Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Right . .back to me . . and Wednesday and why it's good . . .I get a healthy dose of Big Brother (yeh, yeh, I know . . we all have our weaknesses but this year it's a bunch of FREAKS . . except they already voted out the grandma - boo/hiss!) Plus it's on at 7pm (well I thought it was but not so tonight - reruns of "Friends" bleagh!) and there's not much except tabloid TV or ABC news which has already been broadcast by other stations by this time. Then it's RSPCA Rescue for a good dose of 'Awwww' and 'How could they do that' and 'Isn't that lovely' and an overwhelming desire to drive down to Hoxton Park Animal shelter and rescue a trillion kittens plus a lasting regret that I wasn't smart enough or rich enough to become a pro bono Vet. This is followed by, a nice perve at the Bondi Rescue team 'cawwwww' buns so tight you could bounce them off the walls when they're not fishing hapless Japanese tourists out of one of the worst rips on one of the worst beaches in Sydney or arguing with white and freckled Irishmen about the need to avoid blistering skin by applying sun screen - they never do and end up with 2nd degree burns and a few day's hospitalisation. . . silly feckers.
Then it’s settle down with a bowl of superbly hot chilli with mexi-beans, enough to make you sweat on this cold 2 degree night and possibly result in a ring of fire although I'm using home made chili jam this time which gives it a nice soft edge. Also a couple of cubes of dark chocolate gives it a yummy gloss. Hot tip from the el supremo of chilli makers!
Then Spicks and Specs (I've mentioned this before and am devastated when the season ends) my favourite music quiz show to which I know all the answers - about three minutes too late. Where's the Reverend Poulton or the interminable Gledwood when I need them and their little box of vinyls! Then possibly the IT Crowd or whatever other silly Brit comedy happens to be scheduled.
So . . tonight, for your entertainment, I’m sticking with the humourarse and the dreadful treatment received by bloggers . . . See . . .I'm not always serious . . .
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Everyone knows I’m an armchair radical but I can also be an armchair activist. Besides being involved with Getup, which focuses on lobbying the government on policy issues, I’ve also been tinkering with Avaaz. Now don’t panic, I’m not going to preach - just raise a little awareness. It's painless and costs nothing but a 'click'. My friend Absolute Vanilla in South Africa has a Zimbabwean housekeeper, her child and her parents are at the coal face. She doesn't know what's happening there because she's in SA trying to eek a living. Australia is embracing white Zimabwean farmers deposed by this vicious regime and the world stands by:
Avaaz.org is a new global web movement with a simple democratic mission: to close the gap between the world we have, and the world most people everywhere want. I like the idea that global citizens can support and effect change via the internet. How successful this type of action might be, I can only guess.
Last week, a Chinese ship, the An Yue Jiang, carrying 77 tonnes of Zimbabwe-bound weapons and ammunition docked in Durban, South Africa--but, refusing to aid Mugabe's crackdown, the dockworkers would not unload it. Unions, churches, and legal groups throughout Southern Africa quickly mobilized; the ship was forced to leave the harbour, and other ports in the region are vowing to block the weapons as well.
Even as the Zimbabwe crisis worsens, an extraordinary solidarity movement has taken hold across Southern Africa. As ports refuse to unload it’s deadly cargo. Now, as pressure builds, China is publicly wavering--and might decide to bring the arms home.
Three weeks has passed since general elections in Zimbabwe. Official results have still not been released. Fear of reprisals by the opposing parties have led to reports of a "human wave" of refugees fleeing to South Africa and other neighbouring countries. Mogabe continues to tell the world that this is a racial conflict and that this is at the root of the problem, my friend tells me otherwise: "The irony of the Zimbabwean genocide is that although he's (Mogabe) tried to make it racially motivated - trying to pit the Shona against the Ndebele - there is in fact no tribal division between the two peoples."
As the grassroots outcry has grown, political officials have begun to press their case. Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa urged other African leaders not to allow the weapons to reach Zimbabwe. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and former UNSG Kofi Annan have called for democracy. And more and more other leaders in Africa and worldwide are joining in. The Chinese arms ship is now sailing up the Western coast of Africa looking for somewhere to unload. It’s a good time for a strong global outcry with China in the news in relation to the Olympics and keen to promote it’s friendly image.
The crisis in Zimbabwe has many layers, and raises issues that range from the legacy of colonialism to the uncontrolled international arms trade. I won’t even attempt to understand them all, just suffice to say the country has gone down the toilet and the human cost is enormous. The people of Zimbabwe took their stand in the voting booth. The dockworkers of South Africa took their stand at the harbour. Now, even if we can only offer a click, it is time to do our part as well.
There is more sobering information here but it is not for the feinthearted!
but it is not for the feinthearted!
Oh and a more local cause for the week: Getup are asking everyone to purchase this for $1.69 . . In the spirit of our recent apology, proceeds will go to the Getup Reconciliation Fund which will assist the following charity organisations:
- Link Up - assisting Indigenous people who have been fostered, adopted or raised in institutions to find their way home.
