27 February 2006

Come and sing the ten year anniversary, I've made a media statement rag with me*

Amongst the analytical, sometimes vitriolic, sometimes hagiographic coverage of The Anniversary, there's been some movement at the station as the heirs apparent do a bit of jockeying. First it was Costello with the Islamic threat, then Abbott refuting it, and tonight it's Downer banging the terrorism drum again. Fight! Fight! Behind the bikesheds, now!

*With apologies to John Schuman and Redgum. Still, it scans.

twiddly twiddly twangle

Have just been giving the Maton a light workout. I love the sound of new strings and on a 12 string it's just magic. So the neighbours got some strumming and cat yowling which, if they were able to decipher, would have been interpreted as Hickory Wind and Dead Flowers with a bit of 4 Tops and some Dragon thrown in. Anonymous Chris will undoubtedly have a view on my song selection but - as stated - trying to identify the difference between them would have been fraught. When I picked the guitar up from the shop the bloke commented that it was a nice item and had I tried their Cole Clark 12? Fearing he was going to grab it off the wall and demand I give everyone a demo, I said no and had to admit that I'm a shit guitarist, I just like to own nice things if I can afford them. I'm in the process of becoming aspirational. Just sayin'.

26 February 2006

just stuff

Stuff 1: I'm just finishing off a stubbie of the exploding batch 6, which was a Cascade Spicy Ghost. Can't say I recognise too much of the description, not surprising given the hit-or-miss methods on home brewing as I practice it, but it's OK. Whether any of the remaining 4 bots survive for any visitors is a moot point. I've got to bre another batch soon anyway for the arrival of the theory.

Stuff 2: We are teetering on the brink of going all home theatrish. Not in a big way as we're really not movie people, but a slightly bigger TV would be good and LCD screens are coming down in price rapidly. We eventually bought a DVD recorder/player a few months ago, but as all the DVDs we have bought are music concerts, the old hi-fi setup is lacking a bit. Well what it lacks is the ability to decode surround sound and any tracks with specific technology (such as Seven Bridges Road on
Hell Freezes Over, which is recorded in DTS for some reason). My old gear is bottom end but mainly nice: Luxman amp and NAD CD. The speakers are shit Pioneers, bought in a hurry from Cashies when son was having a party and blew up my old KEFs that very afternoon. Although he and I have since replaced the tweeters and woofers with VIFA gear from Jaycar, they're still shit.

So, yesterday I'm out tootling around and I find myself near a good hi-fi place so in I go. Why is it that every time you audition Bose gear, they try to upsell you? Last time I was just about to buy some 301s to replace said shit Pioneers, but the salesman insisted we listen to the 501s first. Naturally there was no comparison. In the event we didn't buy on the day and then incurred some expense elsewhere that put speakers right off the agenda. Yesterday I said I was after entry level stuff but instead I got their top-of-the-line model: yeah, really nice but far more than we would ever consider spending.

Stuff 3: And finally, the
female offspring arrived home this morning after several months globe-trotting: the States, Sweden, UK, Thailand and Cambodia. It's OK for some! And as she travels with extraordinary quantities of gear (I could barely lift the rucksack), and then there's the snowboard bag stuffed with...er, stuff. It's where the flexible interior combinations of the chariot come in handy: lift out the hatchback tray, swing the rear seat squabs forward, slip the headrests out and then drop the backs of the seat and away we go. Swallows furniture, boxes and large bags with ease.

25 February 2006

why bother?

My weekend will be mostly taken up with caring for elderly relative, collecting various members of the family from the airport and the interminable battle to keep the quantity of dead leaves that decorate the yard and paths to under about 4 tons. So, just some quick comments (and yes, there will be no surprises):

