Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Reflections on the 2013 Federal Election

Well, a Coalition government is back in power, and even though it is led by a very sharmy cyclist, it is an improvement on the socialist regime which was thrown out of office.

There were some pretty bizzaro bits to the campaign, particularly with the various bizarre minor parties who were able to get elected through some bizarre preference deals.

As a result, Victoria now has, due to only 10,000 primary votes, a Motoring Enthusiast Party senator who has done a deal with Palmer United, and whose party seems to have imploded.

Palmer, on the other hand, is now in the House of Reps and has several Senators to back him up in his desire to cause mischief.

I quite admire Clive Palmer.  If I was a billionaire, I probably would behave just like he does.  Although dinosaurs and rebuilding the Titanic are not things I would waste money on, I would probably do something equally silly.

But, I do not think that it is healthy for Australian democracy for someone to just go and buy himself a few seats in Parliament in this way.  In the end, whilst toying with the idea, I decided NOT to give Palmer's senate ticket my primary vote - they struck me as just too inept.

Most appalling result was the defeat of my favourite MP, Sophie Mirabella, in her long held seat of Indi, by an unholy coalition of hippies, hipsters, national party rodents, and local hillbillies.  She is someone with deeply held convictions and had worked hard not just for her electorate, but on developing a decent industry policy for the coalition.  All the anti-Sophie rhetoric in the local media during the campaign suggests that a large chunk of the people of Indi are so selfish that they do not want to make a broader contribution to Australia, and just want to leech off the rest of the country like so many parasites.  After all, an MP is there not just to look after local interests, but to contribute to the greater good of the nation, which is what Sophie was doing as a federal shadow minister.

Finally - 200th Stubby Holder - and then some!!!

Have been extremely lazy about updating this blog.

Anyway, I have finally gotten my 200th Stubby Holder, and sort of in my own backyard.  You see, I went to the Derrimut Hotel in Sunshine a couple of months back, and happened to stop to buy a bottle of wine from the bottleshop, and lo!

Not going to recommend going to the Derrimut to you.  Sunshine is a rather feral place, and most of the people who frequent it seem to have either a serious gambling problem, or a drinking problem, and have a pretty feral look about them.

Now that I have finally gotten a stubby holder from there, I doubt I will ever have grounds to visit it again.

201st Stubby Holder was from the Blarney Stone Irish Pub in Yarraville (formerly known as the Railway hotel).

I also, given I am on holiday in Darwin, have today acquired two more for the collection - the Casuarina Sports Club, somewhere in the sticks around Palmerstown, and the Vic on the Mall.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I have a smartphone now and I am NOT GOING BACK!

Two months ago, my Nokia C5 started to fall apart, about 2 1/2 years after I got it.

Decided enough was enough, and it was time to treat myself to a quality smartphone.

Hence I got me an iPhone 5 - the first time I have bothered getting myself something which is state of the art.

It is an amazing phone - I can't imagine how I got by without one til now.

Lana Del Rey - My New Favourite Singer

Readers of this blog will recall that my favourite singers fit best into what might unkindly be described as the 'girl, alone in room, writing poems about killing herself' genre.  Tori Amos, Kate Bush, Suzanne Vega in particular.

I recently discovered Lana Del Rey, who is young enough to be the daughter of any of those three.

And she leaves them for dead, both in the gloominess, and in the beauty of her music.

I have listened to both Paradise and Born to Die (what a name for an album).  I think that she must have some serious emotional issues, particularly on listening to 'Gods and Monsters'.

But, my, her music is lush and rich and fine, like a bottle of well aged shiraz alongside a box of quality dark chocolate.

Dick Smith's Ozemite - Ugh

Like most Australians, I love vegemite. An acquired taste true, but I love it.

Recently, ignoring Dr Johnson's comments about patriotism and scoundrels, I decided to buy some of the Dick Smith Ozemite.

After all, it seems that Dick Smith has his heart in the right place, about Australian ownership etc, even though I am rather skeptical about this isolationist and protectionist view.

So, after my jar of vegemite ran out, I switched to Ozemite.

Not a good move.  It is far too runny, and also the taste is not as good as vegemite.  Quite disappointing in fact.

I will be moving back to vegemite as soon as this jar runs out.

Farewell to Kaiser Stuhl

I discovered recently that Kaiser Stuhl is no longer available.

I feel a little sad about this.

Kaiser Stuhl was one of those iconic brands of cheap wine, popular particularly in the 1980s.  You could buy 5 litre cardboard casks for about $5 back then.  Not bad value, particularly if you are too young to really develop an appreciation for wine.

In its own way, Kaiser Stuhl was as iconic for the bottom end of the wine market in Australia as Penfolds Grange is at the top end, and I for one miss its passing, even if it has taken me about 5 years after it ceased production to notice this.

Doug Hawkins for Senator!