- Mums and Bubs Program in Townsville (Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service QLD)
- Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME).
Here’s the song:
Get up are hoping to history, and take their message of hope to an audience of millions by encouraging Australians to buy the song for a mere $1.67 and push it up the charts, thereby fostering awareness. Ok granted it's a pretty woeful song song but it's heart's in the right place!
Sunday, April 27, 2008
It was a horrible night, pouring rain and wet roads. The sort of night you'd rather curl up on a couch but this particular combination of diners have a quarterly meeting arrangement so it wasn't to be avoided.
We arrived at a new restaurant called The Glass House only to be told that it wasn't BYO (even though it was when it first opened in January). Unhappy with that scenario we asked the decidedly bitchy waitress if she could make an exception on our behalf as there was only one other couple dining in the otherwise empty restaurant. "I'm sorry, but we can't make any exceptions, besides you should be here for the food!" she snapped in her veiled South African accent. "You wouldn't expect BYO at Trellinis or the Euro Lounge!" Fuck off! Like this place was anywhere near the calibre of those two. It was a glass box with a boring interior and no atmosphere. It's exactly because we were there for the food that we wanted to bring our own wine rather than pay inflated prices for their very ordinary wine list. So after a short and curt exchange, we told her in no uncertain terms to stick her overpriced winelist up her jumper, packed up bags and moved on to the Thai next door which was absolutely packed. No room at the inn so we moved on to an old fashioned but reliably good-value Italian restaurant, Bon Amici's. No problems there.
It's a 70's style, wholesome Italian and slightly gaudily decorated venue that's in need of a facelift and some new carpet. You know the type. Lots of red and gold and a funny sort of organza canopy draped across the ceiling. Immitation Eretrian masks adorn the wall and rather tatty looking candilabres on the mantle piece. Normally there's an exceptionally bad accordianist and keyboard player who has a backing track and forgets the words to the most basic of songs . . he's been there for ages . . .practically an installation and half the place's charm. It's the sort of place where you always run into someone you know and either join tables or have a quick chat whilst they pick up their take out pizza.
The wait staff are lovely, professional but friendly and nothing is too much trouble. We are immediately given cold, filtered water and our wine uncorked. Before long, the wholesome but tasty food arrived including a magnificent home made crab ravioli with a to-die-for creamy bisque and Veal Campagna . . . followed beautifully made Italian coffee - we had good conversation and great service. We weren't rushed and the meal was exceptionally satisfying and good value. Our only criticism, they had run out of after dinner chocolates. Struth Ruth was not impressed .. no chocolate with coffee will cost you your tip! So our delightful American waiter came forth with a small saucier of chocolate topping surrounded by hundreds and thousands . . .weird but innovative . . . at least he tried and Struth had her chocolate fix satiated.
So 'up yours' Glass House . . hope you made a bomb on the only two diners who patronised your establishment! Piss off one punter and they can influence 12 others. That night cost you some bad press and now 48 other people know not to bother!
I couldn't find an image so here's a joke:
A man enters an empty restaurant and sits down at a table. He is approached by renowned funnyman / actor Ricky Gervais.
The man is obviously surprised when Ricky asks him if he can take his order and asks him what he is doing waiting tables in a restaurant.
Ricky explains that he is researching a part in a new film as a waiter and is hoping to pick up some tips - in a spurious yet necessary to the joke-type way.
The man points at the fish tank behind him where there is one solitary green squid casually swimming round. The man is particularly taken by what appears to be a moustache on the squid's top lip. "I'll have that one please" he says.
"Oh no, I couldn't bring myself to kill him for you sir" explains Ricky. "That's Sammy, he's been here for years. He's got such a lovely temperament I just couldn't do it."
"Well is there anyone else here who could kill the squid for me? I am hungry you know!" said the man.
"As you can see, it's not busy tonight" said Ricky "So there's only me and our dishwasher Hans here now."
"Well can't this Hans fellow kill it for me then?" inquired the man.
"No I'm afraid not" said Ricky.
"Why not?" pleaded the man.
"Because" explained Ricky ................
"Hans that does dishes is as soft as Gervais, with the mild green hairy lipped squid!!!"
Saturday, April 26, 2008
See anything just over my neighbour's fence? It was lying still with it's head slightly raised.
I didn't have my zoom so this was as close as I was prepared to go with thongs on!
