Spam Hell

I don’t know if it is just me, but I have had enough of these bloody spammers……Here is a sample of the current list of spammers that continue to ravage my comments section. If you happen to be one of them listed RACK OFF !!! (and learn to SPELL !) PS I have highlighted their email and website addresses so you can avoid them too !

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……I have shortened this post, but you get the general gist…..

Back To The Drawing Board

Oh well, it seems that the search for the HMAS Sydney continues. The Australian Navy, having ventured to Shark Bay, have declared the newly discovered wreck NOT that of the H.M.A.S Sydney. It probably is a good thing, as it would have been another mystery explaining how the Sydney ended up so far off course. Will keep you posted !

HMAS Sydney Found At Last

Okay, I know most people don’t know anything about the HMAS Sydney II unless they live in Australia or in particular Western Australia, but this truly is an historical event in maritime circles. It has been considered one of the greatest maritime mysteries in Australian history and has haunted the families of the 645 souls lost for over 65 years. After the HMAS Sydney came under fire by the German raider, HSK Kormoran on November 19th, 1941 it literally vanished into thin air and so to all its crew. Rumors, speculation and accusations circulated about the missing ship. Some believed it sank, whilst others believed it had been captured. Only one soul was ever found, his decomposed body washed ashore, along with a life raft (Carley Float), on February 1942 near Christmas Island, three months after the incident. Over the years the Federal and State governments have spent millions of dollars in the search of the Sydney.

In early August, 2007 three amateur historians, using a simple grappling hook and underwater camera, discovered what is believed to be the wreck of the HMAS Sydney II. The wreck was located off the Cape Inscription on the Northern end of Dirk Hartog Island off Shark Bay in about 150m of water. It was the persistence of amateur researcher Phil Shepherd which led to this long and exhaustive find. Working on a hunch about a mysterious bolt pulled up by a local fisherman 12 years prior, Shepherd contacted the late fisherman’s son who agreed to show him the location. Shepherd, his son Graham and master diver Ian Stiles headed to the location and armed with a heavy grapple they filmed what is believed to be the wreckage. Way to go boys, mystery solved. Finally the families can have some closure.
The loss of the Sydney would be Australia’s greatest in naval history.

Ted Turner is Cool !

Normally I don’t like name dropping or talking about non earth shattering events on my blog, but today I transgress. Recently Aidan (business partner) and myself visited the beautiful city of Atlanta to attend a business conference and as always, one of our first priorities was to seek out the best places to eat. On our first night we fell into tourist trap 101 and ended up clip clopping along the streets in a horse and buggy by an enthusiastic guide and a rather smelly nag. As we bounced along the back streets of Fairlie-Poplar in downtown Atlanta our guide pointed to an eatery called Teds, which we had walked passed earlier in the day. “This”, he said proudly is “Teds”. From our silence he obviously assumed we had no idea of the significance nor importance. “This is Ted Turner’s restaurant and his penthouse is right on top” he continued. Now that got our attention and we spent the rest of the ride discussing why Ted would have his penthouse on top of his restaurant. We both came to the conclusion that was pretty cool and scoffed at the millionaires in our home town who often fought to have the biggest and best penthouses in the prime locations.

We rocked up at Ted’s Montana Grill on a Saturday and were warmly welcomed at the door before being led to our booth. Wood panels, pressed ceiling, slowly turning ceiling fans, stools along the bar, it felt like a western saloon. Our waiter was running high on energy as he announced the days specials, but before he could finish, he announced it was our lucky day, Ted was in the house. Now, we are not ones to shy away from an opportunity, so whilst our excited waiter left to get our Montanna cocktails, we discussed ways to meet Ted. Last time we ambushed a celebrity it was whilst a poor actor was sipping hot chocolate in a cafe. Up we rushed with a pathetic story and a camera in hand, virtually leaving him no room for escape. This time would be different, it was Ted!

We agreed we would do the right thing and ask the waiter if it was okay to go up and talk to Ted. The waiter just about died, deer caught in the headlights, blood rushed from his face, horrified at the thought, he began stuttering incoherently before disappearing to ask his manager. We giggled, obviously no one has asked that question before! With in minutes we were chatting with the manger who also looked somewhat horrified at our request. Letting us down gently, she informed us Ted was having lunch but suggested that if Ted walked passed our booth we could say “hi” to him then. We had bets that there was a side entrance. A few minutes later the manager returned to happily announce she had spoken to Ted and he would be glad to meet us.