As a long suffering Western Bulldogs supporter, I have been long a fan of club champion Doug Hawkins.

Hence, when he was announced as a senate candidate for Clive Palmer's new party, Palmer United (sounds like a soccer club), I resolved that I would probably vote for him.

OK - this might not be a great move.  Douggie is a great guy, but let's face it, he would probably be as good a senator as he would an AFL coach.

However, I have to think, so what?  I am not impressed with the Liberal Senate ticket for Victoria, and whilst I chose to vote DLP in the Senate last election, the performance of the DLP senator confirms my reservations about the DLP's economic policies.

So, good luck to Douggie.

In terms of Palmer United generally, I do have some major reservations.  I might as well articulate them here.

Firstly, Clive Palmer is part of the bizarre and fractitious culture of the National Party, which has given us a lot of splitters over the years, such as Bob Katter, Tony Windsor, Rob Oakshot, Russell Savage, Peter Slipper.

There is something there in the National Party which seems to make people want to put their own egos or financial interests in front of the public good which they are meant to serve.  Perhaps this is the most off putting thing I find about the Nationals, not who is in them, but who chooses to leave them.

After all, when Billy Hughes was toasted after 50 years in the parliament, he was reminded that he had belonged to just about every party except the Country Party, to which he replied ' I had to draw the line somewhere.'

Secondly, a more serious concern about the Palmer United Party.  Whilst I do have some personal admiration for Clive Palmer, I do not believe that Australian political culture is best served either by parties created and led by individual personalities (eg Bob Katter and Pauline Hanson), or by parties created by ultra-rich people for their own agendas, however well intentioned they might be.  What Clive Palmer is doing, even if he might be doing it from the purest of motives rather than ego, is something better suited to countries like Italy with Silvio Berlusconi rather than to Australia.

What Australia needs is for its mainstream parties, such as the Liberals and Labor, to actually get off their arses and do more to reconnect with their rank and file supporters and members, to become more of mass based grassroots parties.  That is what democracy requires, not personality driven parties which have governance principles more along the lines of the 'fuhrer prinzip' of 1920s Germany than with what Australians expect and deserve.

And speaking of 'fuhrer prinzip', what else is all this talk of 'captain's picks' which Julia Gillard has popularised this year?  The major parties need to wake up to the fact that there is a lot more needed for their well being than just a leader.

Rudd kisses babies

And so we have a new-old prime minister, with Kevin 07 making a comeback with the help of several of the people who knifed him in 2010 having a road to Damascus conversion.

Apparently, Bill Shorten even consulted his priest before deciding to pull the knives out of Rudd's back and put them into that of Julia Gillard, whom he had placed in power 3 years ago.  I wonder which scriptures his priest suggested he consider?  Something to do with a certain Apostle and a heady Thursday night perhaps....

Anyway, Bill only wanted Julia as PM to lower the bar such that a mostly lapsed Catholic who had divorced his first wife etc could now be considered by the electorate as an appropriately suitable choice for prime minister in the future.  That being done, the way is now clear for Bill to become opposition leader.

Talking over dinner a few weeks ago with a former Melbourne City Councillor who is a disillusioned ex-ALP member, we agreed that the only person in Australian public life who has ever seemed as entitled to become prime minister as Bill Shorten was Andrew Peacock.  I wish Bill the same degree of success as that particular feather duster of history.

Sadly though, time is on Bill's side.  He is 46, and even if this is a 3 term government coming up, he will be only 55 when the 3rd term of Coalition government ends. Unless he either presents as a washed up loser for Labour by then, or seriously alienates even more of his comrades with his ruthless narcissism and poll driven misjudgements, he is likely to end up as Prime Minister sometime in the next decade.

Back to the man of the moment, the Ruddster.  Elections involve a lot of baby kissing.  Rudd had his newborn grandson ready to hand.  Why should he kiss the germy babies of other people when he has his own wonderful grandson ready to kiss?  Smart move.  I can't help but have a sneaking admiration for him.

And I am quite happy with the way the arch-cyclist Tony Abbott is performing at the moment.  Perhaps disgusted by the links cycling have with extreme left green politics or the cheating of Stuart O'Grady, he seems to have put his bike away and focused on chatting up Katy Perry and describing female Liberal candidates as having sex appeal.  Not a bad effort. 

Stuart O'Grady Admits to Cheating - Typical Cyclist

During my long absence from this blog, many cyclists have been disgraced.

One of them is Stuart O'Grady, poster boy both for Australian cycling and for not being a drug cheat.

He has confessed to drug cheating once, during the Tour De France in the 1990s.

He claims that this is a one off, under pressure to perform because everyone else was cheating.

Duh.  Do you really think we can believe that?

I think that he probably did a lot more cheating than this, and only fessed up this instance because the long hand of justice was about to clamp on him.

Time for him to hand back his Olympic medals and his Order of Australia.

