Saturday, 20 November 2010


My bride reckons this is a mopoke (Ninox novaeseelandiae).
I don't know enough about birds (the feathered variety) to argue.

He's taken up residence, camping in the tree during the day, and feeding (hopefully) on mice etc at night.

The Noisy Miners (Manorina melanocephala) aren't keen on him at all - they give him a wide berth. If he can keep them away, he can stay as long as he likes.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

And you still get monkeys.....

Like many other self-funded "retirees", I took a pretty severe hit during the GFC.

It makes me angry, simply because it was a situation completely out of my personal control, and essentially driven by the behaviour of greedy incompetents on the other side of the world.

And I don't accept any of that Libertarian hogwash that the collapse was caused by government interference. This is a prime example of "blame the victim". If you supervise a process where your institution loans money to someone you know quite well can't pay it back, and your bank snaffles the interest and your employees the bonuses that go with the sales performance, you bear the responsibility of those decisions.  If then you bundle up these toxic loans and sell them off, you're responsible - not the government. Isn't "personal responsibility" the catch-cry of the Conservatives? I guess bankers are exempt.

This is either gross incompetence or amoral behaviour. You decide.

It's not the first time in my life, of course, when poor decisions made by powerful and incompetent individuals stateside had a major impact on myself and my family. Yet how soon we forget.

I take severe and personal exception, therefore to the maintenance of a culture where it's considered OK for bankers (and others) to continue to pay themselves obscene salaries even after their incompetence has cost their investors and shareholders a large fortune.

It's not as if this tendency to corruption in the finance industry is anything new.

Take a look at the graph*. 

Tt shows a clear correlation between exploding salaries in the finance sector and the collapse of that sector. It's happened before. It's an indication of a sector gone to seed, and becoming corrupt. And yet, we seem prepared to continue to tolerate salaries that are enough per annum to run a fair-sized local authority.

This financial year, the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank (Ralph Norris) received a pay package of $16.2 million, up from $9.2 million last year. Gail Kelly's (CEO of Westpac) pay deal totalled $9.6 million, while ANZ boss Mike Smith received a package worth $10.9 million. Do the sums - total them up - it comes to $36.7 million for three individuals.

You could employ over six hundred teachers with that, or slightly more police.

Of course, we know that you have to pay top dollar to ensure top performance. That worked a treat during the meltdown, didn't it?

The ACTU has put forward a few ideas -

• Capping the base salaries of CEOs at a maximum of 10 times the average earnings of employees within that company.

• Ending the bonus culture that rewards risky short-term behaviour by executives at
the expense of long-term productivity and customer satisfaction.

• Ensuring all employees in an enterprise - not just the CEO - are appropriately
rewarded for their contribution through fair industrial relations laws and practices.

• Taxing companies at a higher rate for paying CEOs more than $1 million and
cracking down on income tax avoidance through trusts and private companies.

• Enabling shareholders to rein in executive salaries and to sue for poor executive performance.

I wouldn't take issue with any of them.

Further interesting reading here and here.

* Source - broadstuff

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

iPad Blogging (2)

This post, unlike the previous example, is done entirely on the iPad.

That's why it lacks pics.

I still have lots to learn.


iPad Blogging

Blogging with the iPad is possible, but requires a slightly lateral approach.

The Safari browser lacks the capacity to upload images, so if that's what you want to do, it becomes a two-stage process.

First, you need to compose the post, including any images, and save it as a document. In this case I've used iWorks.

Then you send it to your regular computer, (using email or the MobileMe application) and post it from there. You can make a text-only post if you want to complete the whole exercise using only the iPad.

Apparently there are browsers being developed for the tablet which overcome the problem, but for now I'm happy to keep using Safari until I build up my skill base.

This is the finished product. The pic is for illustrative purposes only.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Camera Saga

My camera has turned up, so I've been able to retrieve the photos that were on it. The fact that it took over six weeks to be returned, is a story in itself.

I left it in a Europcar rental in Perth. My contention is that it was never lost, as I knew exactly where it was - safely out of the sun in the lidded centre console. As soon as I boarded the aircraft for the flight home, I realised it was missing, so immediately on arrival in Brisbane, I phoned Europcar to ask them to retrieve it. I suggested they post it to me COD.

The person who took the call sounded distracted, so I wasn't surprised when I phoned back a week later to be told that no trace had been found. I was assured that the car had been checked the day I phoned. At this point I gave up ever seeing it again.

The advice that the car had been ckecked turned out to be nonsense, of course, when I got a text message from a bloke from Darwin explaining he'd found the camera exactly where I'd left it when he hired the same car a week later. He'd read my mobile number from the inside lid of the camera case where I'd written it. I always label my possessions, a habit initially picked up in boarding school as a kid, and reinforced in the army.

He asked me what I wanted done with the camera, so I asked him if he could hand it in to Europcar when he returned the vehicle. He offered to post it to me, but I figured he'd gone to enough trouble.

I was later to regret this.

He let me know he'd handed it in, and I phoned Europcar shortly afterwards to make sure they knew it was mine, and asked them to post it COD. I was assured this would happen before COB that day.

Two weeks later, the camera hadn't turned up, so I tried a different tack. It was at this point I began regretting not accepting the offer of the bloke who found it to post it direct. I emailed Europcar on their customer feedback page, and explained my problem. This worked.

I got a phone call from the Perth depot manager apologising and explaining that the camera had been located in the office safe, and had been posted (at their expense).

It turned up three days later. I sent the guy from Darwin a small reward.

When it finally arrived I found it impossible to read my phone number because the print on the label had run, but this bloke had deciphered it. Maybe it got damp somehow in transit.

It was good to get it back - it has sentimental value, having travelled all over Australia, been to  Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, and twice to Vietnam. It also takes good shots and is robust and user friendly.

Attached to this are a few of the shots that were on it.

BTW, it's an Olympus C-310 which I bought in 2005.

Araluen - WA

 Adelaide Air Museum

Beer tasting - brewery - Margaret River

King's Park - Perth

Loco - Adelaide Rail Museum

Busselton WA

Hugh White - Without America

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