Oldschool's Taking 5: Songs that make me dance & be happy.

 Music is a great soother.  There are times where you are just that little but like Ally McBeal, and you want music that you let yourself go to, dancing about and singing poorly along with.  Sure, they aren't meaningful songs, but who says they have to be?  You are in the mood and you feel that music all the way down to the tips of your toes. 
 
So who will admit that they let it all hang out and dance around like an idiot to get happy?  What songs really make you happy? 
 
These are 5 songs that make me very happy.  I really don't understand how they couldn't  :/ 

1.  Major Laser - Mary Jane: 

   This is fairly new and I really love the silliness of it all.  It has a kind of 90s techno pop feel to it and reminds me somewhat of Basement Jaxx.
 
2.    Les Rhythmes Digitales - Jaques Your Body:
   Great bass work from the late 90s.  The film clip is awesome as well.  Sure, I have no idea what he is singing, but I belt it out anyway.
 
  3.  The BPA (Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, the great David Byrne and Dizzee rascal) - Toe Jam
   Come on, how infectious is that?  It has some great talent involved with it, and it is always a joy to hear David Byrne, especially doing fun stuff.  

 4.   Beck - Sex Laws
    Beck is such a happy character (Scientology aside) and he fills me with great joy.  I could have just as easily gone with Nausea or Gamma ray as they are just as infectious. 
 
5.  The Bees - Chicken Payback
Chicken Payback     
 
I can't embed this one, but you have to watch this video if you have never seen it.  It is game related and quite probably the funniest music video ever, plus the song is sweet.  Try not dancing to it - I dare you.  
 
So there you have, 5 songs that still keep this old body dancing around the house like it was 1979.  What makes you dance and be happy?
32 Comments

Personal morals versus friendship: lose/lose.

Decisions we make in life can sometimes be so complex, that no matter what we do, we in some way lose.  It is about degrees of loss.  Generally speaking though, the easiest thing to do is nothing and go with the flow, but it may eat at you until it catches up anyway.  Where am I going with this you ask?  Let me explain the biggest dilemma I ever faced and ask you - what would you have done. 
 
One of two of our (my partner and I) best lifetime friends was getting married.  She was in her mid 30s, so naturally you would think that this would be a joyous occasion, but sometimes life is more complex than that.  Lydia had been a close friend since long before my partner and I were married.  We had shared many a wonderful experience together.  Across a 17 year span, we had been so close that we considered more than family, especially considering that my partner and I didn't speak to our own families.  In short, we loved her dearly. 
 
There was another person who was becoming romantically involved with her, which ordinarily would be a good thing, but he had a dark side that was to show itself soon enough.  Chris was divorced with 2 children.  The divorce was unpleasant as many of them can be.  He was particularly angry at his ex and wanted his home and his kids.  Chris worked as a buyer for a large retail chain, a job that took him on overseas buying trips to Asia. 
 
Desperate to get custody of his children and his house, Chris paid a contract killer to murder his ex whilst he was on a trip overseas, giving him a perfect alibi.  He paid the contract killer $20,000 to complete the job and give him the life he felt he deserved.  Unfortunately for him and luckily for his ex and children, the contract killer turned out to be an undercover police officer. 
 
Chris was convicted of attempted murder and sent to gaol.  That we thought was the end of it, he was now out of our life.  Government stupidity was to throw a spanner into the works.  Due to a legislative anomaly, Chris got just 5 years gaol time, whilst his ex and kids had to change name and move interstate, leaving everything behind, just to be safe from him.  However, in the part that affected a long friendship, Lydia kept visiting Chris in gaol, never telling us, but we knew. 
 
When Chris got out of gaol, Lydia moved in with him.  Chris still claimed that he was set up and to our horror, that a very intelligent woman would fall for it, Lydia believed him.  Then one day, Lydia told us she was getting married and wanted us to be part of the wedding.  I for one, could not stomach the thought of talking to a man I considered totally evil.  This was no crime of passion.  This was beyond premeditated.  To go to such lengths to murder someone takes a lot of thought and evil thought in its purest form. 
 
My partner didn't want him in our lives as well, especially as we had very young children, but we really loved Lydia as much as anyone can love a person.  It was a tough choice.  We could just suck it up and go along, or decline and end our friendship.  We believed that even if we went along, it would eventually turn sour and we would see the end of the friendship anyway.  So we told her we wouldn't go to her wedding and why.  Where our friendship was now, was a decision for her.  She never spoke to us again.  As much as it still hurts 10 or so years later, we would do the same all over again. 
 
