Tuesday, 30 June 2009

We're in the money

I just heard some University statistician say on radio that if you spent $54,000,000 buying every possible combination of numbers in tonight's record Lotto draw you'd be guaranteed the first prize of $90,000,000.

She didn't point out that should even just one other syndicate have the winning numbers too you would have to share the first prize and actually lose a minimum of $9,000,000.

As the world turns...

...quickly around me.

Apologies for the lack of blogging activity, including not keeping up to date with my extensive blog list.

This condition of disequilibrium is most disconcerting and I am spending a lot of my time resting. Hence there is very little occurring in my life at the moment and even less by way of creative thought bubbling away in my mind.

Recovery is going slowly and my GP, who I saw yesterday, tells me whilst he expects me to make a full recovery it may take six weeks to achieve.

I thought I might help the recovery process speed up a little yesterday by taking one of the little pills that both the hospital doctor and my GP prescribed for me and which are designed for nausea. These were curious pills to prescribe a patient experiencing dizziness when a principal side effect of the medication is...wait for it...dizziness but I tried one any way.

Big mistake. Within an hour I felt worse than for the past three days. I won't be taking any more.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

An unexpected turn

It appears I picked up a middle ear problem on my flight back from Brisbane.

I developed a terrible sense of instability and felt as though the room was rolling around me and that I was tumbling over. I called the ambulance who reached my home within about five minutes and after an initial assessment took me to St Vincents Emergency Department. (By the way, the assessing ambulance man was very cute but I was in no state to take enjoyment in that.) I was admitted to St Vincents at 5am on Thursday and after CT scans, X-rays and other tests was assessed as suffering Disequilibrium. I was placed in the Strokes Unit for monitoring although there was no belief that I had suffered a stroke.

Unfortunately, my hospitalisation meant that I had to miss meeting with Andrew during his Sydney visit which was a disappointment for me.

I have improved and was discharged from hospital this morning but I am still reeling like a drunken man when I walk. I will see my GP on Monday for further assessment and advice.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

The Brisbane birthday weekend - Part 2

Saturday: A lunch cruise on the river. It sounds a cheesy thing to do but we enjoyed it. Although rain was forecast, the weather remained fine making for a pleasant trip up and down the river. The food was reasonable and plentiful; actually the oysters and prawns were a big hit. I warned Gg to be careful of Rs' intentions that night when they consumed copious quantities of the oysters.

Once the Kookaburra Queen (yes, fitting name in the circumstances) docked we took a walk through the adjacent Botanic Gardens back to the city where we found a venue for drinks through to sunset.

Then it was off to the Casino for more drinks and random gambling. I'm not really into gambling and usually resist but the birthday spirit was in me and I played a bit of Keno and the poker (slot) machines spasmodically. Mt and Ml wisely avoided gambling altogether and kept a table base for us chatting away there whilst the rest of us came and went between gambling moments. Ll, Fd, Gg and Rs all managed jackpots of $100 or more but the birthday boy (yours truly) won zilch. I might as well have simply handed over my money to the Casino and walked out.

Sunday: And the rains came. It poured. We had planned a drive up to the Sunshine Coast and went ahead with that despite the weather. We headed for Mooloolaba and first stop was to the apartment building where Gg and Rs are in the process of buying a holiday apartment. It is in a good location a short walk from the ocean. Then it was on to the Mooloolaba Surf Club for more drinks and lunch. The large dining room filled quickly but local knowledge (ie Gg and Rs) meant we grabbed a terrific table in a corner overlooking the surf and with a view of the beach shower that would have thrilled Tracey Moffat. I enjoyed the sight of beach boys showering down after their surfing and changing (modestly unfortunately) into their casual gear. The persistent showers kept surfing numbers down but there still were a few about.

A long walk along the esplanade followed; that healthy activity balanced by the purchase of ice creams and when heavy rain returned we had the perfect excuse to duck into a nearby cafe for coffees.

Then it was the hour long drive back to Brisbane and a casual dinner of quiche, chicken and salad at Ll's.

