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Instant Karma’s gonna get you, Comic Book style. KAPOW!

Was John Lennon right? I think he might have been…

Some 15 years or so ago I borrowed some comic books from a good friend.  The Watchmen series, a seminal title by collectible legend, Alan Moore. I had them for ages and had EVERY intention of returning them but hey, I am a busy guy and stuff started to happen… I moved houses, jobs, and cities several times. I bought a house and had kids. I got married and divorced and along the way, as many people do, I grew out of a lot of my boyhood hobbies, including comic books.

At some point I just packed up all my old comics and games and stuff and sold them, tossed them or gave them away. Sadly, I had forgotten all about the Watchmen comics (and my truant loan) until the movie came out. Watching the film, I remembered borrowing the comics and began to feel a certain gnawing guilt for never having returned them.

Comics

Then, a few weeks ago, I was randomly going through some old boxes in my garage. These boxes have been moving with me for the last 15 years but have never been opened. I think everyone has a few of these. They were marked KITCHEN/OFFICE which was why I was searching through them, I think I was trying to find a cheese grater or a spatula… What I found was, of course much greater!  In the bottom of one of these boxes, in pristine condition, was the full set of watchmen comics. Pretty much the only comics to have survived the great purge.

I remembered that I had borrowed them from my old friend Andrew so I searched for him on Facebook, sent a message and arranged to drop them off in Canberra. I might not be the fastest, but I always get there in the end….

In the meantime, because these comics were lying around the house, Jason and Liam (my sons) started asking all about comic books. Being boys of a certain age, superheroes are like crack to them. We got to talking and they asked about what kind of comics I used to read when I was a kid. Thinking hard about it, I remembered that my favourites were these obscure and spectacularly unsuccessful comics by Marvel called the “New Universe”. It was a lot like the TV series: Heroes. No Lycra or capes, just the kind of stuff that might happen in the “real world”. Dudes who get powers and have no idea what to do with them. Characters who actually grow older, unlike say, the Simpsons.. I’m pretty sure Bart Simpson has been in the 4th grade for about twenty years now!
Well, I offered to take the boys out and buy them some superman or batman comics, but after hearing my story, all they could think about were these old comics. I tried the internet and some comic stores but these things were a huge failure so they just weren’t anywhere to be found. The boys were devastated and try as I might, I could not convince them to settle for anything else. By this time I was feeling pretty stupid for having built these things up into such a big deal and then being completely unable to deliver.
A few weeks later it was time to head to Canberra for work. I packed up the recalcitrant Watchmen comics ready to returned to their rightful owner. In the intervening time I’ve been asking anyone who might have a clue if they could help me find these old collectibles. I’ve been on the internet, into comic book stores and picking the brains of anyone who looks kinda geeky. I’ve had several ‘Comic Book Guy’ types sneer at the sheer stupidity that I exhibit by expecting to be able to simply order these “rare collectibles”. Worst Dad, ever…
comic-book-guy
That’s when the weirdness begins. Almost the minute I drop off Andrew’s watchmen ( only 15 years too late) I bump into Steve, who is the son of Glenn, one of my teenage besties. Steve is a Comic book guru, so naturally I ask him my question and he says he thinks he remembers seeing these old “New Universe” comics at his house!
Well, it turns out during my great sell-off/give-away/throw-away I gave a big box to Glenn and sure enough, just as I had discovered a box 15 Years later, the very same thing was waiting for me in an old archive box underneath Glenn’s stairs!
I returned home triumphant to two ECSTATIC boys with the pile of comic book stories that they had given up for lost.
Instant Karma?
Undoubtedly.

Catch me if I fall.

I took my two boys for a bushwalk in the Blue Mountains today.We went to this place called Evans lookout. There was a long, steep walk from the top of the valley down into the canyon. Lots of rocks, steep descents and hundreds of steps cut into the stone…

 At the bottom was a quiet little creek where spring water collected and flowed further into the valley. It was cool and shady because of the canopy of trees and looming cliffside.It was very serene. Very peaceful. The boys liked it a lot more than I thought they would.

