Friday, 27 September 2013

The Meaning of Life

Anyone who has read or watched "Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy" would know that the meaning of life is 42.
To be quite honest I've never understood what '42' means.
Obviously, it has some relevance to those in the 'know', but to less educated folk such as I, it means zilch.
Over the next few weeks, months and years we are going to explore the meaning of life and what it means from the practical perspective of a normal person.
Stay tuned to " The Common Man's Guide to the Meaning of Life".
As you may have guessed, I'm not into PC.
When I say 'he' or 'man' it is generally taken to mean the universal 'he' or 'man', before the thought police took over the once beautiful English language.
If it offends you feel free to not follow.
Otherwise, if you can stand a bit of free thinking you are welcome to read, follow and comment, even if you don't agree.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

It Was 45 Years Ago Today!

On October 15, 1966 at the age of 13 years and 10 months, my life changed forever. It was on that sunny Saturday afternoon, I, together with my parents, four brothers and one sister, boarded a BOAC Boeing 707 and took off from Heathrow Airport.
Passenger train to Kalgoorlie - 1966

After stopping off at Rome, Zurich, Rangoon, Delhi and Singapore, we landed in Perth just after midnight on Monday October 17. We were put up in a hostel for 'Ten Pound Tourists' for what was left of the night only to catch the train to Kalgoorlie at 5.30 pm that same afternoon.

When I saw the train at Perth Central I thought we had been transported back 100 years! It looked just like one of those trains you see in cowboy movies, and travelled at around the same speed of 35 miles an hour!!

We eventually arrived in Kalgoorlie 14 hours later at 7.30am on the Tuesday. My worst fears were realised! Yes, we really had been transported back in time, it wasn't just a dream. We were back in the 'wild west'! All that was missing was 'Buffalo Bill'. I was in a state of shock and traumatised.

How could my parents do this to me? What had I done to deserve banishment to the colonies at such a tender age?

My dream of a football career with my beloved Manchester United was shattered. My heart was broken, my mind was black. But the worst was yet to come!

Stay tuned.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Where have all the flowers gone..?

Last weekend’s trip to Geraldton was, as expected, delightful. It was a pleasant drive up the coast road, lunch at Jurien Bay, where I had one of the best long macchiato’s  I’ve ever had outside Leederville.

On then to Geraldton, listening to “Harvest” and “Rust Never Sleeps” by Neil Young, Great stuff.

I felt really sorry for Chantelle. She had applied some skin cancer cream to her face and accidentally got some on her lips. No problem until she woke up next morning and her lips and inside of her mouth were red raw and blistered. Well if that stuff burns skin cancer off your face, imagine what it does to the more sensitive area of the lips and mouth. Not very pleasant at all.

As usual it is always good to see the grandchildren. Andrew 14, Lateesha 13, Jasmine 10 and Henry 7. Andrew is taller than me now and Lateesha is the same height. I know that’s nothing to brag about, but everything is relative.
Lunch with the Grandchildren

 Andrew plays this sophisticated game called “Guitar Hero”, I’m not going to go into the complexities of it, suffice to say, it’s way above my head and Andrew plays like a Master. In fact I believe he is in the top 400 in the world. Very impressive.

On the Saturday morning we went to see Lateesha play her final game of netball, which her school team won easily. Lateesha played very well. A beautiful young lady in the making.

Jasmine is a very pleasant and attractive, soon to be teenager. Being 10 years old is almost a teenager isn’t it?

Henry is a bundle of high explosive energy, in a nice way. At 7 years of age he knows more about computers and similar devices then I could ever know. It’s a whole different world to the one I live in, and no doubt if he applies himself, he will go a long way.

On the way home on Monday I was hoping to be swamped in Wildflowers, but alas it was not to be. I came back through Mingenew and down the Midlands Road, through Coorow, Moora and Gingin. I had to go off the beaten track at Coorow to see a decent display of wildflowers. I had expected a mass of wildflowers all along the road to Perth!

I’ll plan it better next time and do a bit more homework and allow more time to explore. Nonetheless, the drive back to Perth along the Midlands Road was delightful. It is such a beautiful country we live in, I really must make more of an effort to take these mini breaks and get out and about a bit more.

Kambalda maybe next, to see brother Phil? Now that would bring back some memories. Scary!

Stay tuned.

Friday, 16 September 2011

It's Wild Flower Season

I've heard the wildflowers in Western Australia are spectacular this year. As it turns out I'm off to Geraldton for the weekend to visit Chantelle and 4 of the grandchildren. I'm really looking forward to the visit including the drive up and back.
Chapman Valley - Geraldton WA

I'm setting off today (Friday) up the fairly recently completed coast road, which is nothing more than and extension of Wanneroo Road. It is a beautiful drive following the ocean, where I'll stop off in the very pretty town of Jurian.

I'll stay with my eldest daughter Chantelle in Geraldton and probably return to Perth on Monday. The kids get older every year (wow, that's profound!), and the things that used to entertain them no longer do. For example, Andrew is 14 and Lateesha 13. Can you remember when you were that age?

I can, it wasn't that long ago, and from memory I wasn't all that interested in hanging around the oldies. And Geraldton isn't exactly buzzing with things to do.

We may go to the pictures (that's movies for you youngsters) and the pool, where I'll sit and read the Weekend Oz or a book on economics or something similarly exciting, while the mob splashes about.

Me amongst the Grandchildren - I love it!
Driving back to Perth on Monday, I intend taking the inland route through Mingenew and Moora to check out the blooms. It's a beautiful drive, not too long, not too short (About 4 to 5 hours depending on stops) and hopefully not too much traffic.

