Monthly Archives: April 2010

Did Bligh Lie?

I read this article the other day on the ABC News Site: An Acceptable Level of Dishonesty

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/04/27/2883212.htm?site=thedrum

The article made many good points, but at the end of the day, a lie is a lie, and dishonesty is still dishonesty, regardless of how much whitewash you try to paint over the top of it.   

Premier Anna Bligh

We here in Queensland are currently being governed by a Labor Govt, captained by Oz’s first female Premier, Anna Bligh.  Anna picked up the job after Peter Beattie flew the coop, and after a couple of years in office, the ‘Worker’s Party’ is so on the nose that many of my workmates have gone beyond asking ‘Who do we vote for at the next election?’ to asking, ‘Maybe it’s time we dump the State Govt. system altogether?’    

Why?

The thing that is sticking in many Qld. voters’ throats is that not once during the last state election campaign did we hear anything from Labor about the sale of Qld Rail Coal division.  So imagine our surprise (or shock) when Anna made that announcement after getting elected. 

Now, technically she didn’t lie (a sin of commission), she just didn’t tell us everything (a sin of ommission).  Either way, she still knowingly let us believe a lie, and that is plain wrong.  Keeping people ignorant of your real motives is still lying.  Just ask Tigers’ wife.   

A Labor insider explained very carefully to me that if we (the citizens of this State) want world class hospitals, schools at the cutting edge, and better policing, then we are going to have to make a few sacrifices.  When I asked why this was not raised before the election so we, the voters, could make an informed choice on the matter of funding these vital services, he merely shrugged.  My exact words after that were, “Mate, every election we hear the same promises regarding, Health, Education, and Policing, and every year we see those services cut back, or cut off.”  Again, another shrug, and a little smile.    

And let us not forget some of the 'porkies' told during the water debacle...

Which left me wondering, “What else aren’t you telling us?”  And if you’re thinking that about someone, then it is going to be pretty hard to trust them again.  Just ask Tigers’ wife, again…

Anna’s (and Tigers’) legacy is the loss of trust, and this is possibly the reason why my workmates are wanting to ditch the State Govt. system.  If Govt., at all levels, is going to lie to us, then limit the amount of Govt. governing us.  And it seems that Govt. at State level is the most expendable.    And, I’ve got to admit, I’ve been swinging round to their point of view as well.  I wonder how many Australians would agree with us on this point?     

To add fuel to the fire, yesterday the Qld. opposition announced they’ll be keeping their policies quiet until the election is announced.  They’ve obviously learned how the ‘land lies’ in Queensland’s political landscape, but then they’ve had a lot of practice…

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Gold Coast Marathon Update April 2010

Ok, I’m waaaay behind here.  The GCM is in two months time and I’m still staggering around like an old man… on valium.

BUT, having said that, I have made some purchases of late that have been a big help.  The first is an elastic knee thingy, which has stopped my left knee from aching after running.

Then there is the water bottle holder which I sling around my waist.  I use a 1 litre bottle, as I learned very quickly that the 600ml bottle that came with the holder jumped about like a branch in the breeze.  The 1lt bottle rests on my hip and doesn’t move an inch. 

The bike pants help stop chafing at the top of my legs.  Very important after 5 k’s.  No more running like Mr. Crabs for me! 

And in spite of my misgivings I lashed out $15 on a nylon shirt a few weeks ago, and have been very happy that I did.  Sweat doesn’t ‘stick’ to the nylon, and as a result I’m a lot cooler now when I run. 

The only remaining purchase to make is for a new pair of shoes.  While I’ve been pretty happy with the New Balance boots, they are nearly a year old now, and the bouncy bits are starting to flatten out.  I was very impressed with the shock absorption qualities of the Asics I bought last year, but I returned them because I couldn’t stop them from slipping off my heels (unless I tied them reeaal tight, at which point it was minutes before my toes went numb).  Might have another go, you never know, they might have changed the model to something more user friendly for those of us with ‘duck feet’ !

Now that I’m kitted out, all I have to do is work on my running distance and speed, while avoiding injuries, people with colds, potholes, out of control motorists, dogs, etc…  simple stuff 🙂

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Mondays’ Column – ANZAC Mate 25.4.10

Several years ago I attended the smallest and most moving ANZAC ceremony I’d ever been to, all because my ancient lawnmower wouldn’t start.   

