The Time Has Come (the Walrus said) Archives

A day or two in paradise

Or that’s what the Queenslanders would have us believe…

I’m off to a tropical (well nearly) island for Friday & Saturday for a work conference with some of the bigger customers.

The trip goes something like this:

Thursday

Up at about 4:30 am, Taxi to airport at 5 am, Flight to Brisbane leaves at 6:15am.

Arrive Brisbane 9 am, sit around getting very bored waiting for connecting flight until 12:20 pm. Another flight… another 90 minutes or so.

Arrive on island #1. Wait around for about an hour for the boat. Get boat to island #2. Arrive about 4 pm. Crash for a while. Piss up & BBQ dinner.

Friday & Saturday

Conference on island. Sit in conference room most of each day.

Sunday

Pretty much the reverse of Thursday… depart sometime in the morning. Flights with inevitable long waits in airports. Arrive Adelaide approx 9pm. Collect luggage. Taxi home. Arrive home about 10pm.

Monday

Back to work!!!!!

Kiwi

Sitting together on a train, travelling through the Swiss Alps, were a Kiwi guy, an Australian bloke, a little old Greek lady, and a young blonde Swiss girl with large breasts.

The Train goes into a dark tunnel and a few seconds later there is the sound of a loud slap. When the train emerges from the tunnel, the Kiwi has a bright red hand print on his cheek.

No one speaks.

The old Greek lady thinks: The Kiwi guy must have groped the blonde in the dark and she slapped his cheek.

The blonde Swiss girl thinks: That Kiwi guy must have tried to grope me in the dark, but missed and fondled the old lady and she slapped his cheek.

The Kiwi thinks: The Australian bloke must have groped the blonde in the dark. She tried to slap him but missed and got me instead.

The Australian thinks: I can’t wait for another tunnel, just so I can smack the Kiwi again

Indulgence

Saturday night was the work “Christmas in June” function, so the chaps, Mr Bean 1 and Mr Bean 2, went to stay with my parents (their grandparents) for the night.

Today, SWMBO and I had a lazy morning, and then drove to the Barossa for a bit of wine tasting and lunch. Today we found some great places, and had only one small disappointment.

First stop was Jenke Wines. We’ve never stopped there before, and what a shame that is. Everything they had was very good indeed. Best of all they had a special bargain – buy 2 dozen, get another dozen free. And the free stuff was their Shiraz that normally goes for $20 / bottle!

Naturally, 3 dozen assorted reds and whites found their way into the boot. Some of these will need to sleep for 3-5 years to be at their best.

One of of the stand-outs was a straight Merlot. Merlot is most frequently used as a blending grape, and for that it seems to be well suited. A straight Merlot is a more difficult beast. Many of them are disappointing. The Jenke Merlot was big and full of flavour. Whilst drinking well now, it should age pretty well also. We got 6 of those – a couple will go as gifts.

By this stage it was lunch time, so on to the 1918 bistro in Tanunda. We’ve been there before – a long, long time ago. It was very quiet today, there were plenty of tables free, so the lack of booking was no problem.

The food was out-of-this world. We starting with home made bread served with a parmesan infused olive oil. Mmmmmmmm.

Then, to share, soup of the day: pumpkin with orange and ginger. Sounds a little odd, but gee this was good. The ginger was the real stuff, finely chopped so you got a little in each spoonful. You could make a meal of the bread, infused olive oil, and this soup!

Next up – angel hair pasta with prawns for SWMBO, and I had a char-grilled kangaroo fillet with local Barossa cured bacon, poached quince, and a tomato jam. All served with a green salad.

The kangaroo was cooked perfectly and just fell apart. It had a fabulous smoky flavour and went really well with the quince and bacon. Again, sounds like an odd combination, but it really works!

And the green salad – very simple: just salad greens but the dressing was crisp and tart and delicious. These folks know how to make a salad.

