Monday, May 31, 2010

Where are the Electric Snails now?

We had a Bronzer time on our trip to Normandy and the Somme. David was able to walk on Dog Sector of Omaha Beach and soak up some history. We also went to Pointe du Hoc and Arromanches and the American Cemetery which overlooks Omaha beach. This was my second trip to this cemetery but it was no less moving the second time and is a grim reminder of the cost of letting lunatics run countries.

Considering it is 65 years after the second world war it is astonishing that there are still so many lunatics at large - and that we have so far escaped being vaporized.

But I am sure it won’t be long before Hoo Flung Dung in North Korea or that nutter in Iran decide that it is time to go postal and give us a brief taste of nuclear fission before they and their spotty little band of assistant despots vanish from the face of the planet.

We are certainly not going to have to put up with this sort of childish rubbish from dictators when Sarah is President.

We stayed at Ouistreham in a delightful little hotel called the ‘Hotel de la Plage’ which was not at the beach but we made allowances for the slight exaggeration. Who knows - in 50 years it probably will be.

In the Somme we stayed in Albert - in the “Hotel de la Basilique’ which was indeed appropriately named and in the centre of the town facing the Cathedral.

The hotel had an astonishingly good restaurant - which is just as well because there did not seem to be many places to eat in Albert - so we ate there for three nights.

Melissa wanted to see if she could get us thrown out of The Corner Hotel but I dragged her back to the hotel. She was not terribly well the next day and spent a lot of time lying on the back seat of the car feigning death.

We went to Australian Memorial and to Ieper. We saw the most fabulous monument I have ever seen. It is the Vimy Ridge National Historic Site of Canada and is on scale I have not seen before in the Somme - and blitzes some of the gigantic Russian monuments I have encountered.

The only thing the Communists ever did for the people was to build railway stations for the live ones and monuments for the dead ones.

A memorable trip. Billy Benz covered 3,000 kilometers without missing a beat and David showed me how to use the car trip computer and a few other things.

We listened to lots of fabulous music of the type that would make Cate grit here ears - and played Kraftwerk and Rammstein when we got on to the German Autobahns.

Haven’t had so much fun since I played a guest spot with the Electric Snails in their debut at the South Steyne Surf Club in 1963.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

It's goodbye for a week

Australian War Cemetery Villers-Brettoneux.

The Australian Nincompoop Party which governs the country (after a fashion) has given up on the Internet filter scheme. They are still going to introduce it but accept that it will not work. As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald

“In an official response to parliamentary questions on notice released yesterday, Senator Conroy said he had attended an hour-long demonstration of filter circumvention on 5 June 2009.

He was shown how to get around the ISP-level filter using free proxy network TOR and Virtual Private Network (VPN) techniques at the Enex TestLab in Victoria.

Although Enex expected "technically competent" users to be able to circumvent the filter, Conroy said monitoring circumvention attempts would not be required by the Government.

"ISPs will not be required to block circumvention attempts by their customers or end users," he said.

While he said it would be "irresponsible" of the Government to publish circumvention techniques, the Government took no measures to prevent other organizations from doing so.”

‘Technically competent” means basically anyone over 10 years old who uses the internet. There will be hundreds - if not thousands - of sites telling people how to circumvent the filter. I may even run one of my own.

Euthanasia advocates are running ‘masterclasses’ to teach senior citizens how to get information online about this subject and yes - I kid you not - Euthanasia is one of the subjects that the government desperately does not want its citizens to know about.

To the extent that - and again I kid you not - it is illegal in Australia to discuss euthanasia on the telephone or Internet. This is because the god botherers think that no matter that we may be very old and very sick and an very dying and unable to get relief from pain - god wants us to suffer until the last gasping moment of our miserable, shuddering, leaking, dribbling existence.

He does this because he is a kind and merciful god who wants us to endure unbearable suffering so that we will appreciate it more when we are summoned into his company by trumpets and massed choirs and can drink beer and play pinochle all day eavery day.

I really hope that there are chicks in Dirndls serving the beer.

This would all be hilarious except that and has real and visceral consequences and this nonsense is perpetrated by nutters who think that there is apparently an invisible man who lives in the sky and is responsible for the ghastly shambles that is planet earth which is full of poison and hatred and where the religious kill each other in droves and molest small children and subjugate women and spread hatred across the globe.

