Sunday, February 26, 2012

2012 Tropfest winner

Tropfest is the world's largest short film festival. It has also quickly become known as the world's first truly global film festival.
Tropfest began in 1993 as a screening for 200 people in a cafe in Sydney but has since become the largest platform for short films in the world. Tropfest Australia takes place in February each year in front of a live audience of approximately 150,000. The main event takes place in Sydney but live satellite events are also staged n Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart, Perth and other cities. The event is broadcast live on television and webcast to viewers around Australia and the world.
Each year, Tropfest requires that entries include a particular "signature item" or action to ensure that they are unique and are made specifically for the festival. In 2012, the TSI was  - Lightbulb.
Each entry is limited to eight minutes duration.
In previous years they were the following.
§                    2011 - Key
§                    2010 - Dice
§                    2009 - Spring
§                    2008 - The Number 8
§                    2007 - Sneeze
§                    2006 - Bubble
§                    2005 - Umbrella
§                    2004 - Hook
§                    2003 - Rock
§                    2002 - Match
§                    2001 - Horn
§                    2000 - Bug
§                    1999 - Chopsticks
§                    1998 - Kiss
§                    1997 - Gherkin
§                    1996 - Teaspoon
§                    1995 - Coffee Bean
§                    1994 - Muffin
Many Tropfest films can be found on Youtube’
This years winner was “LEMONADE STAND"

You may also want to search for one of my favourite episodes "Lucky".

A little morning madness

The police brought me home this morning. I'm lucky, I think they were thinking of taking me up to the local hospital. Well, all I was doing was jogging down the (almost deserted) main street at 6 am in my 'jammy' T-shirt top and boxer undies, barefoot and a snotty old hankie hanging out of the elastic of my undies when the 'Paddy Wagon' bleeped its siren and flashed its blue and red lights at me to stop. Damn it!  I thought I could've made it back home without anyone of consequence (other than Max, the paper delivery guy - but he flies around the town, often on the wrong side of the road, flinging rolled up newspapers over the top of his car and approximately onto someones front lawn - or footpath). But Max rarely sees anything as he sucks on his coffee and tosses papers across the roof of the delivery van. I think Max steers on 'auto-pilot'!

Anyhoo - Officers Plod and Ploddess thought I was "looking suspicious" - Don't know why? Perhaps because I haven't shaved for three days, and Yes! I do need my morning shower, and Yes! I was barefoot, in my boxers and 'T' in the semi-dark of the early morning and Yes! I was running down the main street of town!

The snotty hankie was a dead give-away, I s'pose - that and my visible advanced years! Another escapee from the local Nursing Home or, p'raps one of John Gill's Korsakoff buddies on the loose! lol! Caught! No ID (unless I had it secreted in some bodily orifice - narh! too uncomfortable - go out without!)

It took some explaining.

Rhonda left for work around 5.50 am intending to stop at the local Servo and fill up with petrol. We were going to take her car up to "The Camp" after she gets home this evening and we had a 16 cents/litre discount from the grocery supermarket - and the Subaru needed filling. She stopped and waited for the guy to open up the Servo - her and three other early Sunday morning motorists - and she filled up , putting just over 65 litres of petrol in the car. Then she realised that she didn't have the Everyday Rewards card! Well, she was only two blocks away and she knew I was still up so she rang and asked me to bring the card up.

Damn it! The Rodeo chose this morning to have a flat battery ('cos someone, unnamed, left the ignition switched on all night, didn't they, after backing it into the carport! - didn't they!)

So! I decided to do a quick dash, card in hand,  up past the high school, along past the now disused railway station that is home to the railway museum crowd, over the street, cut through the a laneway and across the main street to the servo and deliver the card. Well, it was worth $10.50AUS discount! She laughed as she went to pay and watched me head off down the main street towards home.

