Saturday, November 29, 2008

Big Night in Busso

I drove the graveyard shift in the cab last night, 6pm to 6am, and it was the busiest night I've ever seen, all 10 cabs were on the road and at one stage there were 57 jobs waiting!!!! 57!!!
Unbelievable. Why so busy? Partly because Xavier Rudd was playing in concert at Old Broadwater Farm. Partly because it was Friday night. Partly because we had an inordinate number of jobs to Dunsborough and Bunbury which took people away from town for long periods, thus creating a backlog. It was flat out from go to woe. Even after 5am, when you can sometimes close your eyes and take a nap in the car (while parked!) it was constant. I'd rashly told the remaining couple of drivers they could park up about 5, then the rush started again, made all the more urgent by the call out centre in Bunbury closing for the night and the calls starting to come through to me in the car via the two-way!
Not content with the busiest night of the year, confirmed by my highest takings of 2008, and possibly ever, I then had to contend with my cab, 163, breaking down just as we hit peak hour, in Dunsborough!! 15km away!! It stalled and absolutely refused to restart. I've got no idea why.
I had no choice but to lock it up and scab a lift back to Busso with Gavin. In the process I lost the best part of an hour of peak earning time, making the final outcome all the more remarkable.

I then took the wheel of 170 because the driver was crook and needed to go home. The pace never abated. The money kept rolling in. The customers were 90% good, but 10% managed to push my buttons in some way. One who had fiddle-farted around for ages before getting in started to complain that the meter had climbed to $10 before we left his driveway. I pulled up and explained that I'd already been driving for 10 hours, on top of a full day at work, and invited him to get out and walk if he wasn't prepared to pay the fair fare. He pulled his head in and we resumed the journey. At another pick up, a party on a bush property inhabited by drunken dancing rebel-raisers, some kids started throwing rocks at the taxi! For a brief moment I saw red and planted my foot down, speeding over toward them and making it abundantly clear what I would do to the next kid I discovered throwing rocks at the cab. They stopped so I guess the message got through. It may have been my powerful personality, or it may have been the colurful adjectives I uttered that did the trick, I don't know, and I don't much care.
I was relieved when Jack finally came on the air just before 6 enabling me to park up after a Hard Day's Night.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Quantum of Solace

I liked the new James Bond movie. The latest incarnation of Bond is the grittiest, toughest and most dangerous of all, and also the most vulnerable and emotional, it certainly makes him a more interesting character. There's still the smooth style and ultra cool of course but there's also a lot more going on inside his head. Haunted by the death of Vespa, who he denies having loved, Bond is sleep deprived, over indulges on vodka martinis, shows glimpses of fear and desperation under pressure and is hell bent on revenge despite denials to the contrary. He also becomes a fugitive, hunted by both sides, though M, for all her stern rebukes, doesn't lose faith in OO7 when all and sundry are sure he's lost it and needs to be stopped, dead or alive.
The stunts and action scenes are breath-taking, the pace relentless and the settings and cinematogrophy stunning. The plot was a bit hard to follow at times and of course there was a liberal dose of escapist unreality but you don't go to a James Bond film expecting documentary style reality, or you shouldn't! . A lot of things blew up or were destroyed. A lot of beautiful women were on show. A lot of bad guys had evil plans to rule/destroy the world. A lot of people were chased: in cars, boats, planes and on foot and a lot of people died. It's definitely a man's movie. Females may like the look and sexiness of Bond but they won't relate to or appreciate his character, or character faults, his propensity for cold-blooded violence and ruthless commitment to getting the job done.
I liked it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Shaken not Stirred

The piece of furniture I bought at the garage sale on Saturday. We'd like to remove the mirror but I'm not sure how to, it's stuck on and I fear levering it off may well damage the timber. For the first time in 21 years the "Lifting heavy weights" duties in the Holt Press household did not rely on me, the Heir and Hair carried it in together, then proceeded to have a slapping and wrestling match in our bedroom to further display their masculinity. The Hair, who has half a head of dreadlocks now by the way, often assesses things on the basis of whether they are "manly" lately. This seemed to pass the test. To fully seal the male "bonding" vibe going down at present, we three are off to see Quantum of Solace shortly. Mrs Holt Press doesn't want to come, which is just as well because she's not invited.
I'll see if she wants to go and see Australia next week, it will be more her style, ie. $140M Chick Flick.
It will be good for me to chill out, I'm getting brain strain from staring at the computer all day editing and updating books for the camp.
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Just camp prep and a YouthCare meeting to keep me occupied today.

And the arrival of more badges via ebay. My collection is growing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Claim that had to be Tested

I was on the freeway last night, about to head up to Banksia Grove to stay the night at Birchy's when the phone rang.

Hi Dad said Favourite Daughter, where are you staying tonight?

Up near Wanneroo at Birchy's



Bethany & I need to be at Hillary's boat harbour by 10 to take the ferry to Rottnest and I was hoping you could give us a lift.

Hmmm, right...

You can stay the night here if you want, that would make it easier in the morning.

OK, no worries,
(What are Dads for if not to rescue young damsels in distress, especially daughters!)
I'll just ring Birchy to let him know about the change of plans.

I rang Birchy and reset the GPS for Maylands.

And so it was that I spent the night with FD and her flatmates Bethany and Sherrine.

I duly dropped them off at Hillarys this morning, with a stop at TAFE enroute so Beth could hand in her last assignment in her nursing course, well done.

The girls have gone to Rotto to be part of the Red Frog Team that looks out for the welfare of the thousands of school leavers who are about to descend on the island. The annual ritual can be little more than an excuse to get drunk and go crazy, getting Blotto at Rotto has become something of a rite of passage, albeit a very unhealthy one for young West Aussies. It could be a challenging week for Favourite Daughter and the team but the Red Froggers are well recognised and accepted as providing a valuable pastoral service/chaplaincy to the kids at leaver's Week.

