Sunday 30 March 2008

How much do you like electricity?

I have spent a small period of my life without electricity - essentially the collective 3 months or so that I spent on exercises when I was in the Army Reserve. The only power that we had out in the field was that used for our cumbersome and heavy radios, and the odd small torch that one might carry for reading a map at night.

That was it. We had access to less power than an African farmer with a solar panel.

The result was that life was hard. And uncomfortable. And fairly bloody boring. No TV, no radio, no computer, no ability to read a book after dark. No fridge to deliver cold cans of Coke when the days got too hot. No drier to dry the uniform when one got wet. No hot water to shave with. No electric stove to heat up drinks or food.

Life without power isn't really living.

I have included the above photo because pictures of this type often seem to encapsulate how people think about the third world - chaotic, messy and probably dirty. But what it says to me is how desperate people are for power - clean, non-smoking, easily delivered power that has many, many benefits. People are so keen to have electricity that they will take insane risks to have their homes and businesses connected, and they are prepared to pay gangsters to get it. For them, electricity means so much - I could rave on all day about all the good things that it brings, but I won't.

The way I look at it is this - I won't even stick an AA battery on my tongue. Imagine what it takes to climb a power pole and tap into the mains supply. People will risk so much, because it gives so much.

If you think I am talking out of my bottom, try this.

Bathe using only a bucket of cold water for a week (it takes power to pump electricity to your shower, so having a cold shower is cheating).

Use only a gas BBQ for all cooking, including boiling water for a cup of coffee etc (and no eating take away either).

Turn off the fridge for a week. It's amazing how quickly butter, cheese and milk go off without being chilled.

Best of all, try washing all your clothes by hand. In a bucket. And no getting the water from a tap on your property (that is delivered via an electrically driven pump after all). Walk to your neighbours place, fill a bucket there and walk it home. Don't try balancing it on your head - you'll only get wet.

I am not even going to start on things like TV's, computers, phones, hair driers, MP3 players, light and so on (although you could try unscrewing every light globe in the house for a week). Just try going without the simple but major things that involve cooking, washing and cleaning.

If you last more than 48 hours, you are a legend.

And a bloody idiot.

My thoughts in the meantime will be with Lord Kelvin, a God amongst men.

Homage to Tom Reynolds

Amazing what you can do with a bit of Duplo and a two year old Monkey. Here's to Tom Reynolds, and all ambo's everywhere.

Here we have a Saturday night special, with an attending ambulance and firemen. Drunken hoon has gone around a corner too fast and rolled their wogged up Honda Civic. The car of course is stolen and the hoon is out on bail.

After the firies have cut the roof off, the patient is strapped to a stretcher.

"Woo-woo-woo" - blue light to the hospital.

Uh-oh. Management/government (aka a two year old who doesn't understand the niceties of photoshoots) flips the ambulance (service) upside down in the name of "improvement". The fire brigade is skittled in the process.

Only the hoon survives the "management induced" carnage. Note the red cow near the front of the ambulance. Not long after this photo was taken, the cow became the driver of the ambulance. I think there is a hidden message in there somewhere.

In response to an earlier post by Tom regarding how to "deliver" patients to hospitals (which I cannot be bothered finding), I was going to shoot a movie showing the ambulance sliding sideways and ejecting the stretcher and patient out the back.

However, Monkey Management commandeered the props, so the movie will have to wait for another day.

Channel 7 and the environmental warriors

Channel 7 loves to jump onto the environmental bandwagon from time to time. They love to preach (thinking that it will drive up ratings I guess), but they are pretty hopeless when it comes to practice.

This will show how much TV I watch these days - is Today Tonight on Channel 7? I have close to no idea. What I do know is that shows like that love to rant about bad driving habits.

So how does this grab you.