But he loves us and wants us all to be with him - wherever that it is (I think it may be Kansas or Oklahoma) as soon as we have suffered sufficiently on earth.

My son David arrived on Saturday and on Monday we are off to Caen where we will collect my daughter Melissa who will arrive there from Paris. We are going to visit the Normandy in invasion beaches and then go to the Somme to spend a few days mooching about the WW1 battlefields.

My father’s brother was killed at Pozieres in 1916 and another relative was killed in 1918. It is a sad and sombre place but a must see for many Australians. 60,000 Australian soldiers died in WW1 - most of them in France.

This means the you will not get a Blog for a week. Eat your hearts out.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Avoid the killer 48A tram!

I have been getting a lot of Migraines lately and have worked out that most of them appear to be related to food allergies.

I have always been allergic to many things but lately I have been getting very bad reactions to bread and a few other foods.

Kristin has had a lot of success with her program so I thought it was time I made a serious attempt to nail my Migraines for all time.

I saw Doctor Mordor and told him of my diagnosis and he seemed to think it was a good idea to have tests. I find it is always best to go to Doctor Mordor with my own diagnosis ready otherwise he is usually completely nonplussed and at a loss for the next step. He seems to be uncomfortable around sick people.

So on Friday I will go the Allergie Ambulatorium in the Rennweg where they will discover that I am allergic to many thing including many foods, reality TV and Republicans. I will then plan a course of action and bounce this off the Doctor.

Muffin has also been to the vet for a checkup. She started peeing on the bathroom floor and we thought it may have been a sign that she was on the way out. This is what happened to Karl Rove so we are always on the lookout for the signs.

She is, however, in excellent condition (for an 18 year old cat) and requires no treatment - other than the payment of an extraordinary amount of money for her blood tests and X-rays.

And the peeing on the floor? I think she was unhappy that we left her for a long weekend and she could not sleep on my head for three days. She often thinks of novel punishments for us when we go away and this was just a very mild one in the long string of atrocities she has perpetrated throughout the years.

Apparently the payment of money to the vet cured her and she is fully recovered.

I checked the speed of my Internet connection.I have a download speed of about 25 Mps and an upload speed of about 1.3 Mps. This is pretty good compared to what I had in Sydney - and in Sydney I had a very restrictive download limit. My costs here are less - and I have unlimited downloads.

I was prompted to check by the news that if the Liberal Coalition if elected to government they say they will cancel the proposed national Broadband rollout. This was the only chance that we ever had of getting cost effective high speed Internet in Australia - which lags far, far behind many Asian and European countries.

We will instead - as we have done for very many years - be held to ransom by Telstra which is the Gorilla in the market place, owns the infrastructure and is entirely focused on screwing the asses off its customers - and does so with a high degree of success.

This will not bother the Liberal party as all their policies come from the pre-Internet era and they are more than happy with pens and ink or - for the girls outside - an IBM Selectric.

And incidentally, I see with some degree of amusement and alarm that our current crop of god bothering friends in Parliament have changed the regulations for incoming passengers to Australia. You now have to say if you are carrying pornography and the customs people have the power to search you and all your electronic devices for evidence.

Cunningly - they do not define what pornography is so you have to guess. Hm....are the pics from the office Christmas party pornography? What about the photo of Auntie Madge with Fang the Doberman?


It is particular interesting because the people searching you are the ones who decide whether or not what you have is pornography - and they have no rules so make it up as they go along. This should make for some interesting encounters at the airport in in the courts.

This is really weird. I mean - I understand this behavior from any government that is stupid enough to think it can censor the Internet - but where did this bizarre notion come from?

Do they really think in this day and age that people who have illicit material - are going to carry it with them? Perhaps they do - they certainly to date have shown no understanding of how the Internet works.

I have not brought you up to date recently with what’s happening in our town. Well -it has been a big week as this story from the Austrian Independent will show: (OK it’s not Bangkok but we work with what we’ve got).

“A rowdy woman kicked a Vienna policeman several times after he responded to a call for help from a passenger on a line 48A tram she was riding on.

The caller said the woman, 25, had been molesting and insulting passengers.

Police arrested the woman after her attack. The policeman she kicked took the rest of the day off to nurse his injuries”.

I sure am going to avoid that 48A tram! It’s a death trap!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Polar Bear in Episode 1 is not a good sign

Cate does not often get the opportunity to watch TV but when she does she likes to sit down and watch back to back episodes of TV series that require absolutely no concentration.