Lunch could not include desert – we were too stuffed. A long walk through Tanunda was called for. Naturally, this required a stop at the Tanunda ice-creamery… so we did get desert after all. These folks make their own ice-cream, so we tried to keep it light and go non-diary. We settled on a peach, and a Shiraz. The peaches are grown nearby, and the Shiraz grape juice came from a vineyard between Tanunda and Lyndoch. up to the usual standard – mighty good stuff.

By this stage it was time to head for home – with a small stop at another winery in Lyndoch. No names here – this was the disappointment of the day. Their wines were middling to OK… but the only one worth what they were charging was a Shiraz. I bought a few of these (bottles, not dozens). Their reserve Shiraz at $45 per bottle was good, but over-priced. They also had a super-duper Shiraz from 150 year old vines, at a mere $85 / bottle. This was available for tasting, and they pressed it onto me. It was very, very, very good. Divine. But I’m not paying $85 for a bottle of it!!

Onward through the scenic route, through the Adelaide hills – collect the Mr Beans, home, big sigh, cup of tea.

What a day! I’ll be remembering that lunch for a long time to come!

Two places in the Barossa I can thoroughly recommend: Jenke Wines, and the 1918 Restaurant and Bistro. We are SO fortunate in South Australia to have such wonderful food and wine – and all within an hours drive of anywhere in Adelaide.

World Cup

My god what a fuss about getting another step ahead in the world cup.

Why don’t I give a s*&t about the world cup? Here are a few reasons:

- The players are thick as a brick and have nothing useful to SAY

- Any game where a GOOD SCORE is 1:1 or NIL ALL is just plain silly

- SBS have taken off Inspector Rex to show this crap

- Even worse, SBS have taken off Top Gear to show this crap

Please, please, can normality return soon?

Bacon

The other day the bacon got a bit honky. You know – on the nose.

Which got me thinking. Bacon is smoked, salted pork, right? It’s supposed to be smoked and salted to preserve it.

And preserving it means it should last a while before it goes off…. right ?
So, if the bacon goes off IN THE FRIDGE, what the heck is it?

Presumably it is salted – a bit. But is it really smoked and properly cured? I suspect not.

What crap are we eating ?

Code like a girl

In my endless references to “Creating Passionate Users“, another great article has turned up.

This time “Code Like a Girl” – code that’s been polished and well crafted gives a satisfaction to the author, and is a pleasure for others to use and maintain:

…caring about things like beauty makes us better programmers and engineers. We make better things. Things that aren’t just functional, but easy to read, elegantly maintainable, easier–and more joyful–to use, and sometimes flat-out sexy. A passion for aesthetics can mean the difference between code that others enjoy working on vs. code that’s stressful to look at..

This fits so well with my attitude to writing code. When going back over code I’ve written for some reason, I’ll polish – if only the formatting and layout: find the violations of the coding standards and fix them, correct the spelling errors, look at the comments and figure they are crap – and re-write them.

For me, nice code should be easy to understand and maintain. It’s like a work of art. It not only works right, it’s a pleasure to look at for the next geek who has to maintain it.

Madness, nuclear madness

(Sing that title to the tune of the old Goodies song “malice”)

Our glorious leader, Little John of Syderney, has started an Enquiry Into Things Nuclear. (Or as George Dubya would say, Noo-clear).

Ostensibly this is about finding if the great brown land of Oz should build nuclear power plants.

(My personal view on this is that nuclear power is not such a bad thing, and the waste can be disposed of, using Ted Ringwoods Synroc process… go Google it. Poor Ted died without seeing his process used, but its a damn sight safer than the other processes that are commonly used. In spite of my views about safety, it won’t ever be used unless it’s economic.)

Anyhow, Little John has taken the lid off Pandora’s box, and I suspect he’s made another tactical error in his cunning stunts with trying to nobble Her Maj’s wondrous Opposition – led by the giant blimp, Bomber Beasley.