Also, I think that when we are talking about competitive cyclists, it is time to apply a presumption of guilt.  They are to be considered drug cheats unless it is proven otherwise.  The sport should no longer be shown on TV, except for the blooper reels when they crash into each other or when they start punching each other up.

Deakin Uni Law School not quite so bad - not quite a recantation

It was pointed out to me recently by one of my staff that two of the people who report to me actually have law degrees from Deakin Uni.

This is quite scary, given that I have been saying for so long that with the bizarre utterances of anti-jurist and Law Dean Mirko Bagaric, how can anyone with a law degree from Deakin have any cred for any job other than at Coles or Maccas????

And both of my staff both seem literate, articulate, mostly sane, and pretty competant at their work.

This is a scary shock to the system.

However, I doubt that the tutelage of Professor Bagaric has added to their intellects.

Hi, I'm back!

Humble apologies for this absence of many many many months.  Just haven't really been bothered with writing lately, not that I don't have a whole lot to say.

Might make more of an effort now that I am back.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Mirko continues to grow the credibility of Deakin Law School

I have been away from this blog for quite a while, but my indignation remains alive at things which are just plain wrong.

One of my pet hates, aside from the IPA and cyclists, is the dubious jurisprudence preached by Deakin Uni law professor and sometimes Dean, Mirko Bagaric.

Mirko, aside from representing Tony Mokbel (he of shocking wigs), is best known for his writings in legal journals advocating the use of torture in terror suspects.

Which shows what respect he has for traditional interpretations of the rule of law, individual rights, and the role of law to protect the people from excesses of government (Mr Mokbel probably should hire another lawyer who is a little more practical and a little less enamoured with the powers of the state).

Dr Bagaric's latest pearls of wisdom published in a legal journal discuss the right to privacy and how it should be non-existent.

Such ideas are not really worth debating, because debating them only lends legitimacy to a totalitarian position which should be opposed.

Instead, ridicule is more effective.

So for all you Deakin Law School grads out there, working in your McDonalds restaurants, think on what the absence of the right to privacy means for your kitchens and your toilets.  Ughhhh....

Western Bulldogs get off to a flying start to the AFL season

Last Saturday arvo, I was on the way to dinner with some friends in Caulfield South, and had some time to kill.

So, when I saw the bus approach the Mount Erica hotel in Williams Road Prahran, I hopped off for a quiet drink. 

They had the Bulldogs - Brisbane game on and it was the final quarter.  The Doggies were about 10 goals up with less than 10 minutes to play.

I had to pin myself - that was not the way the team was playing last year, when it was so depressing to watch.

That's one game down, and the AFL season is 22 matches long before we hit the finals, but for the first time in a while, I feel optimistic.  Brisbane did, after all, win the preseason competition this year, and has been in fine form.  Beating them so soundly was not something I would expect, particularly as our own preseason sucked.

Can the Bulldogs go all the way this year?  After round one, they look good.  But I have been a Footscray supporter my whole life, and they have occasionally looked good, only to crush my hopes utterly in the preliminary final (1997 being a very painful case in point, and 2009 not being too much better).

Stranded still on 199 Stubby Holders....

Well, it is now about 12 months since my last addition to my stubby holder collection, the 199th.  This is now the longest I have gone without adding any stubby holders to the collection.

The problem, in part, is that the only places interstate I have been to in that time are the usual haunts of Sydney and Canberra and an overnight in Perth etc.  I spent some time on my most recent visit to Sydney in Newtown - a place I have not really seen properly before - but none of the pubs I visited did stubby holders.  Nor have I been into the country lately, where pubs are much more likely to have stubby holders.

So... we wait.  And my current 2 week holiday has been spent skivving around Melbourne, particularly at home, reading sci-fi novels and catching up with various friends for dinner with fine wine, rather than seeking out stubby holders.

5 1/2 months til the cyclists take over Australia...

You have to question the judgement of Julia Gillard.  Calling an election for 14 September would sound like a reasonable thing to do, given it is in spring and therefore not so hard on her ageing and dwindling supporter base as a wet and freezing August election was last time, but it should have been called 5 weeks out, not 8 months out.

But you have to wonder whether that ranga hair dye is starting to seep in through the skull and affect the grey matter within.

Old news now, of course, but I am enjoying the soap opera which Julia's government has become.  As I am on holiday at the moment, I have been channel surfing and discovering a lot of crappy old US soap operas that I remember being on day time TV some 40 years ago, when I was little more than a toddler - you know, Days of Our Lives etc.

I wonder whether a team of soap opera script writers could come up with a better show than what Julia and her gang are doing unscripted right now.  After the high drama of her calling an election so early, there was the ongoing drama of her facing a leadership challenge which never eventuated, but which had a large number of front benchers falling on their swords, including her public disownment by her political father figure, Simon Crean.

Now... Labour (I don't like using the American spelling 'Labor' which the ALP prefers) is going to have an interesting five and a half months until the election.