That's when the law caught up with me! I had some explaining to do, didn't I and youse all know how things come out all jumbled up when sprung in a situation of compromise. Must've thought I was strark raving mad. But I eventually convinced them I just lived around the corner - right opposite the police station. They also recognised me (one of their more colourful locals on their patch, no doubt) - so they said "Hop in. We'll drop you home!" Felt like a real nong, sitting in the back seat of the cabin that had police-type gear laying everywhere.

They insisted on waiting until I was inside (through the unlocked back door) and I had to come to the front door and wave "OK" to them.

Buggers were laughing as they drove off up the road!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Weekly Words No. 12


A bungalow is a type of house, with varying  meanings  across the world. Common features to many (but not all) of these definitions include being detached, low-rise (single or one-and-a-half stories), and the use of verandahs. The term originated in India, deriving from the Gujarati baṅgalo, which in turn derives from Hindi baṅglā, meaning "Bengali" and used elliptically for a "house in the Bengal style". Such houses were traditionally small, only one story and detached, and had a wide veranda.

Modern Indian multi-storied bungalow in an affluent area near Bangalore, India.

The term was first found in English from 1696, where it was used to describe "bungales or hovells" in India for English sailors of the East India Company, which do not sound like very grand lodgings. Later it became used for the spacious homes or official lodgings of officials of the British Raj, and was so known in Britain and later America, where it initially had high status and exotic connotations, and began to be used in the late 19th century for large country or suburban houses built in an Arts and Crafts or other Western vernacular style - essentially as large cottages, a term also sometimes used. Later developers began to use the term for smaller houses.

A typical side-gabled bungalow in Louisville's Deer Park Neighborhood, United States.

In Australia, the California bungalow was popular after the First World War.

Californian bungalow style home in the Sydney suburb of Roseville.

Double-story Californian bungalow-inspired style home in the Sydney suburb of Lindfield.

In Britain and North America a bungalow today is a residential house, normally detached, which is either single story, or has a second story built into a sloping roof, usually with dormer windows ("one and a half stories"). Full vertical walls are therefore only seen on one story, at least on the front and rear elevations. Usually the houses are relatively small, especially from recent decades, though early examples may be large, in which case the term bungalow tends not to be used today.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Day's nearly done!

Well, I put the rump steak on to marinade for tonight's BBQ dinner. Marinade is quarter cup of red wine, tablespoon of olive oil, tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and as much crushed garlic as you like. Pour it over the steak and turn frequently, ensuring you spoon the marinade over the top again on each turn.:

That done, I hooked up the trailer, full of garden waste, and off to the green waste recycling centre north of town:

Denny waits in the truck while I pay the $4.50 toll.

We were directed to the current 'drop-off area' - fortunately
we were the only customers so a trouble-free trailer reverse.

In she went and off it came!

 Then up to Robbo's garden centre to get some sandy loam.

Waiting for the front-end loader to come across to the stockpile.

Robbo's obviously anticipating a cold winter 'cos he's already
buying firewood off the local property owners - this guy is
unloading a trailer of wood onto the stockpile.

Home and unhook trailer and manually move it into position. Then, off again - newsagent's, Post Office mailbox (got my "Guest" pass for the Yass Agricultural Society Show and Rodeo - includes free vehicle parking access) and to the butchers to buy a couple of pork loin chops to take away with us to "The Camp". Then take Denny down the park for his 'run' - he's a bit handicapped at the moment, he's torn a hindfoot leading claw (toenail) but other than a limp he's not really bothered by it - I'll let it cure itself.

Home and start unloading the soil from the trailer.

Half emptied and I'm "pooped"!

Got 10 small barrow loads in the main 'hollow' - we used to have
an old wild plum tree there but the birds pulled all the fruit
off and dropped the seeds which sprouted all over the place,

I think I'll have a cold ale and lie down and wait for Rhonda to arrive home - might be able to get her to give me a hand unloading the rest!

I'm looking forward to that BBQ and a couple of cold light beers!

Off ya Rrrs, Darce!

OK - got things to do so I've got to get my bottom out of this chair and my head out of this screen.

