Monday, December 31, 2012

Anti-hunting anti-helmet law campaigner - that's me!

(Images: Alan Moir, Sydney Morning Herald)

On the few occasions I've done a blog-post concerning my distaste for hunting in National Parks, without fail the shooting/fishing fan club immediately leaves a Pollyanna-scold to the effect that I have a great blog when I stay on message, but that I oughtn't to stray into the wilderness of other campaign areas, and that if I do the world will see me as a 'contrarian' - oooooooh - tra la, what measured menace, how awfully scary!

But as I pointed out to interminable 'Anonymous' the other day, this is Australia and contrary to the opinion of pro-hunting anons, I am free to mix up my messages as much as I like, whenever I like, and how I like.

...and with regards to the content of my blog which was clearly perturbing Anon, 90% of the time ‘matters-helmet-law' are the order of the day, but because I'm a regular aussie mum with a tonne of other stuff happening all at once like so many of us, inevitably on occasions I happily deviate and vary my conversation !

I continued informing dear old Anon that back in the day I started this blog as an e-diary (a) to give my family a break from my all-consuming involvement with the senslessness of helmet law and (b) to give me a communicating platform so that I wasn’t muffled to bursting point.

So sorry to all the trigger-happy anonymous' out there, I'm going to continue with my mixed up messages; I am VEHEMENTLY OPPOSED TO HUNTING - ANYWEHRE - ANYTIME - BY ANYONE – period...


- that the O'Farrell government has passed legislation allowing ‘gun’ and ‘bow & arrow’ touting hooligans into our precious National Parks come March 2013 is beyond the pale and worth screaming from NSW roof-tops.

- that the O’Farrell government has done this to appease an extremely minute minority party in a bid to get government electricity plans through the upper house is both cynical and expedient (…and will come back to bite them for sure)

It is salutary to think that while America frantically looks for ways to reduce the number of guns in cirulation, we throw open our picnic spots and camping grounds to anyone licenced to kill...shame, Barry O'Farrell, shame.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

'Tis the season to go hunting, fa la la la laaaaa la la la laaaah

Why should we have to wear helmets when sitting on NSW bicycles on NSW roads when we don't have to wear flak jackets when sitting on NSW picnic rugs in NSW National Parks?????

Nothwithstanding the stark warning from its very own Office of Environment and Heritage of...

'a major risk to the public when recreational shooting begins in March' and that 'the risk of death or serious injury was high as well as the potential for the 34 million annual visitors to decline due to concern at safety in parks from bullets and also from arrows shot by bow hunters'

...this government still plans to go ahead with its recreational rambo policies (and most probably to leave bicycle helmet law in place...sigh).

It is utterly outrageous that unless otherwise decided, state-sanctioned-'hunger-games' will be coming to National Parks near all of us very soon...

...god (or whoever we all praise/ignore) help us!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Je suis une bébé de Noël!

...and I was totally unprepared for my 'baby-announcement' card enclosed in the birthday card from my godmother yesterday...

Suddnely fifty three years just melted away, and here I was reading my long since dead father's handwriting so proudly announcing the birth of their first child to their dearest darling friend...

...and with one fell swoop this unexpected glimpse of my very young parents and their irrepressible joy was tinged with raw emotion that my father ended up having so little time on this planet, and that my mother remains in mourning in her own muddled world, and that my godmother steadfastly shares the memories when the memories need sharing, and that this funny little card with it's 'second' arrival was able to transport the adult-me to the youthful world of my elders as they marvelled over baby-me...

...and coupled with that same fell swoop was the revelation that I'd been spelling my name wrong over all these years - it would appear my 'elisabeth' is sans 'z' - who knew?...not me!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

'You better watch out..."

(Images: this year's favourite xmas card!)

If Santa does come to town on his bike, he's going to come a 'legal' cropper if NSW coppers see him sans helmet.

Operation Safe Arrival is now in full-swing and the police have openly declared that among the hazardous motoring activities requiring 'prevention' or 'increasing,' they have set their sights on 'increasing the use of helmets by cyclists.'

Who knew cyclists had become Christmas menaces?

Who knew cycling without a helmet was on a par with drink driving and speeding?

Prima facie, throwing the helmet book at cyclists is purely a revenue raising exercise underpinned by obdurate stubborness on the part of Australian politicians, and given that police are traditionally flat chat with far more festively unique-operations, cracking down on non-bicycle helmet use at this time of year is an irresponsible waste of community resources.

Spare us the drivel, and perhaps we'd all 'better watch out' ...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christiania - perfect for Christmas shopping

Everleigh Markets, Campos, Black Star errands are so much easier with the Christiania (& our lovely Melbourne family when they're in town!)

