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Tuesday, April 5th, 2016
1:41 am
By the Square, by the Level, and by the All Seeing Eye.....
The only religious group I've really appteciated is the Freemasons. And it appeals to me... They've been after me since about 1998. I agree with an organising force along those lines. You can interpret the laws of physics as a form of 'higher organisation.' But even in the Freemasons, two of whom I know that I met at Friday's service, it seems that human frailties foul the whole thing up. Freemasonry is still full of 1950s disciples of that great book "How to Win Friends and Influence People". What's in it for them and their business lives? I'm in weekly receipt of what our local Lodge does, and at least twice a year I'm there in some capacity or other. They've lost their way, they use those who do believe in the idea of "helping a brother" as slaves! Some 'younger' guys are there. Heck, 'young' like me in my 30s, but what's it for? If it's just for charity, join Rotary, or The Lions Club. If it's for a deeper meaning, Then..... I don't know. If they could articulate it to me, I'd join!
Saturday, April 2nd, 2016
4:34 am
Religion. A close call? OR worse....
Okay. After last night's awards ceremony, I thought i'd have a leave pass, and a three day post-Easter weekend. The last three days feel like a week and a half.. But I'll do the hard yards and accept an invite to the institution of the new Minister of the City church. We work with them very much as they're one of the oldest buildings in the town, and tour groups love the 1870s quaintness of a rough-hewn pioneer place of worship.
So okay, a 6pm function to welcome the new Minister. A few well-known hymns, an "Our Father" a, cup of tea and a scone, and it's all in time to be at back at home for dinner with Brainsister by 7:30. Or that's how I organise functions. We all want to be home for tea. But not this time. (Should have picked up on it yesterday with Deacons doing sound checks all over the Church at a never before seen level)
I arrive two, yes TWO minutes late. Entire congregation is singing that hymn from Mr Bean, "God praise him! Halelujua! Haleeeee-luuuuuuuuga!" I'm hurredly ushered to the third pew from the front on the right. Next to the Mayor. (This was meet and greet and a scone, right?) I'm confronted by a Bishop in robes and a Mire board hat. (Never knew they folded flat when they're taken off, I was surprised.) Of course next to me, closer to the wall, was a full Church minister who knew all the hymns, and could sing. (Colleges are moving their mouths, so I variously say 'Rhubarb Rhubarb', sing the nice hymns I like just as songs, or when it gets to "Let us repeat out baptismal prayers" I was never BAPTISED you presumptuous BASTARDS! I just started saying things about the the holy knot of god and flare internal placed inside us by his grace for our enjoyment. So I had my fun there. Until...
All come forward for Holy Eucharist! Most were fine, other than those who take this seriously and wanted to. Where was I? to the left of those on the right hand side of the aisle (DON'T ARRIVE TWO MINUTES LATE!) who wanted to receive. So... I need to move into the aisle to let those in. The usher in the isle afterwards shoves me forward into the queue. What the heck do I do? Being me, I follow what everyone else around me is doing, when it comes to a point like this. This says a lot about me, but it's not politic to cause a scene at this point. So what did I get/learn?
I got a gluten free wafer that would have been nicer with some aged cheddar, and a sip of wine that was appallingly sweet. We were asked if we'd like gluten or non-gluten body, so why the hell weren't we asked if we'd like sweet or dry blood?
It's funny when you're the only one out of those you work with who aren't just those who grew up in it and lapsed, but never knew anything about it at all and feel like you're suddenly taking part in a pseudo- cannibalistic death cult that you've only read about and yet is at the literal heart of your community.
Monday, November 16th, 2015
12:40 am
Absent Friends
We should all let friends know what happened to us. I'm pretty sure I found out today that a friend I lost contact with is okay. And that's all I need to know. I won't bug them or try to contact them. It's a happy thing to know they're okay, and a joy to hear their voice again in the things they write!
We should all remember in dark times that there are people out there who care for us, and want us to prosper.

Current Mood: contemplative
Monday, June 2nd, 2014
11:06 pm
I think I'll make a series of posts about working on my two Volkswagens. I need to both record what I've done, and keep a log of achievements for confidence's sake. I feel that we're at a time now, at least here in the Western Australian environment, where the great shift has happened which I hear folks in the US talking about.  If you have an old VW you have to be prepared to work on it yourself now. Since I had my first VW when I was 16, I had mechanics to work on them that were family friends, qualified experts who in many cases were sent to Germany, to Wolfsburg, to gain their qualifications. Work was 'cheep' and done 'by the book'. Picking up the car was full of fellowship, drinks, and talk of the old days. But after about ten years, ie. 2000s. suddenly it was 'I don't want to work on these no more.'. Yeah, play "Puff the Magic Dragon" here....

