Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Start of a novel

Here is the opening paragraph....

"Oh for God's Sake!" shouted Gary and he let off a short burst from his M60 in the direction of the trees. "Don't these fuckers ever give up?" He ducked back behind the dirt mound and was breathing heavily. Next to him, Ryan was busy reloading his M-14.
"I don't think so, they're persistent little pricks." Ryan turned, stood up and let out a short burst of his own. The enemy was there, they could see them moving about the trees, but they were well out of range and without air support for the next 30 minutes, they'd have to wait it out and be subjected to the enemy's superior fire power.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Complaint letters

I've not updated this blog in, oooooo, quite a long time, but I have been requested to make public a couple of complaint letters I have written recently. Nothing is quite as satisfying as ripping out some cerebral abuse. On the other hand, I have not received any response from these.

The first letter is to Vic Roads who do everything within the powers of the law to aggravate normally quiet and docile human beings.

"To whom it may concern

I am writing to congratulate your traffic light sequencing department on the magnificent job they are doing along the stretch of St George's Road running from Murray Road in Preston to Separation St in Northcote. I have been driving on Victoria's roads for well on 18 years now and never, in all my life, have I come across a stretch of road that continually sets new lows in effective traffic movement.

Please, let me set the scene. It's 4.45pm on a Sunday afternoon, and, as I am a masochist, I have chosen to subject myself to driving south on the nightmare that is St George's Road. So, I stop at the red light at Murray Road. No problem, after living in the area for 10 years, I've come to expect these lights to be red whenever I approach them. Beyond this intersection I can see a sea of green traffic lights taunting me with their lustrous beacons of freedom all the way to Bell Street and beyond.

So, as I pull away from Murray Road what should happen next? Oh, the lights at Cramer Street have suddenly denied myself, and the 10 other cars traveling with me, passage south. A single vehicle had tripped the sensors on Cramer Street...yes, a single car, a 1985 Ford Laser too which to be honest, shouldn't be allowed on the roads anyway. So, as the Laser turns down St George's Road in front of me and the 10 other cars, I can see it obtain green light after green light as it disappears over the horizon.

Meanwhile, the 10 other cars waiting with me has swelled to maybe 15 now as we wait, yet again, at Bell Street. Again, a sea of green is taunting me in the distance, which the beat up old Laser encountered earlier seems to be blessed with. As the lights turn green at Bell Street, I can see the green lights of Oakover Road, egging me on, tempting me with its brilliance, but yet again, we are teased, and another red light ensues. So far, it's been 4 reds from 4. An awesome strike rate!

It would seem to me that the traffic light sequencing thus far observed has been calculated using a sub 3 second 0-100kph acceleration time. I don't know about you, but I only know of a couple of cars that can accelerate like that, like the Bugatti Veyron. Do you have a Bugatti Veyron? I don't have a Bugatti Veyron.

So, from Oakover Road we are blessed with red lights at Miller Street, Normanby Road and Separation Street. All in all, a 100% strike rate! Top marks, well done. Elephant stamp for you. I calculated that all these traffic lights added 7 minutes and 20 seconds to my journey, which does not include slowing down or accelerating. So, 7 Minutes and 20 seconds might not seem like alot of time to you, in fact, knowing how quickly VicRoads operates, it's probably the same amount of time it takes for your hearts to take a single beat, however, for the rest of us, it's a long time.

There is someone in that hideous high rise that is responsible for traffic light sequencing, who is probably paid far more than what I am, to do a job that, let's face it, a mathematics graduate from Open University could do far more effectively for far less money. I've driven on your roads for 18 years. In those 18 years I've probably paid you nearly $10,000 in 'registration costs'. I'm sure, if you paid someone $10,000 to do a job, you'd expect them to complete it to the highest standard possible. But as mentioned previously, your 'High Standards' would be hard for even an ant to limbo under. For $10,000 I could get a new bathroom, and the plumber would probably do a far better job at programming traffic lights too. Have you got a new bathroom? I don't have a new bathroom.

