Saturday, 31 May 2008

Ancient times

Somewhere in this photo lurks your heroic blogger, sometime around 1985.  I'm not sure where it was taken - take your pick between Bindoon, Nannup and Northam.  All featured kangaroo ticks, leeches, rock hard ground and boiling by day and freezing by night.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Who built a zoo on a swamp?

We've just done the Perth zoo, which is somewhere that I have not been for about 25 years or more.  It is no longer a series of concrete bunkers and steel bars and other animal prison-type enclosures.  Rather, it is a paradise of greenery and winding paths and very nice enclosures.  We only got to see about 1/3 of the zoo before the monkey wandered off to the Land of Nod, but I was quite impressed with what we saw.  I wouldn't even baulk for an instant at paying $18 to get in again - particularly when parking outside is $1 an hour.  Yes, that is one dollar.  Eat your heart out, Sydney.

It's a great place to visit, and we will be going back.  But there is just one thing that you need to remember to pack - mosquito repellent.  They have done their best to replicate a jungle environment, and it has worked.  All they need now are a few million leeches to go with the mosquitoes.  I swatted five whilst watching an orangutan strut her stuff.

Thank heavens for Qantas

I don't fly that often anymore - I have no need to jet around the country on business at the moment, and I've found that flying with young children is more trouble than it's worth.  The wonder drug is supposed to be Phenergan, which many parents claim as the keys to their sanity.  We tried it on the monkey last night about half way through our trans-continental odyssey, and it made absolutely no impact.  He continued to do laps of the jumbo, and when that wore thin, he started climbing over the row of seats in front of us (thankfully they were empty).  I arrived on the west coast around midnight our time a gibbering wreck.  By the time we fly again after this trip, I reckon most of my frequent flier points will have expired.

Road trips are not a problem.  You can simply pull over at a McDonalds or even a paddock and let the sprogs out and coax them to run over the horizon for half an hour or so, and no one else will be bothered.  The aisles of modern aircraft are just too narrow for monkeys to race up and down, particularly as he stumbled from time to time and crashed into grannies trying to sleep.  Good thing he has such a wicked smile - they generally patted him on the head and sent him on his way.  I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have a handsome little charmer.  If he was an ugly little brute, my life would be very difficult.

The hosties were an absolute marvel, playing with him when he crashed into them, giving him colouring-in books and other goodies to play with and not scolding me on all sorts of safety grounds when he climbed up on the seats and tried to get into the overhead lockers.  He even got a chocolate icecream, which I instantly dubbed the $600 icecream (although it will be $300 if we get one on the way back).

The contrast with Virgin couldn't be starker.  Virgin might be a fun airline for people that like to party like Mercedes Corby, but it is a shocker for families with young kids.  The hosties treat kids like some sort of loathsome swamp creatures, there is no in-flight entertainment and there are certainly no free chocolate icecreams.  Given that the icecream brought the monkey to a screaming half for 15 minutes, I might ask for half a dozen on the way back.  Even if he pukes chocolate icecream vomit everywhere, it will be worth buying 90 minutes of peace and quiet.

So although the monkey is not even 3 yet, I am considering getting him a Qantas frequent flier card, because he is never flying Virgin.  He can fly with them when he is 18 and wants to chat up cute little Virgin hosties, but until then, he can put up with the old boilers on Qantas.  

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Mechanical incompetence

My bike mechanic contacted me today to advise that the rear cluster that I prefered was not available (that's the collection of 9 or 10 gears at the back of the bike). He asked me if I wanted a 25-12 or a 25-13 cluster instead.

Err....... dunno. I went for the 25-12, with me frankly having only the vaguest idea of what he as on about. I've been riding bikes for over 30 years now, and have clocked up 12,000km in the last 4 years, but what happens down below in the technical area is all Greek to me. I don't understand my lack of desire to become a bike nerd, since I used to spend every second weekend rebuilding old cars. I've helped rebuild eight engines (if memory is correct) ranging from four cylinders to straight eights and V8's, spent hours fiddling with dual-carb setups, been baffled with the required tolerances in an automatic gearbox rebuild, and utterly, utterly confused by auto electrics. We'd start with an engine rebuilt after work on Friday night, and I'd usually conk out 12 hours later once the engine was out of the car. My mate, the dodgy Roger, would keep going for 24-48 hours straight, not sleeping until the engine was back in its rightful spot, making all the right noises.

Much of my mechanical aid seemed to involve making tea and sandwiches, passing the correct spanner and wondering what to do with the icecream container full of leftover washers at the end of the project, but I still got my hands greasy more than most. I don't get the ethos of these youngsters who take their car to a mechanic to get performance mods fitted. Don't they understand the fun involved in buying and fitting something like a lumpy H2 cam, or swapping out a set of pistons for higher compression versions?

Then again, perhaps not. But there was nothing like rebuilding a V8 with some go-faster bits, putting in a 2 inch exhaust system with extractors (and no poofy resonators to make it sound faster - even a small V8 sounds like God tearing the sky apart if the exhaust is setup properly), taking the roof off and blasting through the Harbour Tunnel at 100mph around 1am. I used to love going into the tunnel at the speed limit, and holding it until I reached the bottom, then dropping a gear and planting it. If that didn't give one a woody, then it meant that very thin and watery blood was circulating through that particular body.

But now, I look at a bike mag description of carbon impregnated something or other clusters and shrug my shoulders. None of it makes any sense.

SBS must pay well

I just went for a drive, and who should pull up at the lights next to me but Margaret Pomeranz.

And what should she be driving? I am pretty sure it was a Mercedes SL320, but I can't be sure as I didn't get a clear view of the rear of the car as she took off. I can tell you that it was black, had two doors and was a soft top.

The Red Book tells me that these things retailed for $200,000 when new, and would still cost you up to $51,000 today.

I might have been wrong - it could have been an SL500, which retailed for $285,000 when new.

Now wonder she has such a firm grasp on what "working families" want to see at the movies.

I'm not voting for Hillary

And how could I, given that I am a resident of Sydney and not even a US citizen.

Why then did I spot a car today that had a "Hillary" sticker on the rear bumper? What's the point of that? Does having a Hillary sticker help to inflate your sense of smug self-importance?

As far as fatuous, useless stickers go, it's even worse than "Free Tibet". (Why is Tibet going for nothing? Is it so bad, it's worthless?)

Monday, 26 May 2008

Bad dad

I am the bad dad.

I took monkey to a playground today, which already contained several other kids, and I walked in eating from a bag of chips.

I immediately had half a dozen pairs of small, beady eyes fixed on my chips.

Some of the kids walked over to me to ask for a chip, whilst the remainder walked over to their parent and started tugging on their leg asking for a packet for themselves.

I am surprised that the other parents didnt form a lynch mob and drive me from the playground.

Next time, I am going to buy monkey an icecream and then send him into the playground. That'll teach them.

Farting around with blog settings 101

Class seated? Put away that chewing gum, Saunders, or it's off to the headmaster for you.

Now, open your blog manual to page 42. If you click on the Layout tab at the top of your editing screen, it will open up a thingy where you can add and arange your page elements. The Layout tab should appear under the name of your blog.

Once you are in the layout section, you can make a complete bollocks of your blog in 10 seconds flat. Each element has an "edit" button, and clicking on that will open up all sorts of amazing options. I decided to mess with mine after perusing Rage and Biscuits.

As you can see in the above screenshot (which includes the obligatory kiddie p0rn, since that is the topic of the day), there are plenty of little things that you can tweak in the blog settings.

That will be $50.

They've taken all the fun out of shopping trolleys

I had this really insanely manic urge tonight to put one foot up on my shopping trolley and to go push-push-pushing down the aisle at top speed.

Until I noticed a fatal flaw - the bastards have removed the cross bar that used to join the back wheels - and that was the perfect spot to put one foot, get the trolley moving, and then put the other foot up and then see how far the trolley would go before crashing into a wall of olive oil bottles.

