Thursday, March 31, 2011

Muffin is well - thanks for asking!

Muffin has been a bit more wobbly than usual lately. She has always been a bit wobbly but more so since she has reached her current vast age of nearly 19.
One of her not so endearing habits is to find socks or other furry objects and drag them around the house screaming like a Banshee. She always does this in the dead of night or very early morning.
We think this is in response to when she was only small and had two kittens and we continued to find where she had hidden them and take them away from her to play with them.
These two kittens were Bilbo and Baggins and this was 18 years ago - so she has a long memory. We kept them both but they have both since gone to meet the Cat God who lives in the sky and is waiting patiently for Muffin.
Anyway – one of the last jobs at night is to make sure there are no stray socks or furry objects lying about because this is not a sound you can ignore.
Lately she has been very restless and roams round the house meowing plaintively. She lies in the one spot staring into space for hours. She follows me round the house staring at me and whenever I sit down she wants to sit next to me. If I lie down she wants to sit on top of me - but she has always done that. She also dribbles on me a lot.
I think this is the same sort of stuff that happened to Mrs. Bush in George’s last year in the White House - but I thought I should take Muffin to the Vet to make sure that there was nothing wrong with her – apart from her significant age – which equates to about 90 in human years.
So the Vet had a good look and of course it was necessary to do X-rays and Blood tests. The verdict – after spending more than I did on my Eric Bompard Turtleneck Sweater – is that Muffin has some constipation and some arthritis but is otherwise in spectacularly good condition for a 19 year old cat.
I have to give her a daily does of stuff in her mouth with a syringe. This I have to do on my own as Cate is away. This is extraordinarily difficult to do if the cat does not want to take the dose – which Muffin does not.  
I do not expect that my arm and elbow – or most of the kitchen – will suffer from constipation in the near future.
There is nothing we can do about arthritis. Muffin and I will have to tough it out together.
The picture is of Muffin in sleeker times. She would not want me to show her in her current scruffy condition.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Now I know who Eric Bompard is.

Not that I can speak about style. I mean I am always slagging off about people in the media who clearly are style gurus - and remember the terrible shellacking I gave poor Herr Lagerfeld. And he positively reeks of style. That glove! If I wore a glove like that people would think that I was a complete Ponce - but when he does it. Well! 
And I simply don’t have a single style bone in my body. It’s not my fault – I grew up poor so had no money for clothes when I was young and then I became a successful banker and only ever wore pin-striped suits and shirts to match.
I had a lot of ties. Maybe a 100 or so. I remember that Cate described my collection of shirts and ties as ‘Hideous’. 
In fact – when she was required to choose a shirt and tie from my collection for me to wear to a wedding she spent a long time looking but was unable to do so. We had to go out and buy a new shirt and tie for the occasion.
It’s only since I met Cate that I have had the slightest semblance of style and that is because she has taken complete charge.
Sure I tried to be über cool for a while by wearing Jeans and black T-shirts but this never really worked  and I just looked like a poor man’s Steve Jobs.
But Cate grew weary of black T-Shirts and truthfully so did I. She got to hate the color and the shape and I got to hate the white fur. I am guessing that Mr. Jobs does not have a black and white Cat - or a Reindeer rug.  
My black T-Shirts were like a Cat magnet and I forever looked like the inside of a clothes dryer lint basket had been emptied over me.
So now I wear Charcoal colored Banana Republic T-Shirts (fitted)  – but these are Banana Republic T-Shirts without Logos so they are not at all naff.  Although my Jeans are decidedly naff because they are worn and shredded through wear.
These days you are supposed to buy Jeans that look like they have been washed with razor blades then thrown into a cement mixer with cement and blue metal. This is a good look. Jeans that are worn out are just boff (in the French sense).
Because Cate has impeccable taste I buy that which she thinks I should. Only on very rare occasions do I buy something on my own – and I did this in Paris.
I happen to think that Turtleneck tops are fashionable. This probably means that they are not. I rather suspect that they went out of fashion when Dirk Bogarde died but as far as I am concerned his look is still alive. Dirk was one of the coolest dudes who ever lived.
But I am nothing if not old fashioned so I rather fancy that I look dashing in this type of apparel.  I imagine that most other people look at me and think I should be on the Galapagos Islands with others of my ilk but I live in my own little world - and so what.
My current Turtleneck Sweater is ancient and while I treasure it I know that it will not last forever.  So I on my last trip to Paris I was passing Printemps Homme and I thought to myself ‘Why not?’
The Sales Assistants in Paris are no less helpful that they are in Vienna so it took me a considerable amount of time to find anything at all that resembled a Turtleneck Sweater but I found one – and only one – in a boutique which went by the name of Eric Bompard. I did not know the name Eric Bompard then – but I do now.
A lovely young man bundled me into it and bundled me out of it. He was so young and beautiful and bright eyed - as only young people can be. He was so pleased for me. It was perfect. The color was delicious. I had found my dream sweater.
How could Monsieur  even consider not buying it. All I had to do was pay. How much was it? I had not looked at the price tag. That much? Goodness gracious me! WTF is it made of?
Oh I see Monsieur is having trouble letting go of his credit card – let me prise it from his fingers for him. Voila! C’est Fini!
It was in a dreamlike state that I handed over my credit card and watched him pack this precious object lovingly in tissue paper and hand it triumphantly to me in an Eric Bompard bag.
Au Revoir Monsieur. Enjoy your stay in Paris!
I sometimes take it out of its tissue paper and caress it. I wear silk gloves when I do this. It is very, very beautiful and I like to hold it to my cheek and sniff it.
It is like gossamer. If I toss it lightly into the air it floats down to earth. Fairies could use it to make their wings.
Of course I could never wear it. It is too precious.
I shall leave it to my children. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Can you shoot whipped cream out of your breasts?

