Saturday, September 29, 2007

Geelong vs Port Adelaide

This is going to be one of the rarest of posts from me; an account of my actually watching a sporting event. I can't quite say *enjoying* a sporting event though, in the end, it wasn't all that bad.

It was, of course, the Australian Football League Grand Final[^]. You may remember my account of an attempt to watch the 2005[^] Grand Final. That's been my usual feeling toward the game but this time around, with Heino here, it was a trifle different. Indeed, I wondered how he was going to survive being unable to catch the game live and almost his first question was whether one of the US sporting networks would carry the game. I feared not and a check of those channels included in the Cox Cable basic package proved I was right.

Google to the rescue; we found a pub in Scottsdale where the game would be shown live. I suppose I should have guessed Arizona would have an Australian Rules Football club, the Arizona Hawks[^] (they even have the same colours as the original Hawks, Hawthorn in Melbourne). We duly signed up and then fronted tonight to find an Australian woman outside checking names off a list and handing out complimentary drink tickets. Love that accent! She picked me as an Aussie even though I was wearing an aloha shirt (that may be the subject of a future post). I think the necktie with the Australian flag might have tipped her off!

Now I wouldn't want you to imagine this was an Australian style pub in Scottsdale; no sirree no, not that lucky. Nope, this was a British Pub and our hopes of Four'n'Twenty[^] meat pies were dashed. I even took along a new bottle of Rosella Tomato Sauce just in case they had managed pies (hoping for both pies *and* tomato sauce would be akin to hoping for world peace). They did have some very nice sausage rolls though and that almost made up for the paucity of pies.

The beer list was interesting and I had some 'Old Peculiar'[^] for no better reason than that the name appealed! Of course, I'd have gone for 'Old Bastard' if they'd had a beer by that name! Nice drop though, as I was driving, I had to limit myself to a mere two.

Thus to the game. A walkover. Geelong beat Port Adelaide 163 to 44 and Port never looked like winning. Me? I couldn't have cared less who won but Heino was on the Geelong side on the grounds that it was a Victorian team. Peculiar reasoning but there you have it. Perhaps he should have been drinking the beer instead of me!

Our entrance fee also included an entry each in the half time raffle. I half hoped it'd be a chook raffle[^] but alas, it was not to be. We won anyway; a dozen Coopers Original Pale Ale[^]. They're chilling nicely in the fridge as I write. That's better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Back in Phoenix

We've returned to Phoenix. It might have taken us a mere seven hours to get from Phoenix to Las Vegas, via the Hoover Dam[^], but it took us a lot longer to return.

We took the 'Dam Tour', as the guides will insist on calling it. The joke wears a trifle thin after a while but you can't help but admire their persistence with it. Methinks they enjoy the freedom to use a 'forbidden' word.

Boy, they do like their statistics. If I'd been fifteen I might have found the stats more interesting but as one grows older it's harder to be impressed by a long recitation of millions of tons of concrete. Hey, I have the evidence of my eyes and even I can see there's a lot of concrete there!

I was disappointed when comparing the tour as she is given in 2007 with the tour one sees in 711 Ocean Drive[^]; if the movie is any evidence (I'm not sure it is but those were less paranoid times) tourists in 1950 saw a lot more of the insides of the dam than we do now. Highly recommended nonetheless, if you're ever in the area.

When Heino and I planned this trip he was most careful to say 'you don't need to entertain me'. I even believe him. Nonetheless, when I go to Melbourne it really is true that he doesn't need to entertain me; having lived there for 48 years I know (or knew) the joint pretty well and have hundreds of places I want to go visit again.

Well, I know the theory but it ain't so easy to put it into practice. There also happen to be many well known landmarks and national parks and just plain amazing things to see here in Arizona. And a few not so well known but just as amazing things to see, both here and in Utah. Thus a side visit to Zion National Park[^]. My first time through there too.

From there to Flagstaff[^] for the night. We hadn't planned to spend the night in Flagstaff but for some reason the motels at Tuba City[^] (all two of em) were full up and we had to keep on going. Sometimes it helps to book ahead.

