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Tuesday, September 03, 2013

First post for Spring 2013

Well, it seemed a good idea at the time.

Decided, just for something different, I'd go have lunch at the leagues club in Gosford, then head upstairs for a bit of quiet and catch up on some work. For those unfamiliar with the place, there's a large snooker table area with an adjoining darts room on one side, and on the other, indoor bowls. (A few years ago, I actually held a blood bowl tournament up here on Easter Friday. I won't go into the specifics but a few people competing in the tournament enjoyed the facilities a bit too much... ) Anyway, it's nice an quiet, figured I wouldn't be disturbed – much. Within five minutes, two people show up to play snooker, and renovation work commences. (Rather amusing actually watching someone trying to drive a miniature cherry picker across the carpet to get to a drill bit which has poked through the wall.)

And on that note, I'll head downstairs. The gentle clink of pool balls I can handle, but drills going off every ten seconds is a different thing. That, and I need a power-point that works.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, lunch. It wasn't that good. This buffet has definitely dropped in quality since it opened in the club a few years ago, but at least I can have a bottomless cup of frozen coke. But here at least here I can have a drink, not be disturbed, and not get side-tracked by various things lying about the house, like my games PC, or the DVD player. It's not as if I'm going to stop what I'm doing and head off to play the pokies. Incessantly annoying things that they are. Just as well I have loaded my notebook up with about 10 Gig of music. What shall I listen to whilst I write this? I know – Lamb.

So, what have I been up to? Umm, work, photography, playing blood bowl, scrap-booking and watching DVDs. One doesn't realise just how dull Saturdays are without football – playing it that is. The BB tournament (Aug 24) though was a great distraction. A drive around the Central Coast with a dozen other BB enthusiasts, most whom had had a skinful by 10am, was a good way to spend the day. The following Sunday was spent recovering. It had been a very long day (I was up at 7am, got home around 12.15am Sunday morning) and if I wasn't dozing off on the couch, I wasn't far from doing so. (For the record, I didn't win a game, but got first pick of the prize table so it wasn't all bad.)

Work. Well, for the last couple of months, I have been going through a bit of “down” period. I have come to the conclusion that the novelty of actually having a job really has worn off. Yes, the extra money is nice, but I am considerably bored of the routine of loading and unloading papers, hopping in and out of the cab every five minutes (on average), or, when it comes to the second Tuesday of the fortnight, pushing a shopping trolley full of newspapers around Gosford for nearly six hours in the day. (I am reminded of that Greek legend about the gent who has to push the same rock up a hill every day – Sisyphus.) At first, I used to get by by the facts that I was getting paid nearly $22 an hour to get plenty of exercise and listen to music, but that has worn rather thin as well. Anyone else know how embarrassing it is to have to pick up a load of newspapers (or groceries for that matter) after the trolley has somehow overturned? And then there's the weather and the rather uneven footpaths, most of them in the CBD sloping as well, which means the trolley drifts either to the left or the right depending where I am. Stopping it from going onto the road, or from hitting people takes a lot of effort.

Then there's the people themselves. Most businesses are generally okay. Some thank me, most treat me with mild indifference. One or two have even been hostile. Sigh.

I can, however, take the little pocket camera with me on my hikes around Gosford. Occasionally there's something worth capturing, but again, it's a pocket camera, without that great a resolution, has trouble taking a decent shot when it's too bright (or not bright enough) but it did take that first shot of mine that now sits on an art teacher's wall...

Then there's taking a camera out on a drive whilst at work. Taking pictures from a moving van hardly works, unless I'm pointing the camera straight ahead. But then, with the windshield appearing like it gets washed once every six months, I'd have to get really lucky with the right lighting so it doesn't actually look like I took the shot through a windshield. There's very little time to actually stop and take shots, seeing the schedule that we currently have. Last Friday (Aug 29) we were delivering to a private residence in South Tacoma (a riverside suburb near Wyong) and I spotted an extremely large flock of cormorants frolicking in the water in the afternoon sun under one of the bridges spanning the Wyong River. (I am talking about at least a hundred birds.) It would've made a great shot, but we couldn't stop. The only place, currently, when time isn't pressing, is Toukley on the Friday afternoon. I do get some nice bird shots around the old ruined jetty behind the fish co-op there, but I've taken so many shots at that spot it's actually getting quite monotonous.

