Yay – Holidays for me!

So yah – now that I actually have some money again, I’m in the position where going off for a brief holiday is again a fiscal possibility. I’d sort of promised myself that I would get  away for a bit once the house sold and I settled in in the new digs. So I’ve been there for about 6 weeks now (although unpacking has progressed pathetically slowly, but that’s another story).  So looking through the work schedule for the rest of the year, I found that if I didn’t take leave before the end of September, then I wasn’t going to be able to take any before the end of the year. So I needed to move fairly briskly. So with the leave secured I needed to figure out where I wanted to go.

As I’ve been feeling pretty run down, and been sick through a lot of winter, the idea for this holiday was just to go somewhere to kick back and re-charge the batteries. So I was never planning some great overseas bonanza where I would feel obliged to make the most of it and trek around taking in all the sites and doing the general tourist thing. So I was thinking along the lines of somewhere I’d been before and enjoyed. I was thinking of places like Darwin, Cairns, the Gold Coast, the Sapphire Coast, etc. I had a shortlist of about 10 that i was working through to come up with a winner. Spoke to some friends for advice. But when I was quietly pondering, I decided on an area I hadn’t been before but always wanted to go to – The Blue Mountains in NSW. I had wanted to visit here for years, particularly when we lived closer, but never got there for reasons, various. So I’m off up there for a long weekend – Friday to Tuesday.

Now – how to get there. Simplest is fly to Sydney and then hire a car. Would be nice if I can use frequent flyer points and fly for free. But there are no frequent flyer seats into Sydney of a Friday unless you want to arrive in the middle of the night or at sparrows fart. And I was a whisker short of points to fly business class so Booo!

While I pondered that, I thought I’d sort out a hire car. I wanted to hire something interesting, but to my dismay, all the hire companies basically all hire the same cars these days, which are shitbox pacific rim cars, or shitbox Australian cars. It’s really bloody annoying. I mean I understand the Hyundai Getz as a cheap super mini, but the next layer up was all Kia Cowpats and the like. Those types are the only choices unless you go full size, which I didn’t. Full size though was no better, with standard Falcons and Commodores the norm. And that’s what I drive now, so boring! The luxury / prestige option was a Statesman, which is huge and still a shitbox. What’s wrong with offering a 3 series BMW or C class Merc? Only a few years ago you could hire an X class Jag, but no more. So Booo there as well.

I tried Europcar, which is a misleading name as most of their cars were the same list of shitboxes as elsewhere, but at least they had a few different offerings. A bit of unintentional comedy from their website, listed the Audi A3 Diesel class, where a typical vehicle was a Peugeot 307 :)

So I thought an Audi A3 would be just the job. The daily rate was OK – about $77 per day so I worked through a quote. Then the extras started to pile up. $80 surcharge for a ‘prestige location’. This is apparently because I wanted to collect and drop off from Mascot, and this is a transference of the fee Sydney airport charges for the hire company to have an office on site. At $80, it would be cheaper for me to get a taxi to the CBD office and collect it from there, tolls and all. But they probably have a different charge for that! There was another charge for some other bloody thing. And then there was the insurance!. Now I’ve never used Europcar before, and I haven’t hired a car for ages so the memory is a bit hazy, but I seem to remember that insurance was a flat amount on top, and while a rip off, was bearable. These guys quoted about 4 different flavours and were an additional per day charge. So if you wanted cover against flat tyres, and broken windscreens or headlights, as well as reduced excess in case some uninsured fucktard drives into you, then it was an additional $35  per day! Or to put it another way, 50% of the starting hire cost of the car. All this added up to about $650 for 4 and a bit days of hire car, which smacked a bit of a rip off. I’m mean, I’m happy to pay for quality, I’m happy to pay for convenience. I’ll even cop a rip off if it serves to my end. But this felt a bit like copping one up the date without a reach around.

So that leaves me with the option of the road trip, which I really didn’t want to do. I mean, I like driving and I enjoy the road trip, but this is a fair distance to and fro and will cut into my sitting on my arse having a scotch time. I’ll see what else I can manage.

For the second long weekend, I’m catching up with some old mates to stomp some brain cells and howl bare chested at the moon. Had the same story with frequent flyer flights on the Sunday, but this time I did have enough points, so yes please I will fly business class. Thank you.