From Flagstaff we doubled back to the Grand Canyon. Now there's a hole in the ground! I don't care how many photos or travelogues you've seen of The Canyon, nothing can prepare you for the reality. I wanted to do the blindfold trick and guide Heino to the edge but neither Heino nor Sonya seemed inclined to play along. Spoilsports!

I record here that I had the best salad of my life at the El Tovar Hotel[^]. Blackened Pork and Spinach salad, with mandarins and toasted sesame seeds. Simply magnificent. I fear both Heino and Sonya are sick of hearing how good it was!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


So here we are, day two and a bit in Las Vegas. My second time here; Heino's first.

I can't tell if he stole the phrase from me or I stole it from him but he keeps referring to himself as 'this little black duck'! Thus last night, late, at the bar, over beer and wine, when the hooker managed eye contact and he had to wave her away, with the aforementioned phrase.

I haven't been anywhere near the Blackjack tables; having managed to actually come out ahead at a casino in Reno a couple of years ago I haven't dared go back. We have managed to lose a few dozen bucks on the slot machines though Sonya did win a hundred on our first night. Alas, that hundred has since disappeared back into the maw of the money making machinery!

Nonetheless, it's been a good time here. All you have to do is suspend any notions of good taste and you're in! We're at the Tropicana, the cheap seats, and let me tell you, it's so cheap they charge for the internet connection! This must be the last place left in North America where the hotels charge for internet access. Indeed, I'd become so used to the idea of tapping into the hotel-named unsecured wireless access point that it came as quite a shock when the only page I could get to required a credit card!

We're off to the show later this arvo; you can't come to Vegas and *not* go to a show. The one we chose (and don't tell Heino this, it's a surprise) is The Fab Four at Planet Hollywood. More his speed than mine I fear but he's been a Beatles fan for yonks and I'm sure he'll love it.

For the rest, it's been long rounds of tramping from one fantasycasino to the next. But once you get onto the gaming floor itself it's damn near impossible to tell one from another. They even sound exactly the same, with that low volume minor third chord they pump into the room to put you ever so slightly on edge. Very subtle. Even Crown Casino in Melbourne sounds exactly the same.

Friday, September 21, 2007

In transit

You'd have to be very new to reading my blog to be wondering at the title of this post. Yep, Heino is, as I write, somewhere over the South Pacific Ocean, speeding toward North America.

Fourteen or so hours until I greet him at Phoenix Airport with our immortal greeting of 'how's it hanging?'. Which one of us gets the greeting in first is always random. The one who has to respond replies 'all the way to the ground mate, and making furrows!'.

Ok, so that's a bit blokey!

It was really quite pathetic today at work. I'm about to take two weeks off, at long last, and I have no enthusiasm for starting the next project this week. Time enough for that a couple of weeks hence. I spent the time alternating between reading reviews of Sonic Home Studio 6 XL[^], reviews of the second movement of my first symphony (posted on another website but you'll get the URL of that website only by killing me; though they weren't bad reviews) and checking the airline website for Heino's flight status.

They were 26 minutes late out of Melbourne but made the time up at the Sydney stopover and so far seem to be on time.

We plan to keep the poor bastard awake tomorrow evening until a reasonable hour; gotta get him into the US time zone. Saturday we have nothing planned though methinks a lot of talk will ensue. Sunday we're off to Las Vegas. I may or may not write about Vegas; what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?

After that who knows? I'm still toying with the idea of a day trip to Tombstone.

Hmmm, can you tell I'm looking forward to this?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Do we really need to pass this new law???

The City of Phoenix passed a new law today, making it illegal to send text messages by phone whilst driving[^].

Are people really so stupid that a law needs to be passed forbidding an activity so obviously at odds with safe driving???

Apparently so, for earlier this evening, whilst driving home from the supermarket, I heard, on Gaydos at 7, none other than Gaydos* himself positing various instances in which the new law would be terribly unfair. For instance, what if he were driving along and decided to check his messages? Or call someone? To a cop it would appear that he was texting when in fact he wasn't. And then he suggested that he'd probably be speeding to make up the time wasted while he proved to the cop that he hadn't been texting! Ergo, his speeding fine was all the fault of the Phoenix City Council for passing such a law.

A little later and we're getting the whole 'erosion of rights' message followed by 'damn liberals and lefties' propoganda. At least I now know exactly where to classify Gaydos.