Let us count the ways:

.  the Budget, delivered by Wayne 'Homer Simpson' Swan, will be a hoot and a half

.  all the talk about superannuation changes has both the public nervous, and also damages Gillard's claim to the legacy of the Hawke/Keating government (which everyone including me is now saying was one of Australia's best governments)

.  opinion polls continue to show the ALP in trouble, and thanks to Crean's calling on a leadership spill which did not result in a challenge, Gillard is locked into the leadership until the polls are declared at about 7.30pm AEST on Saturday 14 September.

In the meantime, all Tony Abbott has to do as opposition leader is to get on his bike and keep on pedalling away, whilst the Gillard government goes into the sort of slow motion implosion not seen since 1975.

On the bright side, as Gillard is a fellow Western Bulldogs supporter, she will have plenty of spare time to watch the AFL Grand Final on Sept 28 - assuming (given last weekend's form) that the Doggies actually get there this time.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The 2012 Zoo Calendar

Just before Christmas, my 7 year old godson came around with his dad, my best friend, for a visit.

Sitting around the table around the back, he took an interest in the Zoo calendar on the wall - quite a keen interest.  Such that we took it down from the wall and the three of us looked through it and discussed which of the bikini babes would make suitable girlfriends.  My best friend was very pleased that his son is taking such a keen interest in women at such a young age - he definitely will not be gay.

He even asked for the calendar after it expires, as he wants it for his room at home.

Well, this is the same kid who, at age 4, decided to keep for himself the Bras N Things catalogue that had been junkmailed, so he could perve at the lingerie models.

Aren't kids adorable!

RL Buller in Administration

To my dismay, Buller Wines is in administration as of last month.

That is not great news as they are my favourite winery and make my favourite wine, the Calliope Shiraz, which, for about $35, is almost as good as Grange, but which you can actual enjoy drinking. [After all, drinking a $500 bottle will have a bit of a sour taste to it, whereas a $35 bottle which is almost as good will have the extra enjoyment value of a great bargain.]

To help them trade out of it, I have just bought a dozen bottles of the 2007 Calliope.  I drank one on the weekend.

I wish this family owned winery the best of luck - hopefully they can trade out of their trouble and remain owned by the Buller family.

I HATE BICYCLISTS - an exciting new blog I have just discovered.

Last weekend, inspired by all the anti-Lance Armstrong articles in the paper, I decided to search the net for a 'Lance Armstrong Hate Page'.

One of the top hits for this google search was a blog entitled:  I HATE BICYCLISTS

The web link is this:

This page is really really hilarious, and I must take my hat off to the author.  Indeed, as TS Eliot said about Ezra Pound, Il Miglior Fabbro.  Yes, that blog is so much better than mine, that I recommend you spend all your time reading it.

The only criticism that I have is that he does not hate professional cyclists enough, and he sometimes uses a bike.  But he more than makes up for that with his profound wit and bile.

So... go ahead and read it.

Lance Armstrong and the Illuminati

And so, Lance Armstrong confessed that he was a drug cheat.

Surprise surprise.

The weekend papers were full of it, calling him a thug, bully, liar and cheat.

All of which are good alternative words to describe your average cyclist.

Of course, my favourite words for cyclist are 'sociopath' and 'narcissist'.

One of my less rational friends is not convinced that Lance Armstrong is guilty.  She was saying something after the second bottle of red last Saturday night (yes, I am drinking again) that it was probably some sort of conspiracy involving the Illuminati and that Lance Armstrong has been framed.

She couldn't elaborate though, which was a shame, as I would love to share some elaborate and risable conspiracy theories with you.

It's a good time to hate cyclists, is it not?

8 weeks on the wagon

Well, my alcohol free experiment lasted for 8 straight weeks.

Amazing.  The longest I have gone without alcohol in recent years was about 10 or 11 days when I was on antibiotics a couple of years back.

This time, I really out did myself.  8 weeks.  That would have to be the longest time without a drink since the period between the party at the end of mid year exams in my HSC year at age 17 and the party following the mock exams in October that year - which would have been about 3 1/2 months straight.

Adulthood, with greater income, opportunity, and inclination, particularly as socialising involves a lot of alcohol, does not really encourage dry spells.

But it's over, and I am back on the piss, so to speak.

Well... I'm back

Hi again, gentle reader, if you actually exist.

After some 2 or so months, I have decided to blog again.

I haven't meant to be away so long, but what with one thing or another, it has not been a high personal priority lately.  Was fairly busy with work, and with the festive season, and generally having a fun time doing other stuff.

Anyway, so much stuff has happened that I cannot resist but to post again.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Anticipating another break from the blog

Well... I didn't expect to take all of October off from this blog, but then, I do sometimes get lazy.  I'm back at work on Monday, and I have still got to dig up my veggie patch and plant some tomatoes, so I am not sure when I will next post on this blog.

