28 March 2013

My Perfect Murder Mystery

Over Easter, my favourite TV channel UK-TV, is broadcasting wall to wall crime dramas. I've been watching enough crime dramas on TV over the years that I'm sure I could write an episode or two of a new series myself. So, let's have a go:

I don't actually have a plot yet but I certainly have the charecters needed for my police drama. My police team is headed by Chief Inspector Joe Blowe, 45 years old, 6ft tall, dark hair, unattached, a bit of a loner, not a career officer, doesn't often see eye to eye with his superior, Chief Superintendent Roger Birdwhistle.

D.C.I. Blow is ably assisted by D.S. Susie Horn, 30 years old, blonde, recently separated from her recent boyfriend and now prepared to totally emerge herself into her job as a crime fighter. Then there is young D.C. Malcolm Short, who looks like he's still in high school, a bit slow when it comes to detection, but not complaining when he is sent out to watch a phone box for hours on end, by his D.C.I. or D.S. .

How am I doing so far?

Ok, here's where you can help me. Let's write a plot.

We need a bunch of crooks. We need Crook A to commit  a murder, which we'll show with the murderer in silhuette so that the audience is unable to determine who is committing the murder but is still being drawn it to watch the drama because they want to find out what's next. We need to introduce suspemse into our show, but first we need to set the scene where a member of the public nonchalantly aproaches the murder scene, accompanied by suspense music. Must remember to contact my son-in-law, David, he is a BBC composer. Our member of the public, finds the body, preferably a spinster woman who has the ability to let out a blood-curdling scream upon finding our victim.

Ok, now we introduce our police team, who need to assemble an incident room, somwhere in a disused hall or maybe the local police station. We need a whiteboard, a few Apple computers, an A3 colour printer to print the photos of victims, suspects, crime scene etc for the whiteboard. Ah, I forgot, we need pathologist, female, brunnette, witty, single and we need to give her a bunch of sandwiches to eat during the authopsy.

We need to throw suspicion on Crook B, who has motive, opportunity, no alibi and is a nasty character. The audience will be certain he did it. Or maybe Crook C could have done it for the same reasons outlined in Crook B.

We now need to stretch the next hour with friction between the team, sexual tention between D.I. Blow and the pathologist before coming to the chase.

During the chase, we need the suspects at one stage to crawl through an internal ventilation duct, which is spottlessly clean inside, well lit and not a screw prodruding inside. We get the suspects being chased to climb up and up preferably onto a roof with no escape ladders but still able to get away somehow.

We're now into the last 15 minutes of our show. So what do you reckon? Shall we assemble the whole cast in the local pub with D.I. Blow, cleverly pointing out that Crook B could have done it, or Crook C could have done it but after some more suspense (with music) announce that it was indeed Crook A who done it. OR:

Should we catch Crook A, who has been trying hard to 'do a runner' and simply get him to confess to the murder?

Maybe you have an other ending.

Have a great Easter!

26 March 2013

Our wonderful ISP

Sometimes I think I live in Zimbabwe, Laos or some other Banana Republic. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Zimbabwe (oh maybe against the idiot who runs it), Laos or any other Banana Republic. I'm sure they're nice places on the whole. It's only lack of resources or wealth that keeps them  a little behind the rest of the world.

So when for the second time in as many months we lose our communications link to the electronic world, because we had a little rain, it just feels like we too live in a third world country.

Here, now comes the bit where we are trying to get some answers from Telstra, the fun begins. I phone the technical support in Mumbai, or New Dehli or wherever and try to explain to the nice gentleman that we have lost both broadband and Foxtel (Pay TV) and are wondering what's happening. I explain to the man that we also have a pre-paid Telstra modem, we use when we're travelling. I explain to the gentleman that we have two 3-G iPhones and none of the above devices allow us to read our email, or check on the weather report, let alone read the newspapers.

Oh my goodness me, do not worry, dear sir, he says, we will have this fixed in no time at all. That on Sunday evening. Within no time, I get disconnected. Oh well, we can't watch Downton Abby, so we might as well go to bed.

Monday comes and by Monday night, still no service, the Blogger then gives me a brochure from Telstra which is entitled 'Things are changing for the better.' This was obviously printed as a result of the terrible way Telstra treated it's customers under the leadership of the three stooges (Amigos) who ran the company with the sole purpose of enriching their lives and little else.