No wonder the kids of today are bored, sitting at home going all square eyed in front of the X-box. When I was a wee newt, I used to love hooning around the supermarket on the trolley. I don't know why my mum put up with me doing it, but I was a careful hoon. I made sure I didn't knock down more than one granny or promotional stand per week.

I have two theories as to why this has happened, and both involve the terms "lawyers" and "safety nazis".

I wonder if I can fashion a bit of wood that I can take to the supermarket and fit across this gap so that I can once more sail down the aisles, free as a bird.

Which Blair? project

The inner Dilbert in me has been hankering to get out for a while. Following some discussion over at the Blair graveyard, I decided to run some simple troubleshooting tests on why the new Blair-gasmic site runs more slowly than a one legged dog.

The first screenshot shows my processor going nuts with just one Blair tab open in Firefox. Prior to opening this tab, the processor was idling along almost at rest with six other tabs open. (I've been checking out Kae, Margo, Paco and missred, which should have appeared on my sidebar by now). Note that this particular Blair thread shows comments.

The next screenshot shows how my PC takes a breather when I switch back to the just the main page of Blair-dom. But it is still working much harder than normal. My PC is usually like Kevin Bacon - in that it flatlines all the time.

The final test was to close down the Blair-hog (sob, sob) and check the outcome. The result is that the processor utilisation drops back into single digits, and hovers around 3-5%.

I then did the same test using Safari, and found that processor utilisation went up a bit, but only by about half as much as it does with Firefox.

I am not going to try it with IE, as I view that browser as a bucket of shit. I don't hate Microsoft or Bill - I just think the new browser is a pig with lipstick. It's a preference thing.

So it appears that some code-cutting monkey at News Ltd has not bothered to do any cross-browser testing of his site, which is a sin that normally merits being forced to listen to Britney for about a month.

Someone should try doing a test like this with Opera (I don't have that loaded).

Sunday, 25 May 2008

It's feet up for a week

I dropped the bike off at the shop this afternoon for an overhaul. It started with the rear wheel blowing out (as in part of the rim ripping away from the wheel), progressed through a replacement of the rear cluster (the back gears), then the replacement of the front crank (which has been creaking for a few thousand kilometres), had some handlebar tape added and then a replacement of all the brake cables (and the pads as well).

The shop did a simple stretch or wear test on the chain using a small tool that did something that I cannot describe. Apparently if the chain is worn or stretched 1%, it has had it. Mine was off the dial, it was stretched so far.

Ah well, the old beast has done 12,000km so far, so it's well and truly due for a bit of TLC (it certainly gets none from me). It's going to set me back about $800, but that's less than a car service, and not bad when you consider it has taken me to work and back, and to other places, on most weekdays for the last 4 years.

I am going to spend my free time wisely - mainly by stuffing myself with every vanilla slice that I can find.

No riding this week

I popped out to the bike tonight to do the usual weekly pre-flight checks before facing a week of riding to and from work, and quickly discovered that I'll be on the bus for a few days at least.

The rear rim has completely split for a reasonable distance around the rim. I don't know when this decided to burst at the seams, but no one heard it happen. I've had tubes blow out through the sidewall of a dodgy tyre before, but I've never seen a rim split and peel like this.

This is how I found it - it had peeled out as far as the photo above shows.

I tried to take some close up photos to show the interesting metal fatigue cracking, but my hands are too shakey to take a good photo. I need to dig out my tripod and find something to light the scene.

There's no hurry - this baby isn't going anywhere until I can find the time to visit the bike shop.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Been there, done that

Boy, would the owner of this car have been ticked off this morning. I go down this street from time to time, and often see two cars from this company parked outside what I presume is the owners house. This morning, there was a Police car sitting there as well, along with two Plod doing paperwork (the hilarious thing is that the Police could have walked there from the station, which is less than 50 metres up the road).

My guess is that sometime during the night, a car came ripping down the street and smashed into this parked car, pushing it up onto the verge and also into the other company car parked behind it. What a crummy way to start the day.

Since the Police were there, and there was no sign of another car, I assume it was a hit and run, possibly by some drunken tool heading home from the pub around the corner.

A similar thing happened to me about 10 years ago. As I was walking home, I went past the lane way where I parked my car. It looked a bit odd - like the bonnet was open. When I got closer, I found that the entire front end was smashed in and the bonnet was bent at a 30 degree angle. The car was really quite mangled - I have assumed to this day that it was collected by a truck, since there is no way that a car could have had enough run up in that short, narrow lane way to build up enough speed to smash my car up that badly. I have always had a sneaky suspicion that it was a council garbage truck, but was never able to prove it.

The good thing is that if the owner of this car ever catches the culprit, he has a shop full of interesting tools to try out on his extremities.

Hippies in the trees

There must be something about this spot under the trees at Darling Harbour. When I cut through here recently, there was a bloke doing a spot of head banging on a mat facing Mecca. Today, we have a wierd beard with a guitar.

I must remember to nail a beehive to one of these trees.......

P plating poseur

Here in NSW, the land of liberty, there is a long list of cars that people on P plates are not allowed to drive. I looked it up the other day, and it was at least 10 A4 pages long. It seems that anything with 8 cylinders or more grunt than a ride on lawnmower makes the list.

If you ask my humble opinion, it's entirely possible to kill oneself whilst riding in a shopping trolley (I refer to a car similar to the Barina, although you could choose to take the literal meaning). I believe that safety on the road is 90% attitude and 10% the car that you are driving. Put a granny in a Porsche, and you are likely to have a safe, slow moving granny. Put a tool on a ride on lawnmower, and you have potential chopped-up violent death. (I write this with the experience of rolling a ride on lawn mower whilst executing the lawnmowing equivalent of handbrake turns).

So take this car for example, photographed today on the streets of Sydney about 100 metres from the Central Police Station. (The Central Police Station is in fact nowhere near Central Station, which is a railway thing at the other end of town. When Central Train Station was built, it was the centre of town. It is now on the southern fringe. The Central Police Station is roughly in the centre on the north-south axis, but is actually on the western edge of the CBD. Call it the central-western station if you are a pedant.

If I was compiling a list of cars that P-platers should not be driving, I'd make it a one lined list. That one line would say:

"A P-plater shall not drive any car that looks like it will be driven in a dick-headed manner".

For all I know, this cock-mobile may in fact be legal conveyance for a P plater, but in my book, it is a four wheeled coffin for a young man with a tiny little cock.

So here is my annoyance for the day.

To start with, I am ticked off that our ham fisted government of bed-wetting numpies has seen fit to infringe on the liberty of fucktards by limiting the stupidity of the vehicles that they might ponce around in. If you want to cruise around like a wingnut with no balls, I am not going to stop you. However, I might open fire if you decide to parade up and down my street with the techno blaring and the fat pipes rumbling.

Apart from that, it gets up my nose that you can park a moving infringement notice like this less than a hundred yards from a major Police station, and not one Plod noticed that, like duh, this pile of pus might need checking out. A Plod car actually cruised past as I extracting my camera from my pocket. Not a single Plod in the car looked in the direction of this bucket of fly-attracting turds.

So much for Cops being observant.

If you're going to make little four-wheeled wank buckets like this illegal for certain classes of driver, the least you can do is enforce the law. If you can't be bothered doing that, strike the law from the books. Baseball cap wearing gimps should either be strung up by their thumbs for daring to set foot in a tasteless crapulent anal pimple like this, or they should be free to crash it into as many power poles as they like.

I hate poseurs who drive things like this.... but I hate politicians who strike a pose when they make useless laws to ban them.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Too hot, too cold - where are the three bears?

This is a story about not trusting technology too much.

I have recently had terrible trouble deciding what gear to wear for the ride home. Going into work is easy - it's always cold, so I wear the gloves, the boot covers, the leggings and the jacket - and if I owned a beanie that fitted under my helmet, I'd wear that too (in order to stop my ears from falling off).