After all, even the good news about all the cycling scandals comes so frequently these days that I can't often be bothered commenting on it.

Well... cheerio for now.

Does anyone still drink Rosso Antico?

My childhood memories of alcohol mostly comprise watching the adult males of my family drinking Carlton Draught (except for my Uncle Paolo who preferred the swamp water which is Melbourne Bitter) and the garage wine made by my Uncle Miro (stored in beehive bottles - where do you get those these days?).

But on occasions, there were other drinks.  Stock Gala Spumante at the weddings of my various older cousins, and appertifs like Cinzano (well, this was the 1970s) and Rosso Antico.

Rosso Antico.  I don't even really know what it tastes like as I have never had any and I doubt it is easy to find in bottle shops anymore.  I just recall that in the mid 1970s, every time you bought a bottle, you got a free wine glass (a flat pan style glass).  When I moved out of home, I decided to take the half dozen or so such glasses with me.  Rare curiousities today.

In typical Italo-Australian style (I am still a simple peasant at heart), I drink my home made wine out of those Rosso Antico glasses.  And I say, as I drink it, Ugh!

But I wonder, is there a sociology of alcohol trends?  Do some drinks come and go out of fashion, and is Rosso Antico one which had its day some 35 years ago?  Is Cinzano still drank by many people the way it was?

Hmm... thinking out loud, all those wine coolers of the mid to late 1980s seem to be long gone as well, and what happened to those alcoholic sodas of the mid 1990s (2 stubbies of Subzero was enough to give me almost terminal heartburn the next morning).

Well... I might browse the local bottle shop this arvo and find out.  But, as I am now on day 40 of my alcohol free diet, I will abstain for the time being.

The Gourmet Burger Craze

I have often reflected in this blog on my love of hamburgers.  I have been known to go miles out of my way to try a burger joint, much as I have been known to go miles out of my way to see if a pub sells stubby holders.

Five years ago (well, this blog has been going for over 6 years now, although the past 3 or 4 have been a period of some neglect), I observed that there were three Melbourne based gourmet burger chains which were taking the fast food industry by storm.

Those three were:

. Burger Edge
. Grill'd
. Urban Burger

There are more chains and individual stores out there, and I have been compiling a list, but these three are the big ones.  Grill'd now has about 60 stores around Australia, Burger Edge over 20, and Urban Burger about a dozen.

Jus Burgers, from WA, with a store in Melbourne recently opened, now has five and can count itself as more than just a one state business.

But there are others - Burgerlicious in NSW, and Burger Urge in QLD are starting to gradually extend their networks, and Huxtaburger in Fitzroy (a very good burger) is about to open a second store in the Melbourne CBD.

My researches indicate that there are about 150 or 160 gourmet burger bars around Australia, and with several chains already established and growing, plus more which seem likely to turn into chains given they have a good product, I think this number will grow.

To put things in a bit of perspective, in 1982, in the Home Ec lesson where they did a hatchett job on that particular Scottish restaurant chain, we were told that there were 103 McDonalds restaurants in Australia (there are now about 750).  This suggests that we are only at the start of a possible revolution in fast food in Australia.  I suspect that Grill'd, with the best business model so far (although not the best product), could well turn into a fast food giant inside ten years.

I wonder where this will leave McDonalds and the traditional fast food burger chains?  The whole idea of 'wellness' and health awareness which is even preoccupying me is something which could very well decimate the established fast food brands.

The New Mexican Fast Food Craze

Being a single straight bloke in his early 40s, and therefore not knowing any better, I tend to eat a lot of fast food.

And even when I don't, I tend to eat out a lot.

Mexican food has long been one of my favourites, in terms of restaurant food, going back over 20 years.  I love beef enciladas in particular, and fajitas, etc.

Mexican food somehow has not really made it into shopping centre food courts in Melbourne until recently.  Yeah, in the mid 1990s, there was some chain, which is now long gone, which would mircowave enciladas etc.  But it never really took off for some reason.

Now it seems to be the next big wave, after gourmet burgers.

I can count three Mexican chains around Melbourne - Mad Mex, which I have never tried, Guzman Y Gomex, which is pretty good (but what is with their mission to promote Mexican culture already?), and Salsas Fresh Mex Grill.  GYG is about to open their second Melbourne store (big north of the Murray already in NSW and QLD) and Salsas apparently already has a giant chain of stores around Melbourne food courts.

As I am trying to stay off the burgers and red meat generally, things which have beans instead of beef are sadly appealling to me at the moment.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Freeze Distillation

Whilst I am currently on this blasted alcohol free diet which is not really working out for me, I have not given up on my hobby of garage winemaking.

Didn't make too much wine this year, but I did bottle a third of it the other day, and had a few litres of gunk in the bottom of the demijohn.

Rather than toss it out, I decided to try an experiment: Freeze distillation.