I must say I do enjoy the Geraldton trips and catching up with children and grandchildren. Who cares if there's not much to do, the mere sight of my own flesh and blood is more than sufficient. They are uplifting - just like wild flowers!!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Father's Day!

Well another Father's Day has come and gone, my 35th as a father. I have to admit to being somewhat cynical about all those various 'Days', including 'Father's Day', 'Mother's Day', 'Valentines Day' etc, etc, and sad to say of late 'Christmas Day'.

Not that I've got anything against remembering and acknowledging the real meaning behind some of these 'Days', particularly 'Mother's Day', 'Father's Day' and Christmas Day.

Sometimes, as forgetful, pre-occupied creatures we do actually need to be reminded about certain significant and meaningful occasions in our otherwise busy lives.

My main beef is the over commercialisation of these important occasions. Marketers have a field day whenever one of these 'Days' looms on the horizon. Major corporations and smaller retailers lick their lips in anticipation of the opening of the proverbial wallet.

Poor, stressed out consumers become poorer and more stressed out deciding what useless, soon to be forgotten present to buy this year in order to 'prove' their love for the recipient of the gift.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am all for giving gifts, to anyone, not just family and friends. But why should it take on marketing led significance at certain times of the year, together with all the stuff that goes with it?

It's truly delightful to present a loved one or friend with a gift for no other reason than that person came to mind and resonated in the heart. It can happen at any time of the day, at any time of the year.

Personally I was stoked with a phone call and SMS from Chantelle and Melissa saying "Happy Father's Day, Dad. I love you."  What more could a father ask for? It's more to do with what's in the heart than what's in the wallet (or credit card).

Don't tell the economists though, it's bad for GDP, but that's another story.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Joy of Grandparenting

Long, long ago in another life, I used to look at doddering old people fussing over their grandchildren and think to myself, ‘I hope I never end up like that’. I just could not see what all the fuss was about.

That is until my first grandchild came along on January 2, 1997, in the form of Andrew.

Now 14 years and ten grandchildren later, I am the consummate doddering grandfather, fussing over my tribe of angels.

Me with my latest grandson, Ethan Thomas Johnstone 22.7.2011

Becoming a grandparent changed my life forever.

I honestly didn’t believe I had it in me to play hide and seek in the back yard with a two and four year old, or get excited about going to the movies to watch “Cars 2” with 3 of my grandsons aged 5 to 8. And, wait for it, have lunch at Hungry Jack’s with the Geraldton mob of 7 to 14 year olds.

This is just not me, but then again grandchildren have a transformative effect on grumpy old men like me which I’m happy to say brings out the best in me.

It has called out something in me which, while deep in my heart I know existed, I had always found to be elusive. It is LOVE!

Having grandchildren has tapped into a reservoir of love in a way nothing else could. I am now a much happier, contented person with renewed energy for life and I attribute most of it to my grandchildren.

You should try it sometime, it will change your life!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Carbon Tax ... It's all in the Timing!

I don’t know about you but I spent most of ‘Carbon Sunday’ glued to the TV, channel surfing between ABC News 24 and Sky News. It was riveting TV for a political junkie like me.
So what do you make of all this carbon tax stuff?
I have formed some views during the past few months culminating in the announcement by Prime Minister Julia Gillard last Sunday week.
First of all regardless of whether we believe the planet is warming due to human activity, in the long term it is of great benefit all round to consume less and pollute less. This part is a no-brainer.
global warming pollution 300x199 Bernies Brief
Second, it seems inevitable that the world as a whole will eventually implement policies which result in lower CO2 emissions. The only question is ‘When?’.
Third, the Carbon Tax policy announced by Julia Gillard on July 10, has more to do with politics and staying in Government in than with reducing CO2 emissions. This is evident by the fact that Ms Gillard was one of the four kitchen cabinet members under former PM Kevin Rudd who pushed for a shelving of the previous emissions trading scheme until some time in the future. Prime Minister Gillard then stated a few days before the 2010 election that there would be no carbon tax.
Fast forward to February 2011 and the Prime Minister announces that there will now be a carbon tax. This is the price of forming a minority government with the Greens. My question is would a carbon tax have been announced if Labor had won government in it’s own right??

Fourth, the major CO2 emitters of USA, China and India have not committed to any serious CO2 reduction scheme. In fact the US has completely abandoned its proposed cap and trade scheme.

Fifth, Imposing a carbon tax in Australia will not make the slightest difference to global CO2 emissions in the absence of the major world economies joining in.
Sixth, How is over compensating consumers going to change behaviours? It actually amounts to bribing people to consume more.
Seventh, To impose a carbon tax of $23/tonne on the Australian economy at a time of low consumer confidence and a seriously slowing economy apart from mining, not to mention the serious state of the US, UK, EU and Japanese economies, is sheer madness.
Finally, to further prove the point that this is more about politics than saving the planet, if you did happen to witness the proceedings on Carbon Sunday, you would have seen Greens Leader Bob Brown and his deputy Christine Milne grinning like a pair of Cheshire cats who had just swallowed a flock of canaries and who had all their birthdays and Christmases come at once. They were the happiest people in town and that in itself is a cause to be concerned.
That’s not to say Tony Abbott’s proposed direct action scheme is any better, in fact it is more expensive and still may not have the desired effect.
The main issue is the timing and mechanics of the government’s carbon tax relative to the rest of the world. We are very small players in the world economy (remember Copenhagen?) and our CO2 emissions are less than 2% of global emissions.
However, the proposed tax at this time, I feel, risks causing serious damage to a seriously slowing economy, albeit one which survived the GFC, and that’s the real worry. There is a time and place for everything. It may be a good idea in principle but this is not the time for a carbon tax in Australia.