29 May 2008

Eric in the newspaper

My concentration lately has not been helped at all by the construction work below us reaching another phase of pounding things into the ground. THUMP THUMP THUMP (etc). Today they started at 08:00! (They generally quit around 17:30, though they do take a few breaks, for lunch and such.) We probably should take a trip somewhere for a few weeks. Last week Eric was interviewed (and photographed) for the Sunday Mail (a big Brisbane newspaper), which devoted most of two pages to an article on "the battle for Airlie Beach". Eric got the big quote at the top of the page: "It's really developed and it's noisy, dirty and disruptive. The things which made it charming are starting to disappear." The main story (without that quote or any mention of Eric) got into the online version of the paper, but the quote, photo, and interview of Eric didn't; his bit was only in the print version. Oh well. I can't post it on my blog for all to see, because of copyright.

20 May 2008

Outrageous taxi dispatcher

While Eric and I were out walking today, we met an acquaintance who had injured her leg and was leaning heavily on a cane. She said she was waiting for a taxi to take her to a doctor's appointment at an office 3 km away, but said she wasn't sure if one would arrive to pick her up. She explained that when she had phoned for a pickup, the dispatcher had told her to go to the taxi rank (about 100 yards away) even though she'd mentioned she was unable to walk that far. We were outraged. We also assumed that the drivers themselves would be happy to come get her, despite the dispatcher being a jerk, so when we got to the taxi rank (where two taxis were waiting), Eric spoke to the first driver. He agreed that the dispatcher's statement was ridiculous and promptly drove off to collect the woman. I hope she makes an official complaint to the taxi company about the dispatcher. Update: Turns out she had a broken ankle, and she did make a complaint.

14 May 2008

New car

On Monday we drove to Townsville (300 km north, about 4 hours with rest breaks) to get the car serviced. It was very overdue for a service, though it hasn’t been used that much. The log book shows that in a typical year we drive around 5,000 km; even with the around-Australia trip in 2004 contributing nearly 20,000 km, our total distance for a bit over 5 years is under 45,000 km. The tyres need replacing (turns out the tread was worn to an illegal level), but otherwise the car’s in great shape. But it’s reaching the age where things are more likely to go wrong, and its resale value is plummeting, so I wanted to test-drive the new models (Subaru Forester X), which sounded great in the reviews and in the specs on the Subaru website. And with the Austra­lian dollar at or near its highest value in many years, the cost of new cars is about the same as what I paid for mine five years ago. So I test-drove the car, liked it, dickered a bit with the salesman, consulted with Eric, and bought the demonstrator car (for a small discount off the nominal price). A bit of phoning and faxing later, I had arranged with my credit union to transfer the money from my account into the car dealer­ship’s bank account, so by the following day we sorted out the last of the paper­work and I was able to drive the car home. The trip home was delayed (predictably) by the dealership not having it cleaned and ready to go by noon (as they had promised), but by 3 PM we were on our way. Less than 10 km down the road, my mobile phone rang; the salesman sheepishly said that he’d forgotten to put the registration sticker on the car. Oops! So back we went, got the sticker, and set off again. By then we had no chance of getting home before dark (which is around 6 PM at this time of year). We don’t like driving at dusk because of the increased chance of running (literally) into wildlife on the road, but fortunately that didn’t happen.

11 May 2008

Medical update

Medical update: When I saw the physio on Wednesday for a monthly checkup, he seemed reasonably pleased with my progress, though it's obvious to both of us that I still have a ways to go. He then had me do some new exercises (with an exercise ball, one of the big ones you can sit on) and seemed a bit surprised that I did the first few quite easily and well. So he immediately put me onto the intermediate series of exercises, some for strength and others for balance, and on the way home I bought an exercise ball to add to my extensive collection of equipment. I liked them when I was going to the gym. I also bought a new electric jug—this one with a covered spout, to discourage geckos and other wildlife from falling in.

01 May 2008

Marina construction update

Although I complain about the noise and dust from the marina construction, it's often very entertaining. Yesterday was better than a 5-ring circus. In addition to the usual collection of diggers filling trucks with dirt to be taken from one part of the site to another, we had: a series of trucks delivering drainage pipes, sand, gravel, rolls of plastic, large boulders, and other constructions materials; two large diggers creating a big trench in the previously-flattened area and other equipment planting drainage pipes in the trench; trees being removed and preparations made for shifting the site offices to another part of the site; and—in the center ring!—the display and sales office (about the size of a 3-bedroom house) being moved several hundred yards to its new location. The latter process took all day and included 8 or 10 helmeted people peering intently under the building as it was jacked up and a huge flatbed truck moved underneath it, then a heavy tractor was attached by a chain to the front of the truck and hauled it part of the distance (probably a slight slope was involved and the truck couldn't cope on its own), after which the truck drove the rest of the way and made a complicated 5-point turn to get the building oriented as they wanted it, and finally—just before sunset—it was moved into position. This morning they reinstalled the jacks, removed the truck, and have now lowered the building to rest on concrete pads under the stumps. We have photos of the whole process; I hope to get them into an album and online soon.