Friday, 29 May 2009

...a belgian babe

After a hard day's blogging in the Batcave, there's nothing I like more than cooling my brain with a nice cold beer. In fact I'm quite partial to a frosty one during blogging. Sometimes I've even been known to partake in a beer in the early part of a blogging session, say sort of mid-early afternoon, and then sometimes even middayish (with a meal), and occasionaly about three quarters of the way through the session, perhaps early-mid, late afternoon... and then sometimes late-late afternoon to early-mid-evening, and definately through the later part of the mid evening ....... but never at dusk! I'm not a savage.

So I wasn't surprised to find myself at the local bottle shop the other night, all post-dusky and looking for some short-term inspiration. I remember my brain wasn't working all that well at the time, probably due to too much... umm... blogging, and I was having difficulty making a rational decision as to which beer should have the privelage of coming home with me. I don't usually fall for blondes, but I turned out to be extremely satisfied with the selection I had unthinkingly made.

Actually, Hoegaarden (not at all amusingly pronounced who-garden) is a 'witbier' (white beer) named after the Belgian town where it has been brewed since 1966. And white it is, with a clean, uniform and quite appealing cloudiness that can deceive one into thinking that the glass it is served in is exceptionally frosty.
And Hoegaarden also surprises with it's light, jazzy body and crisp finish, quite different to the heaviness associated with the clay-like, swirling sediments typical of some other bottle-fermented brews. The head is tall and silky and it packs a surprising plethora of fruits, quite apt for it' summery good looks.

Hoegaarden owes much of it's and smooth body and delicate finish to it's 'secret' ingredients, the surprising combination of coriander and curacao orange peel from a recipe developed in 1400's. These ingredients lend it a consistency of palate and spring meadow aroma without the overly zesty punch or excessive sweetness of many contemporary, 'boutique' brews.

And Hoegaarden is also served in it's own unique glass, a thick, hexagonal pint or half-pint tumbler. Legend has it that the shape is so that it can be wrenched from the drinker's hand with a spanner at the end of a big night at the pub (or ye pubbe, depending on the century).

Hoegaarden is quite the rising star, and can be increasingly found on tap at quality drinking establishments (like the Espy kitchen; a great drop to quaff with food) and deservedly so. It's a bloody marvellous beer!

Hoegaarden (the regular one...I haven't tried the fancy varieties yet); 4.5 packets of beer nuts.


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Wednesday, 27 May 2009

...almost famous

Came home the other day to find a non-enveloped letter in the box. Nothing strange about that, except this one said something along the lines of "We've been scouting for filming locations and your house matches the descriptions of the director's requirements...etc". The production is the second series of an AFI winning comedy that screened on SBS. Nobody really watched it (myself included) but I had heard of it. One of those shows you think "I wouldn't mind watching that", but five minutes later forget what day or time it is on.

At first Q though they must have dropped the letter into every house along the street. But we soon figured that if they were after a clean 1940's picket-fenced Californian bungalow with a neat garden, they would have dropped to the letter to every house on the street except ours. We live in a dump, though its an endearing dump.

So Q rang the producer this morning to find out more...

"So you're interested in our house?"


"You mean the boxy one in desperate need of a paintjob with the large, broken yacht out the front?"


"The one with the blue rowboat, retro lawnmowers and rusty 1950's concrete mixers?"

"You betcha"

"Our house with the giant banana passionfruit vine strangling the clothesline, the mouldy caravan and a Charles Dickens doorknocker?"

"The very one"

"The one with no fence, a letterbox being held in place with a couple of housebricks and a grumpy pussy cat?"

"It's perfect!"

"So when can you come over?"

Six weeks filming, unlimited access required. We're keen to learn more (and we we're meeting the producer on Friday morning), but its far from a given. It may be too disruptive to our lives (pussycat included) and the interior may not meet their requirements anyway. It is very cosy inside. But we may be interested for a couple of reasons. Firstly, we'd get a real kick out of seeing our house, inside and out, in a TV series. Secondly, we'd love to immortalise 'The Boat', the famous boat whose owner just passed away. And lastly, there is a nice little fee payable to us, if they want to proceed.

I probably can't tell you much more because there may be confidentiality clauses and the like.

Watch this space.


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Friday, 22 May 2009


Mmmmmm! I love the taste of pig snot in the morning. This picture is great because it is so cute and so gross at the same time. It is both Yin and Yang, sweet and sour (pun intended), an archetypal image representing the great cosmic duality that holds together the fabric of the universe.

Nah, not really. It's just a kid sticking his tongue in a pig's nostril. Sure its fun, but not a practice I'd generally recommend at the moment....

...or is it?

