22 October 2008

A Yarn about Music and Cream

"other owners of my MP3 brand had experienced similar issues except in relation to purchasing cream or listening to Celine Dion...Maybe a postmaster eating monster was hiding in the backroom and had eked out its revenge"

A couple of weeks ago I was on the train heading home after a busy day at work when my mobile phone rang. It was the wife aka "No Worries". I stopped listening to my MP3 player and answered it.

"Hi" said No Worries. "When you get off the train can you pick up some milk and cream, please?" I confirmed in the affirmative. After all, it would only take a few minutes to get these items. I then returned to my music which I was thoroughly enjoying as per usual. As most of my family and friends know I am a huge music fan and really love to listen to a wide variety of music (except Celine Dion hehehe).

After getting off the train, I headed to the local supermarket and purchased the milk and cream. Then I started to walk home. As I was walking past the local RSL club I inadvertently dropped my MP3 player. It hit the concrete path with a thud. I was aghast. My pride and joy had taken a fall. All of a sudden my heart started beating faster. Why did I drop it? Will it still work? What did No Worries want the cream for? These were the questions going through my mind.

Fortunately, it looked fine. I breathed a sigh of relief, my main source of music was okay. A national crisis, bigger than the global sub-prime crisis, had been averted - or so I thought.

A couple of days later I turned on my MP3 player only to find out that it had gone into a restore mode. Despite trying everything it would not get past this point and hence allow me to hear my music. I then decided to consult Mr Google. As it transpired other owners of my MP3 brand had experienced similar issues except in relation to purchasing cream or listening to Celine Dion.

It was then that something dawned on me. Maybe my MP3 had been terminally damaged. I picked it up and gave it a gentle shake. Something rattled inside and it wasn't a snake either! It was obvious that my player had gone to MP3 heaven. I would need to do something about it. Firstly, I would have to find out what happened to the cream. Then secondly, I would need to purchase a new MP3 player.

I decided to purchase one via Ebay. Although I am not a regular Ebayer I have bought and sold a few items via this medium. I researched all the MP3/MP4 players that were of interest and bid on the one that I wanted. It was 'dirt cheap' even though it would be shipped to Australia from another country.

I put in a bid and was successful. I was ecstatic. Soon I would be listening to my music again. I paid the money and waited for the MP4 player to arrive. After waiting a week it arrived in my letter box. I opened the package. Inside was one of the smallest MP4 players I had ever seen. It looked okay. However, it soon became evident that it was 'dirt cheap' as it was, to paraphrase myself, a piece of crap.

I was now quite sad. Not only did I not have an effective replacement I also was none the wiser about the cream! I had to resolve these two issues, and quickly (in case the cream went off).

Fortunately, I got an email about a highly reduced well known MP4. Straight away I headed to the web site and ordered one. As a bonus, I would also receive a silicon case for the player. I then waited, and waited and waited.

In all honesty, I only had to wait a few days. However, when it arrived we were out. So I had to wait until the weekend to pick it up from the Post Office. Even though this was only 72 hours I was getting impatient. I was really missing not listening to music on the sardine express (aka the train). At last Saturday came and I rushed to the Post Office to collect my new MP4 player. I handed over the delivery notice and the Post Master (or whatever he is called) went to the back room to find my package.

He was gone ages. I was wondering what was going on as I could here a lot of noises emanating from this room. My mind started wandering. Maybe a postmaster eating monster was hiding in the backroom and had eked out its revenge. After an eon, or so it seemed, he returned to the counter. "Sorry" said the Postmaster. "I cannot find it". Instantly I thought he was joking, but he wasn't. Would I ever get my package?

I asked him to check again, this time the postmaster eating monster was terminated and my package was found! At the same time bells started chiming in the local churches and the sun was shining again! The world was a happy place.

I took the package home and found an even smaller player that one I had bought via Ebay. It looked like a toy. Fortunately, it was wasn't. I read the instructions and started downloading music onto my new MP4 player.

Now I am happily listening to my music again while doing my best sardine impressions! As for the cream - well I never found out what it was used for. Who knows, maybe the postmaster eating monster took a liking to it!

14 October 2008

A Weekend in the Country

"Anyway, after 'swabbing' all over my clothes and mobile phone I was declared clear. Obviously I wasn't a danger to society and cardamons don't create explosives!"