The ride home is different. On some days, it is a balmy 20 degrees, and wearing all that stuff leads to sauna-like conditions inside my clothing. I frequently have to stop about 1/4 of the way home and strip off a layer, which means carrying my large backpack in order to hold all my discarded clothes. I hate carrying the large backpack - I want to wear just enough clothes to be warm, have no requirement to take any off, so I can ride with my small backpack.

On Thursday, I decided to dispense with the strip partway and left work with my jacket in my back pack. All I had on up top was a lightweight jersey. It seemed a bit chilly when I left the office, but the thermometer on my bike said the air temp was 20 degrees. It didn't feel like 20 degrees, but if that's what the electronic doo-dad said, then that's what it must have been.

By the time I got home, I was frozen. I practically fell off my bike like a bright yellow popsicle. But the thermometer insisted it was still 20 degrees. Just as I was about to thwap it over the fence with a cricket bat, it came to life and decided that it was actually 12 degrees. The separate outdoor temperature guage that I have in the backyard thought that it was 10.

All I know is that I was unable to even blog about how cold I was. I spent the night wrapped up in two jumpers, standing over the heater in an attempt to warm up.

Stupid bloody technology.

Garcon! More Bearnaise!

It's been a long, long time since I have been to a swish restaurant that offers no options for vegetarians. Most places these days make some effort to cater to those that do not partake of flesh, but this place took no prisoners. The menu was meat, meat and more meat. The wine list offered swimming pools of very fine red wines. A small bowl of chips on the side was about as far as the kitchen stretched when it came to vegetables.

And what a fine lunch it was, stretching over 4 hours and three courses. It was so overwhelming, I have not eaten any dinner. I have just sat around the house like Jabba the Hutt trying to digest half a cow.

As good as the steak was, the occasion was far from perfect. The waiters were as clumsy as trainee jugglers. It took them half an hour to take our orders. Wine glasses went empty for long periods. Laps were doused with ice cold water from knocked over bottles. In short, if the food hadn't been as good as it was, I would have recommended setting the place on fire.

My main consisted of an enormous lump of rib on the bone, cooked rare. And it was rare, which is why my stomach is having such a tough time tonight. I used to inflict rare meat on it at least once a week, but now it seems to only have it once a year. My stomach is out of shape in this regard. But enough of that.

That one steak cost nearly $50, so as you can appreciate, it had to be good.

Was it worth $50?

No. Especially not with the Fawlty Towers style service that we experienced. But I was not paying, so to me, it was a free steak. Gotta love that.

The one thing that really gripes me was the Bearnaise. Or the lack of it. Bearnaise was an option - a $6 option on the side. Now I reckon that if you are forking out $50 for a steak, then everything on the side should be free. Vegetables, sauces, naked women - all that sort of thing. One should not have to pay extra for a sauce when the cost of one steak approaches what our family spends on meat in a week.

But $6 is what they charged. When the sauce arrived, I was expecting to be presented with a soup tureen of sauce. If not a tureen, then at least a jug. Well, call me disappointed then, since it turned up in something that was a cross between a thimble and an egg cup. Perhaps an egg cup designed to hold pigeon's eggs. It was not a lot of sauce. I would have complained about it and demanded more, but my attention was distracted by another clumsy waiter flicking ice cubes down one side of my body. By the time I got over the shock and returned to my food, the waiters had buggered off and I was left with a small puddle of Bearnaise.

And I was hungry too, so I just devoured the steak (with a dab of Bearnaise) and thought no more of it.

Until I got home. Boy, would I have felt ripped off if I had been paying for that. From now on, I'm avoiding the high-class steak houses in tourist traps and eating at pubs where the restaurant has an excellent reputation.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Welcome to cranky old fart-hood

I reckon I am halfway towards my retirement persona of becoming a Colonel Blimp. That moment came the other day when I was buying some tools at the hardware store and bought myself one of those grab-handy things on a stick. The sort of thing that you give to convicts who are sent out in chain gangs to pick up rubbish from the side of the road. A very Council worker kind of thing.

I actually paid money for it. I voluntarily handed over cash for a symbol of the cranky.

I originally wanted to get one a few years ago after spending half a day doing Clean Up Australia - spending a few hours bent over picking up rubbish just about killed me. I don't mind picking up rubbish, but I have no desire to end up bent over like one of those old Vietnamese strawberry picking women. But could I find one anywhere? No. I was told to try calling one of the handicapped groups, but never got around to it.

Then I spotted on at the hardware store, and I had to have it. I use it to pick up all the crap that the drunks drop when they stagger down our street from the pub on the weekend. Soft drink cans, beer bottles, chip packets, burger wrappers - that kind of thing. And the drunks leave an awful lot of crap, and some manage to do it every night. Sometimes I think that half the junk in our bin at the end of the week is stuff that I have collected from the gutter outside our abode.

The only problem with the cranky old fart grab-handy thing is that it is made of rather fragile looking plastic. It's nice and light, but it has no heft. I want something with a bit of a heft to it, so that if I ever catch one of these bludging turds tossing a chip packet on our verge, I can scone them with it with extreme prejudice. I figure the best way to remove the litter from out street is to crack the heads of those that drop it, rather than me endlessly picking it up each morning.

Fuck it - I'll trade it for a .303.

Oooo, that's gotta suck

The traffic going into town was really slow this morning - even I was moving faster than the cars on the Anzac Bridge, and it's not every day that an old, fat wheezing bastard gets to zoom past a four lane parking lot.

Soon found the culprit - smack bang at the top of the bridge, in the middle lane.

If I was her, I would not be out of the car - not on that road. I'd be sitting in my seat with the hazards on and the seat belt pulled tight. It just takes one fucking tool to be lane swapping like a monkey on speed and it's bye-bye, baby. Get off the fucking road.

Monday, 19 May 2008

The agony that is Victoria Road

The RTA, in its wisdom, has decided for some time to operate a flow control mechanism at the end of Victoria Road - if you look in the middle of this photo, you can see a line of traffic cones veering off to the left - they are there to ensure that the three lanes on the left all go left, and only traffic in the far right hand lane can go right. At some point in the morning, a truck pulls up here and a bloke jumps out and removes the cones, and the two right hand lanes can go right.

There is only one problem with this system - dickhead drivers. At least once a week, I turn up at this spot and find a line of angry, beeping drivers in the 2nd lane from the right, because a bozo has driven down the lane and wanted to turn right, but has arrived at the front of the queue to find that he has to go left. Bozo then stops, refuses to proceed, and tries to butt into the lane to the right. Traffic banks up for half a mile.

Drivers in that lane get ticked off, and refuse to let him in. Everyone blows their horn - some continuously. (As an aside, I have noticed that the house closest to this point has been up for sale twice in the last 6 months. Might be something to do with the cacaphony of racket at 7am).

I decided to photograph this debacle when I saw it last week, and what should be the vehicle causing the mayhem?

Yes, the logo on the side says "had an accident"? This is a van from a car rental company that rents cars to you when yours is at the panel beater. So I presume this bozo has had a prang doing something stupid, and now finds himself doing something stupid - this time in a rental vehicle. Typical, isn't it?

Sydney at sunset

I completely arsed it with this photo on the way home tonight - I got the sunset at just the right time, along with the right amount of exposure. That big glowing ball up towards the right is the rising moon.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Can we reduce drug consumption by taxing it?

The initial argument that our stupid government made for increasing the tax on ready to drink drinks was that it would reduce binge drinking.

If that holds true, why not tax other substances where a reduction in consumption would be seen as a good thing.

For instance, we could tax the hell out of dope. Um, except that we can't, since it's illegal. But I am trying to be logical here - if a tax increase is such a good thing to do from a health perspective, why not legalise the stuff and then tax it to the rafters? Surely people would consume less of it once it is legal and taxed because, um, it attracts a high tax?

I just saying, some people's logic circuits need a rewire.

Fury over means test on solar

At least that was the line above an article in the SMH today.

The whole article is worth a read, and I am not going to copy the whole damned lot into my blog.

To sumarise - there used to be a subsidy of $8000 for installing solar panels at home. It's now being means tested, so that people earning over $100k per year won't get it.

