My second best week of NRL tips for the year. It’s amazing how much a little bit of extra effort helps…although to the same extent I thought I had tipped some certain winners in the AFL and that didn’t go so well. Tipping really is as much about luck as it is about skill.
Roosters V Dragons -24 Storm V Warriors +10 Sea Eagles V Rabbitohs -8 Cowboys V Raiders +18 Tigers V Broncos +10 Titans V Knights -24 Sharks V Bulldogs +16 Panthers V Eels +32
How did you go this week? You might want to check out Luxbet NRL Betting next time. Luxbet is backed by TAB.
If you had picked the winners in this NRL round, you would have yielded $280.40 from a $5 bet from Luxbet NRL Betting.
Last week I stated that the aim for this week was to reverse the trend of my week-by-week scores getting lower and lower. Alas, no such luck.
Essendon V Collingwood +46 St. Kilda V Sydney -16 Fremantle V Richmond +1 GWS V Gold Coast -44 Carlton V Adelaide -32 Western Bulldogs V Geelong -21 Port Adelaide V West Coast -5 Brisbane V Melbourne -28 Hawthorn V North Melbourne +3
Before the last game, I was sitting on -99 and I wouldn’t have been unhappy if North Melbourne had won as this would have given me a score of -100 or more, and there were a few moments in that match where exactly -100 was possible. Still, it is nice to not be as far down as that.
There were three loud explosions outside. This is what caught my attention when I was in my lounge room stacking Lego blocks. When I went outside to investigate, I found myself out the front of my primary school, staring at a very strange sight in the middle of the road.
A strange green squiggly line which had a few small gaps in it was floating perfectly still about a metre above the road for a distance of about fifty metres. In the middle of the line, a large mass of the green line seemed to be tangled in a knot about two metres tall.
Recognising how unusual this thing was, I got out my phone and went to take a photo of it, but my phone didn’t seem to work properly. The screen was flickering and the phone was starting to display strange error messages, and eventually shut off. When I got a bit closer to the green thing, I worked out why my phone was having trouble as I could feel the electricity coming from it.
The strange green object was frozen lightning.
I decided at this time to turn the radio on (which seemed to work despite the electromagnetic interference) to see if there were any other reports of this object as I thought the one I saw was responsible for one of the loud bangs I had heard, and there had to be two more objects to account for the other two bangs. When I turned the radio on, there was a breaking news bulletin about the arrival of aliens, and I thought it was a re-run of The War Of The Worlds so I walked home.
When I got home, the news of the alien arrival was still on the radio, so I turned the TV on and saw that the story was also getting a run there, so I muted the TV and synchronised the radio coverage with the TV. The aliens were just starting to address the world and announced that they had arrived to solve the frozen lightning problem. Without giving it much thought I came to the conclusion this was very kind of them and went back to stacking Lego while keeping the TV and radio on.
A little while later, at 5pm, the breaking news coverage was cut off on the radio by the scheduled airing of US radio show Coast To Coast AM, which specialises in conspiracy theories and aliens. An expert in alien technology was being interviewed about the arrival of the aliens and seemed very concerned as he believed the frozen lightning was a weapon which had been tested by a secret new world government, and rather than fixing it, the aliens had arrived to steal it and obliterate the earth.
I gave it a few moments of thought and considered that it might be possible, and continued to stack the Lego.
At this point I awoke from the dream…I fear that I may never find out if the aliens were really here to help us or wipe us out.
It’s almost three months since John Kerr retired from a long and successful career in commercial radio, and I’m pleased to be able to say that John is back on the radio in a less formal setting.
John has joined a community station up on his home turf of the Gold Coast, presenting a country music show. Gold Coast’s radio 94.1 FM lists John as being on-air on Friday nights from 7pm to 10pm, doing something he really loves…playing country music!
The show, titled Kerr’s Country was slated to start on the Friday just gone, after John returned from a cruise (as he says in an advertisement from a cruise on his old station 2UE, he plans on spending every available moment pursuing his love of travel). Alas, as I wasn’t aware of John’s new show at the time so I didn’t hear it, but the station has confirmed to me that John was on the air, and will continue to be on the air every Friday night from now on (holidays and cruises excluded, one would assume).
Incidentally, under John’s photo on the website is a short description of a “Cruise & Travel” show which airs on Saturday mornings. I would be surprised greatly if John doesn’t try to make an appearance on that show from time to time.