Totally enamoured with my new bicycle - love it to bits!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

I've got mail...from Sherrif of Muswellbrook

Here in Australia, the time & money we waste in the name of helmet law is something else!

Just when I thought my bicycle saga was all over, I received a cheque in the mail (above) last week.

Apparently my 'seized bicycles' (below) made too much money at the Sherrif's Auction.

...yes that's right too much!...

In fact, to be precise, my bicycles made $8.69 more than the actual $200+fine.

Thus the Department of Justice & the Attorney General has now seen fit to issue me with a cheque for that very same amount = $8.69...

What to spend it on?


Thursday, December 13, 2012

'There was movement at the [airline], for word had passed around...'

...a bit of a development!!!!

Best Flights rang me yesterday afternoon to say they've had a little 'think' and have now decided that their 'ridiculous' (my word) costs will no longer stand!!!

Apparently after a little chat with the partner airline (British Airways), a decision was made to back date our airfares which in turn reduced the additional fare (what is the go with this talk of 'additional fares' - I'm cancelling fares) to only $24 per person instead of $1,668 per person!!!! - gasp & wtf!

The airline reissue fees of $100 per person are still to apply but Best Flights is going to waive one of their $55 reissue fees because I'm a loyal Best Flights customer (is that what I am?)

Anyhoo, 'not-flying-from-Geneva-to-London' for the pair of us will now cost $303 as opposed to $3,646 quoted Tuesday.

...and all packaged with lots of chummy sorrys for inconvenience as well as chummy invites to make contact any time.

♩♪♫♬What a difference a day makes!!!♩♪♫♬

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Open Post: Airline Cancellation Fees...double dipping & revenue raising?

Dear Mr Joyce,

Corporations never cease to astonish.

For me, international work and family commitments mean international flight commitments, and occasionally the 'best laid schemes of mice and men' require some alteration, often understandably incurring some form of 'alteration' costs. But nothing prepared me for the quote I received yesterday as a result of my proposed flight rescheduling requirements.

With nary a thought to excessive fees about to storm onto my horizon, I rang Best Flights to inform the agent that my partner and I would not be requiring the seats between Geneva and London in February 2013...stuff had happened...blah blah blah...have had to detour to Paris...blah blah blah...still need seats on London to Sydney leg though...

Silly me...I thought I was doing you all a favour somewhat akin to letting box offices know when you can't make a play or concert so that vacant seats can be on-sold...after all such a shame if someone should miss out just because a 'no-show-er' couldn't be arsed to communicate!

I had no expectation of a refund...I was just making a quick courtesy call to let you know that the seats were back in the system again and available to others.

So imagine my shock to be informed that to 'Not Travel' to London from Geneva (that's right; to not board your plane, to not sit in your airline seats, to not eat your airline food and to not drink your airline beverages) was going to cost the 2 of us...


...for not going to London from Geneva!


At best you will on sell...and at worst if those seats for that short leg are not taken you won't have missed out on the fares because I have already paid for them and am not seeking a refund. You stand to gain if you re-sell and there is a good chance that you will (resell, that is).

Anyhoo, back to what happened next.

Given that your airline is the main carrier for our whole round the world journey (well a carrier of sorts because actually British Airways seems to be doing most of the scheduled trip), I gave you a call yesterday and expressed my displeasure at the quoted rescheduling costs which clearly are a question of either double dipping or more disquietingly, planned airline revenue raising.

Unsurprisingly your representative on behalf of you and the rest of Qantas claimed you could do nothing more except murmur sweet 'we know how you feel' (no you jolly well do not!), 'we understand how this looks' (really? something about it then), 'but you need to understand our position' (no I don't and I won't). Then your representative on behalf of you and the rest of Qantas suggested perhaps I should give Best Flights another call and ask them for a complete breakdown of costs - thank you for that, Mr Joyce & the rest of Qantas...

I did and here's how it works

$100 x 2 (Qantas change charge) = $200

$55 x 2 (Best Flights change charge) = $110

$1,668 x 2 (additional airfares & taxes) = $3,336

In a nutshell these fees are verging on daylight robbery. How on earth did you come up with these them? Does it really cost $3,646 to cancel two 'Geneva-to-London' seat reservations? Or is this yet another example of corporate 'gold-plating'? charge it just because you can and no-one ever argues with you, well, not satisfactorily anyway.

Upon reflection it would not be unreasonable for the 'Man on the Bondi Tram' to think that this cancellation/reissue lark has become something of a business itself - an extremely lucrative billion dollar one for airlines - other people have certainly suggested so, and in fact Christopher Elliott goes on to explain in his blog that:

'...airline insiders acknowledge that the fees more than cover their revenue dilution...and admit that change fees aren’t just a significant revenue source for the major airlines...these companies have built their business models around them and similar fees, such as luggage fees and other ancillary charges. In short, the fees are a source of major profit....and the airline industry is hooked...'