The Greens have for once said something sensible:

"What family on less than $100,000 will spend $20,000 on solar panels?"

What family earning over $100,000 will spend $20,000 on solar panels, given that they are a dud investment?

We certainly won't be sticking panels up anytime soon. My brother, who has a net worth measured in 7 numbers, did the sums for putting panels on his roof, and even he blanched at the thought.

They really are an indulgence for the absolutely pie-eyed, deep green tree huggers, or the insanely wealthy who wish to "make a statement".

Give me a nuclear power station any day.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

The underclass are not that far away

Maybe I live a sheltered life, but I was rather stunned this week to read this article. Imagine that - gangs of feral kids from a housing commission estate running wild just down the road in Glebe. I had no idea.

We had dinner with a bunch of friends in Glebe last year. Two of those that attended had their car windows smashed in an obvious attempt to steal GPS units and cash. They were two rather unhappy chappies, and that is one reason why I have not been back to Glebe for dinner since. At the time, we thought it was a rare, random and one off kind of thing; but now I read that this sort of stuff happens all the time. The broken glass on the road is testament to the activities of these little bastards.

I can't for the life of me understand why we aren't locking these turds up in some sort of prison school for juveniles. I can just imagine the scene in children's court though - some Legal Aid pinhead gets up in front of a soft headed beak and proclaims that the education of the child will be impacted if they go to jail.

Crap. Young teenage kids that are on the streets at 2.30am or 4am are not going to school that day. Junior is 12, and if he is not in bed by 9.30pm, he is a walking wreck the next morning when it is time to get on the school bus. These little horrors are not going to school, so jailing them is not going to screw up their education.

Even if they are attending school every now and then, I imagine that they are the sort of kids that most teachers would prefer not to have. There is this stupid misconception put around by "education experts" (and teaching unions) that going to school gives you an education.

What a load of unadulterated bollocks. It's entirely possible for a kid to sit in a class all day and not learn a single thing. We know it's easy, because kids are finishing high school barely able to read and completely unable to add up. Going to school does not equal learning anything. You have to go to school and pay attention and make an effort to learn. Just sitting there surrounded by the bricks and mortar of the school will not cause information to somehow leach into the brain of the pupil.

(This by the way is one reason why I can't stand the idea of forcing kids to stay in school after the age of 15. Some of them just aren't meant to be there. That might be thought of as tragic, but it's a fact, so deal with it and move on. I see any move to extend high school attendance as a grab by militant teacher's unions to score more recruits, and little else).

Legal Aid will probably also make an argument that it will have horrible effects on the family life of these poor little dears.

Right. What sort of parent allows a 13 year old to still be out on the streets after midnight? Fuck, after 10pm at night? Get a fucking grip - these kids do not come from normal, functioning, middle class families that obey the usual social norms etc. They come from a background of shit, and tossing them in jail will probably be an improvement over their existing domestic arrangements.

This quote just blows me away:

"If the Government gave us more money then we wouldn't have to rob people," Carson said.

For those that don't know Sydney, Glebe is a suburb that probably has one of the highest densities of cafes and restaurants around. It is a job-mecca for the low skilled. Think of all those cafes that need someone to wait on tables or wash dishes or whatever. You don't need an education or a degree to get a job down there.

You need to be reliable.

You need to be punctual.

You need to be honest.

You need to have a willingness to learn and be amenable to following orders.

In short, getting a job there is a question of character rather than a question of skills or education. You don't even need much in the way of English.

Whenever we see riots in Sydney, some social worker type gets on the tube and explains the riots being caused by a "lack of employment opportunity and public transport".

Yeah, right.

Look at Glebe. You don't need public transport - it's one of those old fashioned suburbs that is densely packed, so you walk around it. Clearly, these Housing Commission creeps have no problems getting to and from Glebe to rod people, so they shouldn't have an issue walking to the same location to work at a job.

Then we have the employment opportunity angle. Like I just said, Glebe is awash with job opportunities in countless cafes and small shops. The only reason for being unemployed in that area is a simple desire to be unemployed. All the usual excuses breakdown. Who cares whether you left school at 14 unable to read - you don't need much in the way of Shakespearean knowledge to wash dishes or stack shelves in the supermarket.

Why do we continue to tolerate these little fuckers running amock? Clearly, we have all gone soft in the head.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Custer's last stand

An angle I had never thought of:

In 1876, General George Armstrong Custer was defeated at the Baffle of the Little Big Hom not only by a superior force, but by a force with superior weaponry. Both sides, armed with commercially available weapons, discovered fast what happened when one side was equipped with outdated technology. The US Cavalry was armed with single shot Springfield rifles while their enemy was armed with Winchester repeating rifles. Both the US Army and the weapons used by the Lakota-Northern Cheyenne were commercially produced within a year of each other.

That surprised me, given that I thought parts of the Union army had been issued with repeating rifles a decade earlier during the Civil War. Although I might be wrong.

Snippets like this are always useful when the government starts talking about cutting Defence procurement.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Food for thought

Every now and then, some puffed up windbag of a state politician stands up and declares war on graffiti, especially when the battles are being fought out on our train systems.

I've got to say that in comparison to the 1980's, when I first laid eyes on a Sydney train, the battle against graffiti is going a lot better these days than it was back then. Sure, the shitheads still spray crap here and there from time to time, but to my jaundiced eyes, there seems to be less of it.

Others may disagree; but that is my observation.

There's still too fucking much of it. I'd break their thumbs on the first offence - pretty hard to hold a spray can with a broken thumb I reckon. Second offence - break them again. I doubt many would need to be taught that lesson a third time.

So here is my food for thought for the day. Given how much effort is supposedly being put into combating graffiti on our rail systems, try this. Go to the website of each public transport operator around Australia and use their search field to search for "graffiti". You can also try typing in "vandalism" if you like.

The RailCorp website responds with 2 hits, both relating to position descriptions for cleaners. There is nothing about reporting graffiti, or where to get a hammer to break the thumbs of an offender if you happen to catch one.

QR wins with 9 hits, one of which is a link to a phone number that you can call to report graffiti.

Perth returns zero hits. None. Nada.

I couldn't even find a website for Adelaide or the mob in Melbourne.

Woops, I lied about that. After some searching, I managed to find the website for the Melbourne mob, and they returned 10 hits, along with some interesting info on their graffiti policies. (As an aside, the mob in Melbourne are privately run, and their web site shits all over the web sites of state owned operations).

So, how committed are our Labor governments to stamping out graffiti?

Not very, if this is any guide. Unless you happen to be the free entrerprise operation in Melbourne.

Police arrest hundreds

Big news today - the Police have arrested a bunch of people and laid stacks of charges.

Well done.

Just one problem.

I notice that out of the 460 arrested, 200 were for outstanding warrants.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't that mean that the person has been arrested previously, charged, bunged up before a Magistrate and then presumably released?

What the flipping heck are our Magistrates doing letting all these idiots out again? Poor old Plod are doing their best to finger the collars of crooks, and then out the revolving door they go.

No wonder police are leaving the force in droves. If I was a plod, job satisfaction would involve catching someone and then watching them get put away. Catching is not enough - they need to be banged up for a reasonable amount of time.

Bloody compassion junkies are buggering out society from top to bottom.


Maybe I am not making myself clear, Mr "Too hectic".


Shock and appall

Here is a story from the SMH:

Driver straps in beer, not toddler

A Northern Territory driver has been fined by police after he strapped a seatbelt around a carton of beer but left a five-year-old child to sit on the floor of his car.

The man was pulled over on the Ross Highway, south of Alice Springs, about 3.30pm on Friday, when officers on patrol noticed the vehicle was unregistered and uninsured.

But what they found inside the car shocked them.

Four adults occupied the car with two in the front and two in the rear seats.

The carton of beer was buckled safely in the rear centre seat between two of the adults, while the five-year-old boy crouched on the floor.

"The concern is about people's priorities," a Northern Territory police spokesperson said.