Much as some people wonder how model ships fit into bottles, I used to wonder about how alcohol free wine was made, until I learned that it is frozen and the alcohol removed in a process known as freeze distillation.

You see, the freezing point of water is 0 degrees celsius, and its boiling point is 100 degrees celsius.  Ethanol alcohol boils at about 79 degrees celsius and freezes at something like minus 100 degrees - well, at temperatures so cold that my fridge can't freeze it.

So you have two ways of distilling alcohol spirit.  One is to boil it off, leaving the water behind.  And the other is to freeze the water off, leaving the alcohol behind.

Given I don't eat ice cream, my freezer compartment of the fridge is mostly empty anyway, so I have poured all the wine making residue liquid into glasses and left them in the freezer.  The water should freeze on top of the alcohol and then I will scrape it away and have a nice high strength alcohol spirit left behind.  The main problem is that the precipitates in the wine might trap alcohol in the water crystals which form.

Anyway, compared to a lot of the chemistry experiments one might contemplate, this one is a relatively safe and non-toxic one, unless someone is stupid enough to want to drink some of the ethanol spirit which I hope to extract.  That would be unadvisable as I suspect it is still going to taste like my garage wine this year - ie yucky!

Ocsober and my alcohol free diet

Over the course of the past year, I have made various efforts to detox. 

I first decided on an alcohol free month for Feb-Fast.  That lasted til Feb 2 (well, I think I was hungover on Feb 1...).

Then, I decided to start Dry July early, and lasted 8 days til a bottle over dinner with a friend, but that was still in June, so I lasted another 6 days til another friend showed up with a bottle of the vino rosso, which led to another and then another....

So I gave up on Dry July.

Ocsober was the next month where people are currently encouraged to give up alcohol.  This time, having had a lot to drink with the Breathman and the Ghost over the last week of the AFL season, I was a little sterner in my resolve.  In other words, I resisted the temptation to share a six pack with them on 1 October as we farewelled the Breathman back to his home in Africa.  Then I watched another friend drink a bottle of fine rose in front of me over dinner, and at a Saturday yum-cha, I decided NOT to order a bottle of wine to share with a friend.  And one night at the pub with my friend Moshe (so nicknamed because his skull resembles that of Moshe Dayan - bald), I drank soda water.

After two weeks of this, I pondered whether or not I could actually lose weight if I stayed off the alcohol, and perhaps get under 80kg again for the first time in over a decade (except for the instances where stress or food poisoning have caused radical weight loss).

Which leaves me today on Day 39 of my alcohol free diet - and whilst I was down to 83 kg a week and a half ago, I am now 84.5kg and was 86 kg a week ago, which is sending me nuts.  How can I NOT lose weight given I am eating salad most of the time and not boozing on every second or third day?!?

One of the positives of being alcohol free, aside from not having the vague aftereffects of a heavy session (I rarely get proper hangovers anymore, due to my being so well practiced a boozer), is that I am saving quite a lot of money.  Pubbing or going to restaurants is quite expensive.

Anyway, I will probably stay on the wagon for the rest of November, just to see if I can do it, and resume boozing again in December for the festive season.  Not sure, but I suspect that this is the longest I have gone alcohol free since at least late 1997 (I was working in Box Hill then for a few months, which is a historically dry area with no pubs), or perhaps even since late 1992, when I was a shift worker.

Recent Council Elections

Last time they had elections for the Moonee Valley City Council (ie the municipality responsible for collecting my rubbish, and which charges me about $1200 per year in rates) a few years ago, interest was so low that most councillors, particularly in my ward, were elected unopposed.

Not so this time.  Elections were very hotly contested, with a few candidates preparing glossy leaflets (full of style but little substance) which they arranged to put into letterboxes, and there were a lot of campaign posters up on front lawns and in shop windows.

Indeed, for a relatively safe Labor area (sadly), you don't see so much political activity during a real election - ie state or federal.

It wasn't just Moonee Valley.  The City of Maribyrnong was even more intense, with real estate signs up supporting one large ticket of independents in several parts of the electorate.  That resulted in flushing a lot of ALP backed councillors from the colon of the community, giving Maribyrnong a majority of non-Labour councillors for the first time ever.

Which is a refreshing change.  Whilst there are several historically infamously misgoverned councils, such as Brimbank (and its long gone predecessors Sunshine and Keilor Cities), the City of Maribyrnong has never been very good at giving its ratepayers value for money, and I am of the view that the permanent death grip of ALP councillors over the decades has been responsible for that.

Not that the ALP is to blame for everything.  After all, I do not vote Labour, but I am prepared to be balanced and criticise right wingers as well, particularly of the feather nesting variety.  And in the City of Melbourne, the various council election tickets were bi-partisan rather than politically focused, with Robert Doyle sadly winning reelection.