Monday: Still raining with the occasional showers of the preceding day replaced by persistent heavy rain. I had arranged to see Rt and Jy on the Gold Coast and took the midday train for the hour long trip down to Helensvale. Rt collected me from the station for the trip to his house. Jy provided a delicious lunch of a hearty vegetable soup topped off with apple pie and chocolate ice cream whilst we chatted and viewed some (thankfully not all) of the 990 photographs they took of their recent visit to England, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Estonia and finally St Petersburg in Russia. I returned to Brisbane by train around 7.30pm with heavy rain falling all the way.

Tuesday: Last morning. A big (too big) breakfast and then off to Brisbane Airport where I was offered a seat on a flight one hour earlier than my booked flight which I eagerly accepted. Ironically, that flight then was delayed by thirty minutes but I still arrived home in Sydney marginally ahead of when I was originally scheduled.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The Brisbane birthday weekend

(Image from Tracey Moffat's video 'Heaven')

Thursday: The flight up was uneventful and arrived on time. After dropping my bag off at the hotel I stepped out to purchase birthday gifts for Ll and Fd whose birthdays were also being celebrated over the weekend. Fd works in steam (I don't know what that means either) and it is difficult to choose gifts for him. I took the easy option by picking up a gift voucher from a major Department store chain. Ll, who loves going the Gold Class route at the movies, is an easier proposition and I needed little time deciding to buy Gold Class ticket vouchers as a birthday gift. The Myer Centre cinemas were nearby and I was thinking of Eddy as I queued there for the vouchers. Eddy records his nearly weekly visits to that cinema complex in his blog. It proved to be a bad time to call in as their computer system had crashed leaving dozens of us waiting for about twenty minutes until they could resume selling cinema tickets, drinks, popcorn and the like.

Later, Ll and Mt joined me at the hotel and we set off for drinks followed by a steak meal at a crowded Pineapple Hotel in Kangaroo Point. The servings were generous and the food of reasonable quality but it was a pity all the food was served lukewarm.

Friday: I spent a leisurely morning wandering about the CBD checking out the stores and people in general. I love people watching. I wandered along to City Hall, a lovely old municipal building, which is about to close for extensive repairs and renovations. Despite numerous visits to Brisbane I had never set foot inside the building previously. It contains interesting exhibitions and displays and I roamed about them for an hour.

In the afternoon, Mt, Ll and Ml came into town and we walked across to South Bank and to the Gallery of Modern Art where we took in the China Project exhibition as well as some of the their ongoing displays. One that particularly took my eye was a video by Tracey Moffat. Ms Moffat's video contained surreptitious images of young men changing into and out of their surfing gear in public in car parks adjacent to surf beaches. Now there is a job I would love to have. Photographing naked men in secret. If I did it I would be arrested for voyeurism but Ms Moffat is lucky that she can do it and have it displayed in a mainstream gallery as art.

The four of us then walked back across to the city stopping off at the Casino for daquiris. Later we decided on dinner at Wagamama. Although this chain of eateries has existed in Sydney for years I had never been to one previously. It was pretty good. I ordered a Chilli Chicken Ramen and the others ordered noodle dishes. Unfortunately, Mt - who had made it known that she prefers gluten free meals - was given a bland dish devoid of sauces to give it the lift that the other dishes contained.

Fd was to join us for dinner but typically was so late from work that he arrived as we were leaving the restaurant. We accompanied him to a food court across the road where he had a crepes meal as we watched and chatted.

The remainder of the visit is covered in a subsequent post.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

We apologise for this interruption to our service...

OK. I was over confident about resuming posts this afternoon.

There were more emails, bills and other correspondence banked up for me on my return than I bargained for and a few other unexpected hurdles to boot.

No more hasty promises. Posts will resume in due course. (Can't you just tell I was a Public Servant?)

Normal service resumes shortly

I'm in the Qantas lounge at Brisbane Airport awaiting my return flight to Sydney and will resume normal blogging services this afternoon.

I have a backlog of reading to do too, catching up on everyone else's activity.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Today I am a senior citizen

(Actually posted June 23 although it should have appeared on June 20 but for some reason did not.)

Thursday, 18 June 2009

And on the first day...it rained

So it was off to the airport this morning and my first decision was whether to call for a taxi or walk down to the railway station and take the two trains to the airport.

It has been raining on and off for days in Sydney, sometimes heavily, and the forecast was for more heavy rain this morning but at the time of my departure it was brilliantly sunny. So my decision was to train it. That proved to be a mistake.