"You get a lot of people riding around without seat belts in remote communities here but it is very unusual to see someone go to the trouble of strapping in a carton of beer instead of a small child. That is the shocking thing."

Here is the description of the incident from the NT Police website:

One seatbelt incident was very concerning, an unregistered Holden commodore was apprehended on the Ross Highway, Alice Springs and a 5 year old child was found in the back seat unrestrained, however there was a 30 pack of beer secured in the seatbelt that should have been restraining the child.

Superintendent Parnell of Alice Springs police was appalled by this incident and said, “This serves as a timely reminder to all drivers to ensure they wear seatbelts and ensure as is their responsibility that all passengers in their vehicle are secured in the appropriate manner”

Somehow, I doubt the NT coppers were shocked by this. Appalled yes, shocked no. This sort of shit is just all too common up there, and compared to kiddie rape, murder, bashings and so on, strapping in beer rather than a kid is quite inconsequential.

My thoughts on this whole case:

  • The driver was fined $750. He was driving an uninsured, unregistered vehicle. Chances of fine being paid? My opinion - nil.
  • This happened in a "remote community". My interpretation - everyone in the car was black. But we can't say that. Big no no.
  • What is the point of a Sydney paper running a story like this from the NT? Is this of any interest to Sydney-siders? How should reading this story benefit me, unless the SMH is sending secret coded messages to us that some of the blacks up there are fucking hopeless.
  • Since when have 30 cans of beer been enough for 4 adults on a road trip? I thought you'd need at least 12 cans per person (that's my experience anyway). The lack of beer would be certain to cause a fight about 60% of the way through the trip.

Green car

Here's an example of an environmentally friendly car. Note the tree branch that someone has tossed into the back seat.

As for Co2 output, consider the fact that this is a small hatchback that was probably quite economical to run in the days before it was burned to a crisp. But how much CO2 was put into the atmosphere when some vandals decided to torch it?

Also consider that the "young" are supposed to be more environmentally aware than us old farts, but old farts do not generally run around setting cars on fire for the heck of it. Did the youngsters who set fire to this car sit down and consider the environmental impact before doing so? (Did they fill out a 10 page risk assesment either?)

I doubt it. Whenever someone claims that young people are greener than us oldies, I want to retch. Youngsters are unthinking, narcistic little buggers with no impulse control, and they do much worse things to the planet than those of us that have started to slow down and wheeze.

Monday, 12 May 2008

How much more of this are we going to see?

For the last few years, the docks have been doing a roaring trade in unloading cars from car carriers like this one. As I've toodled across the bridge, I've spotted ships from all over the place, unloading cars and vans and trucks and cranes and all manner of transport related things with 4 wheels or more.

Car sales have been running at record numbers in Australia for some time, but I wonder whether the party is about to come to a screeching halt. After housing, cars are the next largest purchase that most people will make, and most are paid for on the never-never. If higher interest rates are biting into the housing market, I'm sure they will absolutely savage the new car market.

I hope all the wog-motor peddling dealers on Parramatta Rd are broke by Christmas.

Hitting rock bottom

At dinner the other night, a complaint was made that I take and publish too many photos of bottoms. Ian, these bums are for you, mate. Enjoy.

I think this guy is taking the safety angle just a bit too seriously. Each to their own I guess. I bet he wears sandals at home.

This silly bint pulled right in front of me on Pitt St and tried several times to jump the red light. On each attempt, she had to stop as a car came from the left and turned right across in front of her. But on each red light jumping attempt, she inched further into the intersection - so far that the last car came within a whisker of cleaning her up. As the last car went by, I saw a look of indignation on her stupid mug - hey dumbo! - if you're going to try and run the red and end up way beyond the white line, there's a good chance a car driver minding his own business might run you down.


I raced this guy up Pitt St. He looked like he needed the exercise in order to warm up. It was about 12 degrees at the time, and I was happily sweating into my leggings and spray jacket, whilst he seemed to be shivering.

Bastard beat me too. But I did clock 32 km/h going up the hill, which is a new top speed on this section for me.

How much does it cost to complain to Australia Post?

Fifty cents is the answer.

I had reason to have a dig at Australia Post recently, and since I have discovered that writing a letter is about 97,000% more effective than email, I penned a letter to Australia Post.

Given that Australia Post was delivering that letter to itself, you'd think they might have setup a free post address, thus allowing the likes to me to whinge for nought.

Nope, they're having none of that. If you want to complain about say slipshod service, you have to pay for the privilege, and use that slipshod service to boot to get your complaint to the complaints people!

Let's say one were to complain about mail not being delivered, and one did it by mail. What guarantee would one have that the letter complaining about mail getting lost would not also be lost?

One could have a cranial implosion just thinking about the possibilities here.

I was not complaining about late delivery or anything like that by the way - I was just using that as an example. But I wonder if they will write back.... and if I'll ever get the letter.

It's like an experiment where you stick a letter in a bottle and throw it into the ocean. Will the tide bring anything in return?

Stay tuned.

Has Burma got any oil?

I have to ask this question as I opened the paper today to find about half of it was devoted to justifications for telling the Junta to go to hell and just invading in order to get food to those that need feeding.

But I'm sure I have read recently that Burma is sitting on a poultice of gas and oil, and that slave labour has been used to clear pathways through the jungle for pipelines and suchlike.

So, if we invade, will the Leftards go nuts again over "No blood for oil?"

Or are we just going to conveniently ignore the fact that they are sitting on a petrochemical lake and hope that no one notices in our rush to be humanitarian and all that?

The justification for invading is that the regime is nasty and brutish and is allowing people to die because it is sitting around doing nothing.

Funny that. Saddam was nasty and brutish and he didn't just sit around - he actively went out and shot, gassed, tortured and generally did to death hundreds of thousands of people.

So we are allowed to invade oil sodden killers who kill passively, but aren't allowed to invade oil sodden killers who are much more active murderers?

Does anyone else think that lefties and general compassion junkies are long on rhetoric and short on logic?

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Two breakfasts

We used to have a laugh in the office about a big fat bloke that did some work with us for a few weeks. He sat in the corner, wheezing and coughing and going out for something to eat every half hour. What really cracked us up was his announcement one day that he usually had breakfast twice a day, because "one was not enough".

The arms on his office chair were consequently bent out at 45 degrees. His monitor was covered in a light spray of mucus and spittle because his huge fat tits pressed down on his lungs so badly, he couldn't breathe properly, so he'd wheeze and cough every 30 seconds or so and spatter spittle everywhere in the process.

In short, a joy to work with.

Don't get me started on his farting.

Luckily for us, he was not with us for long. Not in that he is dead or anything - he just did his bit of work and shot through. Or waddled through. I never wanted to have him get in the lift with me because I figured I'd lose it laughing if I was the only person in there, and the over weight limit alarm went off when he got in.

Anyway, I followed his example recently. The story starts over a week ago, when my breakfast order was screwed up in my favourite eating establishment. Instead of getting eggs and mushrooms, I got mushrooms and avocado. I thought about sending it back, but then decided to give it a go. It was quite delicious, so a few days later, I decided to go all out and order eggs, mushrooms and avocado.

That was a mistake. Putting that order in completely freaked the cafe computer. The waitress was so amused at the way the computer dealt with it, she brought the little printed out ticket back to my table so that I too could get a laugh out of it. It was nuts. However, at least she had specified that it was a meal for one on one plate. She had to do that as the computer thought it was two breakfasts for two people. But she had managed to over ride it and make it come out as one breakfast on one plate.

Or so we thought.

She turned up a few minutes later with a very apologetic look on her face, and a plate in each hand. Two plates. Two breakfasts on two plates. One plate had toast, eggs and mushrooms; the other had toast, mushrooms and avocado. She asked me what I wanted to do. I told her to put down both plates, then I picked up one and slid most of the contents onto the other. Not all the contents, as I didn't want to eat two breakfasts. 1.5 would be enough. Even 1.73 breakfasts. But I was not going to eat 2.0 breakfasts, even if that meant taking the parsley garnish off both plates so that I limited myself to 1.98 breakfasts. Definitely no two breakfasts for me.

