The Time Has Come (the Walrus said) Archives

Busy times

Let’s do a quick recap of events to Wednesday this week:

- Lot’s of running into town to sit in the Jury Pool room waiting for something to happen. EVERY TIME I forgot to take a book, or grab the work laptop so I could squiz at some code I need to change. In some cases the wait has been hours – with only Oprahhhh or Judge Judy for company. Aaaarrrrggghhhh…. Daytime TV: Gag. Chunder.

- Meeting Monday night – part of a long running saga with a vicious person causing trouble for part of the family, so I was there as observer to write down anything untoward that might happen. Fortunately all quiet on that front.

- Oldest son off on aquatics camp – delivered to school on time. Hooray!

- While oldest son away, intro night at his new High School last night (rush home from town, sit for 30 minutes, then off again). Went way over time, and we were subjected to performances from the school Concert Band (very very good performance of the old Louis Armstring “What a wonderful world”), and the school Rock Band (cringe-makingly awful – I dearly hope they can find the school cat to give its yowl back)

- Numerous trips to the post office (don’t ask)

- SWMBO off today to the union day of action rally. The Comrades doing the occasional protest against Bonsai’s* new workplace laws. For somebody from a conservative rural background she’s taking the union thing fairly seriously. Hardly surprising considering the amount she needed their support in a previous job. (And also considering that under the new laws she would have been done over even worse than before). I’m a piker – and besides, somebody had to take #2 son to school.

- The range-hood over the stove has packed up. It’s not that it stopped working, it’s more that the fan now runs continually at a very very very slow speed whilst making a very very very loud and horrid buzzing noise. Only cure – complete removal (only way to find the power outlet its plugged into). Now there is a large and ugly hole in the kitchen :( and a pending repair or replacement job…. This and the dishwasher playing up leads me to wonder what other appliance is going to cark it next. Large repair bills coming….

- And that does not include todays minor disaster at work, the running around this morning, the more running around tonight….

No wonder the Dump Family have been tired these last few days.

Oh for a couple of quiet days pretending to be a vegetable.

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* Bonsai = John Howard – because he’s a small Bush. Thanks to David Koch on the last Glass House for that one.

Completely insane???

The US Motion Picture association wants registration of home theatres, and fines for non-compliance.

This is crazy – they want a fee for every viewer of a DVD, so it would be illegal to invite friends of family around to watch a DVD. They consider this to be a breach of copyright.

Ahhh… It’s a pisstake. Satire. Thank heavens for that!

Too much time

Somebody has too much time on their hands.

Australia Strikes Back

Dazz & Bazz

Can’t remember if I posted this before or not:

The Cane-Toad movie: Dazz pondering the disappearance of his mate Bazz.

Available for DivX or Quicktime… its big… if on dial-up you will need to let it go overnight. Damn good though (but I’m sure non-Australians won’t understand most of it.)

Tuesdays the day

Wasn’t required on Monday. So after the big build-up it was a normal work day.

But Tuesday, got to be there art 10:45 am… this is where there is about a 50% chance of ending up on a real jury.

Now I’m starting to feel nervous.

EDIT: on Tuesday, I turned up at the Jury Pool Room with about a minute to spare (thanks to a crap drive in, an unexpected stop for petrol, and then a 10 minute cruise around the multi-storey car park trying to find a space)…. only to find that the Juror section I’m in is not required today because the case was adjourned! So its been back to work from lunch time…

Fatty Finn is trying to reform

A week ago I had to visit the doctor.

As usual, he weighed me (something I normally do regularly – about twice a year).

But this time – shock, horror, 81 kg !

I’ve crept up to 78 kg over the last couple of years and it’s been bugging me – a bit. But 81 kg is just too far.

So, time for radical action.

I’m cutting out carbohydrates (or, as they are sometimes known in our house, hydrocarbates) as hard as I can go.

Breakfast: Changed now to about 1/3 the amount of fruit juice (full of sugar – evil stuff), 1/3 the amount of crap breakfast cereal (that’s usually loaded with sugar, and its all carbohyrate anyhow). I’m filling up on 1 or 2 eggs, and maybe some bacon. Interesting effect: I used to be ravenous by 11 am – a couple of eggs for breakfast and I can make lunch time with no problems.

Lunch at work is a bit of a hassle: usually it’s a tin of tuna, and a sandwich with cheese, ham, and lettuce – made at home. The bread is multi-grain so that it’s digested slower. If I can’t bring lunch I’ll go going to the lunch bar down the road for a 1/4 chicken and salad – no chips, no bread.