In 2007 I had a similar dispute with Air Canada and I pointed out to them then, as I'll point out to you now, that penalties in Australia are unenforceable at law

From Christopher Elliott's blog I also gleaned that not all major airlines have the same modus operandi as you and the rest of Qantas. Apparently one major airline, Southwest, has elected not to charge any alteration fees and 'still manages to run a profitable business.' As a representative of their company explained, by opting to develop consumer-friendly policies, their unusual airline strategies have brought new customers to them, customers who had thought they were being 'dealt with unfairly by another airline.' This action alone appears to have 'increased Southwest's profits' - maybe something worth considering yourself, Mr Joyce?

Anyway to conclude, I am appalled that I am to be stung with such a penalty when we all know (the figurative 'we' being you, the rest of Qantas, Best Flights, and me) that the cost of making actual changes to reservations and flight schedules is minuscule compared to the exorbitant alteration costs meted out to me on this occasion. You reschedule and/or cancel flights all the time but the minute we need a couple of minor alterations (alterations that in the scheme of things won't affect anyone unlike most of your unforeseen alterations) we get slugged well and truly with hefty penalties. This is grossly unfair and I object to being so penalised.

You and the rest of Qantas ought only to be able to recoup the costs of the action of me cancelling the Geneva to London leg and not to profit from exorbitant penalty fees. As David Koch cited ages ago in an article published by The Age:

' is a well-established legal principle [in Australia] that a contractual term which requires one party to a contract to pay the other innocent party a sum of money upon a default or break of the contract is enforceable only if it provides for payment of a sum of money that is a genuine pre-estimate of the loss or damage suffered by the innocent party...sometimes called a 'liquidated damages' be distinguished from a 'penalty' term, which seeks to not compensate the innocent party but to penalise the other party for the break or default.'

In view of all of this, Mr Joyce, I think the 'take-home' message is quite clear that penalty terms such as yours and the rest of Qantas' are quite unpalatable.

Look forward to hearing from you soon.

Kind regards,
Cranky Qantas Passenger

Friday, December 7, 2012

Back to the Past in Musical-Time-Machine!!!!!

'Blondie' last night: totally breathtaking... completely brilliant ... utterly incandescent ... luminously glittering ... dazzlingly stunning...

No surprises there!!!!

Did we sing every song? Ha! ha! - yes we sure did...

No surprises there either!!!!

But OMG I had completely forgotten how much I'd loved the Stranglers in that 'life' pre-babies & other stuff!! - & wow! are they still awesome?!!!!!!!!!!

Nothing like a spot of "Golden Brown" to strip away the years & transport you back to London in one fell swoop...

Serious funtimes...unbelievably refreshing...

(just a shade dusty today though!!)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

We're happy little helmet-mites!

Look to be perfectly honest, if England asked me to babysit their goal for a minute, I'd pop on a kidding!

But to be made to wear one under the pretext (pretence) that helmets protect you from traffic collisions is utterly nuts...

...and when you have an ideal cafe philosophy moment to mull over the craziness of such a regime...

...suddenly Australia's helmet laws reveal themselves to be no more than the 'gold-plating' of the energy industry either.

Time for a little lie-down, methinks, & to '(wo)man-up' to our imaginary demons!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Great city, shame about the helmet law

Arguably one of the loveliest cities in the world...

...and a lovely place to celebrate my arrival to Australia 30 years ago today (3rd December 1982) with my dearest of school buddies & a couple of our babies!!!

...and after lunch, whilst one of us was going to don a helmet for 'international-hockey-balls-to-head purposes'...

...a couple of us needed to buy them... don for 'fine-protective purposes' on 'leisurely-explore-of-pancake-flat-city'...

...simultaneously adding to city's landfill problem with outrageous unnecessary packaging...

The last of us said 'fuck it!'

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Shopping in Newtown 'Christiania-Style'

'To market, to market' to buy garden goodies

'Home again, home again' with 90kgs of potting mix (and a bonsai japanese maple)


Saturday, December 1, 2012

WestConnex = cars = out-of-date

"Car as the sole focus of transport is past its use-by date" says the New South Wales Minister for Transport during the week in effect rubbishing the daft draft proposal from Infrastructure NSW

Finally we have somebody from this government clear-headed enough to tell it as it is - the car is finished, the car is over, the car is toast!!!!

Sense at last!!! Go, Gladys!!!

(...& OMG we're having so much fun with the Christiania!!!!)