Being as I am a student of Pop Culture I was instantly attracted to a story about Katy Perry – or rather – Katy Perry’s mother.
Now Katy seems to be a decent enough girl who can sing and dance as well as the rest of them and has been able to distinguish herself by some regulation outrageous behavior including shooting whipped cream and fireworks out of her breasts.
But Katy’s mother, Mary Hudson, is a Christian evangelist and is apparently horrified by Katy’s stage routines and revealing outfits.
She writes, "Katy stepped out from behind the changing doors in a tiny risqué costume. No mother wants to see the top of her daughter's boobs... My first instinct was to order her back behind those doors and demand she put something else on... However, I had no problem letting my eyebrows say what I wouldn't allow my mouth to utter."
(Oh purleease - Ed)
And the matriarch reveals how she feels her daughter has betrayed her Christian roots: "I recognized the psalmist gift in her performance. Yet she sang out, 'I kissed a girl, and I liked it,' while thousands joined her.
"One part of my heart soared... the other part broke for the thousands of hungry souls being fed something that didn't nourish their spirit, but fed their flesh. Oh, dear God, how can I save her from all this? The money, the fame, the network, the people surrounding her, how can I compete?"
Well – can you shoot whipped cream out of your breasts?
Now I just don’t believe Mary for a second. You don’t go from Sunday School Angel to a Tits and Sequins Pop Star without some form of transition period and I am quite sure Mary knew very well what was going on. But she has to sell books. 
But was does intrigue me – and what I would like to read in the book - is what she thinks of Katy’s husband Russell Brand.  
Look I am sure Russell is a lovely fellow and I know that his addiction days are well behind him - but by the Lord Harry he is strange. He makes Colonel Gaddafi look sane.
I am wondering what the first meeting was like. I think it was a whirlwind courtship.
Mummy and Daddy this is Russell. We are going to get married.
Oh that’s nice dear. Are you religious Russell?
Not really - not since I won The Sun's “Shagger Of The Year” award in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and they named it after me. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sissi is the culprit

Maalie has confirmed that dead animals do not moult.

Closer examination has revealed that Sissi spends a lot of time kneading the rug and pulling the hair out - so that explains the mystery. See picture of culprit above. 

How it gets into my sock drawer and toothbrush mug is another matter entirely. 

And no Maalie - it was not the cheap option - it was in fact the most expensive rug in the hut. 

I had to pick up our Dive gear today and encountered more problems. We apparently have not been cleaning our gear properly after each dive and water got into the First Stages and they were like the insides of coffee percolators. Gabi was disappointed with me.

We clean the way we were taught to but this is not the Austrian way. We need to mend our ways or face the consequences. 

Also Cate’s Regulator had a faulty diaphragm thingy which made it a bit wobbly when I tested it in the shop.

Sucking was fine but blowing was a bit dicey no matter how I adjusted it. It was probably alright and Gabi assured me that it was in perfect working order. It just made a bit of a flapping noise. She even offered to do a re-service just to make sure but I said no.

I said that you do not mess around with the life of a woman who keeps you in the style that Cate keeps me.

Where else would I find a woman who would give me sole control of the bank accounts and who does not even know her own Bankomat PIN?

Anyway the gear is years old and you just cannot be too careful with this stuff because it is just so damn easy to die under water - so easy in fact that in Sydney four people have done it during the last couple of weeks – for no apparent reason.

So I did the only thing I could under the circumstances and bought Cate a spiffy new Cressy First Stage and Regulator. Very space-age and modern and light.

Of course you also have to have a matching Cressy Occie rated for the same pressure. Otherwise horrible things may happen.

Naturally I got one for myself as well – because I just know that she values my life as much as she values hers and wants me to have the best.

Also – I am the only one who knows her Bankomat PIN. If I am not here she has no way of getting any money out of the bank.

Diving is like every other sport where there are unlimited spending opportunities.  Armies of technicians and creative people are beavering away day and night designing fabulous new gear to ensure that the very instant you buy something and take it out of the store – it is obsolete. 