So there we have it…John is back on the radio, like he said he would be, on a community station on the Gold Coast. I have to admit that I have missed hearing John on the weekends…there was a certain level of comfort in knowing that John’s voice would be there on the weekend, so I look forward to hearing his new show on Friday. I always did enjoy his country music news segments on 2UE, so I’m sure his three hours of country music will be great.
Not such a good week for my tips this week. My blind loyalty to the Bulldogs (especially at a wet Adelaide home ground) didn’t help, but the Kangaroos rescued me and got my back in to positive territory with their big win last night.
Sydney V Geelong -21 Hawthorn V Fremantle +42 Richmond V Collingwood -34 St. Kilda V Essendon +37 Gold Coast V Port Adelaide +38 West Coast V Carlton -24 Melbourne V GWS -41 Adelaide V Western Bulldogs -52 North Melbourne V Brisbane +63
The aim for next week is simple…prevent that line from going down!
How did you go this week? You might want to check out Luxbet AFL Betting next time. Luxbet is backed by TAB.
If you had picked the winners in this AFL round, you would have yielded $324.65 from a $5 bet from Luxbet AFL Betting.
The next AFL and NRL rounds start on Thursday, so you can expect my tips on Thursday morning.
Last weekend on Saturday afternoon while I was watching the AFL (North Melbourne V Sydney) on the TV, with the TV muted and the webstream on SEN‘s commentary of the match on instead, Pebbles decided to partake in some bird watching, a task which has become a fair bit easier of late with the addition of some budgies and quails to the backyard.
Pebbles often stands at the cage and watches the birds. Unfortunately she also thinks it would be great fun to catch a small fluffy bird, and so she does get excited and jump on the cage a bit, which upsets the birds. Slowly she is being trained not to do that, but it doesn’t help when the birds realise that they are safe in the cage and taunt Pebbles by fluttering about directly in front of her.
In the video you can see Pebbles jump on the cage, at which point I had to call her back inside.
A little while later (when Pebbles had gone back outside) I decided to join her and watch the birds for a little while. Of course Pebbles decided early on in the piece that I wasn’t paying enough attention to her and that I needed to be climbed on.
The budgies and the quails seemed to be having quite a bit of fun.
In all of these videos, SEN’s AFL commentary can be heard in the background.
Thanks to the great efforts of the Boston police department, the FBI, the cooperation of the people of Boston who heeded a temporary curfew, and various other law enforcement and public safety agencies, we have witnessed a fantastic moment in history today.
The 2nd alleged Boston bomber was caught in a backyard today, and was taken alive. A resident saw something suspicious in a backyard when the suspect was on the run after authorities had flushed the suspect out, and authorities were then able to pinpoint the location of the suspect. According to what was heard on the Boston police scanner and reported by Mark Levin at the time, the FBI’s HRT (Hostage Rescue Team) which primarily provides SWAT-style assistance to the Critical Incident Response Group’s negotiation team, were the only people allowed in for the final stages of the capture…other tactical squads were told to keep out. In his book “Stalling For Time”, former FBI chief negotiator Gary Noesner, who in many ways was responsible for the building of the FBI’s hostage negotiation program, and for making the top brass take hostage negotiation seriously after the tactical errors which led to the infamous outcome of the Waco siege, wrote about how the negotiation tactics are often much more successful than an all-in tactical assault when you are faced with people who may be out to cause destruction, or believe they have nothing to lose. Gary’s work over the years has, undoubtedly in my mind, helped shape the procedures and training which have led to today’s fantastic outcome.
That’s not to say that armed response is not important. Of course it is important to have the ability to end a siege with armed means, and we should never lose sight of the fact that good guys with guns today stopped a bad guy with various weapons, but we should also acknowledge the careful and meticulous work of the tactical and negotiation teams, and all of the other people who kept the situation under control when an entire city was gripped with panic.
This really was an historic moment, and I have to give special credit to Fox News and their Boston affiliate WFXT for the excellent coverage they have provided of this whole event, ever since the awful events of the bombing. Fox News Radio, with their own coverage, have also done a fantastic job, and in my view news reporting does not get any better than what we heard at 9pm US Eastern Time (11am Canberra time) when mere minutes after the event, with rapidly changing and updating details flooding in, Fox’s Ron Flatter (who many Australians would know thanks to his work as a correspondent for Melbourne’s nationally-syndicated racing and sport station RSN 927) presented a clear, concise, and to quite frankly interesting, exciting, and urgent-feeling news bulletin.