She just likes to let waves of dross wash over her so that she can drift into another world - far from the fairly difficult one she inhabits here.

To this end in the last year or so we have watched 24 together (yes all 7 series) and she watched - on her own - Desperate Housewives and Boston Legal. I can’t vouch for Desperate Housewives or Boston Legal but can assure you that 24 is complete rubbish.

I got hold of ‘The Wire’ which has had rave reviews from everywhere and we started to watch it - but it is impenetrable. They apparently speak a strange dialect of American in Baltimore - and they mumble - so at no stage did either of us have any idea what was happening. We have given up on it for the time being - but may return after some sessions with a voice coach.

Which reminds me that in New York many years ago I spent some time in a bar trying unsuccessfully to order a Bacardi and Coke. I got blank stares from the lady behind the bar and after my fifth request she said ‘Yawl must be from Baltimore!’

So after this failure I recently bought from Amazon the first 5 series of Lost - and we have watched about 8 episodes so far. Now I know you cannot expect high quality drama from a show which is based on the premise that a plane crashes on a deserted Pacific island - and a Polar Bear turns up in the first episode - but we had some hopes.

Cate’s initial opinion of the show is that it is ‘rancid’. I think this is a bit harsh and don’t think it is any worse that most current TV shows of that genre - but then I was not expecting very much.

I had apparently led Cate to believe that it was better than this. She mistook me saying ‘it’s very popular’ for ‘it’s very good’. Disappointment has followed her since then.

Surprisingly - I haven’t yet developed a passionate hatred for most of the characters. A few yes - and I will be pleased if they come to grisly ends - but most of them are so boring and vacuous that you cannot help but feel sorry for them. But the pregnant Australian woman is tedious beyond all belief and I just hope there is another Polar Bear out there just for her. But - could an American script writer kill a pregnant woman? I don’t think so!

Given what has happened in the first few episodes it will be interesting to see what the script writers can come up with in the series to come. But I guess if there are no rules - and you are a serious drug taker - you can make up almost anything you like. It certainly worked for 24.

I know most of you do not watch these things as closely as I do - so you may have missed this from a month or so ago.

In Texas (and in some other places) they have a system whereby the elected Board of Education gets to decide what goes into school text books. Uh Oh! I hear you say. So you know what’s coming right?

Yep - inevitably the Wingnuts got hold of the Board and are re-writing the history books to get rid of those pesky bits that don’t fit with their own personal fundamentalist religious and racist views.

How cool is that? Fuck history as it happened! We will have history as we would have like it to have happened.

‘God made Texas and all the people in it in 7 days. On the 8th day he wrote the US Constitution and didn’t mention himself in it because he was busy making more damn beetles - but clearly he meant to put it in there - so we shall. There was no slavery - the black people were Peace Corps members who volunteered their labor because they love cotton. God wants every American to have at least one gun - and the only worthwhile legislation ever has been passed by Republicans. Those Democrats are vile Kool Aid drinking marxist pagan gays who are trying to destroy the American way of life.’

This is fantastic. We should all do this. I could re-write the Austrian history books.

‘Adolf Hitler was born in Waco Texas on 20 April 1889 and was raised by members of the Texas Board of Education. He was sent to Germany to learn the language and was drafted into the German Army where he became totally unhinged by having to eat Wurstel every day for four years while loud explosions rattled his brain. Understanding that Texans were more unhinged than he was he decided to stay in Germany and ran for Chancellor. He was elected by a large majority of deafened Wurstel eaters who wanted to wear uniforms and shoot people. His achievements included achieving full employment for all Germans, urban renewal programs in Russia, encouraging the Jewish people to move to warmer climates for their health and developing rocket powered flight.’

The Wingnuts are starting to make the Taliban look positively reasonable.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Good on you Jessica!

A teenage girl named Jessica Watson has just returned from what has been billed by her publicity relations people and her many sponsors as a ‘non-stop solo round the world voyage’ (and permutations of that theme).

There are some persnickety people from various yachting bodies who say that she has not met the criteria for a ‘round the world’ voyage because she did not fathom the two horizons or shiver her timbers - or whatever - but there are always curmudgeons whatever you do.

I don’t understand it so will get Annie and Jim and Gwenyth and PK to explain this strange business to you.