See, Labor are opposed to Nuclear power, but paradoxically have a “3 uranium mines” policy which is looking like being scrapped soon, on the grounds that it’s Ok to dig the stuff up so long as we sell it to somebody else to use and then eat the waste.

So… Little John will have an enquiry, with the great Oz public clamouring “Sir… where sir… where will you build the reactors?”, for which there will be no answer.

Another tactic to try and make Labor look silly (having a policy to allow the stuff to be dug up, but not used). However, I think Little John might underestimate the depth of feeling in public-land. 40 years of anti-nuclear rhetoric leaves a great deal of fear and worry in the public. It will be very difficult to undo this.

In his bid to make Labor look silly, Little John The Deputy Sherriff may yet have loaded the first barrel of the gun pointed at his own feet. It will be interesting to see the outcome…

Well-meaning do-gooders

TFS has a very nice rant about the well-meaning do-gooders who stage exhibitions and mount protests about things in far-away places.

TFS is a South African, and knows what really happens (and happened) in the land of apartheid. It’s a big vent, but worth a read.

Go here.

Goitre

Goitre is making a comeback.

What’s Goitre? The symptom of a thyroid gland malfunction, the most common cause of which is iodine deficiency.

About 50 years ago, a simple public health measure was put in place – adding iodine to table salt. Goitre, and the disease Hypothyroidism, then pretty much disappeared in Australia.

Sadly, it seems it’s now making a come-back, primarily due to:

1. Decreased consumption of salt (we are being told to go on a low salt diet), but more particularly

2. Use of trendy things like “sea salt” – which is supposed to be “healthier” somehow.

To compound matters, there is now so much choice when buying salt, that it is quite hard to find and buy the iodised table salt. If you don’t know what you are looking for, it’s very easy to buy the wrong sort.

Goitre is only the physical symptom. Here’s what really goes on (from the Medical Journal of Australia):

Iodine deficiency

Severe iodine deficiency results in goitre, and cretinism, with intellectual deficit, deaf mutism and severe physical disability (including the characteristic spasticity and rigidity), increased perinatal infant mortality and neonatal hypothyroidism, as well as decreased maternal fertility.

Mild to moderate iodine deficiency can cause neurological deficits with learning disability and reduced hearing acuity in children and increased risk to premature infants, with reduced maternal transfer of iodine and thyroid hormone, which may result in impaired neural maturation.

Iodine deficiency is the single most important cause of preventable intellectual deficit in the world.

Maintained adequacy of iodine intake in populations is dependent on consuming food with sufficient natural iodine content or food supplemented with iodine.

So, folks, make sure you buy iodised salt, and use a little now and again. Give the evil sea-salt the flick!

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References:

Medical Journal of Australia

Wikipedia

ABC Health Matters

Borscht

The other day in a fit of madness I bought some nice looking Beetroot.

So, what better to make than Borscht?

Not having a dead-authentic recipe, I used one that I found and modified it…

You will need:

About 4 beetroot, cut into thin strips

About 2 carrots, cut into thin strips

An onion, or 2, chopped

A potato or 2 – cut into thin strips

Stock

A bay leaf

Some shredded cabbage

Then:

Put the cut up vegetables in a large saucepan, and sweat with some olive oil over a gentle heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring now and again so it does not stick.

DSCN0552.JPG

Add about 1 to 1.5 litres of stock, the bay leaf and some pepper. Cook for 10-15 minutes. Taste it, and maybe add some salt, or some more pepper.

About 2 minutes before serving, add the shredded cabbage and cook this, then serve and eat with crusty bread. Some versions (Russian?) add sour cream, but we had none and it’s fine without.

DSCN0554.JPG

Delicious. The beetroot has a unique spicy flavour that you don’t get from anything else, and it’s a great red colour!

To the arse-hole in the white cap

To the arse-hole in the white cap who swims at the same pool as me on Sundays:

The swimming lanes have a black line down the middle. This is to show you which side of the lane is left, and which side is not.

