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Column 8 - 1996

[Items appearing in Column 8 in The Sydney Morning Herald Newspaper]

1 Aug 1996
  • Staff in the library at Evans High School, Blacktown, are still translating the instructions that came with their Korean-made laminator. One of the librarians is in suspended animation, waiting for something to come after Note 2;
    2. Turn the power switch on. All this time the laminating films and.
    3. And put a core materials between laminating ouch films.

    The two others are working on the final instruction:

    4. You have to place the laminating pouch in to the feeding table meatly and strighly.
1 Aug 1996
  • Cheltenham Girls' High had a traumatic day recently when the water main outside the school burst, putting its lavatories out of action. Sydney Water primes to have the water back for 11am recess - but then another section of the pipe split. Portaloo was called and units were dispatched to the school. In the meantime, students were sent to use the local railway station loos. The crisis passed when the Portaloos were installed by 1.50pm. Why do we tell you all this? Because the emergency arrangements were made by Mr T.D. Radford, who obviously took his position as relieving principal literally
  • The key to selling a property is its adaptability. For example, this mutli-use feature of an Elanora Heights estate, advertised in The Manly Daily: "Outside is a purpose-built dam that doubles as a swimming pool, stable, workman's shed and a tennis court".
2 Aug 1996
  • Did we say that? John Huxley's Finishing Lines from Atlanta yesterday: "Which brings us to American weightlifter Mark Henry. He stands 188m tall ..." Gee, that's an awfully long way to bend down to the barbell.
6 Aug 1996
  • There was a car for sale in Wyndham Street, Alexandria, noted Phil Dimond, of Cherrybrook, as he drove by yesterday. A man was putting this hand-lettered sign on the roof: FOR SALE: X-wife's car. See new girlfriend for price.
7 Aug 1996
  • Congratulations to Another Newspaper for its historic two-page aerial colour picture of Sydney Harbour as the wraparound with its Olympic issue yesterday. It brought tears of nostalgia as we gazed at the city without the Glebe Island Bridge or the casino, with the Harbour Tunnel and the ANA Hotel still being built. The Tunnel and the ANA both opened in 1992, so we guess the picture is at least six or seven years old - and, as the jacaranda is out, it must have been November. Perhaps its a new attempt to boost circulation with a Spot What's Missing prize.
  • Emmett O'Keefe, of Killara, bought a door snake - one of those stuffed rolls for stopping the draught. The label said Draft Dodger - Made in China. "Does the Chinese Army have a recruitment problem?" he asks.
8 Aug 1996
  • After Karen Picken, of Balgowlah, wrote to the Premier about woodchipping, she felt honoured to receive a reply signed by Bob Carr. "Dear Ms Picken," it said, "I refer to your letter concerning gun control ..." Someone hit the wrong button on the stock-letter-of-reply machine
  • A massage parlour in Fyshwick, ACT, has changed its name. It used to be "First Protocol". From this week it's "Parlour Ment House".
  • From Macquarie University's library comes a copy of a leaflet announcing cancellation of classes yesterday and a rally in Town Hall Square. It's all about threatened university cuts which, the leaflet says, may result in "less student places". We agree with the sender - it's a worry.
13 Aug 1996
  • Mum's been sick, so she wasn't able to give the Year 10 son the usual check - hanky, ticket, money, lunch, homework. So he's gone to school from Kirribilli leaving his cut lunch behind. What's a father to do? How many fathers have faced that little problem? Simple - you drop the lunch in at the school on the way to work. Which is exactly what John Howard did last Friday, dashing from his chauffeur-driven car into Shore school at North Sydney, through the grounds to deliver the lunchbag to forgetful little Richard.
  • Life's little Mystery No 489: Driving on Ryde Road, near Epping Road, on Friday afternoon, Mary Poirrier, of Wahroonga, found herself behind a white Toyota with this intriguing sign on the back window: "CAUTION. Vehicle Frequently Sideways". What can it mean?
  • And no 490: A Carlingford housewife answered the phone at 9:45 on Saturday night. A very upset woman at the other end gasped out, "Please tell Peter that I'm sorry," then hung up. There's no Peter at that number - so who earned the apology?
16 Aug 1996
  • From The New York Times: A sign outside a Louisville, Kentucky, animal hospital: VETERINARIAN / TAXIDERMIST. Either way, you get your dog back.
  • Peter Cookson, of Roseville, hopes Japanese-English has disappeared from product manuals, but says it's been replaced by outlandish claims. His new cordless phone, the instructions say, is designed to filter out background noise and enhance the quality of conversation while using the portable handset. Says Mr Cookson: "My wife, after exhaustive tests, tells me it has not improved the quality of my conversation at all."
22 Aug 1996
  • From a reader calling himself Jeeves, in the Customs Service: "I just wrote a letter and put the spell checker through it. The checker prompted me to change the word 'Costello' to 'Costly'. Given the circumstances, I thought it rather apt."
