Thursday, June 28, 2012

I thought it was a joke

Paphos Mosaics

I thought it was a joke but apparently it is true. The morons running the Olympics in Britain are going to ‘enhance’ the games by playing music before, during and after the events – at all venues.

The Times article is whom below because you probably cannot access it without a subscription. 

So many events have now been destroyed by loud music and advertisements throughout the entire program – why not the leave the Olympics alone?

What is the matter with just watching the games? How can you ’enhance’ a race by playing music before,  during and after it?  What do you play during the  10 seconds of the 100 metres final?

They apparently have a playlist of 2,102 songs which they will play at entirely inappropriate moments to drive everyone mad. Surely if you want music at a sorting event you can take your iPod? 

If I watch any of it I can do so with the sound off but I pity the poor sods who paid through the nose to attend – what is after all – a pretty silly extravaganza.  

This has my vote for the worst idea so far this century.

"It was once the arena where — with the jarring exception of beach volleyball — you could watch the world’s best athletes perform heroics to nothing but the crack of the starting gun and the cheers of crowds.
But this year the Olympics will follow the blaring example of Champions League football, the American Superbowl and other commercial sports by using loud music to “enhance” the action.
With 30 days to go before the opening ceremony — itself set to feature an aural extravaganza created by the dance duo Underworld — London organisers unveiled their intention to “Rock the Games” with live and recorded music.
The tunes, including a specially written Olympic theme by the rock band Muse, will be pumped out before, during and after the events in all of the 34 venues, including Lord’s and Wimbledon — hosts to archery and tennis respectively, where pin-drop silence is the custom.
Selections from a giant playlist of 2,012 songs based on five themes — “energy”, “primetime”, “extreme”, “heritage” and “world stage” — will be tailored to the individual sport taking place in each venue.
The London Olympic Organising Committee (Locog) did not have a full playlist to hand but suggested that BMX might fall into the “extreme” category, with tennis more suited to “heritage” melodies.
Referring to contrasting styles of cricket, Paul Deighton, Locog’s chief executive, said: “We will be looking to identify which sports are Twenty20 and which are a Test match, and that is why we have a suite of products we can use.”
Muse were selected to write the official song, entitled Survival, which will be ringing in most people’s ears after it is played whenever athletes enter the field of play, before they accept their medals and at various times throughout the athletics sessions in the stadium.
Matt Bellamy, the lead singer of the Grammy-nominated band, said that the song was about “total conviction and pure determination to win”.
It is one of five specially commissioned tracks for the Games, including works by Sir Elton John (collaborating with the Australian dance group Pnau), Delphic, Chemical Brothers and Dizzee Rascal.
A live entertainment programme, which Mr Deighton said would have a secondary benefit of “managing the movement of crowds”, will involve surprise gigs at some venues by 13 acts, including Scissor Sisters and Rizzle Kicks. During breaks between events, spectators will also enjoy performances from the English National Ballet, military bands, DJs, cheerleaders and 3,500 roaming entertainers.
Locog insisted that the music would not detract from the sport. “It will enhance and in no way overshadow it,” Debbie Jevans, director of sport, said yesterday. “The field of play is sacrosanct and there will be silence.”
But the move is likely to divide opinion. Mark Sandell, editor of the BBC’s World Have Your Say programme, said: “For things like beach volleyball, it adds to the fun. Playing Simply the Best after the 100m final, less so.”
And as they leave their seats and head for the Tube, spectators will be bade “farewell, ciao, adieu and toodle-pip” by a host of famous faces including Charlize Theron, Gina Davis, Daniel Radcliffe and Mark Spitz.
Lord Coe, the Locog chairman and double Olympic 1,500m champion, will thank them for coming — no doubt as the strains of background music fade away."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

You just never know

I have finally disposed of the dead plants – well most of them.

I have cut them right back to give them one last chance to come to life while we are in Australia. You just never know.

There is no point in replacing them before we go to Australia as any new plants would almost certainly die while we are away. I know what these Austrian plants are like.

I have given another 5 cartons of books to the Church shop. They are a bit overwhelmed by this as they don’t have much room - but they have told me to keep them coming.