So when you arrive on board the boat you never flaunt your new gear because you just know that  – whatever you have – someone has something newer and better – and will tell you about it at some length - given half an opportunity.

And speaking of things you just must have.

I collected my Time Magazine from the letterbox today – looked at the back cover - and noted with astonishment that TAG Heuer has made a watch that will

‘measure and display the 1/1,000th of a second, making it 125 times more accurate than most existing mechanical chronographs’.

Well I immediately thought ‘That’s what I need!’

My days are simply so jam packed that I need that sort of precision in my life.

Imagine what you could do if you saved all these precious moments up. Why – put together a thousand of them and you would have - let's see - a full second . Collect a few seconds together and you could say – loudly

‘WTF would anyone want a watch like that for?’

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Where do Ducks canoodle?

Cate is leaving me – again - and this week will be in Korea and Taipei.

She will not be back until late on Friday night so the cats and I have a whole week to play. We are having a meeting tonight to discuss what we will do.

My friend Yum Cha is coming over for a Movie and Pizza night and she is always good fun - but careful planning is required so that I do not have any spaces where I feel guilty about not doing something ‘useful’ - like learning German. Blech!

When we were in Lapland – and before I broke five ribs and lost focus on the more important things in life – we bought a magnificent Reindeer rug in the open air markets in Helsinki. We carted this with us to Lapland and then home to Vienna where it resides in some splendour on the floor of the lounge room.

It was of course immediately adopted by Sissi as her own personal rug and she set about seeing if she should tear it to pieces.

It proved too be far to resilient so it became her own personal nest and is where she spends most of her time - except on sunny days when – with her mother – she follows the sun around the house – moving from window sill to window sill as required to catch the rays.

Since the warm weather has arrived the dead Reindeer has started to moult – in spades.

This is a weird business and the apartment is covered in Reindeer hair which Mr Dyson is busy cleaning up on a daily basis – and doing a might fine job I might add.

Can this be happening? Can dead animals really moult? I know the NSW Labor Party was moulting for some years before Saturday’s debacle but just assumed their own smell was causing that.

I must ask Maalie the Biologist about this. He knows the answers to almost all questions except why the English can no longer play cricket.

I must also ask him where all the Ducks are. The Duck Pond in Stadtpark was almost deserted yesterday? Have all the Ducks gone canoodling for Spring and if so where do they canoodle? 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

You are probably just a Prick!

In a desperate attempt to become like the Tea Party in American the Anti Carbon Taxers in Australia have gone all personal and started used hate posters. It is going to get worse then this. 

The Hate Merchants on shock radio in are in full cry - summoning the whackos to the barricades in full attack mode. 

In this particular case in this photo they are calling the Prime Minister Julia Gillard ‘Juliar’ and ‘Bob Browns Bitch’. Another poster says ‘Ditch the Witch’.

OK this is bad enough but  then they get speakers like the Leader of the Opposition who once famously called climate change ‘Crap’. He is flanked by another of the Opposition’s famous climate change deniers – who is of the Dinosaur era and will never change her views.

This is a tragic but inevitable slide in the standard of political rhetoric in Australia - which has not been helped at all by the appointment of Tony Abbott to the position of Leader of the Opposition. 

Mr Abbott professes to be a devout Catholic but has the manners and demeanour of a Neanderthal in his attitude to Ms Gillard, to women in general  and to people who do not share his own personal ‘values’ - whatever they may be.

The standard of petty sledging exhibited by Mr Abbott is exemplified by his recent mocking of Ms Gillard's decision to attend next month's royal wedding, saying she does not believe in God, the monarchy or marriage.

She is the Prime Minister. Of course she must attend.

I regret to say that my personal experience has been – and I worked for religious organisations for some years – that some people who profess such devoutness are also the most economical when it comes to standards of honesty, compassion and integrity.

I am afraid that for me Mr Abbott falls into that category. He seems to be to be a creature of easy fortune. He loses no opportunity to bang on about his religion and his 'values' but is so quick to demean the perceived failings of others – and so hostile towards those who would prefer lifestyle and life choices other than those which are proscribed in his own little world - defined as it is by ancient texts written by the an invisible man who lives in the sky.

I find his holier-than-thou, toffy-nosed sanctimoniousness quite loathsome.

It would be nice to skip through life having been anointed by a spirit on high and having your life designed for your by Christ’s Messenger sitting in Rome. What to do next? – ah just pray for guidance and listen to the little voice in your head. 

Some of us just have to be guided by science and the environment in which we live, by a set of standards of common decency, by our consciences, by our own moral standards, by an understanding of what is right – for us – and for others – for the community and even for the planet.

And – surprisingly enough – we can do this without reading ancient whacky texts which tell us about what we should and should not do. We have found that there are not just 10 things we should not do – there are many hundreds – and literally thousands of things we should do.

