Another Visit to Semaphore Beach South Australia

Semaphore Beach main foreshore.
Semaphore Beach is a favorite haunt of my partner and I. Oscar also loves it too. He's not a big fan of the water but he's not really scared of it either. With a bit of encouragement you can even get him to swim. He likes all the people and seeing other dogs.

I've written about Semaphore Beach before. It's a great family beach with plenty to do even for non swimmers like myself. You can see the main part of the foreshore in the image above. This area has playgrounds, a skate park, cafe, fairground, waterslides and even a miniature train that runs at least half the length of the foreshore.

The Frog Van at
Semaphore.
Semaphore is about 45 minutes to an hour away from where we live in Gawler. Part of the reason for going was to give my Frog Van its first long distance run since getting it up and running and back on the road. 

On the highway.
Obviously we made it there and back with no issues and not a single backfire from the van's engine. It happily flew along at the maximum speed limits for the fastest sections of the trip (110 kilometres per hour). It's a little hairy going at that speed in the van because it's so light and the roof vibrates a little too but otherwise it's okay.

Sotos Fish & Chips.
If you're ever down Semaphore way and planning to get a serving of fish and chips for lunch or dinner, although the Cafe/Ice cream shop on the foreshore is a good option, we prefer heading up the main street to Soto's Fish and Chip shop (be warned they don't have EFTPOS).

Oscar and I on the
foreshore.
In general Soto's food is just better quality and they cook all their chips fresh. Though we seemed to get a lot of scrappy little chips in our order but otherwise the fish and Calamari we ordered was very nice.

We ate ours on the grassed median strip that runs down the main street and features park benches and shady trees making it very pleasant despite the traffic running past either side.

There's not too much else to add. We enjoyed our day. The weather was great, with not a cloud in the sky and a breeze to keep the heat cool. Feel free to watch the very short video below for a few more images from our day.


Are Your Kids Posting Smut?

Tech blog, Mashable, recently posted an article titled How Kids’ Pics Are Going From Social Networks to Porn Sites which describes how child porn sites are getting as much as 88% of their suggestive or sexual images of children or young people from social websites, having been uploaded by the kids themselves.

From Mashable's article:
The Internet Watch Foundation spent 47 hours (over four weeks) monitoring sexually explicit images and videos uploaded to the Internet by children and young adults. During the period, the Internet safety organization logged 12,224 images on 68 various “social network sites.” 
Before long, almost 11,000 of those photos had been mined by pornographic “parasite websites” — sites created with the sole purpose of exploiting sexual images of underage males and females.
 It's a worrying study for anyone who has kids and perhaps doesn't monitor their internet activity as closely as they'd like to. Mashable's article might just be useful in starting the discussion with your children on just how far a compromising image can go, without the uploader's knowledge.

The article caught my eye for an entirely different reason.

Back in July of 2009 I created what became a hugely popular animated series on GoAnimate called The GoAnimate Complaints Department, staring Jim Benton's Happy Bunny. In it I made a throw away joke where an adult 'teacher' questions if the site's staff are aware that young kids use the website? (as a response to some 'adult themed' animations being posted with no warnings of Adult Content at the time).

Happy Bunny knew in 2009 where online 'smut' comes from!
To which Happy Bunny replies "Yeah... and I wish they'd stop posting smut!".

I don't think I was being prophetic when I wrote the joke but it doesn't surprise me that many of these questionable images making it to child porn sites comes from young people themselves.

I've seen it so often on GoAnimate with sexually graphic speech in animations made by young people who think it's funny or cool to make cartoon characters talk 'smutty'.

Rather than get on my soapbox about keeping a closer eye on your kids online activities, I'd just say be aware that this happens and discuss with your children how far some images can travel without their knowledge online.


Final Frog Van Update

As mentioned in the title of the post this will be my final update on the Frog Van project. Happily the van is back on the road and running well. Therefore the aims of my GoFundMe.com project have been achieved and, with this post, the spending of the generous donations people gave me have been accounted for far beyond the $500.00 I asked for and beyond the $520.00 that was actually donated.

There is a complete tally of money spent at the end of this post.

In my previous Frog Van Post I gave you a full run down of what work had been done on the van just prior to me booking it in for a major tune up, service and safety check. In the video below I also give a run down of things that have been done since my last video update plus you get to see my dog Oscar as well as go for a bit of a drive in the van.


After the full tune up, service and safety check I was very pleased that this did not reveal any major problems with the van's engine other than the points being completely worn. The mechanic basically recognized (correctly) that the van had not had a proper service in years.

