Thursday, June 29, 2006

The New Moon........

.....sometimes seems to suck something out of me. And from time to time, leaving me feeling in the dumps. It's waxing again like this, which I used to call it a "fingernail moon" when I was a kid.

And for some reason I feel much better.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Vale Mandarin Meg

I came across Mandarin design via some blog links from a fair few stateside bloggers. It's a great site which "encourages you to make mistakes". Their little button "trashed by Mandarin" sums up their philosophy nicely.

From their instructions and cool little tips, the-open-mind layout was born....tweaking the cruddy Blogspot template I had. I could have taken it further, but I'm happy enough with the current code. There was a "blogging for postcards" thing going for awhile and I sent Michelle (Meg) a postcard from the Blue Mountains. And now Meg who was a big part of Mandarin is no longer, she had a generous influence on quite a few blogs in the corner of the blog world that I read.

Union March Blacktown.

My banner.

Well in typical fashion, I left my SLR at home so had to use the phone camera.....sheesh.

There's a report from the Sydney Morning Herald here.


I Managed to get a parking space not too far away from the rally meeting point and promptly noticed A LOT of people heading towards the Blacktown showgrounds. There were all sorts, teachers, scientists, storemen and packers, construction workers, firemen, cops, construction workers, electricians and factory workers. Then it was to the showground past the fringe socialist groups handing out leaflets for extra numbers, "No thanks mate" seemed to be the standard response.

Then over the rise to be greeted by around 10,000 workers in the main showground arena. I found my group with their banners of the LHMU I was promptly handed one of the banners which I held high and proud throughout the rally.

People of ilks kept pouring in. Estimates of 20,000-30,000 were thrown around, once everyone was there. I'd say it was close having been to a few sports events with similar numbers.

Then a few speeches. One from the unions(New South Wales) secretary explaining how the rally was being held in Blacktown as it awas a conservative party marginal seat with a working class background. The rally was a sign of the numbers of people not happy with Mr Howard's Work Choices legislation, which from all accounts (I look to the USA) as to fairly ream average working people. Pressure on marginal seats seems to be the union's tactic.

There were a few other short speeches including one by some poor bastard gasping for breath from asbestosis who once worked for James Hardie and was claiming compensation with union support. Another from a child care worker sacked within 4 days of the Work Choices legislation coming to be.

And then for the slow march around Blacktown. It was rowdy in places subdued in others and a great day of solidarity.

About sums it up. No water cannons, riots, fires, upturned cars or anything like that. Just some ordinary average people taking it to the street.

So what is this all about? I suppose the best synopsis I can give that the Labor party in opposition receives quite a bit of monetary support from the union movement. If workers are forced to negotiate directly with employers or with the help of lawyers (without union involvement which is already the case with Australian Workplace Agreement legislation at the moment), the unions become redundant. Thus the Labor party becomes more impotent than it already is.

The perfect conservative dictatorship with corporation support.

Oh and here's how News Corp set the tone at their make your comments section.

UNIONS are trying to reignite community animosity towards the Federal Government’s Work Choices IR laws with mass rallies around the country today. Do you think the protests will have any impact? Have you been affected by the new workplace laws?

My favourite comment so far is

Private Citizen

The greatest irony is us arguing this on a News Limited blog. After all Rupert Murdoch practically started individual contracts when he shut down his Fleet Street Presses and only hired staff who sign individual contracts at their Wopping plant. locking out the unions.
Is News Limited still suffering from “Wopping” bias? Have a look how they phrase the blog question, read the editorials and decide.
I wonder what penalty rates a blog moderator gets at news limited?

I don't think that comment will last long given the NEWS comments section states

Although we try to run feedback just as it is received, we reserve the right to edit or delete any and all material. All posts are moderated.

Feedback will be rejected if it does not add to a debate, is offensive, repetitious, or contains clear errors of fact.

Labor Party stuff.

I'll be at one of the ACTU(Australian Council of Trade Unions) rallys in Blacktown today, getting information (without the conservative party spin) regarding the John Howard new workplace awards. May be back with some photos and a bit of a report. Some mates from work are meeting me at the pub and then forward, onward bruvvers! It is being held at the Blacktown Showgrounds at 9am with quite a few people attending. Schools in the Western suburbs aren't opening until 11am. It will be interesting to see the Murdoch run NEWS slant on that.