  • several more acres of newsprint about the lying rodent today. He's been the most effective politician this country has ever seen. You won't get any argument from me on that. His loyalty is to the Liberal Party - as he often notes - not the nation. So we deserve what we get (well not me, I didn't vote for his up-yours-Jack party) and a few more years will give him time to subvert every institution of governance in the country.
  • Costello. Hah! How to make the unexceptional exceptional in the cause of self-promotion. Good luck, chump.
  • In the current upsurge in violence/murder/however you describe it in Iraq, I heard (admittedly in the background as I made dinner) George Bush stringing random words together, in middle of which, unlinked from any context, was "freedom". So far, on message. But he forgot 'liberty' and 'democracy'. The man's losing his touch. He, naturally, was immediately followed by that peculiar mix of whine and talking-to-a-small-child admonishment that signifies that the lying shit of our PM is communicating with his 'mob'. He similarly strung words together, in the middle of which was the unequivocal statement that it was all al-Qaeda's doing. On message. Good. But given the analysis I've been reading elsewhere, I'd say the statement is based more on hot air than facts.
  • Now, why can't we be nicer to each other. Tell you what. I'll be nicer to you. Because I admit I can't be to...(insert usual phrase here).

And that, you-who-I-was-talking-to-in-the-lift-yesterday, is what I meant by learning by doing in running a blog. It's harder than it looks.


I'd meant to link to some good articles about he-who-cannot-be-named-except-as-lying-rodent in yesterday's Daily Briefing. Including one I thought particularly incisive but now can't find which also identifies the undermining of national insitutions as his greatest 'success'. Gee, what a legacy. Thanks a bunch. And while the blood pressure's up, there is the lying shit beaming out from the front page of every paper in a carefully staged photo from Kirribilli. I guess it's just me who sees that as a deliberate 'up yours' to those taxpayers who know how wrong it is. Aaaahh, f**k it. Off to get some fish for din-dins. And some chardonnay, natch.

Thought after the afterthought

The fish for dinner worked remarkably well - best I've ever achieved I would say. It was washed down not with chardonnay but 3 stubbies of batch no 5 (which is flat but just about drinkable from the bottle) and a glass of dregs from a cask of red. No elites aorund here, no sirree.

And the part of elderly relative caring that I was dreading - the shower - went OK too. I have to say that nothing prepares you for that sort of occasion and it provokes all sorts of reflection.

23 February 2006

while there is beer there is hope

Oh frabjous day, callooh, calay! There are five bottles still left so unlikely that any more should explode now. It'll be interesting to see - well no, to taste - what they taste like. If they're really good, there's not much point in keeping so few for occasional visitors, eh?

And meanwhile, in a parallel Howard-hating universe, a few quite thoughtful articles today on the ten years of him we've had. About how the messages he sends out are received positively by many, but negatively by haters like me.

And some reference to the extraordinary good luck his government has had during a period of global growth (yeah yeah, I remember 1997) and the contribution made by Labor's previous economic reforms. Now there's a damn good story well told that you couldn't sell at any price.

22 February 2006

meanwhile, in non Howard-hating news...

Last time I looked, I had 5 bottles of Spicy Ghost left. That was a few days ago. I hope at least one survives so I can test it.

I've put the Maton in for a check and, being exceptionally lazy, a restring. I used to do my old Yamaha - also a 12-string - myself, but thought I'd get the good one done professionally. Only had to take out a small loan to pay for the strings.

The model car collection has expanded quite a bit and now that the digital camera is back in action, I'll photograph them all and do a small series on each. I've still got about 6 or 8 to get, mainly the boring-as-batshit Jap cars I've over the years including such stupendous examples of the carmakers' art as the Mazda 323, the Datsun 1200 and 180B and Toyotas Crown and Corolla. Might also have to bite the bullet and order the Mk1 Triumph 2000 which I can only get in handmade white metal from the UK. Costs more than the real one did when I bought it in 1970, almost.

The really bad news is that I'll miss out on the coffee catch up with Ms Harmony, Mr Infrastructure and Mr Unguarded Moment tomorrow. Ms Used-to-be-an-RSM is, like me, otherwise engaged.

The really good news is that I scored a "hee hee, great blog name" on Larvatus Prodeo the other night. Well done me!