As I wanted to have a computing capability while I was away, I was looking at laptops. Now I’m firmly of the school of thought that a portable computer should be truly portable first and foremost. If I need a big beefy computer, then I’ll just get a desktop. I have a work laptop, but it’s a massive Tecra A9 and weighs about 3 tonnes so I wasn’t interested in lugging that thing around. I was looking at a tablet, but those things are a bit pricey still. After talking with a few people and isolating exactly what I wanted to use it for, a beefy netbook with increased RAM looked like it would would be just the story. So I picked up an Asus eeepc 7000HE and upped the RAM to 2 GB. It’s light and has a long battery life and will be able to handle all I want to run on it. I can even run Visual Studio on it.

Part of what I want to do while off is to do some XNA stuff, so I’m planning on finishing off the tutorial process over the next couple of weeks and then try my hand at a game with the training wheels off. The first attempt will likely be a recreation of the classic ‘Pong’.

Now I just need to work out what bottle of scotch to take to the Blue Mountains with me. Or do I buy a new one specially? Might be time to pick up a PC7 perhaps…


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ADSL2 Update

A quick update – yes I finally have an Internet connection that works!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!1!!

The final follow up happened as so:

  • ISP rang me on Friday evening to do some more tests that involved plugging in a phone and listening for noise and or dial tone. There was none.
  • 2nd test was to type in a number and see if the phone returned a number. Not sure whether my phone could handle that, but nothing happened.
  • The ISP said that they were now able to authorise the patch check at the exchange. The SLA / process was the wholesaler could take up to 24 hours to respond, and then 24-48 hours to perform the actual test and advise accordingly.
  • I confirmed that the wholesaler was actually Telstra so I’m accurate in my bagging.
  • So I’m thinking at this stage that it’s going to be mid next week at the earliest before I get comms.
  • So imagine to my surprise on Sunday afternoon while I’m at the computer watching a QI episode when I hear the modem click and my usage meter shows 100 remaining rather than socket error.
  • So yay – Internet up and working. Did some tests and I don’t appear to be getting ADSL2 at full noise but rather closer to 15-16Mbps, but I know distance from the exchange etc.  affects this. So I’m happy with those speeds.

So in the interests of fairness, I will add that good on Telstra for doing the tests and rectifications necessary over the 48 hours on a weekend.

Would have been nice if they’d got it right first time though ;)



Lurgys and Other Maladies

Just a quick update. The house settled so I have some walking around money again for the first time in forever. Not spending anything has become so second nature to me now that it’s just sitting there. I shuffled it off to a high interest account for the time being.

The unpacking hasn’t gone as quickly as I had hoped. I’ve been constantly sick for the last month and a half. It follows a set pattern, and has since the start of July. I feel sick for exactly two weeks. Not dying sick, or even too sick to go to work sick, just feeling like I’m only operating at about 60%. No matter what I seem to do, it stays the same for two weeks. Then it seems to go away and I feel fine for about 4-5 days at which time it comes back again, for exactly two weeks. I’m into the third two week block now and its giving me the shits (figuratively). Early on I was making sure I got plenty of rest, wrapping myself in cotton wool over the weekend, doing nothing – no effect. Last weekend, I did what I wanted – stayed up late, went over to friends and drank scotch and it cleared up just as scheduled. And today it’s back again. Headache, general aches, snotty, dodgy concentration. But I’m not going to go to ground over the weekend. Doesn’t seem to help anyway. I wonder if the Bundy bear might chase it off? It’s not swine flu as I don’t have the upturned nose or the curly tail as of yet.

I brought a new STB and PVR (combined) unit so I can finally move into the 21st century a watch digital TV. My original plan was to sell off the CRT and buy a new Bravia, but I didn’t get my act together prior to the removal, and once I moved the old unit I couldn’t really bring myself to throwing out something that was perfectly functional – so I went the STB route. I got one of the rare units that has an analogue input so if I decide to get Foxtel I can use the same unit to record. This was before I noticed that IQ units only cost $10 per month to rent from Foxtel. Oh well, at least I now have a mechanism to digitise old VHS stuff.

I’ve added a link on the right to the Project Sovereignty wiki. As I was working through the architectural design of Sovereignty I realised that I needed to bone up on a number of concepts in XNA so I’ve put together a number of sub smaller projects designed to bring me up to speed in a fun way. I’m working through those now.