For historical purposes, on this special occasion, I have saved a copy of the amazing work of Ron and the Fox News Radio team in presenting their 5 minute 9pm newscast.
A great day…and to think there were people who were hoping, for political purposes, earlier this week that the bombers would be crazy right-wing white folk, rather than what we are learning now and what was always most likely, that we are dealing with Al Qaeda sympathisers with links to radical Islamic terrorism and a known radical hate-filled Australian Sheikh.
Well done to the law enforcement officials who worked so hard to secure this outcome, and equally to the great law enforcement officials who killed the other suspect. I will visit the US embassy to hopefully sign a book of thanks to you all, and also a book of condolence for the people who Boston and West in Texas for the tragic (and unrelated) events which have cost so many innocent lives this week.
I must also note how pleased I was to see and hear that people were cheering for and applauding the law enforcement officials after they caught this guy. It was a great moment.
There’s no NRL this week due to a weekend of representative rugby league matches, so that gives me more time to focus on my AFL tips than usual. Whether that’s a good thing or not is debatable, but I would hope that it is.
Sydney V Geelong Hawthorn V Fremantle Richmond V Collingwood St. Kilda V Essendon Gold Coast V Port Adelaide West Coast V Carlton Melbourne V GWS Adelaide V Western Bulldogs North Melbourne V Brisbane
Now that you’ve seen who I’m tipping, factor it in to your calculations and be sure to check out TAB’s AFL & NRL footy tipping website.
If you fancy tipping on this week’s round, I suggest having a look at TAB Footy Tipping.
TAB run are running an AFL / NRL tipping competition this season with weekly prizes. Check it out!
Next week the NRL is back, so I have until then to try and figure out how to get those tips back on track, as so far my AFL tips have been good, but I haven’t had much success with the NRL. I should also remind you that next week the footy starts on ANZAC Day (Thursday) in both codes, so my tips will be online on the Thursday morning, or possibly Wednesday night as it looks like I’ll be working on Thursday morning.
This afternoon, 2UE’s Jason Morrison was discussing the federal government’s Do Not Call register and ways of dealing with telemarketers and other nuisance callers who do not abide by the Do Not Call list. It prompted me to send him this email about my way of dealing with such calls on the home landline.
The Do Not Call register didn’t really help at my place as most of the telemarketers we get call from overseas and are not subject to Australian laws.
What did work was setting the answering service to answer after one ring, with various different messages. For a while callers were greeted to the Norwegian version of the Postman Pat theme song, and after that for a few weeks it was a recording of a talkback caller demonstrating their operatic “skills”. Needless to say, telemarketers don’t sit through that, but legitimate callers do…usually.
I still have the operatic greeting on hand. It was an edited version of a call to the Mark Levin Show, and came at a time when the “I’m from Microsoft and need to fix your computer” calls were coming thick and fast. My theory was that if the opera blasting down the phone line didn’t scare them off, the ranting which followed would. After a while I replaced this with a further cut-down version which was just the operatic bits.
I’m in the middle of planning a trip (OK, closer to the start than the middle) to the US at the moment, and it occurs to me that my profile, plus my writings from earlier today, could just mean that a computer somewhere in the FBI or the CIA wants an agent to dig a little deeper.
From the perspective of a computer which has been programmed to look out for key words and phrases, this extract from my blog post about the postal system earlier today might seem a tad suspicious.
I would [..] embed some [..] devices in items I post
Yes, the statement was about tracking devices, and one would hope that an FBI agent would see that and dismiss the computer’s concerns, but I still think the computer would be worried about talk of posting devices and embedding things. The blog post also mentioned ricin, a poisonous substance which was mailed to the US President and a senator today, and so chatter about it would probably be high on the priority list for intelligence-gathering computers.
If I was putting together an automated system which looks out for suspicious activity of the terrorist kind, and was mainly basing it on key words and phrases, I would probably set it up so that after identifying something as potentially suspicious, it would then take another look over it for other, less immediately obvious, suspicious phrases which might indicate a plot or some sort of code. Looking back over that blog post, I listed my postal address in an unusual format:
a post office box at the Dickson post office (1272
And talked about the inside of government buildings:
They finally found it somewhere in the PO
parcels which are [..] stored in the post office’s back rooms
wandering back out to the back rooms
A drug inference could even be drawn from
Nattie did give the letter a good sniff
or possibly an explosives inference if the computer works out that Nattie is a dog.