Dinner is turning out to be fairly easy, so far. Meat, vegetables, fruit. As far as possible, low or no bread, or rice. Sometimes pasta, but less than before.

I’ve only been doing this for a week – and so far the desire for eating junk seems to have abated. I’m usually feeling full, with enough energy to get by, and the morning and afternoon snacks have been absent. I’m also drinking about 1/3 the amount of red wine, and not really missing the 1/2 bottle per night that I was going through before.

After a week, I’m back to 78 kg (and this morning, 77.5). This seems to be way too good to be true. Fluid retention? Unlikely – because I’d not been feeling too good when I went to see the doctor and had not been eating or drinking much for 24 hours before. (And yes, I did confirm the 81 kg when I got home.)

Aim: get down to 75 kg, and hold it there.

For anybody interested, the diet is no huge change to normal – just more protein, and less carbohydrates of every kind. More vegetables too.

If I’ve been wanting a treat, I’ve had a single square of Lindt 70% dark chocolate. I figure the couple of grams of sugar in it won’t do too much damage.

Heading into the silly season, and with the disruption of Jury Duty upon me, it will be interesting to see how long this can last.

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For those interested:

The CSIRO total well-being diet is generally about more protein and less carbohydrate.

The book “Protein Power” is about low carb diets and goes into the physiology of carbohydrates and insulin, and explains the correlation or carbohydrates with weight gain.

“The GI Factor” uses a similar examination of the physiology of carbohydrates, but with an emphasis on finding carbohydrates that are absorbed slowly.

Jury Duty – part 2

First day today.

Orientation. About 2 1/2 hours of direction on what goes on, things to do, details about the pathetic payment, and so on. They guy who did this must have been doing it for years, craxking the same lame jokes, telling the same anecdotes – but he was a natural and did it very well.

A real mixed bag – people from all walks of life. The female / male mix seems to be about 60%:40% (ie more females). All up there must have been about 150 people there. These are divided into “sections” which in turn are balloted to form a Jury on a trial.

So the real fun begins on Monday.

Naturally, I won’t be revealing anything much about anything during this process.

F’ing useless bastards – part 2

Today I rang the F’ing useless bastards – after there was no phone call from my complaints email.

They finally called me back to say that my original change of banking instructions form was ignored (mind you they did not try and contact me about it – they just ignored it) – anyhow it was ignored because it was not signed right.

When I said huh? they told me that me and ‘t’other half had signed in boxes 1 and 2 and we should have signed in boxes 2 and 3.

Well, this is bullshit. It’s a joint holding, which means you sign boxes 1 and 2. Boxes 2 and 3 are signed by directors of companies…. which does not apply.

Seems like a total bullshit excuse to try and throw blame back on me, and does not explain why they changed my banking instruction to somebody else’s account, and does not get my dividend back. They have sent ANOTHER form which I have to fill out (this will be the 3rd time).

They also say they will start an investigation to get my money back – it might be completed in 2 to 4 weeks.

They still have not explained why they have not contacted me in response to a fax, a letter and an email.

USELESS WANKERS.

I’d love to find an appropriate authority to complain to and make life hell for the executives of this joke of an organisation.

F’ing useless bastards

I am a poor unfortunate who owns some Telstra shares.

OK, stop laughing, this is serious.

So, I had the dividends banked with an account at a big bank. This bank decided to close that line of business and sell it to another bank, so my account there was closed.

This means I had to notify the share register for Telstra that my banking details were changing, which I duly did, back in September.

Now the share register manages the shareholders list, the banking details, and all the boring bits on behalf of Telstra.

These stupid F*&^ers have changed my banking details to pay my dividends into somebody else’s account.

They sent me a nice letter confirming the change of banking details – showing it going to this other persons account instead of my new account. When I got this, I saw it was wrong and wrote over it, saying “Please put the banking details to XXX, this is incorrect”. I signed and dated it to make it all legal, and faxed it back same day.

Now the dividend got paid at about the same time, and I’m still waiting for it.

It turns out, after some digging, that these idiots have in fact paid my dividend to this other persons account, and they still have the wrong banking details there, so they ignored my fax. They did not ever try and contact me to tell me they had some kind of problem (which should not have been the case anyhow.)

So I wrote a nice letter to them 10 days ago, very polite, setting out my complaint, copying the fax, the letter they sent, etc etc. Everything marked up to make it clear to anybody 8 years old and over that they had screwed up, needed to fix it, and need to get my money back. I marked it all urgent.

So far… nothing.

These F*&^ING USELESS imbeciles have not done a bloody thing.