My wait for the elevator was longer than usual because someone else was using one for furniture removals and the other seemed to be reserved for the apartment block's cleaner. Then when I finally got downstairs I met a neighbour in the driveway who chatted with me about the amount of rain we had received.

Those two 'delays' were enough to have me moments later in the street, with no shelter, drenched by a long and heavy shower. If only I had called for a taxi which I could have boarded without a drop of rain falling on my tender body.

Never mind. Eventually I made it to the first train and although dripping from the rain the advantage over taxi travel was the sight of all those cute office workers in the carriage. Taxi drivers are never that cute. Change trains at Central for the Airport line and less cute office workers on display but enough eye candy in the form of travellers to satisfy.

And now I am in the Qantas lounge again taking advantage of their free internet access, food and drink. My birthday trip is underway.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

No connection

I raced home this afternoon and logged on to the computer to pay some bills over the internet and clear up other correspondence before flying to Brisbane tomorrow and losing regular internet access for the following six days.

Naturally, just when I needed internet access I could not obtain it. I tried relogging and then restarting my computer but nothing worked. Then I turned to the telephone book for Telstra's technical problems number and was bemoaning how difficult I was finding it to locate the number when I heard on the radio that it seems people are having difficulty with Telstra's Bigpond network this afternoon. 'Yes, we are' was my immediate reaction tinged with relief that whatever my difficulty it now appeared to be my ISP's problem and not just that of my own equipment.

My heart sank as the Radio station advised it was having difficulty ascertaining any information from Telstra. If they were not able to get sense out of Telstra what luck would I have? Then the station reported that whatever the problem, which Telstra was not explaining, it covered most of the state.

Now I have my access back and I must hurry to get those internet chores done.

Blogging will take a backseat for the next few days whilst I make my birthday visit to Brisbane unless I can get computer access.

Be good everyone.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

At home

On Sunday, Ae and I shared an at home to mark our 60th birthdays. Ae has reached hers and mine is this Saturday.

About forty of our mutual friends crowded into Ae's home creating quite a buzz with the noise and close proximity given that afternoon showers prevented us spilling onto the back courtyard. Despite large crowds at the nearby Charing Cross Fair and our fears that parking would be non-existent as a consequence most of our friends were able to park quite close. Evidently the Fair-goers were providing a steady turnover of parking opportunities.

I was worried that we hadn't catered sufficient food (mostly hot and cold savoury nibblies) but in fact there was plenty throughout the afternoon even though the party spread across eight hours.

I'm turning my attention now to my visit to Brisbane over the weekend and the birthday festivities there.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Ruben Guthrie

Toby Schmitz plays Guthrie, a whiz kid advertising executive living the high life. When his fiancee leaves him after one drink and drug fuelled antic too many Guthrie turns to sobriety only to find greater challenges from his parents, friends and employer.

This was a far darker comedy than I was expecting and clearly resonated with the youthful audience members who were far quicker than I to pick up its musical and drink related references. Put that down to my age and being a non-drinker. Then again there were references to old jingle and advertising campaigns that were instantly recognisable to me. Put that down to my age too.

Schmitz's performance is impressive and as always he is very easy on the eye.

Friday, 12 June 2009

T (for Tomorrowland) Card

Once upon a time the NSW Government promised a T-card. The card would cover all forms of public transport in the state and simplify our travel. The T-card would be fully operational in time for the Sydney Olympic Games.

Do you remember the Sydney Olympic Games? They were held in 2000, nine years ago and without a T-card in sight. In the meantime the T-card disappeared without trace bar for an ongoing $250,000,000 law suit that is keeping lawyers in the luxury to which they have become accustomed.

Now the NSW Government is having a second go at introducing a T-Card and this time they solemnly inform us there will no delays. Who believes that?

I think they should name this version the F-Card. F for Fantasyland.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Sing it like it is...

So there we were this afternoon in the Special Care Unit (ie Dementia) at the Nursing Home celebrating the June birthdays; my mother one of the birthday 'girls'.

An entertainer has been wheeled in to serenade us. She is of the style of Jeanette McDonald and almost as old had McDonald still been alive. Sitting at the piano, our McDonald reincarnated is playing and singing rip-roaring songs to the assembled dementia sufferers and a smattering of relatives such as It's A Long Way To Tipperary and When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.