As we ate our enormous onion rings we made mental notes about what we shouldn’t say to Ted (all the while I was hoping he didn’t rock up as we chomped on the onion rings !) Okay don’t mention Jane, Turner Classic Movies, CNN or AOL for a start. Sadly that was all we knew about Ted.
We were mid way through the “to die for” Bison ribs when Ted made his appearance ( I was hoping there was no sauce on my face!). He came to our booth and shook our hands and began talking about our home town, Perth, Western Australia. How impressed were we, Ted had done his homework! Much to our surprise and somewhat horror Ted mentions Alan Bond. Ted obviously knew him from the America Cup days (which would explain Ted’s foot attire, deck shoes). Before we knew it he was gone and so too our photo opportunity. No one is ever going to believe we met Ted Turner.

As soon as I got back to the Marriott, I Googled Ted. It confirmed everything I thought, Ted Turner was cool ! Ted is the largest private land owner in America, he is the largest breeder of Bison (endangered) in the world, is a staunch environmentalist, was skipper in the America’s cup, is enormously wealthy and was kind enough to come and have a chat with a couple of Aussies.

Bee Gone

Just a quick update on the missing Honeybees in America, it seems Germany is now facing a similar crisis. Empty hives and not a bee to be seen. It has even been suggested that the German Honeybee could be totally wiped out if the problem isn’t solved. We should be afraid, very afraid ! To learn more about these furry little creatures visit my website www.insectvista.com .

Bee Worried

As the world comes to grips with a life without Anna Nicole an important story disappeared under the radar. Honeybees are dying! I guess some people don’t really see the event as being as important as sex, lies and overdoses, but I do. I love food, love my apples, love my cherries, love my honey and love bees. Bees help to pollinate nearly one third of the world’s food sources. These furry little creatures (yep they are covered in fine hairs) work their butts off to help us enjoy the fruits of their labour. In fact the simple little Honey bee is worth about $15 billion to the US crop market alone, not to mention the rest of the world ( which I haven’t got stats on yet, but I assume is just as big). Tens of thousands of bee colonies are dying across America. One colony averages between 20,000 to 60,000 bees which roughly speaking equates to between 200,000,000 and 600,000,000 dead bees and counting. This “Colony Collapse Disorder” has the potential to scare me more than the Bird Flu, especially when scientists are saying it is a breakdown of their immune system (bee AIDS). As if we haven’t got enough to worry about! The Colony Collapse Disorder is under investigation in 11 states of America and spreading fast. Listed amongst the potential cause of this epidemic are mites, an unknown pathogenic disease, pesticide contamination or poisoning. My bet is on pesticide contamination (isn’t it always). Maybe it is Gods way of stopping us dying from pestcide contaminated fruit….kill the pollinator. Whatever the reason, lets add starving to the list of things to worry about which include, global warming, acid rain, enemy combatants, walking with an ipod, Bin Laden, melting glaciers, Bird Flu, women astronauts wearing nappies, anthrax, brain tumours from mobiles, artifical sweeteners, tsunamis, radiation tablet in your cup of tea, the Taliban, weapons of mass destruction, Bill O’Reilly picking on you, leaking reactors and whaling for scientific purposes.

To learn more about these precious little commodities check out my bee site at www.insectvista.com .

Cherry Harmony Festival 2006

While the Ashes were being fought at the WACA ground in Perth, Western Australia, another battle was being fought in the beautiful little town of Manjimup in the South West of the State, “The GlobeVista Australasian Cherry Pip Spitting Competition”. And what a fantastic battle it was. New Zealand champion Michael Robertson flew direct from Cromwell to defend the title. Pipped against strong competition, including Better Homes and Gardens star Rob Palmer, local lad Paul Omodei and our own representative, Aidan Montague, Michael saved his best till last to retain his title, with an enormous spit of 11m. Rob Palmer came in a very close second followed by Paul Omodei and lets just say Aidan was asked to leave the event early. However we are happy to announce that GlobeVista will be sending Paul (as local winner) back to Cromwell in 2007 to hopefully reclaim the trophy and honour. Michael, who was a fantastic ambassador for NZ, has promised to defend the 2007 title because he wants another trip back to Manjimup next year.

As sponsors for the pip spitting competition GlobeVista (Aidan, Simon and myself) we would like to thank the town of Manjimup for a fantastic weekend and would especially like to thank all the organisers of the event who welcomed us so warmly . We had no idea what we were getting into when Jon Doust asked us to get involved in “spitting”, but we are so glad we did.