I’m $500 out of pocket with a dividend that’s been paid to somebody else, these idiots have not phoned (in spite of me asking them in the letter), they have not further changed the banking details.

Now I’ve sent an email to their complaints email address. Ha ha fat lot of good I expect that to do.

If you ever have the misfortune to deal with Link Market Services, tremble. F*&^ing useless.

I’ll give them another 5 days,then I’ll be writing and threating legal action.

Wankers.

Cracked

The new British super-secure passport with electronic clever stuff has been cracked.

Lesson: Don’t trust all that high tech crap our governments insist is good for us.

Farewell, Ted

Not a very nice day, today, for the Dump family.

About 8 years ago we acquired Ted, as a kitten. Our next door neighbours (P&A P) found a kitten under the rhubarb bush – and rushed in asking if we could look after it for the day.

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Over the next week we hunted high and low to see if anybody had lost a kitten, before eventually working out that he was a feral who had wandered off.

Anyhow, Ted stayed, and the wild streak faded over the years.

About 6 months ago we found a swelling on his nose – a trip to the vet, plus a biopsy, confirmed squamous cell carcinoma – otherwise known as skin cancer, an occupational hazard for a white haired cat.

So, we’ve had 6 months notice, and Ted the outside cat has become Ted the half-inside and half-outside cat. We’ve cosseted him through a cold winter. But in the last couple of weeks, the cancer has spread, and his breathing has been severely affected. Numerous trips to the vet have resulted in minor symptomatic relief, but the end has been getting closer.

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By last night he was having a great deal of trouble, barely eating, wheezing, sleeping most of the day wherever he could find a warm spot. Clearly he was going downhill, fast. This morning he was worse – walking very, very slowly – not eating, just finding some sun. The change in a week was dramatic. This morning it was clear – it was time for the last trip to the vet.

This afternoon I was able to get home a little earlier, to help out. We’ve been to the vet, and now Ted is buried under the almond tree, down in back garden where he used to wander through the grass, and climb trees, and chase birds, and find mice.

Farewell, Ted.

Jury Duty

In answer to the various questions, suggestions, and so on about my impending Jury Duty.

In South Australia you can be excused only on certain grounds (eg religious, or causing severe financial hardship), otherwise you can ask for a deferral of up to 12 months. If you ask for a deferral, you must serve when called up a second time – no further deferrals.

So I figure my choices are now, or deferring, and now is probably a good time because of the Christmas silly-season coming up.

As to what it pays:

1. You get an allowance of $20 / day – which, frankly, is pathetic.

2. You get an allowance of $0.20 / km for travel. In my case my round trip travel from home to the court is 50 km (+/- 1 km), so for me that’s $10 per day, roughly. That covers about 2/3 of my fuel bill. The court does not pay parking costs.

3. You can claim up to an additional $80 / day for lost wages. An employer can claim this back (as well as the $20 / day) if they pay an employee who is on Jury Duty.

In my case, I’ve checked with HR and my employer will pay me – so they will claim back the $100 / day, and I get to keep the travel allowance (whoopie!!!)

I’ll have to pay my own parking fees, which I figure will come to around $20 to $30 per day. Public transport is not an option. It will cost even more, and take at least 90 minutes each way (compared to about 35 for driving).

Court hours are 10am to 1pm, and 2:15pm to 4:30pm. Lunch is not provided – so it’s either bring the pack of sandwiches, or go out and buy lunch.

I’m expecting the out-of-pocket expenses to come to roughly parking + lunch – a guess of at least $30 / day, offset by the travel allowance of (optimistically $10 / day). So the privilege of aiding our justice system and doing my community duty for a month will cost me around $400 – possibly more, which cannot be claimed back.

At least I get paid.

Red Wine… (again)

About 18 months ago I wrote about the home-made red wine.

Tonight I opened a bottle of the same vintage – ie 2004 home made red. I opened it for cooking but thought I should try it anyhow :-)

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First impression: fair amount of acid… not really all that flash.

After 1/2 hour to get a little warmer (because it’s still pretty cool down under the house) and with a bit of air… WOW! This is a cracker! It’s BIG with loads of fruity flavour, a good amount of acid for age, and a nice gentle hint of oak. After 2 years, it’s finally settling down into something pretty good.

So… no more using this up on cooking. From a grand total production of 2 cases (yes, that’s right, 24 bottles TOTAL) I have about 18 left. I’ll eke these out slowly…

Trouble with making red wine – to work out if it’s going to be a really good one requires the patience of a saint. Like, 2 to 5 years.