Particularly pleasing was my work on replacing the blown manifold gasket appears to have held up as having been a success. Neither mechanic that looked at the engine picked up on any issues there - where as the mechanic that originally told me the manifold was leaking picked up on it within seconds of hearing the engine running.

I'm sure experienced backyard mechanics will be thinking 'it's just a gasket' but I've never pulled apart that much of an engine before on my own.

As mentioned in the video the next thing I'll look at is getting the brake pads replaced before moving on to more incidental cosmetic work like fixing rust spots and upgrading the interior. However I won't be making any further update videos.

The plan from here is, once the brakes are done, I'll start making some travel videos and show you a little more of South Australia. I'm also considering offering people the chance to sponsor these trips in exchange for advertising on the videos themselves. More on that in the future but if that is something your interested in let me know in the comments. The sponsorship wouldn't be huge, it may just be the cost of gas money that gets you a credit on the video.

To finish up, here is a run down on the total spend on the van:

Registration: $215.00
Battery $37.00
Battery Terminals :$5.90
Timing Fix and Carburetor Clean: $49.50
Tyres (x2): $140.00
Grey Primer and Glue: $21.90
Tune Up, Service and Safety Check: $280.00
Filler Putty: $11.95

Total: $758.35

Julia Gillard and Leadership

For the most part I'm a strong supporter of the Australian Labor Party (for my US readers that kind of equates to a Democratic Party supporter) however I can be swayed to vote for the opposition if they have strong leadership or a great, hard working local candidate.

One election I voted for my local Liberal candidate (read 'Republican' if you're a US reader) because he seemed to be everywhere. Visiting every community organisation, no matter how small. Where as his Labor counter part I never caught a glimpse of outside his campaign posters the entire election.

For anyone not familiar with Australian Government, we don't get to vote directly for our Prime Minister. We vote for local candidates and, at the end of the day, whichever party has the most candidates voted in determines which party leader will become PM.

Last week in Parliament our PM made a speech that got the country and, seemingly, even the world talking. It's essentially a 15 minute attack on the leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott and his hypocrisy relating to sexist phone messages sent by the now former Chair of the House, Peter Slipper. You can watch the entire speech below.


One could argue Tony had it coming but if he was any good as an opposition leader it would never have come to this in the first place. Tony lacks the vision to see where his leadership is going. He seems to lead in the moment, taking every opportunity to construct a sound grab for the media without really comprehending how everything flows on and works together as a whole.

If he hadn't gone on the attack with demanding Peter Slipper's resignation, and tried to take the high moral ground on sexism, he wouldn't have needed to have his wife front up to every talk show trying to convince everyone (yet again) he's really a nice, female friendly guy (though any excuse the media has to re-run that vision of his three adult age daughters in bikinis playing with Tony in their backyard pool is okay with me).

However, back to Julia Gillard and her speech. Personally the content of it is irrelevant to me. We already have laws about this kind of behavior and no one was questioning the content of Peter Slipper's text messages. What struck me about the speech is that Julia actually sounds like she meant what she said and said what she meant. In short, she sounds like a leader.

As a leader I've never had a lot of confidence in Julia because she often comes across as too measured and a little bit wishy washy. I wrote the following on my Facebook page about Julia's speech (which inspired me to write this blog post):
If Julia gave speeches with this much conviction all the time I'd have more confidence in her as a leader. She reminds me a lot of former leader of the opposition John Hewson, who currently is an excellent political commentator, but as a leader of his party he always seemed hamstrung by party advisers instead of believing in himself and his own instincts. Hewson started sounding like a leader again the day after he resigned as leader of his party.
The thing is, from what I've seen of Julia, she's anything but measured or wishy washy. She can think on her feet much faster than Tony Abbott can and should be running rings around him in any discussion. She can be every bit as brash and scathing as her Labor predecessors, Paul Keating and even Bob Hawke, yet she seems to concern herself with ensuring she says everything in politically correct, non offensive terms.

Former PM, Kevin Rudd was a bit the same way. Perhaps that's why people are yet again speculating about returning him to the Labor leadership... they won't gain anything but they won't lose anything either. Both leaders are a bit... 'Meh'.

Julia has the capacity to be a great and memorable leader. If her party advisers allowed her to take a few more risks and were more willing to follow her to the edge. She'd be unstoppable.

As things are now, she's probably going to become a great political commentator when she loses the leadership - whether that be at an election or through yet another party leadership challenge.

Another Frog Van Project Update

The Frog Van is a little closer to being 100% drive-able as I continue to work on getting it back on the road.

Since my last update I took the van into a local mechanic not too far from me where it was discovered that the van's timing was way out of whack. Not too surprising to me since the van hasn't really been tuned properly in several years and has only really been worked on by backyard mechanics (such as myself) since it was first returned to the road.

