January, 2012

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Book Review: Spitfires, Thunderbolts & Warm Beer

Churning through them now and should make a good dent in the books over the next few weeks.

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This book is Spitfires, Thunderbolts & Warm Beer by Philip D Caine. A few weeks ago I reviewed a book I thought would be a bit better, well I got my wish? This is that book.

The book follows Leroy Gover who during WW2 was a fighter pilot in Europe. What is different with this book compared to others lately, well Gover flew with the famed Eagle Squadrons who defended England before the USA entered the war.

At the time it was technically illegal for US citizens to fight in Europe but it didn’t deter people from smuggling themselves out of the country via Canada to fight the air war in the RAF. Flying spitfires and hurricanes they fought alongside members of the commonwealth to protect Great Britain from the German Luftwaffe and take the fight back to them after the battle of Britain.

I loved this part of the book as it was probably the best tale of these pilots I have come across. The book continues on with Gover eventually moving over to the USAAF and transitioning eventually (he was one of the only people to fly the Spitfire for the RAF & the USAAF) to the P47 Thunderbolt. This is something I had been dying to read about. The Thunderbolt is one of the less heard of aircraft from WW2. You always hear about the Mustang or the Spitfire or the B17 but you hardly hear about “The Jug”. It was a formidible aircraft back then, strong, rugged and just huge! I have stood next to one at a few different museums and could not get over the size im comparison to some of its sleeker looking cousins.

I love the fact that this book follows most of his diary time during the war and it seemed that it was no holds barred back then. A lot of his time flying for the Eagle Squadrons he was out partying and jumping around between the clubs in London visiting all his different “Acquaintences” (aka his girls) and even then it was a totally different time compared to what would be happening now. This sort of thing just would not happen in modern times. It would be a totally different experience to be fighting the war for another country, in a foreign land, being one of the only people around and being treated so well. Totally envious.

Highly recommend this book, kept me enthralled for the short period of time I had been reading it…. just not long enough!

I can haz cheeseburga?

Is it a Cheeseburger? Or is it a cake… you decide…

Well it’s both.. kinda. My friend Clare sent me a link a while ago to this and I just wanted to do it ever since. Work was having a birthday tomorrow, figured what the hell. I was baking for my dad for his birthday so what the hell. I usually torture Dad on my birthday, well this time, I would let him make the choice and truth be told, I was up for whatever he had to throw at me. He tried to play it off and just said “just a cake” and I pushed back. Asked him what his favourite was and I knew he liked some old school stuff. Finally got it out of him. 2 things he has always liked. Vanilla Slice & Cherry Ripe Slice. Well he got his wish!

Today i spent the day pretty much in the Kitchen from 9am till 4pm making a whole load of mess. I made everything! The cup cakes, the frosting, the custard for the vanilla slice, the icings, the whole shebang. The frosting was something I had not tried before and it was a “7 minute frosting” which took like 30 minutes really. IT was a french style (i think) frosting that was meringue and sugar syrup (or is that italian style, i don’t remember).

I tell you what though, it was fun decorating those cup cakes. Here is a is a link to all the photos from the afternoons efforts… Absolutely enjoyable day (Cept for my waistline).

Random Baking 2012

New Toys makes for good times

One of my dreams finally came true last week. I managed to get myself a new camera lens. One that I have wanted for so long yet never been able to do one of the following:

1. Justify the price brand new
2. Find one at a decent price brand new
3. Find one 2nd hand

Well last week an offer came up online for one at a price that was to good to be true, and well I just couldn’t let it slip past me. To make things ever better there was a scheduled flight coming in that would be a highlight of the year so far and if I could get it in time, it would make for some perfect photos.

The lens is a Sigma 50-500mm. Pretty much about as big as your going to get without going to the crazy lens range that only the professionals would use. It weighs what feels a tonne but thankfully the camera strap I use is pretty padded so it doesn’t really do all that much damage, cept to my arms (nothing some more muscles wont fix).

The lens takes some damn good shots so now my lens collection is almost complete. I really need something like a 10-24 or something similar. Something nice and wide for a difference or maybe an 18-50 or something for a walk around I dunno.