But someone was willing to spend another ten years working on the VW. He did the right thing always. But some things he couldn't do. Time had caught up. Heck, I couldn't do them either! How do you make 6 volt wiper motors work on 12 volt systems? Voltage regulators? Yes, but not very well.... I can tell many stories of cold stormy nights when I switched on the wipers and everyone in car hoped that the wipers would get over the 12 o'clock position and not stop, damming us all to a journey without any wipers at all. Good times, man....

But the most recent time that I took my Beetle to the shop for service, I was horrified that what my Dad had mentioned a couple of times on the phone was true. "Where is M------? Have you heard from him lately?" Since I was seeing him more often than he ever was since the 1980s, I thought they'd just been missing each other. But no. He wasn't running the shop anymore. Some other guy was. Who charged through the roof, and didn't do most of what I told him to do. To be fair, he did fix one thing which M----- had never been able to. That was a valve adjustment issue. I was happy for that. But the overall cost was phenomenal. And saying "oh, man, that car of yours is worth so much, you could sell it for an amazing price....". means I'll never go back there. You're there to fix my car. All that crap is for me to say, I if I choose to. Not for you to put an extra 0 on the price....

So, what does that lead us to today? A) Lean to do the mechanical work on your VW yourself. This was hinted to me in the late '90s by an apprentice mechanic who I'd grown up with. "Like, a moron can do anything but the timing themselves!" Lesson learned.... a while too late. B) (And this a lot more interesting and enjoyable than the previous lesson) The Internet has given us access to so much. A community of people willing to help with advice, and accurate knowledge to give us the ability to do our own work. And the ability to source parts (literature too) from all over the world. What was once all down to rumour and "he said" is now open to wider knowledge. I've benefited greatly.

tldr.... the internet is great!

Current Mood: accomplished
Thursday, March 20th, 2014
10:57 pm
More automotive philosophy
This was written in response to someone who was asking if they should by a 1963 Beetle as a first car for their daughter...

When I was 15 I wanted a Beetle, nothing else would do. The oldest one I could get. A 1956, as it turned out. My Mother's family accepted this as normal being the family of a former VW dealer. My Father, former parts manager for that same dealership told me of the many woes which buying the '56 would bring me. I'd die in it, be left by the side of the road when it breaks down, be unable to get parts... He walked off waving his hands in the air. Hrumph.... Some faith in the product from someone who still works as a parts manager...

At that age I was aware of the difference in safety between an old car and a new one. Duh! I drove it carefully. Got called a pussy by my friends. (Except that one in the '56 Morris Minor, he understood!) I did what my grandfather taught me, the same thing that he taught his daughter learning on her 1968 model. "Don't just drive for yourself, drive for the person in front of you. And the person in front of them!"

I drove that '56 daily for 10 years. I had two accidents. The first was a dented left fender on the third day, pulling out of a parking space. The second was three years later, low speed at an intersection, my fault, totally smashed the right fender resulting in a concussion. Now that says a lot as to what happens when you DO have an accident! Taught me to be even more careful. Never had another accident in a VW since.

When I get a VW the first thing I do is remove the seatbelts and radial tyres if they've been installed. Never had anything post 1962 so in my state there is no requirement for belts. I've always wanted my driving experience to be period, without compromise.

You know how those people who die skydiving always have a relative say "They died doing something they loved"? ie. Hurtling to the ground screaming at terminal velocity? I want my Volkswagen family to say the same thing about me if it happens. Only I'll die screaming as a steering column hurtles towards my face. But at least I'll have died doing something that I love!
Sunday, November 10th, 2013
12:55 am
Perhaps I should explain...
I bought a Karmann Ghia a few months back. Too good to refuse. Seen for sale in Mandurah and mentioned to me as something I needed to see. I saw. I fretted... Not possible. Was egged on. Haters said no. They screamed no. The right haters to make me buy it and wave it under their noses.

