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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Still Love My Cricket!

Its been a life long passion/obsession this cricket thing. From a small schoolboy growing up in Perth to watching in Melbourne to a sad longing for the game in Rochester, New York.

Rochester, NY is not the best place to play cricket and now, sadly, given the ravages of time, I have become a little too old to be a tear away fast bowler scaring the dickens out of any batsman foolish enough to want to face me. And never being any type of half decent batsman myself I am forever banished to the sidelines.

I have lived through the semi boring game of the sixties, reveled in the excitement of Lillee and Thompson in the 70s, borne the embarrassment of the failing Australian side in the 80s, again reveled in the amazing 90's and the first decade of the 21st century and saw the inevitable decline after the retirement of Warne, McGrath, Waugh, Gilchrist et al. Expecting a long time in the cricketing wilderness I am most pleasantly surprised to see Australia giving England an almighty thrashing in the Ashes series now being played in Australia.

Despite a rich history in the USA cricket remains not just a mystery to Americans but is more like a bad joke the rest of the world likes to play on all of them. It is such a mystery that Americans seem to think that even those of us who love the game have no idea what the rules are. Without access to live coverage or even a delayed coverage its all but impossible to explain the game.

So I live with my passion for cricket unshared. Given the internet and phones I still have contact with family and friends who share my adoration of the gentleman's game. Its not all that bad. You Tube allows me to enjoy the great moments of Australia's domination of the world of cricket. I could of course launch into a lengthy explanation of the rules and tactics of cricket but that is both self-serving and pointless. You really have to watch it and work it out. Sort of like I did with American football which, for the record, I love.

If you happen to come across the game being played just sit a while and enjoy it. Don't bother about understanding it. Ask someone and they will tell you what its all about.

Let it snow, Let it snow.

Yes it sounds really great and in a way it really is. A white Christmas is truly something to behold. Open fires and warm clothes, good friends and family is a wonderful thing as is looking out on fields and houses covered with snow. Its a traditional scene which many Australians, steeped in a northern hemisphere heritage will often long for. I imagine its on the 'bucket list' of many Aussies. In that sense I am very lucky because if the snow comes at just the right time  Christmas Day is a day to celebrate, to luxuriate in that warm inner glow that comes from all the above. Hot Christmas dinners, while something of anachronism in an Australian summer are a real treat in the deep freeze of an American deep freeze here in the north east.

Yet my mind still wanders back to those balmy warm summer evenings in Perth where it gets hotter earlier than most other cities in Australia. Going to the beach on Christmas Day, downing a cold beer at a pool party in Melbourne, sitting outside on Christmas Eve enjoying the 80 degree temperature. For all my Aussie friends that is about 26 or 27 degrees Celsius.

A doctor I know here in Rochester thought he could do something like that with a whole lot of outside heaters. The idea of going outside and breathing the warm fresh air on Christmas Eve really appealed to him. I don't know if he tried it. Its only 2 years since I told him about Christmas at the start of summer but I bet the idea has not strayed far from his mind. It just goes to show that the old adage of the grass being greener on the other side still holds true.

In Australia we put up Christmas trees with decorations the same way we do over here in America but here's the kicker, we buy cans of Santa snow to spray on our windows to give the effect of snow. Will we ever be happy with what we have. I somehow doubt it but that is our nature.

I am sure I will enjoy more Aussies Christmases and I will miss the snow on the ground and the freezing temperatures. I will go to the beach and to the pool parties. I will sit outside and enjoy the warmth in the air. Aussies will complain about the heat and not being able to sleep and Americans will complain about having the snow from the sidewalks (footpath) but we both have so much to celebrate. Christmas is not about pool parties and a BBQ. Its not about hot Christmas meals. Its a time to celebrate life and give thanks for the really great gifts of life. Family, love, charity and faith.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A well deserved rant!

Property taxes! They are the bane of our existence here in the Empire State. The Empire State? What a joke! It used be to be a well deserved title due to the economic might of the state of New York but today this is the overtaxed state. It is the over-regulated state. It is the welfare state. It is the state from which so many New Yorkers want to escape.

Sure the City of New York is so much the center of American capitalism but government here is out of control. The state continues to run a massive budget deficit. State income tax is close to the highest in the country. A broad based sales tax is ruining consumer consumption. Corruption among elected representatives both state and federal from both sides of politics should be humiliating for everyone but it isn't, such is the low expectation of New York's voters.

But it is the property tax that kills economic growth here and funds all manner of governmental stupidity. Ordinary New Yorkers continue to pay America's highest property taxes and the burden just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Yes we now have a cap on this horrible tax but we need to have it reduced to a level where it no longer strikes fear into the hearts of those who have to pay it.

High speed ferries come and go but leave behind overwhelming debts. Now the same morons who gave us the ferry to nowhere wnat to give us a high speed rail service that no one else wants. tens of billions of dollars could be sunk into this economic madness. But we keep voting for these idiots. I wish we could call them useful idiots but there is no use for them.

Yes Virginia there is a Property tax and it haunts us all year long. Then one morning we get it up to find this smelly, disgusting gift from Albany in our mail box. A menacing demand for our hard worked for income. If we don't, or can't, pay the aforementioned government will take our house away from us and board it up until it gets knocked over. Only government can do this. It really is truly disgusting but it is the way of the Empire State.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The War on Poverty

In March of 1964, President Johnson declared a "War on Poverty". Poverty has won the war.

I had always wanted to write this blog in a light hearted and humurous way but there are so many things here in America that are too, too sad and they make me very angry. I wish I could make people smile and have a little laugh at the wonderful differences between Americans and not just Australians but everyone else around the world because America does so many things so much better than everyone else.

