Thursday, February 25, 2010

Whammo – Dumbo goes from Fatso to Slimmo!

This is where are for the next few days.

When I was about 5 years old I was told that there was no such thing as Santa Claus. This was no surprise. I’d had my suspicions about this because even at that age I was inquisitive and some of the stuff I saw just didn’t make any sense to me.

Not that I was terribly bright. But I just didn’t believe a lot of stuff. This was my first lesson in not believing everything you are told.

It was my first step into the world of duplicity. The entry to the dark world of deceit, dishonesty and corruption where the dark forces of evil fester and thrive. (This may be an overreaction).

Some things (like religion) took me longer to work out than others but I reached the stage some years ago where I no longer believed most of what I read or heard or saw in the newspapers, or on TV, or on the radio - unless I was sure of the source and could cross-check it. And I stopped believing what many people told me – unless I really trusted them.

This did not stop me from doing some really, really stupid things and I have been caught many times – and sometimes very expensively. My most notable piece of monumental stupidity and misplaced trust cost me in excess of $1 million.

But - I do not have under my bed a “Whammo Cross-Trainer guaranteed to make me lose 50 kilos in a month working out for 5 minutes each day” or indeed anything similar.

I used to worry a lot about this type of stuff.

On TV here every morning, evening and night there are promotions for these magical electronic belts. Fat people strap them on to their blubber and plug them in and ten minutes later they have bodies to die for. It must be true – they show before and after pictures (just bodies – no heads). No exercise – just a few cents worth of power.

Whammo – Dumbo goes from Fatso to Slimmo!

There is simply so much of this stuff designed specifically to gull the punters. And I used to think that – really – someone (I am not sure who?) should do something about this and put a stop to it.

But then a couple of years ago I realised that this has been going on since the dawn of time when crooks in the bazaars first invented the pea and thimble trick – and will go on forever.

As someone said (Wikipedia is not sure who) ‘There is a sucker born every minute’ Except that these days it is more like 1,000 suckers per minute.

There is simply nothing that can be done to prevent people from being conned - and throwing their money away. Some people are simply dumb. Some people may be smart (or not completely dumb) but have been trained by the system to be dumb.

That is – it doesn’t matter how smart you are – if you are brought up in the bible belt and told by your parents and your teachers and everyone else you know that the world was created less than 10,000 years ago – that is what you will believe.

And it will probably be impossible to convince you otherwise because you will also have been taught that anyone who tries to tell you a different story is Satan in disguise and is lying to you. And if anyone tries to tell you there is no Satan – they are Satan in disguise and are lying to you. Satan is everywhere – and infests Pennsylvania Avenue.

As you are never going to go to college and will only ever going to watch Fox, MTV and the ‘Hour of Glory (god wants you to give generously – and will reward you in heaven) you will never know anything different.

I have probably mentioned previously that in Queensland the regulatory authorities did an investigation of all payments made to Nigeria over a 12 month period. They found that something like 90% of the payments were for scams – and the payments were made by Accountants, Doctors, Lawyers and punters in general. Some people had sent hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The people conducting the investigation contacted all the people involved and told them that they were being scammed. Following this an astonishing number (I think more than 30%) continued to send money. WTF? This is dumbness stretched to the max. This is dumbness breaking the bonds of earth and moving into the stratosphere.

In Australia we have had an immense number of crashes of ‘property investment funds’ – most of which were little more than scams. People invested money – sometimes their life savings – on the promise of 3% per annum more than the going rate. Does not anyone ever ask themselves why someone will offer them so much more for their money than the going rate?

Bernie Madoff said after his conviction something along the lines that the greed of his investors always astonished him. Already extremely wealthy people would throw millions at him on the promise of an extra few percent per annum.

The answer? There is nothing you can do to stop people from wasting their money.

Which brings me to something I saw yesterday.

A Parliamentary panel in the UK has determined that Homoeopathy doesn’t work and that Britain should end its state funding for homeopathic treatments.

It’s not a surprise that homeopathy doesn’t work. There have been many studies over many years that have demonstrated that it could not possibly work – and does not work.

A cursory analysis of the system by any intelligent person would lead them to believe that the odds of homeopathy doing anything beneficial at all would be very remote. Take a substance – dilute 50 billion times – bang it on the table and Whammo – cured!

As Harriet Hall MD explains

“…homeopathy is about as silly as it gets. Silly wouldn’t matter if it worked, but it doesn’t. People think it works because they get placebo effects and the homeopath keeps them entertained while they get better on their own.”

I belong to an organisation called Skeptics and there is an excellent article about the great homeopathy scam by Dr Hall.


And someone who should be read on this – and on many other nonsensical beliefs is Ben Goldacre. His book ‘Bad Science’ is a gem. His website is.

Bad Science

I am trying to think if there is anyone I have not yet offended with this Blog. Let me see……I know…. the Amish…I have never said anything bad about the Amish. Rest assured I am never going to. I saw ‘Witness’ and have nothing but good thoughts about them. And that Kelly McGillis – what a corker!

And let’s face it. They are no wackier than most other people – including half-crazed lunatics sitting in garrets in Vienna writing Blogs.

A truly spectacular rich and gustatory experience

Hmmm………You’d better get the rest of the litter Harry - I reckon we’ll need six more kittens to get to the top of the fence.

On Wednesday we went to Steirereck for Cate’s special birthday. This has the reputation one being of the best restaurants in Wien – and has the appropriate Gault Millau rating (19/20 Holy Toledo!) - but we have never been there before tonight.


We have tried to get there before but it is very popular and you have to book weeks in advance – so (unlike us) on this occasion we planned ahead.

It is in Stadtpark on the Wienfluss and is just five minutes walk from our front door. The setting is wonderful and the night was perfect. To get to the restaurant you walk up a long path and up a flight of stone steps flanked by rows of candles and men in bearskin coats carrying spears.

People leapt to open the door and inside you are greeted by hordes of people including the greeter, the coat taker, the coat hanger, the table finder, the chair puller outer, the ‘would you like a drink’ person and the initial drink bringer.

This crew is immediately replaced by a more permanent horde of 30 or 40 who attend to your every need. These include the cutlery provider (who also gives you a little card with each course giving a forensic analysis of what you are eating), the crumb remover, the ‘extra napkin for clumsy guest’ provider, and a number of people who are there to supervise the others – and just watch you carefully to make sure you lack for nothing – and don’t steal the Christofle cutlery.

After the first five minutes I knew this would be a card-crippling experience so rang our account manager at Visa to warn her in advance.

It is indeed sensational. We had the degustation menu (I still don’t know what this is in German) and every mouthful was a delight. Each course was accompanied by a wine – and each was fabulous.

It was as good as Ein Wiener Salon – but more elegant and showy and MUCH more expensive.

The only wobbly part of the entire evening was when Cate threw her Duck at me and missed altogether. We had to scrape the Duck and its accompanying bits off the table cloth and plop the remains onto my plate. This left a nasty stain which had to be covered up by the ‘extra napkin for clumsy guest’ provider.

This person was also in attendance when Cate tried to throw her glass of Mineral Wasser mit Gaz over me a bit later.

I think one of the reasons it was so expensive is that all the waiters traveled in pairs or groups. This might be for safety reasons and perhaps they have been ambushed in the past by drunken patrons.

They also use only Riedel glassware and Christofle cutlery. The waiters wear white gloves and there is a Bread wagon, a Cheese Wagon, a Chocolate Wagon and a Dessert Wine Wagon – each with its own dedicated waiter.

I didn’t have time to count the staff in the kitchen when we went past but there couldn’t have been less than 20.

A truly spectacular rich and gustatory experience.

Today I was going to have a rant about something but have quite forgotten what it was. I will think about it and make you suffer tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Danish Curlers are Hotties!

I put Lani safely on the train to Prague and tucked her into her carriage. She had a very nice stay and drank some very fine Austrian red wine.

On Monday night we sat in front of the fire and watched the Winter Olympics and saw Austria win a gold medal in the team ski jumping.

I am going to Moscow with Cate in March. When I say ‘go with’ I mean that I will be there at the same time. Cate is actually travelling there direct from Istanbul and will stay in Moscow after I leave.

To get there I have to go through this excruciating Russian Visa process again. This time there is no travel agent involved so to get an ‘invitation’ I have to ask the hotel for one. To do this I have to send them my credit card details AND a photocopy of the credit card – back and front.

Are they insane? Do they really think I am crazy enough to send a copy of my credit card to RUSSIA?

