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I went to check out Dandenong Market this morning. A number of friends and colleagues had been talking it up. Generally speaking, I found it pretty disappointing. Apparently I was there on the wrong day – Saturday is when it really cranks up. However, I found it to be just another Melbourne market – a meat & fish hall, a fruit & veg hall, and a “stuff” hall (stealing a friend’s description). I was disappointed because I really wanted it to be something that more closely reflected the multicultural nature of the community it supports. It really was just another Melbourne market. I made one purchase – some bones for Spike & Ned. The (Anglo Saxon) stall owner made comment about the weather and I noted I thought it was “bizarre”. I was chided for using the word, because apparently the “stuff” hall was going to be re-named to a bizarre. “This is Australia” were her comments. “Why do they have a use a foreign name like that?” The contrast was stark – 2 people, both of Anglo Saxon background, in Dandenong, with two completely opposite attitudes. And her’s so completely inappropriate. Sigh!

I write this post with a small degree of reservation. Why? Because Oscar’s Hangout is quite small, and I’d be really pissed off if I turned up for dinner and it was full of people who read this blog. So if you are going, try to go when I’m not there. OK?

Oscar’s Hangout is plonked in the middle of suburban Mordialloc, no where near the Mordy strip or any other commercial establishments. It is cafe-style food – open for breakfast and lunch all week and dinner on Friday and Saturday night.

There was no dish on the tapas menu that was not enjoyed by out group of 6. The food was a tad slow coming out, but certainly worth the wait. Is the food the most outstanding you’ll find anywhere in Melbourne? No, probably not. But it’s damn good, and a welcome find in the Bayside culinary wasteland.

And they have White Rabbits, which rates an extra vote.

Oscar's Hangout on Urbanspoon

Respect

I happen to think that UFC and boxing are barbaric sports (I use that term with reservation) and wrestling is on the margin. I’d be happy to see the first two banned permanently.

I also think that:

  • Tony Abbott being appointed as Australian Prime Minister was a tragedy;
  • The availability of guns to the general public in the US is a disgrace;
  • T20 cricket is crap;
  • Liverpool footballer, Luis Suarez is a scumbag;
  • Australian cricketer, Shane Watson is a dud;
  • etc;
  • etc.

I’m also quite happy to put my opinions out there, whether it’s through this blog, on Facebook or through Twitter. Or face to face.

Back to UFC however. I expressed my banning view on two different Facebook threads today, which originated as comments supporting the introduction of UFC in Victoria. The response was fascinatingly contrasting. In one case, there was a spirited debate about the merits of UFC, but where it was obvious that all the people contributing to the debate respected each others’ opinions. Good stuff.

In the other case, I copped some personal abuse for expressing my view. It wasn’t particularly nasty – I’m big and ugly and have certainly copped worse. Equally, when I pointed out the inappropriateness of the abuse, it was merely reiterated.

It’s an interesting contrast. We’re all different and we have different opinions. Let’s put our opinions out there as strongly as we wish, but even though we might strongly disagree with someone else’s opinion, let’s strongly respect their right to have and promote that opinion. It’s a fundamental human right.

I will certainly be trying to do that much more in the New Year. And blog lots more. And lose some weight. And………

Happy New Year everyone!

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I want dining at The Corner Store in Mentone to be a good experience. Seriously I do. Why? Because this is the third restaurant (and I repeat, restaurant) that has been created by the same team in our local area. The other two are fine, and it is great to see people trying to deliver quality in what is largely a culinary wasteland.

The first couple of times we ate at The Corner Store, the service was terrible and the food average for the price. We gave them the benefit of the doubt the first time, not long after it opened, but it’s been harder to find excuses subsequently.

So when my partner told me we were going there for a birthday celebration, my eyebrows were raised. They were raised further when we walked in the door and noted the sign that advised of live music on Saturday nights, particularly as it still appears to be a restaurant, not a pub, wine bar or nightclub.

So, the verdict on the food? Better, but still not outstanding. My wife would have liked the chicken special, but was told it was unavailable after the order had gone to the kitchen. Her second choice, the lamb pie, was OK though quite salty. That description applies for my pork belly as well, although I acknowledge that pork is a salty meat. The Parmageddon certainly didn’t warrant the name. And it was impossible to easily communicate with the others on the quality of their meals – more on that later. One would struggle to describe it as good value for the price.

The service was better. We were attended to promptly and the meals arrived in a timely manner. Having determined we were celebrating a birthday, complimentary champagne arrived for the birthday folks. A somewhat self-indulgent waiter with a disposition for regularly calling people “Buddy” got pretty hard to take pretty quickly.

The big problem was the music from a duet comprising a guy on guitar and a female vocalist. To put it quite simply, the music was ridiculously loud. At a table of six, communicating to the other end of the table involved shouting and leaning into the middle of the table. And this was, as I pointed out before, in a restaurant, not a pub, wine bar or nightclub.

We asked for the volume to be reduced, and it was for a while, with an accompanying smart arse comment from our waiter. He also tried to explain that this night’s act was louder than normal. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the volume to go back up, even louder than it was previously.