Post Office to check mail, Newsagent for the local paper and pay out lotto subscription for next week, butchers - to get at least one dinner - walk Denny (he'll tag along on the other tasks).

Then home and hook up the trailer and take a load of green waste up to the recycling area and then on to Robbo's to get a trailer load of topsoil to fill in some 'rolls and dents' in the backyard . I'll see if I can get some photos of the latter.

Then to marinade a large rump steak that I'll BBQ tonight with some potato wedgies.

And its already 11.30 am on a Friday here.

Rhonda works this weekend and then on Sunday night its off to "The Camp" for three nights.

TWO yobs have appeared in court after starting a fight with Spiderman — and getting knocked out by two cross-dressers.
Dean Jonathan Gardner, aged 19, and Jason Andrew Fender, aged 22, were arrested following two separate incidents in The Kingsway which took place just moments apart in the early hours of August 30.
But they picked the wrong victims on this occasion after being floored by two cross-dressers who are believed to have been cage fighters on a night out.
Police confronted Gardner and Fender, both of Llanerch Road, Bonymaen, nursing their injuries after identifying the unemployed pair from CCTV pictures which showed them fighting with people queuing outside the Escape club.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

We all wear our own uniforms!

Please read it and laugh - don't take it too much to heart!

The RAF Pilot

An old RAF Pilot sat down at his local coffee shop, still wearing his war-weathered old leather flying jacket and battered flying hat. He ordered a cup of coffee.

As he sat sipping his coffee, a beautiful young woman sat down next to him. She turned to him and asked,

 'Are you a real pilot?' 

He replied, 'Well, I've spent a great deal my whole life flying planes, first Tiger Moths, then the early Anson’s flew  Wimpeys, Lancs, Bleheims and Mosquito’s in WWII, and later on became an instructor. I've taught many people to fly and given rides to hundreds, so I guess I am a pilot. And you, what are you?

She said, 'I'm a lesbian. I spend my whole day thinking about naked women. As soon as I get up in the morning, I think about naked women. When I shower, I think about naked women. When I watch TV, I think about naked women. It seems everything makes me think of naked women.'

The two sat sipping their coffees in silence.

A little while later, a young man sat down on the other side of the old pilot and asked the same question:

"Are you a real pilot?"  
He replied, 'I always thought I was, but I just found out I'm a lesbian.'

The Sandpiper

I received this email from a friend, Armen, - an old friend of many decades - today. His mother and father were Armenians. They trekked over the Urals and out of Russia to Jerusalem where Armen was born and learnt his trade as a goldsmith.

He's now retired and works his 'Hobby Farm' tending his orchards. he's an amusing fellow and very enterprising. I've never met a more placid man in my life!

Sandpipers spending the non-breeding
season in Roebuck Bay, Western Australia

This story doesn't ask anyone to forward it or take any action other than to read and enjoy.

The Sandpiper 
by Robert Peterson 

She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live. I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me. She was building a sand castle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea.  

 "Hello," she said.

I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child.  

"I'm building," she said.  

"I see that.  What is it?"  I asked, not really caring.  

"Oh, I don't know, I just like the feel of sand."

That sounds good, I thought, and slipped off my shoes. A sandpiper glided by.  

"That's a joy," the child said.  

"It's a what?"  

"It's a joy.  My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy."  

The bird went gliding down the beach. Good-bye joy, I muttered to myself,  hello pain, and turned to walk on. I was depressed, my life seemed completely out of balance.  

"What's your name?"  She wouldn't give up.  

"Robert," I answered.  "I'm Robert Peterson."  

Mine's Wendy... I'm six."  

"Hi, Wendy."  

She giggled. "You're funny," she said.
In spite of my gloom, I laughed too and walked on. Her musical giggle followed me.
"Come again, Mr. P," she called.  "We'll have another happy day."  

The next few days consisted of a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, and an ailing mother.  The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out of the dishwater. I need a sandpiper, I said to myself, gathering up my coat.  

