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Monthly Archives: February 2009

Elle and GOF; A texting love story

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Herewith continues the long running romantic saga of GOF and Elle.
The Bald (ing) and the Beautiful.

For over 20 years I have been subjected to much hurtful ridicule from my friends who did not fully understand my obsession  academic interest in Elle's career.
Poor sad GOF.   😦

When I recently saw an advertised service offering to predict romantic future simply by texting first names on my mobile phone and paying a very reasonable fee to the nice people there, I saw it as an opportunity to bypass the biased, uncaring, and unwanted opinion of these friends.

What more information would these incredibly gifted telephonic clairvoyants possibly need to have, in order to make an intelligent and realistic prediction of our impending hot and steamy love life, than first names?    I am a trusting human soul.

Txt;     GOF  AND   ELLE     (my mobile phone is 10 years old and only texts in capital letters)

Response;   "What the hell ridiculous name is GOF and it's high time you acted your age and stopped pestering retired supermodels"

So which one of my stupid friends is operating this stupid service anyway?!!!!

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Banks; The short road from revered to reviled

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It was compulsory for all children enrolling at my school in the 1950's to open a savings account with the State Savings Bank of Victoria.
Five shillings opening deposit, and one shilling a month provided me with a savings ethic, and the exciting prospect of getting some extra pennies paid as interest at the end of the year.

We grew to trust the institution as much as the people in my small town respected the manager, a long time resident who was active in community affairs.

Just before I got my first job at age 19, my dad took me to his bank, where, over a friendly chat with the manager in his office, a new cheque account was opened for me.  They made me feel like I was part of something special.  
A partner whom I could trust for a sound financial future.

So what the hell has happened in the last 40 years?

Banking in Australia today, from a small customers point of view is a disgrace.
There are only 4 major players, and who knows what incestuous commercial relationships occur between them to further reduce competitiveness.

Big banks are no longer friendly places for small depositors.
Each month, mine pays me 1 cent interest, then steals $5 from me in "charges" because I had the temerity to entrust my hard earned money to them for safekeeping, and generously giving them the right to use my money temporarily for their own profit making purposes.

And make profit they certainly do.  Billions every year.
And what do I get?  
12 cents!

There is, however, a little ray of sunshine for whom I will happily provide an advertisement.

The Bendigo Bank.
From its origins in small town Victoria it is spreading across the nation.  With active community support they are re-introducing banking services to the little towns which the greedy Big4 abandoned years ago for reasons of unprofitability.

The "old bank" in my town has a staff of surly middle aged women   who look down their long noses, with a glint of fiscal superiority in their eyes, at this minor contributor and complain about the coin I bring in, or the folds I have in the plastic bank notes.
They take great delight in telling me that only after accumulating $10,000 should I ever expect their woeful 1 cent/month to be increased to a significantly higher level.
   
Across the road at the Bendigo Bank, even though I only visit once every couple of months, the smiling staff, (including nice middle aged women  …. there,…that should effectively disarm anyone who was going to shoot me down for being sexist and ageist ), all know my name and chat about life and family whilst processing the transaction. 
They also, courteously, phone me at home whenever a new account, which might be advantageous to me, becomes available.

I know I should completely abandon the old bank, but it would almost seem like dishonoring the memory of my dad.
I, for better or worse, was raised with some principle of loyalty, and I would hope it remains with me.  
The banks seem to have lost theirs somewhere along the way.

The four major banks are an utter disgrace to the memory and principles of their founding fathers.

OK.  I'm all done now.  Purged.   I feel better again.

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A hard nights day

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Today I tread for the first time upon some dangerous ground.
Now if anyone can't keep a secret, please immediately go elsewhere and read someone elses blog.
We don't want old GOF to suffer repercussions at home now do we?

For Mrs GOF,  English is the fifth language she learned to speak.
She remains competent in all five, but through a combination of having lived in Australia for the past 30 years, and incessant relentless  a devotion to practice, English is now her primary language.
Her vocabulary puts many native English speakers to shame, for which I would accordingly like to take all credit.
Except being a good Methodist boy I am forbidden to tell lies.

Nevertheless, like many for whom English is not their mother tongue, Mrs GOF is delightfully prone on occasions to generate innovative use of language.

Recently Mrs GOF got out of bed at her normal early hour, stretched, yawned, then gave consideration to the heavy work schedule which confronted her on that day.

Two minutes silence.

Stretch.

Yawn.

"I am going to bite the bullet and go back to bed".