I spent the rest of the day doing reconnaissance around Perth, setting up check points and detours for the Cool School Race Camp, talking to businesses and organisations about the camp and seeking their support. To help them grasp the concept I usually compare the camp to the TV show The Amazing Race; that seems to work and most are very happy to be involved and often comment that they'd like to do something similar themselves.
I didn't get the prep finished but I made significant progress. I'll be back in Perth in a week to put the finishing touches to that part of the camp.

I dropped in to SU to ask if they wanted the kids on the camp to come in and do a short community service task for them as one of the checkpoints on the camp. They couldn't come up with a suitable need we could respond to but suggested I try Anglicare and get the kids packing Christmas food hampers. Two trips up and down Adelaide Terrace failed to unearth any sign or trace of the Anglicare office so that idea is on the back burner.
As I was leaving SU I spotted this bold sign on Scarborough Beach Rd. A claim like this can't be ignored, or untested, so I ordered a beef burger for lunch. I was not disappointed; as you can see, it was a substantial burger, and quite tasty to boot.

The day didn't end so well. I spent a few hours walking and catching buses around the city only to find to my dismay upon my return that the carpark where I'd left the car was closed for the night, having locked it's gates at 7.00pm! Dismay turned to disgust when, upon ringing the after hours number I was informed it would cost $60 to get my car out, or I could pick it up in the morning! Not very convenient seeing as I needed to drive 240km home to Busselton! I wasn't happy and very begrudgingly paid the ransom before setting off for home.
Who would expect a major city carpark to close at 7.00pm? Not a bloke from the country like me!!!
I'll be making a claim for reimbursement on this particular charge!!!! And writing a strongly worded letter to the council!!!!
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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sport Boy: He's from Barcelona

Scenes from the big birthday celebration.

Today has been a true day of rest. I got up at lunchtime- post taxi- just crossing paths with the family to discuss Christmas plans before Mrs HP transferred from reading on the sofa to going for an extended nap.

The Hair passed up my invitation to go and see the new James Bond movie this afternoon, preferring to hang out with his "girlfriend"!

I'm about to set off for Perth where I have some camp preparation to do tomorrow.
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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Birthday Celebrations

Peace has returned to he Holt Press household; Sport Boy's party guests have just departed.
They had a good time, which should be interpreted as "noise, laughter, fun, silliness, excess sugar, farting noises, 11 year old humour, and a McFlurry dropped on the car floor".
No harm done and a bunch of happy kids heading home. The olde crew- Mrs HP Favourite Daughter, The Heir and I also had a good time, laughing at the kid's antics and one another. The 10 pin bowling was notable for the changing of the guard. I failed to get a strike or even a spare, I can't remember the last time that happened, while Favourite Daughter took full advantage of the bumpers to "pinbowl" her way to victory. Mrs Holt Press got the final dig in as we left, "I beat you"!

Dinner started at Hungry Jacks and finished with McFlurry's at McDonalds, all class catering!!
Walking back through the car park the boys were making comments and jokes about the animal signs used to signify which part of the carpark your car is in when one of them said, "That penguin looks like a bird". That brought much laughter and was repeated many more times before we got home, along with a very funny joke about rabbits that has to be heard rather than read to be fully appreciated.

I'm enjoying the peace and quiet and watching the last few minutes of the Rugby League World Cup Final before heading out to do a late shift in the taxi. At this point the Kiwis are on the verge of a HUGE upset, leading the game by 12 points with 5 minutes left!

Today was a mega garage sale bonanza in Busselton, the most I've ever seen on one day and I got up early to take advantage of it. I found a few items of interest, the main purchase being an old wardrobe/drawers/dressing table combo. I don't know how to describe it better than that but it will add some much needed storage for Mrs HP's clothes in our bedroom.

Well, New Zealand have done it, knocking off Australia, the hottest of hot favourites before the game.

Time to go to work.

Happy Birthday Sport Boy

Happy Birthday Sport Boy.

He had a good day. He loves his presents. His big sister came home and his party is tomorrow.

In the world of an 11 year old, it doesn't get much better than this.

Pictures to follow soon.

Just completed an 11 1/2 hour shift in the cab, no prizes for guessing where I'll be three minutes from now. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sport Boy turns 11 Tomorrow

Tomorrow is a very big day, it's Sport Boy's 11th birthday. He's been counting down the days for nearly a month. He's promised to come and wake us up at 6.30 in the morning, presumably so we can help him celebrate! He's had a pretty tough time lately at school and a tough year physically with illness, appendicitis and a "broken" wrist. Kids that were his friends have turned against him and he's been pretty sad. He's a very sensitive kid. Some kids might brush off this sort of mean behaviour but he has taken it to heart and suffered accordingly. Thankfully things have started to improve, as a result of some intervention from us and action from the school. He's also made a couple of new friends which is a relief.

On Saturday afternoon we're taking him and a few friends to Bunbury to go 10 pin bowling and have dinner at his favourite restaurant, Hungry Jacks.
I really hope he has a great day tomorrow, he's such a great little kid, it's been very painful seeing him feeling down and sad.
His big sister is coming home for the weekend to help celebrate which will be a treat.