The ever-changing balm of the seashore awaited me. The breeze was chilly but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed.  

"Hello, Mr. P," she said.  "Do you want to play?"  

"What did you have in mind?" I asked, with a twinge of annoyance.  

"I don't know.  You say."  

"How about charades?"  I asked sarcastically.  

The tinkling laughter burst forth again.  "I don't know what that is."  

"Then let's just walk."  

Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face.  

"Where do you live?" I asked.  
"Over there."  She pointed toward a row of summer cottages.  

Strange, I thought, in winter.  

"Where do you go to school?" 

"I don't go to school.  Mommy says we're on vacation"  

She chattered little girl talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things. When I left for home, Wendy said it had been a happy day. Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed.  

Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic. I was in no mood to even greet Wendy.  I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding she keep her child at home.  

"Look, if you don't mind," I said crossly when Wendy caught up with me, "I'd rather be alone today."  She seemed unusually pale and out of breath.  

"Why?" she asked.  

I turned to her and shouted, "Because my mother died!" and thought, My God, why was I saying this to a little child?  

"Oh," she said quietly, "then this is a bad day."  

"Yes," I said, "and yesterday and the day before and -- oh, go away!"  

"Did it hurt?" she inquired.  

"Did what hurt?" I was exasperated with her, with myself.  

"When she died?"  

"Of course it hurt!" I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself. I strode off.  

A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn't there. Feeling guilty, ashamed, and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door.  A drawn looking young woman with honey-coloured hair opened the door.  

"Hello," I said, "I'm Robert Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was."  
"Oh yes, Mr. Peterson, please come in.  Wendy spoke of you so much.  I'm afraid I allowed her to bother you.  If she was a nuisance,  please, accept my apologies."  
"Not at all --! she's a delightful child."  I said, suddenly realizing that I meant what I had just said.  

"Wendy died last week, Mr. Peterson.  She had leukemia. Maybe she didn't tell you."  

Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. I had to catch my breath.  

"She loved this beach, so when she asked to come, we couldn't say no. She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days. But the last few weeks, she declined rapidly..." Her voice faltered, "She left  something for you, if only I can find it.  Could you wait a moment while I look?"  

I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something to say to this lovely young woman. She handed me a smeared envelope with "MR. P" printed in bold childish letters.  Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues -- a yellow beach, a blue sea, and a brown bird. Underneath was carefully printed:  


 Tears welled up in my eyes, and a heart that had almost forgotten to love opened wide. I took Wendy's mother in my arms.  "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry," I uttered over and over, and we wept together.  

The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study.  Six words - one for each year of her life - that speak to me of harmony, courage and undemanding love.  A gift from a child with sea blue eyes and hair the colour of sand  - who taught me the gift of love. 

MY "SWLD" diet

A "SWLD" diet is a "Slow Weight Loss Diet" - the kind recommended by most reputable dietitians as the one to follow that will allow you to lose weight without starving yourself and also minimise the chance of a 'post-diet' eating binge.

A "SWLD" diet aims to gradually allow the stomach to shrink so that after awhile hunger pangs reduce. "SWLD" diets are usually designed around the individuals dietary needs and food preferences.

Here's an example of mine:

Most mornings, when Rhonda is working, I arise at 4.45am, put some day clothes on and make  a cup of coffee for Rhonda and myself a mug of tea for myself. I then I call her.

While we have our morning drink I eat some fresh fruit – a Kiwi fruit or Chinese Gooseberry,

 -, or a banana

When Rhonda is right and awake I’ll go to the computer until she’s ready to leave for work – around 5.45am, then, after that, I’ll walk the dog to the newsagents and get the required newspaper for the day. When I come home I’ll have another mug of tea while I read the paper and usually eat some more fruit.

I then shower and dress according to the day’s requirements – ‘home day’, then casual wear for around the house. If I’m driving for Home Living Support then required ‘code of dress’ – uniform shirt, jacket, slacks, etc.