Last weekend No Worries and I took our two daughters up to the North Coast of NSW to see their Grandmother and two Uncles. Naturally the gals were excited to go, not just to see their relatives but also because they would be flying there. In fact, they couldn't wait to catch the plane!

As most parents would know if you plan a holiday away (albeit ranging from a weekend to a few weeks) it becomes a logistic exercise. Not only do you have to pack things for yourself but you have to get things ready for your children. Anyway, the few days prior to leaving I kept cajoling No Worries to start packing.

Naturally, No Worries wasn't too concerned about doing this. She replied in her usual way. "No worries, it'll only take 15 minutes to pack. We can do it on Friday night". I wasn't too sure about this as, based on previous experience, it normally takes much longer.

Friday night came and I reminded my wife that we should start packing as we had an earlyish flight in the morning to catch. No Worries was very relaxed. "It'll only take 15 minutes to pack and then we'll be ready". Again I doubted this. So after a few prompts we started packing for the flight.

One thing I have learned about people of Indian background is that they will say one thing such as "our house is a couple of doors down from the cafe" when in reality its at least a 2km drive and 50 houses away! No Worries says things like this all the time. What I do is multiply her comment by 4 and then I get close to the correct answer.

The packing took longer than 15 minutes. For some reason 3 hours later we were still packing! Not sure why, but we were. I also took a few moments out to pre-order a cab for the ride to the airport. That was quite interesting. I rang the taxi company and got one of those voice activated menus. Despite saying where the pickup suburb was, the computerised voice would give me a different suburb. Obviously my accent was confusing it.

After about 5 goes and being informed of suburbs all around Sydney I finally got to speak to a live person. This person also had problems locating my suburb even though it was no more than 5kms away from the taxi company!! To say I was getting frustrated was an understatement. Eventually the cab was booked and we could grab a few hours sleep before getting up early in the morning.

The alarm went off and we were into a military style operation to ensure our daughters were ready for the cab ride to the airport. Our phone rang a little later and the cab driver was outside. I told No Worries to hurry up as we had to go now. My wife, at this stage, was in the kitchen making some Indian chai. She gave me one in a disposable coffee cup as well as having one herself. Finally, we were in the cab and were on our way.

Before we had gone 100 metres I told the cab driver to stop. My chai had been filled to the top and was spilling copious amounts of the flavoursome tea all over myself and the taxi driver's car. There was only one thing to do. I got out of the car and poured all of the chai away. No Worries was aghast at my action. However, it was the logical thing to do as I had visions of having my jeans smelling of cardamon seeds all the way to our destination!

We got to the airport and checked in. This was straight forward enough. However, when I got to the security checkpoint I was pulled over. Surely having spilt chai on my clothes wasn't illegal or was it? I was informed politely that I would be checked for explosives and had been chosen at random. This would be fun, I thought. Anyway, after 'swabbing' all over my clothes and mobile phone I was declared clear. Obviously I wasn't a danger to society and cardamons don't create explosives!

Following this,we made our way to the departure gate and was advised that there was a delay. I enquired as to the reason (thinking that the plane was held up at another airport) and was advised that the plane was ready to go but was missing a co-pilot! Naturally this was an issue. So we waited for about an hour before the replacement co-pilot turned up. When he arrived he humorously pointed out that he wasn't the cause of the delay!

Soon we were on the plane (a Saab 340 for the anorak brigade amongst you) and high in the sky. The girls were enjoying the flight and taking lots of photos of the clouds outside the plane. We were getting close to our destination and the plane started descending. All I could see out of the window was lots of cows, sheep and even some horses. No high rise buildings or even a lone house could be seen.

Finally the plane came into land. I looked out of my window and saw cows happily grazing next to the runway! Welcome to rural NSW, I thought. How many airports have cattle next to its runway? Actually the airport is really a large shed but to be fair it has a charm about it that bigger airports don't have.

We got off the plane and made our way to the terminal where we picked up our bags. We were greeted by my My mother in law and started our weekend away in the country. We soon found out that life in the rural areas travels at a much slower pace than in the cities, which made a welcome change.

We had a great weekend with No Worries side of the family and before we knew it we were back at the airport ready to fly back to Sydney. The cows were still there munching away, and this time the co-pilot was already in the plane!

