Monthly Archives: August 2010

Botanic to Bridge Fun Run – Gladstone Observer Column 30.08.10

Last Sunday I joined several fellow Gladstonians for the inaugural Botanic to Bridge run.  4500 of them!  Go Gladstone!

Training was hindered by things totally beyond my control: bad weather, sleep ins, dicky knee, an election, potato chip eating contests, planetary alignment, etc.  So I devised a new exercise plan based on re-runs of the Karate Kid.  Polishing the car, (wax on, wax off), and painting inside our house, (roller up, roller down).  That Mr. Miyagi was an idiot!  Does anything from the movies actually work?

Udderly crazy... no bull 🙂

Ready or not, I and my running partner, a young fella who for some reason was dressed as a cow (complete with udders), joined 1200 other enthusiasts at the gardens for the 8 klm event.

As the seconds ticked down to the start time, I relaxed by snickering at the poor wretches lined up cross legged outside the demountable dunnies, who were clearly torn between wanting to join us, and an extremely heartfelt desire not to wet their pants during the run.

The last time I saw the bloke who won the race was two seconds after the start when he vanished over the horizon.  He was probably crossing the finish line while we were still shuffling up ‘Heartbreak Hill #1’.

The ‘cow’ boy and I puttered onward, waving to the kids, and hearing nearly every cow joke in creation.  At the Duck Ponds, the sight and sound of 3000+ people cheering us on gave me a much needed boost which kept me bounding all the way round the corner to the Bowls Club, where out of sight of the encouraging throng, I returned to my Frankenstein-like lurching run.

The ‘cow’ boy galloped off, leaving me to hobble on alone, and crawling up Goondoon Street, I was extremely disappointed to note that neither the Queens, or Grand Hotel, were dispensing ‘refreshments’ to weary runners.

Re-united with the ‘cow’ boy at the finish line, we had a bit of a decko through the Healthy Living Expo, and, unable to find a beer tent, we ended up cheering on the runners of the 3 klm event.

Anyway, a huge ‘Well Done’ to all the wonderful folk who worked so hard behind the scenes to bring this event off, and I’ve already decided on next years pre-run training plan; painting the outside of our house, (up the ladder, down the ladder).  You’ve been warned!

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Johnson 25 hp Outboard Fun

It’s that time of year, when the warm weather returns to Gladstone, and my thoughts start turning toward the Spring / Summer fishing season. 

‘Collapso’ my faithful tinnie, has been sitting neglected in the shed for the better part of this year, kept company by my equally neglected motorcycle.  Anyway, before I launched the old girl, I thought I’d give the outboard a ‘once over’ just to put my mind at ease.

Don't! Don't even think about it...

Now my mate, the ex-outboard mechanic, warned me that the Johnson 25 can be a little ‘tricky’ to re-assemble.  Over the years, I’ve dabbled with things mechanical, so I pushed on regardless, casually thinking I’ll overcome any difficulties as they occur with the ease of a practiced pro.  Ho, ho, ho.

Well let me just say this.  If I ever find the &#*@# who designed the leg of my outboard, I will bend him over, then insert an entire Johnson 25 outboard, including the hand controls, up his &$)#, then I’ll $*#@(@#, and, $*@#(_*, before &^!#(#!@!!! 

What a stuff around to do a simple little job!  I got the thing apart in record time.  Lay everything out so I knew what order to put it all back together again.  Was pleasantly surprised to find that my water pump is still in Tip Top condition, then started re-assembly. 

Lining up the pipes for the pump outlet was a nightmare.  I haven’t sworn so much since the time I replaced a Datsun 180B motor for a mate… anyway, after an hour I returned to the house, rang my mate and asked what the ‘trick’ was.  He laughed. 

Another 1/2 hour of my life was wasted trying to line the pipes up, before I gave up and drove my daughter to soccer.  I spent the entire game fretting about that damned outboard leg… BTW: the little monster scored a ripper goal which took my mind off the problem for a few minutes 🙂

Anyway, back home, I had one more go before I inserted a grenade into the water inlet, and Lo!  it went back together.  Hooked up the water, and Hurrah!  everything worked.  So this weekend, I’ll hit the Calliope River, run up and down the creeks, keeping near the bank (just in case…), and see how it goes.  I’m quitely confident. 