If I’m driving for Home Living Support then I’ll take along some fruit – usually a banana – and a 600 ml bottle of still or mineral water and that is all I’ll have until I return home. Then I’ll usually have a mug of tea and some dried fruit.

If it’s a ‘home day’ I’ll either eat some more fresh fruit, or, some dried fruit, drink either water or tea – I like strong black tea - Lipton's black tea - as studies have shown that drinking black or green tea may help maintain normal healthy heart function as part of a diet that is consistent with dietary guidelines and research suggests that drinking 2 to 3 cups per day of black or green tea may help support normal healthy vascular function . Tea, when served without milk or sugar contains virtually no calories and this makes it an ideal choice as part of diet control over sweet fruit drinks.

 Lunch would usually be some clear soup – I like mine homemade but if I'm short of time, I'll go for the proprietary brand of "Authentic Asia":

  During the afternoon I‘ll sip on a bottle of Schweppes mineral water - 

 and nibble on a lunch pack of sultanas, or some "GORP" - good old raisins and peanuts trail mix:

all the time while preparing something for our dinner.

When Rhonda arrives home about 5 pm it’s, again, coffee for her and a mug of tea while we catch up on the days news and then I’ll turn the TV on for the evening news. I might have another piece of fruit while I watch the evening live news and current affairs show, perhaps a peach - 

 ,or, a   nectarine - 

  while I wait for dinner.

Dinner is our main meal which, usually, consists of some protein base – fish, (we eat a lot of fish - several times a week - smoked cod, seafood marinara, fresh fish fillets, smoked kippers)  chicken, lamb, pork or beef, always grilled of course – and three vegetables with no sauce or gravy. We always have water on the table for drinking purposes as we know drinking water with a meal aids digestion. In cooler weather this will be a dinner of something like seafood marinara, or, spaghetti and meatballs, or, a crock pot casserole of chicken, lamb or goat.

On Rhonda’s days off my routine is not quite the same. Rhonda likes toast for breakfast, so I'll have a slice of 'Grains+' bread - a 9 grains bread - with some sliced tomato on top and our dinner is usually a bit more lavish – e.g. we’ll BBQ those steaks and potato wedgies on the Weber Q.

Since I started my diet alcohol has virtually gone off the menu, tho’ we may have a glass of wine occasionally or a scotch and soda.

That’s it folks – a typical “SWLD” – Slow Weight Loss Diet. Any questions and I’ll happily answer them!

btw - want something neat and warm for breakfast that is almost calorie free?  Slice a nectarine into halves and put it 'cut side down' onto a medium hot plate for 2 minutes and serve on a piece of Grains+ toast with a teaspoon of honey dribbled over the nectarine halves!  - About 150 calories!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Weigh in

Weight Watchers Weigh-in today: 111.6kg -  245.5 lbs
Original weight Jan Second: 116.8kg - 256.9 lbs 
Weight Lost since 2nd Jan : 5.6kg - 11.5 lbs
Weight Loss last week: 1kg  2.2 lbs

Monday, February 20, 2012

My kitchen

I really love my kitchen! It's so roomy and spacious and has a pantry and lots of storage space and still room for all my appliances.

It'd great for cooking things like these T-bones and potato 'Wedgies' parcels that we had on Saturday evening for dinner. 

I marinated the two and a half inch thick T-bones for three hours at room temperature in a marinade of 1/4 cup of red wine, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of  Worcestershire sauce and a teaspoon of freshly crushed garlic cloves. Then, onto a pre-heated BBQ grill plate at 210C  [420F] for 4 minutes on each side - Beautiful, so tender it was mouth watering.

Oh! The wedgie parcels, potato wedges dipped in oil and then coated with a selection of finely chopped fresh herbs  - they were wrapped in baking paper and then went into a preheated oven at 200C and just left them for 30 minutes. The Wedgies were ready when the T-bones were and I just served the parcel wrapped wedgies onto the table!