You swim to the left of the black line.

The black line is NOT a guide line showing you how to swim down the middle of the lane.

By keeping to the left, you allow others to swim in the same lane as you.

By your actions you have nearly drowned me, twice. I’ve learned my lesson: see white scull-cap, find another lane. Strange – everybody else in the pool seems to treat you the same way.

Sir, you are an anti-social cretin.

Word of the week: Oleaginous

Oleaginous: What a great word – has a really nice sound to it.

Meanings:

  1. Of or relating to oil.
  2. Falsely or smugly earnest; unctuous: oleaginous flattery.

Also:

  1. unpleasantly and excessively suave or ingratiating in manner or speech; “buttery praise”; “gave him a fulsome introduction”; “an oily sycophantic press agent”; “oleaginous hypocrisy”; “smarmy self-importance”; “the unctuous Uriah Heep”
  2. containing an unusual amount of grease or oil.

(Thanks to the various net dictionaries for the meanings.)

Cheap, cheap wine

Found an advert the other day for Grays online auctions.

These folks have a LARGE amount of wine they auction every day of the week – registration is very simple, the eBay bidding process is a bit easier to understand, but the prices have to be seen to be believed.

There is a whole lot of stuff for auction that I’ve never heard of – I suspect a lot of it is highly irrigated junk being thrown off on the cheap to try and dry up the the great Australian Wine Lake.

But if you look through the lists carefully there are some very reputable brands in there, going at around $25 to $50 per dozen case! To that, add 15% buyers premium (that’s how auctions work), and $20 / case delivery.

If you can pick up a good name for (say) $40, then the total cost to you is $40 + 15% (=$6) + $20 delivery = $66.

There are some SCREAMING bargains to be had. If you are into wine, it is well worth taking a look:www.graysonline.com.au Wine is under the “Home and Entertainment” category.

**** Watch out for the delivery conditions – weekdays only, and somebody has to be around to sign for it. They will deliver to work addresses. Unfortunately for me, the stores people where I work take very dim view of personal deliveries, and alcohol – a doubly dim view :(

New IR Laws (again)

A man walking along a Gold Coast beach in Queensland was deep in prayer.

Suddenly, the sky clouded above his head and, in a booming voice, the Lord said, “Because you have tried to be faithful to me in all ways, I will grant you one wish.”

The man said, “Build a bridge to Hawaii so I can drive over anytime I want.”

The Lord said, “Your request is very materialistic. Think of the enormous challenges for that kind of undertaking. The supports to the bottom of the Pacific! The concrete and steel it would take! It will nearly exhaust several natural resources. I can do it, but it is hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things. Take a little more time and think of something that would honour and glorify me.”

The man thought about it for a long time. Finally he said, “Lord, I want a fair and reasonable industrial relations system in Australia, where workers would have no issues with OH&S, be paid appropriate wages, not be jerked around by their employers, and have the right to have their say against an absolute joke of a Government.”

The Lord replied, “You want two lanes or four on that bridge?”

Boycott Spotlight

Spotlight: One of no doubt many examples of exploitation coming about from Little Johns new IR laws. It’s those laws that got me started on writing this Blog in the first place, with this post, still as relevant today as it was when I started.

Spotlight stores (sell fabric and curtains and stuff) have taken the new IR laws to heart, and now offer as standard to new employees a most generous rise in the hourly rate of TWO CENTS PER HOUR.

For this, the new employees lose all penalty rates, allowances, max working time between breaks, and so on.

The CEO of Spotlight says that this offer represents the new baseline, and new employees are expected to negotiate a suitable rate. Hmmm. I can really see that for those who want to work in a retail outlet.

So folks, boycott Spotlight.

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Boycott: A boycott is a refusal to buy, sell, or otherwise trade with an individual or business who is generally believed by the participants in the boycott to be doing something morally wrong. It may sometimes be labelled as an “embargo” by its proponents. (from wikipedia).