Well – actually – if I want to go this is what I have to do. You don’t get any options dealing with Russia. You don’t get to ‘choose the option which suits you best’.

Thank the Ever Suffering Easter Bunny that Rozalin is here to help me do all this stuff otherwise I would be Cactus!

I imagine my first impressions - obtained in January will be will be confirmed - that Russia is FUBAR and will be like that for a very long time to come.

I remind the readers that we are off to Copenhagen on Thursday. I have high hopes that I will be able to blog from such a civilized country where there is so much polished wood.

Incidentally I saw the Danish women’s Curling Team in action and those chicks are hotties.

I know that many of you have watched curling and wondered what the people are doing with the brooms. And – you have never bothered to investigate have you? Well – I am one of the very few people who know and I am going to share this knowledge with you. (Well – I am going to give you the link to Wikipedia).


So now when you are watching curling with someone and they say ‘WTF are those sweepers doing?’ you will be able to answer the question with some degree of authority.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Why can't the English ski!

Lani my Niece is here for a day and I showed her around. She is attending a medical conference in Prague and toddled off to Wien for a day.

I went for my first Fiaker ride. Cate would never let me do this but Lani thought it would be fun – so we took the 20 minute ride. The commentary was pointless because the man spoke very bad English and we could barely hear him above the clip clopping of the horses hooves – but I knew pretty much what we were looking at.

Anyway I was too busy discussing my medical issues with Lani so she wasn’t really able to focus on the scenery. I was able to correct a couple of her diagnoses. You would think she would know more than she does after 8 years of Medical School, clinical work and Postgraduate study but I guess there is no substitute for the experience I have had with self-diagnosis over many years.

So Lani has seen some of the City, had lunch at Café Central and has seen the Wien skyline from Kahlenberg. It was a glorious day and we had lots of fun – including buying cheese at Naschmarkt, Coffee in Alt Wien and Porridge in Bobby’s.

You know the depths to which the Republican Party has sunk when you hear that recent Conservative Political Action Conference had Glenn Beck as a keynote speaker. This is one of the maddest people in America and is probably certifiable – nay – criminally insane!

If you are in any doubt at all I invite you to watch – at random – any Glenn Beck video at all on You Tube. You will be convinced!

The scary thing is that this guy and people like Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin are setting the agenda for Republicans.

Ah tell y’all we got some shit storm coming our way.

Something else that caught my eye

“Baylor University announces that Kenneth Winston Starr, J.D., current dean of the School of Law at Pepperdine University, has been named the 14th president of Baylor University.”

May I remind you the Kenneth Starr was the person who corruptly used his position investigating Whitewater. He took on this position after Robert B. Fiske – the person originally appointed – found absolutely nothing to indicate impropriety by either Bill or Hillary Clinton so decided to purse something more useful.

Starr could also find nothing in Whitewater - but at the urging of corrupt senators – including one of the all time greats - Newt Gingrich - Starr used his position to start investigating the personal life of the President – and pursued him relentlessly for years at a cost of many millions of dollars.

At no stage did Starr find anything – other than that the President could not keep his pecker in his pants (and this was NOT news).

But if I tell you that Baylor is a ‘Christian University’ you will understand why someone like Starr is ideal for them. And - I can say with some glee that Gingrich who was also caught with his pecker outside pants – but has recently converted to Catholicism so can now go to confession for forgiveness.

I am not sure if the bad taste award for this decision should go to Newt or to the Pope.

And I know the English can’t play tennis or Cricket or most other things – but for goodness sake – at this stage of the Winter Olympics Australia has twice as many medals as Great Britain. You would think they would at least be good at cold weather things.

And – have you noticed that William has a Flag Counter on his Blog. What is going on here?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

This is what we do here.

The extra pins are back into the Bill Gates doll which is now in the coldest part of the freezer.

Gwenyth and I have decided that we will communicate only in German when we exchange emails – and will do this daily. So I decided to buy the German Language Pack for Word 2007.

The Microsoft site is almost impenetrable and only those with advanced hacking skills and immense patience can get into it. Actually finding the site to buy the Language Pack was damn near impossible. There is nothing at all on any of the layers of pages I went to that say ‘Buy Language Pack’, They talk about it a lot but to buy it you just have to keep clicking until you get lucky and stumble accidentally upon the right spot.

Perhaps it's part of a game ‘Indiana Jones and the Quest for the Furshlugginer German Language Pack'.

But buying it proved to be much more difficult than finding it.

Firstly I ended up on the US site and went through all the palaver to buy it only to discover that I needed a US address.

So I had to go to a European site – where I have the privilege of paying much more for the same product.

The process of buying this thing was excruciating. I had to fill out many forms, create a Windows ID account, give my date birth and much other totally irrelevant information. At one stage I admit I was shrieking with rage but managed to calm down enough to do what I thought may be the final steps.

When I clicked on the last button an invoice popped up saying thank you for your purchase and telling me what I had bought and how much it was. Printed on the invoice was a message saying that my credit card payment could not be processed. I was then booted off the site and found myself back where I had started from.

I had to go and calm down and did not return to the quest for the language pack for some hours. Working slowly and carefully I negotiated my way back in and eventually found that I had in fact purchased the damn thing and could download it. Which I did.

It took hours to do something that should have taken minutes.

I discovered another weird Viennese thing.

Cate got back from Moscow on Saturday evening and we went to dinner at a restaurant called Firenze Enoteca near Stephansplatz. When we left the restaurant Cate said it was the worst meal she had ever had – and the worst wine.

Cate tends to be swept up in the emotion of the moment and forgets some of the stunningly awful repasts we have savored in our global wanderings.

I said I didn’t think it was even in the top 50 and mentioned some memorable occasions – including some go outside and stick the fingers down the throat situations. Or even stay inside and do it.

I can for example – remember a restaurant in Narooma, on the south coast of NSW – which has rendered me incapable of ever eating again – or even thinking hard about - a Hokkien Noodles. And this was 15 years ago.

Anyway at about 4:30 Cate started vomiting and just got worse and worse – so bad in fact that Muffin left the bedroom and I had to wear ear plugs. And Muffin could just not understand why Cate was shouting into the big white telephone when there was a nice furry rug waiting in the lounge room.

But – it was not the food – because we both at the same vile crap. It was obviously a bug from Moscow.

She may have gotten this from the extremely drunk taxi driver on the way to the airport in Moscow. He kept falling asleep and Cate and her work colleague had to keep shouting and hitting him to keep him upright. Death was narrowly avoided but there was not much they could do – they were in the wilds of Moscow in the middle of a blinding Snowstorm. Death awaited them both inside and outside.

By 8:00 AM Cate was fading and I realised that it was possible that some Apothekes may be open on a Sunday as there is a sort of duty roster. They must hustle Apotheke people out of bed at gunpoint to get them out there on a Sunday.

So I found the website that listed the duty Apotheke in our area and went there at 8:30. It wasn’t ‘open’ in the sense that the door was open but there was a light on inside. I was pondering my next move when a man came along and pushed a red button next to the door.

An Apotheke-man appeared from the back of the shop and came and opened a small glass window – at about waist height – at the side of the door. The client man bent over and shouted his ailments through the glass and eventually – after a lot of shouting and gesticulating – (the glass is nearly but not completely soundproof) there were medicines and money exchanged.

Old habits die hard and when the Apotheke-man slid open the door to talk to me I dropped to my knees and said ‘Bless me father for I have sinned – my wife is vomiting non–stop and is dying’.

He crossed himself and said ‘ This is the work of the devil – give your wife these drops and they will cast out the evil spirits. Now say ten Hail Marys and be gone’.

‘Ten is a bit much’ I said – ‘just for vomiting’

‘OK’ – he said – ‘Just do five but stop fiddling with your testicles’.

When I got home Cate had deteriorated and I immediately called ‘Doc Around the Clock’ (Yes – that is what it is called) and Doc said he would be there in half an hour – which he was.

He gave Cate an injection and told me the drops I had obtained got were useless homeopathic rubbish. He gave me a prescription to get filled.

He then charged me a synapse-searing €250 ($377.50) for the consultation. After the third visit we get a voucher to go sailing on his yacht in the Maldives.

It was a bit harder at the Apotheke this time as there was a queue of six people already waiting outside. Fortunately it was fine and mild day. I would hate to have to line up for hours in a snow storm – because there is no way they are going to open the door.