Cate is more than half way through the culling task and will finish it off (I hope) when she gets back from Peoria on the weekend.

We had plans to stay in a lovely house in Maleny in Queensland with Cate’s mother - together with Cate’s  and her husband  - but the ancient and venerable mother – who is 92 this year – has fallen over and broken a femur so will be in hospital in Brisbane. So we will take an apartment in Brisbane instead so we can visit her.

I have started German lessons again. I had stopped these when I thought we were going to Dubai. I despair at ever being able to speak this execrable language but will carry on.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Stupidity knows no boundaries

I have two things to report today.

Firstly – I am making some headway with my project to train Monika how to use the cat door. On Wednesday – for the first time ever – she actually used the door to come in from the terrace. (I have to open the flap to let her out).

Of course it is tragic to watch as she sniffs and scratches and pats the door for an hour or so before doing what she is supposed to do – i.e. push it and jump through.

I watched her doing this for some time on Wednesday until she eventually made the leap. Of course I was absolutely astonished and it brought a lump to my throat.

Now I just have to get her to go out through the cat door – and this will be a harder task – but I am mightily encouraged.

Secondly – there are more baby ducks in Stadtpark. This is the second crop this year and I am well pleased to see that so many have survived the rats and the cat.

Finally – as it is news day – and we have news that is unique here – I thought I should tell you about an event this week.

Continuing the theme of Austrians finding new and exciting ways to meet their maker I need to tell you about the man who cut off his own head with a chain saw.

Now I know you think – as I did - that this would be impossible.  But this entrepreneur found a way to do it by locking the saw into the ‘on’ position. This is never a good idea as proved to be the case in this tragic scenario. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

It is really very pretty

Apart from the rocky beaches - Cyprus in general looks like a landscape project where the builders ran out of money and could only buy half the plants.

It is a very rugged and stark landscape punctuated by dry and dusty towns and villages - and so very different from the lush green of Austria.

But don’t get me wrong – it is very pretty in its own unique way – and we liked it a lot. 

I mean after all we come from Australia which is about 90% desert so can’t complain about a few bare patches here and there in other countries.

Apparently there is one beach in Cyprus that has real sand – which they imported from somewhere. But the lack of sand doesn’t bother the punters who all sit on chairs anyway.

I was astonished by the number of people lying in the broiling sun getting burnt. Clearly there are many people who do not understand what the sun can do to skin.

In Australia we are trained about this from an early age but I guess people from Europe who go to Cyprus and other very hot places for holidays just don’t understand.

Anyway – Cate gets back on Friday but goes to the USA next week to visit head office in Peoria. I have decided not to go on this occasion as there is already too much excitement in my life.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The beaches are not up to much

This is what they call a beach in Cyprus

An interesting feature about Cyprus is that there are no street signs. We saw street signs only once – in a tiny little village. But in places like Limassol and Polis and Paphos and every other place we went there is nothing. Zip! Cate asked one of her colleagues – who lives in Cyprus – why this was so and he replied that they did not need street signs because they knew where the streets were.

I am surprised the bother naming the towns.

But we had our navigation system – which while being almost completely useless – did enable us to find our way around and prevented us from getting hopelessly lost.

But much guesswork was required because it did not have in it any of the villages or streets we wanted to find – not one.

We stayed at the Anassa resort in Polis and were out of our depth again. It was a resort for rich people – who as it turned out – were mainly fat Russians. Well – the men were fat and the women were very thin.

Cyprus has been invaded by the Russians and there are even local magazines devoted to the Russian population.  

It is a quite beautiful country and has lots of ancient ruins. We explored the Mosaics at Paphos - which are quite spectacular.

It was also very hot so we could not do too much – but we had a nice little holiday before Cate started work again.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The journey started badly

Because Cate was going to Cyprus for business  (for a week long meeting in fact) – and the trip is a long one – she gets to travel business class.

I travel economy when we are paying but on this occasion we were travelling on the same flight and Cate did not wished to be embarrassed by having me back in drudge class while she supped on Lark’s Tongues and Swan’s Kidneys in business class. So she suggested I upgrade online – which I did three days before the flight.