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From that original post, quoting Alain De Botton (with my emphasis):

Every organisation will attempt to gather raw materials, labour and machinery at the lowest possible price to combine them into a product that can be sold at the highest possible price. From the economic perspective, there are no differences between any of the elements in the input side of the equation. All are commodities which the rational organisation will seek to source cheaply and handle efficiently in the search for profit.

And yet, troublingly, there is one difference between ‘labour’ and other elements which conventional economics does not have a means to represent, or give weight to, but which is nevertheless unavoidably present in the world: the fact that labour feels pain.

When production lines grow prohibitively expensive, these may be switched off and will not cry at the seeming injustice of their fate. A business can move from using coal to natural gas without the neglected energy source walking off a cliff. But labour has a habit of meeting attempts to reduce its price or presence with emotion. It sobs in toilet cubicles, it drinks to ease its fears of under-achievement and it may choose death over redundancy.

In the current times of full employment, the effects of the new IR laws are likely to be small. The good times don’t last forever – just wait for the next downturn when unemployment rises… if there seems to be exploitation now, you aint seen nuffink yet.

Snowy Hydro sale is off!

It’s being seen by the newspapers as a revolt in the Liberal party…

Lots of Nationals and many Liberals did not want to see the Snowy Hydro scheme sold off, and finally on Friday the Prime Monster pulled the plug (electrical plug – it’s a pun – geddit?)

Tumut3PowerStation.jpg

The NSW and Victorian governments rapidly followed suit.

Wah wah – big victory for the Libs who did not want it sold, big victory for “people power”, etc etc.

The logic (people power, Mr Howard listening, blah blah blah) just does not stack up. I see if a bit differently, here’s a bit of reasoning:

  • The Commonwealth share was 13%, the NSW government share 58%, Victoria owns the rest.
  • The Commonwealth owns 51% of Telstra and has done for a long time now. They desperately want to flog this off, but that’s ideology.
  • Having the Commonwealth retain 13% of the Snowy Scheme would be no big thing. The states could flog their portions and the Commonwealth share transferred to Mr Costellos plaything – the Future Fund. It’s only 13% – small beer.

I think that Mr Howards tactic was quite simple: The Labor states of Victoria and NSW wanted the sale – having the Commonwealth pull out was a simple attempt to swing the blowtorch onto his political opponents, who are both under budget pressure. He’s just trying to make their life hard and discredit them.

It might have backfired because of the significant negative publicity…

Whickerwork

Big fuss the other day about Leigh Whicker (Chief Executive of the SA Football League) and his wife.

Annie Whicker has been working on, and now released for sale, a slip-on cover for cigarette packets, which apparently does a nice job of hiding the gruesome government required pictures of dead and deformed people caused by the ciggies.

All of the football codes are trying to promote a non-smoking healthy image, so the conflict is pretty clear. That footballers have a reputation for boozing to excess, driving too fast, raping women, and generally being a bunch of low-IQ morons does not quite fit with the healthy image that’s being projected, but that’s a by-the-by.

The actions of the Whickers represents appalling poor judgement by Annie Whicker – for even thinking about doing such a thing in the first place, and Leigh Whicker for not counselling his wife on the damage she would do to her own reputation and that of SA football.

There seems to be a long-standing history of sports persons hypocrisy, which they get away with because of the short memory of a fairly dim public. One only has to think of Shane Warne with his smoking (when paid to promote a Quit-smoking campaign).

But going out of ones way to design, promote, sell, and exploit smokers… it does seem a bit excessive.

Da Vinci Code

Got this by email the other day:

pope.JPG

The man on the left, wearing a fabulous vintage chiffon-lined Dior gold lame gown over a silk Vera Wang empire waisted tulle cocktail dress, accessorized with a 3-foot beaded peaked House of Whoville hat, along with the ruby slippers that Judy Garland wore in The Wizard of Oz, is worried that The Da Vinci Code might make the Roman Catholic Church look foolish.

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