himself was pretty special. So, I suppose I have always tried to avoid joining the masses when attending these events. Why force the same unrealistic standard on my own boy? Because I can. Hehehee.

UP until recently all Sam had eyes for was "Craig Lowndes!!" He has now been converted to "Jason Bright!!" (Unfortunately Craig Lowndes is up the right end of the grid. Jason is up the other end).

HOw quickly the smile faded from this girl's face when she realised Triple Eight Racing's Jamie Whincup was just rushing towards his race car

So anyhoo, that was the plan. What really happened was that we missed the first ferry, took an ill-fated shortcut through the Mornington Peninsula which ended up in a road closure, got stuck through Saturday am shopping traffic, then drove anything but calmly to Phillip Island in a trip that took, all up, four and a half hours.

But it was all worth it with a slightly shy but enthused Sammy having the meet-and-greet with Brighty, sit in the car, photos, and some cool (free) team merchandise which yes, ahem, included some for daddy as well.

I was also told some (confidential) interesting stats on the money thrown around to run a V8 Soupedupcar team and sponsorship brokering. Britek's level 2 (Fujitsu-series) V8 Car is currently looking for a driver. They can't really advertise on because unlike most jobs, this one costs you a cool $350,000 for the year, and you still have to find your own accommodation and travel. The level one team costs around $7m to run per year. At the moment, they have a total of around $5m in sponsorship.

That's just a sniff. On the way home, Sam rather predictably said "I wanna be a V8 Supercar driver!!". I'm currently in the process of encouraging him toward something more economical, like an astronaut or airline pilot. More piccys soon, so if you happened upon this posting before I told you about it, go away and come back later. (Please).

Thursday, November 15, 2007

US Dollars or Bernies?

As you know I'm a bit of a Formula One buff. This year has been rather interesting for reasons you'd have to be somebody named Gilligan or The Professor to have missed.

Basically, the sport's governing body's head honcho revealed he's actually Joseph Stalin reincarnated, as well as a huge Ferrari fan. Meanwhile the sport's largest shareholder, who is also the world's smallest person, Bernie Ecclestone, managed to oversell Grands Prix to more countries than there are places on the calendar- in much the same way airlines oversell seats then hope that someone turns up late and forfeits their ticket.

Bernie is so rich that the UK will soon re-name their currency after him. The longevity of his control over F1 has been of Castro-like proportions. In fact, there are rumours that when Bernie dies, he has ordered that his corpse be ferried around to F1 venues so that his management company continues to rake the revenue. Although, this will probably be ineffective since a rotting, dead Bernie would not be as scary as the live one. Anyhow, it was this order which inspired the Hollywood film Weekend at Bernie's.

You can prise F1 from my cold, dead fingers...

Ever since Victoria poached the Oz Grand Prix from Adelaide by offering Bernie more than the Gross Domestic Product of South Australia, Bernie's wallet has never quite recovered from the strain. Now he signs up long term contracts everywhere and then finds ways of making them short term.

Before I go on any more, for the uninitiated, here is an excerpt from my new book Running a Grand Prix for Dummies, from the chapter on "How to get a Grand Prix".

Hopeful Nation
: Hi Bernie, we'd like a Grand Prix. We have very little industry, massive unemployment, social problems and crime, terrible lack of infrastructure, but the Government's prepared to pay...
Bernie: Sounds fine. That'll be 50 million...
HN: ...and we've got oil
Bernie: I mean...that'll be FIVE HUNDRED million Bernies.
HN: Great. Here's the cheque. So when will the track be ready?

Bernie: OH, you wanted a TRACK with that?? Goodness me no, it doesn't work that way. Track's not included. Here's the card of someone who can help. He'll build one for you.
HN: (reads card) "Herman the German". Uh-huh. How much?
Bernie. Dunno. Nothing to do with me. Probably another 500 million.
HN: Do we HAVE to use this guy??
Bern: Good Lord no, it's a free country (Well, mine is. Can't speak for yours) You can use whoever you like.
HN: Right then. Who else is there?
Bern: Nobody. You have to use Herman.
HN: How many races do we have?

Bernie: The standard contract is 6 races. But in reality it's one, maybe two, until I get bored with you and come up with an excuse to void the contract or make unreasonable demands on you such as you must stage the race at night or upside down.
HN: What if we can't meet those demands?
Bernie: Well, you'll lose the race and have nobody to blame but yourselves.
HN: If so, will we receive a partial refund of our 500 million Bernies?
Bernie: (loses control in fits of annoying laughter) Excuse me, I have to sit down...(loses it again)
(HN goes back to it's Parliament/Senate Committee/ Caucus/ Tribal Council to pitch the idea)
Tribal Council: It will cost HOW much?

HN: 500 Million. But it will bring IMMEASURABLE benefit to the local economy!
TC: So what you're saying is, you have absolutely no idea whether we'll make any money out of it, but the local corner store will sell more of those cheap little Kodak snappy cameras and toilet paper, and there'll be lots of spoilt, pompous journalists moaning about how bad our taxi drivers are?
HN: Well yes. But, by gosh, we'll get on the Telly! And no-one will think we're a backwards, mountain goat-infested dump anymore!