Cropped and trimmed . . . a fine looking juvenille. Apparently they grow up to 1.5 metres . . well I'm sorry but this guy was easily 2 metres. He's a red bellied black snake sporting shiny new skin and enjoying the first glimpse of sunshine we've had for two weeks . . . someone should tell him he should be getting ready to hibernate! He is poisonous. they are among the most common species on the Eastern Seaboard and enjoy wetlands, creeks and lakes. We we rarely see them although we know they're there. It's shiny black on top with a distinctive red underbelly. This one is displaying a salmon pink because his skin is 'new'. Apparently, it's preferred diet is frogs which may also explain why he's out and about after all the rain and they give birth to up to 20 live young. I went back with the zoom to get some better shots but he heeded the warning of my approach (couldn't have been the birds because snakes are deaf) and did a runner by the time I'd got back. . . must check the swimming pool . . .
Friday, April 25, 2008
Last night we went out for dinner with friends, on the way home (I was the unusually, designated driver) Struth Ruth, year six teacher, mentioned that one of her student's fathers had given a talk to her class about ANZAC, war, being a soldier and everything, he had served in Iraq as part of Australia's "Coalition of the Willing" and like so many of his ilk was proud to do so whether he believed in the conflict or not. He is a true solider. He arrived in his fatigues which way impressed the younglings and spoke about war. How it was bad, how he would rather not participate in it but how soldiers also assist in peace keeping and reconstruction. Also you didn't need to agree with your peers in order to work as a team. Many of the messages he passed on to these young minds were about teamship, camaradarie, watching out for each other, obligation and maintaining peace.
I didn't think much of it in the car on the way home but it's preyed on my mind today as every TV station is paying tribute not just to the first world war vets, to whom this day was originally dedicated and sadly no Australian remains, but to current servicemen and women, the vast majority of whom are keeping peace, provisioning the unfortunate, and doing a job that frankly we - the often critical - are not prepared to do and should sleep soundly at night knowing that we're not physically involved.
ANZAC Day is probably Australia's most important, and certainly our most solemn, national occasion. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War and despite the bravery of it's troops a totally botched exercise thanks to British (and Australian) leaders safely tucked in their London bunkers playing shuffleboard with young people's lives.
ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The soldiers in those forces quickly became known as ANZACs, and the pride they soon took in that name endures to this day. Whilst the massacre at Gallipoli dominates the agenda and I did watch the Dawn Service from Lone Pine this morning, which was incredibly moving as most combatants were between 19 and 22 years of age, I couldn't help thinking what is it all for.
ANZACS were also (little publicised however) represented in Egypt, Greece, North Africa, Europe and of course Turkey. Today, the Turks, Australians and New Zealanders commemorate the Gallipoli event together and with the deepest respect for each other and the huge unnecessary loss of life.
Since the year dot, our societies, European, Asian, African, American - have been defined by war. It's part of the human condition, it maintains boundaries, it preserves sanctity, it subjugates the weak and empowers the strong but as a woman, and I really believe this, I find it the most stupid of resolutions to conflict and yet the most enduring.
God bless those who perished, thank God for those who serve, God save those who are currently deployed but sadly, we are still remembering the death and destruction this idiotic concept has caused families, governments, countries for thousands of years . . .
Meanwhile, my pampered menial has gone out on an ANZAC day pissup, admitting he has no idea what 'two up' is . . . just a public holiday, no big deal, an excuse to get maggoted . . so much for Lest We Forget . . . sadly we do! Whoever said "History does not repeat itself, man always does" was a absolutely right!
Dedicated to Aaaaaaaaaandy Carter, Lofty and Timbo - Thank you boys.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Since I work for a Financial Planning company, insurance is also part of our service offering.
Mind you our clients tend to insure their lives, key people in their businesses rather than their limbs or appendages. I was reading in Money Management and surprisingly there was an article about the speculation that JayLo insured her bottom for $1 billion. While there’s no evidence to confirm that her backside is in fact worth that much there are other better documented items that are well insured. Apparently, it becan in the 1920’s when Ben Turpin, famed for his crossed eyes, insured himself against ‘uncrossing’. Yo-yo champion Harvey Lowe insured his hands for $150,000 in 1935. Then Betty Grable invented the million dollar legs by insuring hers for that handsome sum.
Lord of the Dance, Michael Flatly insured his pins for 25 million pounds and model Heidi Klum, and Tina Turna followed suit. Even Merve Hughes insured his characteristic moustache for 200,000 pounds.
Rod Stuart’s scratchy warbl is ensured for $6mil as is Bruce Springstein (never fancied either as golden garglers but there you are) Naturally Becks legs are insured for a different reason and we allknow what Dolly Parton had ‘covered’ metaphorically speaking.
Those who are worried about unexpected trips to outer space can buy alien-abduction insurance. The policy would provide $10 million to cover medical and psychiatric care, not to mention sarcasm from friends and relatives, and $20 million if the aliens insist on conjugal visits.
Marilyn Monroe may have been the first star to be insured against drug use, says Moraga. No fewer than three movie studios purchased policies to protect against losses if the star's drug use interfered with filming schedules. Robert Downey Jr, took advantage of this precedent and insured against ‘similar’ difficulties.