No matter - the Australian media launched into a blind frenzy of orgasmic excess with 24 hour coverage of her arrival with suitable boat-cams and heli-cams and mast-cams. The world stood still while a slavering bunch of TV talking heads salivated over this mighty, cataclysmic, earth shattering event.

You ain’t seen nothing yet. Talk shows, TV appearances, red carpet appearances, books, documentaries - perhaps a mini-series. Fat balding men will interview her and slobber over her as they fantasize about sailing around the world with a teenager as soon as they can spilt with the barracuda who currently inhabits their universe and makes their life a misery.

Not to mention the tornado of advertisements from 25 old sponsors and 6,000 new ones that will bombard everyone on TV radio and in the media. And by now she will have 100,000 followers on Twitter and she can breathlessly recount the dark and stormy nights she spent alone in the vast untamed ocean (140 letters at a time - it will take a while).

Day 64: Woke early and scuppered the larks to grease the gnoodles. Trimmed the mainsail and had vegemite toast for brekkie. Cold and wet and

Day 65: pissing with rain. Had to scupper the larks again. Cold and wet. This is change from hot and wet. Vegemite toast for lunch and

Then she will have a boyfriend or two - with the inevitable tragic breakups to be splashed on the front of the gossip rags.She will get married and have babies. She might start a rock band or (shudder) write poetry. I can see the headlines now “Exclusive - Jessica’s new baby.”

Good luck to her I say. To get your dose of fame in this crowded world you need a unique selling point and she has done that through a hard slog and much lark scuppering. We should all be very proud of her achievements.

Meanwhile - while we all know politicians lie. But the leader of the opposition has actually come out and admitted it.

Shock! Horror! Gasp! Has Big Ears committed himself to political oblivion?

As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald:

“Abbott cultivated his image by cleverly managing to direct the focus away from the many policy positions he has had on climate change, for example, or his broken "no new taxes" pledge, and to concentrate on the government's track record.

Abbott's performance on the 7.30 Report last night makes a mockery of that straight talking claim. By his own admission, Abbott urges people to treat with caution anything he says during the so-called heat of discussion.

The only utterances that can be taken as gospel truth were carefully prepared and scripted remarks such as those made during speeches or policy announcements.

If you believe anything else he says, then you are taking a punt.

The heat of discussion includes radio interviews, press conferences and, surely the most heated forum of all, the Parliament. These various forums comprise the great bulk of public comment by politicians. Abbott, like the rest, now prefers talkback radio as the medium to get his message across.”

Can he dig himself out of this awful mess by saying that when he said that he lies he actually misspoke and that the truth is that he never lies and the only occasion on which he has ever done so was when he lied about lying - which he never does?

This of course has cause an enormous tizz - not quite as big as Jessica’s arrival in Sydney Harbour mind you - but not bad at all.

But does anyone else think that it is a bit strange that a politician should be pilloried for admitting that he does what all politicians do - lie relentlessly - because that is the nature of the job?

If I was Tony I would just splice the mainbrace - or pray or whatever he does - and get on with it. Surely there must be some unmarried mothers - or lesbians - that he can pray over and bother the shit out of.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I must have been drunk

This is what the women looked like

I was clearly drunk when I booked the Bio Hotel Stanglwirt because not only is it astonishingly expensive - I had also booked a suite. I did not realized this when we arrived and looked around and thought ‘this looks a bit expensive’.

I enquired about the price of our room and fortunately they have a first aid station next to reception and I was able to receive immediate treatment for hyperventilation.

Cate said not to worry as I was worth every cent. Actually she said ‘you must be joking’ but I choose to see her in a different and more benevolent light. It is fortunate that I already have my iMac.

But I must say that our room as fabulous and we had our own lounge room with a a fire - which we had going every night. We even had a walk in dressing room which I tried to rent out but could not attract any interest at all.

The hotel has indoor and outdoor swimming pools, spas, indoor tennis courts, a boxing ring and coach, a gigantic gym, an indoor horse riding thingy and has cows living underneath part of it. No - I don’t know why they keep cows but they seem to have a great sense of purpose at that place so I am sure there is a reason. Importantly - they also have a pond with Ducks.

All this in the middle of the Tirol which is certainly one of the most beautiful parts of the country.

There are also lots of really cute girls on the staff and they all wear Dirndls which they say ‘flatter the female figure’. I was not allowed to look at them for fear of having to go back to the first aid station - so focused on the horses and cows.