I also brought a new Dyson vacuum cleaner that I got cheap – and have yet to remove it from the box. I am such a bloke!

Last major item is that I am still without internet at my new place which is now really starting to annoy me. The place I am renting comes with free internet but it is really a pathetic service. You could purchase additional monthly quota – at 11.5c per MB, or $115 per marketing GB. This is quite an increase from the $1.50 per GB that I had been paying with my previous provider! So I decided to pay for my own ADSL connection. The process went something like this…

  • Requested a Naked ADSL2+ service from the provider I used at my old address
  • Told that as my new address was in a unit complex, that they only way they can provide naked ADSL2+ was to convert an existing telephone service to guarantee a copper pair connection to my unit.
  • Told them that there definitely was an existing copper pair to the unit – the one supplied for the phone which I had deliberately not connected.
  • Told that it was too hard unless I had an existing service to convert
  • Defeated, I contacted Telstra to get an el-cheapo telephone service connected, knowing full well that they will sting me with a short term telephone service fee when I have it cancelled in a few days
  • Telstra tell me it will take a week to set up the connection
  • Telstra technician rings me up to complain that he can’t access the property to set up my phone service.
  • I tell the technician that if somebody had let me know that they still need to access the property in the 21st century to enable a phone line, then I would have been at home to let him in. Since nobody did, I’m not.
  • The technician says he’ll give it his best shot to patch through, but he’ll probably get it wrong. Gives me a number to call to verify if it works or not.
  • As I was not intending to have a landline at the new digs, I “borrow” my desk phone from work to test the connection. To my huge surprise it works, and I am able to send and receive calls.
  • The next morning I call Telstra on the provided number to verify success. The call centre seem very surprised at this as the job status was listed as incomplete due to no property access.
  • I tell them it’s all sweet so can they please finalise the job.
  • They tell me yes, but I can’t do it from there. I will need to ring the ‘front of house’ service desk to have the job closed. Note – this really pisses me off, me having to do the leg work because their process is broken. I recently sent a rocket to my guys here at work for doing the same thing. It’s not a good look.
  • I ring front of house and they close the job for me, stating it will take a little while for the change to flow through to the exchange?
  • The Telstra dude asks me if I needed anything else such as broadband through Bigpond. I say no. He doesn’t ask why. He must have sensed a pre prepared rant.
  • I give it overnight and lodge a naked ADSL2 request through my ISP
  • At 5pm I get a message saying that my request had been rejected due to the provided service not existing.
  • I ring them from home stating that yes the service does exist, and that I am speaking to them on it at that moment.
  • They re submit the request on my behalf.
  • 24 hours later I get a message saying my request has been rejected as the service does not exist.
  • I ring Telstra the next day to have a whinge. A pleasant gentleman from India confirms that  the service is active and published though the exchange.
  • Deciding discretion is the better part of valour, I waited until the end of the week before trying again.
  • I resubmitted the request and this time got a positive response – YAY and was told it would take 2 weeks to provision – BOO
  • Fast Forward 2 weeks, or more accurately, Monday. I received a message saying my VOIP service was online. Then another message saying Naked ADSL2 was up.
  • I get home – reconfigure the modem, hook up – no sync!
  • Figuring this may be another one of these it takes time to filter through.
  • I take the opportunity to double check my settings and perform some basic fault isolation – try different cables, etc.
  • Wednesday evening and not been able to achieve sync at anytime. Take screenshots of modem settings so I can send to ISP from work.
  • Draft up a service call providing all the information I could about settings and the isolations I had performed.
  • Got a message from the ISP helpdesk saying that there was a strong likelihood that the enchange had mis-jumpered my service. If I called the ISP helpdesk (Grrrr) then they would be able to lodge a request for a jumper test.
  • Called the ISP helpdesk and read the email from the ISP helpdesk to them. The dude asked me to disconnect my modem so they could run the test. Told him I was at work. He told me to disconnect it when I got home and then call them back as they were open until midnight CST. Cool
  • 10 minutes later the same dude rings me back to say he ran the tests anyway? and that nothing came back so he has initiated the exchange jumper request. I imagine this is a Telstra thing and will probably take weeks.
  • He told me to leave my modem connected and turned on in case they need to run more tests???

I’ll let you know how I go.


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My Best XI

Holy crap, doesn’t time fly! My last post from six months ago confidently states that I’ll be posting more often. Whoops!