10 October 2008

Follow You Follow Me

Every now and then, when I have that precious commodity called time, I review my blog to see what improvements can be made. I feel it is important to do this to try and keep the blog site fresh and exciting (or words to that effect). Over the past few months I have added a song of the week, and also a picture of the Sydney Harbour Bridge (taken by yours truly) to my site.

One new feature that I have just added is the 'Follow' feature which is located at the top right hand side of the blog. This is a new feature that will help you to keep up to date with all the new blogs that will be spewing forth from my laptop very soon!

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy reading my blogs as much as I like sharing them with you. Remember to leave a comment about any blog of mine that you have read. I always love reading what is posted.

07 October 2008

A Visit to Canberra

" In fact, I keep expecting to see concrete cows everywhere!...“Daddy, which shop does Kevin Rudd work in?” My initial response was to say “a closed shop” but I bit my tongue"

It all happened just over a week ago. No Worries and I were relaxing at home when all of a sudden I had an idea. Now this is not a common event. Far from it, really. So when this happened I got very excited. The idea revolved around the forthcoming NSW State holiday (Labour Day).

As the long weekend was approaching faster than a City Rail train I though it would be good to take our daughters to Canberra for the Floriade (flower festival) and also to see Parliament House. They are now of an age where they would probably appreciate the excursion to Australia’s capital.

No Worries concurred with me. As the drive from Sydney to Canberra is just under three hours all we needed to do was find some accommodation and we were set. Courtesy of Mr Google, this didn’t take too long to arrange. The next day we informed the gals that we were taking them to Canberra. Their response was a “stunned silence”. Maybe they knew what Canberra was like. Then again, they had probably never really heard Canberra mentioned too many times before.

As for myself, I have been to Canberra on many occasions and can’t say that I am a fan of the city. True there are things to see – Parliament House, War Memorial, National Gallery, National Museum and so on. However, as Canberra was deliberately planned I find it sterile and as such a bit like Milton Keynes in the UK. In fact, I keep expecting to see concrete cows everywhere! (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete_Cows). Also, it’s great fun going around the two road ‘circuits’ to get to the opposite side and on to Parliament House.

The day arrived and we drove down to Canberra which took just on 3 hours. The girls were getting more excited as they didn’t know what to expect. We arrived in downtown Canberra (if there is such a thing) and checked into our hotel. Normally, this would only take a few minutes but given the lack of staff it took nearly 45! Naturally things aren’t too rushed in the capital city!

We rested for a while and headed to Floriade in the late afternoon where there was a large contingent of people admiring the flower displays. As we entered we were told that the park would close soon. We didn’t mind as our two daughters were frantically taking pictures of every flower imaginable.

The next day we checked out (encountering snail pace service at the hotel reception yet again) and drove to the main Floriade display. The weather was cool and sunny. After we entered the park dark clouds came over and for the next 40 minutes we took shelter as we had rain, wind, hail, thunder and then sunshine. Certainly fun for the ducks, but not necessarily for us humans.

The storm passed and again our daughters took lots of photos of the flower variety. No Worries too was enjoying the day. Finally, after a couple of hours we left the park and headed over to Parliament House.

Now our daughters know that the Prime Minister of Australia is Kevin Rudd and we have told them that he works in Parliament House and helps make decisions for the whole country. Naturally, we have kept it basic as at their age they probably don’t want to know about fiscal policy, inflation rates and taxation! However, anything Dora the Explorer or Mr Men related and you can talk to them to the most finite detail.

As we entered Parliament House our eldest daughter saw the gift shop there and asked “Daddy, which shop does Kevin Rudd work in?” My initial response was to say “a closed shop” but I bit my tongue and told her that he didn’t work in a shop!

We then walked around Parliament House and went to the House of Representatives and to the Senate. The girls seemed to enjoy looking at all things parliament related. My youngest was still getting confused about where Canberra was (totally understandable in my opinion). She kept asking if Canberra was in Australia. I was tempted to say ‘no its in a world of its own’ but reneged.

After this we headed to the Canberra Centre (shopping centre) and had a late lunch and browsed at a few shops before heading to one of the suburbs in outer Canberra to pay a quick visit to some friends of ours and their children.

Finally, we left there in the early evening and made the trek back home stopping off at McDonalds for a late dinner. We arrived home at 10 O’clock and got the girls to bed. It was only then that I realised that the only thing I had purchased whilst in Canberra for No Worries and I was in fact, an ironing board cover!

What more can I say!