Cate however apparently paid close attention to the opposite sex and watched a naked man getting into the spa with us (it was a very large spa). She said that his willy was small and that he did not appear to have any pubic hair. It was apparently a disturbing experience for her - made even worse by the fact that the man stood next to her at the buffet that evening while she was selecting a sausage as part of her dinner.

In the hotel there are walls of photos of famous people who have visited. They must be famous as they have no captions so are obviously instantly recognizable to those in the know. I recognized only Niki Lauda, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jimmy Carter. No one asked to take my photo so if you go there don’t bother looking for my picture.

They will however remember me as the man who had an unhealthy interest in the farm animals.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Whacky, corrupt AND religious is a bridge too far

There are some strange things happening in Australia. The previously impregnable Labor government is gurgling down the plughole and a most unlikely scenario has emerged - that Tony Abbott could be the next Prime Minister. Had you told me this six months ago I would have laughed out loud - but the world is an amazing place and capable of almost anything.

We can blame this largely on Kevin Rudd who has proved to be a grave disappointment to me - and apparently to many others.

Tony Abbott is the person who a short while ago told a group of students that the earth was warmer ‘at the time of Julius Caesar and Jesus of Nazareth’ than it is now. He has previously said that man-made climate change is ‘complete crap’.

This is not unusual in the Liberal Part which is a party of climate change skeptics and has not changed its manifesto since 1952.

Their main authority on this is that arch Honking Tosser Lord Monckton. They drag the Lord out to Australia regularly to slobber his fatuous nonsense over enthralled audiences of troglodytes. The 50,000 scientists with hard evidence on global warming do not get a look in.

What Tony says of course is at odds with everything science has learned about climate change in the last 50 years. But never let the truth get in the way of personal goals and ambitions.

Tony will make a wonderful Prime Minister. We know he is apt to talk complete nonsense. His idea last week was to send all unemployed people to Western Australia so that they could fill the vacancies in the mining industry.

We also know from personal experience that he is corrupt.

As Health Minister in the Howard government he kept the abortion inducing drug RU486 under his personal control and would not allow it to be released in Australia.

Why - of all the many thousands of drugs under his purview - would the Health Minister take such a personal interest in this particular one? Ah well - because of his religious beliefs. Yes - our Tony is a dedicated Catholic who lets no opportunity pass to impose his own religious views and beliefs on society in general.

As I have mentioned before - I don’t care about religion as long as the religious do not bother me and do try to impose their whacky views on me. This kind of stuff makes me cross. I do not want people making decisions for me based on what they think their invisible friend is telling them.

I am quite happy for my politicians to be completely whacky. I mean we have a long tradition in Australia of having whacky and corrupt politicians - indeed they are the most enjoyable - but whacky, corrupt AND religious is a bridge too far for me.

I think I am officially old on Saturday

A small badger about 60 years ago in Deniliquin.

I received a sobering piece of mail yesterday from the City of Wien - in fact from what is basically the ‘Office for Seniors’. These cunning devils are on to the fact that I am officially ancient as from Saturday and would like me to sign up for their senior publications.

These will tell me where I can go to do fun things with other old people and how I can usefully spend the last few months of my life. If I follow the example of the lady on the cover of the magazine they advertise then I will be sitting in the garden with two cats on my lap.

This is not an encouraging start to the weekend and has been a bit de-motivating. But I remember when I turned 45 I was in the Cook Islands with Cate. I became a bit morose about reaching that particular milestone and single-handedly drank an entire bottle of Pineapple Liqueur. My relationship with Pineapples has been a bit dodgy ever since that date and a fresh Pineapple can still induce in me the desire to vomit.

And the next 20 years of my life have been the best 20 years of my life - so WTF!

And I certainly don’t feel 65. I still behave (and write) like a child and have more fun than is decent. So I am not at all worried about this particular event. And reaching this immense age has its advantages - like - well - I am not dead. This must be a good thing right!

And the good things is that I can now get seniors discounts wherever I go and this is important as I get a miserable allowance from Cate and am forced to steal money from the housekeeping.

I am really good at this as you can tell by the fact that I stole enough to buy an iMac with a Quad Core and 8GB of Ram.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

We will be amongst the rich and famous

I am gradually wending my way though the discovery process with my iMac and am very fond of it indeed. It is certainly the most elegant computer I have ever owned and does things that make me gasp with admiration. The design and engineering are just so damn clever.