The special flight that came in though was Air New Zealand’s new 777-300ER in the All Blacks Livery. Thankfully I was able to get the lens in time to get it to me and that meant that I could use it for this one shot that would be amazing. When it was into Brisbane for the first time and I can make it, I will be there.

Managed to score some other goodies this weekend but here are a few samples that show just how awesome this new lens can make a photo.

From Brisbane Spotting 2012
From Brisbane Spotting 2012
From Brisbane Spotting 2012

and a link to the whole album:

Brisbane Spotting 2012

R&R

Rest and Relaxation, something I have been dying for since the start of December really. With campaign after campaign at work it seems like all I seem to do is work to no end. I feel like at times all I seem to do is constantly work, so it is good to finally have a rest. A serious rest. I have had times where I have had 2 days off, but never lately have I felt so calm or relaxed even on the weekends (what little of those that i get).

The weekend may seem like it was pretty full on but damn was it relaxing. It was a lot of fitness stuff this weekend but to be honest, yesterday’s stuff was more for enjoyment, only really today was about my fitness. Yesterday started off with a ride along the river, sure it was 13km but damn was it good. Early morning, sun rising, quiet times along the river, not much crowd (apart from the 30+ runners from running club) and just the wind as I cruised along.

Then in the afternoon after a good catch up over coffee with some friends, I went hiking at Mt Cootha. Alisha had told me she wanted to go hiking at Mt Cootha, I took the opportunity to exact a bit of fun and be the evil person that I can be. I like being evil at times :D Alisha, Nathalia & Josh joined me on the trails and it was a good time. 7km in 90 mins was pretty good pace and boy did it feel good being back on the trails. I hand’t really been hiking since Canada and even that wasn’t the same. Hell I hadn’t been to Mt Cootha on the trails since I was training for Kokoda. Getting back on that trail just brought back so many memories, so many good memories.

After an awesome day yesterday, this morning I just had to get up and convince myself to get moving. But to hell with it. I got up and got moving anyway, I can take a break next week maybe, maybe. But after an uber long ride this morning (14km but didnt even intend to do that long was aiming 10-11km) I was looking forward to some airport time this morning to test out my lovely new lens (of which i will discuss more later this week). Then after some time enjoying the sun (and getting burnt in the process) I haded into the Valley for lunch with some very very good friends. It had been quite some time since I had seen Ross, Bredan & Suz together and to make the day even better, little baby Isabella was there.

It was only the 2nd time I had gotten to see the little one and she has grown so much in that time. But it was good to spend some time with my friends, relaxed, having fun and enjoying time together. Had a great time having lunch and enjoying some Sushi and ice cream and watching little isabella soak in all the new sites (she seemed somewhat obsessed with Ross) and then some time in the afternoon sun having some ice cream (got more burnt i think).

To be honest I had a fantastic weekend, sadly it won’t last and I know that its back to work tomorrow, but in reality, thats what it is all about really. I know that I am going to enjoy these moments, while I can.

Fun Times 2012

Book Review: Bomber Boys

Another week, another book it seems (churning through is a good thing if you saw how many i had left to read).

Bomber Boys

This time it is The Bomber Boys by Travis L Ayres. The book follows 5 inviduals, all of them Crew members on Boeing B-17 Bombers during World War 2 (4 of them with the 8th Air Force, 1 with the 15th). All of them flew over Europe during World War 2 and all seemed to have an amazing story to their time they served.

Unlike most books of this type, this one follows 5 different individuals who did not know each other at all during the war. All of them served with different units and different bomber crews. So because of this you get 5 different perspectives on the war. 5 different stories and events of time served in Europe, 5 different men who all had different jobs as well (not just pilots as usual).

Some good stories are in this book including a Bomber crew member who fell out of his aircraft and didnt have time to pull his parachute after he came out of the blackout caused when it exploded (and lived!). An amazing good short book that helped me get a different perspective to what is definately a widely published style of book.

6 of 6… Finally!

