Thursday, February 25, 2016

Getting cross

Australia has one of the highest standards of living in the world. We have a minimum wage of $17.29 per hour. People who work do not have to get food stamps just to survive.

We have universal health care. Everyone pays a percentage of their wage for health insurance. When they get sick they go to a doctor or a hospital. When they do they know that whatever else happens they will not get bankrupted by medical bills.

When people become unemployed they get unemployment benefits. These are not cut off after six months so that they have to live in cardboard boxes and forage in rubbish bins for food. Sure they have to look for work - but if it is not available they are not punished.

We believe that women (and not old white men) have the right to decide what they do with their bodies. We believe in the right of the individual to choose.

We indulge the religious - of all varieties. They are allowed to do what they want to as long as they don't bother us. We do not bother them.

We believe in the dignity of people and their right to a decent life in a civilised society. This is why we do not treat them like vermin because they cannot contribute as much as we can.

OMG is this (shudder) socialism.

No it is Australia!


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Back to the monkeys

There should be a special place hell for people who design telephone trees for companies in America. 

This would be way down the bottom where it is really hot - but there is a way out. They have a telephone and their task is too get through to the Hell ‘remission section’. The way to do this will be based on the telephone trees they designed. 

Good luck with that!

Hello this is Lucifer - thank you being a valued customer. No one is more important to us than you. Well - actually - almost everyone is more important than you but you know how we carry on. 

I’m sorry - all our associates are busy at the moment. Please hold on interminably while we play some really excruciating music which sounds a bit like six monkeys in a drum playing harmonicas as it rolls down the Rio Grande.

I’m sorry - we value your call - please hold on while Gayle goes to the loo to have a really good cry because she has had such a bad day when assholes like you who ring and bother her. There really are more important things in her life - you know. 

So every few minutes we are going to trick you by having a phone ringing and then someone answering and you will think ‘Than Christ - finally’ but then it will disappear into music again.

Every sixty seconds we will give you some promotional spiel in which you have no interest whatsoever. After an hour you will know the script better than we do. 

After you have waited a really long time someone will come on the line and after 15 seconds of you wittering hysterically they will say - I am sorry -  you need to speak to our “Wittering Client Activation Department’ and the line will go dead for a while - followed by monkeys with harmonicas. 

Eventually you will hang up. Or you will hang on so long that they will hang up. 

Or - and I know this is rare - you will speak to the nicest person in the world who will sympathize with you as your pour out your sorrows and will make so many promises it will make your eyes water. 

And when the call is finished he or she will hit ‘delete’ and you are gone forever.

Back to the monkeys. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Does he need the money?

This Harpy Eagle has just been told that Donald Trump may be President
My Internet is cactus again. 

My maximum download speed over the last three days has been 1.3 mbps. I am paying for 12 and rarely get better than 9. But the service has always been lousy - and I was told before I came here that the Internet was lousy - so I was not expecting much.

I thought I might change providers but the only other one possible in our area is Bright House - which on Google ratings seems to be struggling to get even 1 star. 

Most Bright House reviewers say it is the worst service in America - but I could argue with that. I have no idea why it has to be so bad here - but Australia is no better. 

But I had a nice online conversation with Conrad at AT & T who apologized a lot for the problems and said that he would send someone to fix it almost immediately. I think Conrad spends a lot of time apologizing. 

But there are many other important things to worry about. 

Robert De Niro has just appeared in a film called “Dirty Grandpa”. This has been rated by Rotten Tomatoes  as one of the worst films of all time - and got a one star rating. The critics consensus was:

Like a Werther's Original dropped down a sewer drain, Dirty Grandpa represents the careless fumbling of a classic talent that once brought pleasure to millions”.

(I think they mean ‘who’ instead of ‘that’ but I am being picky).

Now I know that they (those Hollywood people!) have to make films like this but what is the name of the Shrieking Puffins is Robert De Niro doing in it? 

He was a serious and brilliant actor. Nay - a towering giant of an actor - and for the last 10 years he has been appearing in some rare decent movies - interspersed with gruesome schlock. 

Meet the parents? Spare me. Does he need the money? 

I would be prepared to contribute to ‘go fund me’ if it would stop him from doing this rubbish. 

I mean I used to be ’the man’ and now I spend my time cleaning cat litter and picking up dog poo - but even I would never appear in a film called ‘Dirty Grandpa’. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

I am not doing this again

Awaiting restoration
Well I suggest that if you want to see Panama City you do not go through the airport. 