What I do need is a device that has a faster shutter speed that can take quality pictures as well, then taking them from a moving vehicle might not be so bad. (It became horribly apparent when I was trying to take photographs at the recent Souths vs Manly game in Gosford. I have taken some great sports pics with the camera that I currently have, but it's not as if you can get twenty-six players to stand still for more than five seconds eh? I must've taken about a hundred or so pictures at the game, but only six were of any use, the rest were too blurred with movement or a little too dark. Still, two of them did make the paper, so it wasn't a total loss.) Of course, I'm looking at something that costs more than what I paid for the PC and notebook combined. (I wonder why a quality digital camera costs more than a desktop PC?) So, I think I'll start saving. It could well be my Xmas present to me.

August 22nd edition of Grandstand

To be honest, I'm really am tired of working. But, well, what else will I do? I do have a tendency to waste my free time (which is why I feel the need to get out of the house to actually get something done) which then puts me on a guilt trip, then I start stressing, etc. So having too much of it can be quite of a curse for me. A holiday would be nice, but gees, I only get eight days (straight) off in the fortnight, then work four out of the other six. (And, if I don't work, I don't get paid.) In all honesty, I really don't need the money, seeing the DP pays well enough as it is. (I even turned down a day's work – this Saturday's federal election.) But, seeing I don't really have a Plan B in place I guess I'm stuck doing this. (I also recall the last time I left a job with no Plan B or C... )

Well, that's my work whinge over. Now for my politics one. For those reading this post who aren't living in this country, and who don't follow news from Australia, we are four days away from a federal election here, or, if you believe the news, the polls and assorted bookmakers, we are four days away from the coalition re-taking office. Our current prime minister, Kevin Rudd, apparently doesn't have any chance whatsoever of another term. The challenger, Tony Abbott, who claims he doesn't believe what the polls are saying, is right now drafting his victory speech or deciding what suit he'll wear on the night.

Personally, we, as a country, are up a certain creek without a boat, a paddle, or even a life-preserver. However, it could be worse for your average Australian. We could be in Syria. Or Iraq. Or even Zimbabwe for that matter. So I'm putting up with it for the time being, relieving the stress somewhat by thinking of a few of my favorite politician jokes.

Q: How do you tell when a politician is lying?
A: His lips are moving.

Q: What's the difference between a circus and parliament?
A: One's full of cunning stunts, the other is full of stunning...

If Labor wins, we'll get faster internet. If the liberals win, Zimbabwe will have faster (and better) internet than us. The carbon tax will also go, and I'll lose my rebates on my power bills, which means I'll start paying more for my electricity. I don't really give a shite about the mining tax, but if two taxes get axed, they'll be looking elsewhere to raise extra money, and that could mean doing something that'll affect everybody – raising the GST.

As for the refugee problem, I don't really see it as a problem. How many people get into the country illegally? Is it about the same as how many people die on our roads, or of cancer, or from suicide? A lot of WASPs in this country seem to forget that a great many of our distant ancestors came over here ON A BOAT. The first gent in my family tree that set foot on these shores was a soldier. Australia, for him, initially, was a break in-between getting shot at by the French in Spain, or having to march around in the heat in India and occasionally getting shot at by the locals. Apparently he's buried somewhere near Maitland.

The ironic thing, especially with the Liberals, is that the are trying to endear themselves in areas that have a lot of migrants, to whom Australia is the second home that they have known. The Liberals openly state that they'll stop the boats, even if it means buying them of Indonesian fishermen. But they have candidates who are children of refugees...

I don't like Labors' policy of shipping them off to PNG or Nauru either. They contradict themselves by wanting to go to the aid of those opposing the Syrian government. But if some of those people wanted to desperately come here, by illegal means, this government would turn them away even though they have stated publicly that we'd help them.