This morning (Sunday), I am driving over the Anzac Bridge towards the city. It's a 60 zone (but no one obeys the limit). Next thing, I have this fucking enormous 4WD right up my arse - he must have been doing 100 to catch me - and there is a big Channel 7 logo plastered over the bonnet. It also had a big broadcast aerial up on the room, which made it look like it would tip over in the slightest of cross winds.

A gap opened up beside me, and this guy gave up tailgating me, shot across the lane without indicating, tore up the road and then started tailgating another bloke up ahead.

So in 30 seconds, I witnessed:

  • A supposedly "green" TV station using fuel guzzling, heavily polluting trucks
  • The same truck being driven in a way guaranteed to chew lots of juice
  • Dangerous and stupid driving in an unforgiving vehicle, by a station that preaches road safety
In short, I witnessed a grab bag of twatism. That's my word for the day - twatism.

I like electricity

Earth Hour was bollocks.

Who says so?

Tens of thousands of CityRail commuters.

On Thursday, just days Earth Hour, a passenger train brought down the overhead wiring at Tempe. This brought all trains in that area to a screaming halt, and buses had to be brought in to move people around.

The SMH, the great promoter of Earth Hour, headlines Passengers vent fury at train delays. No, what they were really venting at was a lack of electricity - a lack of motive power, a lack of power to run the air conditioning and to drive the lights.

The Daily Telegraph reported how angry people got when one CityRail employee suggested that people who were stranded just "go home". That annoyed people as they had jobs to go to and so forth.

Imagine that! Relying on electricity to get to work, to get to school, to go out and do some shopping and so on.

If the SMH had any decency, it would have congratulated CityRail on lowering the carbon footprint of thousands of Sydneysiders, and egging them on to do it again.

Except of course that all those stranded passenger had to be transferred to buses, which are much more polluting than trains.

Ah well, can't win them all.

Who paid, Kevin?

I have been reading about how some Chinese companies (possibly owned by the Chinese govt) paid for Kevin to fly here and there when he was in opposition.

The excuse was that those in opposition get stuff all in travel allowances, so someone has to pay for it.

Why go begging to foreign companies when you wife is a multi-millionaire? Why not just tap her on the shoulder and ask for a ticket to Beijing, or wherever? Hell, why not pay for it out of your own salary, and live off the income of your wife?

Unless of course she really isn't that loaded, so the electorate was sold a load of pap about how "succesful" she is. If she couldn't afford to pay for a few international flights, I wouldn't call her "succesful".

Coffee and slugs?

We were watching a gardening show of some sort this evening when our interest was piqued by a method of killing slugs and snails that I had never heard of.

This piqued my interest because we get a slug in the kitchen almost every night. I just disposed of one longer than my thumb. We sometimes get some that are as long as my thumb and forefinger outstretched.

So I am always open to new ways of nuking them.

The gardening show suggested making up a cup of espresso coffee, diluting it with 5 parts water and then pouring it around any plants that are getting chomped.


How on earth does coffee kill slugs?

Does it speed them up and make them go so fast that they get ahead of their slime trail, and thus die of dehydration? What's the story here?

I tried a shortcut tonight by simply pouring a few instant coffee granules onto a captured slug. Apart from a bit of wriggling, not much death seemed to be stalking slugland. I wanted to spend some time on slugdeathwatch, but J was not too happy with the thought of me leaving a writhing slug on the kitchen bench, so the experiment was terminated early.

Thus is scientific progress impeded.

Saturday 29 March 2008

Two views of sunrise

It's a bit hard to take a photo when it is dark, but I had a go the other day using the "fireworks" feature on my camera. It keeps the shutter open for 2 seconds, which for this photo was about 1.5 seconds too long. Wow, it looks nice and bright out there at 6.30am.

If memory serves me correctly, it looked more like this (except even darker and gloomier).

And colder. Without benefit of cloud cover, the overnight minimums have plunged to a wicked 15 degrees Celsius. Which means I have to put a jacket on before setting out, which means I am sweating badly after about 5 minutes in the saddle.