It is quaintly Viennese not to think that people may need an Apotheke six days each week – but not a Sunday. After all – why would anyone get sick on a Sunday?

And if you do get sick it is certainly not my fault and I am definitely not going to let you and your smelly little sick body into my shop – I mean - I mopped the floor on Saturday afternoon.

To make you suffer even more I will make you bend double and shout through a little hole in the glass. If you have a particularly embarrassing ailment I will ask you to repeat it six times.

This is Wien. This is what we do here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Worst Breasts in Britain?

Warning this blog contains images of a salacious nature and language which may offend some people.

Well this isn't going to work!

Or this!

Or this!

Or this!

This is Lindsey Vonn – Women’s Downhill Gold Medalist. Lindsey does not wear this stuff when she is skiing – it creates too much drag and makes her nipples rock hard.

I have revised my thinking about the Winter Olympics. I have decided that the scariest sport is the Downhill. This is seriously scary. This is trapped in an elevator with Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin scary.

I watched Lindsey Vonn win the women’s downhill in spectacular fashion. Prior to this I saw four other skiers come to considerable grief by crashing at very high speed. I mean these crashes just go on and on and the girls slide for miles after hurtling through the air upside down for a while. I took a couple of shots of some of the interesting positions they achieved.

They demonstrated quite clearly that the fastest way to the bottom is not backwards, sitting down, lying down, lying on your stomach or somersaulting. The fastest way is the Vonn way.

Fortunately none of them was badly hurt but I am they all looked pretty shook up.

Lindsey is just in a class of her own and knocked their socks off. An astonishing woman. Gorgeous too.

In answer to the question I didn’t ask or answer yesterday but should have – the test of whether or not a Blog is good is if people read it.

I have seen many Blogs which to me seem to be – let us say – less than interesting - but which have hundreds of followers and probably thousands of readers. If this is the case then they serve their purpose. Who am I to judge the blogs of fellow bloggers. I don’t and I won’t.

I mean - Marilyn Manson has a fan club. I hope I never meet any of the fans but I am sure they are totally dedicated and follow him slavishly.

I may have maligned Lady Ga Ga by suggesting that she may go the way of so many pop stars. There is a story in the Sydney Morning Herald that she is totally dedicated to her art and that her idea of a good time is to lash out and have a bowl of Pasta on Sunday.

She also says she has nowhere to live - which seems a bit rough – not having a mantelpiece to put all those Brit Awards on - thank goodness for those feathers in winter. However she seems a decent enough Sheila and is welcome to kip here (I will have to check with Cate but I am sure it will be fine).

And speaking of things in the world of fashion. I always thought that Victoria Beckham was a completely vacuous air head who would never make any contribution to humanity other than being a clothes horse who always stands about with a posture like she either has a full nappy or an angry gecko in her underpants.

However – it appears that she does in fact have some talent. I was looking at her Autumn/Winter 2010 collection in New York (isn’t she a bit late?) and – if indeed she did design these frocks – I am impressed.

I am not a Fashionista but I appreciate good clothing – you know the stuff that can be worn – not the feathery, stringy, shimmering, rubbery, sequinny, plasticy, surrealistic, gossamer wreathed - alien creature type stuff that you simply could not wear anywhere – even to a fancy Dress Ball.

Cate has some wonderful clothes – she goes mad every time she goes to the USA – and really knows how to dress – and looks fantastic in everything she wears. (Grovel ends).

This is not a skill she has been able to transfer to me. Incidentally my Black T Shirt suppliers in Sydney (Remo) are going to stop stocking my favourite Ts – the Bastards! So I have bought 30 and they are being delivered to my son in Sydney and I will collect them when I am there – or he will bring them if he ever gets off his boney ass and comes to see me.

Back to Victoria Beckham’s Collection - of course none of these dresses could be worn by anyone who weighs more than 30 kilos – but they look terrific. Not a feather in sight.

What do these women eat that they can be so thin? Oh – I see! Nothing for me thanks – I’ll just lick a lettuce leaf and inhale some green tea steam. For dinner I may suck a stick of lemongrass.

I need to report on the Opera Ball held in Vienna. There are more than 300 Balls in Vienna each season and this is the biggie.

I watched part of it – along with 1.6 million Austrians - and saw this fantastical parade of men and women dressed to the nines poncing about and having a fine time. There were Debutantes, displays of dancing, singing and all sorts of exciting stuff.

Many of the people who attended don’t look particularly comfortable. I guess they don’t get dressed up all that often and feel a bit awkward. Helmut has probably just realised that he didn’t get his dinner jacket dry cleaned after last year’s Ball and the vomit stains are still there.

Apparently the only bad part about the Opera Ball is that there are so many people in attendance it is difficult to get to the bar to get hammered – which to my way of thinking you would need to do to make the night bearable – but then this is not my idea of a good time – in fact it is my worst nightmare and I would rather disembowel myself in the woods with a stick than go to the Opera ball – but you all know what a curmudgeon I am.

The Austrian Times reported on the event (I have left some boring bits out):

"This year’s Opera Ball went down without major scandals in contrast to previous editions. Burlesque artist Dita Von Teese, star guest of Austrian entrepreneur Richard Lugner in 2008, made headlines by locking herself in the toilet in a bid to escape the paparazzi. Lugner’s 2007 VIP guest Paris Hilton did the same. And, according to the shopping centre manager, Grace Jones "had sex before, during and after the ball" in 1996.

Lugner (aged 77) ensured most of the spotlight was on him and his entourage – featuring his 20-year-old girlfriend, his ex-wife, their daughter and her boyfriend.

Another Opera Ball guest who attracted a lot of attention was Katie Price. The British TV celebrity attended the event on invitation of Austrian business couple Irene and Alexander Mayer.”

And yes – this is the same Katie Price (AKA Jordan) who was recently awarded a prize for having the ‘Worst Breasts in Britain’.

I am sure this is not an objective award – I mean how many did they check?

But the picture does tell a story and I am not going to quibble with that particular award. They may be the only breasts in Britain that have to have their own Zimmer Frame. Poor Katie also won the award this year for the ‘Most Hated Woman in Britain’. They apparently don’t like her much.

It is time for me to bludgeon the Austrians again about cigarette butts. I have this in my diary ‘monthly rant – cigarettes and butts’.

I was coming back from buying a vast quantity of wine at Wein and Co and was sitting at the traffic lights on my bike when this asshole took an enormous drag of a cigarette and blew his disgusting smoke all over me. He then flicked the butt into the middle of the road.

I did the only appropriate thing in the circumstances. I got off my bike and battered him senseless with the tire pump. He will be pissing blood for a month. When I had finished with the lesson of the day I took his pants off and painted his bum black – then inserted a cigarette butt into each of his nostrils.

I left his bleeding, pulped, blackened remains lying beside the road. As I walked way I flicked a playing card onto his chest. It is the Ace of Hearts with ‘Nichtraucher’ emblazoned it.

I wish!

What I did was sigh (I do that a lot here) and shook my head sadly.

What is it with these fucking people. They are the world's greatest recyclers, there are hordes of street cleaners, there is very little graffiti, they are the only people in the world I have ever seen wait for the walk signs at traffic lights – but they pollute the city and restaurants with smoke and with billions of cigarette butts - and allow their very big dogs to shit all over the streets.

This is seriously fucked up and needs attention. (Rant Ends)

Has any else noticed that William is turning into a curmudgeon. He now has a bee in his bonnet about visitor trackers on other blogs.

I think he is still snowed in and can’t get outside to commune with nature and his Donkeys (the names of which I have forgotten). My apologies to William’s Donkeys – I am usually so good with names.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ask And Ye Shall Receive

I was reading a very good Tasmanian Blog Frog Ponds Rock and discovered that there is a place to which you can submit your blog for review.

Now I have heard of some crazy things – (I have a whole set of bookmarks under the category ‘Right Wing Looneys’) but this is one of the strangest concepts I have seen.

I have had a look and it appears to be the work of a group of bloggers who have decided that they are the arbiters of taste and style in blog world. Which is just fine – it’s still a free world (well – some parts of it) and if you want to review blogs go for it I say.

But – here is the really crazy part – bloggers actually submit their blogs for review. I cannot imagine any circumstances under which I would do this.

Well – that’s not true – I can imagine one circumstance - but I am not drinking at the moment because I still have a headache from last week.

Isn’t the whole point of blogging that you want to tell people about something or keep people informed about what you are doing - or just have a point of view – or just a rant. I mean – what is the point of asking someone else to review what you have written. Beats the shit out of me.

