Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I'm in Malaysia this week, specifically in Putrajaya which is the new capital on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. I flew in yesterday from Brisbane on my favourite airline (Singapore Airlines) via my favourite airport (Singapore's Changi). The US could really learn something from Asia on how to run airlines and airports so that the entire experience is not something akin to torture.

It was quite a strange feeling being back in Singapore for the first time since we moved from there to Steamboat in April 2004.

Given that one of my main complaints about Steamboat (of which I have very, very few you understand) is the lack of good Asian food, I'm in culinary heaven. Malay food is such a fantastic mix of influences with such complex flavours it's at the opposite end of the spectrum to traditional American food which is big on calories and fats but generally low on taste. I made a point of hitting the hotel gym this morning so I can indulge guilt free!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

More engine trouble

Only two months ago I wrote about experiencing an aborted take-off due to engine failure on a Canberra to Brisbane flight, but it's happened again! We didn't get as far as beginning our take-off roll this time, but the net effect was the same - re-booked on a flight through Sydney which wasted several hours of my Saturday.

Once is bad luck, twice seems like a pattern. I think Qantas need to look at the maintenance schedule on their 737-400's which are getting on a bit now. I went through this with Qantas in 2000-01 when I was regularly flying between Brisbane and Manila and their 767's seemed to be constantly breaking down.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Free Rugby

I scored some free tickets to last night's Australia vs South Africa rugby test match at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane courtesy of my friend Kathy (thanks!) While Aussie Rules is my passion, I quite like rugby, especially when Australia win 49-0.

One thing that struck me about the game was how good the refereeing was, which is more than I can say for any game of Aussie Rules I've ever seen. In any sport there are line ball decisions that can go either way, so that's not what I'm talking about. It's when they miss completely obvious stuff that it's infuriating and Aussie Rules umpires seem to have an unequaled capacity to do just that despite the fact that there are three field umpires, two boundary umpires, two goal umpires and an emergency umpire just in case.

At the same time as the rugby was on the Lions were playing in Melbourne and there was an absolute howler in the dying minutes. Jason Akermanis almost had his head taken off by his opponent right in front of the ump but no free kick was awarded (for those not familiar with Aussie Rules you can't touch your opponent above the shoulders, so decapitation is definitely out of the question). Fortunately the Lions won (by a point) so I can let that umpire live for another week!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Interesting house?

On the way to Australia and NZ, we stopped last night in LA and today we visited my wife's cousin who lives in Redondo Beach (nice suburb, but makes Steamboat real estate look cheap). A few houses down the street we saw this place under construction. Yes, it is made from recycled shipping containers.

Apart from the environmental benefits it's also earthquake and fire proof. Here's what it's supposed to look like when it's finished.

Given that it still looks like a bunch of shipping containers piled on top of each other, I don't think the benefits outweigh the fact that it's really, really ugly.

Monday, July 03, 2006

It isn't any better at home

As a resident of the US mostly I write about US political stupidity. That's not because there is any shortage back home in Australia. Here's one from The Courier-Mail, daily paper of my former home town of Brisbane, full of stupidity from both the Feds and the state government in Queensland.

Firstly, I was staggered to discover that the Queensland Government is subsidising the production of the local version of Big Brother. State governments in Australia are always complaining that they can't raise enough revenue because the Constitution severely restricts the types of taxes they can levy (which is true). But it can't be too bad if they can waste money on this. Premier Peter Beattie's justification? "If you destroy television production in Australia . . . then all we do is import American crap." Of course. I'm sorry Peter. We must produce our own crap. with taxpayer's money. How silly of me.

Then there's the Federal government. I think the Prime Minister and his mates have been chanelling George W. Bush and his Republican friends in Congress, because they seem to be obsessed with stuff like saving us all from sexual antics that take place in the Big Brother house in the wee hours of the morning (and weren't even broadcast). Just like the Republicans this is all they're left with now that they've won the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, got the Israelis and Palestinians sharing group hugs, hunted down and killed bin Laden, secured future supplies of low cost oil, reversed global warming, fully funded the retirement of all their citizens, provided high quality low cost healthcare for all, and finally found a better way to decide soccer matches than the penalty shoot-out.

My holiday weekend project

This weekend I completed a handyman project that I've been saving for a long weekend - tiling the landing at the bottom of the stairs where you come in from the garage. In the winter when you tend to get a lot of snow and mud on your boots the carpet in this area was impossible to keep clean.

I also had to wait for the summer to do this, because tile cutters use water for lubrication and it's impossible to stay dry while cutting tiles. I know this from bitter experience because my Dad and I once made the mistake of cutting tiles while it was snowing!

As you can see from the fact that some of the grout (on the right hand side) is still wet, I've literally just finished, ahead of my expected schedule which means I can relax for the rest of today and tomorrow (except that I need to start packing for my upcoming trip to New Zealand and Australia).

It's a pretty good job, even if I say so myself. That's because I had good teachers - my Mum and Dad (who have done some really intricate mosaics on their floor) and my brother James.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Cattle roundup

The Independence Day weekend is a busy time in Steamboat with lots of visitors and loads of activities. This morning we had the annual cattle roundup where local ranchers drive a herd of cattle down the main street to the rodeo grounds. Don't ask me why, they just do. Tradition or something.

Last year this was the culmination of a reality television show, Filthy Rich:Cattle Drive. If you didn't see, it the basic concept was a bunch of spoilt rich kids put to work on a real ranch.

Tomorrow afternoon I hope to get along to the ski jumping competition. That's right, ski jumping in the middle of summer. Our jumping hill was recently upgraded with an artificial surface to allow the jumpers to train year round, something which is necessary these days to be competitive at the World Cup and Olympics.