In relating this to a wider audience, I am curious to know what you would have done.  Would you have just gone along, or could you have a convicted criminal who paid someone to kill his ex in your life, in your home?  Do you think we did the right thing or are we just moralistic zealots?

32 Comments

A long history of collecting Pokemon games (photo included).

 It all started with Pokemon Blue & Red.  I have no idea why it did, it just happened.  I assume it was way back in 1996 or thereabouts.  My youngest daughter was only one and the elder about three, so I didn't buy it for them.  I already had my Gameboy, with long sessions on Tetris and Bill & Ted.  I don't even remember hearing about Pokemon and why I should buy it, but I did, both of them.  It didn't take one long to love them.  The characters, the music, the game play - it was just awesome and in fact was the catalyst for me to become even more of a gamer than I already was (having started back in 1973ish with Pong. 
 
Although my daughter was only three, she was already a proficient reader, so she took to Pokemon like a duck to water.  It was our first gaming bonding experience.  We gave our characters stupid names, like Assachu.  We laughed like only a child of three and a dad who thought like a three year old could.  By the time my younger daughter was threee in 1998, she was also a proficient reader, so we were all into it. 
 
One of my fondest memories of that time was learning that you could "clone" characters.  It was an awesome glitch.  We cloned all the good characters so we could have everything.  I miss cloning.

  Gotta buy 'em all (missing - Pokemon Yellow: somewhere in the house) 
With the main series of Pokemon, a trend started and continues now.  My daughters got the new release games.  They would play the hell out of them and I would have to wait my turn.  I still hate that there is only a single save file and I will get a R4 card to go around it.  Anyway, eventually, the inevitable third game would come out and that one was mine, starting with Pokemon Crystal.  I recently got my Platinum game, an they were jealous as they are each time, that I got the newest one, conveniently forgetting that I had to wait more than 6 months to finally play it.  Right now, I am the one missing out as they have SoulSilver and HeartGold. 
 
The home console versions have been a constant disappointment as such.  I still yearn for a home console Pokemon game that is equal to the main handheld ones.  It can happen, it should happen and we deserve one.  XD Darkness of gale was fine whilst it lasted,  but it as too short.  Battle Revolution is just an add on for the DS games.  The N64 versions were fun though.  They had fun mini-games and the peripheral for connecting you Gameboy games, and characters was very neat.  Pokemon Snap was excellent for what it was and is screaming out for a proper sequel on the Wii.
  
Here is the collection you see in the shot:

Gameboy 

  1. Pokemon Red 
  2. Pokemon Blue 
  3. Pokemon Yellow 
 

Gameboy Colour  - Special Edition Pokemon Console

  1. Pokemon Gold 
  2. Pokemon Silver 
  3. Pokemon Crystal 
  4. Pokemon Pinball 
  5. Pokemon Trading Card Game 
  6. Pokemon Puzzle Challenge 
 

Gameboy Advance  

  1. Pokemon Ruby 
  2. Pokemon Sapphire  
  3. Pokemon Emerald
  4. Pokemon Fire red 
  5. Pokemon Leaf Green 
  6. Pokemon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire 
 

DS  

  1. Pokemon Diamond 
  2. Pokemon Pearl 
  3. Pokemon Platinum 
  4. Pokemon Ranger  
  5. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time 
  6. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness 
  7. Pokemon SoulSilver 
  8. Pokemon HeartGold 
  

N64  - Special Edition Pokemon Console 

  1. Pokemon Stadium 
  2. Pokemon Stadium 2 
  3. Pokemon Snap 
  4. Pokemon Puzzle League  
 

Gamecube  

  1. Pokemon Colloseum 
  2. Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness 
  3. Pokemon Channel 
  

Wii  

  1. Pokemon Battle Revolution
 

Grand Total is 31 Pokemon games. 

I still enjoy the Pokemon games as much as I ever did.  Sure, the games are pretty much the same as the they have all been, but think of them as expansion packs, with new stuff.  I truly look forward to what they can do with the 3DS and await news of what the Pokemon Black & White is all about - maybe it is about Michael Jackson  :/ 
  
Well, there you have it.  Pokemon is not for kids, it is for people who enjoy good games.  People don't grow out of Pokemon, they just get mentally old and have lost touch with their sense of fun.  Their loss, not mine.  Anyone managed to accumulate more Pokemon games than me?  There are still some I don't have, believe it or not.
39 Comments

My very own Wolf Creek - a unnerving late night drunk visitor.