BTW I met some Kiwis (New Zealanders) on Monday night who had similar legislation passed a ten years ago. Their wages have only gone up $1 (from $10 to $11) in 10 years. No wonder they are emmigrating to Australia in droves......

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A winter's night in Leichhardt

If you haven't been following the news lately, you may not know that there's been a few games of football going on in Germany. Australia's team made the second final series but lost out last night to Italy.

Last night I was one of the 20,000 fool hardy to watch the game in Leichhardt on a cold winter night in a closed off Norton Street, the little-Italy of Sydney. (I'm going to get some nice photos there one day). It was a good night, no alcohol but the baristas at the mobile coffee stands were doing a roaring trade.

There was a large base of Italian supporters in the Azzuri of the Italian football team. Young guys mostly who were cheerful and very rowdy. Air horns, whistles, drums and a few firecrackers and flares. Their girlfriends were mostly dolled up wanting nothing to do with such silliness.

This report from the New Zealand Herald

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of football fans turned out all across Australia in the early hours of this morning to watch the Socceroos' heart-breaking World Cup exit.
Sydney had the largest gatherings.

There was a huge turnout in Leichhardt in Sydney's inner west - the home of the city's Italian community - where ABC Radio today reported 20,000 fans packed into Norton Street.

Rowdy Italian fans let off flares and hugged each other when the winning goal was scored, while despondent Australians skulked home after the game.
The crowds, meanwhile, were so big at Circular Quay that police were forced to ask late-arriving fans to go elsewhere.

The crowds had begun partying hours before the game began, intent on celebrating Australia's advance to a second round berth that few predicted before the tournament began in Germany.

In Norton Street, they crammed every vantage point to watch the game on a 10-metre screen, with those unable to find a spot at street level perching on balconies and shop roofs.

Couple of things I noticed.....
  1. I was one of the older member in a mainly young crowd.
  2. I was one of the taller people in a short crowd, probably the tallest. It was funny looking across and waving to other tall dudes.
  3. The smell of the flare's smoke that permeated my clothes was worse than any cigarette smoke smell I've had from a smoky bar
  4. Cafe lattes taste so much better in the cold.
  5. My neck was aching for ages after looking at the big screen for almost two hours.
  6. Italian women are something else.

The Eraser

Thom Yorke form Radiohead has a new solo album out on the 10th of July. From the first track "Black Swans" I've heard, it sounds as if it will be rather good. Full of angst, self loathing, doubt and other such dark themes of nihilism that us Generation-X'ers sometimes get off on.....or perhaps humanity does?

The headboard in the small stage above has a couple of Black Dogs or are they rats?

There's a couple of clips XL records with some creepy music which no doubt will be the tone of the album. Artwork is done by Radiohead 's usual art director Stanley Donwood, the series is called London Views which is he describes as:

London Views is a picture of London, an apocalyptic panorama that stretches from the Thames estuary upstream to beyond the familiar structures of the gherkin, the NatWest tower, Big Ben and Battersea Power Station.
This medievalised vision of apocalypse in England's capital city was carved on 14 pieces of linoleum with one small cutting tool. The original blocks make up a picture about twelve feet long, which has been painstakingly hand-burnished on to beautiful Japanese Kozo paper, as it has so far proved impossible to print this using a press. Thus the edition is extremely small; only 8 have been made.

At XL records they've made some small clips using the London Views series, the music could be descibed as "wistful".

First one has the black dogs/rats on planks of wood, some floating along until they reach the man in black above and one sinking into the void.

Second one has the Tower of London, the Gherkin and a skyscraper shooting sprouts heading heavenward again stopped by the man in black.

Third one has the UK Parliament House shooting sprouts heavenward as a boat sails past.

Fourth one has several London buildings including the Tate Modern, the Milenium Dome, St Paul's etc floating along.

Black Swans has been played on Triple J from time to time, I managed to get a copy of it and have been playing it regularly in at home and in my car via a mp3 player and fm transmitter setup. It's not the most uplifting of songs, but Radiohead were never known much for any sort of message of hope. Which in a way, appeals to my sense of black reality at the moment and always did.

Waiter! Gimme a on....make it a double.

Monday, June 26, 2006

One use for a 600 Grosser Mercedes Benz

Most expensive Picnic table in Sydney today?

I went on an economy run today with the Benz club. Above was one of the highlights at the sausage sizzle (sausage BBQ) we had at a park near the Napean river. A Benz 600 Grosser complete with privacy curtains being used as a picnic table.

