The incoherent blathering and deranged rantings of the self-styled Guru Bob...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Surreal Times

It is hard to believe that this sort of thing is happening about 40 minutes drive from where I live. We have been watching and reading the stories about what has happened to people who may even include people I have met for all I know. At work a lot of people knew or had something to do with whole families who may now be gone, it is at times like this that it becomes very apparent that the whole six degrees of separation thing is very very true...

The scary thing is that I actually had a pretty good weekend. Which is why it all seems so surreal. Admittedly most of Saturday was a complete write-off because of the heat - it was just so incredibly intense - according to the news the highest recorded temperature in Melbourne's history at 46.8 degrees (centigrade) - but according to me when I ventured outside it was like poking your face into a blast furnace. I am not at all surprised that it was like a perfect storm of ingredients for massive bushfires - but was not at all prepared for the actual news.

In Queensland when it is hot the accepted wisdom is to open up your doors and windows and try and get some breeze into your place. Here in Melbourne the opposite is true, you close your doors and windows, put the blinds down and sit in the dark with the fan or aircon on full blast. We were blocking the bottoms of doors to stop any wind coming in because it was so incredibly hot it would have turned the house into a little oven.

We just watched cable television and I finished off my copy of the Berlin Noir trilogy by Philip Kerr which has just been the most awesome read, even the second time around. So sitting at home drinking lots of water, eating fresh fruit and reading - while not the most productive way to spend the day was certainly relaxing and enjoyable. The evening news didn't seem to have many surprises - the bush fires looked bad - but no worse then the annual bushfire news.

The next day we didn't really watch the telvision until really late in the evening on Sunday and by then the news had completely changed for the worse - whole towns destroyed, hundreds of people dead.

It seemed totally surreal - because on Sunday we had gone with a bunch of friends to celebrate my birthday at a Greek restaurant - ate heaps of wonderful food, dranks lots of red wine, and had an excellent time, so good in fact that we kept on going - up the road to Mr Wilkinson for drinks and later to some other place for bite to eat. Getting home very late, happy and inebriated... The next day was a continuation of the birthday theme because I had organised the day off to have with breakfast with Sweet Thang and then off to see Gran Torino which has Clint once again on top of his form as the crankiest grandad you ever did see.

So while I was celebrating turning $#%*, people elsewhere were already in mourning for their friends, family, homes and communities. It is terrible thing and we will all do whatever we can to help them now. I have friends in Blackwood (Heather and Tim) and Kyneton (Sam and Paulie) who all should be ok according to the news reports I have seen, but you never know and I haven't heard back from any of them.

The Premier has annouced an enquiry into it - but having felt the hot wind on my face on Saturday I know that there are no individuals we can blame for this - experienced bushfire survivors are all saying that even the most effective of plans was completely useless against these fires - driven by hot winds, drought affected countryside and lack of water.

As for those people who still deny climate change - for me sitting in a place where one end of the country is underwater and the other is suffering from the worst drought in recorded history - I can't help but think that there is a connection between these extreme weather events and the man-made climate change...

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Butcher's Grill

Last night went off to catch up with Bedak and Chaz who were in town accompanied by Nautilus, Bangar and Havock. Barnes had piked out at the last minute and everyone was already getting started by the time I turned up.

All went well at the venue, we had the separate dining room which seemed to come with dedicated waitress (who dealt with a bunch of big guys pretty well) who looked after us all very well. There were three small mountains of cooked meats and seafood in the centre of the table for us to get stuck into and lots and lots of red wine was also consumed.

The converstaion ranged across the usual topics - the demise of J-space, JB, Karada, Murphy, Lermontov, as well as jobs, life the universe and everything... Although Bangar's stories about duck executions, Havock's discussions about 'explodey goodness' and Bedak's farming tales must have made the rest of the place wonder what was going on in the dining room.

Afterwards we headed down to the Carlton Hotel to get our photo taken with the Rhino and things went pretty pear shaped. The door nazis wouldn't let us in because (and get this!) " No suits after 9.00pm" well as the only person wearing a suit (a grey Ted Baker) and having come straight from work - I took great affront at this. It made me think I was still in Brisbane because surely this wouldn't be happening in stylish Melbourne? This was the sort of stupid thing that one came to expect from going out in that town - but Melbourne bars have always been more laid back...

What really pisses me off is that I have been into that place lots and lots of time and this is the first time that something like this has happened. It also amazes me that in these GFC times a business can let the meathead bouncers at the front door turn away cashed up business - but it is their loss.

I have to say that if they had of just said - "you guys are too pissed" we probably all would have just gone 'fair enough' and moved on. As it was we went to the next bar down the road, who were more than happy to take our money.

So today I am feeling a little bit worse for wear and back at work. Nautilus took photos and I think we have to leave drop off a brown paper bag full of money in a public spot or he will publish them online... so had better go and hit the ATM!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

This week

Yep can't wait for the burger get-together tonight - Chaz and Bedak have come a long way to hang out with the old Melbourne crew. Of course there are last minute work hitches - I now have to host a litlle shindig here because my boss pulled out at the last minute, but it should be all over in time to get down to the Butcher Grill before entrees start.

Otherwise it has been a busy time - looking at the possibility of making a much belated entry into the property market (may have to grill Chaz about that) but am also concerned about all the doom and gloom - I am trying to work out of the next few months is the best time ever to buy or the worst time? Interest rates are down, prices are down and the government is throwing money at people wanting to buy - seems to make sense to me but I am open to suggestions.

On the weekend we did a bit of a recce - visiting a few open for inspections in areas we may be interested in. The weirdest was a townhouse in the old Pentridge Prison site, once one of Australia's most awful prisons but now being turned into upmarket apartments and townhouses! However I have heard that is happening all over the place and Boggo Road in Brisbane is also getting turned into apartments - at least one friend said to me he hopes that they have rooftop terraces?

I don't think so - most of the site is like a terribel A.V. Jennings nightmare although at least the part we looked at was in the old workshops and had that 'renovated old industrial' feel - bluestone walls, old cast iron lamposts etc. However the 10 metre high back wall overwhelmed the tiny little yard and I am not sure about the guard towers either. The actual 'townhouse' was also tiny - may as well have been in cell block A.

Although Coburg and Brunswick look pretty good in terms of access to work etc - all of the places were pretty small but that is probably just the case here in Melbourne. I am not sure about how far I want to commute every day...

Next week is my birthday so will be having some sort of get-together with some other friends as well.