Oct 9

Yesterday afternoon I went out to bring in our garbage bins and was greeted with a scene of utter devastation. Bins were strewn across the width of the cul-de-sac. Most were laying on their sides, lids flapping in the breeze. In the middle of the street sat a pile of unidentifiable mush, oozing some noxious liquid into a nearby drain.

Sadly, this is what passes for garbage collection nowadays.

Remember when garbage men actually collected garbage and took pride in it? I have fond memories of taking the old metal bin out to the nature strip, and of watching the garbos come to collect it.

Around dawn the garbage truck would pass slowly by, with two bronzed, fit looking blokes jogging along behind. In my mind they are Paul Hogan and Alby Mangels, beanie and footy socks their only protection against the early morning chill. These guys could scoop up a bin and dump its contents into the truck with a single, fluid motion only possible with years of practice and muscles like piano wire.

Sure, occasionally a bin lid would be run over or some rubbish dropped on our lawn, but we could forgive the garbage men because they had a human face. They smiled and said “G’day!” as they passed. We were envious of their stress-free lifestyle. Young kids dreamed of being garbologists when they grew up.

These days, the “garbage man” is a faceless representative of whatever waste disposal corporation submitted the lowest priced tender to council. His full title is probably Waste Management Officer Level 6. He sits in the heated cab of his truck, which lumbers through our pre-dawn streets like something out of War of the Worlds. With the press of a button, a whirring robot arm scoops up a bin and dumps its contents, then tosses it aside like an empty beer can. Often this display is accompanied by an irritating beeping noise. In the future the task of garbage collection will be one of the first jobs assigned to androids. 

This brings me back to the pile of rubbish left in our street. Is it not the responsibility of the company contracted to manage our waste to pick this up? I certainly don’t want to do it myself, and I can’t blame my neighbours for feeling likewise, so I suppose it will just sit there, making our street look like some third world back alley. In fact, I have been to third world countries that have cleaner streets than ours, precisely because men and women are paid to pick up rubbish and keep the streets tidy, and they take pride in their work and their city. 

Has our society reached the point where garbage men no longer pick up garbage?

Oct 6
Snubian Phone Home
icon4 Oct 6th, 2008 | icon2 Memories | icon3Comments Off

Was just down the Bi-Lo and stood behind a guy at the checkout who was wearing one of those nifty wireless earpiece thingies. Apart from thinking he looked like a bit of a wanker, it struck me how far mobile phones have come in the last twenty years or so, and how things just aren’t the same as in the good old days.

Look at this tosser:

Remember Gordon Gekko in Wall Street? None of yer Bluetooth bullshit for Gordon – when he gave an order into his monster cell phone people fucking listened.

I had a friend who owned a “mobile” phone like Gordon’s in about 1994. It rattled around in his briefcase like a house brick. He and I had a short-lived money-making scheme at that time which revolved around a system for betting on horse races. On Saturdays we would drive down to the TAB, go inside and wait for the right race to come up, then rush out to the car and call PhoneTAB on his mobile to place a bet. We’d then enter the winnings (or losings) into a spreadsheet on my laptop. In the back of my car! Let me tell you, sitting in a car outside a TAB in Newcastle in 1994 using a laptop and placing bets on a mobile phone, we thought we were fucking Gordon Gekko.

I bought my first mobile phone in 1995 – an Ericsson GH337, which cost a small fortune for the time (about $450 from memory) but is actually reasonably sized even by today’s standards. Here it is next to one of its descendants.

Of course, now you have iPhones and all that sort of thing, they just keep on getting bigger and better … or smaller and better. But check out this news report from 1983 on fledgling cellular phone technology. Imagine, at that time the mobile network permitted only 12 simultaneous conversations in an entire city!

Oct 4

Next time you’re in Yamba, be sure to have dinner at Coyote’s Cantina Mexican Restaurant. Rach and I ate there last week, so I can tell you exactly the sort of dining experience you are in for.

First of all, you will be shown to a table by the kitchen door, which apart from being noisy and giving you unwanted glimpses into the kitchen, will render you invisible to wait-staff.

Your drink order will be taken immediately upon being seated. After asking for two Coronas you will be thanked by the harried waitress for requesting “something easy”. This is a reference to their bloated drinks menu which includes a range of ridiculous cocktails, including something called a Smurfet [sic]. (Presumably this is in honour of Smurfette, who I believe was the only female Smurf. Anyway, the Coyote Cantina Smurfet [sic] concoction had about nine or ten ingredients and sounded awful.)

After your drinks arrive you will sit for about 25 minutes waiting for your food order to be taken. By the end of this time you will be wondering whether to: a) physically grab a waitress as she zips by; b) walk into the kitchen and make your own dinner; c) pay for your drinks and leave; or d) not pay for your drinks and leave. We waited until our order was taken. Stupid us.

Get the “Dip Platter”. It is a disgraceful pile of crap that does not belong in any establishment calling itself a Mexican Restaurant. There are four dips, in no particular order:

  • puréed tinned tomatoes
  • sour cream mixed with about half a kilogram of dill
  • mushed-up avocado
  • warm beans with cold grated cheddar cheese sprinkled on top

You also get a plate of Doritos to dip into your dippy selections. I know they were Doritos because I saw the “cooks” in the kitchen pawing them from a Doritos bag onto our plate.

The bean dip is placed above Doritos on the Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness, and so I was unable to dip into it without my Dorito snapping embarrassingly into ever smaller pieces. And we must’ve got the end of the Doritos bag, because most of the chips were about the size of a five cent piece.

If you’re lucky you might get a glimpse of the chef, a big beefy guy who at one point made a mercy dash to the bar, returning to the kitchen with four beers. “It’s thirsty work in there!”, he said to no-one in particular.

Astonishingly, there was only a brief wait until our mains arrived. I got a chicken chimichanga, which was surprisingly edible. The chimichanga, in case you don’t know, is a kind of deep-friend burrito, stuffed with shredded meat and sauce – not traditional Mexican as such, but tasty nonetheless. The salad had some sort of Italian dressing on it, which was a minor distraction. From memory, Rach’s dinner was also mediocre but edible.

This is what my meal should have looked like

As we were finishing our meals, a family at the table opposite stood up to leave. The mother said to the kitchen staff, “That was the best Mexican I’ve ever had.” The father chimed in with, “Thanks guys, that was bewdiful.” If there was irony in their comments then it was incredibly well concealed.

The bill for this dining extravaganza was a mere $68. No tip.

P.S. If you do ever visit Yamba, go to Sassafras Pizza on Coldstream St. We had a tasty pizza there with drinks and dessert for under $40. Mention snubian.com to receive a weird look and complementary jelly beans with your bill.