While the rest of the population was at the ANZAC Day parade, I was at home screaming threats at my dilapidated Victa.  Spying my old neighbour, John, sitting under a shady tree in his front yard I wandered over to see if I could borrow his mower. 

Instead, he poured me a calming cup of tea, and as I sat down I noticed three small white boxes lying on his garden table.  John guessed my question, “My war medals,” he said.  I was impressed.  During my extremely short stint in the Army Reserve the only commendation I’d ever received was for being the last man standing the night our Corporal opened a bottle of OP rum. 

Helping myself to his bikkies, I asked him why he wasn’t marching.  Gazing down at the little boxes he said quietly, “I’m happier here with my mates.” 

Then told me about the time he and his three boyhood friends joined the Army during WW2.  Their first taste of battle occurred in Rockhampton, when two train loads of servicemen met; Australians heading north and Americans heading south.  Everything was quite friendly until an American called out, “Don’t worry Aussies, we’ll look after your women while you’re away!”  Then all hell broke loose.   

They survived that brutal encounter, and clawed their way along the Kokoda Track through some of the worst fighting in the Pacific theatre.  At wars’ end John returned home, alone.  “I got three medals,” he murmured, “one for each mate I lost.”  Then, with tears filling his eyes, he touched the lid of each box and called out their names.  It was the most moving tribute I’d ever seen.       

We sat in silence for a long time before John stood up and clapped me on the back, “Come on,” he said brightly, “stop blubbering, you’ve got work to do.”  He got my old mower going and did a couple of laps around my weed infested yard before handing it back, “There you go,” he laughed, “I did my march!”  It was to be his last. 

Now on ANZAC Day, around mid-morning, I sip a cup of tea and reflect on the mateship and sacrifice that this day represents, and I remember old John sitting alone in his garden with his three little boxes.  Afterwards, I fire up my ancient lawnmower and parade up and down my lawn in his memory.  I reckon he’d like that.

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Pink Floyd Cover Band – Beyond the Darkside

My mate Steve asked me to join him on Wednesday night to see the Pink Floyd cover band, ‘Beyond the Darkside’ at the Gladstone Entertainment Centre.  The show was part of their “Echoes Through The Decades” tour, and for someone who only knows approximately 3 PF songs, it was still quite an enjoyable evening.

From the opening number, “Don’t know what it was called, but it had a guitar riff which had the hall clapping and cheering in appreciation”, to the final number, “Don’t Know what it was called either, but it sounded great”, the night was a visual and audio feast of music, and Floyd history.

The band is note perfect, as you would be after playing “Wish You Were Here” for the eight thousandth time (this week).  But there were no signs of boredom, or ‘another day on the job’ that I’ve noticed creeping into some bands I’ve watched over the years.  I suppose it could get a bit galling to play the same set over and over again.

It was a feast of Floyd for the Fans.  A lot of the songs I’d never heard, but from the reaction of the diehard Floyd Fans about me, then a lot of people weren’t totally unhappy with this situation.  Even though on many occasions I didn’t have a clue what song I was listening to, I was still able to be totally engrossed by the amazing light show, the circular projection screen which showed Floyd footage from time to time, and the enormous inflated pig.  Seriously, it was one Big Pig. 

If you get a chance to see them, do so, even if you’re Floyd song knowledge is limited to a few well known radio classics, because the show alone, will make you glad ‘you were there’  🙂 

For a preview, catch them here:    http://www.beyondthedarkside.com/index.htm

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Emerald, Capalaba Trip

Last week I bumped into an old mate and he asked, “What are you up to?” 

My standard reply to that question is to look panicky and say, “Nothing!  Why? What have you heard?”

We had a laugh, then he said, “I’ve got a couple of jobs out Emerald way, want to come for a drive and stay overnight?” 

An hour later we were on the road.  But before we left town, we bumped into a couple of young ladies decorating a workmates car; in revenge for some drinks spilled down a dress during a workday race meeting!  

As we drove further west I was struck by how everything was so green!  The creeks were running!  There was water in the ponds, and they teemed with bird life!  In short, the scenery was absolutely magnificent, and all thanks to an unexpected, and exceedingly large amount of rain which has inundated the entire Qld coast this year.