At the same time I am reading a biography of Steve Jobs. So far I am up to the stage where he was booted out of Apple and it seems to me that he was a lying, cheating, stealing, drug taking, hypocritical, vicious, spiteful, cantankerous, mean and nasty person with no redeeming features whatsoever. His only skill seems to have been to be able to find very talented people and use and abuse them.

He had little part in designing the first Apples - but was quite happy to steal ideas from Steve Wozniak - and was single handedly responsible for the almost total destruction of the company.

I would read no further except that I understand that he became a completely different person and was reincarnated as a lovely genius - you know - like Dick Cheney. Let us hope - because at this stage of my reading he is an asshole of epic proportions and I am thoroughly disappointed in him.

On the weekend I have a special birthday. It will be the oldest I have ever been - and that’s saying something! On Thursday night we are going to a hotel called the Bio Hotel Stanglwirt

This is apparently a place where the rich and famous go. There is no point in their being rich and famous in front of us because we will not know who they are.

Niki Lauda and Arnold Schwarzenegger are the only two famous Austrians I would recognize - and I am sure they will not be there (Well - Arnold may be - but Niki will be in Monaco for the Grand Prix where he will be the expert commentator for Austrian TV).

Of course they don’t know who we are either and we will have funny accents so they make think ‘who are those people and are they rich and famous where they come from? Is it Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban?’ (OK I admit this is a bit of a stretch and is unlikely even if I take my Gibson Dusk Tiger).

This may send them crazy as I understand that rich and famous people feel insecure around other people if they don’t know whether or not they are famous. The therapists will be busy in Wien next week.

Anyway - you will be short a Blog or two this week so you will just have to do the best you can.

Monday, May 10, 2010

There was a loud ploomfp

Last Friday I nailed my first pedestrian while I was cycling. I don’t mean nailed in the sense of Bill Clinton nailing interns in the White House. I mean nailed as in collided with. And with some degree of force.

I was beetling along Karlsplatz minding my own business and thinking about something innocuous - maybe life under President Palin or tying Glenn Beck to a Saturn Five rocket and sending him into space - when a plump plonker stepped from behind a bush - onto the cycle path - and into my trajectory.

My urgent evasive action was inadequate and there was a loud ‘ploomfp’ as I thudded into his ample proportions and bounced back onto the pavement upside down where I lay flailing on my back like a distressed turtle.

I hit my head but not too hard and as I was wearing a helmet there was no lasting damage. Blubber Guts was unharmed but leant over me and I knew that if he over balanced and sat on me it would be curtains so I recovered my composure quickly and went on my way.

Most Viennese cyclists do not wear helmets. They are fools. Something like this can happen at any time and and if I had not been wearing a helmet I would have give myself a nasty whack. Possibly concussion and lasting brain damage. I could have ended up as a Republican senator or an anchor on Fox.

On the weekend we had the ‘Genuss’ festival in Stadtpark. ‘Genuss’ is a bit hard for me to translate so that it means what it should in German - but let’s call it ‘enjoyment’ - in the context of food and wine. Merisi can expand on this for me.

It is a collection of food and wine from all over Austria. There are hordes of little booths selling cheeses, meats, mustards, jams, oils and every other thing from every part of this fine country.

The most popular places are the ones selling wine. Hordes of people drink fabulous wine and blow smoke over each other and the passers by. It is a bit hazardous for us in these types of places because there are more smokers than non-smokers so we have difficulty escaping the clouds of toxic gasses being exhaled as we pass through.

I must say that the smoking thing is becoming a bit wearing for us. As the weather is warmer every outdoor cafe and restaurant is infested with smokers blowing their vile muck over each other and us. It really does make it difficult so we only go to places that we know are entirely smoke free.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

OK so no one needs 18,000 tunes

Thanks to PK for reminding me what a sensational performer Chad Morgan is. The Sheik of Scrubby Creek. They just don’t make them like that any more. I had some of his music somewhere in my recordings of early Australia country music but this has thankfully vanished into the ether.

I am reminded (I am not sure why) that a few years ago on New Years Eve PK and Gwenyth took us out on a yacht on Sydney Harbour to watch the fireworks. This was a sensational evening enlivened by a barbecue at the Middle Harbour Yacht Club and – between the 9:30 and Midnight fireworks displays – Gwenyth falling fully clothed into the water. This was unnecessary as we were already totally entertained by the whole evening.