You just can't win. No one has yet invented climate control for the bicycle.

Friday 28 March 2008

Lego and Star Wars

Junior has been taking some photos of his Lego. Enjoy.

Is this one great or what? Love the shadow of Vader in the background behind scarface.

Fucking knobs on bikes

Like any large population, the cycling world includes a certain percentage of complete fucking knobheads. I don't think the percentage is any higher or lower than the knobhead level in any other population (apart perhaps from Canterbury Bulldogs supporters, and possibly Collingwood) - but given that so many people hop on a bike from time to time, it means that I run into a knobhead every day or two.

Some are just fleeting knobheads - they cause a few seconds of angst, and then they are gone. But others are rusted-on knobheads: one finds oneself stuck with them for miles at a time, fighting the urge to throw ones pump through the spokes of their front wheel, which will cause them to somersault over the handlebars in a violently satisfactory manner.

I met such a knob this morning.

I left early-ish; it was dark enough for me to need my headlight, so my first impression of the knobhead was not a good one. He had no light, no reflectors, no helmet and no bell - and he was dressed in grey from head to foot, which is the perfect camouflage around dawn. He was about as invisible to other cyclists and dog walkers and pram pushers as it is possible to get without an invisibility cloak.

He was also going a little bit below my cruising speed, so I passed him.

I thought no more of him, until he passed me about 30 seconds later. It was at that point that I discovered that he was one of those insufferably macho wogs (I bet he drives a BMW with a stupid numberplate) and he had deliberately kicked up the pace just to get in front of me. He was clearly working much harder than usual to stay in front, but he just had to demonstrate who was boss. He had to show that he was fitter and stronger than me.


He figured that I would take the normal commuting route up Lilyfield Rd, so he peeled off to the left having beaten me over a distance of about a kilometre. As soon as he was off the commuting route, he slowed down and almost expired over the handlebars.

I of course was also going that way, but I can keep up that pace for a hell of a lot longer, so I just tore past him whilst he coughed his lungs up. My last glimpse of him was of him scowling nastily at my rapidly receding back.

What is it with these guys? I'm all for passing slower moving bikes (and I do it every day), but I don't deliberately pick up the pace and try to pass someone when they are doing say 2km/h less than I am. I just tuck in behind them and enjoy the ride. Having to be in front of everyone else is just such a sign of rampant dickheadism.

Kind of like always dragging away when the lights go green. It's fun to do it every now and then, but doing it at every single light gets a bit tiresome after a while.

Dickheads. Can't ride with them, can't shoot 'em.

Wednesday 26 March 2008


Architecture - what would I know about it? I didn't do very well at Tech Drawing in year 9 - inability to visualise things in 3D I guess. And town planning? Pfft - street corner wino's have a better grasp of what goes on in the heads of town planners than I do.

But I did come back from Canberra with a fresh perspective on walls.

I hate the fucking things.

All the photos you are about to see (if you can be shagged) were taken on the same street in Five Wog. This is typical of so much of suburban Sydney, and I am starting to think that a lot of Sydney looks like crap because of brick walls.

Like this one. It a solid sheet of uninteresting nothingness. It's a hard surface, reflecting noise back into the street and around the neighbourhood. It's a graffiti magnet. It adds to the non-green concreteness of this scene. Tarmac road. Concrete footpath. Brick wall. A few bits of grass poking through here and there. Not even a pile of trees can save this scene.

Another wall - just an uninteresting, boring blob of bricks. Goals have more interesting scenery than this.

This shabby bit of iron fencing could be a vast improvement - at least it allows you to see the grass and trees and flowers in the garden inside the property boundary.

I ended this particular walk thinking that the white picket fence - or the hedge - is the perfect and only thing to stick around the edge of your suburban block. White picket fence? Am I going all John Howard 1950's here? I think not. The picket fence is not threatening like raw brick, and the spacing between the planks allows some view of the other side through. (If you don't think that tall brick walls are threatening, try reading some blogs by military personnel in Iraq, and have a look at the photos.)

