Scared Weird Frozen Guy

The true life story of a kid from Bribie Island (I’ve been there!) running a marathon in Antartica, via being a touring musical comedian, doing things like this:

This book is an interesting and light read, and came kindly recommended by Michael Carden, who pretty much insisted I take the book off him at a cafe. I don’t regret reading it and would recommend it to people looking for a light autobiography for a rainy (and perhaps cold) evening or two.

Oh, and the Scared Weird Little Guys of course are responsible for this gem…

This book is highly recommended and now I really want to go for a run.

Scared Weird Frozen Guy Book Cover Scared Weird Frozen Guy
Rusty Berther

After 20 incredible years as part of a musical comedy duo, Scared Weird Little Guy, Rusty Berther found himself running a marathon in Antarctica. What drove him to this? In this hilarious and honest account of his life as a Scared Weird Little Guy, and his long journey attempting an extreme physical and mental challenge at the bottom of the world, Rusty examines where he started from, and where he just might be going to.


I’ve had a bit of a thing about biographies recently, having just read the very good The Crossroad by Mark Donaldson. This book is a very different story, but I think still quite interesting. Kellie was a country girl with no real plans and an impulse control problem. While the book follows her formative years as she parties across Australia in a generally northern direction, I think the underlying story about growing up and finding your way in the world is quite interesting.

Is this great literature while will enlighten the masses? Probably not. Was it a fun read on a flight and mostly about a teenager with no direction finding her place in the world? Yes.

Skimpy Book Cover Skimpy
Kellie Arrowsmith
Country life
July 28, 2015

Kellie Arrowsmith was a country girl whose idea of a hairdo was tying a ponytail whenever she wanted to go horse riding. But in her early twenties she left her sleepy hometown of Albury on the NSW/Victoria border for the bright lights of the Gold Coast, and soon found herself working in a succession of unexciting jobs just to keep up with her now-glamorous lifestyle. After spending two years as a frazzled receptionist for an adult entertainment agency, Kellie decided to stop booking the jobs and start taking them. So it was that she found herself travelling to Gove, a mining town in East Arnhem Land, where she had her first stint as a skimpy: a barmaid who wears not much clothing for big money. Skimpies can work in the NT, in WA, in the Hunter Valley of NSW - wherever there's a bunch of blokes with a fly-in fly-out lifestyle who enjoy a cold beer at the end of their shift. Kellie thought her new job would take her all round the country, but she hadn't planned on falling in love - not with Dave, a rough-and-tumble outback character with a big heart and the world's worst four-wheel-drive, and not with the Northern Territory way of life. But she did, and instead of diamonds and dust, Kellie got crocodiles and denim cut-offs - and a whole lot of stories to tell about a side of outback life that's a long way off the beaten track.

The Crossroad

Written by a Victoria Cross recipient, this is the true story of a messed up kid who made something of himself. Mark’s dad died of cancer when he was young, and his mum was murdered. Mark then went through a period of being a burden on society, breaking windows for fun and generally being a pain in the butt. But then one day he decided to join the army…

This book is very well written, and super readable. I enjoyed it a lot, and I think its an important lesson about how troubled teenagers are sometimes that way because of pain in their past, and can often still end up being a valued contributor to society. I have been recommending this book to pretty much everyone I meet since I started reading it.

The Crossroad Book Cover The Crossroad
Mark Donaldson
Afghan War, 2001-
August 1, 2014

On 2 September 2008, in eastern Afghanistan, Trooper Mark Donaldson made a split-second decision that would change his life. His display of extraordinary courage saw him awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia, making him the first Australian to receive our highest award for bravery since 1969. Yet Mark's journey to those crucial moments was almost as exceptional as the acts that led to his VC. He was rebellious even before the death of his father in his mid-teens. A few years later, his mother disappeared, presumed murdered. Mark's lifestyle could have easily led him further down the path of self-destructiveness and petty crime. But he took a different road: the army. It proved to be his salvation. He found himself a natural soldier, progressing to the SAS, the peak of the Australian military.'One of the most impressive memoirs published by a serving member of the Australian military'WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN 'This is not some public relations puff piece, this is a heartfelt work by a substantial man' HERALD SUN'A mature and generous account, revealing of himself and Australia's longest war, still poorly understood at home' Chris Masters, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD'The transformation from zero to hero that Donaldson describes... is testament to what can be achieved through sheer determination' WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN

In A Sunburned Country

This is the first Bill Bryson book I’ve read, and I have to say I enjoyed it. Bill is hilarious and infuriating at the same time, which surprisingly to me makes for a very entertaining combination. I’m sure he’s not telling the full story in this book — its just not possible for someone so ill prepared to not just die in the outback somewhere. Take his visit to Canberra for example — he drives down from Sydney, hits the first hotel he finds and then spends three days there. No wonder he’s bored. Eventually he bothers to drive for another five minutes and finds there is more to the city than one hotel. On the other hand, he maligns my home town in such a hilarious manner I just can’t be angry at him.

I loved this book, highly recommended.

In a Sunburned Country Book Cover In a Sunburned Country
Bill Bryson

The author takes readers on a tour of the land Down Under that goes far beyond packaged-tour routes.