But they also manage to convince themselves that they are just not worthy of their amazing success. They also believe some who tell them that everyone else around the world does pretty much everything better than they do.

To begin with today, let's talk about poverty. In a country where just about anything is possible tens of millions of people live in the most squalid and unimagineable poverty. Not far from where I live many people, sadly mostlly people of colour, live in and accept intolerable levels of deprivation. They live in houses that are falling apart. Most do not have a meaningful job if they have any job at all. Most do not have a decent education. Many have a criminal record. They live in neighbourhoods infested with drugs and the most appalling violence. Health outcomes and life expectancy for people of colour are unacceptable by any standard. Obesity and morbid obesity in African/American and Hispanic communities have become pandemic. The figures from the US government's Centre of Disease Control in Atlanta bear witness to this appalling condition.

The major causes of death for these deprived communities are gun violence, AIDS and obesity. Ban guns all you like but those people who kill with guns now are already barred by law from having a gun. The answer from many in the Democratic Party is to ban everyone else from having a gun. It doesn't make much sense but then many in the Democratic party rarely make much sense these days. As for Republicans they are not much better either.

America continues to throw money at these problems with little thought for the short or long term outcomes.

I wish I could be light-hearted and make you smile but when you meet a man on the street who is starving and cannot feed himself I cannot make a joke.

Yes the war on poverty is lost. The war on drugs is also lost and while we could decriminalize many drug offences we cannot ignore the deprivation of so many of our brothers and sisters who cannot shelter and feed themselves.

Is the answer more government spending. That is what has got us here in the first place.

President Johnson started the theft of the nation's wealth back in the 60's and politicians on both sides have allowed it to go on for far too long. It hasn't done any good and in fact has made it so much worse.

It is time for government ot get out of the way and be more of a servant than the one in charge.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Driving to Survive

If there is any difference between Australia and the US it is the side of the road on which we drive. Here in America of course we drive left hand drive cars on the right hand side of the road. In Australia it is reversed. And therein lies the biggest problem for any Aussie in America.

Its just not that we forget where the cars are coming from when we are walking but the whole driving thing can be quite dangerous. I have been here for nearly 6 years and it is just now becoming more natural. In the process I have found myself quite confused in both countries.

There have been times when I have walked to the wrong side of the car, either as the driver or passenger. One time I did get right into my car on the right side and wondered for a second or two just where the steering wheel was. A good thing I was by myself.

Even walking tends to be a little unoffically regulated to the right side prompting a few laughs and jokes about how I am on the wrong side when I instinctively move to the left.

What's the point? If you are thinking of coming to America and want to rent a car while you're here, think very carefully and if you go ahead, concentrate and drive even more carefully. Most people won't know where you're from and most likely you will be on the receiving end of some very unfriendly advice on your ability to drive. Of course the same applies to Americans going to Australia. You might not understand what is being said but you will know its not very nice.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

And spring comes slowly.

Spring in the north east of the US comes slowly this year. Its much different from Australia. As I have said, winter is colder and the early part of spring is more like winter in Melbourne. Very cold and lots of rain. Right now people are coming out of hibernation; fixing the garden, walking the dog and re-introducing themselves to their neighbours. And yes there really is a driving season. I used to scoff at such an idea when I lived downunder. This really is the land of the road trip because there is so much to see and do. Not that there isn't in Australia but everything seems so much closer. Other cities are much closer and are easy to get to. Flying is another matter altogether. That has become no fun at all. Driving is a whole better. The roads here are very good, for the most part. Clearing the snow off them really wears them down and in states like Arizona the roads really are pristine. Yes the weather sucks right now and everyone has had enough of the cold but it will get better. When is another matter and everyone is getting impatient. Where is a little global warming when you really need it?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Baby Ate My Dingo

Popular culture in America is a fascinating observation. The title of this blog first came to semi-popular attention many years ago on the release of the film 'Evil Angels' about the disappearance and tragic death of the 9 week old Azaria Chamberlain at Ayrs Rock, Australia. The film follows these events and the conviction of her mother Lindy Chambelain. Lindy, played by Meryl Streep utters the words, 'a dingo ate my baby."

The line itself would have faded into cinematic obscurity had it not been taken up in an episode of Seinfeld in which the character, Elaine delivers in the utterly inane remark that, "maybe a dingo ate your baby."

Its bizarre but from that moment on some Americans seem compelled beyond normal reason to say that line to any Australian they are meeting for the first time. Having not done a count of it I can't tell if this is the more popular line to, "that's not a knife." I suppose I could get very tired of it after a while but I am oddly pleased that so many Americans seem to know anything about Australia, including these inane lines from Australian movies. It would be easy to get irritated and impatient with this kind of repetition but I find it strangely comforting. In any case the fact is that Australians are exceedingly popular with most, if not all, Americans. I think we ar very unthreatening to them. They love our accent, and I will write more about that soon, and they want to know as much as possible about Australia and Australians.

Australians are still largely unknown to most Americans but they are eager to know more about us. They want to know why we drive on the wrong side of the road; they want to know all about how we live; they want to know about the sports we play. Most Americans won't ever get to the Australian shores but they still love Steve Irwin, Paul Hogan and Hugh Jackman. The Outback Steakhouse while having nothing to do with real Australian ciusine but it is hugely popular because of its Australian theme.

Come back within a few days and I will have a bit to say about the Australian accent. Look out for the title, 'I Paid a Lot of Money for this Accent.'