This is the second economy run I've been on with the club, the first was in my thirstier 450SLC. The 300e was a lot more economical, registering just under 9.3lt/100km or 30 miles per gallon.Thistiest car was this 1950's 300d

There are several tricks I learnt on the last economy run, over inflate the tyres to prevent rolling resistance, brake as little as possible, try to keep the tachometer under 2500rpm, roll down hills in neutral and don't get lost. I got lost......

Then there are other aspects where self control must be practiced. Economy runs mean as little use of petrol is the best way to go. That means VERY gentle driving. No sudden acceleration. If there's a car all over your arse, filling up your entire rear view mirror and you're pottering along like an old lady..... fight the urge to flatten the accelerator and leaving them to eat your dust. If it's a BMW fight the urge doubly hard. This is particularly difficult when you're crawling up a monstous steep hill (par for the course by the sadists who map out such courses) and the car is going up at 2500rpm and 20km/h. You know you can go up at 90km/h but you aren't able to.

The course was a good one. Up through some of the Blue Mountains around Bowen Mountain and rolling hills around Kurrajong,

along the Napean river and the lovely flood plains where turf farms are in proliferation.

It was sunny cattle and horses everywhere, with several Mercedes Benzes doing the Sunday Driver thing travelling rather slowly.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Nicest song I've heard for awhile

Click this link to the band Midlake and then click the song Roscoe in the music player thingy. I thought it was a new song by Radiohead.


Stonecutters made them from stones
Chosen specially
For you and I
Who will live inside

The mountaineers
Gathered tender piled high
In which to take along.
Driving many miles
Knowing they'd get here.

When they got here, all exhausted
On the roof leaks, they got started
And now when the rain comes
We can be thankful

Ooh aah ooh
When the mountaineers
Saw that everything fit
They were glad
And so they took off

Thought we were devoid
A change or two
Around this place

When they get back, they're all mixed up with no one to stay with

The village used to be
All one really needs
That's filled with hundreds and hundreds of chemicals
That mostly surround you
You wish to flee but it's not like you
So listen to me
Listen to me

Oh, oh and when the morning comes,
We will step outside
We will not find
Another man inside
We like the newness, the newness of all
That has grown in our garden
Soaking for so long

Whenever I was a child
I wondered,
What if my name had changed
Into something more productive
Like: Roscoe
Been born in 1891
Waiting with my Aunt Rosaline

Thought we were devoid
A change or two
Around this place

When they get back, they're all mixed up with no one to stay with

They roamed around their forest
They made their house from cedars
They made their house from stone

Oh, they're a little like you
And they're a little like me
We are falling deep

Thought we were devoid
A change or two
Around this place
(This place)
(This place)

When they get back they're all mixed up with no one to stay with
(When they get back they're all mixed up with no one to stay with)

What's with the cracked pepper deal?

You know the scenario, turn up at a restaraunt. Order and receive the meals and the waiter produces an enormous pepper grinder. "Cracked pepper sir?"

The cynic in me sees it as an economic measure, pepper grinders are relatively expensive and prone to getting knocked off. Thus, the ritual of the cracked pepper is actually one of mistrust and control, not the imaganied concept of "sophistication". The paying punter cannot be allowed to handle the holy pepper grinder and thus get the amount of pepper exactly's all in the hands of the waiter.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Poodle hits 10k

The Loose Poodle gets 10000 hits

The kudos and congratulations come flooding in.

One of the congratulatees (?) of the usual mob is responsible for this photo.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

New Ride

I was looking for a low kilometer older 6 cylinder Benz or BMW and this came up.

A 1990 300e 24v.
176 kW (About 250 Horsepower)
Quarter mile in 15.9 secs.
92000km (about 55000 miles) I've since done 2000km....can't help myself.
One little old lady owner
Immaculate leather and wool carpet interior.
Everything works.
Benz machanic says it was a good buy, the only work required was a front suspension arm thingy and a couple of German Continental tyres for the front. I couldn't believe the handling and steering could get any better but it did.

So I snapped it up for the same price as a base model 2000 Holden Commodore with a heap more kilometers on the clock and half the engineering. Hopefully will retain its value a little better than the Commodore (I've just lost a heap on my previous one which was getting VERY tired). I've had it professionally polished to get the fingernail marks off door handle jambs and "swirls" and am getting the windows tinted to protect the interior from the sun.