It was excruciatingly awful as we waited for two hours to get through immigration - where they fingerprinted and photographed us - and then x-rayed our bags. I am not  sure why they do this - and perhaps if the local Minister for Tourism responds to my letter I may find out. 

But then it is often like this in the USA and travelers just put up with it. But it was easy on the way out and we almost forgave them. 

Old Panama city is a bit like Roman ruins. Many of the old buildings have been gutted - and are awaiting restoration. But the ones that have been restored are quite wonderful and in 10 years time it will be an astonishing place. 

The new city is something of a shambles. There are many unoccupied buildings - and many that have been abandoned half completed - and we are talking very large buildings indeed. 

It is very hot and the taxis are very small. We went to the fish market where we were permitted to pay large sums of money for very average food while loudspeakers blasted the atmosphere with horrendous music. This is apparently what the locals like. I have discovered that in Mexico and South America the population likes very loud music non-stop - and particularly at meal times. 

We also had some very nice meals and heaps of wine.

We had one really bad meal - and it was our most expensive one - and were served by someone who could possibly have been a waiter - but may have been a drunk who wandered in off the street to get cool. He may have also been the one who was responsible for the meal as he disappeared for long periods. 

We decided that we like Panamanian coffee a lot but after an initial brush with Geisha coffee - which is extraordinarily expense - we decided that it tastes like diesel oil. But that may be because they pour hot water over the grounds rather than putting steam though them. At $9 per cup it clearly has something going for so we have brought a small bag home to give it another chance. 

We decided that we did not make the trip there excruciating enough - the getting up at 4:00 AM part - so on the way home we stopped overnight in Washington and got to the hotel at 12-ish and left at 6-ish. This was because when we got to Washington the last flight to Indianapolis had departed. 

I am not doing this again. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

I get carried away

Sometimes I get over excited about things.

I was getting to the end of the squirrel food so needed to buy some more. I buy this in 10 pound bags at Lowe’s - which has an apostrophe and I not sure why. But the last two times I looked they had none and I was getting desperate - I was down to my last 6 cobs .

I thought I may have to buy corn cobs from Amazon and I did not want to do this as they are very expensive and over-packaged. They come in colored boxes with pictures of corn cobs on the outside - and wrapped in plastic. The pictures do not look anything like the corn that is inside the box. The pictures show big fat golden corn cobs. What is in the box is a bunch of corn cobs that look like a family of squirrels lived in there with them

In desperation I looked again at Lowe’s website (see the apostrophe is OK there - oh wait should it be Lowe’s’) and they had 10 pound bags on special. And free delivery over $50. So I bought 60 pounds. Perhaps I overreacted.

Now that is a lot of corn but I think my squirrels are worth it because they give the cats hours and hours of - well I would not call it fun - but you know what I mean. Also Georgia likes to bark at them - in fact she likes to bark at everything.

She has gone to stay with Minnie and her dogs Rusty and Fiona. She likes this but does not get as many treats so comes home looking thinner and fitter. Minnie is a dog trainer and knows just how manipulative dogs can be. Well in fact so do I - but Georgia has such big brown eyes and uses them to excellent effect.

This morning we got up at 4:00 AM to catch a plane to Chicago and then to Panama City. There is also apparently a Panama in Florida - which I am sure would not be as hot as Panama City - and will have many fewer Zika bearing mosquitos.

I am writing this waiting for the plane to depart from Chicago. It is nearly 9:00 AM and I have not yet had anything to eat. We are leaving from terminal M - which is absolutely nowhere near the terminal at which we landed - so we had to go like the clappers to get here on time. It is a very long walk followed by a train ride followed by another long walk.





Monday, February 8, 2016

Can't wait

Georgia is frightened of this
Cate is in Osaka so I have been noodling around doing a few chores. 

I watched the Super Bowl yesterday and saw the Bronco’s defense murder the Panthers. It was nice to see Peyton with another Super Bowl - even though it should have been for the Colts. 

I did not watch the half time show because I think it is a load of old rubbish and for some reason I just cannot put up with that Beyonce person. There is something about her that I dislike intensely.

But she is very popular and perhaps it is just me.

On the other hand of course - while I love Coldplay - Chris Martin cannot sing - and has never been able to - so there is no point in watching him. 