I'm  thinking she should start learning her sixth language and stop wasting her life lounging around in bed

Just thinking.

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Mebbee there’s gold in them thar ashes

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The worst bushfires in Australias history, which have possibly claimed 300 lives, brought out the very best and worst of human nature.

During the first week it was announced that not only were the fires ignited by lightning and spontaneous combustion during ambient temperatures exceeding 45 degrees C, but that some were deliberately lit.

The public response to the unfolding tragedy was instantaneous, supremely generous and without parallel.
Thousands of tons of relief supplies were donated and delivered to the survivors who had lost every possession they ever owned, and whose place of residence was now a donated tent on a sports field.

The Red Cross donation fund grew to an unprecedented $A100 million.  An extraordinary achievement in a country of only 20 million souls.

Any caring and compassionate Australian could only have watched the last 2 weeks events with tears in the eyes.  Not only with sadness, but  pride in the generosity of donors (flood victims in northern Australia donated their benefits to the fire victims), and the devotion of a host of volunteers;  firemen, doctors, nurses, priests, animal carers…..the list is almost endless.  
The Bucket does not always strive to present balanced argument and opinion, but occasionally it makes a token attempt.  This is one such occasion.  Some lawyers volunteered their services.  Full marks guys.

Unfortunately we also witnessed the ugliness of human character.
The occasional looter, and arsonist lighting new fires.

It also attracted a new wave of opportunists out of their plush city offices.

1. Real Estate agents hell bent on buying up cheap charred land while the owners were still shell-shocked.

2. Lawyers with a profit motive.

They have suddenly found a new "cause" for the fires and are launching litigation proceedings.
Electricity supply companies are the most easy and lucrative target, given that arsonists, if caught, will probably not possess much money to extract, and God, having sent the 46 degrees and the lightning, is, for the moment "whereabouts unknown".

It unfortunately has a "precedent", which is legalese for "we got away with it once before".
Following the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires, the State Electricity Commission had to pay out more than $300 million in compensation for fires started by arcing power lines.  
As this money would eventually have been repaid to the SEC by electricity or insurance consumers in the form of higher charges and tariffs, it was effectively legal action against ordinary people.

If I was at all cynically inclined I might suggest that the ones most likely to benefit from court proceedings will be the  ……..

Sorry, can't find the right word.

Maybe all you wonderful cynics out there can think of an appropriate occupation?

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Farmers and supermarkets

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One of the most disturbing trends in our society is the way corporations are taking control of our fruit and vegetable (F&V)supply. To entrust provision of our essential food to those with financial profit as primary motivation could have far reaching repercussions both for our health, and the survival of many rural communities.

Small family farms were responsible for growing our fresh produce since early in the 20th century.  Capital cities often had designated horticultural areas on their outskirts where generations of smallholder farmers produced F&V for our increasing urbanisation.  New waves of immigrant farmers from Europe and Asia ensured that we had an extraordinarily diverse range of fresh F&V available at reasonable prices.  Farmers often travelled to a city market and sold direct to the consumer.

An example, typical around Australia, was Rustys Bazaar, in the centre of the city of Cairns.  It was established in the 1970's by a local entrepreneur who also possessed a good measure of civic consciousness.  What was a car parking lot during the week was converted into a market place on Saturdays.  Perhaps 100 smallholder F&V growers would pick their produce on Thursday or Friday and sell to the public on Saturday.  A large proportion of Cairns' total produce sales occurred at the market. Rusty's soon became a centre of community with public entertainment, and arts and crafts.

Then, in the 1990's along came suburban shopping malls.  People were attracted by the proximity, glitter, easy parking and airconditioning.  Rusty's opened 3 days a week to compete, thereby eliminating growers who could not spend that amount of time away from their farms.
The Bazaar now consists of an assortment of opportunistic produce resellers, and very few growers.
Many smallholder growers lost their only means of survival. 

SO WHAT IS WRONG WITH SUPERMARKETS?

1. Australia has only two major supermarket players.  They can effectively fix both the purchase price and retail price for fruit and vegetables.

2. They deal only with large and/or corporate producers from purchasing centres in capital cities.  They refuse to buy from local growers.  We witness the stupidity of a grower in Cairns having to send his produce 2000km for central purchasing in Brisbane, and watch it come back 2000km to be sold in the supermarket just down the road from where it was grown.
Who ever said humans were intelligent. 
Monetary greed knows no intelligence.

3. Supermarkets demand uniformity of product.  Contrary to human health.  We require infinite variation.  At Rustys Bazaar I could buy 14 varieties of sweet potato.  In the supermarket I can obtain just one.