Of course, whilst Robert Doyle has another four years of acting pompous and using ratepayer money for junkets, things are not all bad.  Stephen Mayne got elected to the Melbourne City Council too and NOT on Doyle's ticket.  Mayne went on record immediately afterward to warn that Doyle did not have a mandate for his program, which strongly suggests that Mr Mayne, with his long history of spoiler behaviour, is going to make life difficult for Robert Doyle, the way that he did for his former employers, the Kennett Government, and for various public companies of which he is a minor shareholder, and for his former political party People Power, and for that outer Eastern Suburban council he recently served on....

Gee, it seems that the only thing worse than being on the opposite side to Councillor Mayne is being on the same side as Councillor Mayne... but I digress.  He is going to make himself useful for a change, by making life difficult for Lord Mayor Doyle, and whilst that will not make Mayne my Bro, I will be maliciously cheering from the sidelines.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Stuck on 199 Stubby Holders...

Well... it was March when I added Stubby Holder number 199, from some pub in Darling Harbour, Sydney, to my collection.

Since then, my collection of stubby holders has stagnated.  I have not found a single pub who sell stubby holders, and it is now November - it is over 7 months since I last added to the collection.

Does anyone out there know any pubs which sell stubby holders which have the pub's name on them?  My rules for my collection are two:

1.  It has to be a pub or venue (or in some cases, organisation, eg Hash House Harriers) which has stubby holders with the pub's name on them

2.  I need to have a drink in that pub or venue.

So... I don't really expect to hear from anyone - my site meter suggests that traffic to my blog has died down to about zero in recent weeks, but anyway, if you are out there and can advise, please do so.

Fine Pubs of Australia - Part 39 - The Cricketers Arms - Port Melbourne

The Stumpmeister has been a friend of mine for about 25 years.  Time flies.

Yet in all that time, I never realised that tucked away around the corner, about 2 minutes walk from his house, there is a pub in Cruikshank Street Port Melbourne (or is it South Melbourne - it is around the border between the two) which is truly worthy of the title of a Fine Pub.

The Cricketers Arms is a long and narrow brick building, dating back probably to colonial times, as is usually the case in this part of Melbourne.  It has a long and narrow public bar, a bistro, and a large beer garden.

The atmosphere is that of a somewhat gentrified local pub, maintaining the balance between its traditional local patrons (from the union newsletters and photos of Julia Gillard outside the pub on the wall, it is a traditional Labor pub, as with many in the Port Melbourne area) and those who have moved in with a bit more money in the past 25 years.  I understand, again from some of photos on the wall, that the freehold is owned by Danny Nikolic or some other famous jockey, and that the lockdown on Oaks Day is their biggest day of the year.

I was there to watch the AFL Grand Final, on one of many of the plasma screens which line the pub's walls.

If you are to watch a team play in the AFL Grand Final, and you do not have a ticket to watch the game live at the G, it is always best to watch it from a pub somewhere in the home turf of one or other of the two teams competing.  The Cricketers' is in the heartland of the South Melbourne Football Club, which was the original name for the Sydney Swans before they moved to Sydney 30 years ago.  Watching the game there, you would be forgiven for thinking that the Swans were still playing from Lakeside, given the amount of red and white in the crowd and the passionate support.

This is a truly fantastic pub, and the kitchen is good.  If you are in the area, treat yourself and stop in for lunch.

Sadly, no stubby holders.

Lance Armstrong in disgrace - but has he been framed? I puzzle this out.

I really really hate cyclists.

If you are reading this blog, you already know this.  Cyclists really get me mad.

And I really really hate Lance Armstrong.  He has always struck me as arrogant, sanctimonious, narcissistic and totally dislikeable.

In other words, he has always embodied the worst qualities of cyclists.

The cheating, well, that is a symptom of why cyclists are dislikeable - it is not the cause.

That he has now been totally disgraced in a report, backed by so much supporting evidence as to dwarf the collected writings of Tom Clancy, does warm the cockles of my heart.

But... I still, possibly playing Devil's Advocate with a sense of mischief, have a niggling sense of doubt about Lance Armstrong's guilt.  I am not quite prepared to ride him out of town on a rail the way they do as a matter of custom in the Deep South from which he came.

After all, there are several reasons we can still doubt Lance Armstrong's guilt.  I will list them:

1.  He has been denounced by 11 (it may be more) former members of his cycling team.  All these people are self-confessed liars, drug cheats, and cyclists.  Who can trust their word?

2.  Cyclists are NOT team players.  Even when it is in their interests to ride as a team, they cannot put the team's interests in front of their own individual egos, such is their selfishness and narcissism.  Yet we are now expected to believe that all these titanic egos were prepared to cooperate for years in a major drug conspiracy where they all kept quiet and played as a team?  Hardly.