It takes an effort but thats how many millions of us do it quite successfully. 

You should try it Mr Rabbit. It requires something called free will. It takes courage. You have to leave the dark ages behind. Let superstition and black magic go. I promise you it will make you free.

I am not sure it will make you a better man because you are probably just a Prick. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Where else would you buy a vacuum cleaner?

We brought with us to Vienna a Wertheim vacuum cleaner. This is made in Germany and is arguably the worst made vacuum cleaner I have ever had – and there is a lot of competition for this title.

Vacuum cleaners – as far as I can see – are all designed so that the various bits and pieces slide together neatly and stay together while you do one thing – then can be unfastened and then can be quickly replaced while you do another. This is the plan in the design studio.

You can just imagine Helmut demonstrating to Florian how things slide together so cleverly. Yes Helmut– and after you smash them into the wall 2,000 times?

In the case of the Wertheim this harmonious relationship lasted about a month and then the house was filled with the sound of pieces crashing from the vacuum cleaner on to the floor and then having to be hammered back into place. Finally I had to drill holes and put removable bolts through the plastic pieces to keep them in place.

This surprised Mrs Moneypenny when she first set eyes on the Wertheim but she adapted quite well and probably thought it was a uniquely Australian thing.

But – frankly – I dislike the Wertheim intensely.  This dislike has increased with time as is it resides in my ‘dressing room’ – which is next to the cat’s bathroom – I see it many times every day and the dislike has festered.

Time for action. I did some research and this led me to believe that the best vacuum cleaners on the planet are manufactured by Dyson. It was easy to reach this conclusion when I saw how many vacuum cleaners there were available and the high regard in which Dyson is held.

After that is was easy – I needed one for pet hair – and specifically one that will do Reindeer hair - so that narrowed it down to two models - and I chose the quietest one for Monika. It is coming from Amazon Germany. Where else would you buy a vacuum cleaner? 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It would be Goodnight Vienna!

Ms. Palin is now in Israel. They took offence when she asked them why the killed Custer.

This is part of her plan to beef up her foreign policy credentials for her run at the Presidency. Fortunately  for us it will not work because the only people who hate her more than the Democrats are the people who run the Republican party. Well – it’s not that they hate her so much– it’s just that they know she is Bat Shit crazy and will sink them in the long run if she gets the nomination.

Also her popularity is dropping like a stone and she currently just outpolls Charlie Sheen.

Now what a fine President he would make. But still – If you go to bed totally smashed every night with a huge ball of dope and three Hookers – what harm can you do – apart from a few crazy Tweets.

I mean – George Bush went to bed at 9:00 PM every night with a glass of warm milk and did more damage than a whole army of Charlie Sheens could do.  

I was talking to Melissa tonight and she said that she saw Pete Doherty and an unidentified young lady snogging on the steps next to her apartment today. They were at it for some time and she was of a mind to tell the young lady involved that she really should not be making such a spectacle of herself in public but it was clear that such advice would not be understood or heeded.

Pete has been a role model for me for a long time now.  

I have often looked at him and thought ‘If I ever get like that I will just do a Michael Hutchence and hang myself with my belt over the bedroom door.  It would be Goodnight Vienna!’

Melissa has not let this incident bother her and is feasting on Mexican food with  Neanderthal man.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Green Energy is killing us!

Cate is in Moscow this week. She invited me to go along but I have been there twice so far and it is not actually the most enticing city in the world – especially when terrorists regularly blow up the airport and other places and massacre large numbers of citizens and travelers. And once you have seen Red Square and the other main sights the rest of it is significantly grim and forbidding. 

Of course if you want to drink Vodka it is the best city in the world because that is what most supermarkets are full of.

She also invited me to go to Algeria and I would have loved to do this but it is very difficult to get a Visa. It is – like Russia - one of those places where you have to ask them to invite you - and then jump through hoops to get the Visa.

I am not sure why. It is not as though anyone would want to stay there. I mean no one from Austria would look at Russia and say – Oh Boy! This is nice I think I will stay here! I am not sure about Algiers.

I was reading the New York Times this morning on my iPad and saw that Sarah Palin is in India. She was invited to go there by some media people to talk at a conference – and they paid her to do this.