Food critic and gourmet, Egon Ronay bought a $400,000 insurance policy on his taste buds. The chief taster for Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream also insured his his tasting ability, in the amount of $1 million.
Lloyd's offers an insurance policy that will pay between $40,000 and $760,000 to cover the costs of temps and recruiting new employees if more than two workers quit within 14 days of winning more than $150,000 in the U.K. national lottery.
Lloyd's underwriters, while they will insure almost any risk, don't take reckless business risks themselves. For example, the policy for the 20-year-old merchant navy officer who sailed the English Channel in a bathtub was issued only on one condition: The bathtub plug had to remain in place the entire trip.
Me? Don’t ask . .I’m well covered . . . I’m insured for life, trauma, income protection, terminal illness, Medical and Hospital, Home and Contents, third party accident and third party property fire and theft!
So that’s where my pay goes!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
According to Wikipedia, rats "emit short, high frequency, ultrasonic, socially induced vocalization during rough and tumble play, and when tickled." Well that explains the party in my ceiling . . it's the Fairway Comedy Festival of course!
The blighters have moved into the roof for the winter, or so they think. The poor little mights have crawled from overhanging trees during prolonged periods of rain and sneaked in through valley gutters.
Reluctant as I am to kill any living thing, crikey, even Huntsmen are welcome as long as they don't pass the bedroom lintel, I can't abide the scratching, chewing, flopping, plonking and banging in which these little blighters indulge.
So, last Sunday, Drummerboy and ventured into the roof cavity. There are two houses joined by roof remember and the roof loft is HUGE. Dry, warm, a bit dusty and dirty and a very comfortable condo for a rodent and his posse. Within seconds of flipping the manhole lid and flashing the maglight . . I saw two nice little grey rats tightroping on some structural wirey thing as if it had been placed there specifically for their own acrobatic pleasure. That was enough to convince us of the culprits' identity and baits were laid.
I'm loathe to bait them, it's basically a compound that denies them vitamin K so their blood doesn't coagulate and the poor things literally bleed to death. I've also found out that the theory about them becoming thirsty and running outside in search of water is a complete furfy. They just regularly leave the house in search of water anyway.
Now my dilemma . .it's been pouring for days, there is no shortage of water in the gutters so where's the incentive to leave and possibly die outside? Hence the increased risk of roof and cavity corpses. I SAW two but the noise they're making suggests a larger bunch. We'll just have to put up with the stench . . . . DrummerBoy will go house sitting and I'll have to pitch a tent or invest in some contraption that will reshape my nose whilst blocking the stink of dead rodent. Arrrrgggghhhh!
Traps are in fact the best and most humane exterminators but because rats are intelligent, it doesn't take long for them to work out that the trap is either dangerous or can be sprung without injury. It might catch one but then its buddies cotton-on. They don't listen to 'shoo . . go away' and the ultrasonic plugins can't travel through the solid rafters so they're not effective.
The only environmental solution is a children's or carpet python but I'm not keen about one hanging about in the roof and I'm not sure being eaten alive by a 6 foot snake is any better than being baited!
They can't stay - they chew electrical wiring, poo, wee, fornicate, produce ratlings every six weeks and apparently play the mini olympics between the hours of 2 and 4am. From last night's meanderings, it's the relay that has them all excited. All indications are that they also have a crowd cheering them on.
So, I'm fragile through lack of sleep, wracked with guilt about killing something that should live happily in the great outdoors, in a tree or creek but whatever - the deed is done. It's a waiting game to see if we've been effective and to find out whether they vacate. If they aren't dead by the weekend, I'm going to summon the ghost of that Irwin fellow and ask him to take them to a better place . . after all this year really is the year of the Rat.
Even overseas it seems the spring air has brought some unwelcome greebies with it and another friend is feeling like his throat is being chopped by a buzz saw. So to all you pathetic sufferers of MAN FLU I have some medical advice. Take drugs! . . .Legal ones of course . . none of this male posturing, take Panadol every 4 hours and gargle with Listerine or similar anti bacterial mouthwash. REST and RESUSCITATE, R & R does not stand for Root and Run . . stop ringing the bell, demanding beef bullion and a shoulder massage, just sleep. Playstation and XBox are not remedies so remove them from the room. Stay away from the sprogs or you'll infect everyone since they're travelling snot boxes at the best of times and put your tissues in a bin not scattered all over the duvet like oversized snowflakes. NO SEX . . if you haven't got the energy to drag your sad flanellette pyjama'd ass downstairs to boil a kettle you can't do the deed. None of this "I'm feeling a bit better now that I have a bullet shaped Vics schnozz capsule stuck up me nose" you're not fooling anyone. And you're a big boy now so there's no bed made on the couch and Vegemite soldier boy comfort food. Chocolate aggravates the throat so it's Chamomile or Mint tea and at the very best a hot whiskey toddy before bed!
I'm sorry you're feeling poorly, really I am because the women you normally love have turned into nursemaids, invalid chef's and babysitters . . .I hope you all get better in the morning!