For the record, some of the first vintage in 1999 are only just coming really drinkable, and there are very few left because I keep wanting to see what they are like. Mind you, the first two years were pretty ordinary. But the 2004… after 5 years of trying, I reckon I’ve cracked it.

Now… I wonder what the heck I did ?!?!

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As an aside: the 2005 vintage will be bigger – there was so much that I ran out of fermentation room and had to do some in plastic buckets. It’s less than 1/2 bottled – there will be about 30 to 35 bottles from that year.

The 2006 was a disaster – rain during summer caused mildew to set in, and the total harvest was fermented in a 2 litre flagon. When I get around to bottling it (if its any good) I’ll be lucky to get 2 bottles out of it.

Still a lot of power in Remembrance Day

I was in the local supermarket this morning. There were a number of announcements leading up to 11 am, to say that a minutes silence would be observed.

Come 11 am, there was another announcement asking for 1 minutes silence, and the standard verse was read:

They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

The chaos in the store stopped. Literally. EVERYBODY stopped, until the announcement that trading would resume.

I’m surprised, because there are a young generation who have little or no connection with the first world war – it’s too far away and most relatives who might have been involved have passed on. But no, the power is still there.

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By contrast, about 10 years ago I worked for a defence contractor, and we had regular dealings with RAAF officers. The company at that time asked for, and got, the minutes silence on Remembrance Day. Again, everything stopped. One time I was in conversation with our friendly local RAAF officer at 11 am. I raised my hand, said “We’ll resume in a moment”, and stopped talking to him. Rather than observe the tradition, he got very huffy and stormed off because we would not continue the conversation!

Abandon hope all ye who enter here

At work we have just been changed from Microsoft Outlook email, to Lotus Notes.

Notes has rate as one of the most seriously stuffed pieces of software ever released.

User interface standards? Pfft!

Consistency in doing things? Pfft!

Easy to find how to do things? Pfft!

Easy to use and understand? Pfft!

Help that is helpful? Pfft!

Many years ago I had the pleasure (!) of using an early version of Novell Groupwise as a corporate email system. That was pretty sucky, but at least it was easy to use and understand.

Bloated Notes, on the other hand, is a step back to the primitive email systems of the early 1980’s.

Oh…. whoops… no… back in the 1980’s they were easier to use, and whilst text-based, the user interface was simple, reliable and consistent.

Bloated Notes… a small step up from stone tablets.

Where’s my chisel????

*%^&%*&

Poo, poo, blast and damn.

I’ve been called up for Jury Duty – starting in about 2 weeks and for the whole of December.

Lovely. Yummy. Just what I’ve always wanted.

(notice the sarcasm, anybody?)

Cranky

Big article in the Weekend Financial Review about water, Murray River, etc. mainly looking at the town of HAY, in NSW.

Hay used to be a pretty dry place – but a few years ago somebody put in big open trench irrigation ditches (a mere 20 km of it) to bring in irrigation water. Now Hay has loads of water, and the Hay plain is used for growing RICE (!!!???!!!), corn, grass for grazing, etc etc.

So, the big moan in the weekend paper is about what the drought, and the cut in irrigation quotas will mean for rural communities and Hay as an example.

CRANKY ATTACK #1. Hang on a mo. The irrigation is artificial, and extremely inefficient. And these people have the hide to whine about cuts in the quota. Give me a break. It’s people like this who have f*&^ed the system up for everybody else.

Particular focus in the article on one farmer, supposedly responsible, who said (I’m paraphrasing but the gist of it is the same):

I own water, and I’ll use it wherever the economic return is greatest. At the moment, that’s rice, so I’ll grow rice.

CRANKY ATTACK #2. For starters, this guy DOES NOT OWN WATER. He has an allocation, granted by a stupid and short-sighted state government. That allocation might have a value, but he does not OWN water in a river system. The water in the river system belongs to everybody. He has rights to it, whether allocated on a rational basis or not. And those rights affect many more people than just him. Responsible farmer? I think not.

CRANKY ATTACK #3. Geez. Growing rice. Which sells in the supermarket for about $1 a bag, and barely competes on price with the Asian imports. Something is seriously wrong if the higher cost of local labour means that Australian rice can compete with imports. And that something that is wrong is the cost of water. If jerks like this paid a more reasonable cost for a scare commodity, they would use their (or a smaller) water allocation for something more effective.

After reading this, I’m really grumpy. State governments need to admit the error of their ways, take back or buy back water licenses granted, and cut down on stupid irrigation. At the same time the cost of irrigation water needs to be PERMANENTLY increased – not just in times of drought, but forever. We need permanent economic signals, not short term chopping and changing.

GRRRRRRR.