Well, a lots changed. The house is sold and I’ve moved out. I am currently involved in the ‘joy’ of unpacking. Yuck. The other house is under offer and money will change hands after the first one is settled. Am in the process of ridding myself of a significant amount of crap. Estimate 5 car loads to the tip by the time all is said and done.

I need to update on the projects as the change of circumstances has affected most of them. Operations Billund and Sovereignty are under way. Gateways and Tipple track are inactive but unchanged. Pretty much everything else has been superseded by events.

Anyways, I found myself at the end of the summer being completely bored of cricket and just wanting football season to start. Well, mid winter and the Hawks are going like shit and will probably miss the finals after taking it all last year. I have either been too crook or too busy with the house to even get to many games this year. Will try to do a big push for the last six weeks of the season… Due to all this, I now find myself with a renewed interest into the ashes. The cric info site is running a bit of a competition to name the best XI for a given country which is always an interesting exercise. For what it’s worth, here’s my best XI for Australia:

  1. Matthew Hayden
  2. Bill Ponsford
  3. Don Bradman (c)
  4. Ricky Ponting
  5. Alan Border (vc)
  6. Keith Miller
  7. Adam Gilchrist
  8. Shane Warne
  9. Dennis Lillee
  10. Clarrie Grimmett
  11. Glenn McGrath

As there’s some pretty big names to miss out on this prestigious selection, I’ve decided to add an Australia A best XI, or best Australian second XI, or more simply, the second best Australian XI:

  1. Arthur Morris
  2. Victor Trumper
  3. Neil Harvey
  4. Greg Chappell
  5. Steve Waugh (c)
  6. Richie Benaud (vc)
  7. Ian Healy
  8. Bill O’Reilly
  9. Alan Davidson
  10. Ray Lindwall
  11. Fred Spofforth

And because I’m bored I’m preempting and doing my first cut at the best XI for the West Indies:

  1. Gordon Greenidge
  2. Desmond Haynes
  3. Viv Richards
  4. Brian Lara
  5. Clive Lloyd
  6. Garfield Sobers
  7. Jeff Dujon
  8. Michael Holding
  9. Curtly Ambrose
  10. Joel Garner
  11. Courtney Walsh

Twelfth man – Lance Gibbs

Unlucky – Larry Gomes, Richie Richardson, Frank Worrell,  Conrad Hunte, Wes Hall, Andy Roberts, Colin Croft and Malcolm Marshall.



Back Again

Hi All,

It’s been a while, but since I last posted my life has been turned upside down. I’ve renamed the blog, so read into that what you will. I’ve also taken the opportunity to change jobs, which happened in late October, so all available headspace has been devoted to coming up to speed at the new employers. It’s been quite good actually. I’ve taken on a development manager role for a company in the education sector. It’s been a very pleasant sea change from the world of consulting to the DoD. It’s the sort of place that I could picture settling down for a long period of time, but I know myself well enough to see how I feel in about 3 years. The only thing is I now have to travel to work again after about 2 years of working from home, but believe it or not, I prefer the travel. It allows me to ponder the day ahead and keep on top of the news in the morning, and ponder those problems that occurred during the day on the trip home. I’ve been finding that whatever problems I’ve had, I have been able to work out on the trip home most times. I also happen to like driving which helps :)

I just had to leave my previous company. The economic downturn added to DoD projects being frozen after the change of government meant the company was in real trouble and as a board member, I didn’t want my hands anywhere near the controls if it went down. I was geographically distanced from the the companies area of operations and was being deliberately kept in the dark by the CEO and his minions, which led to constant fighting between him and me. I was a convenient patsy for anything that went wrong, particularly in the area of generating new revenue, which wasn’t my job. I could see by the financial state of the company that they were going to have to look at downsizing before Xmas, and with me fighting with the CEO, you didn’t need to be Nostradamus to figure out that the writing was on the wall. So I had to pretend to be looking for consultancy work while looking for an out myself. Luckily I found one. It’s unfortunate, because while the company was always a basket case, it had a good heart, but over time, and the transition of personnel, it became a basket case that thought it was smarter than it actually was. And this was a trait where like attracted like and anyone else eventually got sick of it and left, and those that left like that were usually the most talented and the ones you could most ill afford to lose (I am excluding myself from this group, naturally ;) )

My experiences with them over the last 4 and a half years could certainly fill a few entries for The Daily WTF. Maybe that’s something I should do in the future :)

Anyway, I’m back and I’ll look to start posting a bit more regularly again. I’m not sure where my projects will end up, as I’ll probably be selling the house and moving soon. More to come….