Part of the report said

A “secure, stable supply of fuel is key to a prosperous America,” she said. “My vision of a free and prosperous America has much to do with energy. But that won’t come from green energy, which has destroyed thousands of jobs in Scotland and England and helped create a massive debt in Spain.”
Excuse me? Have I missed something?
I wasn’t aware of the phenomenon of Green Energy destroying jobs and creating debts so I had to do some quick research and its true. Apparently – according to Michele Bachmann – A Tea Party Icon who knows about these things  - amongst other things - Wind Farms apparently chop the wind to pieces and it falls lifeless to the ground. It is useless for anything else and has to be shoveled up and use for landfill.
Without wind there is nothing to run car engines, computer fans and vacuum cleaners. Smokers have to suck harder, fan forced ovens cannot cook chickens, birds cannot wing it, airplanes cannot fly as high and use more fuel. The whole business is just one big disaster. It is killing the economy.
Mrs. Palin also said that America should “capitalize on our own resources right there on our doorsteps,” she said, by tapping into billions of barrels of oil that are “warehoused” in Alaska.
Absolutely. There is a small problem of the pesky frozen Tundra and the Wilderness and Polar Bears but we will deal with that quick smart and when we are finished we will fill the holes up with dead air from Scotland, England and Spain. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

This is a rib too far

So my ribs should have stopped hurting so much by now because I broke them at the end of December and they were supposed to heal within three months – but they are still giving me a lot of trouble. 

Of course I didn’t help matters much by moving a few cartons of books in the storeroom downstairs week or so ago - but still. They had to be moved and who else is going to do it?

As we are going Scuba diving in a little more than a month I thought I should get checked again to make sure there is nothing dramatic happening inside me.  

I am quite prepared to die underwater because of something predictable – like a Shark attack or a Stingray barb through my heart – or even the Bends – but not because my broken ribs decide to let go and puncture my lungs.  

So Cate got her Medical Director at work to find me a Doctor - who then wrote me a referral to get an X-ray – without seeing me because this was to happen after the X-ray.   There was a misunderstanding and he asked them to X-ray my shoulder.  Monika the young lady charged with the responsibility of doing the X-Raying – took some convincing.

This – after all is Austria where administration triumphs over everything - and she had in front of her a piece of paper instructing her to X-Ray my ribs. On the other side of the ledger she had this old twit clutching his side and insisting that his ribs were broken and that his shoulder was in reasonable working order.

I managed to convince her by explaining exactly how it happened – how I fell – the pain I felt – how the dogs behaved  - and by clutching my ribs and grimacing.  She agreed to deliberately flout the rules and to ignore the order - provided that I brought back a new order for the X-raying of ribs. This I promised to do.

So I saw the Doctor on Saturday and it turns out that I do not have four broken ribs. I have five broken ribs. Even I can see that on the X-Rays  - which are much clearer that the ones taken in Finland. I think Monika must be very good at what she does.

The Doctor says everything is fine but that I should expect  to be in a lot of pain now – and I can expect to be in a lot of pain for long time yet. But that – apart from the pain – everything is fine. If I die underwater it will not be because of my ribs. Good news there.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Bird Man of Cumbria is Coming

You will be excited to learn that I was finally able to finally pry my laptop from the hands of the Computer Doktor.

This was no easy task – he was reluctant to part with it as he was building a Jeff Koons Puppy replica out of laptops and my Dell was forming part of the left eyebrow.

In recognition of the six trips I made to his establishment he gave me a €30 deduction from his usual fee. I must say that it now works very well indeed although I do of course have to load all the damn software again.

Oh – and to all those people who wondered why I remained so calm – it was of course a second laptop and I have another smaller one that I can drag around with me – in addition to my iPad which goes with me everywhere.

I am in the process of stealing enough money from the housekeeping to buy a MacBook Air and this should happen later in the year. These are expensive so it will take me a while to accumulate this amount of money. Cate gives me no pocket money so I only get what I can steal – which I must say is a substantial amount. It helps if you have sole access to the bank accounts and Cate has to ring you when she needs money to ask you what her PIN is.  

My main PC is of course the iMac but there is some stuff that I cannot do with it – mainly to do with website maintenance and the use of FTP software – for which I still need Windows. I am immensely inept with this type of software and HTML and try to keep things as simple as possible when dealing with websites as I have had some truly awful experiences.

One person called me the ‘magician’ because I kept making his website pages disappear – so I am very careful when dealing with a site which is not mine – and in this case I am maintaining a site for someone else. 

There has to be a way around this and I am working on it but it requires time of which I do not have enough at the moment. You would be surprising the amount of maintenance that is required by a Cate and three Cats - plus photography and Blogging and all the other bits and pieces.

Maalie the Bird Man of Cumbria is coming to see me on Friday before going on to his usual birding spot near Lake Neusiedl. We shall have our usual knees up which consists of a glass or two of red wine, a Wee Dram and an ancient black and white war movie from my vast library of DVDs. Cate will groan quietly (or perhaps loudly) and disappear into her study to work.

Meanwhile in the UN. Two factions are at loggerheads within the various committees charged with the responsibilities of looking at No-Fly Zones for Libya. The ‘Orange Pekoes’ have split with the ‘Earl Greys’ over whether or not the statement condemning the actions of Colonel Gaddafi – due to be released in May – should be a ‘firm’ statement or a ‘strong’ statement. This may slow the release of the statement which is a precursor  to the establishment of any No-Fly Zone – now expected in 2012. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We are not praying enough

I am very worried about the state of the planet. I think the technical term for it is Completely Shagged. 