More HK pictures

The material of choice for ALL scaffolding in building work is bamboo. The poles seem to be about 10 metres long, and they are lashed together with some kind of natural fibre thing (bamboo leaves??):

There were numerous examples, including a 60 storey building under construction next to our hotel where the entire outside of the building (top to bottom) used bamboo scaffolding (and green shade cloth to prevent debris from falling onto passers-by).

(And I’ve thumbnailed this lot for those in dial-up land)

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Some of the older apartment buildings are very grotty:

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And some are not:

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The Star Ferry gets a very high billing as a “must-do” tourist thing. It’s also very convenient to get around, and widely used as just plain old public transport. Views are good:

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Weight loss must be a big thing, these signs were everywhere. I was quite taken by the name: “FLABeLOS”. Somebody I don’t believe that the tummy on the left was able to transform into the one of the right:

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In spite of the high population, a large amount of Hong Kong is not developed, and there are some very nice public spaces with public art:

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All for now… maybe more if I get keen.

Thoughts about Asia & Australia & Climate Change

More Australians should take a visit in Asia. Admittedly, Hong Kong has a heavy British influence – hardly surprising after being a colony for a hundred years.

However, the reason for suggesting this is to see the pace, the activity, and the win-at-all-costs mentality.

There are 6.5 million people living in Hong Kong. Everywhere we went, there was building work going on. The amount of development, and re-development is staggering.

With my employer I took a look through some show apartments. These are places for the up and coming Chinese. Typically, the SELL price on these apartments is A$1 million. That will get you about 200 sq metres, 2 or 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, lounge, kitchen. That’s a BIG apartment, with a price to match. These apartments are decked out with everything you can dream of – more gadgets and thingies than you can poke a stick at. And they sell like hot cakes.

Admittedly this is aimed at the group of the population with money, but there seems to be plenty of it. It was also explained to me that in a lot of cases they will be bought by a young couple who will end up living there with one or both sets of parents (hence the many bedrooms and bathrooms). So you might get 2 generations of an extended family – but it’s still a lot of money.

Across the border in China, the city of Shenzhen has 20 million people living there. The average age is 25, and 20 years ago the city was all farming country. The amount of money spent to build Shenzhen is incomprehensible.

To put that population in perspective: In the one city of Shenzhen, they have roughly the same population as the WHOLE of Australia. Or roughly 1/10 the population of the entire USA. Or 1/4 the population of Germany. Or 1/3 the population of France. Or 4 TIMES the population of Denmark.

This part of the world is hot and humid. I have never seen so many air-conditioner units before. These folks buy split systems at about the same rate that most people buy hot meals. Don’t believe that they are accustomed to the climate and live in harmony with it. They hate the humidity just like everybody else, and they have the income to do something about it.

In HK and Shenzhen, they don’t give a toss about the things we worry about – they are too busy making a living, or making the next fortune.

Climate change? Who cares!.

Electricity to run your air-con? Who cares! Just put in some more cables and hook it up.

Water? Plenty.

Lessons to take away from this:

Australia is way too introspective and parochial.

All that crap that’s been coming out about the response Australia should take to climate change… it’s all bullshit.

Australia tosses out about 3% of the world’s CO2 emissions, and if Australia were to close shop tomorrow, the NEW emissions from China would take up that slack in 10 MONTHS.

In other words, China is ADDING the equivalent of 4 entire Australias, about every 3 years.

You want to do something serious about climate change? Forget Australia – waste of time. Tackle the big ones: China, USA, Europe.

In Oz we could spend a fortune, and achieve nothing tangible for the money. In this respect (and about in only this respect) I agree with our glorious PM Mr Little Johnny.

——

For today’s pop quiz:

How many US$ millionaires are there in China?

We still think of China as a fairly poor country….

There are about 134,000 US$ millionaires in Australia.

There are about 17 million US$ millionares in the USA.

There are about 318,000 US$ millionaires in China. This also seems to be increasing by about 50,000 PER YEAR.

Pathetic

The ABC have dumped “The Glass House”. Perhaps our dear pollies don’t like satire.

Says the ABC spokes-person (you can tell if they are male, then they are a spokesman, but if female, it’s spokes-person. That’s pathetic too.):

“We’re not axing the show but we’re not going to commission it next year.”

Well if that’s not axing it, I don’t know what is.

Little John has FINALLY got his wish. An emasculated, grovelling, weasel-word spouting, puerile ABC that can show British re-runs till the cows come home, but can’t allow local comedy or satire because it might offend his group of power-groupies in Canberra.

What a pathetic lot we have become.

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