Even this low, ventilated brick wall fails to make the cut (apart from looking horrible).

I'm not too fond of this wooden fence either, as the height cuts the yard off from the street (which is probably the idea). Privacy and a bit of soundproofing are nice, but they add a terrible harshness to the street outside.

Hanging some creeping weeds off it does help.

If the Army ever gives me a free Leopard tank, I will add a dozer plough and spend my time productivly knocking down horrible brick walls in our neighbourhood. C'mon, you can trust me with a tank. I promise not to crush too many BMW's.

Some photos of stuff

A local park, covered in mist, not long after dawn. With a bird running around looking for grub.

Sunrise over the city.

Even more sunrise.

This is Le Montage. The banners are there to celebrate it being open 10 years.

Dear Cripes, is this place only 10 years old? It's so hideous and ugly, I was sure it was more like a throwback to the '80's.

The statue of a digger at the Anzac Bridge. I ride past him twice a day, but rarely stop and just sit there for a minute in quiet contemplation. But I did so this morning.

"Hey Captain, I don't think we are going to fit through this bridge".

Want to understand why Earth Hour is going to be such a flop? This photo shows the latest arrivals at the car dock in White Bay. I have never seen it so full. We are so in love with our cars, we are buying them in ever increasing numbers. I don't see too many Smart cars down there, but you often see a few rows of Hummers.

The going home parade through Pyrmont - me chasing three other riders. The bloke in the middle distance was brutally quick - especially going up hill. Thanks to the wonder of red lights, I managed to almost catch him twice - just as I almost caught him, the light would go green and off he'd race. My last sighting of him was going down Lilyfield Rd, with him doing about 80 down the incline - a small spot in the distance, receding with every second.

Twerp of the day - this cock has his helmet dangling over his handle bars. I can understand not bothering to take your helmet with you at all (the leave it at home option), but why buy one, take it riding and then not fucking wear it? I have crashed my bike on the Anzac Bridge - just because you are not on the road, it doesn't mean you can't crack your scone on the concrete.


At the other end of the spectrum, Ms Safety Concious. I like cyclists who wear lots of reflective stuff... because when I am tearing down hills in the dark in winter, I'll be less likely to careen up their bum.

Boats. Rowing boats. Delightful weather for it too.

Tuesday 25 March 2008

Producing good TV is as easy as ABC

The CPSU is in a lather again about proposed job cuts at the ABC.

To quote the union:

"We've got a director of TV who is beholden to the private sector and determined to outsource," Mr Thompson said.

"The demand for internal labour is going down."

I can't understand the idea that the only way to produce TV is to do it in-house using salaried staff. What is so sacred about protecting some jobs at the ABC so that TV can be produced by ABC staff?

Crikey, even the Chinese get it these days. Remember the saying, "It doesn't matter what colour the cat is - so long as it catches mice"?

I don't care how my TV is produced - so long as it is watchable. I will happily kick the ABC in the shins for showing shit, but it makes no difference to me whether that shit was produced in house or not. I care about the output, not the inputs.

Never trust a coffee shop that serves a latte in a glass with a handle

I have this iron law of eating out. If you order a latte and it turns up in a vessel like the one pictured below, the coffee will be bad and the food completely crap.

I have tested this law many times in every state and territory of Australia and NZ, and it always holds true. I am yet to find an exception.

The weekend in Canberra added more weight to the rule. The coffee shown above was barely drinkable. My omellete was appaling. J ordered eggs florentine and the eggs came out hard poached (rather than soft) and the dish had been put under a griller and the sauce had been grilled until it was crispy! What the fuck were they thinking.....

