Great Friends, Great Wine

My wife and I have just finished three weeks hosting some great friends Skip and Sharon from South Carolina. We toured the wine growing districts around Perth, Margaret River and Albany in Western Australia, then off to South Australia where we toured the Clare and Barossa wine growing districts.

We all had a lot of fun and sampled some GREAT wines.

sharon skip candace john

Rare Flight Experience

Recent security scares on flights from London Heathrow reminded me of a BA flight I took back in 1997. I was able to do something then that will probably never be possible again for a member of the travelling public.

I was flying on a BA Boeing 747 to Miami, Florida. We headed North-West from London over Ireland and out across the Atlantic toward Nova-Scotia.

I was travelling in the upper deck, and had a chance to chat briefly with one of the cockpit crew when he wandered down the aisle. I asked if I could have a look in the cockpit sometime during the flight. He was not definite that it would be OK, but I could check with one of the cabin crew “in a few hours”.

So, I did! I pestered the steward and he got permission for me to pay a visit to the cockpit.

When I got to the cockpit, things were pretty quiet, and I think “George” was in control. At that stage we were about an hour from Nova-Scotia and the crew were performing intermittent checks of dials and their multi-function video screens.

I asked several questions about what they were doing, and the Captain took great delight in answering, and giving me a full rundown on the features and information of their video screens.

The co-pilot would occasionally chat on the radio for a few seconds at a time. Otherwise he was running his eyes over flight systems as we went.

I was there for about 45 minutes, before the Captain said that they were about to get busy as we were getting close to land and were about to turn southward down the east coast of USA. It was time for me to return to my seat.

It had been a great experience, and before leaving I thanked the crew for their time.

It was a daytime flight, and I do not recall really “looking” out the windshield. If I did look, there was certainly nothing to see apart from blue sky.

With the “Locked cabin door” rules in place since 9/11, I am certain that I would not be allowed this experience again.

Time for some Halloween pictures

Found these pics recently from Halloween last year. This was my first year we had stayed later than usual in Texas, and I just had to see what these pumpkins were all about.

We bought one at a roadside stall, and I set about to carve it.

All going OK so far.

The finished product.

and in the dark, with a candle inside! Success!

Taxes

Taxes are not the same the world over. But every one I know thinks that they would be better off in another country, where they “know” that taxes are less.
Not so.

I know about UK, USA and Australia.
Of these three, I would say that the combined taxes (Income, Capital Gains, VAT/Sales/GST, LocalCounty, School, Property) that you incur earning, and spending, are highest in the UK.
Next highest would come the USA. The lowest combined taxes would be in Australia (But do not let the Aussie politicians know this!).

Then there is the voluntary taxes. What – I hear you say? Voluntary Taxation?

Yes. This usually goes by the innocuous name of “LOTTO”. This is where you are goaded into purchasing a ticket where you have 1 in 99 billion (or so) chances of striking it rich.
Profits from Lotto go to subsidizing education, health, and other social programs that would normally be funded from forced taxation.
I think it is great that so many people contribute to this voluntary taxation, as it reduces the amount that the rest of us need to pay.

Speech – Actually

Have you actually ever listened really closely to the actual words used in a radio or TV interview?

There, I actually just did it here to show you what I actually mean.

Got it yet?

Well, it is the over and superfluous use of the words ‘actual’ and actually’.

I first discovered that I was doing just this, about 15 years ago. I was lecturing in “C” computer programming at a college with about 90 students in a large lecture theatre.
When lecturing, it is not too hard to detect when the crowd is becoming bored. Also, detection of the odd smirk is easy.
I detected both these things and it took me a couple of weeks to figure out.
By watching the group, and trying to figure out if I was gesturing in some particular way that would trigger their reactions, I noticed that it looked as though they were ‘scoring’ my presentation. Several were marking their notes as I was speaking.

By watching them, I finally determined that each time I said either ‘actual’ or ‘actually’, I was being scored. And I was saying it a lot!

So, I realized that I had to stop adding this word where it was not needed. This did not take much effort.

Soon I had my lecture group back in tow, and they were able to concentrate (I hope) on learning to program in “C”.

Next time you listen to a person being interviewed on radio, or TV, listen out for them using ‘actually’ and ‘actual’. It drives me mad now to hear it so much!

Cool Summer

Back in Perth and summer has begun. Well, only on the calendar. It is nearly mid December and so far there has only been one day warm enough to stroll down to the beach. Maybe next weekend will be warmer, according to weather forecasters.
In the meantime, I am busy on maintenance on some systems for existing clients, and flat out on a new project (with document generation and storage involving .RTF files, Search and Replace, and generation and storage as .PDFs in an MS-SQL database). All going well so far 🙂

John.

Daylight Savings Ends

On Sunday October 30 2005 the daylight savings ends for this northern summer. Clocks go back 1 Hour!

A learned friend of mine once said:-
“Why do they need to mess with the clock twice a year by 1 hour? Why don’t they just change the time by half an hour and leave the damn thing alone!”

Probably a good suggestion considering all the problems introduced by adjusting the local times.

Off to Hawaii for a Break

Aloha. We are heading to Hawaii next week and will be there into the new year.

This will be my second trip to “Sandwich Islands” having previously been to Oahu and Maui about 15 years ago for a few days.

This will be a family gathering on Kauai. Hoping to do some zip lines, bike rides and ATV ride. Plus sit back and relax a little, or a LOT!

 

Hawaii

 

Mahalo