21 February 2006

*like mowing the lawn with nail clippers

Today's Canberra Times cartoon (really, why don't you check it out yourself each day Tuesday to Friday when Pryor is drawing) sums up the AWB situation (memo ABC: it's not a scandal, stop being so leftish) perfectly. It was a PM being exceptionally careful with his words tonight on the news. Enough evidence, for those of us inclined to take it as such, that he's lying through his teeth being economical with the truth. Again.

*There is a metaphor that better sums upthis situation but for the life of me I can't think what it is.

17 February 2006

Clancy of Kirribilli

This is just brilliant. Via Barista.

More later this weekend. After I've vacuumed up the rest of the glass......

Much later that weekend...well I did a final cleanup on the brewing area. But I'd moved the remaining dozen into the downstairs toilet on the assumption it would be easier to clean, being tiled and all. Hmmmm..not really. Wifey went to use the same toilet on Saturday night and wondered, why is the door scratching the floor...and what's that smell? That would be another 6 bottles. And I heard one just a few minutes ago - a bit muffled because I'd put the remaining half doz in a box, to minimise flying shards of glass. A bit.

And I don't really have much else to talk about. There's a very deep and meaningful going on over at Armaniac's about the comparative breeding rates of Muslims and anglo Australians/French/Europeans. All backed up by conflicting stats (lies, damned lies and statistics, etc). It seems to me that the current hysteria is over-informed by recent events and a more sober assessment over the long term would yield different outcomes. Policy decisions do need to be made at a point in time - the hope we place in our elected representatives is that they take that long view.

As for Minister Abbot's fall-back feelgood proposal - cop it sweet, sunshine, and get out of our faces. For a party that is always condemning the left for social engineering, they seem awfully content to do it themselves.

15 February 2006

cogito, ergo blogabo

Actually, Latin was the only class I was ever ejected from. Long story...

For pretty much the whole several weeks that vvb has been in existence, I've thinking about what I've been saying here. About the Federal, or Australian, or Commonwealth Government. Universally known as the Howard government for blindingly obvious reasons. You've figured out how much I loathe 'em. Point is, what good does it do for me to repeat it here. It's not as if it makes me feel any better any more. Which is also why I turn off the news now because of the automatic reaction I have to certain voices. They're in my head: "We're in power. We always will be. We were born to rule but that doesn't matter any more because we have - in ten short years - subverted all the instruments of government that took decades - centuries - to perfect. You won't ever find us out. Ya boo sucks, you effete latte-sipper."

In a sort of self-justification sense, I can rationalise that I'm bearing witness, but not to too many people. So maybe I'll give that theme a break for a while. I really don't know. I do need to get more active in other ways. I'm not a party member and have good reasons not to be so it's some other form of civic action I guess.

Wifey and I marched against the war. That did a lot of no good, eh? Well done us.

End of first position reflection. Just had to post something. Done.

And I don't drink lattes.

A little later. Went a blew off a little steam on the guitar. But the last few weeks I've had really painful fingers which the household resident medical expert says is arthritis. In which case the new (ish) guitar won't ever be getting too much more exercise. And it needs new strings. Now I've made myself all sad again. Bummer.

14 February 2006

alternate title

No, not this alternate title.

I was thinking of titles for this post, including:
  • the final countdown;
  • apres moi le deluge; or maybe
  • try to catch the deluge in a paper cup.
You certainly can't catch the deluge of about 50 broken bottles in a paper up or a plastic bag or even 3 plastic bags inside each other. Twelve brave soldiers remained and I look forward to the visit of Atomic Theory or anonymous Chris so we can try them. Although I might have to try one myself first. Just to check that it's OK to share. And then test another one. For quality control, you understand.

13 February 2006

key question: "Nursie, where is my pill?"

Public servants gagged from speaking at Senate Estimates. Scientists gagged from speaking on climate change. Don't have links on these, they were just on the ABC news and hence suspect I guess - I do subscribe to the Australian but I really should pay it more attention than I do.

I just despair (don't want to use the word hate) - what this corrupt criminal mendacious lying pack of bastards - otherwise known as the government - is doing to our accepted notion of representative democracy and good government (much as I think that is a wanky term). Bloody Kim's up there waving his arms about and enunciating like a champion but none of it hits home (mind you the PM's arrogant, dismissive demeanour means nothing will ever make a mark) and Kim only sounds like a high school debater.