All was well at check in  but when we came to board my boarding pass was rejected so we had to see brusque boarding man (BBM). He farnarkled for 10 minutes and then said that there had been a mistake and that I was in fact in economy class.

Protests of upgrading elicited no sympathy and then BBM turned into Rude Boarding Man (RBM). He said that he was closing the flight and I could either travel economy class or not at all.

I accepted my fate but when I got on board I thought ‘how will they know?’ so stayed in business class with Cate.

Hah! RBM had outguessed me. He contacted the plane and told them to watch out for the interloper.

So I was then asked by the flight attendant to leave business class and go back to where I belonged – in the bilges.

Normally I would have done this – but I remembered I actually had an email confirmation from Austrian Airlines of my upgrade. I produced my laptop – opened the email – showed it to the flight attendant and stayed put!

Reinforcements were called for. A phalanx of Austrian Airlines personnel arrived. This included RBM, his supervisor and a security guard. He was the one who was going to escort me off the plane into a police cell.

Cate saw that I was floundering so she took over and moved into ‘death stare’ mode and dealt with the officious supervisor (OS).

OS was initially flummoxed by the email and much discussion ensued. Finally she said – ‘but you don’t have a confirmation’ at which stage Cate asked OS if she had read the email - and in particular the wording ‘confirmation of upgrade’.

This stopped OS in  her tracks – and a look of horror crept over the visage of RBM – perhaps he was not going to win after all!

Phone calls were made. To whom we wonder? The President of Austrian Airlines? Angela Merkel?

Eventually OS grudgingly conceded defeat. Muttering about seeing if they had enough meals on board she swept off with her entourage – and the shattered RBM – whose entire day had been ruined by the victory of a client over the airline – a very rare event indeed.

At this stage the plane was 25 minutes late. The pilot apologized for this – but fortunately did not name me as the culprit.

But they got some revenge when I came home. I had a seat without a window so that I could not look at the clouds.

And Cyprus? I will tell you about that later.

PS: ESB I replied to your email but it was returned unopened. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Things are more relaxed here

Broome Western Australia

Things are a bit more relaxed around here now that I don’t have to worry about a move – and all the gruesome stuff that entails.

Still – I would be better at it this time. Our move from Sydney to Vienna was a bit of a shambles – particularly in the packing of boxes. Because we were moved by Ducky Pharma we had a team of removal people who came in and packed for us.

This sounds like a good idea.  It is not the same as packing yourself and is easier at the time  - but much more difficult later – i.e. when the stuff arrives.

See - when you pack you do it with unpacking in mind and you have a clear picture of where things go. You also pack similar things together. And you label the boxes with what’s in them.

Packing men are not like this. Their objective is to fill the boxes as quickly as possible with whatever they can reach. As I expounded upon in this blog.

So we are are spared this – at least for now – but I guess we will have to move again some day.

In the meantime we are going to Cyprus tomorrow so will have a bit of a celebration when we are there.

Japanese cemetery Broome
I hear that they have some nice clouds in Cyprus so I will try to blog  - and include photos. 

My last cloud photo in this series was taken in Broome, Western Australia in 2006.

This is the day we went to the Japanese cemetery. It was more than  40° - and I was reminded of it when we went to Dubai and were stunned by the immense heat that fries you to a crisp as soon as you emerge into the sunlight.  

Monday, June 11, 2012


Cumbria January 2011

Following on my recent fascination with clouds.

For many months now we have had a cloud hanging over us. There was a restructure in Ducky Pharma and there was a suggestion that we should go and live in Dubai.

Indeed we went to Dubai to have a look.

It is a bit like Vienna except it is a bit hotter.

As far as I can see there are no Ducks.

So after all the toing and froing it has been decided that we will stay in Vienna.

Leaping Lizards – are we pleased about this!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Jubilee in clouds

I am now in full cloud photography mode and this is my latest contribution.

It has been cloudy and rainy all week so there is not much else going on in the sky – but I will keep my eyes peeled.

With a little imagination I think this latest photo is a perfect representation of the Queen’s Jubilee celebration. You can just make out the boats - and the horses are clearly discernible. 