As I mentioned previously, I have lived in the area for 10 years, and the number of times I have subjected myself to this ridiculous stretch of road is difficult to calculate. So, for the sake of argument, say I drive along this road twice a week, so in a year that's 104 times, in 10 years, that's 1040 times! Multiply that my 7 minutes and 20 seconds and you end up with 127 hours I have been waiting at red traffic lights along St George's Road. Whoa, that's a long time now isn't it? I'm not even counting going north bound either, which I shall write about another time.

So, what I have done is prepared an invoice for you for $3,429.00 + GST based on my pay scales from the past 10 years for due compensation of my time waiting at your hopelessly inept traffic light sequencing. You can choose to pay it, or, more likely, use it to blow your noses on, or wipe your bums with, or whatever else it is you do to waste your time in that hideous high rise building in Kew.

I'm more than certain, that if you respond, you'll regale me with endless sentences of empty management speak explaining that you "set high standards in road and traffic management ensuring the effective transportation of millions of Victorians everyday". Well, not this Victorian I'm sorry. Your 'high standards' are just what one would expect from a government run monopoly."

...and here is another letter I wrote in response to the abysmal sound quality currently afflicting Hoyts Northland:

Hi there. I'm writing to inform you of the abysmal sound quality that is currently being produced from your cinemas at Northland. My wife and I thought it would be a nice idea to go to the movies on Saturday night and chose to see Red in Cinema 2. After forking out what is now becoming a not inconsiderable sum of money, we were treated to a fairly lame, and lets face it, pretty limp wristed cinema experience. I can quite categorically state that I get higher quality sound from the 5.1 set-up in my lounge, and maybe even from the asthmatic old tube TV in my spare room.

I don't know who sets the level of sound at your cinemas at Northland, but maybe you might want to check and see if they have super powers such as super hearing, which us mere mortals do not, unfortunately, possess. Furthermore, this is not the first time this has happened. I recall not long ago trying to enjoy a movie at Northland but the sound from the movie was being drowned out by someone whispering 10 rows away. I went to find an usher who came in to the cinema, checked the sound, shrugged her shoulders, and walked out. Maybe she possesses this famed super hearing? Is this a pre-requisite for employment at Hoyts??

Anyway, please look into this matter because at the moment I'm thinking I should just wait for movies to come out on DVD or Foxtel, because at least then I'll know I'll actually be able to hear all the dialogue without needing to invest in some sort of high end hearing aide."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

time flies

Well, it is quite shocking to see that I haven't posted anything here since mid December last year, almost 3 months ago! How times flies huh? It's not to say that I haven't at least thought about maintaining this, but the inertia needed to actually sit here and write something was getting harder and harder to overcome with each passing day. So, here I sit, about to get the (rather large) ball rolling again.

And what to write about, there is a plentitude (or multitude) of topics one can embark upon, not least of which is the day to day workings of my life and all goes with it. Sure, that would be easy; get up, have a shower, walk the dogs, cycle to work, do work, cycle home from work, walk the dogs, go to the gym, eat dinner, watch TV, go to bed, repeat. Not overly exciting, but it sure beats being struck down by a horrendous disease and winding up in hospital for 4 months.

But a couple things recently have really caught my attention and piqued my interest; One is the economy and the other is the climate.

I'll start with the economy. Personally, I don't understand it. I think about it and wonder where all the money in the world comes from...what thin air? For instance, the bank loans me money to buy a house, but where does the bank get its money from? And where do they get theirs? I don't get it. What I do understand is that a hand full of knob heads in Wall Street selling cheap loans got us into this mess to begin with. Were they mental? Did they not think that thousands of people on minimum wages would be able to keep up their loan repayments? God Bless America huh? Oh, and to cap it off, governments around the world are chucking money at the problem to no good effect....."Oh, we know you screwed up, but here, take $500 billion to make you feel better."...and so the high fliers and fat cats continue to live their lives as if nothing is wrong.