...and so on. Anyhoo, it turns out even Melbourne is eligible to cop a legendary Bernie change-of-heart. You see, this year Bernie mentioned that he had, after ten years, only just realised the shocking truth- that the Oz GP is on just a little too early for Poms and Europeans to watch it on their tellies, i.e. several hours before they all get up and go to church. So, says Bern, why don't you chaps hire some of those floodlights from Coates Hire and stage a race at night to boost my Telly ratings! Oh, and while they're at it, Coates Hire might also like to build a nuclear reactor in Albert Park to power it.

Count To Zero wins, only to be excluded and fined 100million bernies for receiving a 780 page technical dossier from Efficient and copying their horseshoes

How Melbourne managed to ride that one out I don't know but no sooner had that blown over that the Vic Socialists looked at their invoices and discovered that the GP had lost them $34 million. That's a lot of speeding fines. So, all sorts of novel ideas were floated to make the GP a little cheaper. None of them were really impressive since the Vic Socialists aren't that crash at fixing problems in any way other than throwing more money at them.

One suggestion, earlier in the year, was that a consortium of Geelong people would build a massive racetrack on the western plains near where I live, which would be nice. The problem with this idea was that the consortium consisted of Drag Racing legend and very large man Victor Bray, and there were concerns he would build a track without any corners.

Another suggestion was to stage it at Sandown, a horse race track which has a motor race track running around it. But they already spent gazillions on the very same idea in the early 1980's, only to be gazzumped by Adelaide (huzzah!!). So they're still sulking.

Another more recent suggestion was to stage it at Phlegmington, a horse racetrack which has no motor race track running around it, at present. However, this idea was dismissed as too problematic because Melbournians might confuse the GP with the Melbourne Cup, as well as confuse Bernie Ecclestone with a (very, very old) jockey.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Country and Western Ring Road

Normally I wouldn't post something quite so brief and pointless. I'd rather my posts are long and pointless (with photos).

I've never really understood music. For example, a singing idol, I would have thought, would be someone who is unique in some way.

So why do we keep manufacturing more, every year? Does the main market for this product constantly get bored? Well, the main market for new album buyers consists of young girls aged 11-15. Okay, that explains a bit.

Dont get me wrong, I love the sound of a nice voice, and yes I'm talking to you Alicia Jane Hawkes, Pippa, Katie, and to a much lesser extent, Delta Goodrem and, um, whoever the last Australian Idol was.

But producing more idol singers is like producing more ambulance chasing lawyers- we love them, we really do, but the world doesn't exactly need any more of them. Or, it's like taking all the office stationary pens and claiming them all by labelling them with your name. Eventually nobody will care and take them anyway.

It's not like I don't try to keep up with the hip young with-it trendy underground indy stand-up-to-the-man viva-la-revolucion mu-zak. Why, recently I purchased an album by one of Australia's finest Eskimo Joe; Black Fingernails Red Wine. Firstly, I was very impressed that lead singer Kav Temperly is about the most poshly pronunciated indie-pop-rock singer out there. No-one else can sing "I should hah'v stayed in buh'd" like he. The album also has a song with the curious lyrics of

Won't you tell me your name

Well, I can help you there Kav. It's...."SARAH".

Anyhoo, speaking of music, the roads here in Melbourne are more musical than me. I drive on the Western Ring Road every day. This engineering masterpiece is unique in that, in the areas where there are lots of exits and entrances all within a short distance, and therefore more lanes are required to accommodate the merging congestion, there are actually less lanes. It was apparently constructed some time in the late 70's, a the height of the hemp usage boom, which could explain a lot.

The other beauty of this road is that peak is not confined to any particular direction. In theory this means the traffic volume is evenly distributed. This is certainly true. In peak hour, both sides are a car park.

But that's not what I'm writing about. Recently they've scraped the surface of the bitumen for several kilometres, in preparation to resurface. Perhaps they plan to add some of those lanes which went missing in the 70's, along with the engineers' brain cells.

The scraping has produced fine corrugations in the direction of the road. As you drive, it makes a humming noise. It took me a while to realise what it was, and that I wasn't going even more insane than usual. It's actually quite tuneful. Between Sunshine and Keilor, I'm sure it's making a rendition of "What a wonderful world" by Louis Armstrong. Apparently if you drive on Bridgestone radials it goes up an octave.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Bird takes up race driving

So, what's been happening lately?

After a brief Viktorian spring, we got an entire winter's worth of rainfall in one weekend. Lara was looking a bit soggy for a while, but not quite as soggy as the Gippsland region, which I seem to recall flooded back in July no doubt due to Global Warming. Damming the Mitchell River would apparently increase our water supplies by 4%, which is a big deal. But of course damming also affects the local ecology and frogs, and contributes to Global Warming. So, the good residents of the Gippsland region are contributing to the Greater Good by occasionally putting up with this:

At least we're thinking of the children..

To do my bit for the environment I threw the kart in a diesel powered van, drove to Adelaide, left it there, jumped on a big plane, flew to Sydney, attended a trade show, flew back to Adelaide, raced in the Superkart Nationals then drove home. Then I took a breath.