3.  Given that cyclists are all major narcissists, they would all be hugely jealous of Lance Armstrong, the one who was either honest enough, or crafty enough, not to get caught drug cheating the way they did.  I think, out of jealousy, they have all decided now to gang up on him and disgrace him, as revenge for all the many times he treated them appallingly (ie the way they all deserved anyway).

4.  Lance Armstrong is a Republican, and his fellow Texan George W Bush describes him as a friend.  There was talk of Lance running for governor of Texas.  Given most cyclists around the world are communists, greens, and generally left wing, they would have hated this and been prepared to disgrace their own sport rather than to let Lance have his political career.

So... here we have it - the above four points do prima facie suggest a conspiracy by cyclists to destroy Lance Armstrong.

But do I really care whether Lance Armstrong is guilty or not, or whether Floyd Landis has yet again lied about drug cheating (I am telling the truth this time - I lied about everything before now, please believe me...)?

Nope, I don't care.  I am sitting back and enjoying watching the cyclists disgrace themselves, as more and more of them at senior coaching and administrative levels confess to their cheating in the past, and resign their positions in disgrace before they too are denounced.

It is now a case for the federal government to withdraw all funding from cycling as a sport.  There has been a culture of major drug cheating in this sport both at the competitive level, and amongst the coaches and administrators.  Why should tax payer money be wasted on this crap?

The IPA Review is Awesome!

I haven't commented on the IPA and it's flagship comic book, The IPA Review, for a while.

Can't usually be bothered, particularly as they are a little more boring these days since Chris Berg stopped being the editor.

However, the cover story for this month's issue is:


Hmm... I think perhaps someone at the IPA has been wandering off to my friend Prodos's pro-capitalism meetings to get some ideas to replenish their font (assuming anyone from the IPA is either welcome there or interested in Prodos's honest efforts), given that Prodos likes to use the phrase 'Capitalism is Magnificent'.

Anyway, 'Magnificent' is a far more mature word than 'Awesome', being as it is used in Aristotle's Ethics, whilst 'Awesome' is the sort of phrase which I have recently noticed seems to be a major adjective in the vocabulary of Gen Y and the iGen.

And a further example of why 'Awesome' is such an immature word to use comes from another magazine which is currently on the newstands near the current edition of the IPA Review, the current issue of Lad's Mag Zoo Weekly. 

Zoo Weekly's current cover story is:


As lawyers, might say, RES IPSA LOCQUITOR.

I will leave it there, my friends, with a chuckle....

A Huge Relief! Swans Defeat Hawthorn

Students of this blog would know that I am a fan of Australian Rules Football, commonly shortened to AFL, and that I really hate the Hawthorn Football Club.

Some Victorians would prefer any Victorian club, even one as evil as Hawthorn, to win an AFL premiership over an interstate club.

Not I, said the Strider.

There are several reasons why it is preferable for an interstate club, any interstate club, to defeat a team like Hawthorn.

1.  Hawthorn is an evil club, supported by the landed gentry and upper middle class of the Melbourne Eastern Suburbs.  These people are arrogant rich snobs and they have it easy in life in everything, compared to us plebs. Why should they get things their way in sport as well?

2.  Hawthorn, since 1961, has ruthlessly crushed the dreams of many humble hardworking VFL/AFL clubs in various grand finals.  Let me count them in chronological order:  Footscray (aka Western Bulldogs, my beloved but underachieving team), St Kilda, North Melbourne (well, at least North Melbourne beat them one out of the three times they played off), Essendon (at least they beat Hawthorn two out of three deciders), Carlton (one for one), Melbourne (crushing the dreams of our sport's foundation club), Geelong (twice), and West Coast (delaying the emergence of a truly national competition by one year).

3.  That Australian Rules Football is our national sport, as embodied by the Australian Football League, requires that non-Victorian teams win the AFL premiership from time to time, particularly now that 8 of the 18 teams are from outside Victoria.  Mature Victorians, thinking of our way of life in a culturally imperialistic way as I do, would go beyond the parochialism of supporting some local team on Grand Final day just due to state loyalties, and see that their greater loyalty to their state and their culture lies in supporting the triumph of an interstate team over a much hated Victorian team.

After all, there are millions of people in Sydney who will have more of an interest in AFL (they don't really like Rugby League, their home grown code all that much) if the Sydney Swans are more successful.

Besides, it was an amazing heartstopping game!  I watched it with the Ghost and the Breathman from the public bar of the Cricketer's Arms on the edge of Port and South Melbourne, in the old Swans heartland before the move to Sydney 30 years ago, surrounded by local Swans supporters.  That was the perfect place to see the game!

And for all you Hawthorn supporters out there:  SUFFER!

Return after a long absence from my blog

Well, it has been well over a month since I lasted posted on this blog.  Assuming that I do have some readers, sorry for my absence.

To be honest, given that I don't have a PC at home, I can't always be bothered finding an internet cafe or library to blog from.  But as I am on holidays this week, I thought I would make a bit of an effort for a change.