And this just because I found it looking for the above . . I love an animal conversation:
Monday, April 21, 2008
- Any word with three syllables or more is far to risky if you have to pronounce under the influence or in a hurry - it must therefore be shortened
- Maximum irony or sarcasm must be employed at all times
- The endings "o" "y" and "a" are preferred above all others, but are not exclusive.
- The words thus formed must be frequently used in conjunction with swear words found offensive in most English speaking cultures
Now you've got the rules, let's see about the application. Here is couple of non-exhaustive lists of words or concepts and their Australian equivalents.
- David Stephen, John, Benjamin become Davo ("dave-o"), Stevo, Johnno, Benno etc. Note that "Johnny" is a term of utter contempt and never used except as such.
- Darren, Warren, Lauren become Dazza, Wazza, Lozza etc. The "a" ending sound is always drawn out for dramatic effect. Wazzaaaaa! This may seem like a contradiction of the "shorter" rule - until you think about the ease of drunken or exhuberant pronounciation
- Peter, Robert, Kimberly are always Pete, Bob, Kim etc.
- Surnames are fair game, Thompson becomes Thommo, Smith becomes Smithy, Simpson becomes Simmo and very unfairly for it was my maiden name, Dunn becomes "Dunny"
- Mac anything always becomes Macca
- Then there are the out there nicknames which describe a particular character trait and not always flattering: Parra, Barra, Chopper, Blocker, Plugga, Licka, Roo or Fridge - the list is endless!
Sawyer seems to have the knack:
No matter how carefully your parents chose your name, it will be changed . . in fact it's almost an honour to have your name perverted in such a way. Lesson over - any questions?
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Saturday night babysitting began at 2.00pm. Nice one. (Babysis taking advantage of some free time to get her toenails painted!). The kids were dropped off for an overnight stay just as DrummerBoy and I were settling into a gorefest pic (it's been wet all weekend so it seemed the natural thing to do) . They're good kids. They're feral perils who have no problem poking a stick down a Wolf Spider hole, squishing a huntsman or whipping ThePrincess into an indoor frenzy - then they're also just as happy sitting in front of a computer playing one of 1000 free download games. After a kindly lecture from Aunty Nell about the dangers of talking to stranger's on the internet and giving away you're hotmail address - they're so connected these younglings! The game which receives the most raucus laughter is a bunch of stick men fighting, the hero with a bow and arrow! They were distracted and happy for the entire time we watched John Cusack losing his mind!
The big boys wandered off into the night. Me and the kidlets settled into a session of Underdog and couch snuggles which reminded me of times when mine were more prone to staying home and burying themselves under a doona. I liked the cuddly contact I must admit.
The following morning, after pancakes with Dove chocolate melts and ice cream (hey, they're not my kids) we set off for Featherdale Wildlife Park . . a really, really nice little native zoo. in of all places Sydney's outer western suburbs, just about 20 minutes from where I live. It's the perfect place for foreign visitors, you can feed a kangaroo, and touch a koala . . . As we neared our destination the clouds set in and the rain pissed down and clearly signalled a wet afternoon of hiding marsupials and soggy kangaroos so we did a you-turn and settled for McDonalds for lunch at Castle Towers and the Spiderwick Chronicals.
Scarey for littlies but entertaining for my lot. Tell you, if you wanna meet a man, Sunday flicks is the place. The cinema was full of weekend dads wondering what to do with their once-a-week progeny. One unfortunate father had a 3 year old who didn't see the funny side of slimy, spitting goblins and spent the entire movie with a limpet of a scared child slobbering on his neck until he finally had to leave the older ones, asking me to keep an eye on them while he took the terrified toddler into the foyer. Michael was his name, very nice man. A little younger than me but very pleasant and grateful that I'd watched over his older kids while he consoled the inconsolable Amy who didn't see the funny side of goblins and ogres. We shook hands and parted with a smile.
Boring . . possibly - but actually, I had a really good time. I felt vindicated wearing my "I'm not infantile - you great big poopy head" T shirt.
They're great kids and a good excuse to while away the pre-movie half hour in Uncle Pete's Toyshop . . . did you know there is a bubble mixture where the bubbles don't pop! Talk about connecting with the inner child. Now if only I can get Joel to eat a green bean . .
Friday, April 18, 2008
ClareBear was 16 years old and the city was so safe, well lit and patrolled that I let her stay long into the night at various 'live sights' - even bought us mobile phones as I normally wouldn't let a 16 year old venture into town late at night. Truthfully? It was a wonderful three weeks. People were friendly, helpful, kind and filled with enthusiasm. The atmosphere was one of community and very welcoming. Crime rates dropped severely and it ended up being the 'best games ever'. Shame we couldn't sustain that atmosphere and cohesion.