Anyway, to put it simply, we currently have a PM who was deposed as PM halfway during his term (because he didn't have the numbers), giving us our first ever female PM. She, in turn, lost her numbers, and was deposed as PM by the previous PM, who decided that it was better for everybody to bring the election forward a week. The opposition leader, Tony, in all honesty, is extremely creepy. He looks like a lizardman. His rather photogenic daughters definitely got all their looks from their mother, who sounds like she does have a sense of humour. He doesn't. I hate to say it, but Tony is a prime candidate for the first Australian PM to be assassinated whilst in office.

Kevin though has done two memorable things – he said sorry to the original inhabitants of this country for the stolen generation and all the other genocidal actions our forebears (and previous governments) carried out, and he has never given the order to invade a sovereign nation. The second item, ladies and gents, is the single most important reason why I shall NEVER EVER vote for the Liberal-National coalition in this country ever again. The first Iraq war was justified. The second, and the invasion of Afghanistan, wasn't. Has either stopped global terrorism? No. All it means is that terrorists don't have to travel as far to take on the Western military, or their proxies, and the West gets to impose their type of Democracy on the afflicted country, and make a few million in the process.

I'm tired of this election. I was tired of this election a couple of days after it was announced. I'm glad I turned down the election work. $377 for asking six hundred times 'Name? Address? Have you voted before today in this election?' then counting the four thousand odd ballot papers until 10pm under the watchful eyes of party scrutineers doesn't feel like enough money. I really couldn't take it anyway, seeing I would be working too many hours in the fortnight. (The election work is a 14 hour day. I currently work 28 hours in a fortnight. I'm “permitted”, by the terms of the DP, to work 15 hours a week. You do the maths.)

The only thing I'm not tired of, is the political satire from Clarke & Dawe on Thursday evening around 6.57pm on the ABC. I tune in regularly to watch it. It actually makes sense.

People have said to me that they would emigrate, ideally to New Zealand, if Abbot becomes prime minister. It doesn't sound like a half-bad idea. They have football there, and cricket, and a rather excellent national rugby union side. Big budget blockbuster movies get made there. Men can marry other men and women can marry other women there. One really only has to put up with the occasional earthquake.

If you think I'm biased towards Labor (like ringing pollsters think I am), well, I'm biased in the sense that in a two-horse race, where I don't like either horse, I'll vote for the one I don't hate that much. If there ever is a box on our ballot paper marked 'None of the Above' I will number it '1'. Currently, I will vote for independents, for that's what they (presumedly) are, even though more often than not they are acting on behalf of someone else. (Like in my seat of Robertson, where the current mayor of Gosford is running as an independent, with his campaign being bankrolled by prominent business.) On the senate paper I'll number every box below the line, and make the ballot counters earn their money. There were 110 boxes below the line in this election's senate “table cloth”, and I took the time to number each and every one of them before mailing it back to the AEC. I will invariably vote for a party that isn't really that serious, because I can no longer take voting seriously in this country. There was a time I used to vote for the Australian Democrats, but seeing they've all but disappeared off the political map in this country...

That's the big problem with politics in this country – no credible third choice. One would argue that the Greens are, but they honestly aren't. They sided with Labor last federal election and got them in office – just. One wonders who they'll be jumping into bed with now just so that they can wield a little power in parliament. And now there are all these other parties springing up to have a go, like Bob Katter's lot and businessman Clive Palmer who seems to easily have more money than sense. But before giving them your vote, perhaps you'd better see where their preferences are going...

It is about the only time I'll ever agree with something that Winston Churchill said. 'If you think democracy works, spend five minutes with your average voter.'

And that's where I'll stop it for the time being.

(An hour later)

Back at home now, and wondering what should I have for dinner. Not that I really need it, seeing lunch, though not brilliant, was at least filling. It's nice here at the moment, actually a little quieter than the club. Coming home, I could see the signs that spring is here – smoke from bushfires. It looks like it's somewhere near Woy Woy, but whether it's a back-burning operation or otherwise remains to be divulged. I saw the evidence of bushfires around the Wyong Shire last Thursday and Friday, with burnt areas along the main road between Toukley and Magenta, and a chunk of bush torched relatively near to my sister's place at Gwandalan. The smell of the burnt remains of hundreds of trees is rather unmistakable. I'm thinking that I might take the camera up the hill and take a couple of shots.