Those who have been keeping up with my details, know that I live in a rather remote little rural community, pretty much in the middle of nowhere.  For those who don't, now you do.  Tonight I had what was quite an unnerving experience - which ends well, as I am typing this.  During the whole time, I could not get the movie, Wolf Creek out of my mind. 
 
      It was fast approaching midnight on Friday night.  Everyone else had gone to bed.  It was a clear autumn night, with no moon, so it is near pitch black outside, considering we have no streetlights and many kilometres from a real town.  Our town has only 50 or so residents and it is a mixture of farms and forest, as we live at the base of a 1300 metre mountain.  Quite unexpectedly, there is a loud and persistent knocking at the door.  No-one ever visits us this late. 
 
I pull the blinds across at the door to see who it is, with no intention of opening it.  There at the door was a stranger, a typical looking Aussie bloke of Anglo descent.  He was very much the country (hick) type, very scruffy and a rough beard.  I ask him what he wants.  This quickly established that he was pissed, that is pissed in the Australian vernacular, drunk - extremely drunk.  His car had broken down. 
 
I chatted for a while, establishing what he wanted, and then, reluctantly opened the door and stepped out to talk direct.  My experience with dealing with drunk people is not to appear to be disrespecting them (I once declined to talk to a random drunk guy knocking at a friend's house, only to have him punch the door and shatter all the glass).  He desperately wanted me to "jump start" his car.  Frankly, I didn't want to.  With modern cars, with all the electronics, you risk shorting out the whole system, and as I am in possession of a company provided car, I didn't want to risk it.  I tried getting him to go to another neighbour (yeah, I know that isn't very nice), but that failed. 
 

 Apparently, he lived down the road.  Not sure why I agreed to do it, but I offered to take him home.  He was drunk, the smell of alcohol nearly made me pass out.  The fact that he had driven his car to where it was and still wanted to drive it the rest of the way was very disturbing.  He was staggering and could barely speak.  This is where thoughts of Wolf Creek start to kick in.  This bloke had that thick Australian accent that Jon Jarret (the lead in the movie) had.  I was making conversation, but it was forced.  Anyway, I am driving him home and we reach the road he lives on.  Remember, it is pitch black.  The road runs through the forest.  It is a dirt track and a bit rough.  It goes up the mountain, quite a long way up and through thick forest. 
 
When we finally reach his house, I get real nervous.  There are car wrecks everywhere.  Seriously, there would have been 30-40 car bodies scattered around a large area.  There were sheds everywhere.  There was rubbish, other than cars everywhere.  I thought I could hear banjos playing in the background (not really).  When I manoeuvre through all the debris, I pull up in front of his house, a rather rundown shack at best.  By this time, he has convinced me that he will get a spare battery (must be one somewhere) and go back to change it over, and that I will take him back to the car. 
 
Out the front door of the "house" walks his brother, yep, he lives with his brother (both in their 40s), no women.  I think to myself, "great, he will take his brother back".  Nope.  His brother has a quick word to him, ignores me and goes back inside.  So I wait.  I thought I would step out of my car whilst I waited, ever thinking of making a quick escape, and declining any offer to go inside for a drink.  That lasted all of 5 seconds, when several large dogs started running at me.  My entry into the car was extremely quick for man of my years. 
 
5 minutes later, he comes back with a battery.  I just want to get him to his car and go back home.  I was glad to get off the property.  When I got him back to his car, he has no spanner to get the battery off.  What a surprise.  So, I go home and get some tools.  His car was a typical old bomb of a Ford you expect and you had to hold the bonnet up, as what levers it would normally use were gone.  I changed the battery over and then the car just wouldn't start.  I tried very hard to will the car to start, but to no avail.  He wanted to push the car to my house so it would be safe and I really didn't want to.  So I convinced him to leave it there and get some friends to fix it in the morning. 
 
Finally, I took him home and I couldn't get him out of the car and me off the property quick enough.  It all turned out to be fine as he stayed a pleasant drunk.  However, these things can go so horribly wrong.  I feel lucky it didn't.  It unsettled me, as I am far from a macho type and the images of Wolf Creek and seeing his property all combined for an evening I didn't expect and don't want to repeat.  I sure as hell hope he is too drunk to remember that I helped him.