How was it?

Fracking delicious. A really good combination of stuff, and not too filling in the end either.

The bill though was a shocker. The computer had decided to charge me for 3.4 breakfasts. Since I eat there a lot, and have a good relationship with the boss, he took one look at my bill, freaked and gave it to me on the house. He couldn't believe what an arse-up the computer had made of my order.

How good is that? 1.74 delicious breakfasts for free.

And no fat bastard in sight.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Suffer the little children

Had dinner in Leichhardt tonight, which is even more woggy that the wogtown that we live in.

Check out the mullet on this kid. He must be about 2, and already his parents are inflicting an awful social stigma on him.

Some people really shouldn't be allowed to breed.

Suffer the little doggies

Another tale of woe from the road, but in this case, it was not car vs bike. It was car vs pedestrian walking two dogs. I just happened to be right there on my bike when the action occured.

It was the day after the big car vs 50 bike prang down near the airport. Just to show that it is incredibly hard to change someones behaviour, not 24 hours after that prang, I was riding towards a pedestrian crossing when I heard a car fanging up behind me. I was not too bothered, as the lanes are wide and I was in a separate bike lane. But there was a woman walking across the pedestrian crossing, and she was walking two dogs on leads.

The driver clearly saw her, but gave no indication that he was going to stop. As one of the dogs was lagging, it looked to me like he was going to blast across the crossing and take out the rearward dog.

The lady just stopped in the middle of the crossing and turned to face the car. The driver slammed on the brakes and screeched to a halt. She gave him the glare of death, yelled something about stopping at pedestrian crossings at him, and then threw back her shoulders and marched the remainder of the way across the road.

I really should have applauded her. The driver was not a happy chappy by any means, and to show his displeasure, he floored it and flew up the road - which was a 50 zone. I was looking forward to him losing it on the roundabout at the end of the road, but curse him, he was driving a Subaru.

The only upside from this story is that whilst us poor bike riders often feel that we bear the brunt of aggressive, idiotic driving, this episode reminded me that pedestrians often cop it even worse. Which is bizarre, given that at some point, everyone has to get out of their car and walk somewhere. By definition, all drivers are pedestrians at some point (even those in wheelchairs, for those of you that want to be smart about it).

Fuckwit was clearly in a hurry, and thought his time was more valuable than that of anyone else. I've heard of some cyclists carrying pliers that they use to snip the valves off car tyres in instances like this. If I can't carry a handgun, I guess pliers are the next best thing.

A good blog for the economically minded

UK House Bubble - a good read.

Law non-enforcement

After the controversy over the collision between 50 bikes and a car this week, I would have thought that some attention would be paid to applying the road rules to cyclists.

Um, nope. This is Sydney. No one, particularly the Plod, gives a toss.

Check out this critter above. He might have a helmet on his head, but the strap is completely undone. I've always wanted to watch on of these tossers go headfirst over the handlebars to see the surprised look on their face when their unprotected scone impacts with the concrete.

Apart from the helmet thing, he's riding on the footpath. Well, not in this photo - but he came down the footpath behind me, and then rode on down the footpath in front of me.

In the process, he almost ran down 3 cops walking up the hill on the path. Did they stop him and tell him to do up his helmet strap and get off the footpath (because he is about double the legal footpath riding age of 12)?

No. The kept on chatting to each other and completely ignored their surroundings.

Not much further down the hill, he nearly ran into another four Plod walking up the same path. They ignored him as well.

If you ever hear any politician in NSW uttering the words "zero tolerance", do us all a favour and laugh very loudly right to their face.

Why can he have a pistol and I can't?

It turns out that the Casino gunman, who had three handguns on him, had a long offence record stretching back to 1992, and his lawyers are claiming that he has "significant mental health issues".

I have no criminal record, and as far as I am concerned, I am not nuts. You may beg to differ, but I feel as sane as the sago plum pudding that I was talking to yesterday. The pudding thought so too, telling me that I have a very stable personality and that I was less homicidal than a whale hugging vegan crystal healer. That was right before I stuck a knife into the guts of the pudding and ripped out its beating heart and covered it in brandy custard and ate it in one quick bite. Har har har har har.

Oops, back to reality. I don't know why I am channeling Lecter at the moment. He normally only comes out at the full moon.

So how does this mental clown get his hands on three handguns? Hmm? Haven't heard a peep from anyone in the media about that. An omerta-like silence has descended over this topic. I have only seen a single, solitary comment on any of the stories, and it said "Well, gun control is really working, isn't it?", and no one was quick enough to pick up on that.

I could understand him getting his hands on one illegal handgun, but three? That requires a bit of effort.

And if he did get them legally, well, someone deserves a right kick up the bum. Imagine allowing someone convicted of stalking and a string of other offences to still hold handguns.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Detail of a loonie bin

I ride past the old Callan Park loonie bin most days. It's easier than slogging up the hill that is Lilyfield Road, and I'd rather take my chances with an escaped insane axe murderer than some of the drivers that howl up and down Lilyfield Road like demented demonic dementors.

The loonie bin is in a sad state. Most of the loonies got kicked out some years back, and the state government has been trying to turn the whole place into lavish high rise apartments ever since. Who would you prefer as your neighbour? A bond trader with a nice Mercedes and a blonde trophy wife, or a bunch of smack-snorting "artistes" attending "writers workshops" and a crowd of listless and homeless loonies trying to get back into the only home they've ever known?

Funnily enough, the inhabitants of Leichhardt would prefer to live next to people that think it is normal to poo in their pants. The lavish apartments are as popular with the locals as turd-panted nutbags at a dinner party. The result is that the place is rapidly falling apart. I took this photo because I was interested in this particular architectual feature - the window thingy on the roof. But after getting home and looking at it more closely, I can see that bits of wood are starting to come away from the window sills, and the whole thing needs a good coat of paint.

The locals are doing their best to delay the inevitable, but the way things are going, in a few years time this place will look like Rome after the Vandals and the Visigoths dropped in for a drink. None of them will lift a finger to keep the place in any form of repair - the local nimbys restrict themselves to putting a compassionate protest sign in the front yard and perhaps a group photo op for the local rag. The thought of them actually doing some work themselves to preserve that which they are trying to keep is as alien to them as shaving their legs.

They do have a simple answer as to who should be doing the work - the Government of course!


Sydney sunset

This is an unusual photo for me. It shows something that was behind my direction of travel.

I've posted photos before of what the city looks like in the morning at sunrise, but that's because I have been riding towards it. I have never taken a photo of the city at sunset, because I'm riding away from it.

You have no idea how much willpower it took to stop, turn around and take a photo. One must always be forging ahead at full throttle, not looking back.

Still, I'm glad I took it. It looks quite unreal - too much pastel colour to seem like a proper photo of the CBD.

If there's any blurring, I blame the pedestrian/bike bridge that I was standing on when I took this photo. A rather slight woman was jogging up the bridge towards me, and I swear the thing was bouncing up and down by several inches. I thought I was on a trampoline instead of a concrete overbridge. It's odd how even the most solid looking of structures can react to a bit of up and down motion.

What it's all about

I have been terribly slack about writing this story. It happened nearly five months ago - Christmas Eve 2007. It's a story of boy gets bike, boy rides bike, bike meets car, boy lands in hospital.

I have finally pulled my finger out and decided to write because one of my favourite bloggers, Tom Reynolds, is thinking of giving up his big yellow bus for a desk. This one's for you, Tom.

We have three choices at Christmas - we can stay at home with just us, we can visit my parents on the other side of the island (a flight of up to 5 hours and an expenditure sometimes approaching $2,000 just in airfares) or visit the in-laws (a drive of a minimum of 7 hours, and up to 12 if the kids are not having a good time).