We were discussing what to get Monkey for breakfast, and J proposed a poached egg whilst I opted for boiled. My reasoning was that the proper way to poach an egg is to do it in water with plenty of vinegar, and he probably wouldn't like the taste. We opted for a boiled egg, with me using the throwaway line of, "I am sure the chef knows how to soft boil an egg".

Umm, as it turns out, he didn't. We got a hard boiled egg.

Who the fuck employs a cook that can't soft boil an egg?

The same dildos I guess that serve coffee in a thing with a handle.

To cap it off, when I went to pay the bill, the dozy wench at the counter asked me which table we were sitting at.

We were the only people in the cafe at the time.

If you walk past 5 cafes and 4 are bursting at the seams and the last is inhabited by a wino and his dog, do not take the soft option and choose the eat there. Go and queue up at one of the other four.

Sink of despair

When in Canberra, we loafed in a rather nice serviced apartment just a short walk from the Manuka shops. The apartment complex was alright, apart from the unheated "heated" pool, the frigid air conditioning, the million steps in all directions and the car park that was impossible to get out of.

What really ticked me off was the stupid sink in our bathroom. Take a look at it - it's about as flat as your average dinner plate. Whenever I turned on the tap, water did not run into the sink. It ran down the slightly curving edge of the sink, across the plughole and straight out the other side. I forgot to add that just slightly nudging the tap was enough to propel a Niagara like torrent of water from the spout - it was so strong, it blew the toothpaste off my toothbrush everytime I tried to moisten it before brushing the fangs.

Chalk that one up for an immensely stupid design decision.

Monday 24 March 2008

Reducing binge drinking

Another bit of televised government agitprop will do little to reduce binge drinking. If anything, it might encourage it. If I was told not to do something when I was 16, I usually went at it twice as hard as before.

There is only one way to cut back on binge drinking - make hangovers worse, and more frequent. The best way to do that is to start putting impurities back into our drinks. Our beer is now all "cold filtered", so it reduces a lot of the muck that used to produce a whacking headache. Wine is scientifically produced, vodka is distilled to remove the methanol. Everything is so pure and lovely, it fails to produce vomiting and splitting migraines until consumed in enormous quantities.

I used to do a home brew that had a toxic sludge in the bottom. One had to be incredibly careful not to shake the bottle, so the sludge stayed on the bottom. The only really safe way to drink a bottle was to carefully decant it, like a 1970 Grange. If you touched the sludge, it was instant hangover. One beer was enough to lay people low if they got the sludge.

I should start producing that sludge in volume, with the aim of selling it to some government nanny quongo that will enforce its addition to all alcoholic products. We need more vomiting, and earlier on in the evening.

If people get sick from drinking fairly often, they might get sick of drinking.

But that's a stupid fucking idea. Forget I ever mentioned it.

But can I have $53 million from the government please, since it might actually produce results?

Defending the working class

By the way Jeremy, if you have decided to drop in, you might like to consider that the man that you put down with such pleasure is a blue collar member of the working class. Nice work for a lefty.

How far the noble defenders of the working class have come. Today we deride and abuse them, tomorrow we spit on them.

Oh, how I would love to be a leftist without a sense of irony.

Censorship at its worst

I had the bizarre pleasure this week of having my comments deleted over at the site run by Jeremy the Lawyer. It's nice to know that I was sufficiently aggravating for him to feel threatened by my comments, which I must point out were out of the ordinary for me - they were dull and lacking in abuse.

Here is Jeremy viciously whacking me to the ground:

And sorry, BB, but I already pointed out that this thread wasn't to be used to try to give me half-arsed armchair legal advice. OK? I have precisely no interest in discussing the incident in question any further. It's been thrashed into the ground. I will deal with the matter myself. If you want to partake in a discussion which is NOT about trying to accuse me of breaking the law, by all means, feel free. Otherwise, go away. In the meantime, those posts dedicated to attacking me personally, deleted.