There are more floods, fires, earthquakes, storms, cyclones, tornadoes and the like that I can ever remember. 

I think God is trying to tell us something. I think he has been telling us for some time. We are just ignoring it. 

The real problem is that there is not enough praying going on. Either that or it is praying of the wrong kind. I was always taught that God answers all prayers so clearly we are not praying enough - or we are not praying for the right things.

Now of course one of the major issues is that there are fewer people praying. I personally only know about three people who pray. Almost no Europeans pray. All the people in the Middle east pray – but according to the Pope it is to the wrong God. I am not sure about Africans but I don’t think they are pulling their weight. So it is really left to the Americans.

Hordes of them SAY that they pray – but how many of them REALLY pray. All the politicians say they pray daily for guidance and you can just see how much good that does them. But I honestly suspect that they don’t do much praying at all.

Can you imagine Sarah Palin praying. Can you imagine God gritting his ears as she whines on and on about being President and about the First Dude. What good is that. 

I rather think that ALL the praying in America is left to a relatively small number of people – mainly in the Bible Belt – who are praying their asses off on a daily basis - about the wrong things. 

As usual in America – the load is not being shared. I mean – can you imagine those Fox people or Wall Street people getting down on their knees and asking the Good Lord for something – I mean – what would they ask for? New Cadillacs? Gold leaf in their Starbucks?

So what do you think they people in the Bible belt are praying for? Fewer earthquakes in Japan? Fewer floods in Australia. Give me a break. What they want are fewer Black Muslims in the White House, lower taxes, more guns and compulsory religion for all. 

I think the planet might be on its own on this one. All because you could not be bothered praying. It's YOUR fault. 

In breaking news - an all night sitting of two United Nations Subcommittees has provide a breakthrough. The Brow Furrowing Subcommittee and the Hand Wringing Subcommittee have agreed after strenuous negotiations that both Lamingtons and Iced Vo Vos will be provided at next Thursday’s meeting of the Libyan No-Fly Zone Inaction Committee.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I will look like a Fledermaus!

There are many sane and stable Americans and I read their Blogs every day. Jessica for example is entirely normal and quite sane. She is so normal that she went to see the Yankees at Spring Training.

OK so that’s my kind of normal not Cate’s kind of normal. 

Sure she lives in North Carolina but that’s not her fault. She also worries what people think of Americans because many of them do weird things. But she needs to understand that we do not blame her personally for this. It is a cultural thing.

I am not sure how all the weirdness came about. Sometime in the 1950s America and the rest of the civilized world parted company. 

Americans started seeing UFOs, getting abducted by Aliens, believing in Creationism, and that the best way to create a wealthy society is to have a really poor underclass – and to make really rich people even richer. It beats me.

Europeans don’t understand it – but they don’t much care either – they accept that Americans are different.

But take heart Jessica. We do not blame you or your friends and we know you will do the right thing come election time. It will not do you much good – but just do your best. 

In the meantime – I am starting preparations for our diving trip to the Maldives in April. We have not dived since before we left Australia and I discovered on opening the plastic containers with our wetsuits that a Wombat had crawled in there and died.

Sure it is not in there now but you can smell where it has been.

Gabriele at Lion Dive looked at some of our gear sadly and said that it was a bit past it and would not be worth servicing  – which is true – so I am buying a new Octopus (left) and Dive Computer for each of us. 

I am also buying a new mask. Gabriele had trouble finding one to fit me precisely because of the – ahem – size of my nose.

My new mask makes me look like a Fledermaus. I am underwater - Who cares?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Its Schanigarten time

The Schanigarten (outdoor dining areas) started popping up all over Vienna last week and the one for Pizza Grado next door to us is going up today. This is very exciting. We can start going there again – provided the wind is right so that we can avoid the smoke.

Yesterday’s Blog did not make much sense. No surprise there.

Anyway the WGC event was won by a nice guy which is all that matters. Well I suppose they are all nice guys – but you never now who is married and shagging Cocktail Waitresses these days – but this guy does not look like he is – but then neither did Tiger – who proved me wrong by shooting his best round in ages and will probably now storm back to the winners list and demonstrate that the absolute best thing you can do for your golf game is to shag Cocktail Waitresses while you are still married and be followed round the golf course by a man who shouts ‘Garn the Hole’ and another who honks like a Goose every time you play a shot.

I hasten to add that I am not casting aspersions on Cocktail Waitresses or intending to demean the profession - which I am sure is an entirely honorable one. It is just that this appears to be the occupation of most of the women with whom Mr. Woods was involved. I think some of them may have been employed in other similar capacities in the service industry - but once again I make no judgments.