Rhonda left half of her steak so I took the fillet of it in the morning and thinly sliced it and served the slices on toast with Dijon mustard for our breakfasts.

Not much to post

Terrible weather, its been  28 to 32C each day, very 'muggy' and thunderstorms every day in the late afternoon/evening that completely 'blows' the "Free-to-air" TV viewing and even shuts down the satellite TV transponders!

A little bit of Australian colour to brighten up your day, courtesy of Joanna Fincham as part of a photo essay for "Outback" magazine:

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award

The Versatile Blogger Award

Dear Cindy, "Just Me", of  Just North of Wiarton and South of the Checkerboard who has recently been following my ravings, has nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award.  Thank you Cindy (I think) for this "Award," I am so honoured to receive it, as well as honoured to know I have inspired you.  Your kind words have been taken to "heart".

The rules of the prize are: 

1. Thank the person who gave you the reward
2. Link back that person 
3. Select blogs that you've recently discovered (and think deserve it) and nominate them
4. Tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

Would you believe that I find it easier to speak generally on a range of topics and very difficult to speak about myself ( although I have written a short blog about my early days, growing up in Sydney – New South Wales, Australia - Bugger of a kid )

1)  As young teenager I used to go with my mates to the northern beaches of Sydney. On one occasion we were at Queenscliff Beach, the northernmost part of the strip of sand that makes up the Manly beachfront, riding rubber inflatable floats in the surf. We noticed that the surf was running up an old rusted drain that emptied onto the beach. It was about four feet round and lined with marine encrustations above and had a bed of beach sand on its floor. The waves would rush up it, hold, and then surge back out again but we also noticed it had a continual stream of water running out of it. We traced its source to a reservoir, the Manly Dam on the Golf links across the road 500 yards from the beach where the overflow was running into this drain and travelling (mostly) underground and exiting into the surf. I was dared to ride my inflatable float down it, so, I did. It was a harrowing trip – sometimes pitch black, sometimes beams of light shining through rusted holes in its exposed top. I heard the on-rush of the surf coming up the pipe and I knew it would fill the pipe with enough water to lift my float up until my back would drag on the marine growths around the top. I used my feet as brakes and slowed the float down until the surge had passed me and then waited for it to turn and flow out. Off we went, rapidly gathering speed and I prayed I had judged the interval between waves sufficiently to allow me to get out before the next wave rushed in.

I had!

Out I ‘popped’ into the blazing sunlight and blue-green surf and absolutely astounded some surfers nearby. After that it became common for us to all do the trip at least once a day when we were at Queenscliff – until someone told the float hire guy what we were doing and he refused to hire us any more floats!

2)  Reading the above, you will show no surprise to learn of the fact that I have a personal medical history that is four A4 pages long. I keep a copy available to save time whenever I have to go to a new doctor or clinic.

3)  When working as a mental health nurse I was listed with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as an ‘escort nurse’ and I did several trips overseas either taking tourists home or retrieving ill or injured Australians from overseas locations and bringing them home. I had one Greek lad from a very rich Greek family who smashed both his legs in a car crash, was bed-bound, and had to go home on a cruise ship (couldn't be flown home). His future father-in-law refused to let a female nurse attend to him on the trip home so I got the escort – free cruise ship trip to Greece and my air fare home. I brought a little old lady, a Serbian-Australian migrant, home from Vienna after she had been locked up in the "das Krankenhaus" after she attacked two guards in a museum when she tried to take pictures from the museum walls, claiming the Nazis had stolen them from her family home during WWII. The food in the asylum must have been crook 'cos she devoured double portions of airline food and slept most of the way home! I bought several Australians back from Bali who had ‘bad tripped’ on hallucinogenics whilst tourists on the island.

4)  As a nurses union representative and organiser I was one of the persons responsible for organising the “Equal Pay for Equal Work” campaign to stop the discrimination between male and female rates of pay. I also “led” the case (advising the union’s legal counsel) for mental health nurses undertaking a general nursing course in Canberra to be paid a registered nurse's wage and not a student nurse's wage – which we won.