The View from Evans Lookout

The View from Evans Lookout

The walk back UP however, was pretty tough. I don’t think they really knew how much harder it would be to climb back out of the valley. There was a lot of gravel and loose rocks and it was very slippery.

I told the boys to stay close together and walk up slowly. First Liam, then Jason, then me.. That way if Liam slipped, Jason could catch him, and if they both slipped, I could catch them both.

The boys said to me” But Dad, what if YOU fall too?” and I said,” Don’t worry about that, I’m your Dad and I’m not going to fall. I’ll always be here to catch you if you fall.”

And I intend to be.

Always.

I’m a MAC, and I’m a PC…

Unless you’ve living in the World WITHOUT Web you’ve probably Seen these…

That’s 15 Ads where Apple tell us how wonderful the Mac is and how terrible the PC and Windows are. Let’s be honest with each other, it’s damn compelling stuff.. Who wants to be that geeky fat guy? Nobody!

Windows devotees, naturally despise this Über cool, jeans wearing punk, with no concept of work and a closet free of neckties and blue suits..

And really there’s no arguing that Macs are WAY sexier than PCs. I use a Macbook Pro in a predominantly Windows based office and the lustful looks elicited from both geeks and newbs alike are VERY satisfying. Let’s face it, that ad is VERY compelling.  Poor old Bill Gates has been taking a pummeling from Steve Jobs’ posse and I must say that it’s funny, VERY funny when Microsoft try to out-cool Apple.

I like Jerry Seinfeld, I watched the series, every episode, and I think it’s a little sad that a man who made me laugh so much is no longer finding new and daring ways to make me laugh some more. Don’t let that make you think that Jerry’s NOT doing anything, OH He’s doing stuff! Just nothing funny… This, my friends, is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s cool ads:

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think we’re likely to see hordes of people camping on the street 72 hours before Microsoft opens it’s new Mega-Store.. Even IF Bill Gates is there personally!

In conclusion, Macs are better.. no.. wait… hang on.. Let me re-read that..

Mac’s are SEXIER. yes without doubt… but is it all about LOOKS? I’m a Mac owner, what’s my experience of really USING this computer like? Well I loved it! Until recently when I crashed.. I tried to recover, I tried VERY VERY hard but I just couldn’t.

I’m an angry computer user when things don’t go my way. I decided to write a blog entry on how frustrated the whole experience made me. In the end, I realised that there were thousands of people olut there, just like me. So I deleted my entry and posted this video instead. This guy is my new hero..it goes on for a bit, but hang in there, it’s worth the wait..

Angry Mac Dude.. stick with it, it starts slow and then he really gets going…

I do hope Steve Jobs gets well soon.

A different sort of Blog entry… What’s the moral of the Story?

This was a bedtime story I told to my kids…

I was trying to create a particular message for them, but so far no-one who has read this has picked up on the message I was trying to send.. Which means either I’m an idiot or you’re an idiot..

What’s it gonna be? What’s the message here?

You are here...

You are here...

The Island Castaway (no Tom Hanks)

A wealthy and powerful man began to lose his way in the world and decided to take a cruise to find himself. After 11 days at sea, there was a violent storm and the ship capsized, flinging the man into the raging sea. He survived the storm by holding on to a piece of floating debris and eventually was washed up on a small island. The island was very small and though there were enough trees with fruit, fresh water and fish to keep the man alive, after many weeks he began to lose his will to live. He decided at this time to try to put an end to it all.

The next morning 2 strange boxes washed up on the shore. Both were locked and looked difficult to open. The man spent a full day using makeshift tools trying to open the first box. For the whole day, he could not even scratch the outside of the box and eventually as night fell, he conceded that he could not open the box.

The next day he set to work on the second box. It seemed identical to the first, but by the end of the second day, he had managed to peel away just a very small corner of the top of the box. That night he could barely sleep, he was so excited about what he might find in the box.

Three more days passed, each day the man managed to open the box just a little more. Finally, on the end of the fifth day, the man had opened hole large enough to reach inside the box. He reached his hand inside and felt something small and square inside the box. He worked away, into the night and eventually freed the small square object, which happened to be another box, a smaller version of the first two. Since his island ordeal, the man had never felt so alive. Again that night, he barely slept, so excited about what he might find in the small box.

