Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Merry Christmas

Well, it's almost Christmas day and our thoughts turn to ham, turkey, presents under a twinkling tree and... our old friend from South Park, Mr Hankey the Christmas Poo.

Ahhh, you just gotta love the idea of a faecal folk hero, the turd is the word, a poo for all people, an old school stool...

And so I wish you all a very merry Christmas and may your holidays be full of joy and solid movements.

Me? I plan to throw myself into the Indian Ocean, wallow about for a bit and spend the remainder of the time catching up on a few good books - probably on the throne in our small purpose built 'library'.

Hydeeeee-Ho people and a merrrrry Christmas to you all!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Victorian bushfires - my recollections of 1997

It's been tragic to hear about the bushfires raging across Victoria over the last couple of weeks, but heartening to know that no lives have been lost.

Back in January 1997 I was working on a paper out in Ferntree Gully, in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges and remember very clearly the first signs of a fire that went on to claim three lives.

I had wandered out to the front of the building on Burwood Hwy and noticed smoke rising from very close to the summit of the Ranges, near the television towers. It was a hot and windy day of around 35 degrees and it had been preceeded by a whole string of hot weather, similar to the current situation across Victoria.

It was fascinating to watch as that fire quickly took hold, with flames clearly visible licking the crest of the mountain and sending eddies of smoke and flame high above the undergrowth. A wind change then sent it in off in another direction, with one fire fighter later commenting on how the fire front quite literally jumped over his head as it roared back over the crest of the hill.

While attention was focussed on that fire high in the hills, another blaze was supposedly deliberately lit at the base of the Ranges in a suburb called The Basin, near Upwey. That fire, which I spotted when it was still relatively small and close to the Highway, turned into a raging inferno that blackened the sky above the eastern suburbs - it looked for all the world like a volcano erupting.

It was this fire that climbed rapidly up the other side of the mountain and caught three residents of Seabreeze Avenue, Ferny Creek, completely by surprise. Reading transcripts from the coroners' report, it would seem that the couple and their neighbour were confused by the direction and speed of the second fire and by the time they realised the danger, it was too late to evacuate.

Watching this all transpire from the safety of Ferntree Gully made it seem like a special effects movie on a super large screen. I actually covered activities in the Dandenongs as part of my paper round and to watch this fire consume bushland that I had travelled through regularly and take the lives of people I may well have stood with in the same line at the supermarket, was a sobering experience.

In the days, weeks, months and even years after the fires, the scarred landscape never failed to jog my senses as I wound my way up the mountain.

Here's hoping that loss of life isn't repeated again this summer and that we here in Perth don't face similar threats as the temperature continues to rise.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Daylight savings - the whingers emerge...

Okay, I've noted a few people already starting to whinge about daylight savings - and I'm not just talking about your terminal cases like the woman who called 720 mornings to complain that DS means less time to look at her Christmas lights at night.

No, I'm talking about those who claim to have lived elsewhere and enjoyed DS, but who now live in WA and think an extra hour of daylight just isn't needed here.

Well, sorry folks, but that argument is a load of steaming old codswallop!

I'll admit that even a one hour change does take some adjustment - the kids do find it a bit harder to go to sleep, people forget to eat at the normal times and getting out of bed in the morning can be a tad more irksome. BUT, that all changes over a few weeks and you soon learn to adjust to the time cycle.

These days I'm waking to sunlight just before 6.00am rather than the ungodly hour of 4.45am and the kids are doing likewise. Even the raucous chorus of Magpies and Kookaburras in the adjacent golf course are keeping a lid on it until later.

And in the evenings it's getting dark at around about 8.30pm instead of 7.30pm which is well and truly on a par with the eastern states. I've said it once and I'll say it again - the sun has no right to be up poking its nose through my blinds at 4.45am and then buggering off before 7.00pm.

Those of you whingeing about DS should be concerned with other more pressing issues, like the people of Floreat who are intent on ridding Perth of its groundwater supplies by running sprinkler systems that would be more at home in the lobby of some Las Vegas water themed casino.

I've just moved into the neighbourhood and as a renter I'm obligated to do the bore water tango myself. The first time I turned on the retic I felt sure it was a spectacle you could see from space and that authorities would descend from Black Hawks, cuff me and drag me away to environmental vandal hell.

But it turns out that I'm not a drop in the aquifer in the scheme of things - I've seen one house cranking up industrial sized sprinklers every morning for the past week to water a front lawn that serves no purpose other than to look green. Even this morning in the pouring rain.

Groundwater is a finite option and the sooner water restrictions apply to all households, regardless of bores, the better.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Pom's Ashes campaign in tatters

Poor old Poms... just when they think they've got our measure, woops, there goes 9 wickets for 70 runs. Can this hapless lot string two innings together? Can they string together their own boot laces?

Q. What do Geraint Jones and Michael Jackson have in common?
A. They both wear gloves for no apparent reason

Q. What is the height of optimism?
A. An English batsman applying sunscreen.

Q. What does Ashley Giles put in his hands to make sure the next
ball almost always takes a wicket?
A. A bat.

Q. What would Glen McGrath be if he was an Englishman?
A. An allrounder.

Q. What advantage do Kevin Pieterson, Andrew Strauss and Geraint
Jones have over the rest of their team-mates?
A. At least they can say they're not really English.

Q. What is the English version of a hat-trick?
A. Three runs in three balls.

Q. What do you call an Englishman with 100 runs against his name?
A. A bowler.

Q. What is the most proficient form of footwork displayed by English
A. The walk back to the pavilion.

Q. Who has the easiest job in the English squad?
A. The guy who removes the red ball marks from the bats.

Q. Why is Andrew Flintoff the unluckiest English player?
A. Because he was born in England.

Q. What does "Ashes" stand for?
A. Another Sad Horrific English Series.

Q. What's the English version of LBW?
A. Lost, Beaten, Walloped.

Q. Who spends the most time on the crease of anyone in the English
A. The person who ironed the cricket whites.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Ben Cousins legless

Oh Ben, you've done it again! Arrested at 4.30am wandering the banks of the Yarra, pissed as a newt, just a stone's throw from the Crown Casino.

According to police, Ben was "legless" when arrested and had no idea where he was - shades of the day Trent Croad was concussed at Subiaco Oval playing for the Hawks and then went looking for his car in the car park after the game. "Trent, you live in Glenferrie mate! You'll be needing an aeroplane!"

However, Trent's excuse was a knock to the noggin, whereas Ben's situation was self induced. Word is that he was keen to shed the shirt and take off ala the booze bus episode, but couldn't for the life of him find Canning Highway anywhere.

They say you shouldn't put temptation in the way of the easily tempted, but that's exactly what's happened here in a round-a-bout sorta way. Quite simply, it's not really Ben's fault. Here's why...

You see the club that Benny frequented on this night of the lost legs is owned by a bloke called Nick Russian. Nick's a model and he's also an ex-contestant on the rather salubrious reality TV show 'Temptation Island'. Now, Australia's an island, therefore Ben was led into temptation... see what I mean!

A rather stupid and fanciful excuse I'll be the first to admit, but no more so than his story last time around - 'I was busting for a wiss so I ran from the car and just kept on running'.

So we wait with baited breath to see what sort of excuse will be cranked out to once again save the hide of big, bad Benny. This time he's got no Gardiner to help deflect the blow torch, but I'll put $1,000 bucks on him trotting out for round 1 of season 2007, bright and shiny as a new teflon pan.