I'm so angry, I really should change my key question in the tagline from "why can't we be nicer to each other" to "what will it take to rid this wonderful country of this corrupt criminal mendacious pack of lying bastards?"

Time for my pill. Nursie??

new measures of success...

The sound of exploding beer bottles downstairs. Looks like brew 6 was in fact OK and I may well have bottled a day early. Will need to wait and see whether they all blow or only some. Have had three go off in the last half hour.

Update: have been out for a couple of hours looking at nursing hostels (long story). Three more bots have gone off in the 10 minutes I've been back. Not game to go downstairs - the last time I did I suffered cuts to arms and legs when a bottle went off in front of me. I reckon there will soon be 20 litres of beer sloshing around down there, all mixed in with broken glass.

Another update: after having gone downstairs in full protective gear: nine bottles standing out of the 55-odd I filled. What a waste!

12 February 2006

happy Sunday

Had a good night's sleep. Coffee and morning paper on the verandah. It's raining at last. Went out and picked up another model for the collection. Came home. Welcomed by cat. Read this. Not a surprise at all - far from it - just depressing.

11 February 2006

do I have to do everything around here myself?

You useless buggers. I can only assume that your lives contain more useful things for you to do than mine.

Anyway I was having a think about the last post (NB: not the
Last Post) and suggest this as analysis and/or basis for any conversation that may - or more likely may not, at least hereabouts - occur. It goes like this:

  1. when we all kicked off (2004) we wondered why it was us, not the exec level - didn't we?
  2. Ms Harmony's bolter of an idea was aimed at the exec level;
  3. as conceived, it would certainly be a great piece of fun with the potential to actually have some beneficial outcomes on any exec selected for the exercise;
  4. but if you look at who we discussed would be good candidates, I think you can draw a direct line to my "those who deserve a boot up the date" comment - or is this way too harsh?
  5. if valid, though, it takes us back to square 1: there were candidates in the exec who were recognised as needing change but that was too difficult, so instead a whole bunch of us got a paid introspective examination and outlook rectification - for which we are grateful of course;
  6. I am genuinely sorry ashamed that my initial response was a quick listing of the impediments, because that is very prehistoric (ie the history that started in 2004) thinking - but I'll need to keep my black hat and argue them out with you because the black hat says they're valid. Which is its job, after all.

So who's yellow?

09 February 2006

A short story of ambition and redemption

Here's a short story about a few friends catching up. Who do we have? "Ms Harmony" who's been letting a bolter of an idea rest in her subconscious for the last year or so and then lets it loose in the middle of a previously unstructured discussion. First uncharitable response? "What are all the reasons why this won't work?"

Mr "Infra
Structure" - he sure likes his structure and likes a definable objective. Can he define an objective in one word and get sign-on? What is everyone else thinking? Surely we've learnt to read each other's mind by now?

Mr "Unguarded Moment" (particularly if Floyd had done it rather than the Church, but you can't have everything). Sits quietly for most of the time and then chimes in with the bits of the puzzle that we need. And finally, Ms "I used to be an RSM but now I'm more of a listener." How can we get it to work, she says?

It's hard to describe how fulfilling it is to catch up with people with whom you've shared some fantastic experiences, hopes and dreams - most of which have been crushed, died of exposure or faded under the burden of daily ephemera - but who still harbour the desire to still influence (aaargh - we forgot to discuss influence!) and bring about some changes.

What are the changes? Well, we could start with the "objective" I suppose. I understand the need for one and the contribution "one word" could make, but our history is that "one word" - or 3 in the last case - aren't an objective but a proxy? Are you following me? The Learning Organisation was a fine metaphor, but let me propose this: what we meant was "a good boot up the date to those who need it." Which is why today's bolter of an idea got such an enthusiastic reeception (despite the myriad - political - impediments that I quickly envisioned). But these impediments are the assumptions, aren't they? So can we analyse them and so find ways around? Not tonight - not now - but let me hear from you.


more on the awb

Just a quick post while the potatoes are cooking. It's hard to find a good 'leftish' economics writer (the honourable Prof Quiggin aside) but I've liked Kenneth Davidson's writings for a while and today's is a ripper. Clear, concise, well argued and only brings out the mythos and pathos at the end. A beaut.