The trade show is a great event. I've blogged on about it previously but it basically is a chance to stand up all day and talk to people about floor sanding machines. Whether this actually does any good for business or not is still undecided but the relevance of the social events is unanimously agreed upon.
Where I spent two whole days talking about drum pressure and swirl marks

So much so, that boss Cam flew Sharon and Louise (his wife) over to join in and provide some female company and conversation pertaining to something other than Floor Sanding. Wednesday night, cocktail party. Thursday night, dinner with guests from Singapore. Friday night, big awards dinner with celebrity speaker to which I didn't go, but more on that later.

Before it all began, Tuesday night, I managed to steal away from our lush hotel at Coogee Beach, battling two hours of Sydney peak to visit the esteemed Godfather at the famous Kings' School Paramatta. It's always a treat to be "given an audience" with Dr. Timothy Hawkes, i.e. get hugged sensless, drip fed beer and red wine, and dined in a massive dining room with furniture dating back to the first settlers.

Archive footage of big blokey manly men

The Hawkeses are, without overselling them, a wonderful, wonderful family with infectious cheer. Absent was Pippa, up at their Pretty Beach house, um, "studying" and of course Peter and Amber are still in India rescuing slaves. Jane's nephew Chris, from the UK, was still down and working in Sydney with the occasional commute to NZ, and the lovely Alicia Jane was there after another day showing injured and sick people how to rehabilitate.
Quite frankly I think they all lead such boring lives.

So it was back to the relative drudgery of the timber flooring show, made interesting by my inclusion of the race car simulator. It was intended to draw a crowd, although day one it looked more like it would simply serve as a creche, since the visiting tradespeople's kids flocked to it. I was outraged. It's a race car simulator, not a bluddy video game, you little cretins. It's for grown men to run motorsport simulations, although it is kind of like, well...a.... Anyway, it ended up being quite successful. Friday night I missed the you-beaut gala dinner evening with guest speaker Mike Whitney (you know, the guy who once played cricket and was in a couple of reality TV shows. Woo-bluddy-hoo). Instead I was on a plane back to Adelaide. I would rather have been at the dinner but I chose this sport and the Superkart Nationals just happen to be scheduled right on top of our trade show. I think 2007 will be known as the Year of The Date Clash. Sharon went to the Awards dinner, presumably masquerading as one of Cam's two wives.

The Superkart Nationals were at Mallala, my favourite old place. I did okay, finishing fourth out of the Victorians but the South Aussies were too strong. I was buried mid-pack most of the weekend so in order to draw attention to myself I wore a silly hat.

Fourth seems to be my groundhog-day result. A week after all this date-clashing I had the final round of the Viktorian Club series at Phillip Island. I came fourth. Fourth is good.

Then after all that beingbusyness things got mostly almost back to some kind of normal-ishness. For Omi's birthday we drove across the other side of Melbourne (a distance equal to crossing several European countries) to visit the famous Healesville Sanctuary. It was about as touristy as you can get and personally, give me Cudlee Creek in the beautiful Adelaide Hills any day. Mind you, the birds of prey show was worth the drive. The park ranger would ask the large audience questions like "Do you know what the largest bid of prey in Australia is...?" in patronising, Wiggles-style tones. Omi would reply "Wedgetail Eagle" in who doesn't know that?? tones. And yes, it was one huge Wedgie.

To keep the tone of the show going, after having birds of prey swooping low over our heads (apparently the lower you duck, the lower they fly), a person claiming to be an aboriginal came out and started throwing boomerangs over our heads. We then went to their lavish new animal hospital, but I didn't see any muppets. There they taught you that if you find an injured native animal, you must not try and look after it, you must hand it over to the local wildlife concern.

After that day, by a strange quirk of fate, Naomi found an orphaned wattle bird, know as Winnie, who has now decided that a big gangly human kid is really her mother.

Race driving is a complex art. First, you must be facing the front of the vehicle when sitting in it. Well, actually, this creature isn't neccessarily less smart than most race drivers

So in our suburban dogbox block of land we now have a menagerie of squeaking piggies and chirping birdies and Lord knows what other critters Omi will adopt. Still, I have to admit that it's kinda cool having this little native bird come and land on your shoulder. From our Healesville training we did the right thing and asked the local wildlife concern to take on little Winnie, but they suggested "ah, just feed it and let it go, it should be okay."

So we did. And it keeps flying back to us. Of course, Omi isn't exactly heartbroken about this. More later. BYE.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Oh, Viktor, you are very unattraktive sign...

Hullo Komrades

Yes I know I like a whinge about the Stalinist kontrol exerted by the VSP (Viktorian Socialist Party). Yes I tend to carry on about their tendency to force motorists to drive so unfeasibly slow, that it would be faster to walk or wait until someone invents teleporting. Yes, I regularly lament how such road slowness causes a kind of drowsy stupor intended to make people more susceptible to Party brainwashing- such as the propaganda telling us that if we don't drive with our eyes glued to our speedos (NB I'm not talking about the budgie-smuggling kind), several children and their tricycles will be impaled on the bullbar of someone's big, nasty four wheel drive.

But hear me out once more. Now I am convinced the Stalin Government of Viktor-ia simply loves putting signs everywhere.