I am not sure why Gwenyth did this. She is the type of woman who could sail naked around Cape Horn on an ironing board using palms fronds for sails so I just cannot imagine why she fell into the drink – but it was a thoughtful way to amuse us between drinks.

William is quite right that this is the opportunity to do some serious Spring cleaning and indeed I have done this. The only essential stuff that needs to get onto the iMac is my music – about 18,000 tunes and my photos – about 30,000.

Yes I agree that no one needs 18,000 tunes and 30,000 photos but in the case of the music I have to transfer it otherwise I will lose it – and in many cases it is downloaded so I have no backup CDs. There is no excuse for the photos – I just have trouble deleting them.

Having done all these housekeeping things I needed to get the rest of the paraphernalia working so on Wednesday I decided to connect my printer to my iMac.

The printer is (of course) not supported for iMac by HP so I had to try to find and download a new driver. I simply could not do it. The machinations of Macs are just beyond me and while I could find the driver I just could not get it into the right file and get it to work.

It is simply a foreign land in there and will take some getting used to. It is like going into Spar for the first time to buy groceries and stuff like that. I have no idea

I eventually solved the problem - after 4 hours - by buying a new Brother printer on Amazon Germany. It will be here on Tuesday.

I also spent an hour or so attempting to find a way to connect my scanner to the iMac but became disheartened with the lack of support from my new hardware. It clearly did not give a rat’s ass what I wanted to connect – and was simply not interested. My son arrives in two weeks and this will be his first task!

To cheer myself up I thought I would attached the roof racks and bike racks to the car. We bought these last June in anticipation of going cycling in the countryside. We did not do so – mainly because Cate was travelling so much – so the box remained unopened in the basement for nearly a year. We are planning on going cycling on the weekend so it is time.

Imagine my surprise when I opened it and found not two roof racks and two bike racks – but one bike rack.

I have sent a message to my mate Christoph at Wiesenthal Mercedes and asked him what happened to the rest of the gear. We will apparently not be going cycling around Neusiedler See this weekend. He will of course think I am a complete Goose for not opening the box for nearly a year – and of course I am.

William will be please to learn that I have attached something called a ‘Time Machine’ to my iMac. This does automatic and continuous wireless backups of my work and also runs a wireless network.

Now that all the hard work has been done I shall relax by watching some iMac tutorials and delving into the innards of the software programs.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What sort of cockamamie question is that?

California - Home of Apple!

You will not be astonished to learn that it takes a very, very long time indeed to transfer 18,000 songs from an iPod to iTunes. And – (why is it always like this) anytime the software –which is called ‘Senuti’ has a problem it asks you want you want to do.

i.e. ‘I have been unable to copy a song called ‘The Sheik from Scrubby Creek’ what do you want me to do?

The options are Cancel (close the program) or Ignore

Close the program? What sort of an option is that? What would be the point of that? What sort of cockamamie question is that?

Doesn’t the fact that I started you on the Herculean task of copying 18,000 songs give you a clue as to my intentions? Forget about that song – I will live without it – when I get stuck I can whistle it - move on!

The problem of course – as anyone who has ever done anything like this will know – is that it stops everything while it waits for an answer. So if you have popped off downstairs to watch the cricket for an hour or so and come back thinking that it must almost be done you discover that it has not budged a millimetre because it is waiting to hear what you want to do about ‘The Sheik from Scrubby Creek’.

This software developers revenge for having to do their lousy and difficult job is to force the users to sit there and watch the program go through every excruciating process as the blue line creeps excruciatingly slowly towards the finish line like a stoned snail crawling through marmalade.

As a variation sometimes they make the software hang. It says it is doing things but you just know it is not and there is absolutely nothing you can do about. Well – you can stop it and start again – but what would be the point of that – so usually you just have to sit there for a while until the programmers inbuilt ‘tension building pause’ has come to an end - and then it will come back to life and start beavering away – or crash.

My favourite of all time is when an excruciatingly slow software programs grinds through endless processes and eventually finishes. Up pops an error message saying something like ‘there was an error in Spangle #54679 which prevented the program from completing its job. Please run the program again’.

But why? You will get the same error message next time. I don’t think software programmers ever use their own programs. Like people who design automated telephone answering services never have to call their own companies to get the excruciating message.