Last year, we did the in-laws. They live in a country town of about 4000 out west of Wagga Wagga. If your knowledge of Australian geography is limited to knowing where Bondi is, consider this. You leave Bondi Beach, get on the highway heading south and drive for six hours. That will get you to Wagga. You then turn right and drive for another hour or so, which gets you to our country town.

J's parents are not farming folk - they are townies, and always have been. J's brother and sister lived in the area at the time (her brother is now up in PNG teaching the fuzzy wuzzies how to bang on logs), meaning that our kids have a small tribe of country cousins. I am pleased to report that none of them own banjoes, but they do own a couple of kids motorbikes and plenty of skateboards and a dog.

One of the cousins has his birthday just before Christmas, and his present last year was a shiny new push bike. He was so proud of it, he brought it round to J's parents to show us what a grand bike it was. This meant of course that all the kids had to have a go at riding it down the driveway.

A word about the driveway. Eddie the Eagle could have used it for his training runs. I'm surprised that 4WD marketers have not knocked on their door asking to use it to film an advertisement for a Jeep or a Pajero. It's that kind of driveway. In other words, a complete hoot to shoot down on a bike.

Now before you start to tut-tut about the dangers of letting kids getting in touch with their inner Evel Knievel, consider this. The house is at the end of a cul-de-sac, and only two cars go past the driveway per day. Those movements are the only neighbour going to work, and the same neighbour coming home from work. So you can expect that for 23 hours, 59 minutes and 50 seconds of the day, roaring out of the driveway with your pants on fire will not be a problem.

Which is probably why I was so bad at calculating probabilities at school.

I have no idea what transpired on the day. I had driven the entire distance the day before, so when the Monkey had to be put down for his afternoon nap, I went with him. I was out like a light when boy met car.

The first I knew of it was when J's mum bashed on my bedroom window and yelled at me to get outside. I came stumbling out barefoot to find an ambulance, a police car and the entire neighbourhood clustered around a mangled bike and a slightly less mangled junior. Yep, he had managed to time his descent of the driveway with the neighbour coming home from work. I could go into the mechanics of the sightlines up the street and the efficiency of the brakes on the bike and Junior's bike handling skills, but I won't. All we know is that either he went into the front passenger wing of the car and thus across the bonnet, or the car collected him and he went over the bonnet and into the windscreen. Whichever way you look at it, it was not a great manouvere.

When I first laid eyes on him, one of the ambo's were applying a towel to the back of his neck, which was bleeding nicely from a six inch split from just below the base of his skull to down between his shoulder blades. The other was looking at his leg, which was looking a bit floppier than it should have. He was pretty much hysterical from the shock and the pain, and the poor old neighbour was absolutely distraught. I had to give the police a few details, and I doubt I was too coherent as I had been utterly conked out 1 minute before and had come outside to find a horror scene erupting in front of the driveway. I hadn't heard the crash, hadn't heard the sirens of the emergency vehicles, hadn't heard Junior screaming. I thought I had emerged into a bad dream, and Junior thought he was stuck in one. He was yelling, "wake up, wake up", thinking that he was trapped in a nightmare and waking up was the way out.

All up, it was one of the more thoroughly disturbing and distressing scenes that I've witnessed, and I've practiced treating dummy gunshot and shrapnel wounds and burns and evacuating casualties and that sort of thing - but nothing prepares you for the real thing. It was nasty and horrible and I felt completely helpless - a useless spectator to someone else's pain and shock.

It didn't take long for the ambo's to load Junior up on a trolley and whip him off to the local hospital, which was less than 1km away. It had taken them about 1 minute to get there from being called out - sleepy country town and no traffic and all that. The police were about the same distance away. Even if I had heard the crash, they probably would have beaten me to the scene.

At the hospital, they quickly worked out that he was too seriously beaten up for local treatment, so I rapidly packed a bag for J, and she jumped in the ambulance for a quick burn into Wagga. It normally takes me 70 minutes to get to Wagga, and that includes a bit of nudging the speed limit from time to time. They did it in less than 40. J was understandably a complete mess - she was in the back with her firstborn, and he was not in the best of shape.

The crew though did their best to be very relaxed and calm and helped her to keep a lid on it. The last thing either of us needed to do was lose it in front of Junior. We had to be strong and confident for his sake, and the ambulance crew and the hospital staff were amazingly supportive and helpful. Stiff upper lip and all that. Will you keep your head whilst all about you are losing theirs?

I did a bit more paperwork with the Police, woke the Monkey up and headed into Wagga. Once there, we found that he had a small fracture of the skull, numerous nasty gashes here and there, and had broken his lower leg in a few places. The head would heal on its own. The gashes were closed with some stitches, but the leg would require a plate and 8 screws. Given that this was Christmas Eve, the hospital still managed to quickly swing into action and organise an operating theatre and orthopedic surgeon and all the rest of it and he had a plate inserted before the day was out.

I can tell you that it was a Christmas that I'll never forget. J stayed in Wagga with Junior, whilst I commuted back and forth with the Monkey every day to check on progress - clocking up 1000 miles in the course of a week. J camped on a pull-out sofa in the children's ward, which wasn't the most comfortable of beds, but she thought that was better than staying in a hotel up the road. The first few days were really hard on Junior - because of swelling, the surgeon couldn't close his leg up. He had an 8 inch long incision in his calf which was completely open (and just nasty), and Junior didn't take well to seeing his leg laid open like a side of beef. As the swelling slowly subsided, he'd go back into surgery for it to be closed up a bit more until after several ops over a couple of days, it was completely closed.

Here's the classic thing. The day before, another kid had driven his go kart under a car and had to be air lifted out by chopper to Wagga emergency. When Junior checked into the kids ward on Christmas Eve, there was one other kid there (I think go kart kid ended up being shipped all the way to Sydney). By 9pm on Christmas Day, the ward was full of kids - too many skateboards and bikes I guess. The plasterers were kept busy that day.

As for the outcome, the bike was a write off (and I had to buy the replacement). The funny thing was that the car was also a write off - Junior hit a certain spot in such a way to make it uneconomic to repair. When I got collected by a car last year, it was car 1, bike 0. Junior at least managed to score a draw. I was hoping that the bike shop could repair the bike, making it car 0, bike 1 - but the bike shop owner failed to see my point, hence the new bike.

Oh, and somehow his iPod ended up in the backseat of the car. None of us having any idea of how it made it in there. Took a couple of days to find it.

So, Tom. I'm the sort that views an ambulance as a last resort. Junior rated one since he did indeed have a bone poking out of his leg, and there was quite a lot of blood. When I got cleaned up by a car nearly two years ago, I dusted myself down, checked for blood and broken bones and found none. So I slung my broken bike across my shoulders and carried it home. No ambulance for me. (Of course it started to hurt like the devil 3 days later, and I was off work for nearly 3 months, but that's another story). I could walk - buggered if I was going to waste an ambo's time with my scratches and bruises.

In the end, whether you stick with something depends on how satisfied you are with the results. I used to manage a front line service operation of 40 people (nothing to do with health care by the way). I always found myself slipping back into working on the front line with my people as it was infinitely more satisfying than sitting in my office contemplating either the view, the next management meeting or a stack of reports that needed writing. Every job involves a certain amount of crap, but it's only worth chucking it in if it no longer delivers the occasional gems of satisfaction. The warm feeling in the cockles of the heart. I hope this little story is a reminder that there is (unfortunately!) plenty of worthwhile work waiting to be done, and I can't express how much appreciation I feel for all of those that did their bit to help Junior out during a very dark week for our family.

The yellow crusade

The what?

Yeah, I had no idea what the Yellow Crusade was until I got home and googled it. The first I knew of it was when I was heading over the Anzac Bridge and saw a small yellow blob way ahead of me. It was an unusual looking blob, given that it was walking rather than riding, and was yellow from head to foot.

As I got closer, I started to think that the Teletubbies had escaped.

It transpired that there were lots of people in yellow suits walking over the bridge. I had no idea what they were doing, as none of the suits had a clear logo or statement on them that I could read at 20km/h.