But to have room for it meant that I needed to get rid of my first car. And that happened a while before the Karmann Ghia came along. It was hard for us all. That 1956 Beetle held memories for the whole family. My Grandfather taught me to drive in it. As most of us did, I turned up to highschool in it and parked next to others 50s cars (Morris Minors) and we all had a good look. I went on to University in it, when 50s cars were what so many of us had. (Why?) My rivalry with the guy in the grey '55 Vauxhall Wyvern, looking down my nose at the other guy in the '62 Beetle as it was soooooo new! And that dent in his hubcap... I was truly impressed by the crew that had the nice black Wolseley though. Piling out in their long back trenchcoats. That had me beat... Driving in the fog and the rain in that car, making proposals, having them accepted, rejected, as we all do. So much of our lives are lived in our cars. But she had to go. Not being driven, rusting to hell and back in what seemed like 6 months from a shiny black paint job to rust everywhere. So she went to a bricklayer who saw her in the garage and just had to have her. And I had to have brickwork... An honest exchange to someone who had that glint in their eye. And no idea as to how badly she was rusted, how unoriginal she was and how she'd only run for 2 hours in the last 5 years. It needed someone like that to get her up and running. But really,he'd be better off to break her up for parts. :OP

So the spot in the garage was filled by the Ghia. A beauty. And it makes me think that my lifelong interest in Volkswagens, which came from my family can be satisfied with the two I have now. A 1962 1/2 Beetle, and the 1961 Ghia. One made in Australia, the other delivered to Australia within a year of each other. At the beginning of Australian production of the Volkswagen, a time when the future looked bright for Volkswagen (Australasia) Pty Ltd. When the Ghia was imported in its greatest numbers.

That brief, stupid window when the decisions and promises of the Menzies government and their Labor predecessors meant than tariffs on imported cars (VW had concessions on the fully imported Karmann Ghia commensurate on local Beetle production) could make local manufacture "economic". Investment was huge. Tens of millions of 1950s/60s pounds. A factory was established that still operates today as part of GM, making high performance vehicles. Still with a VW logo on top covered in concealing plastic. But VW began to offload it to Datsun beginning in 1967. 5 years of "local" production at phenomenal expense.

So today... Ford is to shut down Australian production in 2016 (iirc) GM (Holden, it Oztraaalian, honest!) will surely be put out of its misery in the next two years. Toyota too. No one wants their tax dollars appropriated to support someone's job. I wish museum curators ( ie. me) had their jobs guaranteed and supported as an endangered species and so important as a relic worthy of the industrial museum. When what VW did of its own accord without begging for a taxpayer's dollar in 1967 happens to Ford, GM, and Toyota in the next year or so, all of the owners of those makes in Australia can do what I do in my 1962 Beetle.

We can sit happily in our cars as relics of an immediate post war economic disaster with that wonderful little round sticker in our back windows proudly proclaiming "MADE IN AUSTRALIA" as relics of a bygone age.

Current Mood: irate
Saturday, November 9th, 2013
11:23 pm
Drive Drive Drive on the Autobahn....
Did a 120 mile country drive to go see a friend at a steam engine working day. Maintained 70mph for 1 hour. Toll: 1 snake. Missed: 2 bobtail lizards, 1 monitor lizard, Cows (numerous). They eventually let me thought the middle of the herd, probably got used to a fellow black and white creature.
My departing present from them is a load of cow shite stuck under the rear wings...20131109_151746

Current Mood: cheerful
Sunday, June 9th, 2013
10:50 pm
The Australian 2011 VW Kerfuffle
My family have been working for and driving VWs since the 1950s. We've been advocates for the company and proud owners. Until one member of the family bought a 2011 Golf. It conked out on the first test drive. We believed the stammering salesman when he said it wasn't a problem. More fool us and our faith in VW.... It ran rough from day one. It stalled a few times. So the family member asked me to take it to the dealer to be looked at. So I took it down on the freeway at 110kph. And it suddenly dropped into low gear. There was a semi trailer behind me. And if I hadn't swerved into the emergency lane I'd have been another statistic.... I'm now disgusted and embarrassed by VW. They trade off a reputation for reliability that was gained 40 years ago with a different car. I'll happily drive my 1962 Australian made Beetle. It runs smooth... It doesn't try to kill me or members of my family. It's nothing like a Golf!

Current Mood: irate
Sunday, December 23rd, 2012
3:03 pm
Thoughts on City of Fremantle Redevelopment

I wrote this up last week at work and I thought I may as well upload it here so I can feel that I'm posting something, at least. It's in response to the City of Fremantle's plan to engage with business to redevelop a very tired area of the town.

It’s a long needed attempt to undo the damage done to the city in the 10 years from 1983-1993 after which all so-called development stopped. Driving out businesses, as aided by the early 80s credit squeeze started the process and it’s good to see them putting business at the forefront for a  change. It’s taken Fremantle nearly 30 years to realise that one point. Like Freo, Cuba’s a great place to visit but not a nice place to live. Lots of decaying heritage and culture but no economic development which means you have lots of rotting Victorian buildings. So keep those, of course, but use business to revitalise them.