The last time I did something like this was for my Master’s Thesis and the result was most unsatisfactory and caused much angst – for both my Professor and me. It took us months to resolve our differences and we were both glad to see the last of each other.

I left with a Masters degree and he left with a vague feeling of uneasiness that something unpleasant had happened to him. He moved to Queensland almost immediately and now grows vegetables and goats and smokes dope.

But – people do submit their blogs – and some of the results are unpleasant because the blog reviewers have really ripped into bloggers who were silly enough to submit their work. The reviewers have set up their blog as a place where they can be oh so clever and witty and destructive – and they do a very good job.

I imagine most bloggers like their own work. But - I have read some enormous tosh of late (not all of it on my own blog) and can assure you that there are very few good bloggers out there.

The thought that some of these poor misguided Possums may submit their work for review fills me with dread and fears for their well being after they get the results.

Still – no one has to submit - but if you feel so inclined the site is Ask And Ye Shall Receive

I made a joke about Pauline Hanson moving to the UK and joining the British National Party – because she is a right wing nutter. Imagine my surprise to read in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday: (This is an edited version)

“The leader of the British National Party has declared that Pauline Hanson would not be regarded as an ''immigrant sponger'' if she moved to Britain, and if she wished to play a political role she would be ''very welcome''.

''I feel very sorry for her … that she has been forced out of her country by this politically correct intimidation and bullying … she would not be a sponger. We would regard her as a good addition.''

The Brit Awards were held within the last day or two. There are so many music awards that I lose track. But anyway – the pool was scooped –as they say – by Lady Ga Ga.

Now I must admit Lady Ga Ga has some catchy tunes but I hope she lasts longer than the current 'big thing' usually does in the ephemeral world of pop music.

Now that she is really famous she will be photographed staggering drunk out of London nightclubs, or not wearing underwear or sniffing Cocaine in Annabelle’s or whatever it is that young pop singers do these days as soon as they become famous.

For her sins she will appear on the front pages of the Daily Grossout in living colour probably legless and knickerless at 3:00 AM.

In my day pop stars just went to the pub and got drunk. In some cases – such as Elvis – they just ate hamburgers and ice-cream until they exploded. No one snuck around their gardens taking pictures. Who in those days wanted a picture of a fat old guy eating hamburgers?

These days they will photograph anything at all and there is no indecency to which anyone of note cannot be subjected. The gossip magazines have a voracious appetite for dross and schlock of any kind and will pay handsomely for it.

This is why photographers hide in trees and cupboards and public toilets and underwear drawers just waiting for the money shot.

But I digress.

The interesting thing is that Lady Ga Ga is one of these entertainers who dresses up. She is always wearing eye masks (and indeed met the Queen while wearing one of these).

The Queen took this very well - at her age she has seen everything – including (probably) Prince Philip in his underwear - and after that nothing else matters much.

Lady Ga Ga excelled herself at the Brit Awards and went dressed as the only survivor from a catastrophic explosion at a chicken farm.

What I admire is that someone could go out of the house dressed like this. Not just out of the house but into the limelight – on national television – beamed into millions of households. This takes exceptional boldness, conviction, courage and self esteem. It is not something I could ever do.

Good on you girl!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Welcome to the steaming ruin

Poor Fernando. I went to Tennis and he fell asleep under the new Minibake Wonder Sun Oven. But still – it’s not all bad – Mel Gibson has offered him a part in his new movie 'Geronimo'.

Sissi was sick today. I am not sure why but she eats almost everything she sees so could have devoured something that disagreed with her.

Anyway – the distressing part is that she had four vomits – the main one, the first supplementary and then two minor ones – and one of the latter missed the rug entirely and went onto the polished wooden floor.

I have told her that the ‘cat rules’ are that all vomit must be placed on something furry. i.e. the same place where she drags her dinner to eat it. She listened carefully and I am sure we will not have any more problems.

I have asked her Auntie Muffin to keep and eye on her. It is 10 years since Muffin missed a rug or Doona with one of her vomits.

Today Cate has gone to Geneva for a day – she will be back tomorrow night. On Friday she goes to Moscow – also for a day. I don't know what she does on these trips but I am sure it is essential - and what do I care as long as the cats and I are kept in luxury.

I suspect she carries out executions because sometimes she is muttering something about ‘dickheads’ when she leaves the apartment and is always happier when she gets back.

She has of course left me with a list of things to do – which include cleaning her boots. Not that I need instruction – I am very organized and plan my days carefully to ensure that I cram as much in as possible – including an afternoon nap.

So late on Tuesday evening I rode up to the Wein & Co store near Stephansdom to stock up. I just got my annual bonus Gutschein together with a 20% off everything voucher. Fantastic stuff. I bought whole bunch of Austrian Whites and also some very nice Austrian reds that we have discovered.

We used to think that the Austrians did not do red wine very well – but we had never tried the right stuff.

I just love cycling in Wien and never cease to be amazed by the beauty of the city. It started to snow when I was riding home so I broke the law and rode through Stadtpark (Verboten!) to check on the ducks.

The ice breaking man was there together with one of the duck feeders. The man breaks the edges of the ice with a stick so that the whole pond does not become frozen solid. Not that the ducks seem to mind sitting on the ice. They would probably make good Lugers.

See Kristin's Blog on this subject

And incidentally – there must be an ideal body type for Lugers – and it clearly includes having a large bum. I guess you have to have your centre of gravity just right so that if you do sail over the side of the Luge run at 145 kilometers an hour you land in the snow bum first – rather than head first - some hundreds of meters away.

But – I can understand people having enough of winter and snow. I was having a Zahnpflege (teeth clean) and the young lady was telling me that she is well and truly over Austrian winters. When you ask them – most Austrians want to live in Australia – or at least somewhere warm.

Of course she would probably feel better about life if she didn't clean other people's teeth all day.

I can understand why snow would make William and other people depressed if it goes on too long. But this is only our second winter and every day with snow is magic for us – and indeed for Sissi who has more fun than you could imagine.

I checked the Olympics last night and saw something I really like. It’s called Snowboard Cross and the best part is that four Snowboarders barrel out of the gates at the same time and hurtle down the track - all competing for the same space. This is more like it – none of this beating the other person’s time rubbish.

They rules say they are not allowed to make contact with each other but these seem to be loosely applied. It seems to be a bit like Roller Derby on snow – and is great fun because lots of people fall over at high speed and somersault off into the wilderness - and don’t seem to mind at all.

I think if you are a Snowboarder it’s about Snowboarding – not winning. Whoever wins there is lots of laughter and hugging at the end of each race.

Of course they Snowboard in Austria and practice on the slopes here by cannoning into pensioners at high speed – killing them outright or send them sailing off the sides of mountains.

They appear to do more damage that all other types of skiers combined - but what the hell – they are young and carefree and pensioners are old and shouldn’t be tottering about out there anyway. They should be home in front of the fire with their cats.

The world belongs to young people. Which is bad news for most of us. Still – on the bright side – we have nearly fucked the planet completely so they are pretty much welcome to the smoking and steaming ruin that we have left for them.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Silver was just not good enough!

Mr. Grumpy on the left in this picture is someone called Dale Begg-Smith. He is an adopted Australian but was born in Canada.

He is apparently unhappy about getting the silver medal in the Moguls at the winter Olympics.

Very unhappy in fact. It may be because the Canadians are calling him a Traitor.

This is one of the stupidest sports imaginable and has to be seen to be believed. Otherwise perfectly sane men (and women) go over a small jump and then ski as fast and as acrobatically as they can to the bottom – over snow lumps. The one who is fastest and/or gets the most points wins.

Now – any sport which is allocated even partially on the basis of points awarded by judges does not deserve to be in the Olympics. The Olympics are for the fastest, highest, strongest etc. As soon as you start awarding points you start getting into corruption and politics – Ice Dancing being a prime example.

And Ice Dancing. What is that doing in the Olympics? What is the point of dressing like clowns and skimming around throwing women into the air - and into the walls?

Not that I am knocking them – if you threw me 10 feet into the air and span me around three times I can guarantee that I would not land on my skates. It is a miracle to me that anyone does it all – and I just cannot watch it – partly because it is so boring I would rather eat my own liver but also because I feel so bad for the women who crash into the ice.

I think the women should throw the men – they are stronger and will bounce better.

Back to Mr. Begg-Smith. He was born in Canada. He should be representing Canada. That’s where he lives – and by all accounts – runs one of the world’s largest spamming operations.

