My grandad in police pursuit

My grandad used to drive a purple Holden Statesman. When I was a child I remember on trips he would always drive 10 km/hr faster than the highway limit (which I tend to do now). Later is his life though he took to driving at a more leisurely pace. He’d be wearing his brown corduroy hat, Nana would put on an Irish folk cassette, and they would cruise. He was probably conscious now of his slower reflexes, but I always wanted him to hurry up.

Men's Vintage Hats

There’s a funny story regarding his purple Statesman. One day in the pouring rain he was driving back from the west of Melbourne on the Westgate freeway near Southgate. He was cruising in the right lane well below the speed limit. A sedan sped up and closed right behind him. It started flashing its headlights, and as grandad explained later that it looked like it had Christmas tree lights on. He thought someone was playing a prank.

And that’s the way it went for kilometres. My grandad in the fast lane, going slow, in the pouring rain, being pursued by an unmarked police car.

It’s always since been a matter of curiousity to me. If an unmarked police car is trying to pull you over, can you ignore it, and claim later that you didn’t recognise it as being a police car because it was unmarked. I probably can’t use that defence anymore, but I hope somebody tries it for me!

Eventually grandad figured it out and pulled over. The policeman was very frustrated. Tough luck copper! He probably realised he’d pulled over a lovely, old,  yet slightly confused couple, and he’d look more of a tool if he booked them! Go grandad….


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11 years since…

I shouldn’t be writing this at work in case I get all teary and unprofessional, but I’m in a drained state of mind that allows my emotions to surface. So at least over-tiredness is productive in one sense.

I miss arguing with you, trying to learn stuff by watching you, wondering why one wine tastes better than another, having a slab of butter melting in a burger you barbecued, your stubbornness, the worried brow, the bloody-mindedness, the golf swing, the purple saloon, getting greasy hands under the ol’ hillman, irish folk music.

I see you in my children, my brothers and my life.

I miss the single-minded determination that kept us together.

Mostly I wonder if you’d be proud of me


Marysville, bikies and coffee

Since the bushfires devastated Marysville earlier this year I’d been keen to visit. We were up there last July staying in a mate’s place, and Anna’s relatives had lived and run a shop there. We’d been to Marysville many times.

(Also, I was interested to see what a bushfire could do, having been a protected suburbanite all my life.)

When we arrived, the place was buzzing, or at least rumbling. Bikies everywhere! There’s a great ride through those hills I hear.

The bakery cafe is still intact and open, and a little cafe up the road has set up on the nature strip, so I had a choice when it came to coffee! The main street has been otherwise cleared, the rubble removed.

Going up a side street the remains of houses still lie waiting. There are green shoots. The destructive force has left. There is an indifference in the landscape. I don’t feel shocked?

I imagine the commerce of the town will get back on its feet quickly. Portables will be brought in for the ski season. Accommodation will be tight; people will daytrip from the city instead. But you’ll get a decent coffee, maybe even some booze by then. You’ll get ski-hire, and some pottery.

But I wonder if the people who lived in the rubble away from main street will be back. Perhaps this is the Marysville visitors didn’t know. The people who lived in a little slice of heaven.

As you ride back through the Black Spur, there are blackened areas, slightly blackened areas, and completely untouched, green areas. You wonder at a force, that on its day forced a wide front of fire by fluke of timing and wind changes through a small township and valley, wiping the township out as though it were a fleck of dust on an old roadmap.


One more day before a break. My head hurts and I need sleep.


Wonders if ping.fm will help me waste time more efficiently.


Apollo Bay

Down the coast with the family so I thought I’d try a blog from the new phone!


Myth-busting: Victoria’s bushfires caused by global warming?

Historian, Jonathon King, writing for The Age, hysterically suggests that Victoria has a “new world order” (repeated four times!) for bushfires that is caused by climate change.

If you have time, read the department’s quick history of bushfires in Victoria.

Some interesting historical points:

  • 1851 – 6 February ‘Black Thursday’ – Fires cover a quarter of what is now Victoria (approximately 5 million hectares). Temperatures of 47 degrees alleged but Bureau of Meteorology not formed until 8 years later.
  • 1939 – 13 January ‘Black Friday’ – Fires burnt 1.5 to 2 million hectares. The fires destroyed the township of Narbethong. The fires affected almost every section of Victoria. Temperatures reached 45.6 °C in Melbourne. “Black Friday was the culmination of a long, dry and hot summer that followed a drought that had lasted several years.”
  • 2009 – 7th February ‘Black Saturday’ – 450,000 hectares – Temperature reached 46.4 degrees in Melbourne.

Severe bushfires occur  here. The time between major catastrophes seems to be long enough so that we can’t test and ratify our fire plans. We also have enough time to become complacent.

Even the heatwave was not the worst on record. Melbourne’s most sustained heatwave occurred in January 1908 when temperatures reached 39.9 (15th January), 42.8 (16th), 44.2 (17th), 40.0 (18th), 41.1 (19th) and 42.7 (20th). This year we had 43.4 followed by 44.3 follwed by 45.1 degrees – hotter, but not as long.

Were Victoria’s 2009 bushfires and extreme weather days caused, even partially, by global warming? Absolutely no proof.



Net filter

Ars technica says it best:

“So, in summary, it appears that the government is trying to make up for the failure of an earlier PC-based filtering program by rolling out an alternative, ISP-level filtering program that they know won’t fully prevent access to illegal material. They promise not to state what sites are being blocked, even as they promise only illegal content will be. To prepare for the roll out, they’re doing live testing of equipment and protocols they haven’t used in the lab, and not telling the ISPs when the program will be ready. It sounds like all of the worst clichés about government incarnated in a single program.”


I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo….

This seems to have slipped through “Can Naked Kids be Art?” fiasco without notice.

Associate Professor Robert Nelson (Monash University) has sold out middle-aged men: “This was a photo taken not by a middle-aged man but the mother of the child. It seemed quite a responsible thing to do.”

He could be just reflecting social norms though. Qantas, British Airways or Air New Zealand have a policy of not seating adult male passengers next to unaccompanied children.

Boris Johnson, writing for The Telegraph, sums it up better than I could.

A few years back a male friend almost landed an assistant position at a kindergarten. The position was withdrawn at the 11th hour when several parents complained.

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