But I do have a vivid imagination. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I am happy with my Queen

I have of course been enthralled by the celebrations for my Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and did in fact watch quite a bit of it – on the basis that there is not much else to do here at the moment with Cate being away.

When she is here I am kept pretty busy with chores and the getting of meals and coffee and such like stuff. So when she is not here I tend to sit and read or watch Golf – which she hates.

However – I found the Jubilee celebrations fascinating. There is clearly no mood in Britain for a Republic and they dressed up and turned out in droves to celebrate the occasion. Which of course is appropriate – what is the point of having a Queen unless you can dress up and wave flags at her every now and then.

There was – of course – an immense amount of grovelling and curtseying. I would expect the same had I been born into the Windsor family.

There is a strong Republican movement in Australia – and indeed there were some who thought the current Labor government would move towards that.

The majority of Australians want a republic – we voted on it some years ago – but the then Prime Minister – the villainous John Howard – outmanoeuvred the Republicans – who could not decide between a President elected by Parliament or a President elected by the people.

In the latter case it would be the latest winner of Australian Idol and in the former case we could end up with a failed politician. 

I am perfectly happy with my Queen. Sure we don’t have much contact – but she is perfectly harmless – has no real power – and draws tourists to London like bees to a honeypot. And – since she started paying taxes – costs the Brits almost nothing.

She rarely visits Australia and I have only seen her once in the flesh. This was on 5 March, 1954 when she visited Victoria and I was taken on a train - with many other school children - to Echuca where we awaited patiently – waving flags – until she and the Duke drove past.

But that was enough.

I am content to know that she is there and spends every waking moment on the job - thinking of the welfare of her subjects.

What more could one ask of a Monarch.

Monday, June 4, 2012

My first contribution is the Bunny

Bunny at Belvedere

Cate is safely ensconced in  Shanghai in her hotel and her room overlooks the Yangtze river. She says Shanghai looks interesting but is polluted. No surprises there.

Before leaving she went through the first two boxes of books and there were few survivors. Naturally – seeing all these books for the first time in a long time – we want to read them all again – but just know this is not going to happen - so Cate is being absolutely ruthless.

I think that almost everything will go and we will be left with just Cate’s kindergarten crayon work, her high school text books – and all her university essays.

I have always been fascinated by clouds and cloud shapes and spend a lot of time gazing at them. I have now discovered that there is something called The Cloud Appreciation Society which has turned cloud gazing into an art form.

There are some fabulous photos on their website – and of course people specialise in taking photos of clouds that resemble things in the real world.

My first contribution is the Bunny. This was taken at Belvedere last week. Well you have to start somewhere!

Friday, June 1, 2012

We never get bored in Vienna

Cate is back home at last and doesn’t leave again until – oh – tomorrow morning when she goes to Shanghai.

She will be gone for a week this time and then after a little while at home we get to go to Cyprus together.

I told you that I wanted to get a map of Cyprus for my Garmin car navigation system but baulked at the cost. Well – after giving it serious consideration I decided that it was something we should have.

The problem is that when we travel - Cate always drives – and this means that I am in charge of navigation. I am very bad indeed at this and am so bad at reading maps that I may as well take a cup with tea leaves.

The terrifying prospect of me trying to read maps while Cate shouts ‘which way?’ at me while she hammers along at full tilt finally convinced me that it was a worthwhile investment.

It will be more relaxing for all of us.

There has been quite a bit happening in Austria during the last week so I thought I should give you some highlights from the Austrian Independent:

A man fell into a ravine while having a pee. The most interesting thing about this is that it took 28 rescuers to get him out. 28! Who counted them?

A woman bit a two year old child after a road rage incident. I simply cannot imagine this scene – but the Austrian Independent has thoughtfully provided me with a picture of some teeth so I can start the process.   

A man was killed by a toilet roll while riding his bike. This demonstrates that you should never cycle while carrying toilet rolls -  (I never shall) or should wear a bike helmet. This continues the long tradition of Austrians finding new and exciting ways to shuffle off the mortal coil.

This is just in one week. No wonder we never get bored in Vienna.