Dang!! Of all the days to be in a Landcruiser

And of course, I've mentioned once or twice how we're urged that every 5 k's over the speed limit contributes to GLOBAL WARMING (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon Al Gore). Road safety TV ads are Logie-award winning masterpieces using graphic images to tug at the heart strings. Not a trace of evidence, facts, or pragmatism about them of course. That is the modus operandi of the VSP. Their roadside "road safety" signs are a smörgåsbord of catchy-slogan-fests. Like this:

No thanks. I need it to, um, go places and stuff

Yes, it's official. The Viktor-ian Gov just loves signs in general. Here's proof:

I would have taken photos of the sign warning of this sign and the sign warning of that sign warning of this sign, but there was no time

They need little encouraging to drop a speed limit, only the smallest alibi. "Road Works" is one such alibi. For some reason, 100,000 motorists need to slow to walking pace where a bloke was digging a hole 50 metres away some time earlier today, having long since gone. But that's not enough. The VSP have finally realised that their roadwork speed limits need a touch of their feelgood propaganda to explain to us why we must hand our driving brains over to The Party so as not to endanger road workers who aren't actually there. Forcibly obeying laws is not enough for the Viktor-ian Gov. We must also agree with them.

On my daily crawl through Altona, where they're building a new overpass, I've noticed these signs preceding the speed zones:

Real risk? No kidding. There's your problem right there. A roadworks site is no place for kiddies, especially if they're not wearing hi-viz like dad. Granted, a bloke with a shovel needs to be protected from us homicidal motorists. But isn't that all the more reason NOT to let their kids run around in the same area? Are they safer amongst giant earthmoving machines? What feelgood signs will we see if some pre-schooler gets buried under several tonnes of landfill?

Even more disturbingly, I would have thought the VSP would shy away from being gender specific in Party-approved advertising. I suppose it doesn't necessarily imply that "Dad's" partner is a wife. It could be a de-facto or another "Dad", or nobody.

So anyway, after seeing a string of these expensive looking signs showing cheerful-hardworking-roadworker bloke-with-kid as you drive along slower than a snail with heavy shopping, you're well and truly in stupor-land, complete with dribble hanging from your mouth. Then, you are released like a bird, free to resume at a whopping 100km/h, and the final cheerful-hardworking-roadworker-bloke sign appears thus:

Obviously, they would never use correct Imperial English. Apart from the fact that anything Imperial is evil, the whole concept of correct language usage is just a bourgeois ploy to oppress the working class.

If you pay close attention, the progressive socialist values promoted by the VSP are still subtly evident in this series of feelgood advertising: You see, roadworker guy looks like a member of the Village People. And we are to assume his gay de-facto partner works full time, exercising the civil right not to stay home and look after their child. That's why roadworker guy has to bring the little brat to the roadworks site.

But I'm just hypothesizing. Quick, somebody erect a sign to explain to me what's really happening.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Rodent Opera and good old Alzheimer's

Yes hello. I know, it's been a while. When you have overcome your grief, learn to let it on...

Besides, nothing could top my Grand Prix blog posting. Anything else would have been empty and pointless, so I have been rather demotivated, I'll admit.

Poor Omi lost another little rodent last week. You may have seen the news article in the Herald Sun:

Shock in the Atherton household last week when Billy was found dead in his cage. Police are not ruling out foul play, since another Guinea Pig was found near the scene acting in a suspicious manner. He was called in for questioning. For legal reasons we cannot name the suspect however we know that interviews with crime squad detectives proved fruitless, as the little rodent could offer no real information, only unintelligible squeaks. His defence attorney is outraged, accusing the Police of verminophobe and claiming Billy died of hypothermia. It is understood the suspect has now converted to Islam.
Herald Sun- "taking any old stuff and making it news".

Now, I may get into trouble for saying this but we all know the "suspect" was Billy's cage-mate Troy. And we know he has never liked Billy since we mated Billy with Troy's ex-girlfriend. It's all a big soap opera but that's what you get for living in Melbourne.

Just send condolence messages to me and I'll pass them to Naomi.

Now, on less morbid matters some of you may have noticed that we decided to sell our house in Bridgy. Yes, it's a sad tie-breaker with good old SA but let's face it, the longer I stay here (not to mention the more I get paid:)) the harder it is to go making empty promises about moving lock, stock and barrel back to the beautiful Adelaide Hills next week. Sorry, but I'm trying to learn to be happy in my own skin and that means staying put for a while.

ad says "buy before Global Warming Fire sale!!"

The annoying bit was the moment we put it on the market, the tenant moved out. I can't say I blame him. But there is the small matter that we are legally entitled to squeeze the broken lease's entire value out of him, plus confiscate his car, and sell him to slavery in Sudan. But we're not going to do that because we're Christians and that wouldn't be nice. And Christians are supposed to be nice. Apparently.

No wait. I must be thinking of "Christian TV stereotypes".

The extra annoying bit was that the agent who is property managing it didn't even let us know the kid was leaving. So, now we're corralled into auctioning the place at a fire sale (don't get any ideas about us selling it for $1000 plus a carton of beer).