I'm making some progress in preparation for the Cool School Race Camp, my biggest project of the year. I dropped the photo book off at the printers today, and also met with the Busso kids who are going on the camp. We will have either 16 or 24 from Busso and a total of 176 kids, from 8 high schools which makes it a pretty big camp. In fact, it is the highest number of different schools we've had which should add to the level of competition this year, especially between the three Bunbury high schools.
I've got lots of work still to do but am finally starting to click into gear on it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Good News for Struggling Artist

Remember this painting? I posted a picture of it on October 26. I had taken it to Perth to enter in an exhibition at Favourite Daughter's church, Metrochurch in Beaufort St Northbridge. Unfortunately it was slightly too long to qualify for the competition but they agreed to hang it in the exhibition on the understanding that it was ineligible to win a prize.
I was happy with that. I didn't expect it to win, I just wanted to get it on display. It's an acrylic/mixed media piece, with glue and metal. If you click on the picture it will "enbiggen" and you'll see a bit more of the detail. The filagree metal came from an auction a few weeks ago and it's the first time I've used it in a painting. I was very pleased with it, despite one of the family's comment when I was taking it to Perth, "Why don't you take one of your other ones, they're better than that?"

Guess what? Favourite Daughter rang me this afternoon to say my painting has been sold!

Yeehaa! That's great news. It was priced at $495 (less commission)

That will certainly help our tight finances.

I have another painting in the exhibition so here's hoping someone likes it enough to buy it too.

NB. When FD and her friend went to look at the exhibition they didn't know why my painting had a dot stuck to it. They were very pleasantly surprised to learn upon asking that that signified it had been sold.
FD said not many others had been sold though most were priced higher than mine.
"You could have sold it for more Dad".
Not to worry, I'm happy with this outcome.
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Not a lot to report tonight so just a few pics of a trip to our old home town of Geelong from a few years ago. Mrs Holt Press' parents Alan and Mary still live there so she goes back at least once a year to see them and on this occasion we went together. Of course, we took in a football game while we were there too. They are walking the boardwalk at Eastern Beach, a very popular place in the summer time. It has been spruced up a bit these days with some pretty cool art works scattered around.
The house on the bottom left is where I spent a large part of my childhood, 119 Aberdeen St. We three boys shared the upstairs bedroom you can see. I remember vomiting out of that window once.
Bottom right is Newtown State School which I attended from prep (Bubs) through to grade 5. My grade one teacher was Mrs Digby.
Most of my memories of school revolved around football, playing it every little lunch, lunch time and afternoon recess. We played on gravel, there being no grass on the top playground. We were tough!
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Holt Press News Sport etc

Sports Report

Spurs lost to Fulham 2-1on Sat. night, their first loss since Harry Redknapp took over. The bubble had to burst sooner or later!

The NY Giants continued their good form with a 30-10 win over the Baltimore Ravens.

The Wallabies won at Twickenham for the first time in 4 years, beating the poms 28-14.

General News

Back to work today where my main focus was finalising the photo book ready for printing for the CSRC. Time is going to get away from me if I don't start cranking it up several notches.
The time for navel gazing is over, the time for knuckling down has arrived.

I have a couple of paintings in an exhibition in Perth this week at Metro Church in Beaufort St North Perth. If you're in the neighbourhood drop in and support a struggling artist. I hope one or both of them sell because money is very tight again at the moment.
I had planned to have an exhibition in Busselton in mid December but I can't see it happening at this stage with higher priorities taking precedence. perhaps I'll get something happening in January? Hopefully.

Preparations are under way for one of the premier social events of the year, Sport Boy's 11th birthday. We will be celebrating on Saturday afternoon/evening, with a few friends, ten pin bowling and dinner at SB's favourite restaurant, the home of the Whopper!

Business News

In the start of what I hope might become a balancing of exports to imports in the Holt Press Trading Company, I sold my first item on ebay tonight. A NY Mets baseball jacket. I had a reserve of $10 and the first 6 days of the auction it attracted 6 watchers and no bids. But in a flurry of activity on the final day the bids started rolling in and the final price was $35! Not too shabby! Once payment has been made by the buyer, a uni student in Adelaide, I'll stick it in the mail. I could get used to this! I've already started looking around at other possible items to sell!
I need to because I've been going gang busters on the badges and pins! I have scaled back, and even been pleased when someone has outbid me on a few items. One remarkable transaction saw a set of Sydney Olympics badges that I was the leading bidder on for about a week, for $33, finally sold today for $275!!!!! Similarly, an original Donald Bradman badge that I briefly lead with a bid of $12 ultimately sold for $290!!! Rest assured, I'm not in that league. My purchases are confined to the sort that average out at about 20-30c a badge.

Finally, some Agricultural News.

The stone fruit season has commenced, I ate my first peach of the season on the weekend and though small, it was very nice, sweet and juicy. I'll probably eat several dozen kilos of nectarines, peaches, plums and grapes by the time Summer is over. Mmmmmm!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cyclone Jacqui hits Busselton

It's been full house here at the Holt Press Hotel this weekend. Mum and Walter were here as previously reported while Walter went to a wood turner's workshop.
Tonight The Hair is entertaining two guests from Perth, Angela and Alannah, who he met at a church camp a couple of years ago. They are going hiking on the Cape to Cape track for the next few days so are staying the night here before setting off in the morning. Just the girls that is. The Hair still has two exams this week.

Sport Boy had a friend, Gabriel, here for the afternoon too.