So, the lesson I’ve learned is:  Next time, pay someone else to do it! 

I don’t need this *$&#…


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Mondays’ Column – Childs’ Play 23.8.10

“Your father doesn’t play games of chance, he complains he’s unlucky,” explained Long Suffering Wife to the Littlest Princess the other night.  This is true.  I haven’t played cards since the great Gin Rummy annihilation of ’93, and that’s all I have to say about that. 

Anyway, once The Littlest Princess showed me that her new game was all about skill I joined in.  The premise was simple, line up four round coloured discs, while trying to stop your opponent from doing the same; a little like Noughts and Crosses on steroids.  Things didn’t go well from the start.  After eight games, I was eight games down.

Sitting up, I cracked my knuckles and thought, ‘Right, time to take the Little Bat to town.’  I punched those chips into their slots like a man on a mission, and a few minutes later I lined up four of them and said loftily, “Well darling, how do you like them apples?”  She shook her head, “I don’t like those apples very much at all Dad.” 

Pointing at the notepad I said, “Alrighty, put a mark on my side of the score card, and brace yourself for another beating.”  She smiled and pointed at the board, “Actually Dad, I won the game three moves ago but you didn’t notice.”  I gawped at the board and saw that this was indeed true, “Why didn’t you say anything!” I blurted.

“You were having so much fun I let you keep going.  So how do ‘them’ apples taste Dad?”        

Now, the details of what happened next are a little blurry, but I vaguely recall standing up to congratulate her, when all of a sudden my foot came into contact with the board at high speed.  As pieces of the game rained down around us, Long Suffering Wife entered the room and gave me ‘a look’.  I helped the Littlest Princess to her feet, removed a playing chip from her left nostril and patted her on the back, “Well done luv!” I said, then limped off to the beer fridge.

I’ve since promised her that once we find all the pieces, we’ll definitely play again.  But at this point my half hearted searches have only turned up some old Yahtzee dice, Bingo buttons, and many, many screwed up playing cards.  The missing coloured chips remain hidden, and I’m hoping my luck holds out for a bit longer!

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Motivation Burnout

I was 14 when I purchased a copy of ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, much to my mates’ amusement.  He actually laughed when I picked it up, and kept laughing as we meandered through the checkout, and got on our bikes and pedalled home. 

He laughed when I bought a booklet from a magazine ad, called ‘The Hercules Superdyne System’, it was a book of isometric exercises… “in just seven days, I can make you a ma-aa-aa-n!”

Boys dreaming...

I read those books, I did the exercises, I read more books, followed advice, purchased tapes, and joined multi level marketing groups just to get access to more motivational material (and just for that alone I should seek professional help!).  I dreamed of a bright future… 

I’ve heard some of the best, and a lot of the ordinary.  And lately, there’s a lot more guru’s out there, a lot of bad ones, some good, some amazing, but too many for me to follow.

Years later, I continue to follow a few favourites.  And others, I had a brief affair with and now feel embarrassed, and in some cases ‘soiled’, for having even opened their books!  And a few of them made me mad as hell.

The thing is, I’m drawn to these people.  I like their outlook, their can do, never say die, push on at all costs, laser like focus, overly optimistic attitudes.  They are living life to the full as they jet around the planet sharing their particular message, thoughts, or doctrines.  I can’t seem to turn away from them, they’re exciting to be around.  The world is full of hope, change, and thrills when I pick up their books and read on spell bound.  

BUT, has it made any difference?  When I think about it, what changes have I really made?  Am I living my personal dream?  Am I ecstatically happy with my life?  Would I recommend a young man starting out on his life’s journey to emulate me? 


These were the things going through my head the other night at work when I pulled the latest motivational book out of my work bag at smoko.  I looked at it and sighed, then realised that even if someone pressed a gun to my head and demanded I open it and read the first chapter I wouldn’t do it.  I just couldn’t see the point, and as one of my workmates pointed out, “You’ve got a great work ethic, all this education, and a terrific attitude, but you’re stuck here in day release jail just like the rest of us.  And every week, you get paid the same as the people who come here and do absolutely ‘stuff’ all.  How does that make you feel?”  Not real good… but I continue to push myself.  I can’t help it…

Even as a child 'Arnie' knew what he wanted!