Nonetheless, it's an 'erosion of his rights' to require him to pay attention to the road when he's driving???

Sometimes I just don't get the logic of some people!

* that's his name according to the KTAR website.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Over there ---->

Second and third movements - still not complete. Lest you think the second is going to finish there, it ain't. It's going to wander back toward the opening ideas and then lead into the third movement.

Or another alternative I'm toying with - swap second and third movements. Lemme think about it!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Word, dude

Let's see how well I can convey this in words.

Andrew has been showing signs of a 'gothic' outlook on life of late. You know the deal; 'woe is me and life sucks'. I've been there, done that, not a lot of fun. Much better to assume action on the surface of the planet is preferable to inaction a few feet below the surface.

So I thought I'd push him a little. 'life sucks just how?'. 'Well, you know, it's like, you have to do things'. I fear I didn't manage to keep a straight face at that. Then he crowned it by saying he was being a 'realist'.

He also informed me that they're not 'goths' anymore. It seems they're 'emos' which I assume means emotionals.

Now I'll admit I have not a lot of knowledge of child raising. Nonetheless, I could see it was time for drastic action. So I stood up, held my hands in the 'gangsta' pose (thumbs up, index and middle fingers together and straight out, remaining fingers tucked into the palm. Then you hike your elbows up and out so that the index and middle fingers point at each other). Then, apparently, you say 'word, dude'. Some kind of magical incantation that youth understands and we old farts do not. We had em in our day too. Anyone remember 'groovy' or 'make love, not war'?

It got half a smile and we talked about the transience of life and pain.

At the office the next day, over a smoke, I mentioned it and Darren pointed out that I'd left out the most important part of the whole thing. After saying 'word, dude' I should cross my arms across my chest, lean backward and to one side and nod knowingly. I practised it, much to his amusement!

That night at dinner, when Andrew was indulging in his doom and gloom, I stood up and did the entire performance. I thought Sonya would never stop laughing! Andrew merely dignified it with a raised eyebrow but I could see a smile, fiercely resisted, hovering on his lips.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Magpies milk

I've mentioned home delivery of milk[^] before.

When we moved to St. Albans, a Melbourne suburb, at the end of 1966, we lived in one of three houses huddled together in a little group; the next nearest house a mile or so away. At the time St. Albans was a 'new' suburb, though I note that parts of central St. Albans date back to at least the 1930s.

Isolated as we were we still got the daily milk delivery and it didn't take long to notice that the miserable bastard living next door had a thing about his milk. If a magpie had happened to peck out the tinfoil cap and helped itself to the cream he'd pour the milk away in a fit of anger. Never failed!

I'm sure you can guess what came next. Uh huh. In those days I was usually awake at dawn (the legacy of parental notions that 13 year olds ought to be in bed by 9:00). I can just imagine what would happen if we tried to enforce any such rule on Andrew. It's hard enough to endure the wailing and gnashing of teeth when we enforce a 10:30 room curfew on school nights!

Thus I was usually awake at about the time the milko came by. I'm not sure, at this distant remove, whether it might not have been the rattling of bottles in their crates that awoke me. Then a stealthy operation, sneaking out of the house, penknife in hand, to stab a hole or two in the tinfoil cap and, an hour or two later, the joy of driving my neighbour into a frenzy as he poured away yet another bottle of milk.

What a bastard I was.

It seemed to take him forever to notice the forensic evidence though I suspect that's because we're talking forty years ago and a kids sense of time. I certainly remember it as being months though I suspect it was no more than a couple of weeks, before he realised that those holes in his milk bottle caps looked like they'd been made by a knife.

He had no kids, the neighbours on our other side (we were the middle house) had no kids, so it probably took nanoseconds for him to realise who the culprit was. Thus the trap was set. Out I crept, one cold dark morning, penknife in hand. I still remember the horror I felt as the dark shape rose from behind the fence and a bony hand grabbed my ear. Cunning bastard waited until I had that damn milk bottle in my hand before pouncing! No chance of a denial of ill intent!

Let's not go into more detail of that frozen minute than is necessary to say that sitting on a hard chair at school that day was a trial!