If I was – for example – young and footloose and fancy free – and was serving a table in – say Burger King and Scarlett Johansson said that she wanted to shag me - and I knew that she was married – this would not be – from my perspective – a major obstacle. I would be there – to use an Australian expression – like a rat up a drainpipe – and I mean that in the sense of speed and urgency – not in any other less decorous manner.

The winner of the event was fortunately not Aaron Baddeley who I am sure is also a nice guy but who tends to blubber on about how Jesus helps him win tournaments (i.e. helps everyone else lose) and this sort of nonsense just makes me cross.

The intellectual bankruptcy of someone who thinks that an invisible man who lives in the sky actively intervenes in their sporting achievements encourages me to think about singing into the big white telephone.  

Hmmm….I don’t have much on this afternoon…. Oh I know… I’ll just pop over to Japan and kill 10,000 Japanese….I hate that Damn Sushi so much… and then I’ll help Aaron with his putting. Spare me!

Meanwhile in other news:

In Washington a House Subcommittee voted on Thursday to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its power to regulate greenhouse gases. Republicans argue that global warming is an unproven theory and that no action is need to combat it.

In any event – if the water rises they will just use that big Ark being built in Kentucky to float about until it recedes.

Republicans say that now that they have control of Congress they have lots of other exciting measure in train to totally fuck the environment and the economy – just you wait and see!

In New York the United Nations Subcommittee for Doing Bugger All said that they expected to make a decision on the Libyan No-Fly Zone by 2016. A comprehensive review was being prepared and may be of passing academic interest to any stray survivors of the Libyan Rebels who were currently being exterminated by Colonel Gaddafi. There were not expected to be many of these but we will be able to visit the mass graves.

In the interim the committee members would continue to examine all proposals with furrowed brows and occasional ‘ahems’. A statement of concern will be issued in late May.

Hey! I think the Care-O-Meter has started working again.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Why are we Europeans better?

Spring has sprung here. This is the last icy shot of the Stadtpark Duck Pond on 23 February just before Winter left us. 

I enjoy watching the US  golf on TV because it is on in the evening our time. If it was on in the daytime it would interfere with my schedule of European Golf. This has to be fitted in around the heavy schedule of cycling which has already started with the Paris-Nice which is one of the lead ups to the main Tours – of which the Tour de France of course is the Pièce de Résistance. It is difficult at the moment because the Ski Jumping season has not yet finished and the Austrian Team is currently beating everybody.

Anyway I was watching the World Golf Championship on Saturday night before we went to dinner and saw Tiger Woods miss a three foot putt. The previous evening I had watching him spraying balls all over the golf course in a fairly embarrassing fashion. On one occasion he hit the ground a couple of inches behind the ball – on a tee shot – I used to do that!

Of course he is still followed by crowds of Plonkers who call out puzzling things after every shot.

Things like ‘Yo da Man! Garn da Hole! And – weirdly ‘Dats why yo are who yo are’. There is also someone who honks like a Goose - but that may be a nasal condition.

I remarked to Cate that he had never been the same since he shagged all those Cocktail Waitresses.  She corrected me by saying that he had never been the same since he had been caught – while he remained uncaught his game was fabulous.

Which brings me to my next puzzling point that since Tiger’s demise American golfers in general have fallen into a complete heap and now the top four golfers in the world are Europeans. Tiger is still number five despite not having won anything for more than a year – and on current form he may never win anything again.

As if he did not have enough problems he now has one of those funny little moustache and beard things that make his mouth look like a goat’s bum. He really is getting a lot of bad advice. 

So I am interested in the relationship between Tiger getting caught and the complete fragmentation of his golf game. He has gone from being the best golfer in the world to being someone who can barely make the cuts in tournaments. And why has his demise coincided with the demise of American golf? 

Why are we Europeans suddenly so much better golfers than the Americans. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Who gives a toss?

Cate was driving along the Motorway in Delhi and she passed and Elephant in her Mercedes. What an Elephant was doing in her Mercedes we will never know. (I stole that joke from Groucho Marx).

I would like you to imagine if you will two small adjoining rooms in Vienna’s 9th District. In one of the rooms there is a large brown dog of indeterminate breed. In the room is also a piano. There are various pieces of furniture.

At various stages during the life of this room people have arrived with computers and have placed them on the piano and on the pieces of furniture. Laptops have arrived at a rate that has utilized all the space - so laptops have been placed upon laptops have been placed upon laptops. The dog does not have any laptops on top of him – but he is lying on one.

At various times during their tenure in this room some of the laptops have been dismembered – either partially or wholly – and their innards have been exposed to the dust and other elements which inhabit the premises. Mainly dust, dog hair and – I imagine – tiny furry creatures.

If you step over the jumble of computers and parts to look into the second room you will see that it is almost exactly the same as the first - except that computers are hooked up to electronic devices.

This is not in fact a computer graveyard. It is the surgery of the Computer Doktor. This is where I took one of my laptops to be repaired.