5)  I am absolutely not the person to be told that I cannot/am not allowed to do something I feel I would like to do. My boss told me I could not take a year’s leave of absence (without pay) to complete a graduate diploma in education – a course I had been accepted for by the Canberra University – so I quit on the spot and walked out! I completed my degree and taught in various colleges for two years.

6)  I grew up in an area of Sydney that (at that time) was semi rural with market gardens, orchards and dairy farms. I was driving a tractor on my ‘uncles’ mixed dairy and produce farm at eight years of age. At 15 years and 10 months, being eligible for my road licence I went to our local police station to do my driving test.
“What do you want?” the Senior Constable barked!
“I’ve come for a licence test, sir” I replied!
“How did you get here” he snapped!
“Drove, sir” I replied!
“I know you,” he said, “You’ve been driving for years but I’ve never caught you!”
“Yes sir!”
“Well, get out there, drive around the block, pull up on the hill outside my window and do a ‘hand-brake start’ on the incline!”
“Yes, sir”!
So off I went and did as he said. When I came back in he was gone. I asked one of the other officers where he was? “Gone home for lunch,” he said, “left this for you”! It was my licence and the ink was even bone dry on it!

7)                  My first job when I left school was working in a lime quarry, breaking up lumps of lime with a four pound wooden mallet into powder, bagging it in chaff bags, tying them off and putting these onto the back of a lorry. We were paid a shilling a bag and we could fill twenty bags a day – a Pound a day, five pound ten shillings for a five and a half day week. Good money in those days but every day I’d arrive home looking like a snow man and my mum made me stand outside while she hosed me down, fully clothed, then strip off and put on clean clothes before I was allowed in the house. At the end of the week I decided it was not the job for me, however, my two friends who started with me decided to stay-on. They reckoned the money was worth it. One died twenty years ago from ‘Dust Disease’ and the other ended up on a disability pension and carrying an oxygen cylinder around with him wherever he went. I think he’s dead now as well!

Sad really!

There, I don't suppose that was too exciting, was it ?

Here are three (3) blogs I have discovered and follow.  I find all three thoroughly fascinating.  I therefore pass on the "Versatile Blogger Award" to each of the following:

 John Gray’s Going Gently blog

The blog of Cathy, a ‘stay at home mum’.

Jo’s very interesting blog Crafty Joe

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Moving cattle

Now, this is what they call a cattle road train in Australia!

That's "The Outback!"

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Weigh in

Weight Watchers Weigh-in today: 112.4kg -  17 stone 11 lbs
Original weight Jan Second: 116.8kg - 18 stone 6 lbs 
Weight Lost since 2nd Jan : 4.3kg - 9 lbs 
Weight Loss last week: 1kg  - 2lbs 3 oz

Now that's better - Back on track!

New GFC to hit world finances

Australia’s economy is in good shape and came through the previous Global Financial Crisis (GFC) relatively unscathed. A little ‘belt tightening’ here and there and decreased profitability in investment portfolios – mostly superannuation funds – was the major impact. Unemployment remained low, in fact many employers had difficulty in recruiting staff, particularly in service industries and agricultural industries. So much so that the government changed the rules on ‘working visas’ and allowed many employers to recruit seasonal workers and workers in the hospitality industry from overseas on special visas for periods of up to six months. (Many of those workers were recruited by agencies within their own home countries on wage conditions that were ‘local’ rather than the award conditions that applied in Australia – cheap labour which really chuffed the union movement but pleased the employers. Many of those employees have returned for subsequent 6 monthly employment engagements following the compulsory 3 months 'cooling off' period in their home country!)

Australia is a country that has a compulsory superannuation contributions by employers. Generally, you're entitled to super guarantee contributions from an employer if you're between 18 and 69 years old (inclusive) an paid $450(AUS) or more (before tax) in a month. It doesn't matter whether you're full time, part time or casual, and it doesn't matter if you're a temporary resident of Australia.