Tonight on the news I watched as New Delhi was completely shut down for a three kilometre torch relay. This is after earlier in the week the US leg being run through alternative routes and warehouses to dodge protesters. I remember standing on Old Northern Road with a bunch of littlies, cheering as the torch went by. Not because I gave a flying fuck about the Olympics but because our little suburb happened to have a torch relay and I knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to say 'I'd been there on the day'.
I am astutely aware of the Tibetan rallying against China. I think their timing is perfect to achieve a world focus. While the world watches the torch relay, it's a perfect opportunity to receive media attention but I'm also in typical empathic fashion disappointed at the level of violence and control that the torch relay is receiving. In 2000, not a secret service person in sight, although I'm sure they were there. We're not into dressing like Men In Black. Just families cheering from the sideline and if they were lucky, getting a glimpse of a previous or potential gold medallist. Whatever security was around, it was subtle and in the background. Now, it's a media circus. Cities being shut down . . blue track-suited Chinese secret service keeping the hoards away or worse still, the torch being diverted. So what's the point? Don't get me wrong, I really don't care either way whether the Olympics takes place or not.
I don't care for sport although I'll probably put up with Bruce McIvaney prattling on about Australia's fantastic swimmers, basketballers, rowers, walkers, pole vaulters . . and if I hear another word about that biatch of a hurdler Jana whatshersnottt, I'll throw a brick at the TV. It's as if no other country is competing . . .but I still believe that the Olympics should be beyond politics. I admire the Tibetans for finally getting their cause exposed on mainstream media (although it smacks of Western spin doctoring) and bringing their plight to the people. It's a great opportunity to present their cause and the obnoxious human rights record of the Chinese into the media spotlight. But . . . hands off the athletes. Stand at the side of the road, be exposed to the cameras, fly your flags, wave your banners, cry your tears and chant your grievances . . . just don't jump on these kids who have given up so much to become elite sportspeople.
If blame is to be laid, it's firmly with the International Olympic Committee for actually awarding China the Olympics in the first place . . would they have given it to Zimbabwe if they'd made a presentation? Would they have awarded the honour to North Korea? I think not. The fault lies not with the athletes but with a blindsided, IOC, for allowing a repressive Communist regime with an abysmal human rights record to hold this prestigious (to some) sporting event. Why isn't anyone giving them the finger?
Kudos Tibet, on April 24, the day before one of our most solemn day Anzac Day, keep protesting but keep it clean, peaceful and serene, as is your leader. Don't forget your origins and you principals. Beware the rent-a-crowd. You will lose empathy if you persist in violent protest . . . a peaceful fight will do your cause more good than mauling athletes during a torch relay. My prayer flags are flying for you. Seriously.
And get those bloody blue tracksuits out of the picture. Kev07 vows they won't be present in Australia . . we'll see!
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Our local council is up in arms, outraged, all flushed and flummoxed. Our butchly, busty, Mayor
Sonia is put-out, perturbed and positively petulant! She’s flashing her chain all over the local papers pushing her little agenda . . .which for the time being has had the breaks applied!
Due to their abysmal record in land development and the desperate need to open affordable land and housing in my neck of the woods - “the Northwest Sector” - the State Government has recommended a plebiscite (now there’s a nice old Roman term) to determine whether they should take over all development planning for the Shire.
(Yay, happy clapping in the background)
Why? Well God forbid, we might actually be able to organise the release of affordable land and housing as the rent crisis increases and families simply cannot afford the current inflated price of houseing. Who knows, it might happen within a year window instead of the usual 20 years it takes for this pathetic council to get it’s planning act together. . It has already had the North Kellyville development snatched from it’s grip by the Iemma Government as a penalty for slow processing and approvals so why not give the whole shebang to the State Government to divvy up as they see fit!
Now you all know I have a vested interest in this as I want to *hypocriticall* cut and run, with my fat little wads of kish bulging from my pockets – c’mon it’s my retirement fund! But there’s another issue at stake here too. Councils are notoriously self interested. All the counsellors in these chambers have businesses in the shire. All have their own personal agenda. They are from different political backgrounds so getting agreement is a dogs breakfast. Believe me, I’ve been to enough council meetings to see the abyssmal discussions, dismissals and eventual resignation of good public servants who can no longer work among this posse of incompetents.
So, now, every ratepayer is receiving a delightful little plebiscite flyer and an opportunity to tell the State Government how fabulous our dodgy council is, how wonderful they are at planning and how competent they are at cutting up parcels of land (like a 2 year old with a birthday cake and a spoon). How fair they are to developers, and last but not least, how worthy they are of golfing junkets in Wexford Ireland and Cootamundra our sister cities apparently. (I doubt there are many junkets to Cootamundra.)
So in a nutshell - these are the council's gripes:
The state government intends to take over money from developer levies for local services, facilities and infrastructureand hold onto it in the State Treasurey. There go the Cootamundra golf trips, Orange Blossom Festivals and pootles off to Ireland!