Normally auctions cost a lot extra but I mentioned to the agent some piddly stuff about Real Estate codes of conduct and disclosure of important things like tenants leaving., and acting in the interests of the Vendor etc etc. Then they agreed to do it a "little cheaper".

It wasn't very nice of me at all. Some stereotype I am.

What else: Oh yeah- the job is going well and there's been a kind of, ahem, promotion. I think it's like a "general manager" role, babysitting the other branch more so Cameron (the owner) can be freed up. The upshot of that is that I get to spend more time in Melbourne traffic. Which means I get more time to switch off my brain, or sleep, or do some Bible Study, or talk myself to varying levels of insanity.

I'm now convinced that the road safety management in Melbourne correctly represents true Stalinist socialist values of wealth redistribution and citizen kontrol. Allow me to demonstrate:
- someone gets killed in a car accident by making a stupid error
- Government says it was speed, lowers speed limits and puts out more speed kameras
- Speed limit is so ridiculously slow most people go over it to avoid falling asleep from boredom
- Government makes bucketloads of money from "speeding"
- Government spends some of it's filthy lucre on feelgood advertising convincing everyone that being forced to drive at walking pace and spend all day on the road is for your own good. People are so stupified from driving mundanely slow they are easily brainwashed
- Government looks good by spending more filthy lucre on building nice new freeways, so that we have more top-class roads on which really really slowly

SO... I've decided not to whinge about speed revenue any more. Oh no. It's far, far worse than that. It's kontrol. Kommunism can creep up on you so slowly (!) you don't even notice.

Another reason Victorians don't notice is because the rest of the Government's filthy lucre gets spent on nice things like renovating the MCG or sucking up to F1 King Pin Bernie Ecclestone. So long as everyone is being entertained with sport, all is forgotten. Go to Party-approved sporting matches, cheer, be happy, drive home at Party-approved speed. When you are destitute from playing Party-approved pokies and your non-Party-approved bolshevist family unit is finally broken, rely heavily on Party-approved welfare system...

...and so on.

Meanwhile, there's still no water supplies in Melbourne. The people in Gippsland also have a water supply problem- they're buried under it. The rivers which flooded Gippy (ugh- now I'm talking like a local) are the very ones which have flooded in a major way no less than four times in the last 50 years. So clearly there has never really been a water supply problem in those rivers. I'm no hydro engineering expert but apparently a real hydro engineering expert actually said that if you dammed those particular rivers you would a) boost Melbourne's water supply and b) save Gippy people from drowning.

Instead, what do the Victorian Government do?

Blame the floods on Global Warming (note Party-approved use of kapital letters to afford the correct respect to the God of Klimate Change).

Gippsland is beautiful this time of year.

If we all fry in 50 years as Prophet Al Gore says we are, I will happily stand corrected. But what better way to kontrol people than to tell them we are ruining the planet, right now! Little old us! Just now! It's all only happened in the last few, um, (when was the last election??)

What the bluddy heck am I doing here again??

Making money in the Alzheimer's Ward

I've just cringingly noticed that the TV Channel which likes to push the boundaries of good taste right over the edge of a big cliff (Channel 10) are, with much hoop-la-la, peddling that Shlockumentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus.

This latest piece of re-hashed Jesus Conspiracy involves an innocuous 27-year old archaeological find which has been tortured mercilessly by a couple of unqualified Hollywood people until it no longer resembles what it really is. You guessed it. Through the magic of TV it is now the tomb of Jesus. The shocking truth. Rocking Christianity to it's core. Etc........etc.............Blah..............................blah.............................


And it's riding on a fresh tsunami wave of Jesus-conspiracy mania brought to new levels of cringworthiness by the Leonardo Code. Once again, the great masses will, through the magic of the entertainment industry, believe they are actually being informed about something.

Remember, the guy behind this shlock doc is the same guy who brought us the cringiest of all cringe movies....Titanic. 'Nuff said.

I won't go into the critical detail. I have done that here, if you've got your reading shoes on (that's a link to click on, you luddites). Needless to say I am convinced there is profit in selling the same story several times over to people with Alzheimer's disease.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Untouchables

The remarkable Lewis Hamilton

There's a lot of photos to load, so be patient. PATIENT I TELL YOU!!

Much has happened which I haven't posted here so there's some making up to do. Immediately post-Christmas 06 was spent with our great friends the Hawkeses. For those unfortunate enough not to know them, Twin brothers Tim and Nick Hawkes are my godfathers. Hence their kids are my godbrothers and sisters.

All of the exquisite piccys on this page are courtesy of the amazing Miss Katie Hawkes. She has a knack for bringing out the best in her human subjects.

The divine Miss Katie and my divine Mum

Tim and Jane and family live in Sydney. Tim holds the rather low-brow position of headmaster of the famous Kings' School in Parramatta. Nick and Mary and family live in Adelaide as pastor of a non-denominatonal church. Tim's eldest son Peter wasn't present for our Chrissy bash as he was in India helping the impoverished set up businesses, while his new bride Amber was busting major slavery rackets. Peter is my Sammy's godfather. Nick's daughter Katie is my Naomi's godmother.