This business of people being adopted by other countries for sporting reasons is nonsense. You represent the country in which you were born. End of story.

The same for the screen actors who we claim. Nicole Kidman was born in Hawaii – and she should be called an American. Russell Crowe was born in New Zealand and is a Kiwi. Mel Gibson was born in America (Notice that we no longer claim HIM as an Australian!).

The same should apply to politicians. Barak Obama should be President of Kenya.

Until his death I was only vaguely aware of Alexander McQueen and I regret not paying more attention. I spent a couple of minutes perusing the headlines in London newspapers and if the real Queen gets this much coverage and the accompanying massive and hysterical outpouring of grief when she goes she should be well pleased.

Clearly he was an extraordinary man – and this can be seen in his hat designs featured in this blog. He obviously specialized in clothes that could not be worn anywhere – as so many fashion designers do – and apparently this is the whole point.

(I am finally beginning to understand it. I always used to think "who would wear that?" Answer – No One!)

Liz Jones raved about his designs:

“There was the show where the models were encased in a glass specimen jar, with a finale featuring thousands of moths released into the air around the clearly terrified models. There was the show where Shalom Harlow was standing on a platform in a ball gown, only to be spray-painted by robots. And, of course, there was the show featuring Aimee Mullins, a model without legs, who stalked the catwalk on intricately carved wooden prosthetics”

But then (the absolute bitch) went on to say that she had never actually bought any of his clothes because they were not made to be worn.

Well – hasn’t the fashion world torn her apart for that! Meow Meow! Her Blog is on FIRE!

Well I now think he was fantastic and I am just so sorry that I did not pay more attention.

I just cannot wait for Mr. McQueen’s State Funeral and the interment in Westminster Abbey.

However, on the bright side for London – our very own Pauline Hanson (the Oxley Moron) is migrating to the UK. She has decided not to run for political office again.

Pauline was elected to office (on the Aborigine-migrant bashing ticket) but lost at the next election. She then ran this fantastic scam for years. Each time she would run she would not get elected but would get a sufficient percentage of the vote to ensure that she picked up a hundred thousand dollars or so – having spent approximately $2.50 in election expenses.

Now they are changing the rules and will only reimburse actual expenses – so there is no point in hanging about in Australia – where she is not much loved.

But – I am sure there will be lots of opportunities for Pauline to play the racist card in the UK – and she will probably get honorary membership of the BNP.

I am not sure she will be able to play the ‘Pakistanis eat their babies’ card like she did in Australia with Aborigines – but she will think of something.

As Annie has pointed out - she ran a Fish and Chip shop in Australia so should be able to find something to do in Blighty.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Shimmering Ducks in Stadtpark

OMG my Scientologist Proximity Alarm just went off. I think I’m going…..yes………..I am……….I am going to vomit.

I caused some consternation in the regions of France with my comments about Herr Karl Lagerfeld.

I hasten to say that I was not in any way denigrating Herr Lagerfeld’s professional expertise or skills as a fashion designer. Indeed I have the highest regard for anyone who can do so much with cloth and feathers.

My quibble was only with his personal attire and accoutrements. I think there are certain rules which should apply to almost everyone – and some standards which should be observed. These include.

Only Roy Orbison, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder should be allowed to wear dark glasses indoors. (Bono should not wear dark glasses all the time. Contrary to his personal belief – they do not make him look cool – they make him look like a Goose).

Only Michael Jackson should be allowed to wear gloves indoors.

Only men under 30 should have pony tails.

In my case I have no affectations. Apart of course for the fact that I wear only black T Shirts and jeans. But I do this just to make myself look cool and spunky. I am not sure it works but Cate has stuck with me for 20 years.

But this could be because I am a good cook, a good housekeeper, a good cat minder – and am hung like a Donkey. I may have exaggerated one of these attributes – I will let you determine which one.

So – I was not suggesting the Karl was a former towel attendant in a Turkish Steam Baths – just that he dresses like one.

On Friday we finally visited Indochine 21 again – to celebrate a major and momentous occasion in Cate’s working life.

This restaurant was the scene of a memorable dining experience in January last year. It has taken us this amount of time to summon up the courage to go again.

They same staff were there but I don’t think they remembered us. We didn’t have Gwenyth with us this time and this may have thrown them off the scent - and our pictures were no longer in the window. Also we pretended we were Hungarian and that we spoke no English.

Anyway – it was sensational. We had the degustation menu and every mouthful was wonderful. Even the man chain smoking cigars didn’t put too much of a dampener on the evening – although it did make me feel a bit wobbly.

We came back through the snow covered Stadtpark and admired the ducks shimmering in the city lights. It was just a blissful evening.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Isn't he gorgeous!

Isn’t he gorgeous!

I got him in Istanbul. He was the towel man in some Turkish Baths I went to with Angelina.

I take him with me everywhere.

When we are home I put him in the garden and he scares the crows off the corn.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Killer Wobbegong?

Friday – news day.

There was a report in the Sydney Morning Herald that a man – standing in about a meter of water – was attacked by a Great White Shark.

An eye witness report said

"I could see a guy, he was out there just having a bit of a surf and it looks like a great white has come in underneath him, shot straight up, hit him like a freight train, knocked him up out of the water. He’s obviously freaked out. He reckons it was the biggest impact he’d ever felt in his life. Luckily for him he’s had the chance to grab hold of a rock and while he's hanging on to the rock the shark’s still latched on to his leg trying to drag him back out to sea. It was unbelievable”.

Well yes – it was unbelievable. Some Great White coming from one meter down. I get worse injuries from Sissi than the shark guy had on his leg.

It turns out that the monster from the deep was a Wobbegong. These are some of the most docile creatures on the planet and I have never heard previously of anyone being bitten by one.

I have in fact had collisions with Wobbegong while diving and did once stand on one. Perhaps it was the same one and it was pissed off at being stood on twice in 10 years.

Now the worst part about this is that Mr. Welsh – who survived this life threatening experience – has “signed an exclusive deal with Channel Nine” WTF? Is there a story here that I am missing? It was a Wobbegong for Keerists sake. You can get worse injuries from a little old lady and a shopping trolley in Woollies.

Channel Nine will work themselves in a foaming frenzy over this and will show endless footage of Great Whites (They are all sharks you know and they all kill for fun!). They will also tell stories about surfers in South Australia being taken by Great Whites – they will interview survivors with bites and bits missing. They will show divers in shark cages while Great Whites attack legs of lamb (not attached to the lambs I hasten to add).

And this will serve to continue to vilify some of the most wonderful creatures on the planet. Creatures – I might add – which are an essential part of the ocean food chain – and which are being massacred in their millions by fishermen, by shark finners and even by netting off Sydney beaches.

And – the most damaging films even made were ‘Jaws’ and its endless series of sequels which contributed more to the irrational fear of sharks than anything – ever – in the history of time.

It’s enough to make you vomit.

And why does everyone have to tell their boring sordid little stories

"Tonight on A Current Affair – Madge McGillycuddy tells the harrowing story of how the 380 Bus to Marrickville was late causing her to miss her appointment with her Dentist. We go behind the scenes to explore what this means for public transport - and teeth - in NSW. Madge tells us how she prayed to Mary Mackillop and miraculously another bus arrived 20 minutes later. We ask – why US President Obama has let this happen and what does he have against teeth in Australia?"

In Australia we have a special place for clots. It is called Parliament. There are some very special clots in Federal Parliament at the moment – on both sides of the house.

One is Tony Abbott who is the leader of the Opposition. He is a bible-bashing tub-thumping Catholic who wants us all to pray daily.

Mr. Abbott is also a climate change denier. He wasn’t always a climate change denier but it has now become expedient for him to be one – simply because he is now leader of the Opposition and his job is to – well – oppose.

Last year he supported the government’s climate change legislation. Then he became leader of the opposition and the whole concept of climate change turned into – in his words ‘complete crap’.

So now in Australia - just as we have in the USA - any government proposal of any type about anything at all is to be fought tooth and nail to a standstill. It is not about good government it is about denying the rights of the government to put their policies into effect. That for them is a victory. Bugger governing the country.

And – if at any stage they find a government policy with which they agree – then they will change their policy. Brilliant stuff.

Mr. Abbott was one of the very few politicians in Australia to meet with the well known – and barking mad – Lord Monckton – one of the highest profile – and craziest - climate change deniers on the planet. This man is an A-Class Honking Tosser of epic proportions. He should be bronzed and used as a door stop.