Operation Billund – Launch

Well Operation Billund is a go. This is something I have wanted to do for a while. I have a swag of Lego collected since I was a kid. Now I know that some bits are broken, and some bits are probably missing so I’ve always thought it would be an idea to inventory what I have and then replace the bits that are missing or broken. The $64,000 question was, how? I was always pretty good about keeping the instructions for each kit that I owned, but there was one small Technic kit that I bought later on that I managed to misplace the plans for. To complicate matters I don’t really remember what the kit was (some sort of car thing, well it had wheels in any case) and I don’t think I even have a picture of it, and I think there are bits missing. Also, I had a few universal and add on kits that don’t come with a utilise all parts plan so I thought this one was going to remain just an idea.

Enter the good people of Peeron. What I found upon my travels through the interweb was this site that has catalogs of a heap of Lego kits, with itemised parts lists with links to resellers of individual parts, both new and secondhand. So it looks like I’ll be able to find a replacement for my circa 1980 car chassis that is broken. I was also able to find a complete parts list for the universal sets, but could I find the elusive Technic car thingy? After a bit of trial and error, yes I could. It turns out it was a ‘Speedway Bandit‘ whatever one of those is, and more, there was a download link for a free instruction scan. That’s most of the problems solved, but what about those add on kits, you know, a pile of roof bricks, etc. These took me a while because most of them are fairly old, and the memory’s a bit dusty, but after searching through Peeron for a while, I think I have most of those sorted now. So the idea looks like a goer.

What I’m going to do is select a kit starting with the oldest and working to the newest and inventory it making it the subject of a post here, essentially talking about the memories that kit brings back.

So we’re ready to go, I’ve got a list to work through. I’ll do all the kits and then come back and do the add on stuff later. So all fired up and ready to go I dove into the under house storage area and brought everything up.

The plans are all in much the same nick as I remember them. Not bug or mice eaten which is good. Opened up some of the older stuff and oh my god the dust. I had to remember that this stuff would have remained dormant under my bed in my parents house from when I last used it until my mum sold that house a few years ago and packed it all up. It’s probably safe to assume that some of this stuff hasn’t seen the light of day for twenty years.

Some strange finds. The wind up motor still looks to work fine – once I found a key. And the old style battery box that used C batteries still had batteries in it. Fearing the worst I opened it up and found three of the old yellow Eveready NiCad rechargeable batteries. There was only minimal corrosion on the terminals, nothing some steelo won’t cure. Yellow is the right colour for those batteries. I remember them being the same price as gold, and you had to go to an electronics store to buy them. They took forever to charge and lasted less than alkaline batteries, but you didn’t have to keep bugging your parents for new ones. 1200 mAmp Hours the case says – from a C cell. Now we have 2500 mAmp hour NiMH AA batteries that you buy from the supermarket. The wonders of modern technology. I am yet to test the 4.5V motor, but I’ll be impressed if it still works. Its gotta be close to 30 years old.

In my searching I found some more plans and catalogs, and the one with the different rail layouts you could make. I’ll embed some pictures of it if I can make it work. I also found four Fabuland kits and plans. I’m pretty sure these were my sisters but somehow they ended up in my stuff. Oh well posession being 9/10ths of the law and all that.

Bit of a disaster. I’ve discovered that I’ve misplaced the plans to most of my Technic stuff and also the entire Technic car kit (the newer pop up headlight one, not the older, cooler one). This pisses me off a bit. I’ve gone back under the house and had a bit of a fossick but I can put my hands on them. I’m pretty sure they’d all be together. Originally I thought it was just the plans missing which while an imbuggerance wasn’t a showstopper as I could download replicas from Peeron and work from those in the interim, but upon further investigation I noticed that key, obvious parts that go into the big car like the wheels were missing too. I know I had this stuff in the last house we lived in, and I know that that house was enpty when we moved out, so they’ll turn up. Just annoyed at the minute. Thats all for now. I’ll post the first model when I get it done. Oh – and I chose Billund for the operation name as its the name of the town where Lego was founded ;)



Food and French wine

Sunday saw the opportunity to go to an event that was to be an introduction to French wine and matching with food. A local wine seller, Vintage Cellars, periodically has events for members of their  wine club. These tend to vary in terms of quality and value for money, but the couple I’ve been to were exceptional. Last year I went to a scotch tasting for Bruichladdich distillery. I think the cost was $70 per ticket and we got to sample six whiskies starting from their 10 year old single malt and finishing with their flagship Port Charlotte. They also sent us home with a bottle of the 10 year old single malt which retails at $60. So that one was pretty good value. It was also held in a very nice private club in Melbourne’s CBD – The Blue Diamond Club.