Day 5/6

Tired, Grumpy, struggle city this morning. Rain makes me unhappy as it meant I couldn’t get out and go for a run, had to stay in and use the treadmill but that meant one good thing to lighten my morning. MACGYVER! Watched an ep of Macgyver while I was on the treadmill and did my 5km’s in roughly 42 mins which aint a bad time really (i can usually run it in 30). Scurry to work as quickly as possible, 1 bucket of coffee at home and a pot of coffee at work to make life tolerable. Another day full of the same questions over and over again. Some good bookings but not enough to make it all worth it really. As the day pushed on my lack of energy grew larger and larger.

Made it home to just want to collapse. Rain rain and more rain about just totally over it. Finished the day off with some Pan Am & Flying Wild #avgeek heaven tonight.

Day 6/6.

Up to bright blue sky and sunshine. Get to the gym and its not as packed as it has been on the weights but the cardio machines are heaving full of people. Busted my ass for an hour and came home and relaxed (well relaxed compared to rushing about). God I can’t wait for tommorrow where I can just take my time. Oats, Banana, Coffee. 3 favourite things some mornings and this morning it was good. Checked my emails found out I had sold one of my ebay items over night… theres $60 in the bank… SCORE! Time to organise some postage on that tomorrow. Off to work, busy as hell as usual. 69 calls overall for the day. Not much in the way of substantial bookings but enough to keep the day going! Finished my book on the way to work so expect a review tomorrow.

Come home to find out another shirt sold, my order from the USA has shipped and my new camera lens is on its way and I have a day off tomorrow. Some Hawaii 5-0 tonight, some more flying wild and I will be a happy chappy I think. Bit of a social weekend ahead now to, with Lunch with some friends on Sunday for Sushi (Brendan, Ross, Suz & little Isabella) and some hiking at Mt Cootha on Sat Arvo with Alisha (she will hate me after the day is finished i know it! *evil laugh*)

4/6… past halfway!

Day 3/6 started off good, got my ride in, weather was looking a tad dodgy but it was holding out, i was all geared up for a ride to the station and a nice relaxing train ride to work to catch up on the reading… NOPE! The world intervened again, down came the rain, but it stopped pretty quickly and the time looked ok for me to ride to the station still, if i pulled my finger out. So I rode to the station, got there, onto the platform, realise train doesn’t come till a time that will make me late to work… NOOOOOO not good. Ring home, tell dad to bring my car down quickly so I can drive him home and get my butt to work before I am late. Keep the bike with me so that just in case I have to park at the Parklands i can ride to work and get there quicker. Thankfully got a parking spot right outside work!

Work itself was fine, usual problems on the day of a campaign release (“what do you mean its a from price?” or “o is that per person? Never mind!”) but nothing I can’t really handle. No real time to eat or breathe though as it was pretty constant. End of shift, come home, realise forgot to set the downloads properly (doh) but have enough stuff to keep me from wanting to do anything else other than watch some tv, and relax (which I did).

Day 4… today… Gym was pretty busy, looks like the workers are all coming back now, doh! Means more fighting for the equipment in the morning I guess. Weighed in, lost 3.4kg over the last week.. yay.. almost got all of the post Xmas weight off, just in time to put it all back on again in a few weeks! Finding it harder to function this morning without coffee and was not one to be trifled with till I got it. In saying that, got to work, plenty to do and plenty of things to keep me busy, so much so the whole day was a blur, fell short of 70 calls by 1 call :( Saw the result to the football score that the Patriots will take on Baltimore but the Giants made it through which means a possible repeat of that infamous game (hope not!) Barely had time to eat or think though so body crying out for sustinence by the time my shift finishes.

Day improved imensley on the way home when I ran into Renee a friend so that improved my spirits after being so tired and grumpy the last few days, and then got home to find my new tshirt that i impulse bought 2 months ago finally showed up so that made it even better, so I decided Why the hell not! I just made a bid on a camera lens worth a grand as long as i can get it before monday… (more on that on monday!)

2 days to go… lord help me

2 of 6…

So heres how the last 2 days have gone so far!