And did my folks feel the need to run to the cops about him? To the best of my knowledge they still don't know about the incident. I certainly wasn't going to drop myself into it by complaining that our neighbour had kicked my backside! Experience told me they'd want a reason and would probably consider I'd got my just desserts.

I had, too!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Strangely enough

I've never thought of myself as the schoolgirl type but obviously Kathy at work sees me that way. How else explain her comment at the end of an email she sent today 'only 9 sleeps to go until your mate gets here!'. Well yeah, I've been counting down the days until Heino gets here, and yes, it is only 9 days away, but really! I think the last time I got so obsessed with something that I was thinking of it in terms of numbers of sleeps was the occasion of my last visit to Australia.

Come to think of it, maybe Kathy has a point. After all, I was staying at Heinos!

Heino works as a teacher and consequently gets far more days off work than I do (I've only just reached the point where I get three lousy weeks a year annual leave). However, in his situation he can't just arbitrarily pick a date for his leave; he has to fit in with the teaching schedule. Hence our picking late September as coinciding with his break schedule and being a cooler time of the year. I can't say I blame him for not wanting to come here in early July when the temperature soars to 115 every day, especially as he'd be coming from winter.

How then do I break it to him that it's hotter than usual this close to his arrival? We're still hitting 106 or 108 every day and I can't see it cooling off all that fast. At the time of writing, 11:15 PM, it's still 95! Nah, bugger it, I'll just brazen it out and tell him he's imagining it. He'll believe me too! (Not bloody likely).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

So much for being a model citizen

We had local elections in Phoenix today. We're located within the City of Phoenix though we have the Scottsdale postcode and never miss the opportunity to say we're in Scottsdale. But I can't lie to you lot!

September 11th seemed like a strange date for the election, though not for the obvious reason. It's just that we outside the US get so used to the idea that the yanks have elections on the first Tuesday in November. And not just those outside the US. My wife, she of half a century or so of living in the US asked me, he of less than half a decade of living in the US, why the election was today rather than in November. I had no idea.

A couple of weeks ago I told Sonya I'd vote on the way to the office and promptly forgot all about it. I'm blaming the date. Sonya rang me at the office to remind me, having gained a great deal of satisfaction, as she signed the register, at seeing that I had obviously not yet voted! It's the small things methinks.

How shameful that I could forget an election!

I suspect I would have remembered though, on the way home, as the radio blared countless repeats of the Steve Lory for Mayor ad. How curious it all was to hear radio ads for the election on the day of the election itself. Back in Australia it used to be the case that there was an electronic media blackout two days before the election; it probably still is the case though I'm not sure. I have to tell you, I always thought of the blackout as a blessed relief. One can only stomach so many political ads, especially when one has already decided which way to vote.

Thus I stopped at the polling place on the way home. They close the polls at 7 PM here else I wouldn't have made it. Being that it was just past 6 PM and this is an election I expected a queue. You can imagine my shock when I walked in and beheld twelve cardboard booths, four election volunteers sitting along a table against one wall, one election volunteer guarding the ballot box, and no one else! Not one single voter!

I couldn't resist. 'So this is democracy at work, huh?' I said.

At least they laughed.

I now have two I voted today[^] stickers on my computer monitor!


My wife and I did something we rarely do together and after tonight I can see why. Our tastes in films are wildly different but sometimes one gives.

Thus tonights movie, Flyboys[^]. Quite possibly one of the worst movies I've ever seen and I don't say that lightly, not when one considers Steven Spielbergs ouvre! By the time we reached the fourth or fifth false climax (the one where the zeppelin is flying toward Paris) I was beginning to believe the movie would *never* end.

But, as I said when it was finally over, 'you know, I need to see a movie like that every so often; it makes me realise just how good the movies were fifty years ago'.

And on that note I finished the evening with this[^]. Really, it surprises me we're still married!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

On the dangers of smoking

The last 24 hours haven't really been kind to me.

It all started yesterday evening outside the hotel in Houston. As I noted earlier in the week, it's a non-smoking hotel and they have a sign prominently displayed in the room advising of a $250 charge for 'room renewal' if they catch us smoking. Dunno about you but I've got better things to spend $250 on, so I wore out their lift (elevator) going outside for a smoke.