During a break in her entertainment La McDonald turns to us and thanks us for our participation and our 'clear enjoyment' of the afternoon to which my mother in a moment of complete silence and rare lucidity shouts out in response 'Like Hell'.

My mother's few sensible moments come at the most inconvenient times now but we all had a good laugh.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

A bit too fishy...

This photo was taken off the Net as I didn't have my camera handy but the scene at the Sydney Fish Market today was very much as above except that there was no Santa hanging from the ceiling.

We took the Day Centre group to the Fish Market today as an outing. Although a very sunny day it was pretty cold by Sydney standards at about 12c with a chilly wind making it feel cooler still. There weren't many warm spots for this elderly group to have their lunch and sitting outside was out of the question although many younger people well rugged up were dining by the bay in the sun. In the end most of the group ate at Peters (seen on the right). One couple chose to brave the cold and eat at Nicks, I think it was called, next door whilst one other man took himself off to the more up market Doyles for a Chowder.

Peters was certainly popular especially with those purchasing fresh fish for home although I think the food they served was of rather ordinary quality. I wasn't particularly hungry and had ordered a fish cocktail and regular portion of chips and was stunned when I was given five fish pieces.

All the servings proved too hearty for the group so quite a lot of food was wasted.

The Deli and Bakery proved very tempting though and many in the group came away laden with purchases from them.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Golden day

On Sunday I accompanied Hn and Ae out to someplace called Agnes Banks, between Penrith and Richmond, for Hn to select a Golden Retriever puppy for purchase.

I'd never heard of that suburb previously whose name made think of a Bank Teller and is about a ninety minute drive from where I live. Not being a pet or animal person I really only went along for the drive but it was hard not to feel warmth for these gorgeous puppies when I set eyes on them. There are eight in the five weeks' old litter, four of each gender, and Hn is after a female. Hn had seen the puppies two weeks earlier and was now advising the breeder of her preferred pup.

The husband of the breeder was a very friendly and talkative man who took us on a walk around his four acre property showing us the extraordinary variety of trees he inherited from the previous owner.

Although I was only along for a leisurely drive the journey turned into a pleasant day in the country with our return trip taking in both Richmond and Windsor where I had not visited in at least thirty years.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Come colour my world

My 40 years' old apartment building is about to undergo maintenance including a new membrane which can be provided in any colour we choose. The current membrane and colour are in the following photograph that I took yesterday of my wing of the building. You'll notice we had a nice cloudless blue sky yesterday.

The owners' corporation has offered three colours for us to chose from for the new membrane and we are asked to vote for our choice in order of preference.

Here is Option A.

The next one is Option B.

And now Option C.

What do you reckon?

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Beautiful morning

I know I have posted photos of the view from my apartment before but I felt like posting yet another because after days of rather unappealing early winter weather we woke today to a glorious morning and I wanted to capture it for you.

(Click on photo to enlarge)

Yours, etc...

I was listening to an interesting program on Radio National which depicted correspondence exchanged between two people who met several times over four weeks in Melbourne sometime during the nineteenth century and who then maintained a long distance friendship by correspondence. Writing in long hand of course they exchanged news about their daily lives and opinions on all manner of issues.

Listening to the actors giving life to the letters I was struck by the thought that blogging is a modern day equivalent of the correspondence based lifestyle of more than a hundred years ago.

Not an original thought on my part no doubt, but a revelation for me anyway.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Professor Chris O'Brien (1952 - 2009)

The outstanding Australian cancer surgeon Professor Chris O'Brien has died aged 57 from a brain tumour.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

...and so say all of us...

I enjoy attending birthday parties as long as they are not mine. It's not that I don't like having birthdays or getting older. In fact I have been looking forward to reaching 60 and obtaining the senior citizen's status that gives me cheaper transport, movies and all sorts of other concessions for the past couple of years and now that day is only a couple of weeks away.

What I haven't been looking forward to is the prospect of being the subject of celebrations to mark the milestone. I would prefer to pass quietly into senior citizenship and it was my intention to do so without any parties. That was always going to be a forlorn hope given that my longest standing friend Rt, who is a great extrovert, was born on the same day as me and another close friend of many years, Ae, is just three weeks older than us.