Further examination of my blog brings up photos of phone towers, electricity substations, and a map of a powerline which feeds a government building.
Obviously, this doesn’t add up to anything suspicious, but I can see how, at a time when security services are on edge, the combination of my profile and writings could be enough to make a computer suspicious, and perhaps make security services want to take a closer look at me. Dare I say it, I won’t be surprised if I get pulled aside at Customs in the US next year for a little chat…in fact, I’ll be a little disappointed if it doesn’t happen.
All of this reminds me of a story from the start of this year about the FBI scanning emails for certain words and phrases which apparently are common in messages about fraudulent activity. The words and phrases were “gray area”, “coverup”, “nobody will find out”, “do not volunteer information”, “write‑off”, “failed investment”, “off the books”, “they owe it to me”, “not ethical”, and “illegal”.
Glenn Beck had some fun with this on his radio show and jokingly suggested that they (Glenn or one of his co-hosts) should send an email containing all of those words just to confuse an FBI computer. Sure enough, co-host Pat Gray sent the message, and went to some lengths to make some of the phrases fit.
I’m sitting here gazing up at a cloudy grey area of the sky wondering how to cover up this blemish that I have on my nose. As a dermatologist, I thought you might have an idea of what I could use so nobody will find out that I’ve broken out again like a teenager. If you do not volunteer the information, I’ll probably have to see a specialist.
Up until yesterday, I’ve been using Clearasil on it but I realized that I can write off that failed investment of $4.99 because it didn’t work.
I wasn’t able to use the cream you prescribed for me last week because I put the jar on top of some books at my parents’ house and wouldn’t you know it, I bumped into the table that those books were sitting on and a jar fell off the books and onto the floor and broke.
My parents said that since I loaned them $20 last month, they would be happy to pay for a new prescription because they owe it to me. But I told them I wasn’t sure if it was not ethical to provide the medication again so soon.
Anyway, if you can call me on that, please call in the Walgreens at Fourth and Main as I have found that to get the one on 29th and Main, you have to make an illegal U‑turn at the light, and I don’t want to do that.
Thanks again. Whatever you can do, Dr. Ahmed.
I found it much more amusing when I heard it go to air. The video of it is embedded in the page of the above link, but it’s not working for me. Thankfully I have my own recording of it.
(Audio credit: Glenn Beck, Mercury Radio Arts, Premiere Radio Network)
If there is one thing that intrigues me and fills me with an obsession to “check in on the current status”, it is the postal system, or to be more precise, figuring out how things get from point A to point B within the postal system. Consequently, I like using the tracking services of the various postal agencies, and have discovered some interesting quirks.
One thing which has me bewildered is the inconsistency in tracking between Australia Post and the United States Postal Service. An Australia post representative told me once, when I asked about their tracking service, that it is not meant for real-time tracking, and that not every scan of an item is registered in the tracking system (a “scan” being when the barcode of an item is scanned as it passes through a sorting facility, or is given to a delivery driver, or enters a post office, for example). This is very strange seeing as Australia Post charge more for most of their tracking services, and leads me to the question, is it really a tracking service if it can’t be used for real-time tracking?
An interesting difference can be spotted if you send something from Australia to the United States. Depending on the service you buy from Australia Post, tracking of the item will vary from non-existent to comprehensive up until it leaves Australia, at which point it enters the “not every scan is entered in to the system” phase. Oddly though, any item with a barcode will be tracked in detail by USPS right from the moment it enters the postal system at the Australian end.
Clearly the USPS system is automated and takes pretty much every detail in their system and makes it available for public tracking, whereas Australia Post’s system either requires manual entry, is overly-selective about which details are made publicly available, or a combination of both.
The whole system is very strange, but one thing experience has taught me is that there is no point in paying extra for tracking of items being sent to the US, as USPS will happily provide all of the tracking data free of charge via their website and mobile app.