The thing which appeared to annoy Jeremy was me pointing him to the section of the Road Rules that he had contravened. For the record, the rule in question is:

173 Stopping on or near a marked foot crossing (except at an intersection)

(1) A driver must not stop on a marked foot crossing that is not at an intersection, or on the road within 10 metres before the traffic lights pole nearest to the driver at the crossing and 3 metres after the crossing, unless the driver stops at a place on a length of road, or in an area, to which a parking control sign applies and the driver is permitted

Apparently quoting Australian law is half-arsed armchair legal advice. I would accept that my advice would be half-arsed, or even totally arsed, if I was giving an opinion on some legislation, but quoting it? Sorry mate, time for you to take your pills and calm down.

I also love this bit:

If you want to partake in a discussion which is NOT about trying to accuse me of breaking the law

Jeremy seems to have forgotten the bit about him writing this in his blog:

I inadvertently (since visibility was so low - IT WAS A FRICKING MONSOON) parked slightly on the (clearly completely deserted) pedestrian crossing for the ten to fifteen seconds

Note that I have not Fisked out part of his statement in order to make it look any better or worse than it was when he wrote it. Section 173 simply says that you are not to park 3 metres after the crossing. Jeremy didn't do that - he parked on the crossing. Now in mitigation, he wasn't there for long, and like he says, he reckons he did it inadvertently, but I read a few more sections and did not find any paragraphs that offered mitigation in relation to the length of time one parked illegally, or the weather conditions. Yes, getting a ticket in those circumstances might be seen as a rough trot, but my unlawlerly eye does not detect anything that suggests the law was not broken.

Jeremy can of course contest the ticket in court, and he's welcome to do so. If he gets off, half his luck. But if he loses, or fails to contest the ticket, then I don't think it is right of him to run around claiming that he did not break the law. I am not accusing him of breaking the law - the parking inspector did that when he wrote him a ticket. If some sharp-eyed legal type can point out to me how section 173 was not infringed by this:

I inadvertently (since visibility was so low - IT WAS A FRICKING MONSOON) parked slightly on the (clearly completely deserted) pedestrian crossing for the ten to fifteen seconds

then I will accept that no law was broken.

From a safety perspective, if it was raining so hard, then it was not entirely sensible to be driving around anyway. If you can't see where you are going, stop driving. Pull over and wait for conditions to clear.

Also, if conditions were that bad and visibility that low, then Jeremy might consider himself lucky that someone else who couldn't see where they were going didn't run up his arse when he was stopped in a no-stopping zone.


There is another reason for why my comments might have ended up in the waste basket - I vented (as requested) at the HREOC and Legal Aid - calling them welfare for lawyers. Or maybe even welfare for useless lawyers. I don't know - whatever it was, I was not being nice about them.

Does Jeremy work for either body? Beats me, and I don't care if he does. One of his commenters though didn't take too kindly to me:


It must be nice to be you.

Cut any public spending you don't believe you are ever likely to need.

Did you know that one of the major areas of Legal Aid cutbacks at the moment is Independent Representation for Children in Family Law matters.

You know, someone to protect them and ensure their best interests are advocated for in an adversarial system

F*** the kids, eh. Sponging little welfare bastards.

Gravatar By way of clarification, my post above is in relation to now deleted comments by BB regarding Legal Aid and HREOC being funding for sponging welfare types that should be cut.

Actually, I had no idea that our legal aid money was being used in this fashion, or that it was being cut back. News to me, and I'd appreciate it if anyone could point me at a source for this. Sounds like something interesting to read about. I can't grasp why kids would need independent representation at the Family Court. Also, if the parents are fighting over a pile of assets, why not pay for the legal advice for the kids out of those assets, and then split what is left? Why does legal aid have to get involved?

As for HREOC, I was involved long ago in the re-fit of an office floor that had recently been vacated by HREOC. It was in a very nice building right in the CBD - literally a stone's throw from the Pitt St Mall (which is the most expensive real estate in Australia, and some of the most expensive in the world), and the floor was a doozy.