It's been nice to entertain some guests and offer some "country hospitality". The high point of which was a traditional BBQ for dinner including some fresh herring caught off the jetty last night. Not by me I hasten to add, someone gave them to Mrs Holt Press at work.
Now, any readers who have visited the Holt Press Hotel in the last 12 months or so will remember that the place has been a mess to put it mildly, or more specifically the outside has been a mess. The arrival of the boat and the construction of the shed combined to create havoc in the car port and patio. The boat has become the repository of more and more stuff but the shed, due to the lack of the concrete floor, has not been usable. So there's been stuff everywhere, making life crowded and outdoor entertaining nigh on impossible.
But not any longer!
Everything changed today with the arrival of one of the most powerful forces known to nature, Cyclone Jacqui!
She instigated the dramatic events by cleaning up a large pile of cardboard that was destined for the tip when I got round to borrowing a trailer. By the time she was finished it had all been cut down and crammed into the recycling bin.
Shamed into action, I set about tidying up, one thing lead to another and by the time we'd finished, the house had been transformed!
I started by sticking as much of the stuff on the patio as I could into the little (original) shed, then the remainder into the new shed, complete with sand floor! I figure that when we get round to pouring the concrete floor I'll just move it out again but in the mean time it's undercover and out of sight! It's mostly big stuff and not too hard to move.
That left the patio clean and tidy and much more inviting. As if to prove the point Walter and Mrs Holt Press both spent time out there reading the paper in the much more pleasant surrounds this afternoon.
Next I turned my attention to the boat and decided to move it into the backyard. It's been in the carport so it could be under cover but I have covered it with a tarpaulin and tied it securely which will hopefully keep the rain out of it.
While rolling it through to the backyard I couldn't resist parking it in the patio for a brief time for the benefit of Mrs Holt Press, who sadly, failed to see the funny side of it. I on the other hand thought it was hilarious. The Heir didn't like the idea much but was willing to go along with the gag but The Hair was aghast :
"This will not end well for anyone except Mum" he protested weakly!
With the boat safely moored in the backyard, the carport able to accommodate the entire Holt Press fleet and the patio again fit for entertaining, we cranked up the barbie and enjoyed a nice meal and the warm Spring Busselton evening.
Life's good.
PS. I hereby publicly declare that the Holt Press Boat will make it's maiden voyage this Summer and that it will no longer be either a storage facility, or the centre piece of a water feature in the backyard as cruelly suggested by Mrs Holt Press and my mother!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sport Boy's Idea of Making the Bed

Sport Boy was sent to bed with his doona tonight. This was as close as he came to making his bed with it!
Mum and Walter are staying the night so he can go to a woodturner's workshop. Mum and I spent the day hunting for garage sales. Our search took us as far as Margaret River but was relatively unproductive, except for one special bargain I'll post about later. One sale that promised all sorts of intriguing possibilities, curiosities and treasures was an absolute waste of time with possibly the world's grumpiest proprietor who carried on packing up as we arrived. The time? 12.15pm! What is wrong with these people?
I found a couple of odd little items worth buying but nothing worth blogging about but it was a good way to spend a few hours chatting with Mum.

Having had minimal sleep I went back to bed at 3.30 with a view to getting up for church at 6.00. Things didn't go to plan and I awoke at 7.00. Now I'm gonna watch the Wallabies play England at Twickenham.
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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sleep beckons

You know the drill.

Friday night.

Big day at work.

Big night in taxi.

Big sleep needed.

See you on the other side.
Can't close without mentioning yet another memorable victory by Tottenham Hotspur, this time a 4-2 drubbing of Liverpool in the League Cup. That puts Spurs through to the quarter finals. Go Harry Go!

Friday, November 14, 2008


A selection of some of the badges headed my way via ebay. Having plundered the Australian badge market I turned my attention to the US and discovered 1000's of new bidding opportunities. What a shame the bottom fell out of the Aussie dollar a couple of months ago!!!
My collection is growing rapidly. Too rapidly! I'm having to scale back and become more selective. It's amazing how many badges and pins there are and the variety of different subjects they encompass.
I'm going to concentrate more on sport badges. That's the theory anyway!

My car is back on the road, good news for me, bad news for global warming!

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Deja Vu

I had to ride to work today because of last night's car troubles, on flat tyres, so I went to the garage first to pump them up, and busted 4 kids wagging and having a smoke. Dumb dumb dumb and dumber!!!!

Half way through the afternoon The Heir rang:

Dad, my car's broken down on the way back from Margaret River.

I thought he was winding me up after last night's dramas, but he assured me he and Toni really were stuck.

What happened?

It made a rattling sort of noise, I thought it was the fan, then it stopped.

I don't know much about mechanics but I do know that rattling/knocking noises from the front of a car are generally very bad news!

Like a knocking noise?

Yeah sort of.

I think it's fatal mate!

The Blue Beast has been written off before on more than one occasion only to bounce back, but I really didn't like the sound of this.

Can you come and pick us up?

I'd like to but my car is not working either, remember!

OK, we'll try Noel.

Call me back if that doesn't work.

I didn't hear back so I guessed that Noel had gone to retrieve them. When I got home I discovered that in fact Mrs Holt Press had gone to their aid.

Meanwhile back in the office, the phone rings again.

Is that Marcus Holt?


This is Constable such and such from Busselton Police station. Did your car break down last night? Do you know where it is?

Yes it did and yes I do.

We've had a call from a lady reporting it, they want it moved off their verge. You've got until tomorrow.

OK, but that's a bit strange, I talked to them last night when we broke down and the lady said it was fine to leave it there.

I think you may have talked to a different person than the one who rang me, her daughter I think.

OK. I'm going round this afternoon to try and get it started.

Taking The Heir with me we went round to see if we could get it running. I knew the battery was flat so hoped we'd be able to jump start it. I checked the fuses under the dash, all intact.
Looked under the bonnet. Did minor repair on loose wire. Noticed another fuse box so I checked them, they were a range of sizes shapes and ampages but as far as I could tell all looked to be intact. Then I noticed a third fuse box! Checked it as well, no obvious signs of a problem. Then, while inspecting the battery cable found yet another fuse box!!! How many fuse boxes can one car have? This one had three more than any car I'd ever heard of! But, one of the fuses, a 30 amp number was blown. That looked like the problem however, I was wrong. Getting it out was the problem! It did not want to budge and we began to speculate on whether we'd broken it in half trying to remove it. It's hard to explain but in the end we couldn't extract it even though the two beside it came out quite easily.
Either way, the car wasn't going to start, we needed to tow it. The Yaris is not up to that sort of challenge so I rang Dave to ask if I could borrow his truck.
Before driving off I spoke to the lady in the house to let her know what we were doing and mentioned the call from the police.