Another week passed, each day the man was able to open the smaller box just a little more.. Finally he had managed to open the small box and inside was a small silver flute. In the coming months the man taught himself slowly and careful to play beautiful music on the flute and after 6 long months on the island he was eventually rescued by a passing fishing ship.

When the ship arrived, the fisherman helped the man aboard and they picked up the first box the man had passed over. They opened the box and inside was a radio beacon, life raft and nautical flares. The man looked at the box and sat down, smiling to play the flute.

Lost your Licence? I’ll flip you for it.

Australia calls itself the Lucky Country and growing up here, I’ve always believed it. Look around, we have great beaches, great weather, great lifestyle, great grandparents, it’s really, well….. great! This is all very cool, until you take some time to think about WHY we call ourselves the lucky country. Is it because of our golden soil and wealth for toil? Our Natural gifts of beauty, rich and rare? I always thought so… But perhaps I was wrong. Maybe we’re all just hoping for a quick win. The thrill of gambling it all on the roll of the dice.. or more correctly, the push of the poker machine button. Getting LUCKY.

Nobody loves to gamble more than we do. Sure, Vegas has a great reputation, but think for a second about our very own NSW..

In 2002, Australia had 20% of the WORLD’S poker machines. By 2007, NSW alone had 43% of the ENTIRE WORLD’S poker machines..  that’s a lot of poker machines.. Think about it. The USA (home of Reno and Vegas) has 15 times more people than Australia and more than 40 times the population of NSW and yet only double the Pokies..  thats like 35 times more pokies per capita!! OUCH..

Of course, 72% of all gambling related statistics are invented on the spot for the purpose of making a good argument and this itself is only 16% likely to be true (I’d bet the farm on that..)

No matter what the numbers are, it’s clear we like to gamble. Our most famous International event on the sporting calendar is the Melbourne Cup. Even the PM stops to have a punt. We just can’t seem to stop the insanity. With all this in mind, it really shouldn’t surprise me that the rest of our system is a gamble as well.

Someone I know recently lost their Driver’s Licence. Not in a little way. Not say, sitting on 110 Km/h on the M7 from Sydney to Canberra and forgetting that the M7 is a 100 zone even though it’s WAAAAY safer than most of the 110 zones on the rest of the drive. Not that, NO. But in a BIG way. (I love starting sentences with BUT by the way..)

She lost her Licence doing nearly DOUBLE the limit in a school zone. Where little kids walk around. Where MY little kids walk around. So it’s tough to be sympathetic. But (there I go again) even though I might not be sympathetic, our loving Government wants to give everyone a fair go. What does a fair go mean?? Well it means taking part in the Lucky Country philosophy. You’ve got to be in it to win it! So.. lose your licence and we’ll flip you for it. Not literally, it’s actually more of a Double or Nothing kind of scenario.. I’m not kidding, go check it out. You have 12 Demerit points which are lost for various offences. You lose all your points and you lose your licence for 3 Months OR you can gamble and instead of losing it for 3 Months and going back to normal, you can have just 1 point for 12 Months.. If, during that time you so much as fart while driving, now you’ve got a DOUBLE suspension: 6 Months..

Seriously, the only thing this is missing is two brightly coloured boxes and a Game Show host in a loud Jacket.. What’s it gonna be honey? You’ve come so far tonight.. red light cameras, mobile phone use and now a SCHOOL ZONE.. Will you risk it all and play on??

The Money or the Box?

The Money or the Box?

Look ma – no Water! What the? Waterless Washing Machines…

I love the enironment. So far, for me it’s been the best one we’ve ever had. I mean, compared to the barren winterland of the last ice age, this environment kicks some butt. It’s so GREEN. So, when I hear of a new way to save the environment I am all for it.