It had the highest ratio of offices to workstations that I have ever seen anywhere in the public or private sector, and that includes me spending a bit of time on the executive floors of a number of corporations. The offices were all of a pretty good size, and the cabling contractor working on the job whistled when he first saw the furniture - he called it the "most expensive workstation furniture that money can buy".

In short, it was a really swanky place to work. I tried hard to wangle a spot for myself on that floor - it was that luxurious, the location was that good and the view was nothing to laugh at either.

One might ask then what the fuck the HREOC was doing lavishing an enormous amount of money on offices for itself. Either it had oodles of cash sloshing around, or it had diverted money from "valuable advocacy work", and then cried poor, in order to feather the nest of its lawyers.

Now I have worked with lawyers from some pretty highly priced law firms, and I have seen where they work. Sure, their reception area is always pretty nice, but they never spend any money on the back offices where all the work is done. HREOC on the other hand just threw money at everything. They lavished money on themselves. That is why I have such a low opinion of that august body.

If I had it my way, I'd relocate HREOC to Parkes or Lismore or Junee - somewhere that has cheap rent. Now I'm sure the first argument to be made against that would be that the HREOC needs to attract people that are "passionate about its causes". Yes - but if they are that passionate about it, they won't be bothered about living and working in Wee Waa. I'm not sure why "passionate" people need to be ensconsed in the lap of luxury. I've been passionate about a lot of the jobs I've held, and I haven't given a bugger about where I have sat, or the view, the plushness of the carpet or the quality of the artwork. You can sit me at a trestle table in the basement, and so long as the job grips me, I won't care.

Besides, those that are working hard don't need a view. They are too busy working.


PS - It just occured to me that the difference between the parking inspector and Jeremy is that the parking inspector works at the airport, and has probably seen motorists do 1000 stupid things out the front, whilst Jeremy has probably only been there a few times - or even once. What Jeremy has not considered is the enormous experience that his oppressor has in managing parking and traffic in the area out the front of the airport, and the fact that he has probably had to deal with untold parking violations and numerous safety hazards.

When we moved to our current address, we had only been here a few days when we almost got a ticket. Luckily, we were approaching our car at the same time as the inspector (who we later found out has a reputation as a Nazi) and he berated J for parking in that particular spot - citing safety reasons which we both thought we spurious. However, we moved the car and we got away with nothing more than an argument.

Having been here for a year, and now having a reasonable amount of experience and knowledge about the street, I have to acknowledge that he was completely and utterly right, and we were wrong. We had parked in a spot that was a safety hazard, but the hazard has only become clear to us with the gaining of knowledge. He was right to get up us, and good on him for standing his ground in the face of an argument with J.


By the way, I regard "I was only parked on part of the pedestrian crossing for a few seconds" as similar to trying to get away with, "I drove through the red light because I looked both ways and no one was coming and it was 2am".

Art imitates life

Here we have Dennis the Assasin, in the Spongebob Squarepants movie.

Here we have a biker, heading out of Canberra.

Here we have Dennis again.

Which one are you more scared of?

Amongst the little people

During our Canberra sojourn, we spent half a day at Cockington Green, which is a minature village that is perfect for amusing adults and kids alike. I spent the day waiting for a Hot Fuzz style car chase to develop, but had to put up with trying to spot amusing scenes and riding the model railway.

Here for instance we have what looks like a group of Scouts on a camping trip.

But what on earth are these two up to?

Then there is the field of cricket players, with one fielder getting a wet leg.

I love this one - a bloke sitting on the dunny reading the paper with the door open.

Then there is the sunken houseboat.

The sign says it all.

The only way to get out of the place is to go through the cafe and souvenier shop, so we just had to stop for some scones with jam and cream. I was hoping for scones straight out of the oven and a little silver thing full of cream and a plate of jam, but instead they stick some scones in a plastic tub and put in a plastic tub of jam and another of whipped cream. It was still alright, but the ambience was squashed flat.