That was my Mum! She thought it was stolen.

As I drove away I thought to myself, stolen! What car thief knocks on someone's door at 10.00 o'clock at night and asks permission to leave their "stolen" car on the front verge? Some people!

Back to Dave.

Sure, but you'll have to pick up the keys from me.

Where are you?

At dancing lessons.

Pause till laughter fades. OK, I'm on my way.

Dave met us in the carpark and seemed very eager that we not come in!

Into the truck and back to the stricken Toyota. We hooked up the car and proceeded carefully down the highway and delivered the car to the auto electrician. I'll ring him in the morning to let him know what's going on.

The Heir then came up with a bright idea.

Hey Dad, seeing as we've got the truck, can we go and get my car?

Yeah OK. How far is it?

Not far, it's just past the new school really. (At Vasse)

OK but we need to get fuel first, the truck's almost empty.

Deisel for the truck and Vanilla Diet Coke for us. Off we went to Vasse. As I suspected, it was almost 10km past the new school before we found the blue beast. Maths is not The Heir's strong suit but to be fair it wasn't mine either.

Getting it moving was a tougher challenge. The combined effect of the weight of the beast, the angle it was parked-nose into the drain beside the road- and the loose gravel meant I was spinning the wheels of the truck but making no progress. It required some manouvreing of both vehicles and four more attempts before we finally got mobile. I hadn't felt even the slightest tug while towing my car. Towing the beast felt like dragging a reluctant hippo out of a swamp.
But, with due care we got it home.

Then I had a bright idea.

Hey Son, while we've got the truck, how about we go and pick up the work bench I bought at the garage sale?

Do you know where it is now?



Nowhere near where I thought it was!!!!

Upon arrival I knocked on the door and Mac answered with a big grin, having heard about my exploits on Sunday. We set about loading the bench onto the truck. I think it's fair to say I have never lifted anything so heavy in my life!! The front is solid jarrah and weighs a ton. Not to mention how awkward it was, and how unbalanced, with all the weight in the front, my left side.
I was genuinely relieved when we got it on the tray, and genuinely worried how we were going to get it off at the other end!
Thankfully The Hair had had the foresight to invite Zac W to stay the night so we were able to employ their extra muscle to do the deed.

Both Heir and Hair commented, Mum's gonna love that! when we deposited it in the carport!
There have been many complaints about the mess in the carport, the boat and the patio of late, the accumulation of objects that should rightfully be in the shed, and would be but for the fact it still doesn't have a concrete floor! But that's another story.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Paisley Back in Style

While searching for info about a woman killed in a car crash on Bussell Hwy last year, I came across this link to an ABC radio interview with a girl I know called Billie who was a close friend of Brendan Fitzgerald who was killed in the second Bali bombing in 2005.
With the originals bombers having been executed a couple of days ago Bali is in the news and on the minds of many Australians.
Billie has just been to Bali to pay her respects to Brendan's memory and say her final farewell.
Have a listen to the podcast.

Tonight was Scrabble group night. I was in trouble in the first game, a three handed match with Sue and Marg. I was the best part of a hundred points behind when the perfect opening presented. I had ELTSIDE on my rack and there was a D open on the middle triple word square. I made DELISTED down from it to the bottom triple word score, the 11 points x 3 = 33 + the 50 point bonus for using all my letters gave me a total of 83. But best of all, there were no tiles left in the bag so I'd also gone out, leaving the girls with a rack full of tiles. And in Scrabble of course, not only did they lose the points they had left, I received them as a bonus, a further 21 points for going out. The result of which was I finished on 257 and Sue who'd been 97 in front finished on 236! It was a moment to savour!

I won my next two games more comfortably but there was a quirky occurrence, in two different games I drew the same letters LSEIPYA and was able to make PAISLEY for 50 point bonuses both times!

Sadly, the night didn't finish as well. When I went to start the car and drive Gael and Olive home my battery was flat. With daylight saving I had arrived while it was still light and didn't realise I'd left my lights on. Kevin was roused out of bed to give me a tow with the 4WD to get it started. That worked and all seemed OK until there was an odd electrical short of some sort causing the windscreen wipers to do one oscillation and the lights to go funny. The car kept going so we headed home, only for it to die a few minutes later. I tried to roll start it before we stopped moving with no success. I called The Heir and The Hair to come and give me a hand but even with their combined muscle we couldn't roll start it so I had to leave it parked in someone's front yard* for the night. I'll go and try and fix it tomorrow in the daylight.
* I asked their permission first.

Post Script to an earlier post.
Following Mrs Hojo's suggestion I looked up the local paper and found the address of where I thought the garage sale with the work bench had been. This was confirmed when I got a text message from Mac this afternoon asking me to come and collect it!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Behind the White Crosses update

I spent the day working on the White Crosses project, continuing my research, taking photos at crash sites and interviewing people connected with some of the fatalities. Without wanting to sound macabre, I'm enjoying the research and even had the thought today that I'd like to write a thesis on the topic of roadside memorials. Or maybe a book. Either way, I'm slowly making progress and fitting a few more pieces in the puzzle. One of the ladies I talked to today was the first on the scene of a fatal crash that happened right in front of her home and she held the dead man's hand moments after he crashed! She has suffered physically and emotionally as a result of the experience and has difficulty talking about it still even though it happened over 6 years ago. That backs up one of the things I want to communicate to the kids, the impact of a road death is felt for a long time and extends far beyond the immediate family and friends of the deceased.
I'm hoping to be able to run a pilot trip with a group of kids in the next week and then to get it up and running properly next year.