The news on in the background, Andrew Lindberg has resigned and it seems as if Bill Heffernan is doing some mischief - all the blame lies with unaccountable bodies. They're
everywhere these days.

More later.

08 February 2006

thinking out loud

Crikey.com.au today confirms my perceptions that the opposition failed to lay a glove on the government on the AWB inquiry. Two rabbits caught in the headlights and one rodent moving in the general direction of away, and not a sausage, to mix a metaphor. Let's hope the inquiry itself is able to do a bottom of the harbour and reveal that which it was designed to conceal.

Cartoons: a view seems to be emerging that the furore is politically inspired and designed to protect and enhance (eeugh word) various authoritarian governments in the middle east. I suppose I should have come to this conclusion myself, but you don't always, do you?

Heffernan: most analysis seems to reflect my view - I feel empowered, not to say vindicated, as indeed I do on AWB - but it doesn't help, really. Not a hanging matter. Nothing is any more. Paddington Bear would now be identified by sniffer dogs and escorted to the VIP room for priority processing.

Now, from recent conversations a few of you - I know who you are - are dropping by this site, for which I am extraordinarily appreciative. I will be even more appreciative if you'd leave something - a dropping if you will - as acknowledgement of the substantial levels of intellectual effort that goes into my thinking out loud. I'd love to be contradicted, even. So, leave your
assumptions (on second thoughts, your assumptions are necessary, but not sufficient) and misgivings behind and dive in. The water's lovely.

07 February 2006

wherever I hang my hat...

...is a hatpost. So here's one for those who feel inclined to hang a few comments (I'm looking at whoever I had coffee with this arvo...you know who you are...)

Bill Heffernan. He's the PM's shotgun so he gets to do stuff that,
in the public's impression, comes naturally and get away with it. Can anyone suggest why he should get away with it in view of the PM's injunction to us all to be more civil? And a story on one of the 6.30 shock horror shows the other night about bullying at school?

Cartoon furore. Lives lost. People who would
normally swing one way suddenly find they have reached a tipping point (see the letter from James Collette). How do we demonstrate tolerance in a firm, "no more, these are our principles", kind of way (true to being wishy washy I am not going to posit an answer but by the same token, apart from extremists on both sides, I haven't seen one anyway amongst the substantial amount of commentary and analysis I've read on the issue).

AWB: it doesn't resonate with the man in the street (sorry, can't remember where the link was) but in a representative democracy, it is up to the elected opposition to identify the ground and take the fight up. But I was listening to the Beazer on the radio, confected outrage expressed in beautifully rounded syllables, and I thought "you sound fake. It's just a game to you, why don't you just tell it like it is - this pack of criminals is up their necks in it and if they aren't,
they're incompetent. Can't you make it stick?" Surely there's a just a teensy-weensy little shred of the Westminster system left? Ministerial responsibility? Anyone?

01 February 2006


The specific gravity had moved again tonight so the question was whether to bottle (now been 3 days) or let it go another day. I eventually decided to bottle on the basis that if it stopped and I had air getting in, it might spoil. I was heartened in a sort of way when it proved very frothy and thus hard to bottle. In fact I had to apply a little kanban to my process and let each bottle sit a bit in a two stage bottling process. Eventually got through it all, obviously this wrinkle added a little to the time it took. So imagine my dismay/despair/another more base emotion when I came to clean up and discovered no tell-tale ring of froth/scum around the lip inside. As has always been there before and as is supposed to be there. So now it's a two week wait to see whether the product is actually beer or not. Just bizarre.

And for added pressure, I have had very unsubtle threats from
here and here:-) that there'd better be some drinkable brew in around April. Fortunately, I live within hurling distance of four bottle shops (which are never open when you want them). But that's not the point.

Meanwhile, what does
this have in store for this oxygen thief?

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