Ironically my mate, ‘the Mocker’, is also very driven as well, but he went on to be a success in his chosen field, has travelled the world, and as a young bloke bought a set of weights and built himself a body to die for.  People often compare us: similar backgrounds, upbringing, education, etc. but totally different outcomes.  I’m the one who believes in hope, change, and goal setting, whereas he deals strictly in reality.       

The ‘Dreamer’ and the ‘Doer’.

The difference is, he has a ‘strategy’, whereas I have an ‘idea’.  I’m still 14 and dithering over ‘what I want to do when I grow up’, whereas he has a set of goals he’s doggedly ticking off as he completes them. 

The major difference between us is our long term outlook.  I’m ashamed to say that we are the living embodiment of ‘The Grasshopper and The Ant’.  I’ve spent a lot of time hopping about with no particular aim in mind, whereas he has persistently pushed onwards and upwards. 

Where I’m blown by the winds of change, fortune and luck, he’s forging ahead in a straight line toward his destination, and I have absolutely no doubt that he will make it. 

And I hope he does! 

Because if my own plans, hopes and dreams don’t work out, I might have to ask him for a job later, and I’ll be the most motivated Grasshopper worker he’s got 🙂

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It’s That Time

Yesterday I got hit not once, but twice by angry magpies, and we’ve started turning the fans on again during the day, so Spring has Sprung early here in Gladstone.

Which means that it must be close to our Wedding Anniversary (#20 I think…), AND, the 2nd anniversary of this blog.  *Sound of herald trumpets*  

Reading, Writing, and Slurping... a relaxing combo 🙂

So here we are, 2 years, 243 posts, (well, 244 now) and something in the vicinity of 11,000 views later, I’m thinking, not a bad effort for an exercise in writing discipline; which was the main reason I started blogging, to get into the habit of writing at least 2 times a week. 

And that effort paid off when I finally cracked a column writing gig for my local paper.  Knowing that no matter how tired or ‘out of ideas’ I was, the simple formula of – Sit down, Type, and Wait to see what develops, would always produce something.  

And to my own surprise, I found a few gems in the gravel pit of my mind, and learned that the only way to find more was to keep digging, and digging deeper 🙂        

So as the sun sets on another blogging year, I’m starting to wonder if I should keep going?  Is it perhaps time to retire from the ‘blogosphere’ and focus instead like a laser on my other scribblings? 

This little blog, in the dark backwoods of the web, is one of the few creative outlets where I can let my brain and fingers just go ‘blah, blah, blah’ without the need for any serious editing.  It’s kind of nice to just log on, type, and log off.

Which leads rather neatly to the next big question:  Can I Stop?!     

I’ll keep you posted 🙂

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Mondays’ Column – Karting Kraze 16.8.10

Things you don’t see kids doing anymore #453:  Building, then racing go-karts down Gladstone’s hills.  This is proof that today’s children are much, much smarter than I ever was.

The Build:  First I’d scrounge all the necessary stuff, usually an old pram, a length of 4×4 hardwood, some rope, and an old chair, then start building something resembling a vehicle.  At this point, the first of many injuries would occur as I sawed, nailed, pop riveted and welded all the bits together using Dad’s tools.

Now my kart may have handled like a stalled aircraft carrier, and if you sat on it too heavily it would disintegrate, but gee it looked good with the flames painted down the sides, and a pirate flag sticky-taped to a long pole.

I’d be so keen to test drive my creation that I rush off to the nearest hill, leaving Dad’s tools lying on the lawn, and the lids off his paint tins.

The Hills:  Gladstone has some astonishingly steep hills, so I regularly experienced the sort of G-forces encountered by astronauts.  Once, on a run down the cliff face that is Berrigan Court, I swear I crashed through the sound barrier; just before ploughing through several letter boxes, a fence, three garden beds and a surprised Alsatian.

My pit crew watched on unimpressed as I disappear down the slope again...

The Spills:  My kart wasn’t very reliable, and important bits often fell off at crucial times.  Veering out of control, I’d scream a short, but heartfelt, prayer, “Oh God No!” then apply the brakes by slamming Dads’ new thongs into the bitumen, instantly burning two large holes in them, and leaving a trail of smoking rubber, skin and kart parts for half a mile downhill.