The State government want to dimissh and in some cases eliminate Local Government from the planning process and replace the authority of your local council and the Councillors you elected. with independent panels and private certifiers!
Yes they did say 'dimissh' which yet again reminded me of the intelligence and integrity of individual council members and I only voted because it was compulsory
Whackafuckindoo! At last, independent and unbiased assessment of property development with no developers pissing in their pockets or worse still, self interested councillors pushing their own agendas. . .
So will I be supporting local government planning? . . . Absolutely not. It was the downfall of Wollongong Council and will be the downfall of ours . . . the only crime of course . . .getting caught
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Poor old Keira has always been old. Even as a youngling she developed AIDS for dogs and lost all her muscle tone and was unable to absorb proteins properly which explained her voracious appetite and a total inability to feed her by hand because she'd take your finger off more than likely. She was constantly at the vet for everything from grass seed infections to strained shoulders, itch and ear mites, digestive disorders - you name it, she's had it. If a disease could be caught, she caught it, if a muscle could be pulled, she pulled it! Babysis and I have been convinced for years that the dog was half blind the way she clung to your legs when out for a walk . . .
She came here with BabyBro and Stressany 5 years ago and was a needy, affectionate, snuffly kinda dog. She was also a bin raider and a patio pooer which irritated me no end since he is not fond of poop-scooping. But she spent a lot of time sleeping on ThePrincess' bed and in my bathroom when the thunder struck or with her chin on the step of the sliding door while I was cooking.
An outdoors dog, she wasn't pampered and clean and sweet smelling like me Lily but a bit mangy and hairy and stinky but still adorable. Poor old thing had a growth removed from her shoulder a week ago, I thought she'd been shot due to the neat hole - whilst on the table the vet discovered that she was riddled with doggy cancer . . does no-one escape this disease?
So, whilst I won't miss treading her poo into the poolroom, or picking up the piles of refuse she stole from building sites or her barking incessantly at night or bashing through the baby gate at my back door designed to keep her out during a thunderstorm, I will miss her affection and she was a great guard dog. In just two short weeks, she went from bouncing around to limping and coughing blood . . last night he did what we are simply not allowed to do to humans facing the same plight . . he put her to sleep. Vale little pup. Our family has dwindled by one more. She was 9 years old.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
When I was a girl . . .pubs closed at 10.00pm. There weren't many bottle shops around and Keiser Stuh Rose in a goon box (cask) was the drink of choice. I remember sneaking into the Brewers Elbow in Gordon, which had a supper license so that they could actually serve massive jugs of cider after 10.00pm as long as you had a toastie or a plate of nachos. Needless to say these were pre-random breath test days and I often drove home with one eye opoen.
The first Sandwich Maker I ever saw was at my Nana's "Bleak House Hotel", Sandy Lane, Stretford because it allowed her to permit the Manchester Constabulory to drink beyond normal opening hours.
Today, pubs, clubs are open until 3-5 am. Kids don't go out until 10.00pm because the space is empty if they arrive any earlier and the following, usually Sunday, is recovery day . . get out of bed at midday . .eat a greasy breakfast or better still takeaway Portuguese chicken from El Porto and vegetate in front of a video for the rest of the afternoon. It seems to me that the solution is simple. Get home, get the gladrags on . .go party at 8, finish at 12 and feel human the next morning.
I remember travelling in England at 21 years of age and looking for a cheap room in Stratford on Avon. We were summarily dismissed from the posh hotel by the concierge because we had backpacks and jeans . . (we were a little insulted because we were cashed up and judged purely on our appearance). He politely suggested that we might find The Unicorn, over the bridge and in a less fashionable part of town more to our liking. Clearly didn't want Australian riff raff in his establishment.
To the Unicorn we trudged. I knocked on the door. It was during those crazy times when pubs were closed from 2pm - whatever . . and lots of west country jokes about"what we do about six" - "why we av our tay about sex". It felt like we were trying to intrude on some clandestine mafia meeting only the accents were strange. A voice on the other side of the door asked us what we wanted. "A room for the night please!" we replied. We were let in to a darkened bar full, and I mean chocka block full, of tradies. They all eyed us (two Aussie 21 year olds in our backpack booty). Seriously, all we wanted was bed and breakfast, we'd walked for miles and were tired and in need of one of those huge baths that they have in old pubs. We just wanted to clean up and wash our hair and enjoy a quiet rum and black over the bar. The bar was in pitch black apart from a neon light along the back where the reflections of booze reflected psychedelically from the mirror behind.
We were ushered up the stairs in a whiz, like refugees fleeing from some oppressive regime and shown our rooms. It was then that we learned of the weird closing times in England. With much secrecy we were ushered to a clean plain room that reeked of fresh paint and promptly told that we could go to the bar but must utter nothing until opening at 6.00pm. (forgive me, it was a long time ago and I can't remember the exact hours.) Quite clearly, our publican was in fear of being busted. pwned, caught!