24 Comments

Corporations & ethical infiltration of forums for promoting stuff

If we are all not familiar with companies using forums to push their products in a way that is not ethical, then you should be.  On this topic, I now have absolute first hand experience with it and feel it worthy of sharing it with you.  For many of you, it will not be a surprise. 
 
I work for one of the world's largest food manufacturers.  I have done so for 11 years now.  They are by my own personal standards as a moderate socialist, an excellent company.  They have a chequered past however and are still subject to much hate and direct action, which I personally believe is utterly wrong.  Everything I have seen and been involved with has been highly ethical. 
 
However. 
 
At my last business trip, we were taken through a relaunch of an existing product by the marketing division handling it.  They were going though all the usual things we expect to hear - magazine, television, websites, billboards, direct mail-outs et cetera.  One extra one was in there and it just slipped right past the staff in the room.  I am pretty sure no-one was paying a whole lot of attention, but to me, it raised my interest. 
 
The product is mainly eaten by kids, but of course, is predominately purchased by mums.  So, the mums are essentially the target demographic.  The marketing strategy involved hiring a company that then hires people to go onto forums, just like here, except it is mainly mums as the membership, and casually asking them if they have tried the product recently and how good it is now.  I only found that out by asking. 
 
The response to my questions was extremely uncomfortable for the room and the presenter.  I described to her what she was planning exactly as it was planned, in my questions.  She was rather uncomfortable answering the question.  I asked the obvious question - is it ethical.  She wouldn't say it was and in fact, said the ethics were questionable.  Perhaps the decision wasn't hers and she was just charged with selling it. 
 
I lightened the mood a little at the end by offering myself as a fake mum who would be a lot cheaper than the agency. 
 
So, now we tie this back to what we love - computer games.  Am I right in assuming that everyone actually believes that major game sites are a target for game companies? 
 
I myself have been asked twice on this site if I am a Nintendo employee because of my enthusiasm for the product.  Of course I am not, but who is to know for sure?  My good friend Linkyshinks has been asked the same question.  My suspicions are usually the highest when a new member writes up something over the top (a Natal one was where I asked if he worked for Microsoft).  They are of course the overt ones and seem a little contrived.  What about the more subtle ones?  How would you pick them?  Sometimes it will just be an enthusiastic employee acting on his own, but there has to be professionals as well.   Usually, a long term member with a highish post count is a good sign, but who is to know for sure? 
 
My personal view is that it is highly unethical.  I would go as far as to say that it should be illegal and a matter for the local Competition watchdog, but I doubt I would get much support.  Have you experienced this type of surreptitious form of advertising?  How do you feel about it?

31 Comments

The wider world thinks that gamers lack maturity.......

....... and this blog isn't about to disprove that.  :-) 
 
Consoles are toys, it matters not which one you talk about.  Toys are about having fun and computer games are fun.  So why shouldn't we have fun?  Why shouldn't we laugh at the most ridiculous thing?  Why shouldn't we take every opportunity to make it even more fun, no matter how puerile or juvenile it may appear? 
 
So to do my part, and being reminded off the dumb stuff I am inclined to do by a thread on Animal Crossing, I present to you what makes me giggle, like a kid many years below my advanced years.  Animal Crossing Wii gives you the opportunity to take in-game shots and store them on an SD card, and residents in the town are always asking you to change the expressions they use.  Within the limitations of the language filter (censor - creative use of vowels helps), I have tried to make my residents the silliest potty mouths I could.  These are some of them: 










 
 So, there you are.  My lack of maturity for all to see.  We have competitions to see who can come up with the most ridiculous dialogue in our games. 
 
I want all gamers to repeat after me - 

I may grow old, but I will never grow up.

 Are you with me?
52 Comments

2010 off to a flying start - 28 games in 7 weeks!

I decided that it might be a good idea to track my game buying this year and what easier place to do it than in my Lists?  So I did.  I think I may need to slow up a little. 
 Games I have bought in 2010. 
In just 7 weeks I have purchased 28 games.  Granted, I am a bargain shopper, but still, that was $520 Au worth of purchases.  21 have been new and 7 used.  It has been a nice spread across systems as well, with 3 on the PC, 4 for the Wii, 5 for the 360, 2 for the PSP, 3 for the PS2 and 11 for the DS (my favourite system).  If I maintained that frenzy level of shopping, I would end up with 210 (or so) games and a divorce this year  ^_^ 
 
Anyone else overdoing it so far? 
 