Sports Report
Tottenham's revival took another leap forward last night with a 2-1 win away at Manchester City. Spurs came from 1-0 down to win; City had two players sent off and Tottenham had one right on full time. They've climbed off the bottom of the table and if this keeps up will not only be safe from relegation but may even challenge for a place in Europe.

Meanwhile in the USA the New York Giants continued their fine season with a high scoring win against the Philadelphia Eagles. I was able to keep track of both games on the net, a far cry from the nights as a kid when I'd sit with my ear glued to the short wave radio trying to hear the soccer through the static and crackle.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Catching Up

As predicted it is Sunday evening and I'm just summoning the energy to blog.

On Thursday and Friday we had Aboriginal author and performer Boori Pryor in the school, telling stories and entertaining kids. I ran two sausage sizzles to feed the hungry hordes and ran Phat Phriday at lunchtime with The Heir and Toni. Finding games that the kids will play is tricky, sometimes it's like pulling teeth to get them to volunteer. There was a good crowd though and we were happy with how it went. Boori is very funny and engages easily with kids, his stories are full of animation and energy and the kids lap it up. I got to have a chat with him on Friday arvo and he echoed my sentiments, that the election of Barack Obama was similar to the National Apology in the way it moved and inspired people and signalled a change in the mood of people and the climate of the nation.

Driving the taxi two nights in a row is a hard slog, especially with the trip to Mandurah sandwiched in between. Mrs Holt Press drove up and back while I snoozed but I was certainly glad to knock off last night. The shifts were fairly uneventful and reasonably profitable, a good combination.

The mission team meeting at Mandurah went well, good numbers and we got plenty done. There were a few new people on the team, mostly young singles invited by Bethany. It's always great to get new people with new energy to help pick up the load from us old timers, this will be our 14th year at Augusta! Birchy and I grabbed the chance to cruise a few garage sales in the lunch break although they were largely disappointing, way too much baby stuff and way to few badges and toy planes!

While on the subject, I've been giving ebay a hammering the last couple of weeks! I'm currently awaiting arrival of a combined total of 140 badges, (most bought in lots of 10 or more). I've picked up a number of real beauties. I'm narrowing my focus to sports badges, religious badges, and badges that i have a connection to in some way, personally or historically. A couple of them I can't mention because they're going to be very special Christmas presents but others include a Geelong West Bowling Club badge, a couple of MCG Member's badges, a YFC badge, some Olympics Paralympics and Commonwealth Games badges, and a Davis Cup umpires badge.
I had a disappointment this afternoon though. I'd been the high bidder on a collection of toy planes and helicopters for a couple of days and was monitoring the final minutes of the bidding. With 47 seconds left I was still winning the bid but for safety's sake I increased my maximum bid by another $6 just in case there was a sniper out there waiting to pinch it at the death.
Having confirmed the bid with about 20 seconds left I was pretty confident. But, to my dismay, the item did not appear on my Bought list, even after I refreshed 3-4 times. Still not suspecting anything I casually scrolled down to the Didn't Win page and was stunned to see my toy planes there! Some fink called wbbisho had trumped me with 6 seconds left on the clock!!! The dirty rat!!!
For those wondering, I have a large collection of toy planes and choppers and flying contraptions suspended from the ceiling of my office at work, it's an air traffic controller's nightmare.

This arvo I went out to borrow a trailer with the intention of picking up a work bench I bought at a garage sale a couple of weeks ago. Both trailers I might have used were unavailable so I went to look for the house where the bench was. If you picked up a significant lack of specific information in that last sentence you're right. I had forgotten the exact location and address of the garage sale! But, undeterred I was confident I could find it. I remembered the basic locality and was sure I'd recognise the house/carport and large work bench when I spotted it. An hour and a half of cruising later and having increased my search zone well beyond the area where I was sure I'd find it, I returned home defeated and perplexed! I've already paid for the bench so I have a vested interest in finding it. I'm considering putting an ad in the lost and found column of the local paper.

Lost: Mac and Sue's Garage Sale. Held two weeks ago.
Somewhere in Cloisters/Peppermint Park/West Busso.
Mac, I'd pick up the bench if I could remember where you live!

I know they'll remember me because I spent over half an hour talking to them on the day which is how I know their names.
This is not early onset Alzheimers! Just a momentary lapse in concentration!

Here's a few random photos found surfing the web for your amusement.

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Flat Out Friday

It's been a big day but it's too late to tell you about it now because it was also a big night in the taxi, and tomorrow will be even bigger! We need to be in Mandurah by 10 for the Augusta team meeting then back in Busso by 6 for another shift in the taxi!
By some time late Sunday I may be in a fit state to blog. Or I may not!

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Phone Rings...