Trips to hospital were common.  Frequently it would be to visit other karting victims; my passengers, or mates who had borrowed my kart.  But we learned many valuable lessons, eg: Never, ever, ‘occy strap’ your seat to the frame, and an ice cream bucket tied to your head with brown string is completely useless as a safety device. 

No wonder I don’t let my children do this stuff.  As a result, my thongs don’t have big holes in them, my shed isn’t full of opened paint tins, and our house, dogs and neighbours, are safe from flying spanners and sockets when I mow the lawn.  Still, I reckon kids are missing out on something nowadays; mostly gravel rash and broken bones I suppose.

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Indecision Procrastination

A mate is nearing 40, and he’s a bit down about the fact.  Behind him are his hopes of playing footy for Australia, travelling around the world as a male model, having a real career, playing lead guitar like Slash from Guns n’ Roses, and, well, everything in fact.  He came to me because I’m the most motivated bloke he knows… apparently. 

A 'must have'!

We talked for a little while, and it dawned on me that I wasn’t that far behind him!  I too had a heap of unfulfilled hopes, dreams and desires.  Things that I’ve wanted to accomplish for years, and have been putting off until ‘the time is right’ ie:  when the kids are older, when we’ve got more money, when… Jupiter aligns with Mars, I don’t know?!  Yeah, so much for Mr. Motivation!    

The thing is, I work with, and know people who have spent their entire lives putting things off until ‘the time is right’, and they are miserable, envious, and generally frustrated.  And when some of them actually take their first nervous steps towards achieving one of their goals, they are amazed at how alive and fulfilled they feel, and often wonder why they put it off for so long. 

Why?  The answer, I am guessing, is fear.  Fear of leaving ‘Comfort Central’.  Fear of poverty, accident, disaster, being mocked for having a go, then failing, thus proving everyone right about you being a fool.  Fear of crawling back to a job you hate.  Fear of, well, sometimes we don’t know what we’re afraid of, but there must be something, because whatever it is, it’s stopping you (me!) in your tracks. 

My big fear is that of all the choices in front of me, I’ll pick the exact wrong one, and really stuff up all my hard fought for ground.  Indecision Procrastination, too many choices, too little time. 

But things are changing…

Lately, I’ve started chanting a simple mantra when I get a bit ‘blah’ about the future, it goes like this: 

“Others have done it, you can too, pick yourself up and have a go!

Others have done it, you can too, write your way out of the job you do!” 

Hey, it’s corny, it’s tacky, but it stops all the negative thoughts in their tracks, before they have a chance to spiral my thinking into the ground.  Stopping those vicious ‘circling thoughts’ is a skill, and I’ve only just started really practicing it in a serious way.  Results so far have been encouraging.  I’ve got an instant energy boost for starters!  And at work last night, when a host of things were starting to mount up and I could feel the ol’ rage button being pushed, I repeated the little mantra 3 times, and Lo!  I was still mad as hell 🙂 but the edge had been taken off as the following picture replaced the harmful thoughts:

Me, the writer, sitting at my desk and looking back on this time and smiling. 

Yet every now and then that niggling, fearful little voice pipes up, ‘What if it’s the wrong dream?’  To which I immediately think, ‘Better to have a go, than never know.’

I’ll keep you posted…


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Mondays’ Column – HMAS Gladstone 9.8.10

She’s getting on in years and starting to show signs of aging.  There’s some wear and tear, a few marks and blemishes, her beam’s a little broad, and her get up and go has got up and left, but she can still turn heads and certainly stands out in a crowd.  No, I’m not talking about Long Suffering Wife here, not if I wish to see another sunrise; I am instead referring to another prominent lady in town, HMAS Gladstone.

Gladstone was one of fifteen Fremantle Class Patrol Boats built in the early 80’s as part of our nations’ shore defence.  Two of them became TV stars; HMAS Bathurst which featured in the ABC drama, ‘Patrol Boat’, and HMAS Townsville in the Channel 9 series ‘Sea Patrol’.  I preferred Patrol Boat, but Sea Patrol has Lisa McCune in it, who, like ‘Gladdy’, has nice lines and is heavily armed.