Smart move, Darling. The brochure goes on to say, ring us 24/7, making complaints is easier. So, back on the phone again, instead of watching Australian Story and Four Corners. This time I get Shane, a very nice Aussie lad, who checked and double checked and assured me by 11.00 pm, we would be back on line. Foxtel, Broadband and all. Thanks, mate, I appreciate it, I respond. So we watch a DVD and by 11. pm I try broadband again and hoorray, we're on line. Two days emails await to be answered, a quick read of the news headlines and off to bed. All's well again with the world.

Bright and early, the Blogger gets up to read her email, I hear a mutter emanating from her study. When I get up she informs me that the internet is still not working.

Back to the Things are getting better brochure and another call to Shane, who is still asleep. David answers in his place and is also very apologetic and after another investigation informs me it'll be midnight tonight before any action. All the neighbours on our side of the street are calling to say they too are without Foxtel and broadband. Except Kathy, who lives across the street says, what problems? My internet works fine.

I have a bright idea, we know the portable modem isn't working in the house, how about we try outside. It works. So we set up a table and a chair on the back bridge and we are on line, although with slow speed.

The Blogger works outside

In a fashion

with the WI-FI prepaid modem

That's when the neighbour calls, Guess what, we're on line! It's mid afternoon so a quick blog update and a read of the mail and we're leaving Harare back to Brisbane. Question is, we are having a U3A blogging class here tomorrow morning. Will the internet work?

Fingers crossed.

21 March 2013

Why is Australia So Expensive?

Google 'Why is Australia so expensive' and you find lots of people posing the same question. One chap who recently returned from a trip to Paris, found a bottle of good wine there costs between $2.70 to $6.80 (or 2 - 5 euros) and can be purchased in every supermarket, you don't have to traipse to a bottle shop.  You're pushed to buy a good bottle of wine here for under $20 in one of those Supermarket-owned bottle shops.

The ABC recently reported that Australia has become one of the most expensive countries in the world. They quoted Dr Oliver Hartwich from the Centre for Independent Studies that we can thank the Australian Government for the fact that we pay too much. That means governments of any persuasion. Dr Hartwich concludes that governments need to remove regulatory obstacles.

Books, CDs, DVDs clothes and food are much more expensive here, in the lucky country, than in Europe and in the United States, especially in the United States, having been there twice in as many years recently we were surprised of how inexpensive it is to live there.

On our last trip to the US, I saw a CD, I wanted on the US App Store for $US9.99. I didn't have my laptop with me, only my iPad, so I decided I'd buy it back home. Back in Brisbane on the Australian App Store, the very same CD, 2 days later cost A$19.99. The exchange rate at the time was 1:1.

Just to let you know, I haven't taken a photo of the contents of my wallet here, it's from the internet.
So! What's the answer? I don't really know but I rather suspect it is because we as a nation are complacent. We see something we want, look at the price and say to ourselves, oh well, if that what it costs, who cares.

I think it is time to change our way of thinking. We need to do it, governments won't help us.

18 March 2013

The Wonders of Technology

It's a way of life. Children grow up then they leave home. I did. The Blogger did. Inevitably our two daughters did. We accept that. In the 60's when I left my hometown and my parents to travel half way around the world, we first communicated by sending air mail letters which took 7 days to get there. In the late 70's we recorded our voices on cassettes and posted them and again they took 7 days to get there.

Of course now it is easy using Skype. My daughter, her husband and grandsons live in Los Angeles and we are regularly in instant contact with them, courtesy of Skype video calls. So we see the boys growing and developing their characters and they get to know us, their grandparents.

I've just learnt how to take screen shots with my iMac and grabbed some this morning. I caught them in the kitchen making 'smoothies.'

The picture quality is not always the best, but it's good enough to have a chat with them. Fox loves his smoothies.
And clowning around while his little brother Banjo, plays in mum's cupboard

Banjo is always very interested in Mum's iPhone when we skype and quite often presses a button and disconnects the link, but, that's what little boys do.

14 March 2013

A Dilemma

It's good to be retired sometimes, you don't have to deal with dilemmas such as this.

In the Courier Mail today was an article about a young lady who was called into the office of her boss, and was told she would be promoted, including in her promotion would also be a pay rise. However this offer was withdrawn when it came to finalising her promotion. Here then is the dilemma. If you'd received that offer, how would you react? Would you take the promotion, just so it would look good on your CV? Or would you strongly demand the promised pay increase, thus taking a chance of being seen as pushy, greedy, opstropolous? Perhaps even loose the offer of promotion? Of course refusing an offer of promotion, for whatever reason, could be seen as not being ambitious. It really is a dilemma.