Because he is one of the very, very few climate change deniers with any profile at all he is trundled out endlessly by the whack jobs who think 50,000 scientists are wrong and that Lord Monckton and a few dozen others – with no scientific qualifications at all – are right.

He is a hereditary Lord and is not a member of the House of Lords. He has degrees in classics and journalism. His most famous and fatuous statement was about aids

“there is only one way to stop AIDS. That is to screen the entire population regularly and to quarantine all carriers of the disease for life. Every member of the population should be blood-tested every month ... all those found to be infected with the virus, even if only as carriers, should be isolated compulsorily, immediately, and permanently”.

If I tell you that Lord Monckton is a regular on Glenn Beck’s program on Fox it will give you some indication of how mad this guy is – because Glenn Beck is certifiable and when he is not on air he is kept locked in a cupboard under the stairs.

Another clot of the first order – and heading for gold plating as Clot of the Year – is Communications Minister Stephen Conroy. This is the extra special clot who wants to censor the Internet – and thinks it can be done.

‘How would you like your clot? The extra special double-cone clot please with the nuts on top!’

Mr. Conroy recently asked Google to censor YouTube videos. What? I hear you ask. What would be on YouTube that needed to be censored?

Well I suppose you could find a lot that could be censored on the grounds of good taste. Children falling ass over head off swings, really bad karaoke, rabbits falling into swimming pools, men lighting their farts and accidentally setting their testicles on fire etc.

But what the government actually wants censored is stuff about euthanasia, material about safer drug use and material on how to commit minor crimes such as painting graffiti.

(We don’t want those old folks killing themselves do we. We want the health system to do it. They must die in agony on life support so that we can make every last second of their lives a complete misery – just as we did when they were upright).

Mr. Conroy apparently said that Google could do this because:

"Google at the moment filters an enormous amount of material on behalf of the Chinese government; they filter an enormous amount of material on behalf of the Thai government."

And he is serious? Welcome to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Did I say extra nuts? And a cherry please!

Google – to their credit – has said that they will not do this. So I guess the government will have to censor YouTube and add it to the list of banned sites which will come into effect in the next couple of months.

When the time comes and the curtain falls on the Internet in Australia you may want to commit a Federal Crime and view material online about (shudder) voluntary Euthanasia. I could tell you how to do this – but you won’t need me.

There will be at least 1,000,000 people out there providing online advice on how to bypass the filters. If you can’t find one go outside and ask any boy or girl over the age of 8 and they will give you a practical demonstration.

One day these great steaming nits are going to make me cross and I will have a rant about them on my blog.

Oh and by the way. In Iran two people have been executed and another seven sentenced to death for......wait for it......offending god. This is religious nuttiness on such a stupendous scale that there is absolutely nothing more to be said.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pour encourager les autres

On Tuesday night my friend Kiew Zhin (Beautiful Treasure) came to dinner and I cooked her my world famous Three Bad Men Pasta. Kiew Zhin is from an Asian land far away.

I met Kiew Zhin because before she came to Vienna she discovered my blog and found me so fascinating that she moved into our apartment building just to be close to me. Well that last part is not true but she does live in the same building.

Anyway she is lots of fun to be with and last night we had pasta, a couple of glasses of French red wine and a really nice chat.

Kiew Zhin went home at a reasonable hour so she could get up early for work at the United Nations where she is an economist responsible for bankrupting small African countries.

I decided that I would abandon my half completed blog entry and write something more gritty. I have been thinking about this for a long while and something William said prompted me to finally start to put down some of the stuff that has been rattling around inside me for so long.

At the same time I decided to drink an enormous quantity of red wine because this is the only way I can write this type of stuff.

I was very interested this morning to see what I had written. It took me some time to prise my eyes open and I viewed the blog through a haze of red mist and pain – but I am reasonably happy with the result. It is not as black as my tongue is today but says pretty much what I needed to.

I have had some very nice feedback and thank you all for your kind words. You need not anticipate another blog entry like this for some time as it will be years before I will be able to open a bottle of red wine without throwing up.

And – if I telephoned you last night somewhere between midnight and 2:00 AM Vienna time please accept my sincere apologies for anything I may have said that offended you – if indeed you could understand what I was saying.

It is possible that at some stage towards the end of the second bottle I randomly rang numbers in Indiana and accused Republicans of costing the Colts the title.

Anyway what prompted last night’s entry was something in the Sydney Morning Herald that reminded me of Sydney trains.

“A Western Metro would be built within five years and light rail would be built in the CBD, according to the transport blueprint that Kristina Keneally will release this month, government sources say” (Sydney Morning Herald 9 February 2010).

This announcement about the stumbling, bumbling NSW government reminded me of an incident which took place in the very early 1970s in Sydney. There was an election coming and the government of the day had announced that they would build a fast train and this would run between Sydney and Parramatta – cutting the duration of the journey from about 40 minutes to 25 minutes.

One of my work colleagues thought this was a fantastic idea and said that on this basis he would vote for the government. I looked at him thoughtfully – and with the sudden realization that people like him actually believed what politicians said.

It was an eye opener for me - because even at my tender age then I understood that politicians would tell any lie that would get them, elected – and I was already undertaking the journey to the heights of cynicism that I have now attained.

The government was reelected - and needless to say the fast train was never built – in fact for the next 30 years they were still running the old ‘red rattlers’ – carriages that had been built in Newcastle in the 1930s. By then the 100 year old signaling system had pretty well clagged out and the journey could take an hour.

I spent many an hour on this appalling transport system and cannot remember how many times trains broke down and we had to get out, walk along the tracks to the next station and wait for buses.

There was a classic photo taken in 1982 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. In the foreground is a crowd of people walking across the bridge. In the background is a red rattler – which is at least as old as the bridge - if not older.

Anyway – the new ‘master plan’ will not happen. Plans like this are always floated before elections and are always scrapped after elections. In this instance the government will be banished to the wilderness at the next election and the new government will have to start again with their own plans.

At least the government is being true to type. The Herald report says “The north-west of the city will remain largely neglected in the plan. The government's attitude is that there are not enough marginal Labor seats”.

If the people of NSW had any real sense of decency they would storm parliament house, drag all the members outside and hang them from the lampposts. This is what they did in the good old days and it still works for me.

Pour encourager les autres.

I get so cross because I am a rusted on Labor voter – and I voted for these steaming, honking nitwits at the last election.

What happened? They betrayed me. Betrayed me with their greed and their corruption and their stupidity and their incompetence and their bumbling inability to achieve anything of note except to be able to open fetes, refurbish their offices and swan about the globe on junkets sloshing down champagne.

We would be better governed by Pete Doherty and Amy Winehouse.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Identity 1

Roy Rupert Carrington Prideaux

My father was a bank manager in Deniliquin. A town in far south-western NSW - in the early 1950s.

He was also an alcoholic. This cost him his job and in the early 1950s my mother and I had to leave Deniliquin to go to Sydney. We ended up there with my father.

I am not sure how - and lived in a house in 10 Knox Street Ashfield. I was seven years old.

This was not our house – but a house we shared with other people. I think we had just the front room and shared a bathroom. This is what we had become. From a Bank Manager’s family to a family that rented a room in what was then a very poor suburb of Sydney.

Eventually my mother realised that my father was a hopeless case and took me from there to live with a distant relative in Manly – Pacific Parade. I lived on the outside verandah – open to the elements – but it suited me as I was alone. My ‘Auntie’ hated me with a passion which was palpable – and who could blame her.

My mother would not allow me to see my father - but I used to visit him. He still lived at 10 Knox Street. On Saturday nights I would walk down to Manly Wharf and catch the ferry to Circular Quay. I would then catch the train from Circular Quay to Ashfield.

From Circular Quay we went to the City Circle and then Central and the railway yards Macdonaldtown then Newtown, Stanmore, Petersham, Lewisham and Summer Hill. An endless succession of grim backyards with uniformly awful back gardens.

As I was a pre-teen I was usually the target for the perverts and pedophiles that prowl the trains (then and now) and was always hit upon by these dregs who would grope me and proposition me. I was not attractive but I was young. And so naïve that I would decline politely – even though they were grabbing my balls - rather that tear their eyes out.

I would get to Ashfield and walk up to Knox Street – about 10 minutes away. In those days it was Greek and Italian – now it is Asian– and probably the better for it. I can still see it and smell it.