Games I have bought in 2010.

1. Luminous Arc

$13 clearance, new (EB) - February.

2. Luminous Arc 2

$35 imported new(playasia.com) (with CD soundtrack) - February.

3. Deep Labyrinth

$13 clearance, new (EB) - February.

4. Dawn of Discovery

Wii. PAL name - Anno: Create a World. $25 on promotion, new (GAME) - February

5. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

360 classic version. $25 on promotion, new (GAME) - February.

6. Phantasy Star Portable

$20 clearance, new (EB) - February.

7. Spectral Force Genesis

$20 clearance, used (EB) - February.

8. .hack//MUTATION - Part 2

$13 used (Cunninghams) - February.

9. Star Ocean: Till the End of Time

$13 used (Cunninghams) - February.

10. Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga

$14 used (Cunninghams) - February.

11. MadWorld

$25 new, imported (playasia.com) - January.

12. Jeanne d'Arc

$20 new, imported (playasia.com) - January.

13. Rondo of Swords

$30 new, imported (playasia.com) - January.

14. Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume

$30 new, imported (playasia.com) - January.

15. Dead Space Extraction

$20 new, clearance (KMart) - January.

16. Age of Empires: Mythologies

$15 used (Bargain Centre) - January.

17. Guitar Hero: On Tour Decades

$13 new, clearance (EB) - February.

18. Lux-Pain

$20 new, clearance (KMart) - January.

19. LifeSigns: Surgical Unit

$20 new, clearance (KMart) - January.

20. Korg DS-10

$24 new, clearance (Harvey Norman) - January.

21. Street Fighter IV

$25 Special Edition boxed set with figurines & movie, new, clearance (Harvey Norman) - January.

22. Crackdown

$10 new, clearance - Myer.

23. Midnight Club: Los Angeles

Xbox 360 $10 new, clearance (Harvey Norman) - January.

24. Fable II

$15 used (Bargain Centre) - January.

25. Wii Music

$47 new, clearance (EB) - January.

26. DEFCON: Everybody Dies

$5 new, clearance (Harvey Norman) - January.

27. Rome: Total War (Gold Edition)

$7 used (Bargain Centre) - January.

28. Sid Meier's Civilization III

$3 used (Bargain Centre) - January.

35 Comments

I wore a dress and I liked it. (fancy dress)

Well I went an did it.  I went to the work function dressed as The Joker, but as the nurse in Dark Knight.  Let me paint you a scary picture. 
 

The make-up.  

Having a house of 3 women, I had some good teaching on how to use make-up.  Son in my suitcase goes 2 types of lipstick, eyeliner pencil, mascara, 2 types of eye shadow, white face paint, 2 types of green hairspray, cold cream (for removing make-up), cotton buds (Q-tips), skin lotion and some make-up brushes.   
 
Apparently, I am to apply the lotion first as it makes removing the make-up easier.  I use the eye shadow below the mascara as it makes removing the mascara easier.  I am learning stuff I never wanted to learn. 
 
There I am in my room in Sydney and it is going to take a while to put it on.  My room partner has not arrived yet and I need to start.  So, there I am in my underwear, undershirt (more on that later) and a towel with a mirror and make-up all around me.  Now, my roommate has no idea I am doing this and I have no idea who it was going to be.  Clunk goes the door and in walks a senior manager.  I was expecting someone lower down the corporate ladder.  Quickly I explain what I am doing and why.  I think he believed that I don't normally wear make-up. 
 

What I learned about make-up.  

Why do women do this to themselves?  It is a pain in the arse.   I found that I can put make-up on very well on the right side of my face, but the left side is near impossible.  I just could not co-ordinate myself to get my hand in the right position.  Are all women ambidextrous or just good at this stuff?  Putting on lipstick is just pain weird.  Making those lips was really hard and frankly, I didn't want to enjoy what I was doing.  Hey, the Sydney Gay Mardi Gras is on in a couple of weeks, I am just early  :/ 
 
Well, I got my make-up on, so you can judge the result.  Don't be too harsh  :-) 
 

The nurses dress.  