The article goes on to say that the young lady in question, at the time agreed to the offer but now a few years older, stated that at her age now, she would decline the offer.

What would you have done?

11 March 2013

Will I Ever Grow Up? I hope not.

Will I ever grow up? Probably not, but who cares. Ever since I was a young lad, I have been fascinated with railways, big and small. I have been fortunate to have traveled on some of the top railway journeys in Europe, the TGV from Berne to Paris, the Eurostar from Paris to London, the old TEE train from Basel to Hamburg and the Inter City from Paris to Dresden and in the Americas, the Rocky Mountaineer from Banff to Vancouver and my all-time favourite, the White Pass-Yukon Railroad in Skagway, Alaska.

So it is no surprise when I say I was excited when our local U3A camera club decided to have an outing to the Queensland Railway Workshop Museum in Ipswich this morning. It's a place I wanted to visit for years and I am very glad I did.

The Blogger took the opportunity to take some excellent shots

We tried out the seats of the Queensland Tilt Train

Inspected the old carriages

Then we toured through the still active workshop
The workshop is still used to service the steam engines which are used regularly, although only as tourist attractions these days.

This worker was showing off his welding skills on anchor bolts used in the construction of poles supporting the overhead wires for the trains.

A welder in action
There is also a large model railway set good enough to make the hearts of model train enthusiasts flutter with joy.

A fine QR model train display is on show
It was one of our best outings since we became tutors of the Logan U3A Camera Club.

Now, back to the real world.

07 March 2013

Hands Off the Models

I saw a funny thing the other day at our shopping centre involving toddlers, which brought back memories when our older daughter was a toddler and the younger one still a baby.

Diane's parents came up from Sydney to stay with us in a holiday house we'd rented on the Gold Coast. I was commuting on weekdays to the office in Brisbane but stayed the weekend with them on the coast. It was in the 70's and shopping centres were closed on Sundays, in Queensland,  except on the tourist stip of the coast which was a bit of a novelty for us.

There was a brand new shopping centre, called Pacific Fair, which had just oppened and we decided to go and investigate it on Sunday. The main shop was Myer, and it was there in the ladies fashion section, that things started to go pear-shaped with our little family group. Carol, aged about three was fascinated with a display girl model on a stand and went up to it to shake her hand. The hand came off, Carol got a freight and dropped the hand crashing to the floor, breaking a couple of fingers. Diane saw this and raced over to Carol, picked up the hand, minus two fingers, and tried to stick the hand back onto the model. That's when the entire arm detached itself from the model.
Dad and I were ahead at that stage but had seen the whole thing and were laughing uncontrollably, which of course made Diane even more upset. She grabbed the arm and the hand, minus two fingers and tried to re-attach them both to the model and in the process knocked over a floor-standing ashtray, which went flying, emptying its filthy contents all over the new floor.

By this time, Dad and I were in hysterics, Diane was mad as hell, mostly with Dad and me for finding this funny.

Were we observed? Not at all. There wasn't a member of staff anywhere near.

Nothing has changed since then.

04 March 2013

One of my Favourite Brisbane Restaurants

I make no secret of it, I love good food. The Blogger and I eat out a lot as no doubt you know from her blog. Like a lot of people, I have a favorite resturant. It's not close to where we live, in fact we travel some 27 km to get there but we do this at least twice a year. Most of our friends do as well. Well, let's face it, if you're happy with the food, the service, the ambiance you do just do that.

I am, of course, talking about the Des Alpes Swiss Restaurant in Blackwood Street Mitchelton or Enoggera, I'm never too sure about that.

The Des Alpes has great atmosphere
The Des Alpes is run by genuine Swiss chef Nick Herbert and his wife Monique, both learnt their trade in Switzerland but have worked in a number of countries, before settling down here in Brisbane to our delight.

The appetizers are just to die for. My personal favourite is the Swiss style cheese bread which is called "Chässchnittli" in Switzerland or the Amouse Bouche "Chäschüechli". Don't try to pronounce that unless you want to dislodge your upper set, just order them in English, you won't be disappointed.

There are lots of main courses to choose from, but I just love the Swiss national dish, sliced veal in a creamy mushroom sauce with potato rösti and accompanying vegetables. But you can't go wrong with the other main dishes, prime eye fillet steak, pork fillets, fish of the day and many more.