I received one of those disturbing phone calls this afternoon. You know the sort that start with an unexpected question.

ring ring
Marcus Holt, hello
Dad, where's the key thingy for the drill? (It was The Heir, who returned home yesterday from a couple of months of relly-bashing around the eastern states).
aaarr, what are you doing? (Caught off guard, thinking quickly!)
Drilling holes. (Slightly sarcastic tone, as in, what do you think I'm doing?)
What for? (Getting nervous but trying not to be critical)
I'm putting shelves in my wardrobe (Of course, why didn't I think of that?)
So do you know where the key is?
No, but I'll be home soon, we can look for it then. (When in doubt, stall)
Quickly pack up and race home before eldest son finds key and gets trigger happy.
Arrive home to discover he has bought timber and shelving already and has a plan. The plan is actually not unreasonable. I blame his Uncle Rex. Clearly over the last couple of weeks he's encouraged The Heir to play with power tools, shoot guns, drive trucks and engage in other manly pursuits. Now The Heir thinks he can do anything! Just enough knowledge to be dangerous!
However, as I said, the plan is not unreasonable so relaxing slightly I commence looking for the lost item which I explain to him is called a chuck key.
Ten minutes of fruitless searching later I pick up the drill and point out the chuck key attached by a rubber thingy!
Why didn't you look here?
Why didn't you? (Hmmm, I'm on dangerous ground here. When in doubt, bluff)
I thought you would have already looked in the most obvious place.
Quickly changing the subject I point out that he requires a masonry bit, not the timber bit he is about to load, although, I suggest to him we drill the timber supports first so that we can more easily position them when drilling into the brickwork.
Ready to go..... the drill won't start. Try a different cord. No good, A third cord, still no go. Looks like my ancient drill, an orange black and decker given to me by my stepfather about twenty years ago has finally bitten the dust. The battery on the cordless drill is flat, and it's not really up to the task anyway.
You can get a pretty cheap drill at Bunnings I suggest, and they're open till 7. (He's keen, he's already bought the materials, may as well encourage him and strike while the iron is hot)
I've already been there twice today. (Ah, the mysterious magnetic attraction of the giant hardware store has begun to weave it's magic upon my eldest son. There's hope for him yet.)
We find a suitable drill with an impressive range of features and an even more impressive price tag and deciding to go halves we head for the checkout.
Suitably armed we begin drilling holes. It has to be said that there is a great deal of fun to be had with power tools. Drilling and cutting and doing blokey stuff with power tools, yeah!

We employ a tape measure, a spirit level, a carpenter's pencil-you know the flat ones-rawl plugs, a hammer and a phillips head screw driver and over the next 45 minutes successfully install three shelves in The Heir's wardrobe. We work well as a team. We share the drilling duties although I let him do most of the screwing in of screws. About half way through the task he casually comments:
It's a bit bigger job than I thought.
But, a job well done, as the pictures attest.

Thanks Dad. No worries mate.
To further cement the father-son bond feel of the evening we go out to the movies later.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


I spent much of the day watching and listening to the BBC's online broadcast of the US election, and celebrated and shed a few tears as Barack Obama became the first black man to be elected president of the USA.

John McCain's concession speech was full of dignity and class.
Obama's speech was inspirational without being over the top.

It is an historic day for America and the world.

It's a very difficult job and America and the rest of the world is in a mess so I don't expect miracles, but I do look forward with optimism to a different style of American leadership.
There are still a staggering number of people quoting lies and rumours about Obama in the vox pops shown on Australian TV tonight, there will be plenty of unhappy conservatives, and not a few stirred up rednecks. I hope they will not drag America back to a past history of hatred and division through violence or murder or worst of all assassination. To McCain's great credit, he did not give any hint of that sort of bitterness even in defeat and gave no license for anyone to do anything other than be open and supportive of the new President.

The most powerful images today reflected on the amazing journey the US has taken in the last 50 years, from inequality and near segregation and racial violence and murder, to today, when Americans overwhelmingly voted for an African American as President.

Obama's speech recounting the things seen in the lifetime of the 106 year old black woman who cast her vote today captured it beautifully.

I have similar feelings to those I felt on the day of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations, a sense of pride in the right thing having been done and a barrier broken down after many years of bitter conflict.

May God help the new President. I say this not as a cliche but as an earnest prayer.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Big Races re-Viewed

In all of my deliberations and discussions about which horse(s) to back in the Melbourne Cup today, the three place getters never got so much as a mention or a sideways glance! Thus, my annual wager, which this year consisted of $23 in $1 and $2 bets went straight into the TAB's coffers! The one thing I should have taken notice of beforehand was the name Bart Cummings next to the winner's name. The master trainer did it again, for the 12th time. No other trainer has won more than 5 cups!

What a finish, the closest in Cup history! Can you tell which horse won?

I managed a third place in the $1 sweep at work, which gave me a piddly $2 dividend!
Better luck next year.
For the record: 1st Viewed, 2nd Bauer, 3rd Cest la Guerre

Attention now switches to the other big race on November 4, the US presidential election. I'm glad to see that the Holt Press poll is in line with all the other major polls in predicting a big win to Barack Obama. Will America elect its first black president? Personally I hope so.

The global economic crisis has produced one good thing, the lowering of interest rates by the Reserve Bank, which has had a trickle down effect on the Holt Press finances, our fortnightly mortgage payment was cut $50 today, and that's before today's new rate cut was announced.

That will ease the pressure a little.

And talking of easing pressure, the arrival of Harry Redknapp as new manager of Tottenham has had messianic qualities! Spurs' first win of the season against Bolton, followed by the "miraculous" comeback to draw 4-4 with Arsenal, and then best of all, a 2-1 comeback win against Liverpool! Even better news was that Dave recorded the game (at the second attempt) and Sport Boy and I went round and watched it after school yesterday. I'm honest enough to say that Spurs were lucky not to concede 2-3 more goals before they got the equaliser, and even that was an own goal! But, the result is all that counts in the end. Go Spurs!

I had a slightly surreal, slightly disturbing experience this morning when I opened my email. The first message in my inbox requested a receipt so I clicked the appropriate box and opened it, two seconds later my phone rang and the sender, a police officer, said "I see you've received my email"! I laughed and observed that I felt like Big Brother was watching. She said, "Turn around and wave"!!