Sunday’s event was hosted at the Carlisle Wine Bar near St Kilda. The format of the event was to go through each wine in turn, talk a bit about the region, or appellation, try the wine, try some of the accompanying food, and then try the wine again noting how much better it tastes with the food. I’d been quite looking forward to this event as I’d been recently getting into some Syrah based wines from the southern Rhone region that I’d quite liked – the Hermitage and Cote De Rhone areas. I’ve been probably what you would call a semi serious wine drinker for a number of years now with quite a few quality wines being cellar-ed away until their optimal drinking time. My favourites are big, full bodied, peppery South Eastern Australian reds, mainly Shiraz. I’m familiar with other types and the qualities of a few other regions but most of my wine drinking is centered around the big Shiraz. I was aware of the concept of matching food with wine for a greater overall eating experience but I never really worried about it, sticking to my preferred wine. I mean, I wouldn’t have a Shiraz with shellfish or a lightly flavoured fish, but anything else was fair game.

The wine regions in Australia tend to grow the types of grapes that grow best in that region, funnily enough. In France (and Italy) we learnt, as they have been making wine for a hell of a lot longer, the grapes grown in the region are those that would complement the traditional food of that area. So, what did we try on Sunday?

  • The first wine we tried was a Sparkling Chardonnay from the Loire region. I don’t generally have a huge taste for sparkling wine. I like the expensive stuff from Champagne if someones got a bottle going, and I like a sparkling Shiraz (now there’s a surprise) during summer, but that’s about it. This one was quite nice with a fruity apple flavour on the front palette finishing crisply on the back. Due to the apple flavour, our table referred to this one as apple cider, which probably doesn’t do it justice. The food accompanying this wine was shelled oysters, infused with orange and herb flavour. The natural saltiness of the oysters balanced out the sweet apple flavour of the wine and I found made the wine a bit punchier and nicer.
  • The next wine was a Chardonnay from the Burgundy region. This was a good meaty Chardonnay and not too fruity like some of the Australian ones you can get. This is my much preferred style of Chardonnay – what we jokingly refer to as white wine for red wine drinkers, but I don’t tend to have too much of it as the typical labels of this style are expensive (your Yattarna and Eileen Hardy’s) and I don’t know enough about them to root out cheaper ones without doing some tedious (and potentially distasteful) trial and error. The food accompanying this was grilled artichoke with cheese and pine nut topping. Apparently this style of wine goes well with chicken and any of your heavy root vegetables as well. This was a bit of a test as I really liked the wine before hand, and I don’t really think much of artichokes. In summary, the wine made the artichoke taste better, and the artichoke / pine nut / cheese took out any of the rough edges the wine had. win / win.
  • Next cab off the rank was a Rose’. Oh dear I guess we had to get here. I hate Rose’. Maybe I hadn’t had a good one – Australian ones don’t have a good reputation they make them a bit sweet for some reason. This one was OK sorta by itself. It comes from a part of France called Nimes which is situated on the borders of the Rhone and Languedoc regions. Apparently there is some debate over which region Nimes actually falls in, so I’m not going to add to it by throwing my lot in with either side. This wine was largely OK as I said, except there was a flavour on the front palette that threw me. I thought there was a hint of what I’ll call “stale, weak red cordial”. You know when you visited your Nanna’s place as a kid and she drags out the red cordial syrup from the back of the cupboard and it’s probably been there since your parents were kids, mixes it up with water so there’s barely a pink twinge to it because “that stuff’ll rot your teeth you know” and you’re sitting there smiling graciously hoping the visit will wind up soon so you can go back to playing with your Lego. You know that flavour? Well that was the hint I picked up from the front of this wine. So not a real good start. The food accompanying this was your traditional smoked salmon with capers. Now this was a winner! The oiliness and flavour of the smoked salmon completely got rid of the cordial taste and that allowed the back flavours of the wine to shine through making quite an elegant match that I wouldn’t have thought possible beforehand. This one was the surprise packet of the taste for mine, to the point where if I find myself having a smoked salmon dish in the future, I will probably try to have a good glass of rose’ with it. But that’ll be about the only time I will :)
  • Next wine was a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire region. Sav Blanc is probably the white wine I drink the most of, preferring labels from the Marlborough region in New Zealand and the Margaret River region in Western Australia. This wine was very similar in style to wines from those regions. Crisp, dry, not too fruity. Perfect for a summers day. The food that accompanied this was sardine fillet with a spicy ‘siciliana’ sauce. I didn’t get a huge transformation with this coupling. Both tasted good before hand. Both tasted good afterwards but much the same. Maybe I needed a bit more chili to bring out the effect. Reportedly Sav Blanc is the best wine for chili based food like your local Thai outlet.
  • Next up we had a Pinot Noir from the Burgundy region. I haven’t had a lot of Pinot to compare this to, It tasted OK, just like a baby red, something that I would normally overlook for a wine with a bit more going on. Normally I would say that this is a bit timid for my tastes. Accompanying this was duck served on semolina dumplings. The gaminess of the duck I found brought the wine out of it’s shell seemingly giving it more body and depth. Overall a very nice effect. Pinot Noir is apparently your go to for any of the game based dishes. Duck, rabbit, venison, etc. I wonder how it would go with kangaroo?
  • Finally we finished with a Syrah blend from Cote de Rhone. This was a lovely, balanced full flavoured example of wines in that region by my somewhat limited experience. Not a big smash the furniture up display like you get from some of my favourite Australian wines, Wynns take a bow, but a polished, incredibly complex series of flavours. Food served with this was beef carpaccio. Not much more I can really say here. The beef caused the wine to light up even more, bringing forth even more flavours to the point where I took forever to finish this, savouring each bit / sip.