  • On a recent trip to Bangkok, gem merchant Karen Lindley, of Fairlight, and her business partner, Bill Hanington, were issued with new American Express gold cards. What to do with the old ones? The problem was solved when Bill stubbed a toe on his left foot in a Bangkok pothole and broke it. They cut up an old card and made a split for his toe. "It worked brilliantly," says Karen. Never leave home without one?
2 Sep 1996
  • A future geometrician, Helail Diab, of Chester Hill, aged 7, is learning at Chester Hill North Public about shapes. The definitions he gave to his father, Harry: Rectangle: "They're long and skinny." Square: "They're short and fat."
  • We won't identify this reader because what he's doing must be highly illegal. He writes from Sydney to his sistr in Canada - and for some reason his stamps never get the Australia Post cancellation. His sister soaks them off, returns them, and he glues them to the next envelope. One set, he says, has been to Canada five times, but looks the worse for wear. Hmmmm.
  • Different values. Competitions advertised in our newspaper offer prizes such as holidays and TV sets. Bernie Brennan, of Cammeray, has a cutting from the Post-Courier, sent by his brother-in-law, a missionary in Madang, PNG. The SP Brewery needs returns of SP and Pepsi bottles, and advertises: For every carton or crate delivered to an SP Bottle Collector you will receive a ticket in a draw to win a Pig.
11 Sep 1996
  • By e-mail from James Lloyd, an astronomer at the South Pole - a comment on the "South Pole, cool, -61" entry in the weather notes last week (Column 8, Friday): "The truly funny thing is that it's not funny. It's accurate. In the context of South Pole weather, cold is more in the range of -70 to -80, and warm is -50 or above. Right now it's warm." Hmmm.
  • We must acknowledge that Hawaiians are being asked to vote for a man with just the right name for the job. From an ad in the Honolulu Advertiser, courtesy of Lynne Hunt, of Hornsby: "Now, more than Ever ... For Hawaii / ORSON SWINDLE for congress"
  • Jeff McLachlan, of Bronte, sought Telstra directory assistance for the numbers of two interstate businesses - Modern Skin Care, in Brisbane, and Hollywood Wigs and Accessories, in Canberra. The operator: "You obviously take care of yourself, sir." Cheeky.
12 Sep 1996
  • Another from the Department of the Bleeding Obvious: Hink Verhoeven, of Beacon Hill, advises us that Choice magazine, in its September issue, lists recalls and bans. Being recalled is Ansell's Lifestyle Ultrasure 12s condoms because they "may fail to comply with the Australian Standard". Under the head What To Do is: Do not use them.
18 Sep 1996
  • Elections in Hawaii are a barrel of fun. They're being asked to vote for the wonderfully named Orson Swindle (Column 8, Sep 11), and now Campbell and Audrey Smith, of Greenwich, just back from there, have found another strikingly named candidate. In the county election in Hilo, on the island of Hawaii, they saw this sign for her: "BONK! ... if you love Hawaii'i!"
27 Sep 1996
  • On the road with the Sydney Theatre Company's Dead White Males, the actress Gillian Hyde called into a Brisbane pharmacy the other day seeking make-up remover. They had on offer what she calls "this extraordinary product" [cut-out of ad reading "Gentile Eye Make-up Remover"]. "I refuse to make any reference to ethnic cleansing," she says. Quite right.
3 Oct 1996
  • Take your pick. Edward Ricards, of Greenway, ACT, reports that the post office in the Tuggeranong Hyperdome shopping centre has two posting slots. One is labelled ALL MAIL. The other is labelled ALL OTHER MAIL.
9 Oct 1996
  • We agree with Diana Heath, of Darling Point, that the announcer on ABC Radio's Classic Drive on Friday was a little too personal when he said, after a recording of a soprano: The singer was Kathleen Battle. She has her knockers, but you can't complain about her singing.
13 Oct 1996
  • The Tax Office put out a stern reminder yesterday that people who prepare their own tax returns must send them in by October 31. Attached to this was a report on the excuses they have received in recent years for failures to lodge returns:
    • My car has just blown up, the cat's had kittens, the kids have the flu and my chooks are dying. You'll have to wait for my bloody return. My wife just ran off with my best friend and took all my papers and the other gear. I will be going to see them soon as I want to get my papers and golf clubs back. Then I will lodge my return.
    • I couldn't find my taxation papers as my wife had them and I could not find her.
    • I couldn't remember my tax file number but seemed to recall that it started with a 5.
    • I am only lodging my return to stop the persistent nagging of my wife. I forgot (to lodge) the first year, felt guilty the second year and was too scared for the next three years.
    • My client died three years ago and has only ad a limited involvement in the business since that time.
    • My wife and business were separated and sold respectably last year and I forgot to lodge a tax return. I have lodge returns for the past 22 years but this year my wife left me. Please tell me what I can do about this.
19 Oct 1996