No doubt you've heard about the latest media sensation pandemic sweeping the globe, Swine Flu. And it's turning out to be a bit of a fizzer, much to the frustrations of many a newspaper editor, though I guess we should be very grateful for that fact. The last bad flu strain, the 1918 flu pandemic killed over 12,000 Australians, decimated Europe and wiped out up to 30% of the populations of the Pacific Islands. Its hard to imagine such things happening these days, but aside from overall improved health of much of the general population, there is no reason why such things couldn't happen again.

To be fair, it must be tricky for public health authorities, to issue the right information without overstating the facts and causing unecessary public alarm. The media don't always help, and tend to run away with the story and waste a lot of type dwelling on the worst-case scenario. It's sooo easy to be skeptical about the potential of Swine Flu (and fun too), but presenting Swine flu from the doomsday angle may not really be such a bad thing. Widespread complacency might be just what this bug needs to get leg up in its quest for global domination. To borrow an old AIDS prevention slogan "Silence = Death".

So a bit of public concern is perhaps a good thing, regardless of the true level of risk. No doubt the nutters have already stockpiled their baked beans and retreated to the hills. Adults may prevent their suspected sick kids and possibly even themselves from going to work/school (if you want to take a sickie, now is the time). Travellers to infected areas may quarantine themselves upon returning home. People, ill or not, will be more conscious of hanging around in doctor's waiting rooms. Hand washing may increase, and this, and all these, are good steps to improving public health and wellbeing, including having the nutters in self-imposed exile.

All of this raises some interesting questions on how we perceive and respond to the threat of disease in our modern, affluent society. As its shaping up, this strain of influenza is no more dangerous than strains that sweep through our communities every year, and may in fact be less dangerous. I'm not sure of the death rate in Australia (probably in the dozens), but more 'common' strains of influenza kill thousands around the world each year, usually through secondary infections like pneumonia, and then generally in the frail, weak or very young. I picked up 'common' flu about three years ago and I thought I was going to die. I was cold to the core, no matter how many blankets I wrapped myself in. I shivered constantly and became delirious once or twice. I didn't eat for a week and my bones and joints ached for days. It was fucking awful, and I will never again say "I've just got a touch of the flu" when I now know I actually just have a sniffle.

So if 'normal' flu strains are so damn nasty and deadly, why don't we quarantine people at the first sign sypmtoms? Why don't we take kids out of school straight away, stop infected travellers from socialising, etc? Why don't we do all the things we are doing now to stop the spread of Swine Flu?

And why don't we give as much publicity and commit equal actions to more dangerous and preventable diseases like malaria, which stills kills between 1.5 and 3 million people a year, half of them children. In 2003, AIDS killed 5 million people worldwide. Because these diseases have been around for a while and don't make the headlines anymore doesn't make them less deadly. I reckon it can be summed up with one well known Kylie song..."Better the devil you know."

It's the rare, exotic dangers that capture the public imagination and cause the most fear. Shark attacks sell newspapers, a thousand road deaths a year don't. The ecstacy overdose causes a sensation, the old guy who drinks himself to death on a park bench doesn't. A work colleague of mine talks about her great fear of this one-in-a-billion parisitic infection she saw on Today Tonight, while she puffs on another cigarette. 'Normal' flu, who cares... but flu that has mutated from pigs or birds, run for the hills! Our greatest fears are the most irrational.

Aren't humans the most fascinating of creatures!


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Thursday, 21 May 2009


I am in luuurrve, big time!!! Sorry Q, but I have a new partner, with whom I am about to start a long and productive relationship with (well the productivity bit is debatable). She's young, sassy, curvy, intelligent and designed to give maximum pleasure.

Love, thy name is HP Pavilion DV5-1223tx. Fwoaarr!

Things just weren't working out with my old notebook and she recently left me, completely shattered. Her replacement (an ex-work jobby exactly the same as the old one....only working) wasn't doing it for me either, so I hit the streets to look for a new partner, who was quite the bargain at $1479, With Intel Duo Core 2.15GHz, 2.0 GB RAM, NVidia GeForce 9200GS 512MB accelerator, 300GB HDD, 15.4" widescreen and Altec Lansing speakers, she's one dang hot mamma!

Now all I have to do is find the time to get to know her, which is a lot harder than it used to be. It's frustrating to think she's just lying there at home waiting for me to start pushing her buttons. These double-entendres are starting to make me feel sick so I'll stop now.

As you can probably already tell, this lovely classy new machine is not guaranteed to improve the quality of this blog.

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Monday, 18 May 2009


Two weeks before the old man died, the council ordered the removal of the front fence of the old man's house.

One week before the old man died, the large tree that was pushing the fence over was cut down.

And on the night the old man died, the howling wind and driving rain tore a hole through the old man's yacht, a vessel for a long time anchored in the shadow of it's prime, obediently awaiting the return of its loving master.

Now we look around the yard, sad with the sights from another time. The rusted relics of a man's prime, now all but a distant memory.

