Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Off to Dubai

Off to Dubai tomorrow for three weeks. Well, for one of the weeks we'll be in Vienna, a city I've long meant to visit but never got around to, so actually two in Dubai.

The body's going to notice the difference in weather I'm sure. We've had a few wet, cold days here, less than 20C daytime, although today has crept back up to 23C and with the high humidity it feels quite warm. Vienna seems to be about the same but Dubai's currently hovering near 40C, although I'm told the humidity hasn't kicked in yet.

Sydney was at a standstill early morning yesterday and today because of thick fog. Ferries  haven't run until the fog cleared, flights into the airport have been cancelled or diverted. Tomorrow's flight to Dubai is in the evening though, so the city should be fog clear.



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

At last!

I finally collected my repaired car this afternoon, twenty five days after an idiot ran into the back of me.

The delay wasn't the fault of AAMI, my insurance company, or the repair shop. The problem's been GM Holden who couldn't supply a part that was needed. Bloody useless.

It was the usual thing - it'll be delivered on Tuesday, no Thursday, no next week...on and on for three weeks. The rest of the repair was done and the car just sat there for three weeks waiting for the last part. When it eventually arrived the work was finished in less than a day.

As I said in my earlier post, AAMI was excellent. They kept me informed all the way through, they arranged an extension of the car hire every time Holden pushed the delivery date forward. The last bit was arranging a taxi from Hertz to the repair shop, the bill going to AAMI. Basically I didn't have to do anything.

The repair shop, Funnells in Erina, did a great job too, the car's in showroom condition.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A year and counting...

In another couple of weeks there's an anniversary of bureaucratic incompetence.

On June 6 last year I posted about a broken picnic table  in a local park.

Instead of repairing it the council sent people to put red plastic around it.

I said then that At a (much) later date someone is sent with hammer/nails or screwdriver/screws, removes the exclusion zone material and repairs the furniture.

Much later was right, because here it is a year later:



Saturday, May 11, 2013

Missing the point

Our little home town managed to get itself in the national media last week.

It involved a case before the Land & Environment Court about short term holiday lettings involving a house here in Terrigal.

It was an investment property producing income from short term lets, as quite a few in the area are, and neighbours complained about noise and inconvenience .

It somehow ended up as a zoning question - residential area, house being used for commercial purposes.

The court found that zoning laws had been breached and that short term letting under 2A residential zoning was unlawful.

Cat amongst the pigeons comes to mind because that's a decision having a major effect on communities all over the country. Not only individual investors are affected, plenty of small towns rely on holiday visitors to keep their businesses going.

Gosford Council has taken swift action to limit the damage and will bring in provisions to allow short term lets.

And it was all so unnecessary.

The problem isn't zoning or short term lets, the problem is who the properties are let to.

The neighbours in this case have complained for years that their "family life has been severely affected by the use of the home for schoolies and bucks and hens parties".

The court missed the point and looked at it as a bureaucratic problem, a breach of zoning laws.

While we were living in Dubai a neighbour two houses away sold up and the house was bought by an investor who placed it with a real estate agent for short term lets.

They decided to advertise it as a party house.  And that's the problem.

On several occasions my neighbours had to call the police because of the noise and antisocial behaviour of hoons who rented it.

Bucks and hens weekends, with noisy drunks staggering around the street in their underwear, screaming and hooting at strippers they brought in, loud thumping music through the night.

They managed to locate the owner and told him what was happening. He instructed the real estate cowboy to re-advertise it as a family holiday house.  Since then, most weekends it's rented and we haven't had to complain once.

Simple, it fixed the problem, the owner still has a return on investment, the town still gets its visitors.


Wednesday, May 08, 2013

PR-speak

Do they really believe that we believe it or are they just contemptuous of us?

I'm talking about the endless stream of PR-speak attributed to people, usually people in some sort of self-induced trouble, when it's so blindingly obvious that they didn't say anything like it.

The spin doctors can't even be bothered to write them in a believable way, in a way the subject might actually have said it.

It's an almost daily occurrence as the spin doctors get more and more influence over companies, governments and individuals.

There was a classic a couple of days ago when a rugby league player attended an interview with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority dressed like this:

Photo. Peter Rae Sydney Morning Herald
 
Naturally he copped a lot of flack for the inappropriate dress, which it was suggested was a sign of contempt.
 
So 'he' responded:
 
''I certainly take the ASADA matter seriously and my choice of dress was in no way intentional as an indication of otherwise. In hindsight, I agree that I let myself, my club and the game down and apologise for any distress it has caused. I would also say sorry to both the corporate sponsors and to the Sharks members and fans for not representing the club better than I could and should have.''

You can imagine him saying exactly that can't you?

Surely there can't be anyone who believes these statements are anything but PR spin.  They're an insult to our intelligence.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Foot in mouth in the horsey world

The enquiry's under way into John Singleton's claim that there was a conflict of interest involving trainer Gai Waterhouse and her bookie son Tom relating to the poor running of his mare More Joyous.

Singo says he was told in a roundabout way that the mare wouldn't run well and that the info had come from Tom. 

That didn't please his mum Gai.

I'd suggest her performance at the enquiry was less about the facts than about personal attacks and bitchiness.

She accused Singleton of being drunk and volatile, using foul language, making false accusations about her and her family and bringing racing into disrepute.

It was, she said, a conversation between a trumped up little jockey, a brothel owner and a football player. 

Then she plumbed the depths of ageism, saying of the poor run of his horse: ''Maybe she's a seven-year-old mare and she's old - like you!''

All class and style.

I tell you what, her personal abuse will come back to bite her.  People won't take that kind of bitchiness lying down.


Saturday, May 04, 2013

Not happy

Sydney Morning Herald has a timely story today headed "Driver distraction responsible for more car crashes than alcohol".  Timely because my car was crashed into for that reason yesterday.

Coming back from the shopping mall in a heavy stream of traffic, dawdling along at 50kph when, whack, the car behind was in my rear.

Absolutely no reason for it other than the idiot driver not paying attention.

I don't know what he was up to - on the phone, texting, playing with gadgets, changing the radio, daydreaming - but what he wasn't doing was what he should have been doing.

The number one priority when you're driving a car. Paying bloody attention.

From the damage it's obvious what happened. He looked up, saw he was about to crash into me, yanked the wheel hard left but still caught my passenger side rear corner with his driver side front corner.

Mine got the rear and side panels broken, the exhaust pipe dislodged and bits of rubber and metal jammed onto the tyre. Not driveable.

I must say my insurer AAMI, has been excellent.

I called them from the crash site to ask for a tow truck. It took a while because they said they had to complete the claim before the tow truck could be called. But it was all done over the phone, details of what happened, the road conditions, details of cars and drivers etc.

The tow truck arrived in about twenty minutes, he drove us home then took the car to their yard, it being end of business on Friday. It'll be assessed on Monday, a repairer appointed and AAMI will call me to give me an update.

They also booked a hire car for me online. By the time all this was done it was too late in the day to pick it up so I asked for it to be ready this morning.

A bus ride into Gosford to Hertz, where the car was ready and waiting. No forms to fill in, just a copy of my driving licence and a credit card bond. Apparently my insurance is transferred to the hire car for the duration.

It's all a bloody nuisance but I must say AAMI have made it a lot less inconvenient than I thought it would be.