The only way I found out it was the Yellow Crusade was by zooming in on the woman on the left and trying to read what was on the front of her suit. It only took me a minute to figure it out. Talk about crap branding.

And still they kept going, like yellow lemmings.

Egads, another group. Will they never end?

I finally made it to the front of the yellow stream (that's not a good description, is it?)

Lonesome yellow lemming.

At least they had the sense to engage a photographer to record the event. Dunno if it got any press coverage of note today. I can't be shagged doing a search. Knackered is what I am.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Road rage

There must have been something in the air today. A pack of riders got flattened early in the morning, making all the major papers. I felt sick reading about it, but the comments at the Daily Telegraph were just the pits. I can't even be bothered to link to them - it was a case of meatheads on display both on the road and in the comments section.

Reading the comments was a timely reminder though. Whilst most drivers are quite sane, there is a small minority who are just off the planet fuck knuckles. Motorbike riders will tell you the same thing. I'm sure even bus drivers will have lots to say about utter morons in cars who can introduce moments of utter misery into the daily drive.

One needs a jolt every now and then, a reminder that alertness and situational awareness are the only things that keep me out of the back of the ambulance.

I got a rude jolt of that this morning. I was at an intersection where I had to go straight ahead to get off the road and onto a bike path. I do that every morning, and I always sit well out in the lane to let the cars behind me know that I am going ahead through a slot cut in the road barrier, rather than turning left as they do. I've done that about 300 times now, and until today, 299 of those crossings have been done cleanly due to the patience and consideration and awareness of the drivers behind me.

But there's always a dickhead out there somewhere. This boke came fanging up behind me (in a 50 zone), went over the double white line and then tried to turn left in front of me from the wrong side of the road. Plus that involved going through a Stop sign without even slowing down.

He figured out at the last moment that he couldn't do that, since I was in the way. Thankfully, he stopped, but he then got on the horn and started yelling and carrying on.

Things like this don't happen very often, so I'm usually in a bit of a state of shock for 15 seconds or so, and that was enough for me to give him the finger, tell him to fucking wake up, and continue on my way.

Then the rage took over, and I decided to chase him. That lasted about half a kilometre - I worked out that there were no red lights or possible traffic jams on that stretch of road that would hold him up, and give me a chance to catch him.

Which is a good thing, because I would have opened his door, given him a straight-armed palm jab to the face, then grabbed his car keys and thrown them into the Bay. I was fucking livid. Just thinking about it now, and writing about it, is enough to wind me up again.

The upside of chasing him is that it burnt off all my anger and rage, so by the time I gave up the pursuit and turned around, I was cool as a cucumber. Cycling sure is a good form of stress relief. Sure, it causes some awful stress from time to time, but what's worse? The constant drip-drip-drip from the stress of driving to work every day, or the occasional heart flutter from a near miss with an I'm-in-such-a-hurry wanker?

It's a good thing that I'm armed with nothing more serious than a short arsed bike pump and a spare pair of socks.

Drunken fools

Victoria Road is a really, really busy road. It's a road that I'll never ride down, not even at 6am on Sunday, because it is always crowded with fast moving aggro drivers. Except at peak hour, when it is wall to wall stalled aggro drivers. It's s stretch of menace.

Well, bugger me if I didn't see two drunken fools trying to cross it on foot this afternoon. I'm not going to say that they "braved" the traffic. Instead, I'll say that they "stupided" the traffic.

How did I know they were drunk?

Each was holding a schooner of beer. No idea where they got that from - there are no pubs in the direction that they came from. But they looked like they had scoffed a dozen or so schooners each during lunch (I only did a half day today - this photo was taken before 3pm).

The utterly crazy thing is that they crossed the road directly under a pedestrian overbridge. The lazy sacks of shit could have safely and drunkenly weaved their way over the footbridge, but Mr Bravado (the bloke already on the far side of the road) decided that he could cross six lanes of hassling traffic without getting run over.

Unfortunately, he was correct. I was told once that something like 90% of the pedestrians that get run over are drunker than the drivers that hit them. These guys seemed to be about to prove that rule.

All that they got though was a near miss. Mr Drunken Bravado tried to have a go at the car that nearly collected him, screaming "I'll have you, you fucking wog" at the departing vehicle.


If they'd been hit, I would have walked over and asked, "Does it hurt?"

If the answer was yes, my reply would be "Good", before walking off and leaving them there.

Casino shooting

If there's one thing a bike gives you, it's a great view of what's going on in the world.

I was on my way home this afternoon when I ran into a snag - a few streets blocked off by the police down towards the Casino. It turned out that there had been a shooting at the casino, and the police were hunting the gunman.

The police were really out in force, since the PM was also in the area, and it wouldn't look to good if he copped a round. I of course had no idea what was going on - all I saw was lots and lots of police cars going to and fro, and several taped off streets.

I was half tempted to cut through the back streets to have a closer look at what was going on, but thought better of it. If the police want you to stay out, it's generally not a bad idea to sod of somewhere else. It wasn't until I got home and had a look at the papers that I found out what had gone down.

As I've said before, one should ride with a bit of firepower. And not just to deal with dickheads in cars.

Confusion to the RTA

Actually, the toast used to be "and confusion to the French", but confusion to the RTA will have to suffice for the moment.

I had to submit a bit of paperwork to the RTA recently. I found the appropriate bit of paper on the RTA website, printed it out, filled it out (when will these knuckleheads discover that you can create forms with Adobe Acrobat and allow people to type in all the required info on screen, then print a nicely typed up copy for signing) and did what it said at the bottom. I took it to an RTA registry to submit it.

Boy, was that a mistake. I would have preferred to fill out an on line form and pay by credit card....... but you can't do that. An alternative would have been to write a cheque and post it in..... but I last had a cheque book back in 1999. (As an aside - you know how kids talk about "dialing" a phone these days without ever having seen a rotary dial telephone; do you think they understand the sayings "the cheque is in the mail" or "he's cashed his last cheque" when they've never, ever seen an actual cheque?)

The long and the short is that I had to front up to a registry and queue up with tattooed bogans in singlets with mullets (and a mate, who had been brought along to read the forms and show them where to scrawl an 'X'), insane Asian taxi drivers and grannies with coke bottle glasses. For once, I did not have to wait long. The middle classes, who have better things to do than hang around in smelly registries with the lower orders, have worked out that you can transact most RTA business via their web site, so the registries now have more dregs in them than your average Redfern needle exchanging soup kitchen.

And then there was me. With my form.

I take it that they never, ever get to see the particular form that I was waving around, since the dullard behind the counter stared at it goggle-eyed for a minute, and then refused to accept it. Even though it was stamped with the RTA logo, and had an instruction at the bottom that read "Submit at any RTA registry". I had to look around to check that I was actually in a registry; although the smell should have given it away. If you are struck by the overpowering smell of pigshit, it probably means you are in a piggery. If you can smell stale beer and 100 years of cigarette smoke in the carpet, you are in a pub. If you can smell fear, you are in a NSW public hospital. If you can smell stinky, unwashed bodies, then you are on NSW public transport. If you can smell day old stirfry, stale amphetamine sweat and urine, you are doing busienss with the RTA. And don't get me started on the customers.

I managed to convince the human amoeba behind the counter that since it was an RTA form, and it said to submit it at "any RTA registry", and we were standing in a registry, and she worked there, then it was her job to accept it.

I was worried for a moment that she was going to say, "But it says you need to go to 'any' RTA registry. This is the (suburb deleted) registry, not the any registry". It was that kind of day, and she was that kind of snarky little witch faced bureaucrat. Reminded me of Julia Gillard in a way, only not so stupid.

After much faffing around, including discussions with the registry manager and several other staff that happened to be wandering around aimlessly, she managed to work out how to process the form. Processing it involved taking some money from me, then sticking the form on the fax machine.

That was half an hour of my life that I'd like back, thanks very much. We are certainly at full employment, because they are scraping the gutters of the employment pool in order to staff the RTA registries. Fucking meat puppets.