If you're eligible for super guarantee contributions, at least every three months your employer must pay into your super account a minimum of 9% of your ordinary time earnings, up to the 'maximum contribution base'. These contributions are in addition to your salary or wages. Some employers contribute more than 9% to an employees superannuation as a recruitment incentive.

Superannuation contributions run into multi-trillions of capital funds. Those funds are invested  in diverse financial portfolios and the rules for those investments are tightly controlled by the Australian Taxation Office. In a nutshell, the more profitable an institution that those funds are invested in the larger the return to the superannuation fund and, ultimately, the retirement fund for Australian employees.

It was the 'bottom line' earnings that bore the brunt of the last GFC in Australia and some funds even went into 'negative earnings'.

You cannot take those contributions out of the fund until you reach retirement age. Presently, you are unable to borrow against those accrued funds, although there is considerable pressure on the federal government to change this rule. Advocates for change are arguing for up to 20% of funds over a set balance – eg, over $250,000(AUS) – should be released to the contributors for use as an interest free home loan deposit  and repaid into the fund as one would repay an ordinary mortgage loan. There is also pressure for working couples to be able to ‘pool funds’ into a joint superannuation account in an effort to allow low income earners to qualify from such a 'loan' incentive.

Why is all of this of any importance, you ask? What is its relevance?

Well, more big employers are poised to shed workers across Australia, adding to the recent wave of cuts in banking and in the struggling manufacturing and retail sectors. As the ANZ Bank yesterday flagged plans to slash 1000 positions, it emerged that Qantas was expected to announce job cuts on Thursday when it issues its half-year earnings.

Australian Bankers Association chief executive Steve Munchenberg defended interest rate hikes, warning no matter how angry people became, this was nothing compared to what a credit squeeze could do to Australia. Many in his industry feared Europe's financial crisis would get worse before recovering and if international investors saw Australian banks' profits coming down they would worry, which could trigger a significant shift in market sentiment. The banks blamed "intense pressure on margins associated with higher funding costs, lower consumer and business demand for financial services and increasing global regulation".

Banks have blamed the same factors - especially economic problems in Europe pushing up their funding costs - for lifting mortgage rates even though the Reserve Bank left the official cash rate unchanged last week.

Yesterday the Commonwealth and National Australia Bank followed ANZ and Westpac in raising their variable home loan rates. The Commonwealth raised its variable mortgage rates by 0.1 of a percentage point and NAB's rose by 0.09 of a percentage point.

Angry Australian home buyers are breaking with their banks at unprecedented rates. More than 50,000 home owners refinanced a record $12.6 billion of mortgages in the December quarter, as they voted with their feet to get a better deal.

Australia is about to be hit hard by a second global economic crisis and unlike the last time, recovery will be far from short and sweet, a global finance expert says. Canadian finance and energy analyst Nicole Foss said a combination of energy shortages, climate change, population growth, food insecurity and political unrest were brewing a ''perfect storm'' that would ruin society as we know it.

 TOUGHEN UP: Canadian finance and energy analyst 
Nicole Foss told farmers in Bungendore that the way
forward when the next economic crisis hits was to supply
at a local level. Photo: MELISSA ADAMS

Yesterday, she met a panel of local biofarming representatives to discuss how local communities could better distribute their resources. She discussed a need for residents to ''decentralise'' by focusing on grassroots initiatives such as community gardens and local water regeneration.

''All we need to do is simplify our society from the bottom up,'' she said. ''We need to get our expectations back in line, reduce our demand and attempt to supply what we need at a local level.''

NSW State government Treasurer, Mike Baird warned that the lesson to draw from the debt crisis plaguing the euro zone was that “… market forces would punish reckless fiscal management. …”

The word on the street around our financial districts is – “Get Ready – prepare for the next onslaught, A second GFC is about to hit the world and it will make the previous one look like a picnic. It will be worse than the 1930’s depression!”