Pippa and Becky Boo

Right, that's all the intros out of the way, you're all acquainted now. Sadly my dear godsister Katie has jetsetted off to Manchester indefinitely to do PR. I'm not sure exactly how her career is going but we can be sure she has completely outclassed me in the blogging department. If you're reading this Katie, please be advised that only German motorways are speed unlimited, not English ones.

Omi with proud godmummy

The godfathers. Do ya think I like talkin' wid a dry, sore troat??

Now, in my family, we take the role of godparent very seriously. This time honoured role is maintained by many families. Some keep this tradition out of genuine desire for a role model for their child other than themselves, who can be a positive Christian influence. Some do it out of genuine need for legal guardians in case of an unforseen tragedy. Others do it to passify some token family members who just want to be included for the sake of it and who couldn't care less if the little tacker grows up to be a crack whore.

That's why it's a fact of life that when such "god"parents are selected, a few will disappear either through lack of interest or, in my case, sheer frustration at the near irretrievably poor behaivour of the little tacker whose well being was thrust upon them. It's understandable. But me- I was blessed enough to have at least two who really stuck. And they are Tim and Nick Hawkes.

Doctors Timothy and Nick Hawkes discovering light reflection and refraction for the first time.

This dedication seems to run in the family. Sam's godfather, Tim's son Peter, never fails to keep in touch and takes a real interest in my boy. Nick's girl, the lovely Katie H dotes over her goddaughter Naomi. We are very lucky.

Besides, it also means if my kids turn out to be horrors I have someone else to blame.

2007 Grand Prix Edition!!

Now, onto more important stuff. Between Christmas and that other major religious festival, the Grand Prix, the only other sacred weekend, for me at least, was my first race of the season. But you can read about that here.

The most remarkable bit was getting the new Hyper Racer Kart completed in time. Team boss Jon Crooke, a former Aussie Formula 2 National Champion and Touring car driver, bit off way more than he could chew attempting to build five new karts for the new season. This meant I was in Mount Evelyn (the complete opposite far far away side of Melbourne to Lara) to 10pm Thursday night before the race weekend.

What followed was a) driving back to Lara by midnight b) early start to open the office Friday morning with kart in tow to have the beast check weighed at a freight forwarder down the road from work but not before c) getting stuck in the 2 hour long Geelong freeway jam after a double fatality d) doing an illegal u-turn to escape said traffic jam and getting sprung by Geelong's finest e) giving Geelong's finest a non-abusive but extremely long winded lecture about how ludicrous it was for them to prey on stressed motorists doing perfectly safe u-turns and why don't they just ride in the bluddy car with me and do all my bluddy thinking for me, and subsequently f) worrying that my first race weekend of the year would be spent clinging bars in Geelong.

Fortunately Constable Sheedy of the Geelong Road Mismanagement unit resorted to merely fine me, I think mainly just to shut me up. I gotta say, paying $113 for the privalege of explaining to a police officer that they do not need to protect me from myself is actually good value.

Anyhoo, on to the actual subject of this post- Grand Prix 07. As you may know from previous GP posts such as 2006 or 2005 (scroll to the bottom) I am a track lackie. Some years you get posted on boring corners and nothing happens. Some years you have the entire F1 field crash in front of you and you must chaperone Michael Schumacher to the medical staff. Sometimes you get fed crepes and strawberries by caring corporate caterers, sometimes you get yelled at by post pubescent spectators getting publically drunk for the first time.

This year I hit paydirt. I got posted on start finish line. This mean little perks like standing in pit lane during Qualifying, taking part in photographing the official FIA driver's class photo, walking the grid before the F1 race, then getting sprayed by Kimi Raikkonen's champagne.

Really, there's no need for me to do this again next year. The only way is down. Enough prattle. Here's some pics.

Kat the spectator marshal going for a career cange

Whiz kid Hamilton's McLaren post-race

Class of '07

My watershed photo- Kimi returns to parc ferme victorious. None of the F1 mags had one this good!!

2007 Motor Show Edition!
March 7th 2007

We got a new camera! The old one was kaput. Not many technological things we own last as long as they are meant to. The great thing about waiting for insurance companies to cough up was that, in the meantime, the model of camera was upgraded so..we got a better one! It does some groovy b&w and colour feature things.

Like this.

Sam's birthday was three days ago. So if anyone reading this forgot, hopefully this post will help you to become racked with guilt. More on that later.

In other news I've been getting into stacks of trouble with my karting website. Every time I run into more examples of sheer bureaucratic bloody mindedness-ness within this measly little sport, I satirise it. I only do that where I attempted to communicate the issues directly with the individuals in question, and had an unsatisfactory response. It's my way of dealing with it. It's much easier than dressing in army fatigues and going on a gun-toting, murderous, disgruntled-postal-worker rampage.

Actually, I've been doing it for yonks but some of the karting folks have only just started to notice, making it somewhat like a Homer Simpson moment when they contact me.

Yo man, just chillin' with my peeps listenin' to some Snoop Dog. Doof doof

But God works in mysterious ways. Just when I'd endured what seemed like a plethora of people emailing with clayton's complaints about the site's content (i.e. they say I've written something wrong but can't seem to explain what exactly is wrong with it) there was actually an unexpected piece of healing and reconcilliation.