For a while Ae and I have vacillated about a party and I had thought we had succeeded in avoiding one but we have caved in under pressure from friends and have compromised by organising a casual get together to celebrate Ae's and my birthday the weekend after next. Rt, who now lives in Queensland, typically unpredictable is organising his own 'surprise' party.

Because of the relatively late notice I have been ringing around inviting guests rather than sending out written invitations which in any event would elevate the get together into something more formal than the casual afternoon both Ae and I want it to be.

Being a person who still has bouts of self doubt I have been relieved by how easy it has been to make these calls and surprised by the high acceptance rate. One downside to telephoning the invitations has been the lengthy conversations I've had with each person leaving me to wonder what on earth I will have left over to talk to them about on the day itself.

Perhaps someone like Mutant with his wide range of discussion topics might come up with some talking points for me. On second thoughts, the only topics Mutant has canvassed that I understand are sex and nudity. I'm not sure they are the small talk I want to engage in at the get together.

My Year Without Sex

Yet another film whose title seems to be a chapter heading for my life.

Sacha Horler and Matt Day are living the family life in suburban Australia with their wise-before-their-years pre-teen children when health issues turn their lives into a spin.

The movie title and the trailer give the impression this is a rip roaring comedy. Whilst it contains some humorous moments the film is in fact a quite serious, occasionally whimsical, collection of vignettes depicting the family's life over the period of a year.

Each month is given a dry title with sexual connotations and although there are linkages between the months there is little by way of overall story. That is not to say this film lacks interest. It seems to me a realistic depiction of the lives of what our Prime Minister likes to refer to as 'working families'.

Being set in the state of Victoria My Year Without Sex cannot avoid Australian Rules Football which features prominently with a particular focus on the Western Bulldogs AFL Club; the archetypal struggling club that perfectly fits the film's settings and characters.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Australia's next conned model

Police are looking for a man who posed as male modelling agent and convinced a 19 year old man to strip for him during an audition.

There's one born every minute it seems. Mind you it sounds like a great job...as long as you don't get caught.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Talking movies

Do you go to the movies to enjoy conversations? Other people's conversations, that is.

It may seem odd to some but I don't. I've never understood why some people pay up to $32, or whatever the latest charge is, for Gold Class cinema seats so as to sit in the dark and have a loud conversation during a movie. I cringe when someone sitting near me continues a conversation when the lights have gone dark and the trailers for forthcoming attractions have commenced but I'll put up with it on the assumption they will stop when the main feature commences.

On one occasion, before the commencement of the movie Knowing, a young patron asked his companion what that movie was about to which his friend started a complete minute by minute rundown of the story until I interrupted him and insisted he cease his spoiling conversation.

The other day two elderly ladies sat to my left in a packed cinema prior to State of Play and engaged in a lengthy conversation about their friends, shopping and other dramas of concern to them but of no interest to the rest of us. When the trailers started their conversation turned to a commentary of those movies and their stars.

Then came the Universal logo signalling the commencement of State of Play. To my relief their conversation died away and for the next hour we were able to focus on the film but after that point as the movie suspense started to build these two women recommenced their conversation as they anticipated each new twist in the story. "Watch out, he's going to be shot!" one surmised. "Whose wife is she again?" queried the other. And so it continued to the very end. In fact even the end credits rated all sorts of commentary with this pair.

I've never been slow in the past to tell other patrons to keep quiet and on several occasions have even more loudly than the offending talkers called out "I haven't spent $15 to listen to you two talking so please keep quiet".

I said nothing to the two ladies. I suspect there was a touch of early dementia somewhere in the mix and that any complaint would have proved useless. Others in the auditorium may have thought the same because although they turned and glowered at the women no one else spoke up either.

Monday, 1 June 2009

State of Play

A mugger and an innocent bystander are murdered and in an apparently unrelated incident a political staffer dies in the Washington subway. Of course in thrillers such as State of Play not everything is what it seems.

The story twists and turns to the very end as journalists Russell Crowe and Rachel McAdams chase the leads in a scandal that threatens to drown rising politician Ben Affleck and his estranged wife Robin Wright Penn whilst newspaper editor Helen Mirren applies corporate pressure.

I haven't enjoyed a thriller as much as this in a long time although I must admit that the story is dense and the twists so tortuous that I was left scratching my head at the end. Despite that, this well acted piece was worth the effort.