So was it just me, the grumpy old bastard, that had the issue? Apparently not. Everyone on our table, from young to (not so) old felt the same, and weren’t the least bit interested in staying for dessert and coffee. Also, in a restaurant that was probably 75% full, I counted eight people who applauded at the end of each song, suggesting it was an issue for others.

We’ve just come back from Europe – none of the restaurateurs there were compelled to use music to sell their food. They relied on its quality instead. It would be good if The Corner Store tried a similar approach.

The Corner Store on Urbanspoon

You probably recognise this woman. And I reiterate WOMAN.

Of late she has copped a bunch of stuff that was inappropriate. Assessments of her appearance. Typical Liberal party sexism. And questions from a red neck radio presenter about her partner’s sexuality.

Was any of it appropriate? Of course not.

But you know what, Julia? There’s a more fundamental issue here. And that is that you are an absolute dud. The Age made it pretty clear today what you should do for the country’s benefit (click here). And I agree. Get out.

Unfortunately, the other options are just as bad. Kevin Rudd, bizarrely considered to be a more appropriate option for the Labor Party by the general public, is just as big a dud. And Tony Abbott? Worse unfortunately.

I cannot recall a sorrier time for Australian government. I never thought I’d ever find myself saying this, but if the prime ministership of this country was by popular vote right now, I’d be going with Malcolm Turnbull.

It reared its ugly head again the other day. And unfortunately it usually seems to be the Collingwood Football Club which gets popularly reported in the media.

One of its players committed some sort of transgression (well there’s a surprise). And the punishment? Doing a set number of hours community service.

DOING COMMUNITY SERVICE IS NOT A PUNISHMENT!

Before all the rabid Collingwood supporters start having a crack at me, I know you’re not the only ones. It involves other sporting clubs and it involves other parts of the community. This story in Time is a good discussion of the issue.

I guess my point is that footballers and other highly paid sports people should feel privileged to be so highly paid for what they do, i.e. play a game. It’s about time they started appreciating that and helping the community by default, without being forced to do it whenever they’re pissed or exposing themselves in public, which seems to be the crimes of choice.

QF32–A Review

On November 4, 2010, the Airbus A380 operating QF32, from Singapore to Sydney, experienced a catastrophic engine failure, which subsequently disabled a large number of the aircraft’s systems. This book, by the captain on that day, describes how the aircraft is successfully piloted back to Singapore, under extreme pressure, and the subsequent related events.

There was never any doubt I would read QF32, as soon as I heard it had been written and published. I am one of those people who loves and is fascinated by aviation, but has never been actively involved.

I’ve been on the flight deck of QANTAS aircraft for landings in Singapore and London. Indeed, one of the most bizarre experiences in my life was having the captain of one of those flights showing me photos of his family and the steam boat he was restoring, while we were skating along at thirty something thousand feet towards London. Frustratingly, while all I wanted to talk about was aviation, all the flight crew wanted to talk about was IT, once they’d determined the industry in which I worked.

So, of course I bought the book, which opens with Captain De Crespigny describing an early flight during his RAAF career, before covering his life as he grew up. This progresses to further describe his RAAF career and early days at QANTAS. While this was interesting, I actually found myself initially feeling a bit duped, as I’d bought the book to read about that particular incident, not about his aviation career.

However, on reflection, I am glad he wrote it that way, for a couple of reasons. The career path Captain De Crespigny chose is exactly the one I contemplated. TAA and Ansett were no longer offering scholarships and my parents did not have the financial capacity for me to learn to fly and get my commercial licence. The only option available to me was the RAAF and I chose not to head down that path. Why? Truth is, I was too scared that some Prime Minister would make a decision for me to go and get myself killed fighting someone else’s war. Thus, as I read on, I found myself getting some insight into what my career might have been had I made a different decision. Hey, it could have been me flying the A380 that day, if I’d made a different choice.

The second reason I enjoyed reading about Captain De Crespigny’s career prior to QF32, was to understand how many of his learnings and experiences were brought to the fore on November 4, 2010. But I’ll leave it to future readers to understand what I mean.

The book is really well written, albeit with sections that repeat themselves a few times. I wasn’t quite sure whether this was for emphasis, or was poor editing. However, this wasn’t sufficient to make the read a bad experience, and I really enjoyed his style of writing.

While the coverage of the actual experiences of the day were excellent, I also enjoyed reading about subsequent events, particularly his post-traumatic stress issues. This was of particular interest to me given my emergency service background and the impact that Black Saturday and the 2011 Brisbane floods had on me as a Red Cross volunteer. Captain De Crespigny’s thoughts on what makes an effective team and how to lead a team were also great. I know a few people who think leadership is about one person, who should read it just for those parts.

In summary, we all know the story, so I’m not giving anything away. Engine explodes on relatively new aircraft. Through the superior engineering of the aircraft and magnificent skills and temperament of the crew on board, aircraft successfully returns to Singapore, with nil injuries. Despite the facts of the event that are already “out there” and my prior knowledge of what happened, through the internet, media and investigation reports, I found this book to be a great read and could not, seriously, put it down. I certainly highly recommend it.

One word of advice though – if you’re looking for a book to read on your next flight, maybe go for a novel.

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