(A further hour and a bit later)

Well, my eyes didn't deceive me. Sure enough, fires in the hills overlooking Woy Woy. From across the Brisbane Water in East Gosford, and thanks to the 21x optical zoom, I could even see the trees burning from several kilometres away. There's a small park at the top of my street, so I was able to get a good view of it as well as a couple of good pics. I decided to keep walking, and though one of my regular vantage points was occupied, from the next one by the bay, I could easily see it. 

And if my camera was better suited to take low-light shots, I would've been able to get shots of three black swans going for a twilight paddle (and a feed) around the bay. Sigh.

I shouldn't be too harsh on “Picasso” (the name I've given my camera). Last Wednesday (Aug 28), when I was due to meet someone at Point Frederick around 2pm, I walked from the leagues club to the location in question, pausing to take a few shots along the way. There were some rather good ones. I captured a pelican taking off, a few boats in the bay, a rather photogenic seagull who seemed to have plenty of experience of being photographed, some ducks, and an accident at the level crossing near the swimming pool. All this before I had even gotten onto Albany Street, which leads to Pioneer Park, where I intended to meet this person. The accident itself looked rather serious. From what I could gather from the shots that I had taken, it appears that someone in a motorised wheelchair had been hit by a car at the traffic lights. The ambulance crew was taking great care to get a stretcher underneath this person, and police were doing their best to keep traffic moving on that side of the road.

Once at Point Fred, my mood was brightened considerably, considering what I soon discovered through my lens. Perched high up in one of the trees, was a pair of tawny frogmouths. I had already been watching some magpies have a little stroll around, and was following a noisy miner flitter from one tree to the next, when I saw the pair.

Then, much to my delight, I spotted a grey butcherbird nearby, and was even able to sneak around for a better angle. I was able to easily take a dozen good shots, which pleased me no end seeing I didn't have a decent shot of an adult butcherbird in my collection. (A juvenile one, yes, but not an adult one.) The weather was quite fair as well, and the tide was high, so I was able to get some nice shots of the water, rocks, trees, various paths, and shadows. Despite being stood up (she had gotten too involved in work and had forgotten about it) I had a great afternoon, and today I was able to get some of the pics printed up in West Gosford. I'm thinking I could easily do an album dedicated just to Point Frederick. (Hmm, albums of the various places that I've wandered around?)

As for display albums, I did one last night for my aunt. I have plenty of spare scrap-booking albums, but it's generally just finding the time to do them. Whilst trying to be not too distracted by TV and DVDs, I managed to finish a 20 page one of various shots, including birds, flowers, water shots, even artistic looking junk like rusted wagon wheels in people's gardens. Previously, I had decided to try and complete a lengthy task in listing all of the spare 6x8 prints that I had lying about, and thankfully, completed the job Sunday evening. But, of course, having printed up another 50 6x8s today, should take the loose collection of shots to just over 700...

Well, that's about it for the time being. I haven't done much else, apart from attending a Central Coast Mariners fan forum meeting on August 22nd, again, at the leagues club in Gosford. It was actually quite interesting listening to the side's plans for the upcoming season, and what ideas that they have in mind to get more people through the turnstiles. Along with coach Graham Arnold, and captain John Hutchinson, there was Bob Grahame, one of the board members (I believe it's his family whom the original oval is named after) and two gents from the FFA. Lawrie McKinna, the current Gosford mayor, chaired the evening. Also present, was former international cricketer Nathan Bracken, who's running as an independent for the neighboring seat of Dobell (and has the same backer as Lawrie). He looked as if he could still play tomorrow.

The confidence in the side is well and truly there. They don't think they have a weaker team than last year. They reckon it's stronger and that they have what it takes to make it a double.

And I believe them. Cheers!

P.S: Currently watching Rome for the seventh time...
All images on this page by Geoff G Turner (c) 2013.

1 comment:

Mal aka Lancelots Pram said...

I used to hang out in the top empty bars of the CC Leagues Club during the day too, for some quiet :)