I just hired a dress.  That part was simple.  However, it was pretty short.  So short that there was a risk of exposing my bits.  I think that would breach our Code of Conduct rules.  How do women wear short skirts and skimpy underwear?  I normally wear boxers, but for this, I wore briefs and my daughter's bike shorts.  Yup, that's right, I wore her shorts - I don't have any.   
 
As scary as it is to admit it, that dress felt pretty damn good.  It was a hot Sydney evening and I fared much better than my many sweaty colleagues.  I won't be making it a habit though.  As for an undershirt, I felt I needed one.  The dress was low cut and although I had the boobs (moobs) to fill it out, I really needed to cover up a little more.  I didn't have a suitable v-neck shirt for it, so again, into my daughter's wardrobe and out with one of her shirts.  Believe me, that shirt was TIGHT.  My daughter doesn't want it back - fair enough.  I think it would give her nightmares. 
 

The party.  

Now for the horror that is me as a Joker dressed as a nurse. 
 


In all honesty, it worked.  I had a ball and was complimented all night about how good it came out.  The first reactions when I walked into a crowd of fellow workers was priceless.  Those who knew me were in hysterics.  Going from my 10th floor room in the lift to the foyer of a very upmarket hotel was an unforgettable experience.  What did come up a lot was questions on who did my make-up.  They were just totally shocked that I did it myself.  Some of the girls thought I was just freakin' scary and perhaps they were right.  
 
For my effort though, I won $200 in vouchers, so it was really worth it.
 

Going out in public in drag.  

During the evening I made several phone calls to home.  As the noise was too much inside, I had to go out into the busy street in the middle of Sydney.  I really enjoyed the reactions of passing strangers and I played it up for amusement.  At the end of the evening, around midnight, buses came to pick us up.  I decided that it was a lovely evening and walking back to the hotel at Darling Harbour would be much nicer.  So I did.  I got myself a few propositions, which I declined - they had the wrong plumbing.  That was a pleasant and enjoyable 35 minute stroll.  
 

Getting the make-up off.  

 Yet again, I was left wondering, "why the hell do women use make-up?"  I spent ages scrubbing my face, despite the efforts I went to making it easier.  Luckily the mascara came off quickly, as they tell me that is the hardest.  The lipstick - not so easy.   I went to the meeting next morning with a faint, but visible line across my cheeks and lips.  The hair colour took five washes to run clear and I had a bugger of a time getting green off the walls in the shower.
 
So, there you have it.  I had a blast.  I promised photos and there you are.  All the horror  you should have expected.  I
83 Comments

The troubles with travel and comfort gaming.

After 3 days in Sydney on business (work conference), I was looking forward to Friday 3pm when a bus would take me to the airport for what would be a leisurely 2 hour flight home.  It wasn't meant to be.  This isn't a bad news story.  It is entirely unremarkable.  It is just a journey I had.  Many people, some of you, have far more interesting stories related to travel on airlines.  Feel free to relate them here so we can laugh or empathise.
 

Storms. 

I knew from the forecasts that there was a possibility of storms later that day.  It had been very warm and sultry in Sydney which at this time of the year is not unusual.  With several days of mid 30C temperatures, it was plain inevitable.  I had hoped that our flight would get out in time.  It was not to be.  A large electrical storm struck before our flight, delaying it by 30 minutes.  A mere delay I thought.  I had a connecting flight in Melbourne that was due for departure 45 minutes after the scheduled landing, so delays were more significant than usual. 
 

Stuck on the tarmac. 

45 minutes late, we got on the plane.  I thought that considering we had a few people who were connecting to my flight, they would delay its departure, so I was still reasonably confident.  That was confidence not born in reality.  We sat at the terminal for another 30 minutes.  What was horrid was that the air conditioner was not functioning.  With 30+C outside and a cramped and full plane of people, the temperature soared, unlike the plane. 
 
At this point, I admit that I have phobias.  Flying is one and one of those reasons is another phobia of claustrophobia.  This was not good for my stress levels. 
 
Finally, we moved out to the runway.  At this stage, there was still no rain, but clouds that were menacing.  It was then, we were told that the previous storm had caused a bank-up of planes,  and that we were number 16 in the queue.  As we sat, and sat, the temperature continued to rise.  We sat on that tarmac for another a good 90 minutes.  In this time, the rain set in and raised my phobia stress levels to the maximum.  Watching planes land close up in the rain isn't good if they scare you.  What was the worst for me was when I spotted several large lightning strikes at the end of the runway.  I wanted to leave in a hurry, but those strikes frightened at a whole new level. 
 