The rubble of old ideas, buried by five thousand days and nights. Great things, never built.

Grand plans and intentions that drifted away on a tide of Alzheimer's Disease.

So now we must respectfully wield the broom.

This ship has sailed the last leg of its adventure, and through all the tears and longing we begin to see again...

...that this world is for the living.



Thursday, 14 May 2009

...i can feel a rant coming on.. sorry

This blog is now Carbon Neutral! (But only if you turn your computer off right now!)

I am sooooo sick of greenwash.

For those that may not know, "greenwash" is a term that has entered the lexicon in recent years years, and is expained by Wikipedia as...

"the practice of companies disingenuously spinning their products and policies as environmentally friendly, such as by presenting cost cuts as reductions in use of resources."

The article goes on the say that...

"In December 2007, environmental marketing firm Terra Choice gained national press coverage for releasing a study called "The Six Sins of Greenwashing" which found that more than 99% of 1,018 common consumer products randomly surveyed for the study were guilty of greenwashing. A total of 1,753 environmental claims made, with some products having more than one, and out of the 1,018 studied only one was found not guilty of making a false or misleading green marketing claim."

The Wikpedia article goes on to list Terra Choice's Seven Sins of Greenwashing, which makes an interesting read. Theres also plenty of blogs and stuff on this new phenomena.

One of the reasons I care about this because I am sick of being advertised to as if I'm a utter brainless gorm (feel free to disagree). I also hate seeing companies succeed by being disingenuous, and having thousands of well meaning consumers falling for their greenwash, and go out and buy the product with the best intentions of being environmentally responsible.

I saw an ad online the other day that got me really annoyed, and has triggered this post. It was for the new Apple MacBook, from the ad, "the world's greenest family of notebooks", and had lots of lovely green colour and images cute, green cartoony images of planet earth. The main problem I have with this, and it's one of the most common forms of greenwashing, is the advertisers aim of having potential buyers think that because the new MacBook is "greenest" it is therefore good for the environment.

The new MacBook is not good for the environment, it is not even "better" for the environment. The fact is that it is slightly less bad for the environment than its competitors. Being slightly less bad does not make something "good" or even "better"... it is still bad, just slightly less so. Low tar cigarettes are not "better" for you ("better" being a positive word) than regular smokes, and they are certainly not "good" for you. The new Macbooks aren't green, they are just marginally less black. It employs a very clever choice of word though, as technically speaking their claim of being greenest cannot be so easily challenged. They fall short of saying the notebook is outright "green" (and green is good right?), though that is the perception, along with the green colours that dominate the ad, they are trying to create. So I guess the term "greenest" means the best of a bad lot.... though that doesn't mean good.

A Toyota Prius hybrid car is not a "green" car as many of its drivers would like to think because it still requires tremendous amounts of energy from burning fossil fuels to build and run. True it requires less than conventional cars, but it is still no friend of the environment.

That scottish restaurant trys to spruik its green credentials by announcing its new coffee is now "Rainforest Alliance Coffee". While I'm characteristically cynical of the truth behind claims that "Rainforest Alliance Coffee" is true fair trade coffee (that's fair trade, as opposed to Fair Trade (TM)), what I do know is that coffee plantations exist in places where rainforests used to be. Hardly anything green about that. The main benficial claims about this supposedly green beverage on the Mac Coffee website are...
  • "MacDonalds coffee is grown on Rainforest Alliance (TM) certified plantations (OK, the workers get "better" pay than some other workers, perhaps $1.20 per day, as opposed to $1 per day)
  • The coffee bean begins life as a seed within the coffee cherry (umm, how does that differ from the coffee beans grown everywhere else around the?)
  • Each bean is handpicked by local farm workers (and your point is what exactly?)
  • Beans are expertly blended and roasted for quality and flavour (well I hope so)
  • Enjoy the taste knowing you are making a difference! (Please show me this supposed point of difference. I read it three times and I still can't find it)
I looked up the Rainforest Alliance website and it's full of greenwash, including something about "sustainable chocolate" (which will make one of my readers very happy because I assume this means a form of chocolate that cannot run out, like the Magic Pudding). It also says that its coffee is "grown on a farm where the environment is protected", so I guess after they cleared the rainforest, bulldozed the land and setup the plantation, they put up fences. The Rainforest Alliance is nothing but a business selling certification by masquerading as a charity.

It's pretty easy to find the greenwash down at the local supermarket, it's everywhere. A dead giveaway are the products with the green treefrog/dolphin/tree or smiling planet on the package, or claims that by buying this product you will help save the planet because it contains of 20% less poison than the competition. I'm sure all the little fishies out there are saying "Ooh thankyou for buying the new Green Rainforest Bleach. The slightly lower ammonia levels really make my gills feel fresh and clean!" Lately, the giant oil companies have been getting in on the act with lots of feelgood wishy-washy words to make us think that if "green petrol" is not already here, then it is not far away.

