Tuesday, 24 August 2010
presence of one of the open cut coal mines which are a significant factor in the economy of Australia and a major reason for our escape from the GFC.
I drove past this one at last light on my way back to Tekani II at Mooloolaba, driving inland to avoid the overloaded coastal highway. A half mile long artificial mountain of fresh piled earth which had been removed to get at the black gold beneath was a head-turner as I drove into Clermont town just a few kilometers away looking for a bed for the night.
It soon became apparent that this was not an easy ask. One after another the motels all showed NO VACANCY signs. I lowered my expectations and started asking at the string of outback hotels dotted along what was once the relaxed and comfortable main street of a sleepy cattle town. Same answer..."Sorry...full up mate"
There was literally not a bed to be had anywhere in Clermont. Miners, contractors, tradesmen, drillers, modern-day carpet baggers and other harvesters of the torrent of money and opportunity generated by the two huge mines nearby were in semi-permanent residence.
Memories of another small town after the invasion of another mining army came flooding back...this was another Kieta, Same frantic rush and bustle; same crowds of thirsty miners: same cast of thousands of strangers thrown together by the lure of big money for anyone with two hands and plenty of muscle.
I tried the very last of the hotels and threw myself on the mercy of a bored receptionist.
"Are you sure there isn't even one single bed available ?"
"Well, there probably is but the rooms aren't serviced until tomorrow."
"I'll take one anyway"
"OK, but you'll need some clean sheets and a fresh towel, these guys are a bit grubby, you know"
I paid in advance at double the usual cost of a motel, collected the bed linen and a towel and located my room at the end of an unlit first floor corridor. No key needed, the lock was hanging askew from its moorings. The ancient air conditioner on the wall did not work, nor did the rusty overhead fan. Two unmade single beds, both showing signs of recent use and a broken chair completed the list of amenities.
I put the clean sheets to good use and went in search of a badly needed shower in the communal bathroom which was also without a working lock. The shower proved only 50 per cent effective. Plenty of cold water, but the hot tap had no handle, so I removed the handle from its cold neighbour and managed to get both working.
Time for a meal and I went down the creaking unlit stairs and found the dining room alongside the bar which was doing a roaring trade.
" A meal ! Too late mate. The cook's knocked off "
I settled for a large scotch and went back up the stairs to bed comforted by the thought that the never-to-be-forgotten Kieta Hotel is not lying in ruins on Bougainville. It's alive and kicking in Queensland.
Monday, 23 August 2010
Leading a bachelor existence as I do, a microwave oven escalates from 'nice to have' to 'must have' and Tekani now has one in addition to the gas stove. It is securely fastened to a shelf above the work bench in the galley which leaves the cook's work space unobstructed. The diesel gen-set provides 240 V power for this as well as for the air conditioner and water heater.
Friday, 23 July 2010
The Darcey family spent many happy days on Nuguria. We had a house there, built on land provided by Graeme (King) Carson, my good friend and fellow mariner who ruled the atoll as its benign but absolute ruler in those politically incorrect times.
A roller furling headsail and sail socks with lazyjacks on main and mizzen make handling under sail a breeze with everything controllable from the glassed-in pilot house.
Electronics include a GPS and chart plotter linked to an auto pilot plus radar and radio commmunications equipment and the galley has a microwave oven as well as a normal gas stove.
There is a roomy cabin aft and another up front, toilet, shower and galley all have h & c running water. Everything is in very good shape, thanks to Geoff Benson, her previous owner.
She is presently in the marina at Mooloolaba where the main engine is being checked and serviced before departing for Tekani's new home port at Cairns.
More photos later, this is just to put you all in the picture. My 82 birthday falls on August 9, so let's see how Tekani II performs with this ancient mariner in command.
Tuesday, 9 March 2010
The last contact with Betty from Bangalore was in early January when, with the timely intervention of the Telecommunications Ombudsman, Telstra finally released me from captivity and allowed me to return to TPG as my preferred ISP from whom "they" had illegally churned me during my absence from Australia. I reluctantly agreed to hand over a ransom of AUD$99 to Telstra Australia for a return to TPG and was back with them after a further tedious delay.
I breathed sigh of relief; the TPG connection, ( faster and half the price ), worked well, and I had no further problems. I still have a phone connection to the Telstra Monster and was expecting the usual six page incomprehensible account, but nothing arrived. I assumed that the order from the Ombudsman for Telstra to refund the ransom of $99 plus another $100 for my time and trouble had left me in credit, and that this was being offset against my telephone bill, hence no charge...silly me !
Today, a threatening call from Betty in Bangalore arrived through my cell phone.
"This is a first and final call to give you an opportunity to pay the overdue $500+ on your Telstra Account before you are posted as a defaulting debtor with the adverse credit rating which will follow "
After a pause to collect my thoughts, and with memories of previous encounters with Telstra call centres, I called the the secret Australian number, ( 1800 814212 ), which deals with angry Telstra customers and was immediately connected to a concerned and quietly sympathetic young lady who was not at all surprised at what had happened.
I quoted the file number which we Telstra victims are given, she examined it, heard my complaint, put me on hold for a few minutes, then assured me...again... that it was all a dreadful mistake. 'Someone" had not only not refunded the disputed amount, but had compounded the problem by imposing an ' Early Cancellation Fee' of almost $400 for my temerity in closing the unwanted and illegal Big Pond ISP connection...Very sorry...dont worry...it's cancelled...you don't owe us anything...sorry...sorry...sorry.
What can one do?. Ignoring these shenanigans will result in a destroyed credit rating.
Carrier pigeons, perhaps ? ... A bit slow, but a lot less stressful.
Why me, Lord ?..What have I done to deserve this ?