The mechanic adjusted the timing and cleaned out the carburetor with some cleaning spray which seemed to get the job done. Stopped most of the back firing issue and made the van a little easier to start. At the very least, this last couple of weeks, I've been able to drive the van around on very short journey's locally with few issues. Total cost of the repair: $49.50

It hasn't fixed the van completely though, as I've noticed through driving it, that it eventually starts to develop back firing issues and the engine gets sluggish. It's also still relatively hard to start the van from a cold start and the engine has no real power until something kicks in and starts to run smoothly. (It's almost like it's running on two cylinders then the other two kick in an it's all good from there).

Consequently I've booked the van in for a proper tune up, service and safety check with my local Ultra Tune who, hopefully, have the proper equipment and skill to really find out what's wrong with it. That's happening in a couple of days from now. The expected cost of which I was quoted is $235.00 but could be more once they give the van a proper look over.

Other things I've done is put two brand new tyres on the back at a cost of $70.00 each. This was because (as you may have seen in a previous video) the rear right tyre developed a slow leak, then the side wall of the tyre split from being left flat for too long.

Initially I replaced the tyre with the spare (which was nearly bald) but after one drive this also developed a slow leak. So I decided to buy two new tyres which would mean I'd have a good spare tyre too.

Finally I bought some glue and grey primer paint to begin fixing a rusted panel down on the bottom corner, just below the passenger door (which you may have also seen in a previous video). The two together cost $21.90. I've still to buy some putty filler to fill in cracks etc. before spraying the primer over.

All up the total spend on the van so far is:

Registration: $215.00
Battery $37.00
Battery Terminals :$5.90
Timing Fix and Carburetor Clean: $49.50
Tyres (x2): $140.00
Grey Primer and Glue: $21.90

Total: $469.30

I'll add the total for the tune up at Ultra Tune once I know the final cost.

Movie: Mental (2012)

I didn't know much about Mental, the new Australian movie by writer/director P. J. Hogan and staring Toni Collette (reunited for the first time since Toni starred in Muriel's Wedding). All it took to get me interested was that it was Toni Collette playing a borderline, obnoxious but somehow still like-able Aussie and Rebecca Gibney (who could pretty much be in anything and I'd watch).

Rather than re-write the plot outline, here's what the movie's website has to say:
The film follows the story of the Moochmore girls who are certain they all suffer from some kind of undiagnosed mental illness - because if they're not crazy then they're just unpopular. Their mother Shirley (Gibney), unable to cope with her demanding teenage daughters and philandering politician husband, Barry (LaPaglia), suffers a nervous breakdown. After Barry commits his wife to a mental hospital (telling his constituents that she's "on holiday") he finds himself alone with five teenage girls he barely knows. Desperate, he impulsively picks up a hitchhiker named Shaz (Collette) and installs her in his home as nanny to his daughters.
This film deserves to become a classic because it's one of the most original and least predictable movies you'll ever see. You know it's probably going to work out alright in the end but how it gets there is both hilarious, thoughtful and a bit of an emotional roller coaster.

A lot of the movie's humor plays out like an exaggerated cartoon or perhaps stylized reality but it works really well because it feels like there's an element of truth in the base of the jokes.

Toni Collette's character (Shaz) could easily become the focus of several movies given her back story of weaving her way into people's lives. For me it's just awesome to see Toni play not just an Aussie but a broad, stereotypical Aussie (dare I say 'bogan') with a few character traits that clearly show she's actually not that stereotypical really.

Shaz is actually highly intelligent and seems like the most sane person in the whole film to begin with. Partnered with a very formidable dog called 'Rippa' she could be the female Mad Max of Dolphin Heads (the town the film is set in). The woman with the answers and the plan.

It's difficult to say too much about the film without spoiling the unpredictable nature and surprises as everything unfolds. However I know I wasn't expecting giant shark stories, porcelain doll carnage, or even a couple of memorable cameos by Sophie Lee (Toni's arch nemesis in Muriel's Wedding).

As crazy as it all is the film has a lot to say about people, family and relationships that could make you reflect a little on at least having known people who are bit like many of these characters.

My only (very minor) irritation about this movie was that it references American culture in a few places where, it might have been more likely for an Australian equivalent reference. Particularly where Barry Moochmore relates the story of how his father thought he and his brothers would grow up to be like the Kennedeys. It's not out of place but it feels like the reference is made so international audiences can know who he's talking about rather than have him reference someone only Aussies may know.

The film does contain coarse language but don't let that put you off. Everyone turns in a solid performance in what is a laugh out loud comedy where everybody is just a little bit mental to varying degrees.

Go and see it.


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