One thing that troubles me a great deal are recent reports of the Pacific Plastic Soup. This massive trash vortex is said to consist of all the floating debris (mostly plastic) that has collected in the Pacific Ocean. The “patch” is thought to be a massive accumulation of floating rubbish in two big vortices (is that a word? let’s just say YES) on either side of Hawaii. Sitting just below the ocean surface, it is very hard to spot using satellite imagery, but American sailor Charles Moore was apparently very spun out when, in 1997, he sailed through the soup and took DAYS to get from one end to the other! Some (like me) might argue that the Pacific Plastic Soup will soon represent our greatest environmental threat.

Pacific Plastic Soup

Pacific Plastic Soup

Others will tell you that access to fresh water is one of the World’s greatest challenges. It’s big, that’s for sure. We are in the middle of one of Australia’s worst ever droughts, and clearly fresh water is a critical issue! I found it a little ironic that here in Sydney, we’ve been watching our city get drowned under some of the heaviest rainfall in decades, rain that’s draining straight out to sea… While we wave goodbye to the countless gigalitres of fresh water passing by, we’re working on saving our future by building a huge desalination plant. This is clearly a brilliant plan (way too smart for me to understand) which takes into account all that surplus electricity, which up till now has just been going to waste! Like He-Man, we have the power!

Hang on a minute, what’s all this got to do with Waterless Washing Machines or the Water Powered Car for that matter?? Well, be patient, I’m getting to that..

Recently, British scientists announced that they can SAVE THE PLANET one load of washing at a time. Is it a miracle of cleanliness? No – it’s the waterless washing machine. This revolutionary invention doesn’t use disgusting, unhealthy, wasteful FRESH WATER to clean your soiled linens, but in fact makes use of healthy, clean, environmentally friendly, plastic polymer chips. That’s right, we’re replacing the water with just 20KG of PLASTIC.

But don’t worry, you can re-use the 20KG of plastic chips. A few times anyway.That’s called R-E-C-Y-C-L-I-N-G, it’s all the rage you know.

And think, all that water we saved can be used to wash those huge bags of plastic chips into the Pacific Ocean. Hell, it’s a long way from Leeds.

BMW R1200GS – The Object of My Desire

On the weekend I happened to be passing through a BMW bike dealership. A friend was looking for Bluetooth hands free for his Nolan bike helmet – which incidentally works very well!

So I’ve been thinking of changing Bikes – right now I ride a BMW F800S (see the pic)

f800s-fr1

I like my bike, it’s fast and fun but not that comfy for really long rides… I’ve been wanting to do a long trip, so thinking about a new bike. I had my heart set on a Harley-esque Yamaha Cruiser and with this in mind wandered into the BMW dealership.

I get talking with the sales dude about bikes, the kind of bike I want and he’s getting all narky on me.. This is HOW NOT TO SELL.. He’s bagging my choices, telling me what an idiot I am for picking this bike, when clearly the only bike for me is the BMW R 1200 GS. I say – you’re crazy, that bike is too upright, too heavy too this, too that but this guy is persistent.. In the end, through sheer tenacity, he convinces me to test ride one…

r1200gs_gray_large1

This dealership is a second floor shop. The only way OUT of the store on a bike is a STEEP driveway/ramp that feeds directly onto a busy road. So, having now agreed to test ride this monstrosity, I am now sitting astride one of the heaviest, most unwieldy bikes I’ve ever ridden, looking down at the busy road and thinking – BAD IDEA, especially since:

1. They have a swipe of my credit card and if I scratch it – I bought it!

2. This bike is BIG – so the EVERYONE in the showroom has stopped browsing and is now staring at me (and hoping to hell I fall off and make an ASS of myself!)

I gingerly ease this thing into traffic, after I’ve wobbled my way down the driveway of certain doom, thinking that the sooner I drop this thing off, the happier I’ll be. I fully intended to go around the block once and say thanks but no thanks..

BUT something strange happened. As I gathered momentum, this big heavy beast suddenly transformed from a heavy, unbalanced horror to a light and nimble trail bike. It felt like it weighed less than me! (which still makes it pretty heavy, sadly). The round-the-block ride turned into 40 minutes of heaven..

And now, I am totally fixated. Like the One Ring – I MUST HAVE IT!!

AAAAARGH! Stupid Sales Guy – I knew his technique was crap! Dammit.


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