I would walk past the movie theater – where I used to spend many a Saturday afternoon – and where I saw ‘The Blob’ with Steve McQueen – a movie so scary I had to leave the theatre - but also where I saw Bus Stop and fell in love with Marilyn Monroe and women in general.

Now I am a lot tougher.

I would stand outside 10 Knox Street and listen to my father in the front bedroom. He was of course always drunk and always holding forth on whatever took his fancy. I loved his voice. I loved him. I would stay for an hour and drink his voice and remember his smell. I never rang the doorbell -he did not want to see me.

When I was very small In Deniliquin I would go in to his bed early in the morning and try to snuggle up next to him but he always turned away from me. I was born nine years after my brothers and was not wanted. But I still clung to him then – as I did in Knox Street– and still do now.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A single leg Boston Crab with arm lock will win it.

Well the Colts didn’t win. Peyton Manning did throw a winning touchdown pass – but it was to the other side which didn’t help much at all. I didn’t see the second half because the game did not start until midnight Vienna time so by about 2:00 Am and had to call it quits because I had a monster day planned for Monday.

It’s their own fault. Indiana turned blue for the first time (ever?) at the last election and will turn red again at the next one.

This is god’s retribution in advance – although he way things have been going lately I am starting to think that god may be a Republican.

Matthew clarified something that has been nagging at me for some time. He said “We buy something called Omo. It gets the clothes clean but, deep down, I don't trust it”.

Well that’s it in a nutshell for me – I just don’t trust soap powder. I don’t know what is in it and whatever it is – it is just way too expensive to be real. I mean this stuff is twice as expensive as porridge. I reckon they can charge those prices because Hans’ mother just can’t stand the thought that he won’t go to school shining like a new button.

In Australia we could buy something that was supposed to be environmentally friendly. They said it was on the packet anyway – but I am immensely gullible and it could have been highly toxic and a killer of possum and platypus – but I did look at the website and they convinced me enough that I continued to buy it.

But – it was only about one quarter the price of Omo or Persil or anything else. Which confirmed my view that when we buy washing powder we are being ripped off something dreadful. Like mouthwash – have you seen the price of that stuff? – in Russia it is cheaper to buy Vodka. And just don’t get me started on the prices of toothbrushes.

Which reminds me – I forgot to tell you about the TV show here – late at night – which has two naked women wrestling in baked beans. I have no idea why they do this but one woman is quite large and the other one is as thin as a rake.

Theoretically the larger one could win easily by sitting on the smaller one but people are apparently very difficult to grasp when they are covered in baked beans. (I have been unable to convince Cate to let me test this theory).

And the small one of course can’t get a grip on the larger on (even thought there is a fair amount available for gripping) because she can’t get a proper footing in the baked beans.

I have never watched a match to the end so I just don’t know who really has the advantage – indeed it might be like professional wrestling and not be real – but the baked beans seem real enough. I bet they have to spend a long time under the shower to de-bean themselves.

My money would be on the thin one as I reckon the plump one would run out of puff sooner or later, collapse into the baked beans and be a sitting duck for a single leg Boston Crab with arm lock.

I found this cute little gadget from Microsoft. For many moons now I have had an error message every time I open or close Excel. I have tried many times to deal with it but to no avail. There are ‘fixes’ on the Internet and also on the MS database but I just couldn’t get the sequence right.

Last night I thought I would have one last try and went into the Microsoft site. They have the usual information about how to fix the problem but also have a little ‘Fix It’ button. You click on this and it downloads the software patch, changes all the appropriate settings and makes it work, Fabulous!

I am going to take two pins out of the Bill Gates doll I keep in the freezer and hope he feels the better for it.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Persil will do me just fine.

Can I do this please?

I tried a few remedies which were mildly successful - but appear to have largely solved my arthritis problem with Schuessler Salts. I was directed to these by Rozalin and - Stone the Crows - they work a treat. On Thursday I was limping around Wien wondering if I was going to need a walking stick - and after taking my salts I am not exactly leaping and bounding but no longer walking like Amy Winehouse coming up (or down) the front steps.

I do not subscribe to ‘alternative medicines’ generally but I am a firm believer that that natural vitamins and minerals can’t be bad for you. And so it has proved to be in this particular instance.

Schuessler Salts

But - I have had a terrible cold for some days now and it has laid me low. I have spent and inordinate amount of time sleeping and am only just starting to emerge from this enforced hibernation. Unfortunately – Cate has also succumbed to this and has had to tough it out and go to Istanbul for the week. She left sniffily yesterday afternoon.

Cate has said that the cats and I cannot be bad when she is away. This probably means I can’t try the rooftop ski jump with Sissi and she will be really disappointed about this. She has been watching the jumping all weekend and I said she could have a go.

I had fashioned skis out of paddle pop sticks and painted Rossignol on them so she would feel like the real deal.

On Friday we went to pick up our new residency permits and negotiated our way once more through the seething mass of humanity in the Immigration Office.

We did not have the pleasure on this occasion of seeing Frau Gumpendorfer. She may have been on a training course on how to deliver punishing uppercuts to the jaws of hopeful Eastern European immigrants. Or perhaps at home tearing the wings off live pigeons and feeding them to her one-eyed cat Quasimodo.

We instead saw a nice young man who gave us our new cards – not unwillingly – and while there was no smile there was at least no snarling and baring of fangs – a particularly unattractive trait of Frau Gumpendorfer - whose teeth saw service on the Eastern Front in 1944.

The snow was coming down in droves on Sunday. I have been worried for the last week as there have been some old, tired lumps of snow on our window sills and these looked very lonely – but just refused to go back to those snowmakers in the sky. Now the new snow has joined the old hands who will show them the ropes and how to lie around looking beautiful.

Someone told me once that each snowflake was fashioned by an Angel who let it go whence it fluttered down to earth. I have since realised that this – like most other things I was told when I was young – is rubbish.

I have done a random sampling of snowflakes per square meter and sure – they are beautifully made – but there simply cannot be that many angels up there given how many flakes are falling at any given time. And anyway – they would all be on the East Coast of America at the moment where they have snow up to their eyeballs. These angels would all have bad cases of RSI before 10 centimeters hit the ground.

Speaking of which – I have noticed that Austrian housewives are just as pleased with clean washing as Australian housewives. They start off looking grim at their washing – compared with the blinding whiteness of the washing from the house next door. This can be illustrated graphically by having little Hans (the grub) standing next to little Johannes (the sunbeam).

Sadly, little Hans, though freshly dressed, will look like he has been mud wrestling hogs. Johannes will be dressed blindingly in the colours of the rainbow and – just like his mother – he will sparkle.

This will prompt a rapid rethink of washing powder for Hans’ mother and - once she changes to new Schneeblister she and Hans are happy as clams and flaunt their new bright clothes for all and sundry to admire. (Hans no longer has to go to school covered in a glad bag).

These types of advertisements make me want to chunder. But they must work because they have never changed in the last 100 years. Of course these days they occasionally have a token man who helps with the washing – incompetently of course – just to demonstrate finally that the people who work in the agencies really are sexist misogynists. I mean – can you imagine Llama or Cate falling for this rubbish?

Well it doesn’t work on me either. I go to BIPA and I buy what is on sale (usually Persil) and for which I get the most points. I can usually get my washing powder for half price at BIPA – and there are never any complaints about my washing (well there are actually but I ignore them).

But I did see this terrible advertisement the other day on UK TV. This poor woman was using washing powder and her machine got totally clogged up and expired. It cost her nearly 500 quid for a new one. Bloody Hell!

This frightened the life out of me. Apparently I am not supposed to use powder but should be buying little blocks of blue washing powder. These will not clog up the machine – and have the added advantage of making clothes so white you need to wear your Ray Bans when you take them out of the machine.

Well – I have done a cost benefit analysis on this and have taken into account the age of our machine, the cost of powder versus blue blocks, the number of washes per week and the expected clag date - and I reckon it is still cost effective to use the powder until the machine clags out completely. I am running an excel spreadsheet and will let you know how I go.

I am not going to stop buying Persil until they put a skull and crossbones on it.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Why are there so many ratbags?

Well – to have one of my photographs praised by (the great) Merisi is indeed an occasion to be treasured. I can only say that if you take as many photographs as I do then you will get lucky.

William thinks that it is time for a keynote state-of-the-union address from me. Hmm…I fear that if I reveal too much the mystery will be gone. I probably already say too much about my pet peeves. These often turn into rants and I am sure bore people witless.