Despite the immediacy of the transaction, the email and phone call both contained very good news. It was a comprehensive list of all the fatal car crashes in the Busselton region since 1994, minus the names for privacy reasons. This will advance my research on the Behind the White Crosses project significantly and gave me an immediate breakthrough on three particular crosses I am interested in. The project is gathering momentum, with ABC TV interested in doing a story about it in a couple of weeks time. I've still got work to do on it but I should be ready to do a pilot test run soon.

Three more people were killed at Narrogin on the weekend. The problem is on-going. My little project won't fix the problem, but perhaps it will make a few kids think and maybe that will save their lives. I hope so

Talking of recent killings, my ears pricked up this morning as the ABC news reported that another foreign aid worker in Afghanistan had been kidnapped and their co-worker shot dead. My thoughts immediately turned to Phil and Julie who are still in Kabul and have been trying to work out their future; should they stay or should they go? as The Clash once asked.

I am increasingly worried about them and concerned for their safety.

If you pray, please pray for the Sparrows.

If you don't pray, now would be a good time to start, start with the Sparrows!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Power Dialogue

Here is a verbatim transcription of a series of text messages sent between The Hair and myself this afternoon.

To set the scene, I was enroute to Yallingup, see post below. The Hair was in his default position, in front of the computer, reading Manga comics instead of doing his homework.

The Hair: Dad, powers out. I want it back. What do I do?

Me: Its off for 3 hours for maintenance better do your homework and study instead! (See picture)

The Hair: Sunovahorse (maintenance people). I need wikipedia, the internet, the computer to do my MPA

Me: Back on at 4

The Hair: Im going to die


The Hair: Doubtful. Does the afterlife have DSL?

Me: Depends where you go!

The Hair: So they call it hell because its only got dial-up?

A few minutes pass. Picture The Hair trying to come up with a new plan.

The Hair: Can I please use your laptop?

Me: Yeah, but the modem won't work without power

The Hair: This is exactly why we need a generator.
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Super Blogger to the Rescue

My late morning slumber was disturbed by a phone call from Dave. He was in trouble and needed help. His car wouldn't start.

He, and new "girlfriend" Robyn were stranded at Canal Rocks. They needed rescuing!

This was a job for "SuperBlogger"!

No worries Dave, I'm on my way!

After I've had a quick shower that is.

Oh, and I haven't had breakfast so I'll just chuck a couple of snags in the microwave.

Oh-oh! Car's almost out of fuel, better fill up with petrol first.

Now, onto Repco to buy a new battery. $147. ouch!

Never fear Dave, I'm on my way!

Down the Vasse-Yallingup Siding Rd.

Don't worry Dave, no snake is going to stop me, especially not a dead one.

Here they are, Dave and Robyn looking mightily relieved at Super Blogger's arrival, having taken in as much of the Canal Rocks view as humanly possible.

Super Blogger breaks out the shifting spanner, removes the old battery and installs the new one, ignoring the sparks!!.

Let's hope it works! Fire it up Dave.


No problem, the Falcon bursts into life.

The happy couple drive off into the sunset (poetic license) and are snapped a little later having coffee in Dunsborough.

Super Blogger washes his hands and smiles at another successful mission.
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Perth Pics

I dropped in to see Rachel and the new addition to the family, Angus. What a cutie, and Angus too! I'm glad it's his mum getting up to attend to him during the night "between 4-8 times a night" and not me. As rachel says in her latest blog post, she is just starting to work out how she wants to parent her kid(s) and is receiving plenty of (hopefully well-meaning) advice from "experienced parents" parenting books etc. I threw my 2c worth into the mix on the understanding that she take it or leave it without prejudice. My wisdom on parenting?
1. You're in trouble when they out-number you.
2. Put them to bed at bed time when you visit friends.
3. Work hard at remembering their names, it helps with communication.

Rachel used to be a chaplain so she'll start coming into her own when Angus hits 13 I guess!

The greying gentleman next to her is also a former high school chaplain who has gone over to the dark side, private school chaplaincy! I dropped in to see "Birchy of Kingsway" as he likes to refer to himself now on Wed morning. We compared notes on working in the public and private system. Many of the kids and their behaviours are similar but the range of responses available to him are greater than for me.
I could have spent all day with him, "networking" but I had to get home sometime. But I gratefully accepted his offer to pray for me and Sport Boy after I told him about the tough time he's been having at school before I left. * There was a welcome breakthrough on that front when SB went and played with a couple of kids today that he doesn't normally hang out with. There have been tensions in the past but he had a great time, riding caster-boards and jetty jumping. He was happier than he's been for a couple of weeks tonight. *

People often laugh or look at me strangely when I tell them that I collect pictures of personalised number plates. The topic comes up when I whip out my camera and snap a shot of the back of a car as we drive past, or I take a detour in a car-park cause I've spotted someone else's piece of automotive self-expression. The more curious sometimes ask how many I've got and are impressed (astounded/horrified) when I tell them over 1000, in fact probably closer to 1500 I reckon! My camera is always on standby in the car, and my phone does the trick when I'm on foot whenever I spot a personalised plate. But it is not an easy hobby to practice. Apart from the derision of family and friends there are hazards and obstacles to overcome, as you can see from the pictures above. Timing is everything! You usually only get one chance and the inconvenient placement of a traffic light pole between you and the subject can foil the best effort, just as the callous disregard of random motor-cyclists for a bloke's hobby can prevent a capture. This bloke appeared out of nowhere just in time to obscure this particular plate in West Perth, no doubt laughing fiendishly into his helmet as he did so.
Then there's the challenge of taking a surreptitious picture when the owner is sitting in the vehicle and wondering what the bloke with the camera/phone pointed in their direction is up to! No, this is no easy pass-time, it's a pursuit requiring skill, coordination, speed, and opportunism.
We personalised plate photo collectors just want to be respected.
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