It was borne out of an incident in an unspecified race in June last year when I spun during practice and got collected by someone in a prang which looked nastier than it was. In the pits afterwards I approached him to apologise (in the way you do to a bereaved person- it's not my fault they died, but I'm saying sorry anwyay) and he bellowed some very unseemly language and called me some names. Apparently somewhere in there was some advice about how to spin properly, but I couldn't pick it out from the expletives.

So 9 months after the fact, the chap (we will call him "M") rings me. The conversation went like this:

M: I don't like what you said in your website
Me: Why, was I unflattering in some way?
M: Well, it said I "went on like an idiot".
Me: Yes, it said that didn't it.
M: What's ya problem? It's not like I called ya a ******* ****head or anything
Me: Well, um, that's exactly what you called me. Actually your words were ******** ***** ****** ****head
M: Oh. Did I?
Me: Yep
M: Sorry about that.

Isn't that nice? Our conversation went on for a while. I sympathised with him on the two other nasty crashes he's had since that race and assured him they were nothing to do with me. He even volunteered to educate me on which of the other people hassling me about my site are ******* ****** ****heads.

Sam in flight

Fun. We almost purchased a horse for poor Naomi last week. I was just about to blow 300 bucks on a vet inspection when the noble steed saved me the trouble by assaulting the same electric fence several times in a row. Again, quite a blessing that the expensive animal didn't do it after we bought it, and a gazillion dollars worth of tackles, saddlings and other horsery. Or whatever that stuff is called. Hoisery?

But I was determined to educate myself on how to avoid buying an animal that would try to jump off a bridge or throw itself at a train or something. So I asked our very own horse owner and expert, Claudia from Germany. She explained the situation to me using rather high-brow equestrian terms. The conversation went like this:

Me: Why did it go through an electric fence?
Claudia: Because horses are bloody stupid dumb animals.

I'm learning more about horses all the time.

Meanwhile Sharon's sister Pamela had herself a little baby boy, name of Zane. Check out the bushy head of hair. He has more hair on his head than his Dad has on his back!

As I mentioned earlier, it Sam's birthday. That can only mean one thing- it's Grand Prix time!

But with a busy month ahead, what with baby births, Grands Prix and Jordy and Irma's wedding in Adelaide, Sharon can't manage to chaperone Sammy to the Grand Prix this year. As a consolation, I took him to the motor show. You might say I went to town on that black and white/colour feature. That was a pun, of course. The motor show is in "Jeff's shed" opposite the crown casino, or as Sharon calls it, "Biff's casino". You can literally hold the camera up in the air, tell it to pick out all the red cars, and viola, there's half a dozen Ferraris and Golf Gti's. Tell it to pick out all the pastel, garish, pukey, loud weird coloured cars and voila, all the Commodores and Falcons stick out.

It's Grand Prix time in Melbourne Town next weekend but I haven't time for my usual tomfoolery with pre-season details. We know Schumacher has retired (thank the good Lord), Mark Webber will be trying to steer a dead bull, and some guys who were driving really good cars have moved into less good cars. My marshalling duties this year have plonked me at "Turn 0".

Every year, despite keeping you in the same team, they try to rotate you. First time (in '01) I got turn 2 and helped scrape 5 F1 cars off the road so that Mark Webber could finish a memorable fifth in the Minardi. The following year was turn 3, in the precise same spot where the poor track marshall was killed by the flying wheel from a car with the unfortunately ironic sponsor of "Lucky Strike". I've always said they should put bigger warning labels on cigarette packets.

Like this one

Anyway, the point is, sometimes you get a good spot, like turn 1 / 2 where you see everything and get some action. Sometimes you get a cruddy one like turn 9 when there are nothing but drunk spectators. Sometimes you get posted in front of corporates who feed you crepes, coffee and strawberries, sometimes you get posted in front of drunk corporates who yell out "so how much d'ya get paid for that job?!" Although, since the V8 supercars are not on the program this year, I suspect there will be less drunk people.

As a rule, it's better to be on a braking area or on corners, instead of halfway down a straight. Except this year. You see, "Turn 0" is the start-finish line. I reckon it will worth it just to see 22 F1 cars blast off the line, in the flesh (and kevlar).

What will also be worth seeing- if the Victorian Government pump a gazillion megalitres of water into the Albert Park swamp to make it look pretty for the TV cameras. All this while the rest of us have to take 1 minute showers and water our lawns with sink flotsam and belly-button lint. If they do you'll be sure to hear it here first.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Of all the posts to NOT have photos, it just had to be this one. The one which really needs "before and after" photos. Sharon's expensive Canon digital had a breakdown recently and Dick Smith cannot give us a clear idea on who honours the extended warranty for which we paid handsomely.

I may have to dig up an archived photo or two just to entertain you. For further entertainment, I have placed deliberate spelling errors in this post. See if you can find them.

First up, there were to be two or three extreme makeovers in our family, and I only succeeded at one.