Also I cannot forgive him for hooking up with Gwyneth Paltrow who is my least favorite actress in the known universe. I have not been able to watch her since I saw ‘Sliding Doors’ and she spoke with an awful English accent that sounded like she had stuffed her nose with kokosflocken and acted like she was wading blindfolded through maple syrup. 

But she is very popular and perhaps it is just me. 

Or perhaps I am looking at life with a jaundiced view today because at 7:30 this morning while I was resting peacefully - Georgia emptied the considerable contents of her stomach onto my pillow.

I took Georgia to the dog park on Friday and some asshole accused Georgia of attacking his dog. I do not believe this - but I took Georgia away. 

He was a stupid man and his dog was stupid too. It had a small head and a big body. I think it might have been psychologically disturbed. Maybe it had seen ‘Sliding Doors’ too. 

I think perhaps Georgia barked and frightened them both. She has a loud bark but as she is frightened of the cats and any burglar has nothing much to fear. 

This week we are going to Panama. I cannot really explain why but Cate wanted to have a weekend with her brother and sister-in-law who live in Washington DC. I was thinking maybe somewhere in New England but things got out of hand and - while we were at one stage looking at Cuba - we settled on Panama.

We will actually be traveling to and from Panama for longer than we will be there but we both love air travel so much it should be a blast. It is apparently one of the hottest places on the planet and is absolutely infested with the Zika virus. 

Fortunately there is absolutely nothing to see or do so you can spend all day in a  cold tub of water reading novels. 

Can’t wait. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Good luck with that

Serial bed eater!
After a valiant effort to stop Georgia eating her new bed we have given up. This is only because we cannot watch her 24 hours per day. When she goes quiet we sink into a state of bliss and forget that when she is quiet - something bad is happening. This rule always applies.

So far in the bed department it is Georgia 3 and us 0.

I am beginning to think that Georgia’s former minders gave her to us because she was eating their house.

But I am not to worried because I am now buying her beds from Costco and they are exceedingly cheap – and I am going to start buying them in six packs.

Cate is sick of our sheets and bedspread – which I have not changed since we got Georgia. Sure I have washed them but I have not changed them for replacement ones – because they are full of holes.

When Georgia is dozing off at night – or waking up in the morning – she likes to have a bit of a chew. Our bed linen looks like Swiss cheese. So if I put new ones on the bed she will chew these – and then we will be back where we started.

I have a bunch of brand new Jennifer Lopez sheets which we got from Kohl’s when we arrived. We bought Jennifer Lopez sheets because they were the only ones available.

I looked her up on the Internet. She sings and dances and designs things. I bet she did not spend too much time on these sheets. They are king size and brown. Even I could design a king size brown sheet. What sort of input would she have?

Hello it’s Jennifer – for my next set of brown sheets can I have them smothered in sequins?

I am so sorry Ms Lopez but if we put sequins on them no one will buy them.

So it’s just boring brown sheets again then?


I have finally finished the palaver for Cate’s US tax return. I will now sit and wait for the barrage of emails requesting new information. The amount of information that Uncle Sam wants about everything is just astonishing.

I just cannot wait for Ted Cruz to be elected so that we can do our taxes on a postcard. Or even Carly Fiorina who will reduce the taxation legislation to three pages.

Good luck with that!

Monday, February 1, 2016

There is probably a reason

I see that Starbucks and Spotify have an app that allows you to listen to the music being played in Starbucks – even when you are not in the store. 

Now I have waiting for an app like this for so long that it makes my teeth ache.

How many times have I been in a Starbucks store thinking – gee I wish I could listen to this music when I was not in Starbucks.

OK I admit that it has never crossed my mind but someone has been out there making an app the does not seem to meet an unfulfilled need – as it seems that most of them do not.

Or perhaps it is just me. Perhaps this will be the killer app of the decade. You see at some stage I am going to find that the world is passing me by.

To date I have kept up with technology and music – apart from Rap and Hip Hop which makes no sense to me at all. But sooner or later I am just going to scratch my head and say ‘young people today!’

Actually I have already done this with young black men who wear their jeans round their knees with their underpants exposed to the world.

Now this really has had me perplexed - not because of fashion – I mean goodness me some of the stuff that fashion designers come up with would stun a bunyip – but the practicality of it.

See - they have to walk by shuffling their feet 6 inches forward at a time. I mean how can you walk when your knees are tied together with jeans?

But I am sure there is a reason for this just as there is for Karl Lagerfeld to always wear sunglasses and gloves. I mean apart from the fact that he wants to look like a drink waiter in an up market bordello.