Soulless developments like Queensgate and the earlier ones were never fully realised after the mythical ‘post-cup boom’ never eventuated because businesses would not invest.

Another great piece of damage were the horrific things done in that decade by a Mayor who hated grass. Look at King’s Square, which was once a living breathing heart of Fremantle but which caught a classic case of that era’s RBP disease. In this case grey concrete rather than Perth’s Red Brick Paving. Now you can’t move through King’s Square quick enough. It’s the worst public space in WA in my opinion. So yay for a plan to revitalise Fremantle, we’ve been waiting 20 years

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011
8:10 pm
The Council of Wisdom!
So, FIFA president Sepp Blatter needs to come up with a way out of international soccer's current moral crisis. Cost is no obstacle. What does he do? He forms The Council of Wisdom (TM) made up so far of....... Placido Domingo and Henry Kissinger! Who else will join this team of highly paid international men of influence? Stephen Hawking? Or maybe even Chuck Norris?

But whoever may join, they will be known the universe over as....... THE COUNCIL OF WISDOM!

Current Mood: amused
Wednesday, October 6th, 2010
8:38 pm
A song and dance man...
Well, that was an interesting day. I can't complain that my work life isn't varied. I performed a skit on stage today in front of 300 people. Managed to get my point across and elicit a few laughs as well. I've given lectures to audiences of that size, but never a performance perfore. I see why actors can get addicted to having the focus of 300 people who are (allegedly) paying rapt attention to you, and then getting applause and cheers. That's a new kind of rush...
Sunday, October 3rd, 2010
6:01 pm
You dipstick!
I go to check the oil in my pickup yesterday and the dipstick's gone. It probably says how lax I am in checking the oil, but I know I haven't checked it since the last time it was serviced. Which was after the alternator went. That moron mobile mechanic has taken it out and forgot to put it back.

So now the questions are: What does driving around without a dipstick do, and where the heck do you get a replacement dipstick for a 1985 Nissan Z22 engine?
Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
8:54 pm
Squeeze Germany 'till the Pips Squeak
Today, Germany made its last reparation payment to Great Britain, France, and the United States. The last official element of the First World War and the resulting peace of Versallais has been completed. The War Debt has been paid. Perhaps Germany will realise the folly of its ways and never resort to warlordism and militrisim again. Oh wait...

But seriously, today is one of the most significat days of the last decade in world history. It's also certain to be the least recognised.
Monday, June 7th, 2010
10:51 pm
Resistance is Useful
My 1986 Nissan 720 pickup did something spectacular a couple of weeks back. I was driving to work and all of a sudden, bang. Huge cloud of black smoke, a loss of acceleration and a slow rolling stop. The engine didn't cut out but I knew it wouldn't start again after I shut it off. Came to rest in the grass in the middle of a dual carriage way. 50 yards short of a service station I realised after I came to final halt. A bit silly that, I probably could have made it.

After calling someone at work to come and get me and getting a tow home in the evening, I noticed a mobile mechanic in the next door neighbour's yard. I arranged for him to come back the next day and get the thing going again. When I got back home the message he left was something like this: "Replaced condenser and points. Generator warning light on. Does it normally do this?". Yes, I always drive my cars with a blazing red warning light burning. Ok... Consult manual. As I suspected, alternator problem, see service technician at earliest convenience. I book the vehicle in for to be looked at. I have to drive it to work the next day, so I decide to see how it goes....

Eyes on volt meter. Looks OK. But pretty soon it's at 15 volts... 16... 18... 20.... Off the dial... Right.... Looks like the problem is the voltage regulator in the alternator. Why would the mechanic have left it like that? Ok... How do we get the voltage down? Resistance... Turn on the lights! Now we're down to 18 volts and holding... What next? Of course,  THE DEMISTER! 14 volts and steady! It's just like Apollo 13, except BACKWARDS! That gets me through the next two days.

Now at the mechanics, the issue of the non-existent 1986 model year for the Nissan 720 raises its head yet again. The alternator ordered is the wrong one. After consulting a visual recognition book for alternators it turns out that Nissan had decided to put an alternator from a Datsun 180B in last 720s that they made. This pickup is truly made from the sweepings of the Nissan factory floor and any parts that they wanted to get rid of before they started production of the Navara.

But it still goes. I thought that was going to be it. But as Les the mechanic said to me with a grin "Oh, it's not dead yet!".

