The Time Has Come (the Walrus said) Archives

Made in Heaven…

Take a moment and think of the really great marriages,  those that lasted the test of time, those that just worked.

Who knows why they worked – many reasons perhaps.

But that brings me to something special. A special marriage, perhaps even heavenly. Something that Just Works.

Of course, you should have guessed it by now: Chocolate and Ginger. More specifically, Dark Chocolate and Ginger.

When you can find such beasties, and the finding can be difficult, they seem to come in two major varieties:

- Dark Chocolate with Ginger; and

- Ginger with Dark Chocolate.

Now before you leap about arguing semantics, it’s actually pretty straightforward, the distinction is merely how much ginger you have. A good example of Ginger with chocolate is the Jakes Candy stuff from Queensland. Big lumps of glace ginger covered in a nice hard dark chocolate.

Yes it comes in great big blocksOn the other hand, a few clever New Zealanders have discovered there is more to life than sheep. Whittakers chocolate is available in Woolworths, and its no too bad at all.

My current victim is Whittakers Spicy Ginger Block – in a nice big 250 g pack so you don’t need to keep making trips back to the supermarket.

So what’s right and wrong?

On the right side, the chocolate is dark, hard, and slightly bitter. Unlike that soft squishy milky rubbish, this needs a good sharp smack to break it. And it melts very slowly, leaving the ginger behind. Also on the right side, it comes packed in a sturdy paper wrapping. Unlike so many makers that use a very thin foil that tears letting the crumbs spread over your lap or through the keyboard, this one takes a lot of punishment.

One the wrong side – well not much really. The name is a bit naff.

Arlo

I was driving Dads Taxi out the pick up the chaps from Table Tennis this evening. Couldn’t bear the Olympics commentary, so skipped a few radio stations. Landed on AM, ABC, 791. They have a show on Friday nights called Music Deli, which just happened to be playing an Arlo Guthrie concert that was sometime in the last year or so, probably in Sydney.

Suddenly, for the first time, I heard some but not all of “Alice’s Restaurant”… Glued to the radio while waiting for the guys, and on the way home, then rushed inside to fiddle a radio and get the tail end. So I managed to get a total of about 40-45 minutes of what was probably an hour or two. It’s supposed to appear on the ABC web site some time.

He’s an engaging performer who links a concert with stories and anecdotes, something that always makes what’s being presented a bit more appealing. Since it finished, a quick check shows that Mr YouTube can  dish up all manner of gems.

So for those who want to wallow in a bit of PROTEST GENRE…

Alice’s Restaurant is fun… you need to set aside 18 minutes – apparently he has been known to spin this out to 45 minutes at times :)

City of New Orleans rings a bunch of bells from somewhere back in the dim dark 1980’s – or earlier.

And don’t miss Whoopy Ti, with the muppets from 1979!

Ahh…. muppets… something for another post some time. Fortunately YouTube has vast amounts of it, you can get a fix now and again.

Mort

Many years ago, when Wilma the Walrus and I had done with slaughtering dinosaurs in the back garden (that’s an indication of how long ago – and how long our children think it must have been), we went on a big overseas holiday.

Part of this involved a bus tour around bits of Europe. As you do.

Along the way we had to take a ferry across the English Channel. We were both seasick, but eventually found some seats roughly in the middle where the constant upping and downing from the swell was a bit reduced, and dozed off.

Now you know how it is when you have a nap in the day… noises become part of the dreams. I was dreaming of a giant fly, buzzing around, Bzzzz…  Brrrrr…. Grrrr…. Bzzzz…. Eventually I woke up enough to realise this was actually a rather large American chap, about 60 or so years old, about 10 metres away, and talking. Well… droning.

My first thought was to be thankful we would soon arrive and be away from that guy.

Imagine then, my reaction to find he was on the same bus tour and we had him, sitting down the back of the bus, droning on, for the next 2 weeks.

I never found his name, but I christened him ‘Mort’. He looked like a Mort.

Mort would sit down the back, always in the same seat, and doze during the days when he was not droning on and boring somebody to death. When he wasn’t droning or boring, his most common utterance was “Is it tahm ta eat?”

Naturally there were a bunch of Aussies as well, all slightly ratbag, as is the way. I was talking to some of them and called this guy ‘Mort’ in conversation. “Who’s Mort?”, they asked. I pointed him out. I never explained that Mort was my name for him.

(you can see where this is going)

Some time later, I overheard one of them talking to him: “No, Mort, the Roman ruins are over there…” or something like that. Mort looked confused…. who was this Mort guy this other mad aussie was referring to?