The size of each dish I would describe as appetizer – small appetizer, for example there were to large oysters for each serving on the first course. All up this cost us $35 per seat, which you would have to agree is exceptional value. One of the reasons Vintage Cellars does this of course is to drum up awareness of their product lines and an order list is circulated at some point, but the presenters go to great pains to state that you don’t have to buy anything. There is usually some sort of attendance special on if you do though. For ones like this that are great value I normally don’t mind getting out the plastic, so I ordered a mixed 1/2 doz which was one of everything and had the bonus of coming with four Italian wine glasses and we are in the need of everyday wine glasses that can go through the dishwasher. I also bought three extra of the Chardonnay and the CTR Syrah as these were my favourites.

You may have noticed that I haven’t given the names of the wine. This is due to having non existent French so I would have botched all the spelling if I had written them down, and after a heap of Domain this and Chateau that as well as six glasses of wine, well the retention wasn’t faring too well. The Carlisle Wine Bar looks to be a really nice place, one that I think I’ll try to get back to for a full meal at some point. All in all what we used to refer to as a PSA – Pleasant Sunday Afternoon.




For the next six months, I have lined up various little projects to keep myself occupied. Some are quite small, some are quite large, likely to span the entire period and possibly beyond. It actually looks to be quite a large list given that I have to find time to work and socialise as well but the way I tend to operate, as those who know me can attest, is to plan, or gunna, a whole laundry load of things, and then if I manage to get through half of it, then I’m happy. This technique tends to annoy my wife a bit it must be said – but she won’t be here to see it.

I’ve decided for the sake of fun to list my little sanity projects with military style operation aliases. This is in aprt a nod to my military background and the ridiculous names they used to come up with – operation tandem thrust indeed, what does that remind you of – and also to keep a bit of intrigue about what I’m doing. If somebody guesses what one of the projects relates to before I reveal it, I’ll shout them a Bertie Beetle. I’ll reveal them as I go along in most cases, but some I don’t plan to reveal at all.