That's his revenge on me...
Friday, May 28th, 2010
10:43 pm
Operation Plowshare
I can't stand it anymore, I've got to say this. Has anyone considered the use of a relatively small yield nuclear device to cap a certain oil well? I'd love to hear from Those More Knowledgeable if such a project would be feasible. I can't see why it wouldn't work. It'd break so many treaties it wouldn't be funny and it'll never even be considered. But the environmental effects of the initiation of such a device at the well head could hardly be any worse than the current situation.
Thursday, October 29th, 2009
10:13 pm
Art Linkletter
Art was right. They do. Happened to me today. I'm shepherding thirty school children around central Mandurah trying to get the little tykes to have a greater appreciation of their history. We come to the church and the graveyard. They always like that, scary stuff, lots of good stories there. I've never been asked a question relating to the church, though. During question time after the usual run of "Who's in that grave?" and "Are there ghosts?" a seven year old boy asks the following; "Why do people go to church? Is God real?". I know I have a reputation in that town for knowing everything, but I'm afraid that one's above my pay grade, son!
Sunday, October 25th, 2009
12:58 pm
National Anthems Both Old and Non-Existant
I had to assemble a display for United Nations Day yesterday. A local had some grant funding to put on a 'festival of nations' kind of thing and thought that the history of Mandurah should be represented. That's where I came in. They had a sound system, and appropriately enough, a CD of national anthems from around the world. The CD cycled through and all was fine. Until the Soviet anthem was played. How old's this? I picked up the CD cover and it was dated, oddly, 1996. The disk also included the West German anthem.... and wait for it, the Australian national anthem. Waltzing Matilda, of course. :oP
Monday, July 13th, 2009
11:15 pm
Carnivorous Parrots
I was driving to work last week early in the morning when I came across a small squashed marsupial on the road in the middle of my lane. A brush tailed possum, possibly. Nothing too unusual on the edge of suburbia, I hear you say. What was beyond unusual, and entering the downright creepy was the two ring necked parrots sitting on top of the carcass. Tearing at the flesh. Eating it. With so much intense determination that as I approached they didn't fly away. I couldn't swerve, so seeing their lack of preparedness I thought it best to drive over them and hope my high ground clearance would leave them unharmed.

Fortunately, it did. So in my rear view mirror I saw two surprised parrots recover from their fright and return to.... eating a dead possum. I like to think I know parrots. I've loved them and been around them for as long as I can remember, and I've never seen a parrot so preoccupied or determined. Or eating raw meat. A dietary need I've never been aware of? Zombie parrots? Either way, this has disturbed me. Ring necked parrots have always been my least favorite parrot  and now that I know they might go all Alfred Hitchcock on me next time I take a nap in the park, they've moved down even further in my estimation.

But seriously, has anyone ever heard of or seen a parrot eat meat? There must be a reasonable explanation for this behaviour.
Sunday, February 22nd, 2009
8:12 pm
What's in a name?
A lot when it comes to Royal Navy ships named 'Vanguard'. I read that the current HMS Vanguard, a Trident missile armed SSBN has been in collision with the French SSBN Le Triomphant. Let's not worry about Le Triomphant for now, apart from noting how generally silly it is to give a French warship a name associated with winning anything. Ever. But the English ships named Vanguard... They're at least as bad, if not worse. This latest collision isn't a disaster. It's the best that we can hope for.

Okay, iron and steel ships named Vanguard... They start with the Vanguard of the Audacious class in 1870. She lasted just over
four years before colliding with her sister Iron Duke off Dublin Bay in a fog, becoming the first Royal Navy battleship in history to be sunk by collision. Noone dared to use the name again untill 1910. This time, Vanguard was a Dreadnought battleship that took part in the battle of Jutland. But a year later she spontaneously blew up at anchor killing 804 of her crew. Now the next Vanguard admittedly didn't sink or blow up, but happened to be the last and most useless battleship that the Royal Navy ever came up with. The folorn last example of its kind, obsolete from the moment it came down the slipway in 1946 with a name dripping in irony. That alone is enough reason to retire the name. Suffice to say, those old sailor's stories of certain ship names being cursed, the more I learn the more I tend to agree that some names should be buried never to be used again.

But given the options, let's hope that the current Vanguard now skips 1910 Vanguard's fate to go safely to the breaker's yard like 1946 Vanguard did. Once, the firey death of a battleship was the biggest explosion the world new. A nuclear armed and fueled submarine's conflagration is something no superstitious sailor of previous centuries could have even begun to comprehend.
Tuesday, March 28th, 2006
10:36 pm
Motoring Icon
Here's a new icon, for motoring related posts. It's from a 1950s RAC road map cover. Can you get more 50s cartoon style than this?

Current Mood: tired
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