Day 1/6

Up early, gym session, smash out the weights, do pretty well, quick perve on the usual girl who comes in, try not to look like an idiot. Train full of younger people it seems, very empty parking lot means can park right next to the station exit! w00t

Lots of book reading, in a good mood, email comes through telling me package delivered yesterday… AWESOME! Life quickly turns to CRAP when I get to work. My good mood when down hill fast! The package that was delivered had a massive hole in the side, directly into the very badly packed area where 6 x Glasses was meant to come. Very Very unhappy and it was just all down hill from there really.

Busy as hell, not many bookings, more time spent fixing other peoples stuff ups than anything else. Crappy crappy day. Spirits lift a bit when I get home and find out that Amazon have decided rather than replace all 6 glasses I can keep what isnt damaged, have a full refund and if I decide to replace, they will covered International Expedited shipping. Makes me a little bit happier in the end.

Day 2/6

Go for a ride this morning 10km, planning to ride to the station this morning since my bike was now fixed and felt like it was brand new. Log into Twitter first thing to do the usual (check news & police feeds for accidents etc), Translink has first tweet, no trains between Roma Street & Bowen Hills. There goes the plan of riding to the station, stuff the 45 minute delays! Why is it any time I try to ride to the station something happens! O well, will try again tomorrow. Driving into work, old contiki day song comes on and improves mood exponentially, managed to also score a car park right next to work as well! Day looking up! Work again, more problem fixing, no real bookings, not worth the trouble, barely had time to eat it was so busy. 27c inside the office most of the day, work had made a big deal about no air con today due to maintenance issues, but there is never any aircon at work on weekends so whats the difference?

Now its home, rest and relaxation before Wash Hands, Rinse & Repeat tomorrow… lets hope I can ride to the station tomorrow.

6 Days….

Well I havent blogged about work in a while, but this time, I am not going to lock the post (work be damned). Its our busiest time of the year right now, lots and lots of bookings for school holidays, public holidays, people on breaks, people just wanting to get away. This means awesome sales opportunities.

What it also means is hold times, lots and lots of it and long tiring days. To make matters worse I am about to do 6 days straight at work. I haven’t done that in quite some time. It is going to suck but I will just have to suck it up and move on. But I thought, since its been a while, why don’t I post a bit about it. Since this month is pretty much just all work for me and not much else going on I mean seriously why not!.

So I will keep things updated every couple of days, looking at the goings on at work. Looking at how busy, whats been selling and better yet… how many silly calls i get (nah i better not say that just in case ;) )

All in all, January is a pretty boring month for me really, while things are busy at work, I know that i can’t really do all that much travelling or anything. Here’s to ending January and starting Feb off with a bang!

Book Review: Dead or Alive

It feels good to be reading a book like this again, and it has been quite some time since I last opened a book this chunky.

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The book is Dead or Alive by Tom Clancy. Clancy would be one of my favourite authors. Having been captured by his style of writing back in my high school days and getting sucked into the world of Jack Ryan & John Clarke it is always a thrill to read one of his books.

After a good sized gap Clancy is back at his old tricks again with lots of his usual characters in play. It is a bit wierd having the Clancy storyline with real world events intertwined but you get used to it eventually. This story picks up a few years after Jack Ryan has ended his presidency and his son works for a non government intelligence outfit called “The Campus “.

With Clancy’s usual panache and style there is usually a lot of back story before you start getting anywhere but any die hard fan will know that going in. Unlike Dale Brown who leaves the big moments till the last 3 pages Clancy does tie things up in the last 100 or so pages but it does get you hooked into the last portion of the book.

This book doesn’t disappoint in the usual story of cloak and dagger spy vs spy mixed with terrorist plots and the occasional nuclear weapon, and it brings that and more. I won’t ruin the story to much but it has some of his usual tactics. Good vs Evil etc

Although this is a thick book (hardback is 950 pages) I don’t regret it at all (my shoulder might after carrying it around for 2 weeks). A good read for any Clancy fan (get the paperback version though).