To find out more about the festival and how you can enter the pip spitting competion just click here, Manjimup Cherry Harmony Festival.

Pope Joan

The Pope Joan rumour has been around for years, centuries in fact. I first read about it in this crazy book I bought years ago called ‘The Mammoth Book of Tasteless Lists’. I use to drop it in dinner party conversations once, which didn’t go down too well. Many people just told me it was absurd to think the Catholic Church could be duped ( less we forget JFK) . The problem with the whole story is, it does sound absurd. At the time I didn’t know as much as I know now, all I knew was her cover was blown when she gave birth during a papal procession through a narrow lane between the Colosseum and St Clement’s church. She was believed to have been stoned to death and buried under the street. All papal processions from then on avoided passing down the lane.
A special chair was built following the drama to make sure it never happened again. The chair was built with a hole stategically placed in the seat, so as to discretely check if the Pope was in fact a male. The real fact is the “groping chair” was used to check to see if the Pope was castrated, as the Church Law decreed the Pope must be “intact”.

This was about the time I usually lost my audience, as eyebrows raised and conversations were promptly changed to something a little less radical. I was somehow relieved to read a few years back that Steven Spielberg had bought the rights to the Pope Joan story, at last verification of what I always believed to be a great story. I am still waiting Mr Spielberg. Mr Dan Brown snuck the Pope Joan myth into the Da Vinci Code but it didn’t raise even a stir as I guess nobody cares about Pope bloodlines.

In the beautiful town of Siena, Italy, it was rumoured that a statue depicting Pope Joan once adorned the walls of the Siena Duomo. The statue was later removed and re-sculpted to take on the appearance of a less controversial Pope.

The Art of Pip Spitting

You may not be aware but one of the many things that our company, GlobeVista, are actively involved in is spitting. We are the proud sponsors of the Harmony Festival Cherry Pip Spitting competition. This is an annual event which happens in Manjimup in Western Australia’s beautiful South -West during the summer season. This is the first year we are sponsoring the event and many great pip spitters are flying in from around Australia and even New Zealand.

Already Aidan, Simon and myself have been practicing the ancient art of spitting (to little or no avail). So far we have barely spat the required 93 feet ,6 1/2 inches to steal the Guiness Book of Records from the clutches of American Brian “Young Gun” Krause (current champion cherry pit spitter). In fact we are having difficulty just getting the pip to leave our mouths. Simon has been practising with a peach stone hoping it will give him an advantage, Aidan has been experimenting with the discus type approach and I have been trying the long run up. So far none of us have any great success, though Simon did break a window and chipped a tooth!
The Harmony Festival attracts over 5,000 visitors to the town of Manjimup each year and this year promises to be bigger and better. The spitting competition is open to anyone who can or thinks they can spit. As an added bonus the New Zealand spitting winner will be flying in to compete with the locals. We are organising a team of spitters and are hoping other spitters will follow suit. If you would like to know more about the event contact Jon Doust.

Mud Angels

This year will be the 40th anniversary of the Mud Angels of Florence. What are “Mud Angels” you may ask? Well they aren’t what but who. On the 3rd of November 1966, Florence experienced the unthinkable. After two days of heavy rain the banks of the Arno River burst sending torrents of water through the streets of the city. The water rose over 6 metres and engulfed many of the museums and galleries which housed invaluable works of art and literature. When news spread of the city’s dilemma, foreigners, students and locals rushed to the scene to brave the cold muddy waters to start a rescue mission, the likes the city had never seen. The first line began forming outside the Biblioteca Nazionale, where an estimated 500 people began passing one by one and hand to hand paintings, books and sculptures to safer grounds. Some were standing waist deep in freezing muddy water. Never had these works passed through so many hands. Soon the whole city were forming lines with just one mission , save as much as they could. The Florentines named these remarkable people “Mud Angels”.

When the waters subsided it is estimated over 1,400 pieces of artwork, 2 million books and numerous historic scientific and musical instruments were completely destroyed. Some of the works lost included frescoes by Botticelli, Pietro Lorenzetti, Simone Martini, and Paolo Uccello and Cimabue’s Crucifixion.

The Mud Angels, however, were responsible for rescuing over 14,000 pieces of art and 4 million books and manuscripts. But more importantly they saved Florence’s history for future generations to enjoy. This year Florence will be honouring all the “mud angels” on the 40th anniversary.

To find out more about the floods of Florence visit my website www.italianvista.com

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