Coming back in from one of those excursions I managed to slip on the grass and fell rather heavily on my side. Took the full force right where the ribs end and the abdomen commences. It knocked all the breath out of me and hurt like hell. At first I thought, going by the level of pain, that I must have fractured a rib; now I don't think so. I'm a stubborn bastard; I have to be at deaths door before I'll go see a quack. The thought did go through my head that yesterday was a most apposite day for my death if it had to happen so soon; being the 47th anniversary of my fathers death.

A day later and it only twinges now and then.

Today at the customers site I took the opportunity to slip outside for a smoke. They have a structure reminiscent of a car port off to one side of the grounds, with some wooden benches and lots of ashtrays. Parenthetically I'll note that the politically correct attempt to make us feel like pariahs isn't working; I get a nice walk in the sun and a smoke out of it.

So down I sit, stretch out, hand on the back of the bench and enjoy that smoke! A minute or two later my hand feels like it's on fire and it's not from the ciggy. Nope, a fire ant got me! Little bastard! Fortunately it didn't last long and it was a curious sensation though not one I care to repeat.

After that it's been almost an anti-climax to get through the rest of the day without any further mishaps.

So you see, smoking can be dangerous to your health!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Giving as good as they get

It's taken my wife almost five years but she's finally caught on!

All last weekend I never let pass the opportunity to remind Andrew that I'd be eating ribs and suchlike here in Houston whilst he'd be subsisting on the normal pedestrian fare we eat at home. Which isn't to say that my wife is a slouch at cooking; she does quite well on our budget. Unfortunately for her and Andrew I'm a picky bastard; I can't handle 'sloppy joes' or Lasagne. The first because they're just... vile! The second because as a general rule I'm not on for anything containing cooked tomatoes. Like I said, I'm a picky bastard.

Sonya has gotten into the habit, when I'm away, of dishing up all the kinds of meals I turn my nose up at. It's not quite as bad as it sounds but we have a well established rule; I won't lie and say something was good if it wasn't. That way lies a year of having it served up, with the secret dread as I drive home that tonight will be 'the night' followed by the shamefaced confession that I find it dreadful. Followed by the inevitable question 'well, why didn't you say??'. I'm sure you can see where that goes...

So there I was last weekend, smugly imagining that I'd be eating high on the hog, on the company dollar what's more, while they consumed Lasagne.

My side was fulfilled; ribs Tuesday night, excellent seafood last night, brisket tonight. But they got me good and proper! When I rang home Tuesday night the call happened to be during dinner. And they were having ribs! I could see the silly grin on Andrews face as Sonya told me. And they assured me they were excellent ribs!

Methinks she's finally figured out how I tick. Now I have to change to keep one step ahead. You really wouldn't be dead for quids would you?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I really need to pay more attention

to what I read. Or, failing that, to how I repeat it. I happened to notice a large sticker pasted over the back of someones truck. 'Sucking gas, hauling ass'.

That's what I saw. What I said, when repeating it, amused, was 'Sucking ass, hauling grass'.

Fortunately the owner of said truck took the spoonerism in his stride; I fear I have achieved a dubious celebrity.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

So this is Houston

Yeah, I know, it would have been kewler to use some smartarse title like 'Houston, we have a problem' and then go on to invent one just so's I'd have something to write about. But as I don't have a problem that'd be just plain silly wouldn't it?

From all of which you'll have worked out that I'm in Houston tonight. Actually I'll be here until Friday. Though I've now been to Texas many times this is the first time I've made it this far south in the state.

They warned me it'd be humid but I swear I wasn't prepared for the reality. This is the first time I've ever seen car windows fog up on the outside. Came as quite the shock when I went to wipe the mist off and it wasn't on my side!

I'm in a non-smoking hotel (not that I can blame that on Houston, it's the entire North American Marriot chain, may they rot in hell!) so whenever I nip out for a smoke my spectacles fog up! Five years of Phoenix and I'd completely forgotten ones spectacles could do such a thing!

The drive from the airport was interesting. I quite surprised myself by successfully navigating to the hotel without once looking at a map. Well, that's not *quite* true; I did check out the route last Friday at the office but, that done, I managed on the ground without any further jogs to the memory. Granted, it was an easy route to remember. JFK Expressway to Beltway 8 West, just keep driving down there to the 59 freeway exit and there I am! I was too! But that simple route hides a myriad of lane changes to make sure I stayed on Beltway 8. US freeway/tollway designers sure do like adding and subtracting lanes!