But – it is difficult not to be passionate about all the awful stuff that is happening out there. As William remarked recently – all we do is Blog when the world is going to hell in a hand basket.

See Kristin's blog today to see what I mean. These are not isolated nutters - they are thick on the ground everywhere in the USA.


I read far too much and worry about too many things that I cannot change. I mostly worry about the people who are dumber than Mud Ducks but have a constituency that they can influence.

Things like this – the Scientology Ratbags wandering into Haiti and causing even more damage to an already damaged country and its people.

Ratbags in Haiti

This is why I am an avid ready of PZ Myers Blog Pharyngula. He has a no-holds-barred, visceral approach to humbuggery, religion, pseudo-science and quackery in general and takes no prisoners. To me PZ is a hero right up there with Dawkins, Coyne, Dennett and Grayling.

PZ Myers blog is on my blog list

Today's rant

I really regret the lost opportunities of the Obama administration. My view is that the time has passed for them to make any useful changes. As many have already said, the only legislation that will pass now will be Republican legislation – and that will only happen if the Republicans can see that they will get the credit for it. The Republicans vote together and they vote together against every single piece of Democratic legislation.

The opportunities were lost because the Democrats dithered. They fought amongst themselves about tinkering with the health legislation while the right wing was out there banging on about costs and death panels and socialism and any other rubbish that could be floated in the ether.

The right wing marshaled the Loony Brigade,Fox, Beck, Limbaugh, Malkin, Coulter, O’Reilly, Hannity and they all banged the same drum, hour after hour, day after day. And they won – easily.

Until the Democrats can be as ruthless and cohesive as the Republicans then they have no chance of making any useful changes at all.

Unfortunately – the Obama administration has not just lost its mandate – it has also provided a platform for a Republican resurgence that will probably sweep them from office next election. They will do this with the ostensibly independent ‘Tea Party’ which is aligned in many places to the Republican Party and in some cases is run out of Republican premises.

This will have a dramatic and adverse impact on the political landscape generally. When the right wing talks about freedom from government control and restrictions and the freedom to do their own things - they don’t mean freedom for everybody – they mean freedom for themselves.

There will be no freedom for people who want to choose abortion, or gay marriage, or atheism or social equity or anything vaguely left wing – like universal health care (Eeeek Socialism!). Next time round they will really put the boot in!

So I regret to say the President Obama has buggered things for now and for some time to come and it is going to be a rough ride.

There are right wingers in America now calling for preemptive strikes on Iran and North Korea. Well – that should calms things down in the Muslim world!

All this depresses me no end - which is why I don’t rant all the time about it. And just don’t get me started on the climate change deniers.

Rant ends

Nobody asked – but a ‘Drover’s breakfast’ is a ‘cough and a look around’.

And William does a wonderful job of bringing his French countryside and community to life. He captures the very essence of a small French village and the life of the people. I think he does a much better job than I do in Wien. Maybe I should get some Donkeys?

Ratbag - Drongo, Dill, Dickhead

We now have four working air puffers

On Tuesday I caught a cold and on Wednesday I felt really bad. I was so crook I couldn’t eat and had a drover’s breakfast instead.

It has been really cold in the apartment lately – mainly because our air conditioning doesn’t work – and never has – despite numerous visits by men with screwdrivers. I know this doesn’t give you a cold but it doesn’t help much.

I asked Rozalin for help and she rang the building people and asked them to send someone straight away. I think she might have been a bit terse with them because she is as sick of our air conditioning as we are. She may have mentioned the pieces of cardboard which were inserted eons ago – and said that they had stopped working.

I was prompted to act by the fact that of the four air conditioners in the lounge room – only one works by grudgingly squeezing out tepid air – and it has started to make gruesome screeching and grinding noises. I thought to myself – if that one goes it’s all over – we will all have to sit on the heated bathroom floors with the cats. Fortunately there are three bathrooms so there is no danger of overcrowding.

The four air conditioners in the lounge room are gigantic. Each one is the size of a Volkswagen Golf (but squarer and longer) and are mostly ineffective. They are useful only for standing ornaments on and we use them at Christmas to display our numerous Owls and Polar Bears. We also keep books and vases on them – or used too until Sissi broke all the vases.

The man with the screwdriver (MWS) who came to fix the air-conditioning was the same man who came to not fix the air conditioning last time. What he did last time was take some bits away and say that he would order new parts and be back one day (Yeh right!). I have heard that before from with the men with the cardboard.

He is a lovely young man who speaks very good English – but doesn’t – and insists on explaining the technicalities of air conditioning problems to me in German. I nod wisely and ask questions like ‘wann?’ and ‘wie langer?’

Anyway – I had prayed last night to the Blessed Mary MacKillop (I have heard about the good work she has done so thought I would give it a try) and - Stiffen the Lizards – WMS fixed it. Now all four air conditioners puff (blow is too strong a word) out tepid (warm is too strong a word) air.

This is a major advance from having them puff out cold air. I could ask why it has taken six visits to achieve this but it would be churlish of me to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Now the screeching, grinding air conditioner is heading towards a major collapse but that leaves us with three puffers which may get us through winter. The problem will be of course that – having now been set on warm puff – the units will be impossible to get off warm puff in summer and we will need to get them changed to cold puff.

For the time being we are basking in the warmth and planning a celebration.

MWS said that one of the units has some serious problems and will have to be completely overhauled. He will order new parts (cardboard?) and call me when they arrive. (Yeh right!).

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Can we find 1,000,000 nitwits - You Betcha!

I think Kristin would like me to say something nice about the USA. Here it is – they have nice linen. Some of the best sheets and towels I have ever seen come from the USA. And great shops – I love shopping in New York. And steaks – fabulous! And no smoking – love it! They also have a political system that is so much fun to watch that it makes my ears water. I love America and (almost) all who sail in her.

Now that is out of the way my attention has been drawn to a Facebook site that is looking to sign up 1,000,000 people who don’t believe in evolution. Can they do this? You Betcha!

You Betcha!

Any country that boasts millions of people who have been kidnapped by aliens and genitally probed can certainly rustle up 1,000,000 people who don’t believe in a proven scientific fact.

This is too easy. They should try something harder. But in America it’s hard to come up with something whacky enough. The figures on the percentages of people who believe stuff are roughly as follows:

70% God is real
51% God created the heavens and the earth
88% Heaven is real (wow!)
71% Hell is real
12% President Obama is a Muslim
4% President Obama was not born in the USA
2% Aliens kidnapped me and examined my genitals
5% The new health care legislation provides for Death Panels
3% Americans did not land on the moon
2% The earth will end with the Rapture in 2012
0.1% President Obama killed and ate Jimmy Hoffa

Now - even 1% represents more than one million reasonably sentient beings – although not all of these will be able to use a computer (or even write) so you might be struggling with the rapture and aliens. But you would romp home with any other category. OK - so not Jimmy Hoffa - unless it was plugged on Fox - that would get us home!

I received a letter from my financial adviser in Sydney. He is retiring. Obviously he didn’t use the services of his own company for his retirement funds otherwise he would be working for another 200 years.

He has also changed the logo his company uses. Instead of a Phoenix rising from the ashes it is now a Buzzard perched on the carcass of his clients’ investments.

To celebrate my financial advisers retirement - and of course Cate’s special birthday - we are going to Copenhagen for a long weekend on 25 February.

The Square

The hotel says its ‘unique breakfast restaurant noted for its crafty use of daylight’. I think this means they have windows – and so they should – they say it is Copenhagen’s most exclusive design hotel – and who has heard of a design hotel without windows – but I will check and let you know.

Have you ever heard of a hotel without windows? Well - I stayed in one in London in the early 1980s. I was in what may have been the basement but could have been the elevator motor room. It was very noisy and oily. I was next to the kitchen. Whenever they turned on the dishwasher hordes of cockroaches stampeded across my floor. After that I made my own bookings and only stayed at the Savoy.

We have booked the tickets and the hotel. I got a special deal on the hotel but to do this I had to pay in advance and it cannot be cancelled. I have checked many times and yes it is in Copenhagen in Denmark – not Copenhagen anywhere else. I have learned my lesson and now book with the aid of Google Maps.

I now await with interest to see the nature of the catastrophe that will prevent us from taking the trip. I am betting on a lion eating a member of Cate’s staff while they are in the middle of negotiating the most crucial contract of the year. She will have to take over, retrieve the contract from the mouth of the lion - and complete the deal.

How could a lion possibly eat a member of Cate’s staff? – you will be amazed.