September 07

2010 - a marked difference!

It was all anyone we met could talk about.  One old timer had been out there for over 60 years and never seen the place so lush.  He spoke of digging post holes, and still seeing water at 1.8 metres down!  He couldn’t keep the smile off his face.

The Fairbairn Dam the last time we visited in 2007, was a mud hole.  A sight so depressing that we took a few snaps then got the hell out of there.  Last week we stood above the spillway watching water flowing over the barrage, on its’ way to Rockhampton, and the sight was uplifting.  Neither of us could stop smiling!   

Fairbairn Dam 2010

We stayed at the Maraboon Tavern, enjoyed a great meal, talked crap (as mates do!), and turned in.  The next day we cruised home, and the radio chatter was all about the police radars, and how great the west looked.  The only complaint came from one truckie who grunted that he had 30 tonne of timber to move, but the ground is still far too soft to get to it.  A problem unimagined this time last year! 

The last thing of interest we saw was the twisted remains of several coal wagons.  How no one was killed or injured in the wreck is simply astonishing. 

We got home late in the afternoon, and I felt invogorated.  In fact, I can’t wait to get my bike going again, and take a longer look at the miracle in the West.

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Mondays’ Column – Crab Grab 19.4.10

NOTE:  Last week a local crabber was caught shipping off a tonne of female mudcrabs (Jenny’s or Mary’s is the local term for them) which he claimed were from the NT, where it’s apparently legal to catch sheilia muddies. 

The Fisho’s (Govt. Fishing Inspectors) had the crabs DNA’d, and discovered that the ladies were from Gladstone waters, and a hefty fine ($45000) was awarded to the stunned crabber.  It’s been the talk of the town ever since that news broke 🙂  Cheers, Gb.  

Crabbing is a fairly basic activity.  First you either make, or buy, some crab pots, attach a float and length of rope to the top, get your wife to place some rancid meat inside them, then drop them near some mangroves at high tide.  The next day you putter back, watch your wife to pull them up, and with a bit of luck you’ll have a feed of crab for tea.  If you’re luckier still, you’ll have enough crab meat left over to give to the dear old girl next door, who will insist on returning the favour with a batch of her mouth-watering, home made scones.   

'Collapso' on the water - at speed!

So when some clown started taking crabs from our pots we began to get a bit miffed.  Especially when the joker made the effort to find our new hiding spots and remove the crabs before placing an empty can of beer into each pot.  But they crossed the line the day they actually stole ‘No Worries’ Neville’s crabs; and his pots.  I’d never seen Nev so mad.  In fact, I’d never seen Nev mad!    

Hours later, when he’d finally stopped swearing, we opened a couple of beers and put our minds to work.  The next morning through the haze of my hangover, I reviewed our list:  Write down the number plates of all the cars at the boat ramp.  Put permanent dye into the ropes.  Booby trap the pots with rat traps.  Form a posse of waterborne vigilantes.  Mount a machine gun on the bow of ‘Collapso’, my faithful tinny.  Clearly we weren’t just thinking outside the box, we were thinking outside the warehouse that housed the box.   

Folks, I am not in favour of the death penalty.  As someone who is a tad jaded by my governments’ inability to look after my health, mail, water and electricity needs, I’m hardly about to entrust them with legally killing people.  But during that nights’ brainstorming session, I apparently became very vocal about making an exception when it came to crab pot thieves.  Obviously at some point after Nev had opened the port bottle.    

In the end we decided to go back to setting, sitting and taking our pots home with us each day.  All because of some low down, gutter dwelling, selfish swine who can’t keep his hands off other peoples’ property.  As a result we’re not catching as many crabs now, and I have to tell you, I’m really starting to miss the old girls’ scones.

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Daylight Savings in South East Queensland

What do you do when your hospital system is in crisis, your health workers aren’t getting paid properly, your solar scheme is in tatters, you’ve run out of money for the education dept., your budget is blown bigger than a cross river tunnel, and you’re copping a heap of flack for lying about selling off the Qld. Rail coal division… (well, not lying as such, just not telling anyone before the election you were planning the sell off)? 

What do you do? 

Well, you turn to Mayor Quimby for inspiration, because this needs real leadership!  Unfortunately the PM has hogged the ‘illegal immigrant’ bandwagon, so you are forced to come up with another diversion.  Aha!!  Daylight Saving.  