Dinner was ribs of course!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Hammurabi's apprentice

I've noted a few times over the three or so years I've been writing this blog that those teenagers unfortunate enough to have me 'in loco parentis' reckon I give em a hard time. Which I do, almost upon principle.

If one were to go by the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth heard here one might assume we had a torture palace on an unprecedented scale. Not that I blame them; I'd hate to have me as step-father too! I'm full of unreasonable demands such as cleaning ones plates after eating; putting ones stuff in ones own room rather than leaving it where it falls and, the big killer, doing ones homework.

Andrew, thinking to be a smartarse, wrote the following and printed it, complete with pretty border, leaving it where I could not fail to find it. There's hope for the boy yet!

Hammurabi Laws

I. If the dishes are not cleaned then must be immediately cleaned or be put to death.

II. Every month cars must be washed if not washed then must have good reason and can be done another day. If not done another day will pay by not being able to play online games-.-

III. Room will be clean by every weekend if not clean can not hang out with friends under any reason including weekdays..

IV. Homework will be done right after school to stop failing classes if not done after school then right after dinner no buts…..

V. Music will not be played loud when someone is home, ok when not home, but not when someone is here or be put to death by Music of true death opera.

VI. After dinner I will do dishes to be fair (eye for eye) because they work I don’t have too Hahahah.

VII. I will do Extra credit for a better grade and not be flipping burgers or be put to death by summer school~.~

VIII. I will feed the Cats in the house or not be allowed to eat food or have to eat from cat bowl unless not home or have awesome reason why couldn’t (never is though).

IX. I will Clean my computer every 6months so doesn’t go bad by Lag or no longer working or pay by not being able to use computer tell I clean it.

X. Will try my best in school and at life so can do the best I can in life and have good life or be constantly reminded why my sisters do not do well and do you want to be like them..Ugh bummer.

All grammatical errors, mispellings, malaproprisms and sundry other errors are his!

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Stealing an idea from Colins Blog[^] I logged onto my Google Analytics account for the first time in probably a year.

I can't help feeling, with a personal blog such as mine, that one is a bit egotistical having an analytics account at all. I can see where they fit into the scheme of things if it's a money making concern; otherwise it's sheer hubris. On the other hand, show me someone who blogs without an ego and I'll show you a liar!

Of course Colin had a different motivation to mine; he actually wants to see what people are searching for so he can write stuff other people might want to read! What a concept!

Over the last month I've averaged 18 visits a day. I reckon, to be severely honest with myself, that I have to drop that to 16 a day because two a day are me, here at home and there at the office.

I got all of 30 visits on August 2, which I reckon is click through traffic from Codeproject[^] on account of this[^] post which I also posted over on CodeProject.

August 22nd was also a bumper day, with 29 visits, but I'm buggered if I can see any reason why!

The mix of countries of origin is quite interesting. The US shouldn't surprise with a grand total of 434 visits. They also average the longest time per visit. Perhaps they're slow readers? :-) Joke, Joyce!

The UK and Australia are neck and neck second though the Aussies visit more pages per visit.

For the rest, well, there's a total of 46 countries, many with a single visit. Perhaps I ought not to be surprised that the lone Peruvian, Russian and Morrocan didn't hang around! The lone Bulgarian was a fast reader though; s/he visited 3 pages in a mere 1 minute and 37 seconds!

Well all of that's just so much bumfluff.

What fascinated me was the search page results. The single highest search term that brought people to my blog was MET CUST WOM[^]. I reckon that must be a common idiom with UPS delivery people and it must have puzzled many others. I'm pretty sure my comment on it didn't enlighten em one little bit!

And the second highest search term? Adams Ribs[^]. Guess I'm not the only M*A*S*H fan out there!

I'm still puzzling over this one 'voskoboinikov melbourne'. To be sure I did once have a cat I called Voskoboinikov[^] which explains the hit but why on earth was anyone searching for a Voskoboinikov in Melbourne (different link)[^]? That'll be one of lifes little mysteries methinks!