When I had first seen his premises I had imagined that it had been subjected to one of Vienna’s very few terrorist attacks and that Al Qaeda had burst into Herr Doktor’s place with guns blazing and blown it apart with fragmentation grenades.

I was about to commiserate with him him but realized that no - it is simply a housekeeping issue. He does not have a Mrs. Moneypenny – or indeed any system at  all for organizing the many thousands of computers that are piled all over the place. He may not be aware that shelves can be bought at Bauhaus for a modest sum.

I entrusted one of my laptops to the Computer Doktor last December. That is correct. Last December. I have faith in the Computer Doktor. I have visited him five times now and each time he offers me encouraging and soothing – even hypnotic - words.

We have come to know each other quite well – indeed much better than I had hoped would be the case when I first met him.

Mine was quite a simple problem – or so I thought. I wanted a hard disk formatted and Windows reloaded. I had tried to do this myself but there were technical issues which prevented me from getting it quite right.

But – you know – Christmas intruded on Herr Doktor then there was the holidays and the snow and his impacted Wisdom Tooth and the dog got sick and it was just one damn thing after another.

When I called him on Monday he said yes it would be ready on Thursday. No – do not telephone just come it will be ready. So when I arrived he told me he had a big problem because he did not have an English copy of Windows Vista to load on the PC.

Ah - I said - but that is why I gave you original English Windows Vista disk in the plastic box when I left the PC. But where is that he asked. Well - I can see if from here I said. If only I had your number - he said - I could have called you. Well it is on my card in the plastic box - I said.

He swears that he will finish the job today but we shall see. Any other person would have become agitated but he is such a pleasant man and what with my Care-O-Meter in its current state who gives a toss?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A stone-age solution for a stone-age problem

Cate is a senior executive in her organization. You ask me how senior. There is Huggy Bear then there is Cate. Sure there are a few on the same line with Cate but trust me she is up there. She has the power of life and death over thousands of people in her far flung domain which spans the globe.

Her importance and eminence is illustrated by the magnificence of her bedroom on her recent visit to India. This was part of her suite where men threw rose petals in her bath and other men stood outside in the garden to keep birds off the flowers - so as not to sully the rose petals. She did not have a Punkah Wallah but could have if she had asked.

One word from her and a man with a Scimitar bursts into an office in Ouagadougou and beheads a recalcitrant lackey who has failed to live up to Cate’s expectations.

The head is shipped to Rozalin in Vienna who has it bronzed and added to Cate’s collection of Bronzed Heads which reside in a glass case on Rosewood Plinths in Cate’s office.

I am sure this is how it works. I may be exaggerating about the Scimitar.

Cate is so important that one on occasion – while she was on the phone - she sent an email to Rozalin – who sits outside her office – asking her to print an email together with a large document attached to it.

Except that Cate inadvertently sent the email and attachment to a man she did not know in the Hong Kong office. This man – realizing that this was obviously a test from on high – to gauge his suitably for promotion – immediately printed the document and express-couriered it back to Cate in Vienna where it arrived the next day.

He sits in Hong Kong today - eagerly awaiting the next challenge.

So Cate is the Bees Knees. Except in matters of IT where -  in this company and indeed every other global company in the world - everyone in the company is regarded as equally as worthless.

Since IT is now one of the most important drivers in every global company – and is so vital for service delivery – for reasons which absolutely defy imagination – the services have all been outsourced to companies which reside in places like Liberia and Zanzibar.

This guarantees that there is never anyone in your time zone to whom you can talk and there is never the remotest possibility that someone connected with your actual business can visit you and look at the problem.

Anyone who knows anything about what you do has been made redundant. The days when you could ring IT and Frank could pop up and have a look at your work station are long gone. Frank now works in Zanzibar. He works part time for the IT company and owns a cocktail bar on the beach with his wife Dolores. Outsourcing has been good for Frank.

Oh Wait! Yes we do have a local representative. Helmut’s Computer Store in Simmering. Oh wait - Helmut is skiing is Schladming this week - but really I can fix the problem just let me take you through a couple of things - have you tried rebooting?


Cate’s PC must have been specially made. I do not believe that in the last 15 years they made PCs with hard disks of 60GB. It seems to be inconceivable. What would be the point. My iPhone has a bigger hard disk than that.

It has – and I am guessing because I have watched it ‘at work’ - a processor to match. Maybe 512K. It could probably run the first generation of ‘Pub Pong’ without missing a beat - but struggles with email.

But we have not yet been able to work out the secret of getting a new computer. This one is clearly and demonstrably fucked. It proves it every day. It is the Colonel Gaddafi of computers. It makes a lot of noise but does bugger all of any use.

Rozalin is tackling the problem and if anyone can solve it she can. If not - I regret that stone-age PC will meet with a stone-age solution because it makes me weep watching Cate doing battle night after night with this steaming piece of crap. We are after all on Level 6 above a lovely cobbled courtyard.