Now, the jury is still out wether or not the people of this state have seen through your little ploy Ms. Premier, but have faith, the drooling masses will pick it up and run with it.  Just keep prodding.  Nothing like turning mate against mate, brother against brother, city against country, and workers against farmers to take the heat off all your other failings! 

Well done 🙂

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here are my two cents:  I don’t like daylight savings.  As someone who has to get up at 4.30am to get ready for work, I spend enough of my year pedalling to work in the dark.  I don’t like the fact that it’s still daylight and hot as hell in my house at 8pm at night when we’re trying to get the kids to bed.  And I’m lucky, we live on the coast.  Imagine how folk in Mt. Isa must have felt during the last stint of daylight saving. 

Sure, if I didn’t have kids, worked a 9 – 5 job, and wanted to play golf into the late evenings, or potter about my garden in the Bribane twilight, then I might lean toward voting for daylight savings.  But I don’t, so I won’t. 

And please, don’t tell us anymore that we should line up with businesses in NSW.  We don’t make people in Perth get up 2 hours earlier so impatient folk in Sydney don’t have to wait to call them during Eastern Standard Time business hours. 

Anyway, why doesn’t NSW have a referendum on Daylight Saving?  Perhaps their Premier might be surprised to discover that it is not as popular as we’ve been lead to believe.  I reckon people living in Broken Hill would have a lot to say; maybe they’d be better off switching to Adelaides’ time zone? 

Look, we live in a wonderful society, served by a global market which we are informed now runs 24 – 7, why is it impossible for those people who wish to play golf, or go jogging, to start a little earlier?  Have they not heard of flexi-time?  It’s not a quantum leap for their HR department to allow some folk to start earlier, and others’ an hour later.  It really isn’t. 

Anyway, as a divesion Qld’s leaders are onto a winner, it’s certainly got us all of us northerners, centralians, and westerners riled up.  Hell, I even agreed with Bob Katter!!!  Me?!  Agreed with Bob!!  I think I need a few more exclamation marks  “!!!!!”  I like his idea (again, “!!!!” ) to build a wall around Brisbane and sign the joint over to NSW.

I wonder; should be starting a campaign to get Gladstone named as the new State Capital, or campaign to ditch the the State Government system altogether…. hmmm?!

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KLE 500, The Weather, and a bit of a Laugh!

The cool weather has arrived!  Autumn!  Gladstone is actually getting an autumn this year!!

I’ve got to tell you, I’m pretty stoked.  For years I’ve been trying to convince my kids that Easter used to herald the coming Winter.  I’ve got photos (somewhere) of us rugged up in jumpers, jeans, and even beanies during the Harbour Festivals of my youth.  But for the last 10 or so years, it’s been far too hot to wear anything but shorts, shirt, and thongs (and on rare occasions, a raincoat).  

The cooler weather has had me thinking about getting the old KLE 500 out for a bit of a spin.  Summer was so hot, humid and wet, that the mere thought of putting on a helmet, leather jacket, jeans and boots made me feel faint.  Riding in extreme heat is not fun.  You dehydrate quickly which causes headaches, impaired judgement, and lazy reflexes.  Just what you need on a motorcycle when you’re riding on roads surrounded by idiot kangaroos. 

So, I wandered out to the shed this morning, fired up the old girl, and did some checks.  Not good.  Front brake seals are leaking.  Rear end sagging, front fork seals looking a little dodgy.  ‘Ho, ho, ho!’  I thought, ‘You’re not going anywhere on this machine mister.’ 

So, I got some prices for the necessary bits, and enquired at a couple of places about getting the mechanics to do the work, so I can hit the road asap.  $90 an hour is the going rate.  

I just had another bout of palpitations just thinking about it. 

The weather is so good, that I’m thinking about stealing a bike to go for a ride! 

I can do some of the work myself, no worries, which is what I’ll do, and let them gouge me for the more ‘technical’ stuff down at the shop.  Well, it’s better than leaving her abandoned in the shed…

Anyway, if you need a bit of a laugh (which I did after coming home from the bike shops), then click on the link below, and follow the link from the site to play the video.  It is genuinely laugh out loud funny!  Enjoy 🙂

http://www.news.com.au/technology/fans-pay-the-ultimate-tribute-with-casey-pughs-star-wars-uncut-the-new-hope/story-e6frfro0-1225853630100

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Mondays Column 12.04.10 – Easter Fun Run

On my way to the start line. Note the look of hope in my eyes? It wouldn't last...