Don’t Tell Mum I Work On The Rigs

I read this book while on a flight a few weeks ago. Its surprisingly readable and relatively short — you can knock it over in a single long haul flight. The book covers the memoirs of an oil rig worker, from childhood right through to middle age. That’s probably the biggest weakness of the book, it just kind of stops when the writer reaches the present day. I felt there wasn’t really a conclusion, which was disappointing.

An interesting fun read however.

Don't Tell Mum I Work on the Rigs, She Thinks I'm a Piano Player in a Whorehouse Book Cover Don't Tell Mum I Work on the Rigs, She Thinks I'm a Piano Player in a Whorehouse
Paul Carter
Biography & Autobiography
Allen & Unwin
May 1, 2006

A take no prisoners' approach to life has seen Paul Carter heading to some of the world's most remote, wild and dangerous places as a contractor in the oil business. Amazingly, he's survived (so far) to tell these stories from the edge of civilization, and reason.

Don’t use Jetbus Sydney if you want to catch your flight

I had to take a flight a few weeks ago, and I thought I’d do the financially (and environmentally) sensible thing and use an airport shuttle service. Especially because the airport train in Sydney is so expensive and slow. I found Jetbus online, and paid with PayPal. The first time I used them they were just fine, but the second time was extremely frustrating. So frustrating that I wont be using their service again, as I value actually getting on my plane.

Interestingly, Jetbus’ Sydney office is across the road from my pickup location, so how badly can it go?

I had a 4pm booking. I arrived at the pickup location 15 minutes early. The bus drove past me at the speed limit approximately on time. It did not slow down or stop. I rang the dispatch number to inform them of the error. The bus drove past about 10 minutes later, again without slowing down or stopping. I rang again. The bus didn’t reappear. In total, I rang dispatch 5 times in an attempt to be collected. After the bus was 45 minutes late, I took a taxi to the airport instead, which cost $47, and arrived with only 15 minutes to spare.

The only part of this whole thing which makes me happy? This is the first time I have had to use PayPal’s dispute resolution system as I am not a big PayPal user. It was pain free, and gave me the outcome I wanted. That’s interesting given that I hear so many bad things from other PayPal users.

In Australia, alive

So, after a somewhat traumatic 30 hour journey from America, I am now in Australia happy and well. I’m surprised by how not-jetlagged I feel, which is nice as well. Qantas in Melbourne were actually much better than Qantas in LAX about the missing bag. They were friendly, sympathetic, efficient and gave me $100 AUD cash to buy new clothes. So, I’m here and I’m alive.

Mirror traffic during the last day of LCA 2007

It seems obvious to me that videos of LCA 2007 are good. Specifically:

 # Statistics for eth0 ##########################################################
 #                                                                              #
 #               Total      Total    Incoming   Incoming    Outgoing   Outgoing #
 #             Packets      Bytes     Packets      Bytes     Packets      Bytes #
 # Total:       241091    228940K       96646   18025370      144445    210915K #
 # IP:          241091    225548K       96646   16655328      144445    208892K #
 # TCP:         241086    225547K       96643   16655034      144443    208892K #
 # UDP:              4        412           2        266           2        146 #
 # ICMP:             0          0           0          0           0          0 #
 # Other IP:         1         28           1         28           0          0 #
 # Non-IP:           0          0           0          0           0          0 #
 #                                                                              #
 #                                                                              #
 # Total rates:      49188.4 kbits/sec        Broadcast packets:            0   #
 #                    6592.2 packets/sec      Broadcast bytes:              0   #
 #                                                                              #
 # Incoming rates:    3814.2 kbits/sec                                          #
 #                    2714.4 packets/sec                                        #
 #                                            IP checksum errors:           0   #
 # Outgoing rates:   45374.2 kbits/sec                                          #
 #                    3877.8 packets/sec                                        #
 # Elapsed time:   0:00 #########################################################

Yay for LCA 2007 videos.

Getting ready to leave Sydney

I haven’t written much about the couple of weeks I’ve spent in Sydney. Nothing really exciting happened, apart from a trip home to see the kids (the Southern Tablelands were greener than I expected), a visit to CLUG another to SLUG, and a lot of time spent eating at restaurants on King Street in Newtown.

I’ve decided that I like the Sydney train system, but not the trains themselves. The trains fall into several categories:

  • Millennium trains: the standard one would expect from any world class train system. There are hardly any of these, but they’re the only ones with screens saying what station is next, and are in a good state of repair. It seems that they’re mainly devoted to the tourist-centric airport runs.
  • Tangaras: about 15 years old I’m told. They’re ok but nothing special.
  • Craptastics: these are the ones older than Tangaras but with retrofitted air conditioning. They must be about 30 years old from the look of things. They’re crap.
  • Craptanics: imagine a Craptastic before it had the air conditioning retrofit. This is that train. At least you can open the windows, which helps let some of the reek of sweaty office workers and teenaged boys out. Some.
  • Stinktanic: if you get one of these, $DEITY hates you. It’s a Craptanic, without windows that open. You’re screwed. Enjoy the smell.

So, that’s about all I learnt of note in Sydney… To summarise: yay King Street, yay train system, boo actual trains except for Millenniums. Oh, and thanks to Grant and Lindsay for letting me stay.