“Welcome – we don’t give a flying fuck about you and that is why we are going to make you go through an excruciating menu of meaningless questions and numbers until we finally connect you with a complete nincompoop who will have no idea what you are talking about and will promise that someone will call you back but you both know that will never happen and when you call again you will never find that person because they left the company five minutes after taking your call and if we don’t like you (and we don’t) we will either cut you off or hang up on you – whichever comes first”

But it’s done. All my songs are now in the iMac iTunes files (with the exception of The Sheik from Scrubby Creek and some others).

I was so please with this I decided to sync my iPhone with my new iMac and succeeded only in deleting all the contact details from my iPhone. If I used to call you and email you but no longer do so – now you know why. As far as my iPhone is concerned you do not exist – and no I did not have a back up – that is what I was trying to do.

I have sent pleading emails out asking for contact information.

This is the tip of the iceberg. I am sure that there are many other ways I can make my files TARFU.

Cate has asked how long it will be before I get all the Furshlugginer files transferred. I have advised her that at the current rate of progress I am looking at 2013 – about April 23 I think.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I will need roofrack software

Maalie’s photo of Neusiedler See (Lake Neusiedl) frozen over.

I am a bit preoccupied with my iMac so have been inattentive to my Blog. This may continue for a little while as I am completely new to iMacs and am feeling my way. It is proving to be a bit more difficult than I thought it would be to transfer my emails and music to the iMac but I am making progress.

There are many ways to transfer music from a PC to a iMac – none of them easy. After some research I have bought a piece of software that the Mac forum people say will do the job easily (Ha!). Easy for them!

But – the machine itself is just gorgeous and easily the most elegant and sophisticated piece of computer equipment I have ever owned. And Fast! It has a Quad Core (I have no idea what that is but it sounds terrific!)

Last week a man called in to paint the water damaged wall in our bedroom. There was not much to do as I more than six months ago I had given up all hope of anything happening and had given it a couple of coats of paint of my own. But he tidied it up and went on his way. Sissi helped him as much as she could but I got the paint off her paws without too much trouble.

Of course another man arrived a month or so ago and cut a bloody great hole in the wall in the lounge room. This will also be painted one day but we don’t worry too much about these things any more.

Hey – we live in Vienna and have a great life (well I do – Cate has to work). Who cares about holes in walls?

On the weekend we visited Rust which is a town on the Neusiedler See. This is a lovely area and is where Maalie goes bird watching. I could never do this – bird watchers have to get up before dawn - Shriek!

We decide that we need to go cycling there as there are cycle paths all around the lake. So I have been instructed to fit the bike racks to the Mercedes. The bike racks were purchased more than one year ago and are residing in their original box – unopened – in the basement.

I expect this to be more difficult that transferring files to the iMac – because I will not be able to get any software to help me. I shall report.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Happy Birthday David

The real Lenny - and Bandit in the back

It’s Lenny’s birthday on Tuesday. Lenny is actually my son David and he looks nothing like this picture. He does not have nearly as much fur and when I go to visit him he does not jump on me and piss on my legs.

This is good because he is coming to visit me in a few weeks and we are going to Normandy and to the Somme with Merlin (who is actually my Daughter Melissa).

Happy Birthday Lenny.

I have lots to tell you but my iMac arrived on Thursday and I am preoccupied with transferring all my mail and files from my PC to the iMac. At the current rate of progress this task should be completed just before the iMac’s warranty expires in three years.

We also on the weekend had to finish watching the latest series of 24 that we have on DVD. This was appalling – but really no worse that any other one of the earlier 6 series. This is a TV show that jumped the shark in the first series so we have not expected much – and have not been disappointed.

It’s the sort of show that – when you watch the last episode in the series you sigh and say – thank the Lord of the Christmas Beetles that is over – and there will not be another one for a year.

Now – in the last scenes of the last episode Jack is about to die from some bug that he picked up while farting around with terrorists. We should be so lucky.

But – sadly - the last minute arrival of his truly ghastly daughter Kim at his bedside will save the sucker and we can look forward to another excruciating ear, eye and brain gritting performance from Jack and the entire gruesome crew.

But the good news is that series 8 is the last. Hallelujah!

Why do we watch it? Why do people slow down to look at traffic accidents and cluster around injured people in the streets?

And it is addictive. Stupid, ridiculous, laughable, risible, fatuous and impossible – but addictive.