Last year I boldly stated in this column that I would attempt a marathon.  A bloke who hadn’t done any serious running in years, apart from a few short gallops to avoid large dogs, debt collectors and pitchfork waving mobs, was going to attempt a forty two kilometre Fun Run. 

A few laps around a nearby school oval convinced me that I’d drastically overreached myself, so I shortened the goal to a half marathon, and put together a more realistic training regime.  That was the easy bit.  The rest has been a blur of sore knees, throbbing tendons, and an involuntary tendency to kick Long Suffering Wife while I sleep. 

Summer’s extreme humidity made it feel like I was jogging neck deep through hot water, so when the weather cooled I hit the road again; back at square one.  My training schedule required further revision; in an air-conditioned room, surrounded by snacks and drinks.   

Thus, on Good Friday while saner folk slept, I joined hundreds of others for the Gladstone Road Runners’, Annual Easter Fun Run http://www.gladstoneroadrunners.com/ .  Prior to the start, I assessed my fellow competitors, ignoring the folk who looked like greyhounds, focussing instead on the porkier, less fit looking runners.  I shamefully admit that I was thinking, “Yeah, I can beat him, and her, them, whatever that is, and surely him as well.”  It really saps your confidence when all those ‘losers’ dash past you at the start and disappear into the distance.    

As I shuffled towards the halfway mark, Brett, the club president, announced to the crowd, “Hey, here comes Greg Bray!  He writes in The Observer, maybe we’ll read about his run on Monday?  He’s also doing a marathon this year!”  The astonished mob gawped as I hobbled by.  I’d been planning to lie down in the gutter, but now I had to keep going.

Half an hour later, I approached the chequered flag like ‘The Mummy’ on a slow motion rampage.  Stopping only to steal a piece of watermelon from a small child who had been cheering me on, I flopped across the finish line.  Later, as I lay on the ground, my legs quivering like tuning forks, I pondered three things:  First, I had eleven more kilometres to go to complete a half marathon.  Second, I was going to need some serious help to achieve this goal by July, and Thirdly, why on earth is it called a Fun Run?!

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Chad Morgan – There’s a few tricks left in the Old Dog yet!

On Saturday night at the Young Australian Hotel, Chad Morgan did what he did best; sang songs, told jokes, and had a very good time indeed.  Not bad for a man who is still recovering from a hip operation.  

Wearing his trademark floppy green  hat, with the brim held back with a safety pin, he’s still warbling his way through old favourites, notably ‘The Sheik of Scrubby Creek’, and ‘The Thrashing Machine’, with a sprinkling of new songs thrown into the mix, all featuring Chads’ trademark humorous twist; ‘Since I give up drinkin’ the nightshifts stopped at the brewery…’

Born Chadwick William Morgan in 1933 at Wondai, Qld., Chads’ prominent teeth made him a target for bullies far and wide.  On a trip to the dentist to have his teeth pulled out, the truck broke down, and he never made it to the appointment. 

A motorcycle accident as a young man ended his career as a cane cutter, and he spent fourteen months in hospital, during which time he wrote songs, and formulated a plan which saw him on the club scene in Sydney where he soon gained a faithful and devoted following. 

Over the years he has played and entertained everywhere from the Sydney Opera house, numerous and nameless outback halls, off the backs of trucks, in travelling tent shows, circuses, and once from the back of a camel. 

In 2008 a radio station mistakenly announced Chads’ death, which devastated his sister.  Chad cheekily reassured her that he was still very much alive, by phone, “This is the ghost of Chad Morgan!” he announced.  Her response was, “I always knew you’d return to haunt me.” 

Chad, arguably Australias’ greatest country balladeer, is still very much alive and kicking if Saturday nights’ show was any indication.  He recently quipped in an interview that he still felt like a twenty year old, in fact, he felt like a couple of twenty year olds!

At an age where many seniors have retired to their arm chairs, or retirement homes, Chad is still touring and recording, and has no plans on slowing down just yet.  His latest album is Live at the Longyard.

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