As some of you know, I have an impressive bone problem called "Hallux Valgus" in my feet. It's just a fancy way of saying "bunion", but mine are particularly incomfortable. So, after a year of fiddling with a million different specialist consults and no private health insurance, I settled on a self-funded operation with a nice orthapaedic surgeon in Geelong. He does knee reconstructions on football players, so shaving some bone off my bunion and cracking my toes back into place should be a walk in Kardinia Park for him.

We were booked in for January 16th, and I don't mind admitting I was as nervous as one can possibly be. Sharon and Omi (the other two are at Horsham) waited with me for two hours in the Hospital before I was finally called in to be sliced up.

Then the surgeon tells me we cannot do the op because I have a small amount of tinea on the same foot and this constitutes a major infection risk.

So the good news is I can still, momentarily walk. Infortunately I have to find another window some time this year where I won't need any mobility for 6-8 weeks.

So much for that makeover.

Archive footage

Before all that, and in anticipation of it, I decided that my forthcoming new toy (see here , or here ) needed a decent home to live in. So, the garage got a huge makeover. The "studio" has been reassigned the title of "storage room" and the garage had an enima which would impress the most militant lentil-eating hippie vegan.

I even had a crack at welding some benches. Welding is fun- apart from the bit where molten slag hits you in the eye. I then stained and coated the floor with polyurethane. It looks a zillion bucks, but you can't actually walk on it and leave dusty footprints.

My obsession with dust-free living lead me onto the roof with a can of that sticky expandable foam. I don't want one single speck of dust in that place. Not one. Every hole has been plugged, and even the door gaps have been padded. I am determined to have something close to a Formula-One Laboratory style environment, and will maintain it with a zeal equalled only by ancient Jewish Levitical Priesthood. Now the garage is the cleanest, most uncluttered room in the whole place. I'm actually thinking we should hold our home Bible study group there.

Yes, I think I am really quite ill. Help me, please.

More archive footage from March 06. The yard still looks like this.

Of course, what may be contributing to the dust problem is the fact that there is no grass anywhere in our back yard. It has either been dug up, died, or eaten by guinea pigs. For a more detailed environmental impact statement on this issue, go here.

These water restrictions are getting too much. Perhaps I have become an old cynic and don't believe anything the Government says. But I have to admit, I drove past one of Vic's main dams near Ballarat the other day, and it looks like a pile of dried up seaweed, and it is forcing people to engineer different solutions for being frugal, and some of them are quite creative.

Grey water systems are popping up all over the place, where people plumb their shower and washing machine drainage into a pump system, connect hoses up, and away they go- watering their gardens with gay abandon.

The problem is, their neighbours see them watering their lawn and dob them into to the Water Restriction Police. So the Water Restriction Police are suggesting we all signs in our front yards saying "grey water system installed" so they don't have to follow up so many reports. Methinks they want nothing more than for their jobs to be made a little easier. Well, they bluddy well started it!!

So, not only do the Water Nazis insist that all our properties should look less attractive than a desert, now we must have big ugly signs in our front yards boasting that we water our gardens with washing lint and armpit hair. Shall we dump a burnt car wreck there while we're at it?

Our front yard

Now I am wondering about those little things, which never caused a stir in pre-Water Nazi days.For example, will the state Government plumb millions of litres of water into the Albert Park lake as they do every year, to make it look nicer for the TV cameras at Grand Prix time? (see HERE ) Can't wait to see that one. It will be more entertaining than the event itself. If they do, I'm having another 20 minute shower, thank you very much.

Speaking of entertaining, I'm sure you are all expecting me to comment on that Muslim Mufti fellow, Sheik al-Hilali shooting his mouth off. He is most famous for his witty little jibe about women getting themselves raped because they dress funny.

Okay, I will comment. I think he's a fine representative of Islam and hope he stays in Australia for as long as possible. Especially for the "women/ raw meat" comments.

After all, the Profit Mohamed himself loved women. He thought they were great. He believed every man should own at least one.

Yes, I admit to a little chuckle when I see an Islamic leader portrayed poorly by the media. I wince, of course, when the same media portray Christians worse. But is there a chance that ol' Moofus HAS been taken out of context?

After all, us Jesus freaks are always suggesting women should dress modestly. Meaning, they shouldn't wear nothing, but then they shouldn't wear a tent either. When having a conversation with a woman, you should at least know whether she's facing you or not. And, I have to admit I do like the odd pierced belly button.

Nope, that's not the problem. The problem goes back much further. Perhaps we should stop bombarding men with pornography, and de-sensitising them to visual stimulus. Then we wouldn't have the problem of uncontrollable male urges being unleashed at the sight of a young muffin top. Now there's something our postmodern culture cannot handle- men and women are different (gasp). Especially the way they handle visual stimulus. Men handle it very badly.

So there's no point in attacking the symptom and not the cause. No, to properly understand Sheik Mufti Imam Al-Halali Bin Laden Alladin whatsisname's comments, you need to understand where he is coming from. Or, more specifically, where his "faith" comes from. Seriously, get a coffee, sit back, and have a look at THIS . Sheik Mufti Muffintop's comments should come as no surprise. In fact, they were tame. In Saudi Arabia, he would be made Royalty.

Why my fascination with Saudi Arabia? Well, let's just say I see it every time I look at my front yard.