Archive Page 2

Birthday, bl**dy Birthday!

Poised almost halfway between the half century and unaffordable retirement, a 55th birthday isn’t one of the “biggies” that people celebrate with extravagant parties.  It was mine on May 1st.  Thank you for all the birthday wishes, by the way.

There are only two truly significant “fiver” birthdays.  Five, because it means you’re finally old enough to go to school and your exhausted parents can finally stop paying for child care. And 65, when you can at last officially retire, claim your retirement savings without being extravagantly taxed and start getting reluctantly given “seniors” discounts for pub meals, McDonalds coffee and train tickets.   75 is a pretty good number too, but then any birthday after about 72 is one worth celebrating a little too enthusiastically.

55 is getting close for most people these days to the last birthday they will have that doesn’t involve small grandchildren underfoot.

My siblings have instituted a convention – we all get together at the home of the afflicted brother or sister on the occasion of their 50th birthday.  Since the first, my own low key Chinese restaurant meal with my siblings, children and mother, the subsequent celebrations have expanded each time.  The last, only a week or so ago in Queensland for my youngest sister, included a cast of thousands – siblings, spouses, nephews and nieces,  children and her first grandchild.  Most of us descended on her home near Warwick where she and her partner effectively have two houses on a block of land. All rooms were full, there were tents and a camper, and Ms Canada and I managed to reserve the prime suite, their well appointed caravan. With a BBQ, an all-you-can-eat meal at the local RSL ($14.50) and a huge breakfast at the Yangan pub on Sunday, no-one went hungry.

There’s only one 50th to go – in another  4 years, but in the meantime we have my mother’s 80th.

Then it starts all over again, with my 60th in 2015.  How did I get so old?


World Championship Top Gear-ing

If you’re reading this outside the Home Country or Antipodean Colonies, you will not know of “Top Gear”.  Probably.

A TV show that’s ostensibly about cars, this UK production stars three irascible Englishmen who test drive improbably expensive muscle and luxury cars, banter amongst one another and undertake equally improbable “challenges”.

It’s not about the cars.  Strangely, you don’t have to be a car fan to like Top Gear at all.  Just sit back and listen to the “boys” blather on.

As for the “Challenges”….

Years ago on our local TV, there used to be a show called “World Championship Wrestling”.  No matter that all the action was local and the closest to the World it got were wrestlers called Mario Milano, an Italian fish and chip shop owner and Spiros Arion, the “golden greek”.  Every week, viewers would thrill to the  gravel tones of Jack Little, inviting “wrestling fans” to tune in.   Everyone knew that the matches were choreographed, but despite that,  it was popular.

Just like the Top Gear “Challenges”.  You know full well that the trials and tribulations are 70% script written, but watch for the sheer enjoyment.

I’ve just been watching an episode where the boys traveled by 2nd hand four wheel drive across the Andes, breaking down, crashing and generally raising mayhem.

But, for example… it’s hard to take a supposed lone “stranding” seriously, when you know there’s at least one extra vehicle with the camera and sound man standing there filming the man bemoaning his lonely fate

Top Gear. Top program. Top Fiction.


I’ve avoided writing about my job over the last year or so, mainly because it deals with a large distributed client base and I didn’t (and still don’t) really want to inadvertantly cause problems for either myself or my employer by saying the wrong thing.  So excuse me if I name no names. ( Dean has made a habit of giving his workplaces fanciful and (perhaps) significant names – like “Tombstone”.  I’ll refrain from this as well, lest I let something slip).

In early February, though, I handed in my notice.  Today’s my last day.  Continue reading ‘Endings’

Ribs, ribs, ribs, etc…

Fat Sally’s at Oamaru, NZ is a rather popular pub and restaurant, recommended by the Lonely Planet Guide.  Ms Canada and I took their suggestion and indulged in a beer, a wine and after perusing the menu, I decided to doubly indulge in their Ribs, Ribs, Ribs!  (No Half Serves)

Now your correspondent (mostly) knows his limits, and since Ribs, Ribs, Ribs! comes with potato chips,  I requested a small salad substitution.

The picture tells the story.  If they’d had Ribs, Ribs! or maybe just Ribs! I would have been quite happy.  As it was, I was both happy and bloated, not to mention feeling somewhat guilty at overindulging.

Here’s the thing.  The folks on the table next to us also both got Ribs, Ribs, Ribs!, but with chips.  Imagine my plate, with a 50cm layer of chips then the ribs.  And they ate it all, I presume.  Better men than I, and one of them was a girl, and not a big one.

Bog Standard, not.

I’m weighing in to the over or under argument.

Over, not under.

Right, got it?

In case you haven’t, coming soon to a loo near you – and you know who you are – is my probably soon not to be patented – toilet roll holder accessory that simply makes it impossible to hang your toilet paper by the wall and be able to get any paper when you need it.  It enforces the God-endorsed (in a personal revelation – prove me wrong!) configuration of toilet paper hanging over the top of the roll toward you, rather than the heretical and abhorrent alternative.

Plumb(ing) crazy

There are small things that conspire to annoy the less worldly traveller. The colour of street signs, how close to the safe speed limit the suggested road curve speeds are, whether there are public toilets in towns or whether you have to buy a coffee to use some restaurant’s dunny (self defeating  at best, since it just sets you up for the next one), or the baffling array of confusing shower taps.

And it’s the latter of which I write.

What happened to the simple two taps each for the bath and the shower?  Every motel we visit seems to have bought their bathroom fittings from “obscure taps-r-s”.  Whether it be a special button hidden behind the shower curtain that you press to switch taps from bath to shower, a small paddle on the shower rose that controls temperature and is guaranteed to drench you with cold water before you can figure out where the hot setting is, or a completely unmarked joystick which provides a one-armed-bandit option for choosing whether you get scolded or frozen, motel owners conspire to compete as to how many half dressed, damp guests arrive back at the reception desk sheepishly asking for directions as to how to get a decent shower.

Bentriders do Wendouree … again!

Once again, a group of eleven intrepid recumbent riders have braved the pointy fingers of ridicule to contest the Lake Wendouree Challenge relay.

There’s already a Youtube video at:

As team manager, my leaderly duties reduced the number of laps I rode, so I figure in the video mostly racing around in the transition area swapping armbands between riders, but I do appear on the bike in its fairing once coming into the area, and I’m the guy in the blue top passing the cameraman (on the bike without the fairing) in the final “victory lap”