Of the fifteen boats, only two remain, Townsville and Gladstone.  We hit the jackpot when ‘Gladdy’ was handed over to us, and now she is waiting patiently in the marina as preparations are made to plunk her into a permanent display spot near Auckland Inlet.  She’ll be the showpiece of the soon to be relocated Maritime Museum, and from her new vantage point she’ll look out over the harbour, her 60 mm Bofors gun covering the channel as a warning to all about just how seriously we take crab pot theft around here.

A number of Maritime Museum volunteers are having a bit of an affair with ‘Gladdy’.  She is never far from their thoughts, and they are always keen to clamber aboard her.  If you are interested in joining them, to assist with placing ‘Gladdy’ into her new home and restoring her to her former glory, then pop down to the museum and say ‘Ahoy’.  Mention my name for a free coffee… and possibly a biscuit.

I gallantly raised my hand for the position of Media Liaison Officer, but was mowed down in the resulting stampede for the job upon announcing that I was going canvass Lisa McCune to come to the grand unveiling.  When I eventually got up, I was given a more important role.

So, if and when Lisa turns up, while they’re showing her around ‘Gladdy’, I’ll be somewhere below, scraping the barnacles off her bottom.  Lucky me!


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Make him an offer he can’t refuse…

This week has been pretty busy here at Gladbloke Mansion, so I’ve had to be a little selective with how I’ve spent my time.  Days have been spent slapping paint on walls, and my evenings have been pretty full too.  Still there has been some time to write, play my guitar, teach The Littlest Princess some chords on her ukelele (which she appears to be a ‘natural’ at playing 🙂 ), and later, when all is quiet, I slip on a DVD, open a pack of peanuts and relax.

I've been torturing my family with this speech and my Brando impersonations all week!

This week I watched the entire Godfather Trilogy, and have been left speechless at how good it is.  I had forgotten how good it is!  The acting, the scenery (particularly Sicily), the plot, simply brilliant.  The writing, the dialogue… genius. 

I was reminded of growing up in Innisfail in far north Queensland, surrounded by European families, mostly Italian, but also many Yugoslav, Greek, and Chinese.  When we celebrated with our neighbours it was like a United Nations party!  The food, the singing, the stories… wonderful.  But mostly the food!  Even now I can recall how enjoyable it was to walk down our dirt road of an evening, smelling all the exotic aromas coming from the kitchens of the houses, and to hear different languages being spoken.

And as I sat watching The Godfather, happy memories of my childhood came flooding back, (of course, there was none of the violence, shootings, threats and garrotting which made the movie so appealing!), and I found myself regretting not taking the time to learn at least one of the languages that I heard daily for many years… well, apart from the many swear words that we boys picked up around the mens’ sheds. 

So, with this in mind, I’ve decided that it’s never too late to learn, so today I’ll try to find a foreign language tutor here in Gladstone.  I can think of worse ways of spending a day off… painting for starters!

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Liberdee, Labordum and the Boat People

Liberdee and Labordum… Frank Hardy (Oz author, writer) used this term many years ago to describe the two major Australian political parties, as a tongue in cheek reference to how similar they had become. 

During my first ‘no news’ week, I have to admit that I haven’t really missed the election coverage, and from what I can glean off my family and friends, I’m not missing anything. 

‘Boring’ is the term that is most frequently used. 

Surprisingly, Julia the Red Queen hasn’t been a big hit with a lot of female voters in my neck of the woods, and when I ask why, it isn’t for political reasons, it’s more to do with looks (dress, hair, walk), voice, and the stabbing of KRudd. 

When I ask if they are concerned about some of the policies being touted by both sides, a shrug is all the reply I get.

“I’ll vote for the mob who stops the boats!”  Seems to be the major theme around me at the moment.  Folk are scared, emotional, or angry at boat people, and when I ask why, I get the usual tirade of cliche’s relating to terrorism, which is making me worry a little.  And the major parties appear to be doing little to allay those fears, instead their answer is to continue throwing fuel on the redneck fire, and they both seem keen to keep locking up women and children for indefinite periods.  Where’s the vision, the compassion?  Why are boat people being used as a political football?  What am I missing?!     

Anyway, as for the election… 3 more weeks of being bored by carefully controlled sound grabs, and ‘he said, she said’ comments, from the Red Queen and the Mad Monk, has more or less confirmed that continuing to avoid the news is possibly the best policy 🙂

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