So, without further ado, here is the list:

  • Operation Signum Suscipio – this is just something that needs to be done and has done for a while. Depending on the financial situation though, this operation may have scope for a second phase;
  • Operation Common Man – A little while ago, this was going to be the number one priority however since then things have changed and there are a series of things that need to be put right before anything like this can even be considered. There is a very good likelihood that this won’t go ahead at all now;
  • Operation Billund – This is something I have wanted to do for ages but there was always a couple of pieces of the puzzle missing. Recently those planets came into alignment and this is now good to go;
  • Operation East Tamaki – a simple little job that needs to be done. We’ve been getting by without it for too long now;
  • Operation Kingdom of Buffy – this is a pie in the sky plan that may not get off the ground;
  • Operation Sovereignty – This is a shiny thing that captured my attention a little while ago than I want to explore in more detail;
  • Operation Gateways – This is one of the ones that won’t ever be revealed – nu uh, sorry;
  • Operation Tipple Track – Something that I need to put in place – the level of detail will depend on time and inclination; and
  • Operation Redmond – a shitty job that needs to be performed periodically, and is looking more necessary with each passing day.

So that’s the list. I’ll add each of these operations as sub categories under projects and then we’ll be off. Expect some movement on Billund very soon!




Well the Hawkers got up on Friday night, convincingly smashing the hapless doggies. Well the doggies aren’t normally hapless but they were on Friday. Not enough milk bones through the week or something. It was a brilliant start to what turned out to be a very ordinary weekend. You see we lost two family members on Saturday.

The deaths weren’t related in any way, they just happened to occur on the same day, making life tough for those who were close. Two people, both sick, neither unexpected, one at the end of their time, one early. As whenever I find someone I know passing early I can’t help but think back to those others. It is a list that only seems to grow. Friends, uncles, fathers, cousins and my mates baby daughter. You think back and wonder what might have been.

It was only a few weeks ago that I pointed my grandfathers name out to my wife at the war memorial in Canberra. They say things happen in threes which has me a bit worried. I found out last week my uncle’s cancer has returned, and the treatment they are talking about is focused on quality of life rather than quantity. With apologies to him, I hope that’s the third and we’re not going to get a smokey through the pack.

Well this post turned out to be on the levels of the later series’s of MASH on the maudlin scale. On an incredibly selfish note, my wife looks life she’ll be able to make it home for the funerals, so that’s four days where I’ll be able to see her that I wasn’t previously banking on.

I’m off now to deliver some French wine and a Disney Princesses colouring book to some worthy recipients.




So what’s the story with this blog? Why is it here, What does it mean and why can’t I keep my thoughts to myself like a normal person?

I guess first, a bit about me. I’m an Australian male in my mid thirties, married, no children, one cat. I like to think I work in the software industry, but in truth my career is probably at some sort of cross road. My current job has had me drift further and further from the software creation process to where I am supposed to spend the majority of my time doing Business Development – or to give it it’s non-wankery name – Sales. Now anybody who knows me will realise that sales and me go together about as well as bleach and chlorine, so I’m becoming a bit weary of the situation.

As suggested by the name, I decided to start this blog while my wife is “off saving the world”. Where she is off to and what she is saving it from I cannot say, but she is going to be away for some time. So I figured I’m going to need various things to occupy my time outside of work and I may as well keep a bit of a journal of my thoughts on the whole catastrophe. Also, my professional existence has been quite isolated for the past 18 months, and if I must be honest with myself, my writing skills have quite probably atrophied in that time. So I figured this is as good a way as any to polish ‘em up.

And the last point of discussion is why I am using the web log as my preferred medium of choice rather than a diary or legal pad or exercise book. The idea of keeping a journal of my thoughts in a diary or similar sort of thing seemed a bit too teenage girly for me. Next thing you know I would be writing poetry and leaving angsty comments in the margins, and we cannot under any circumstances have that. The idea that I would write stuff down certain in the knowledge that nobody would actually read it seemed, well, kind of lame to me. Now I know the likelihood of anybody actually reading this is practically nonexistent, but I can delude myself into thinking that I have potentially billions (note I am using the US definition of billion rather than than the Australian one as it results in a larger number) of readers. And if I can’t delude myself, then who can I delude?

So that is why I’ve decided to subject the good people of the internet to my poorly constructed, ignorant and quite probably drunken rants. I’m going to attempt to post every few days (if I say it out loud then it is more likely to happen).

I’ll probably make this post the about me page for now. Tonight I am off to the MCG for the qualifying final between the Mighty Fighting Hawks and those Bulldogs from the Western suburbs. So here’s hoping for a good game.