Finding humour under stress. 

The plane was fitted with televisions on every seat, that require payment to use.  As a consolation to our despair, they gave us free use for the duration.  Out comes all the headsets as the attendants passed them out.  Unfortunately for me, my television was the only one NOT working.  Just like the good old days of television repair, the attendant suggested a mode of fixing it.  There was a black box under the seat that had all the wiring.  He told me to kick it.  So I did.  And it worked.  It kept turning off mind you, but for the entire journey, I had to keep kicking my television to make it work.  That amused me. 
 

Joining the queue  

We finally arrived in Melbourne about 4 hours late and yes, my connecting flight was gone.  It was then that my life in a queue began.  Only the queue to be in the queue was missing.  We queued to find out what was happening.  We were told we would be put up in a hotel.  So they sent us to another queue.  After waiting for our turn, we found out that we weren't supposed to be in that queue and were sent to another queue.  I am a patient man, but my patience was being sorely tested as it was now nearing 11pm.  Eventually we found out that there was no pus to take us to the hotel, so in a taxi and another queue at the hotel (there were many of us, not just from our flight.).  After finally getting into the a room, nearing midnight - it was time for dinner, a bit later than I usually eat it. 
 

We can't get a flight for you until 4pm tomorrow.  

We were hoping for an early flight out, but it was not to be.  This is my weekend man and I just want to get home to my family.  Things could be worse as I am really the lucky one.  Lucky because I have a company credit card and I was willing to use it.  I ate well and I caught a taxi to go shopping to fill in my time.  In fact, to fill in time, we went to the cinema and saw Invictus, which I will leave for a film review later. 
 

Comfort shopping. 

When women get a bit sad or depressed they comfort eat, mainly chocolate and ice cream.  Good for them I say, but I am a man I tell you.  I was feeling down and flat and needed something to cheer me up, so I did what a man does - I bought computer games.  Well, maybe that is more a geek man thing, but still a man I say.  I bargain shopped and got 6 games for $116 Au and considering the ticket price for the games was $400 Au, I feel I did very well for myself. 
 
 This was my little bag of goodies: 
Yep, I'm stacking stuff again - the therapy isn't working (^_^) 

The story has an end. 

Finally, trouble free, we finished the journey.  27 hours after I left Sydney, I was home.  I decided very early on that work was going to owe me for my lost day.  I was going to take a day off, with pay to make up for it.  Now I don't have to do it unofficially.  I was given a call from senior management to ask how I was getting on and he told me to just take a day off when it suits.  I didn't say I was going to anyway, I just thanked him and moved on. 
 

Woman have spooky powers.  

 My partner is not a woman to be messed with.  She has eerily strong mental powers.  We were on holidays once and after she saw yet another story on Princess Diana, she commented that she should hurry up and die to give us some real stories.  2 days later, she died.  Considering they still rabbit on about her, she didn't really get her wish though.  Another time, a race driver (Craig Lowndes who drives V8 Supercars) was on the news and she just plain hates the guy.  She commented that she wished he would crash his car.  The next day he had a major crash when his car left the ground and rolled mid-air (he survived and is still racing). 
 
Well, when I rang her to organise picking me up at the airport before leaving Sydney, she commented (jokingly) that she didn't feel like driving (a one hour trip) to Launceston to pick me up and I should just come home tomorrow.  And I did.   She scares me  :-) 
 
Thanks for reading - or not.  Again, feel free to share you travel stories as you in Europe and North AMerica have far worse weather to screw up your travel plans.
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Bushfires are plain scary and we are on evacuation standby.

It is about 7pm at home at the moment and darkness is 2 hours away, when suddenly the colour outside changed to yellow/orange.  I stepped outside and we are covered in a thick pall of smoke from a bushfire.  It is so thick it hurts your eyes.  Our mountain is gone out visual range and in fact visibility is under 100 metres.  We can't see where the fire is, but we have been told by a neighbour that it is nearby and the their is a strong wind blowing our direction in the path of the fire. 
 
It is the first time I can honestly say that a fire has unnerved me as the ground is exceptionally dry after 2 months of no rain.  We are surrounded by paddocks of very dry and brown grass.  We have to keep an eye out in case it reaches us.  Not going to be a comfortable night as we are on evacuation standby. 
 
Maybe I should start putting all my games in the car in case  ^-^ 
 



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