Wally rapidly did the exit-stage-left.

Bower Birds

We found the records of our spending and petrol consumption during our 1989 trip around England, Scotland and Wales. Bower birds! Who keeps this kind of thing for that long? A mere 19 years.

It makes interesting reading, though.

Petrol consumption over a period of 5 weeks, driving Gertie-the-van, was 663.38 litres, at a cost of UK£270.75. This means the average price per litre of petrol in England (Scotland and Wales) in 1989 was £0.408. That was about A$0.90. We whine that we now pay about A$1.50 / litre, but 2 years ago we were only paying A$0.90 – the same as they were paying that in the UK nearly 15 years before.

That 663.38 litres took us 3375 miles (5431 kilometres). Which highlights something else interesting. In those days the UK was using litres and miles. Metric and imperial units at the same time! Take note in the USA – a conversion of units can be done!

That also means we were travelling about 1000 kilometres a week.

We made it to Lands End in the very South, but had to give up – there was just not enough time to get to John O’Groats in the very North. The top end of Scotland is (was) many, many kilometres of single lane roads with periodic passing places. One of the most stressful types of road to drive, and the average speed drops rapidly when you are forever stopping and pulling over.

Seeing as we were driving and living in Gertie-the-van, and remember the cost of food in England as expensive, it’s interesting to look at the records there as well.

Food: £11.

Food: £14.

Meal in restaurant: £25 (oh the horrors – such spendthrifts!)

Perhaps it was not so expensive after all. Perhaps we were just skint and doing it all on a very tight budget.

Water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink

It’s been raining cats and dogs here for the last week or so, with more coming for at least the next week. Compared to last winter, the drought in Adelaide at least has broken. Inland – still a different story.

Which brings me to water.

It looks like the local Water Minister, Karlene Maywald, will lose her seat at the next election because the country people in her electorate are so pissed off at what they see as all talk and no action. The perception is that those evil bastards upstream have oodles of water and want to make sure we don’t get a drop, here in South Australia, at the tail end of their sewer.

This is partly true and partly baloney, but when people are pissed off they lash out, sometimes unreasonably. The state government here can’t make it rain. And the much heralded new deals from the new Federal Government are all just so much long-term hot-air, with NSW and Victoria having effectively delayed any substantial changes to their water over-allocation policies for a good 10 years.

The really strange thing is that Mike Rann, Premier of SA and supposed Master Strategist And Student Of Machiavelli, seems to have (if you’ll excuse the expression) gone to water on the whole issue.

The same Mike Rann who fought the Federal Government’s nuclear waste dump has a golden opportunity to make a big gesture. Something symbolic that will yield a small benefit and a huge symbolic win. Right now a big fuss is being made about the Federal Government inaction when they could be buying the huge water guzzling cotton farms like Cubbie Station, and a few others.

While the world whines, I’m sure Mike Rann could dredge up $600 million or so and go buy all those properties, dismiss the staff, and pump out their massive water storages.

Just imagine if the SA goverment bought those properties! Rann would be a hero on SA, and the most evil bugger on the planet in the eastern states. It would secure his victory at the next election, and relegate his opponent Mr Stunt-Man-Smith to a spitting, scratching, name-calling ninny for the next decade.

Bold action has been taken before – dare they do it again?

Business today

This about sums up the way our current free markets and regulators work.

QF30

Pop over to the captain for some pics of the damage to the Qantas 747 with the exploding oxygen bottle.

Lucky, lucky, lucky.

Front door / back door

Today whilst wandering around the hacienda, clearing up some of the mess from the truck smash of a few weeks ago, I was ruminating (as you do when feeding a couple of cubic metres of tree through a mulcher) about conventions for going to other peoples houses.

When I was a kid, if it was somebody you knew, you always went to the back door. The back was usually the kitchen door and close to the occupied living areas. You never ever went to the front door. The front door usually led into a lounge room or similar, a special place for visitors that was kept clean and tidy, certainly not somewhere for kids to go and mess it up. For somebody you didn’t know, the front door was of course the way to go. Even when gates started to appear you could always open them, and it was still easy and normal to make an appearance at the back door.

These days, gates are far more common and usually locked. Back yards and back doors are considered private. With a few rare exceptions, I wouldn’t dream of arriving at most peoples houses and going to the back door. Perhaps going around the back carries an implied need to be invited. As well, modern house designs seem less amenable to easily popping around to a back door anyhow. But it seems a social norm has changed over the last 20 or 30 years. Not sure if this is a change for the better or not.

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