  • It's in yesterday's North Shore Times as a "Moving Sale" and probably will be for one small, rejected member of the family: ... Everything must go! Sofas, beds, cupboards, tables, chairs, desks, kitchenware, computer, toys, games, pool, baby & car accessories.
25 Oct 1996
  • The Manly ferry was arriving at Circular Quay when Greg Hazlett overheard two US couples discussing their plans. "Let's go to that place that looks like broken eggshells," said one.
26 Oct 1996
  • Walking at Rose Bay, Fred and Robyn Merrett heard the roar of an engine, and saw a Police Highway Patrol car speed away from its hideaway, just off New South Head Road, in pursuit of speedster. What had the police forgotten? Their book of traffic tickets on the bonnet, that's what. Of course, it blew off in a flurry of pages, and the crew had to stop to retrieve it. The speedster got away. Tough.
  • It has been cold here, but that didn't justify the address on a letter Michael Wilson received from a US computer company: ... Elizabeth Bay, NSW 2011, Antarctica.
  • Visiting San Francisco, Paul Lynch, of Potts Point, was toiling up the steepest street on Nob Hill, puffing and panting. A woman, obviously a local, was walking up too, but slowly and steadily. "You must see a lot of tourists dying on these hills," joked Mr Lynch. "Yes," said the San Franciscan smiling sweetly, "the trick is to walk on the side of the street so you don't get knocked over by the bodies rolling downhill."
31 Oct 1996
  • Why did someone place a lemon under each tyre of a car at Bronte and then drive off, leaving them squashed (LLM No 225, Column 8, Tuesday)? Chandra Reddy, of Strathfield, says it's an Indian good-luck custom when one buys a new or used car - his mother had insisted on him doing it each time he changed cars. It's said to ward off the evil eye and evil spirits, so does it protect against police radar speed checks or RBTs? Not as far as Chandra is concerned - he's had some speed bookings.
  • Dymocks, the bookseller, is overwhelmed by the generosity of its great rival, Angus and Robertson. An A&R Bookworld catalogue circulating in Western Australia, and possibly here, too, has a form for payment by credit, or "Cheque or Money Order (Please make payable to Dymocks)". The accountants at Dymocks are eagerly awaiting the flood of money.
1 Nov 1996
  • A puzzle headline from The Highlands Post, Goulburn. Had the Diet Police caught someone with an illicit cream sponge? "Cake eater found in home". No, just another slice of life, about the arrest of a man who broke into a house and ate a cake.
8 Nov 1996
  • Yes, yes, we live in a glass-house, but from time to time we can throw a few stones. Take an article about singer Tom Jones in Another Newspaper this week. It was header Affairs not unusual, but one of his dalliances had an unusual result: "Last month, the 56-year-old Jones was named in a paternity writ by Katherine Berkery, a Florida mother who says he bore her a son in 1988."
18 Nov 1996
  • Ken Breakspear, of Fairlight, life member of the Kosciusko Alpine Club and two other skiing clubs, and recipient of an MBE for his contribution to skiing, is in hospital recovering from a right knee reconstruction. The operation is needed because he plans to race again next year and he no longer skis as well as he used to. Well, not since he turned 91.
  • How many pizza deliverers have a second reason for knocking on doors? A Crows Nest pizza man tried selling an investment plan to one customer (Column 8, Thursday). A colleague, living in Leichhardt, says that when he took delivery of a pizza, the young man then tried to sign him up for a weight loss program - a clear case of conflict of interest.
20 Nov 1996
  • [... Media coverage of re-entry of Mir Space Station] A CNN reporter in Hawaii reported, early in the piece, that it might land in eastern Australia near Canberra. "There are a number of towns and villages in the area," she said with unconscious irony.
27 Nov 1996
  • They're getting more and more cunning. In Woolworths at Gosford at Monday lunchtime, Boyd Grainger, of Saratoga, noticed two pigeons walking along the floor in the aisles. A little later, he found where they'd been heading - the pet-food shelves. One was on the top shelf, and had pecked a hole in a packet of parrot food. It was busily feeding, and its mate was on the floor, picking up the bits that fell. Mr Grainger assumes they checked the labels first.
13 Dec 1996
  • Vegemite as stove blacking (Column 8, Saturday)? Elizabeth Goldsmith, now of Castlecrag, grew up in Hungary. She recalls that her brother, George Nandor, by then living in Australia, sent the family a food parcel after the war. "There was a jar in it without any label, with some black stuff in it," she says. "We thought it was boot polish!" It was oddly sticky and provided no shine, but when she came to Australia in 1948 she found there were better uses for it.
  • Merryn Affleck, ex-Wagga, now living in California, was intrigued to read in The New York Times a puzzling bit of politcal geography. She sent it back to her father, Don. Reporting the RAAF's medical supplies drop to a seriously ill United States sailor in the round-the-world yacht race, the paper said: "The yacht was about 1500 nautical miles south-west of the coast of the Western Australia state of Canberra in the Southern Ocean."

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