4. Supermarkets are primarily concerned with the physical attractiveness of F&V, its longevity on the shelf, and not with its nutritional value or taste.  The "little" farmer proudly sold his papaya for its superb taste and texture.  Supermarket papayas have been specially bred to withstand treatment normally reserved for cannonballs, and they taste like something out of a petrochemical factory.

5.If supermarkets have their way, they will gain complete control over the F&V chain from farm to consumer.
Additionally they will attempt to control seed supply by patenting genetically modified varieties.

So folks, where do we go from here??
To put it bluntly in Australian English……I'm buggered if I know.
For some of us, we are blessed to be able to grow our own. Most people just seem happy to pay inflated prices and sit back and watch as they are overtaken by events. They are attracted by all the tinsel, and ignore the substance and gravity of the situation.

Farmers are not blameless in this debate.  Fifty years ago smallholder farmers were often well served by co-operatives which facilitated unified marketing.  Many such co-ops yielded to corporate takeovers with the consent of farmers who benefitted financially.

The resurgence recently of "farmers markets" around Australia provides a glimmer of hope.
I reluctantly have to suggest that farmers have had a spectacular failure rate when it comes to speaking with one voice, and utilising the huge political leverage they could theoretically apply.

The demise of the small family fruit and vegetable farm is now a sad fact of our history.  One that I suspect will, somewhere down the track, come back to haunt us.

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My cups runneth over

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Upliftbras is a charity organisation seeking donations of brassieres for distribution amongst disadvantaged women around the world,  and is currently supplying them to Papua New Guinea.

Given my close connections with PNG, I feel it is my responsibility to lend a hand (or possibly even both) in support.

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Lets massacre some music

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Once upon a time, in the middle of the last century, little gof was awarded the dubious promotion into Grade 3 at school.  One of the perks of this high office for me and the other 24 brats children, was participation in the class orchestra.

Our teacher allocated the various school instruments on the basis of his assessment of our individual talents.  I watched as 24 of the most highly sought after instruments were awarded.  Drums, bugles, trumpets, accordians and a whole tribe of woodwinds were distributed.
To everyone else.
"So who is left ?" enquired Mr Bull. (like he didn't know the answer!)

Now, Mr Bull  has made a previous appearance in The Bucket, as the dispensor of corporal punishment  (and received appropriately rave reviews from my commentators).
Accordingly, when, to the accompaniment of massed sniggering, he shoved the triangle into my raised hand, I was not about to question the democracy or intelligence of his evaluation and selection process.

My heart was, however, not into playing the triangle.

My mind also was in one of two other places.
As an accomplished player of marbles, I was dreaming about buying that threepenny tom bowler and some stunning agates that were in the corner shop, and making mincemeat on the marble playing field of those little smart arses who now had drums and trumpets to play.

I was also partially consumed with some new information from my little friend Max who advised me that it was the consensus of the boys in class that "Valerie Grimmett and Dawn Harder were the two best looking sheilas in Grade 3".  ****
I had no idea what to do about this proposition, so I just allowed it to stimulate my imagination for a few years, whilst I got on with the more serious business of marbles.
Up until this point in life, being an only child, I thought girls were the same as me except they grew long hair, wore skirts, and chose to play together on the opposite side of the school quadrangle.

Anyway, be that as it may, any miniscule musical talent I might have had remains to this day buried deep by the overburden of life's trivial pursuits, and wondering whatever became of Valerie and Dawn.

Now, finally, all these years later,  there is a glimmer of hope for me.

The Really Terrible Orchestra

A group of 65 modestly talented musicians in Edinburgh, who, under the baton of Sir Richard Neville-Towle  "distract the audience with speeches and adlibs…..anything to limit actual playing time."

If a passage of music in the manuscript looks a little too difficult to play, they simply leave it out altogether, or improvise, until they get to the next easy bit.  
I am sure Beethoven and Mozart would understand.
They have a gig in the Town Hall, New York in April.  (The RTO, not Beethoven and Mozart). I wonder if they need an inept triangle player.  A little far for me to travel, but I hope they hit the big time.

So, are there any fellow bloggers here who would like to put up their uncoordinated hands and volunteer to join the talentless tone-deaf GOF in forming the Vox Nilharmonic Orchestra?
And NO, you can't play the big bass drum.  Its mine.  Mine.

****  Names have been changed, not for the purpose of maintaining their anonymity, but to protect my backup plan should Mrs GOF ever decide to explore greener pastures.

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