Finishing off with the restaurant's signature dessert, Crepe Monique. Ooh la la.

The Blogger's and my favourite restaurant, even on Christmas Day
The Des Alpes is fully licensed and carries a decent range of wines and beers, both local and imported.

To sum up. If you enjoy food and a good night out with friends, then give the Des Alpes a try. You need to book, though, especially Friday and Saturday nights, to get a reservation. But you'll love it.

Of course if you're into a Bowls Club's roast of the day type of meal, or fish and chips, don't bother.

Des Alpes on Urbanspoon

01 March 2013

A busy Morning

Today is the day, the Blogger gets up early to walk with her U3A Walking Group. After that, she joins her friends for a tennis morning, all this, while I am bored at home. Of course, she leaves long before I get up at the crack of dawn. When I climbed out of bed, had a shower and ventured into the kitchen, I found her note.

She left a list of things for me to do while she was gone:

1.     Take out the trash bins.
2.     Wash the breakfast dishes and wipe the kitchen benches. 

Being well trained, I didn’t see a problem with that.  So, I made myself some breakfast, which I enjoyed while playing ‘Bookworm’ on the iPad, (we’re up to 6 million at the moment) then I went to boil the jug for a cuppa, when I saw that my iPhone had a flat battery. I thought I’d better charge it. While I was looking for the charger in the drawer, in which we also keep pens and pencils, notepaper and stuff, I noticed that the paper holder which normally carries 6”X6” precut notepaper was empty. I thought, I’d better cut some up to fill the container. So I went down to my office and headed tor the scrap paper and the guillotine to cut some square notepaper, I saw on the computer screen, that there were 6 email messages.

I sat down and started to read the messages, most of them were jokes from friends, which I immediately forwarded to other friends. But the last message was from one of our U3A students, wanting me to contact him. It sounded urgent, so I picked up the phone when I heard intermittent beeping, which means we had phone messages.

I dialed 101 to retrieve the messages.  Nothing really important. Now, where was I? Ah yes, I was making a cup of tea. So once again, I went upstairs to boil the jug. At the top of the stairs, I saw the projector we use for our Blogging Class. I remembered that there was a cable in the bag that actually belonged to me. So I opened the bag, took the cable out and went downstairs to my office where the cable is normally kept on a hook in the cupboard door. To my amazement I noticed the hook was loose, so I went to fetch a screwdriver from the workbench in the garage. My favorite screwdriver was not where it usually is in the toolbox, in fact, the toolbox looked in a bit of a mess. I took it from the shelf and emptied the tools onto the garage floor, where I started to methodically wipe them with a cloth and proceeded to replace them back into the toolbox. I normally keep a torch in the toolbox as well and discovered the batteries were flat. I know we keep batteries upstairs in a special draw of the bureau. So I went upstairs again to fetch new batteries.

The bureau door was locked and I couldn’t open the drawers. That was strange, as the key is normally kept in the lock. Oh well, someone must have put it on the keyboard in the broom cupboard. I went looking. In the broom cupboard I saw that for some reason, the broom handle hat separated from the broom head. Easily fixed. I took both parts and went downstairs into the garage and found the hammer in the half-cleaned open toolbox.

To join both the broom head to the handle I needed some strong wood glue. I keep some really strong glue under the stairs, but it needs to be heated in a gluepot to melt it down. I grabbed a stick and went upstairs into the kitchen again, and not having a gluepot, I grabbed a saucepan  (OK, she isn’t here, so she can’t see it) and started to melt the stuff on the cook top. It took a while to melt, but melt, it did. So, back down into the garage with the glue pot. Going down the stairs, I spilled some of the hot glue onto the stairs. Oops, she’ll go bonkers if she sees that, I’d better clean that up. So I went back upstairs to fetch a cloth. The evidence removed, I proceeded back upstairs to wash the cloth and return it under the sink. Ok, now let’s fix that broom.

Back in the garage, I was halfway through fixing the broom when the garage door opened and the Blogger drove in. Looking at my watch, I saw that it was midday.

I realized, I didn’t have a cup of tea, I didn’t cut any notepaper, I didn’t put away the projector cable, I didn’t fix the hook in the cupboard, I hadn’t replaced the torch batteries, I hadn’t fixed the broom. Neither had I put out the garbage or wiped the kitchen benches. Oh and I hadn’t cleaned the saucepan.

‘Hello, dear!” how was your morning, I asked.