I was also hoping for a proper pot of tea, but they gave me a mug, plonked a tea bag in it and pointed me at an urn of hot water. I don't think the English would do it that way.

The steam train is an anorak's delight. We did a couple of laps on this thing, which topped out at around 6 kmh, but then who wants to go speeding past a display of Mickey Mouse and Tweety Bird?

It appeared to need regular greasing - just like the real thing. The track was liberally smeared with grease where all the too-liberally applied stuff had globbed off and stuck to the rails.

Greasing in action.

Art and architecture in Canberra

We did a bit of wandering around in Canberra over the weekend, and it rammed home just how different Canberra is to the rest of Australia. It really is the odd ball city - in the nicest possible way.

Take public art for instance. It seems that there must be a law somewhere that says that every office building must have a hideous piece of sculpture out the front. I didn't take note of what the people in this office block do all day, but it might be full of arseholes, because there's a sculpture of a colon out the front.

This wheat silo shaped building, funnily enough, belongs to Trade. Have a look at the silver knobbly bits that punctuate the walls along each floor like thumbtacks - they're sure to get this monstrosity heritage listed.

This pile of junk sits outside Tourism House. If you thought our tax money was wasted on running useless ads overseas, it's nothing in comparison to the money wasted on "contemporary art", which is little more than the contents of your average farm rubbish tip welded together and spray painted.

This is more to my taste - this hangs in the entrance to the Art Gallery (we went to see the Turner to Monet show). This is a great painting - most people think it's a photo that's been blown up. As I went around the gallery, every few minutes I'd hear an alarm go off, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the alarm was for. It turns out that it is a proximity sensor in front of this painting - people are so taken by it, they lean over to touch it, and then the alarm goes off. I sat at this spot and watched a number of people as they tried to poke the art. Personally, I'd attach a taser to it. That's fuck 'em.

Chooks in windows. Manuka.

Another Manuka chook.

This sort of building fascinates me, mainly because it is so unsuited to our climate. You wouldn't think of moving to Switzerland and building a Federation style house with a low pitched roof - the snowy climate would ensure that your roof collapsed in the first week of winter. Buildings should reflect the local climate.

If that's the case, why are we so happy to import Euro-fads that might make sense in Berlin or Venice or Bath, but make no sense whatsoever out here? We need some sort of censorship bureau that bans the import of books on European architecture. I like European architecture - I even like Bauhaus and all that. But I like it in Germany, not Australia.

This photo didn't come out that well, but check out the bird in the window. Nice touch.

Another version of a building that I don't mind, but which is about as appropriate in Australia as a mink coat in Cairns.

We popped into the old Parliament House, and one thing to note is that the heritage people have buggered it up. The place was built in the 1930's - back before anyone had air conditioning, so all the doors and windows were designed to open. They all had fly screens on them, since Canberra is built on three sheep stations, and the place had a lot of flies in summer.

Get this. The heritage mob have removed all the fly screens and for all I know, installed air conditioning.

Will this spark a war between those interested in heritage and those promoting global warming? After all, they've taken a building that was designed around good environmental principles (air flow and all that) and turned it into something that requires a poultice of power to keep it cool in summer.

Typical heritage fuck-up. Just goes to show that if you see someone from a heritage group sniffing around an old building, you are probably looking at someone that has no idea what they are doing.

The other disaster that the heritage mob have inflicted on the old House is that they have scattered furniture seemingly at random throughout the place. When the place was built, a stack of furniture was commissioned, and it was all very specific to a function and a place. A certain type of table was put into a certain type of room.

The modern heritage mob of course have no idea, so they have put furniture in places where it is completely inappropriate. It would be the equivalent of a Martian putting a toilet seat in the lounge room, thinking that just because people sat on it, they had put it in the right place.