Thursday, 14 January 2010
A useful ploy, guaranteed to get instant attention from any call centre, is to utter the same phrase used by their own operators as an intimidatory opening remark. "This call is being recorded for operational purposes." Many phones now have a recording function and you will be believed whether you actually record the conversation or not.
When the call centre first answers, say nothing and do not press buttons or respond in any way. This will cut many minutes off the time you are about to spend replying to the same questions you answered in previous calls, and you will soon be flick-passed to a live human voice. You can save still more time by asking the voice to read the notes on your file which will have been posted by those you spoke to last time and the time before that. This doesn't always work and the voice will just go on asking the same questions and ticking boxes on the prompt screen, but it's worth trying.
Do not threaten legal action or mention your intimate friendship with a famous TV news personality. They have bigger and uglier lawyers than anyone you can afford : and bad publicity rarely damages the bottom line. The message you should try to get across is that you are potential Trouble with a capital T and you won't go away until they listen to you and fix your problem.
Good Luck. You can beat the system if you just keep coming back until the call centre gives up and actually does something.
Friday, 8 January 2010
The battle was finally won after putting the frighteners on Telstra with the Telecommunications Ombudsman. Daily confrontations since December 24th with a series of disembodied voices in Telstra call centres and repeated assurances that the illegal churn, initiated by BigPond while I was in New Zealand and a long way from my locked and unoccupied office would be reversed are now at an end.....until next time ?
If it happens to you, don't waste time calling Telstra or BigPond. The Ombudsman can be reached on 1800 665376.
Saturday, 2 January 2010
For this to happen, Telstra wants a ransom payment of $99. Otherwise no deal.
The phone line has finally been released and TPG is in the process of re-connecting me online. Best estimate is some time next week, probably about 5 days from now. If it happens, the hijack will have lasted over a month and my lawyers will no doubt take this into consideration when we go after the people responsible for this near-criminal activity in what was once a respected Australian Icon.
I am typing this at home before going to my online contact with the outside world at the Internet Cafe.
Happy New Year everyone. Make sure it stays that way by hanging up immediately if Telstra calls you.
Thursday, 31 December 2009
I was blissfully unaware that this had happened while I accessed the internet from my laptop in hotels and motels all over New Zealand, sending and receiving email, using online banking, posting on Facebook, making international phone calls on Skype etc.The truth only emerged when I returned to Australia on Christmas Eve, December 24th and tried to boot up the computer in my home office. A call to the TPG help desk eventually established that access to TPG had been cancelled on this telephone line on December 6 after a request for a churn to Bigpond, allegedly from my phone in the locked and empty apartment.
It was now Christmas Day, not a good time to try to talk to Telstra or anyone else, but I tried...and tried... until I finally got a response from a call centre in The Phillipines where all calls to Telstra were being directed. Miguel in Manila was difficult to convince that my problem existed, claiming that I had requested a transfer to BigPond, this had been done, and what was the problem?. I finally persuaded Miguel that my plight was genuine, but he could only advise me to call Telstra Australia after it re-opened for business in three days' time after the Xmas holiday break.
By then, I had established a routine at an internet cafe close to home and used my laptop there to access email, but this was an unsecured public site and other activities including internet banking are unwise and cannot be used.
It is now New Year's Eve, December 31. nothing has changed. I have just spent the by now standard 90 minutes pressing buttons, listening to assurances about the importance of my call, etc, to be told that Telstra's last promise of action by 5 PM delivered yesterday should have read byJanuary 5. 2010 . SIX DAYS FROM NOW I am about to try to reach someone a little higher on the totem pole. Watch this space as my sojourn in the Telstra Hall of Doom continues
Thursday, 15 October 2009
The Carteret Islands, also known as Kilinailau Atoll are a low lying group of islands north east of Bougainville Island. The sea is slowly invading them as they sit perched on the encircling reef, just a few feet above the surrounding sea, and the global warming Industry has used the plight of the people there as an example of the ill effects of climate change.
There is no question that the Carterets are being flooded by ever increasing erosion from the invading sea, or that this will continue until they disappear, and that rest of the world, including Australia is morally obliged ensure that the Carteret Islanders are relocated in a new homeland. Some have already left for Bougainville, and the rest will follow once the painfully slow task of confirming ownership of new communal land is completed.
Attermpts to portray the islander's plight as an illustration of the fate awaiting us all unless we heed apocalyptic warnings on rising sea levels continue unabated and should be shown up and resisted.
But despite all this, the sea is not rising at the Carterets any more than it is rising on nearby Bougainville or, for that matter on Bondi Beach as a visit to either will demonstrate. Tide levels worldwide are much as has been predicted and continue to show no appreciable increase overall, nor are they expected to do so: published tide tables for anywhere on the planet will confirm that this is so.
The inconvenient truth is that he sea is not rising: Kilinailau Atoll is sinking, and will almost certainly continue to do so because it is on the wrong side of the junction between two opposing tectonic plates on the sea bottom.
The Carteret's fate has nothing to do with surface weather or global temperatures, rising or otherwise. The under sea fault alongside this island group follows the Ring of Fire which runs from New Zealand through PNG and The Phillipines up to Japan and then over to Alaska and down the Americas to Antartica with active volcanoes at irregular intervals along its entire length.
The fault is visible evidence of the result of vertical movements both up and down in the earth's crust. The huge slow-moving plates collide along it in tectonically induced conflict producing constant instability and this is what is drowning the Carterets. The earth under them is sinking and taking them with it.
Telling this to the true believers is a waste of breath and no more effective than attempting to convince millions of Americans that the earth and everything on and under it was not created in seven days some six thousand years ago, but we should continue to tell it like it is, not as the Global Warming/Climate Change promoters would have us believe it is.