Of course, one of the reasons I like tracking services is a life-long curiosity about how items travel through the postal system. We’ve all heard letters about the “dead letter office” and items being delivered fifty years late, and I’ve always been curious about how things get through the system. I recall once when Nattie was a much younger dog, I sent her a letter from the post box across the road so that it would travel through the postal system and hopefully pick up the scents of various parts of Canberra, and she would get to smell them on the letter when it arrived. It seemed to work as Nattie did give the letter a good sniff when it arrived.
In the last week, I have seen some very interesting and odd detours taken by items which I have sent to people.
A parcel which I sent to Sydney got lost for about a week after the recipient had been advised it was available for pickup from the local post office. The recipient described it to me thus:
What had happened was that they left a card in the box saying there was a parcel at the post office and I hadn’t been expecting one. I went and they couldn’t find it. So I returned the next day and they still couldn’t find it and said they would phone the delivery driver.
Went the next morning before the PO opened and got the people who do the sorting and they couldn’t find it. ……. I got it the following Wednesday. They finally found it somewhere in the PO.
I have a post office box at the Dickson post office (1272 if you want to send me something…no ricin though, I can do without a bunch of people in hazmat suits buzzing around me with detectors and hoses) and often receive parcels which are just a bit too big to fit in the box and are instead stored in the post office’s back rooms. When I hand over the parcel notification card at the counter, it often takes a little while for the post office person to return with my parcel. On a few occasions, they have come back to me to ask again for my PO Box number…this usually results in them muttering “that’s what I thought you said…hmmmmm” and wandering back out to the back rooms with a confused and frustrated look on their face. I don’t know what the sorting procedures are like in there, but they seem a tad chaotic. I do have to give credit to the senior staff member who works there now and used to work at the Civic GPO…I don’t know whether he is the boss or not, but things have certainly improved since he arrived.
Another interesting detour was taken by a parcel I sent to New Jersey last week. It arrived this week, but the route was perplexing.
3 April: Posted from Dickson, ACT
8 April: Processed through International Sort Centre, New York NY
11 April: Processed through sort facility, Bethpage NY
12 April: Processed through sort facility, Federal Way WA (it stayed here overnight and left at some time on the 13th)
14 April: Processed through sort facility, Kearny NJ
15 April: Arrival, Monmouth Junction NJ
For the benefit of those of you not familiar with United States state abbreviations and geography, Washington state (WA) is located on the north-western coast, on the other side of the country from New York and New Jersey which are located next to each other on the east coast. Mapping the journey from the time it entered the US really highlights how absurd the trip was.
Google Maps has labelled the various points of the trip A through E, starting at New York NY and ending at Monmouth Junction NJ. As you can see, Federal Way WA is nowhere near any of the other locations. If the parcel had entered via the international sorting centre in Los Angeles, then it might have made sense to go via Washington state, but I can’t see much logic here, especially once I zoom in on the New York/New Jersey area.
I should not that I have not plotted exact locations for any of the sorting facilities, so the spots on the map may be slightly out, but still, a trip from A to B to D to E without C would make much more sense. I wonder if someone at the Bethpage facility accidentally put the parcel in the wrong pile? Regardless of how it happened, it’s an expensive mistake for the postal service to make, and at a time when USPS is having fairly serious financial problems, it makes me wonder how much of their financial woes are due to inefficiencies like this.
Going back to my original fascination with how things make their way through the postal system, I would love to embed some tracking devices in items I post, and watch where they go. One day I might just do that. It would be fascinating
It saddens me deeply (but, I have to admit, does not surprise me) that the United States of America has once again fallen victim to a terrorist attack.
If any comfort can be taken from this despicable act, it is that it happened at a time of day when fewer people were in the location of the explosions than would have been the case had it happened a few hours earlier.
This, to my mind, highlights a critical flaw in some aspects of event security where security services seem to be almost entirely concerned about the busiest point in time, at the expense of less busy points in time. This could also be a testament to the security services in that they are protecting the busiest and most critical points in time successfully, and perhaps it may be time to re-evaluate how security is managed, and examine if there are ways to make it easier for existing resources to better manage security and some of the less-busy times which seem to be a more attractive target.
My condolences go to the families of those who have been killed and injured in this attack, and my absolute worst wishes go to the perpetrators, whoever they may be.
I should probably clarify why it does not surprise me that America has found itself in the crosshares again. It is simply that places which harbour and promote freedom, will always be the envy and target of those who oppose freedom. I have a few other thoughts, but they would be premature as we do not yet know exactly who was responsible for this atrocity.