As for the climate, well, it's all about global warming. As a scientist I'm starting question the validity of whether or not global warming is being caused by humans or not. It's true, atmospheric CO2 levels have been much higher than what they are now, about 175,000 years ago it was up around 2,800ppm compared with today's 380ppm, and it really didn't have that great an impact on the climate. I'm not debating whether CO2 can withhold heat or not, I agree with that, no issues, but I think we need to look at how life on the planet can cope with increased CO2 levels, see if it actually will create the environmental catastrophe that many are proclaiming will happen.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Best and Worst TV 2008...

In light of doing this post same time last year, I thought it pertinent to do another list of TVs best and worst moments from this year. So, in no particular order....

1: Australian Idol. Seriously, watching these poor kids get through to the 'final' and win and then have their single bomb at no.52 in the charts is terrifyingly brutal. If their record doesn't sell, suddenly these poor kids then owe Sony/BMG a staggering amount of cash to make up their 'investment'. As I have said previously, if one of these kids can sing Wuthering Heights pitch perfect, then they have my respect, until then it's just glorified karaoke. As for the hosts, well, sometimes you wonder if their batteries need replacing such is their fascinating and sparkling repartee.

2: Big Brother: Went from the best last year, to one of the worst this year. The change in hosts to Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O just accelerated the demise. As hard as they try not to make it a 20-something beach party, it always turns out that way, because the housemates are all intellectually devoid 20-somethings. Strange that.

3: America's/Australia's Next Top Model: The combined mass of egos of Tyra and the other judges is so great that they're starting to form their own gravitational field. Get off my TV. Now.

4: Make me a Supermodel: How shallow are people? Hmmmm, just ask Jennifer Hawkins who just scored straight A's in Shallow Puddle Diving 101. Is it just me, or does she never open her eyes properly? Why is she on my TV? Can she even tie her own shoe laces?

5: A Current Affair/Today Tonight: A repeat entry. If the terms "alcohol fueled violence...", "rip off merchant....", "How to feed 9 children on a budget...", "Undercover cameras recorded this conversation...." interest you, then you need to seriously take a long hard look in the mirror.

And the best...
1: All Saints: As much as I hate to admit it, I do enjoy this show. It's really gone from strength to strength over the last couple of years and has become a real sleeper for channel 7. The sad death of Mark Priestly made it even more compelling to watch.

2: Enough Rope: How Andrew Denton gets big name Hollywood celebs to spill their guts over the course of an hour is quite telling. It's good because it's not like Rove where they have 5 minutes of quick fire questions before the next commercial break, it really explores conversation and was terribly engaging.

3: Top Gear Australia: It has had its detractors from day one, including myself, but looking back I don't think SBS did a bad job of it. The main host needs a bit of a personality transplant but the other two are perfect. The show was never going to be as good as the British version, not on 10% of the budget, but nonetheless, kudos for SBS for giving it a go. What people don't realise is that it took the British version a good three years before it hit its stride, the first 'reborn' series in 2002, if you watch it, is painfully scripted and sparse.

4: AFL Carlton Vs Port Adelaide: On the rare occasion that Carlton was given free to air viewing, we came back from 40 points down in the final quarter to win by 25. That's television, that's entertainment.

5: Documentary night on ABC: I think it's Tuesday or Thursday nights 8:30pm, ABC serves up some real corkers,mostly BBC derived documentaries. I might as well don the plaid slippers and dressing gown to watch these, but in amongst the sea of dross typically served up on the commercial stations, it's sometimes nice to sit back and learn something new.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I am like..... so hardcore

I always thought there was something missing during my morning and afternoon bicycle commutes, something that wasn't quite all there. Alas, I have found it, all hail the BICYCLE COMPUTER! Yay! Of course, me being me, it was on special at Aldi for $10, so I got Miss R one as well.