I'll concede that some of these new "green" products are the lesser of many evils, and in theory they may help to slow the inevitable decline of the health of the earth (perhaps by a year or two). But don't fall for this "help save the planet" nonsense. If you really want to help save the planet, just don't buy it! Can you live without it? Are there other non-damaging/polluting/energy-intensive ways to do it or get the same thing/result? Can you borrow it? I'm no environmental angel, and while I may be "greener" than my neighbours, it doesn't mean I am green per say. I don't think the planet is thanking me for only having my lights on when I'm awake, or because my heating system puts out 135 tonnes of C02 into the skies every year, compared to our neigbours 155 tonnes (those vandals!).

Now you might be thinking "Gee that Man at the Pub, he's a pedantic son of a bitch" as I often do, but I believe its important that we can see through the greenwash, as it is doing tremendous disservice to the real, grass roots environmental movement. Many people have been hoodwinked to thinking they can be environmentally responsible through our favourite pastime of consuming consumables. But if we think we are so clever as to be able to develop or repackage products and buy our way out of trouble we are fooling ourselves. The corporatisation and commidification of the environmental movement may very well be the death nell of this planet.

Your just lucky I didn't get started on our politicians favourite green oxymoron, "Clean Coal".


Tuesday, 12 May 2009

...we have the technology

I got a new lappy. Yayyy!

For those who don't know (and why would they seeing as I just made it up), a lappy is a cool new way of saying laptop, which is a daggy word for notebook.

You see for the last several months I have been struggling with an uncooperative pooter. It would crash with increasing frequency, with the occasional blue screen of death, and usually 1 second before I would try to press the 'save' button. I lost 50 freshly scanned photos to that one the other night.

It would take about 1 hour to turn the thing on, not to warm up but to actually get Windows to boot. The 'on' button meant a black screen 80% of the time. Repeated pressings eventually got me to a message along the lines of...

Your pooter is buggered. We don't know what's wrong with the bitch, so all we can do is give you three choices, each one as pointless as the next.
1. Start Windows in Safe Mode

2. Not Start Windows in Safe Mode
3. Start with the last known settings that worked.

They all ended in the same place. Nowhere. I started having fantasies of throwing my lappy out the window and onto the concrete driveway. How many ways could I kill it? I could drown it, in a swimming pool, or pour boiling porridge over it. Spearing it would be just awesome! I might throw it on a bonfire, and watch it spark and melt and explode. Oooh tHAt woULd FeEL GOOD WOOHOO! KILL KILL MURDER HA HAHAHA!!! YOU'LL NEVER MISBEHAVE AGAIN MY LITTLE FRIEND!

I had people poke and prod at it. I had the smarter people at work look into it, run scans and checks, stick thermometers into it, etc. to no avail. I was just about to take it down to the Soul Sucking Reincarnator (actually my dad Brian) for a complete mind wipe and reinstallation of its operating system, when I thought I had it sussed. When you punched the area next to the touchpad immediately after pressing the power button, it worked! Booted up normally and worked... for at least a few good hours anyway. Only problem is that I had to punch it with increasing severity as it started to become desensitised to all the violence. After a while the punches didn't work anymore but it felt really good. I don't consider myself a violent person, and I have never punched a living in my life (except my big sister in the 1980's, but you would have too coz she could be the Queen of Evil and oh so mean and terrible), but I'm quite partial to give the odd appliance a bit of a whack when it plays up on me, like Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli, except without all the girls and hanging around public toilets.

Surprisingly, I had the sense to back up all my useful files (and their viruses) onto an external HDD so I can can copy them to my new one, because my old computer crashed for the very last time on Sunday night.

But it sure looked cool as it hit the floorboards at high speed and the screen erupted into a psychodelic pattern. That'll larn it.

Its shame it ended so acrimoniously. So many good times together, four long years, so many memories, and so many more hours of my life where I don't remember a single damn thing. All the games we played, puzzles we solved, stories we read and boobies we've seen. All the laughter and tears, now just ancient whispers on the winds of better times.

Nah. Boo sucks to that. This one craps all over that stupid thing. Can't believe I waited so long.

Thursday, 7 May 2009


Aussie Gold.

Watch till the end.

Monday, 4 May 2009


So one of my colleagues that sits next to me eats peanut butter toast everyday for morning tea. He eats it at his desk and the smell is very overpowering and lingers for ages. Its weird because I like eating peanut butter toast, but I don't like smelling it, unless I'm about to eat it too. Only trouble is that I'm on a diet, and peanut butter toast is one of the things I need to avoid snacking on daily, so its kind of like a tease.

Despite being a generally nice guy, I think he is being bit inconsiderate. Or am I just being a bit precious? Should I say something, or should I just let it slide?


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