The old guys in the Mercedes Benz club reckon this is the lasty of the well built Benzes, after that they started cutting costs. Time will tell.

342 Surrealists

Available here, everything from Giger to Hollien. The above painting was found on one of the linked sites to William S Otto. Buy his stuff!

via Cliff

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


There's a fine line between genius and madness. Trainspotters I'm not so sure about. They are seen as a particularly English phenomena but we have our fair share of them too.

Today I was catching a train to the Western suburbs and spotted a pretty intense trainspotter onboard. State Rail timetable in hand, a small notebook with neat little rectangles on his lap......scribbling furiously. About what, I'm not 100% sure but it seemed VERY, VERY important in his little world.

Then there were the other signs, a backpack..... no doubt with a Thermos and some sandwiches, the spray jacket and the obligatory notebook. I often see a few trainspotters at the station near my place, as it's a one-time railway town with a railway museum nearby. The occasional steam train puffing up the Blue Mountains sees quite a few more coming out of the woodwork bearing video cameras, taperecorders and cameras with enormous zoom lenses. So, in effect...... trainspotter spotting has been a bit of a past-time in passing for myself. It's a sickness, I know.

I actually was given one of these notebooks as part of a promotional package at the Bay to Birdwood. It wasn't called "The Trainspotters Notebook" but something more formal such as the "Rail Enthusiast's Pocketbook" or similar, had a look on the web and am unable to find the publisher. There must be a shop that sell the things, somewhere. In any case, enthusiasts of old cars and those who write down train serial numbers are perhaps are of the same ilk, otherwise why would have they included a copy? Now I'm getting worried.

Anyway, I gave my copy to a friend of mine who was equally bemused by the trainspotter enigma. And on spotting the trainspotter today on the train, I promptly advised the same friend via SMS. Should have taken a picture but I'm unsure if they get violent or not.

Whilst looking for the pocketbook, I found this.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

South Head Lighthouse Blue Sky

I've uploaded some more of these photos I took when I was lost in the Eastern suburbs in Sydney with a storm around the area. The light was fantastic! Depending on which way one looked the sky was grey, maroon, purple with various hues inbetween. Unfortunately, I didn't have my tripod so some of the pics are a little wobbly with the hand shake.

None of these photos have been enhanced in any way, they are completely raw. The above photo of the lighthouse was what I mostly came out with the shutter in continous mode (a lovely blue tinge) with some turning out inexplicably a warmer, redder tinge below.

Racing ahead of the storm

What looked like a rather large fishing cruiser is dwarfed in the grey Pacific, trying to beat the approaching rain in the background.

South Head Lighthouse

A little unfocussed but gives an indication of the sky colour.

Looking towards North Head

Ships, boats and various watercraft of all sorts slip between the North Head and the South Head where I was standing and enter the lagest natural harbour in the world. I'm told by various boaties that the waters between the heads can get a little hairy.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

South Head Lighthouse

Taken last night during a storm in the Sydney Eastern Suburbs. I was lost on Old South Head Road (took a right instead of a left..... much like Peter at the moment) and had my camera on me when this loomed on the horizon.

I've a heap more photos with a strange purply sky which I will upload later. This one turned out a warmer yellow for some reason. The light was awesome, as you will later see.

The lighthouse is still in operation pointing out the southern entrance (Southern Headland) of the mouth of Sydney Harbour. The passage between the two headlands I'm told is particularly rough as one travels from the relative calmer harbour out to the Pacific ocean. The lighthouse reminds me of that strange Buddhist temple near the Californian ocean in the film "The Usual Suspects". It's rather folorn and lonely....... there again I'm not aware of too many lighthouses in medium density urban areas!

This in much the same manner would make a great place for location scouts to utilise in offbeat gangster films where the deal goes wrong. I can see a convertible load of tough looking blokes with stubble, tattoos and an attitude.......bearing arms and Rayban sunglasses rolling up to the South Head Lighthouse to make the deal.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


The cat has claimed the bed in these dark winter times.... He likes the electric blanket, I've described him before as a form of biological heatsink, absorbing any hint of warming infra-red rays.

Actually it isn't too bad today, the sun is out, birds seem to chirping feebly and I'm off for a swim! However the cat ALWAYS knows the consistently warmest spot in his locale.

Yesterday was another matter. Doing deliveries on a rainy June Sydney day, the car and I were soaked both inside and outside.

Apologies for those few who pop by, it's been a rather trying few weeks of late. I'll get back into it shortly.