So now I am able to tell how fast I am going, how far I went, and how many calories I burn. So, for it's first run to work this morning I managed to average 32kph for 21.5 minutes with a maximum speed of 51kph (downhill of course) with 270 calories burned. Awesome! My normal route is mapped out here:
although this morning I chose to ride down Brunswick St instead just for a change of scenery...and to see how hideously bad car traffic is going down that way.....which it is, although no better than what Hoddle St is.

I have noticed that if you're in car, there is no easy way to cross Alexandra Parade. It's a traffic dam, although I did do it the other day in the car on Saturday when traffic was backed right up to the North Fitzroy Bowls club along Brunswick St. Take Rae st all the way down, turn left, then right at Brunswick St. Easy.

Is it just me or is Saturday traffic worse than peak hour traffic during the week?

Monday, December 1, 2008

When worlds collide!

I haven't thought about this for a while, but for some reason during some obscenly productive internet browsing I came upon this:
If you can't be bothered clicking the link, it basically describes the impending 32,000km close encounter Earth will have with a 350m wide asteroid called Apophis in 2029. 32,000km sounds an awful lot, but it's closer than the moon which is almost 380,000km away, so yes, a close shave.

So, if this chunk of rock happened to hit our dear old planet earth, what would happen? Thanks to the University of Arizona, they've worked out a simple computer program to help out here:

The likely scenario is that Apophis would strike the earth in water, probably deep ocean somewhere about 2km in depth. So, if you were 1000km away, what would you feel? Well, not much apparently. You'd hear it, almost as loud as heavy traffic, you may feel a slight tremor about 3 minutes later, but otherwise nothing. If you were 100km away, you will suffer third degree burns over most of your body and your ears would be damaged by the noise. Even if Apophis landed on solid ground, the effects within a 100km radius would be survivable.

So, I guess should all this eventuate you would be pretty darn unlucky to be at the epicentre of such a collision, but I'm sure there are some parts of the world that would benefit from such an event.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Dogs

It's been a while since I have talked about the dogs, so I will.

We've had Cleo the whippet for nearly 18 months now. She was such a timid little thing when we first got her and did not accept human contact at all. However, I guess it has been only the last 6 months or so where she has become very attached to Miss R and I, she'll even jump up on us and snuggle in behind our backs on the couch when we're watching telly. She's still quite independent and won't come back inside from the park when called, but she lets us clip her on the lead at least, so we have to walk her in. It's funny, as much as she loves running full tilt across the oval, she just as much loves trotting along on the lead down the street sniffing every tree in sight. When we're not in her familiar environment, such as down at the dog beach or down on the farm, she never leaves our side.

Merlin the retired racing greyhound is the crowd favourite though. Over the last 6 months we have become much more confident in controlling him and we're not afriad that he's going to ru off never to be seen again. IN the park at least we can let him off the lead no worries, it's all fully fenced and he tends to just follow me around now without looking out for the next opportunity to escape. He is even getting better with other dogs, he even plays now which is great to see. If another dog barks at him or snaps at him, he is very quick at high tailing it for home, the brave dog that he is....not. He did himself an injury last time we were down on the farm, his front right paw must've done a tendon in it or something as he can sometimes have an obvious limp there. Still, once he warms up he has a big 30 second sprint around the oval, he is then flat on his back for the next 12 hours. I swear, if you're after a low maintenance dog, a greyhound is for you.

So yeah, the two of them still get along well, they'll take turns in chasing each other around the park. A greyhound should be a darn sight faster than a whippet, but they can't turn as quick, so Cleo gets away in that respect, plus a greyhound doesn't have the endurance of a whippet, not by a long shot, and also Merlin is quite stiff in his back legs so he doesn't stride out all that well.

I really want to take them down to Templestowe flats where I hear there is a bit of a rabbit problem, let the dogs do what they were bred to. I think Cleo would probably catch one, but I doubt Merlin would.