Bottom line, we had a blast drinking with painters and thatchers and concreters in the dark . . them fully overalled in their work gear, us looking like something the cat dragged in with wild hair and foreign accents it was fantastic.
Come 6.00pm . . we'd had plenty to drink but we weren't violent . . we weren't obnoxious. The tradies went home to their families and the younglings filed in from about 7.00pm. The band cranked up and we had a fantastic impromptu night in Shakespeare's town. We hit the sack at midnight and felt fine about the whole ordeal. None of this 'wondering what time the last Citybus leaves' and the prospect of walking 5 kms home because mum is defo not going to pick me up at 5 am! Or getting the kit off so the local police will drop you at the next crossroad (a ploy that DrumerBoy has used on warm summer nights) We were definitely 'well oiled' but not pissed, not violent . . it's one of my enduring memories.
Wanna stop idiot hoons behaving like crash test dummies. Close at 1am . . five hours in a pub or club is plenty . . Who needs to party at 2, 3, 4 am? Get ready earlier . . do your best and be in bed by midnight!
Monday, April 14, 2008
I have been banking with you since my first pay packet was electronically credited to my Freedom (ha!!) account in 1975. Whilst my balance has never been much at the end of the month I have never in all these years had a dishonoured cheque. In 1988 I received an insurance payout of $350,00 which sat in my account for a number of months until invested. For that short time, I was a "Gold Client" and received unwanted attention from your 'private bankers'. My children were given birthday cards and I received a very nice Christmas card for investing so much in my account.
The following 10 years saw a number of long term deposits and investments and the greeting cards continued. As my fortunes changed, I no longer have long term investments with you. I pay fees to withdraw from your ATMs, I pay fees for the priviledge of paying my bills online, I pay fees just because you 'keep' my account, I even pay to talk to one of your absent minded non-English speaking tellers.
Today, my farrier rang, as embarrassed as I, because you dishonoured a $70 cheque a nanosecond prior to my pay being deposited and charged him $10 for the privelidge. You know, that I get paid on the 15th of the month. You know that cheques take up to 5 days to clear yet you dishonoured the cheque immediately upon presentation. You are also to be commended for having the attention span to seize that brief window of opportunity and debiting my already negative account of $45 that I didn't have, due to the inconfuckingvenience caused to your bank.
Last month, you paid your shareholders a dividend, your profits have been unhurt by the sub prime mortgage scandals. You are fucking closed until 9.00 am and again at 5.00 so that honest working people can't get there during the day and you even charge me to spend my entire lunch hour queueing with snotty nosed, small children, covered in soggy rusk and swinging like apes from your cord barricade and some old duck farting around changing her one pound sterling for small change so that she can pay the bus fare home.
You are sycophantic pricks of the highest order. I don't mind paying a dishonour fee but the least you could do is cover a cheque presented one day before my pay is transferred or dishonour it after the four day clearing period. I know why you do it because you cock suckers manage to eek $2.6 billion in dishonour fees each year. It's a business in it's own right. Then you dickwads have the nerve to offer me more credit on my Master Card which has since been cut therapeutically into a thousand tiny pieces and stuffed in your night safe!
I didn't charge you when you made that mistake and banked my cheque with the opposition. I didn't get all rambunctions and pugnacious when you stuffed up my tax deposit. I didn't even hit the guy behind the glass who said they don't do foreign exchange on Wednesdays cos they're too busy with Age Pension transactions (I would have if the little prick wasn't standing behind a crash screen). I didn't complain after a number of your automatic tellers devoured my card for no reason. I didn't complain when I was cold-called by one of your fucking insurance agents which is completely against the law.
I am no longer banking with you. I am joining a credit union. They do not charge account keeping fees, they do not charge to use their ATMs. I know of one that is open at 8am and doesn't close until 6 and is open all day Saturday. They don't charge me to stand in the queue or talk to a helpful person not wearing a daft red artist's bow and their shareholders are the very people who bank with them i.e. ME!
So stick that up your green dragon's water-tight arse and smoke it.
If I wasn't bothered by a sticky end I'd have a go at this:
Sunday, April 13, 2008
I've been tagged by Wordnerd to write a six word memoir. I guess the tone of this meme is dictated by your mood at the time and since mine is a little dour this weekend. Missing ClareBear, missing DrummerBoy, rats in the roof bla bla . . . mine are probably going to be a bit negative but I'll try. I am if anything, many things so here's a few, you decide which is most applicable, the one in bold reflects my position at the moment:
Stitch ripper needed for life's tapestry
Always reliable, sometimes predictable, often intolerable
Falling over at weddings is mandatory
Shit happens more often than not
Regrets past, stuck in the present
Always expect the unexpected to happen
Children are very, very expensive blessings
Happiness takes time, anything is possible
I see both points of view
Helping others can be very rewarding
Helping others can lead to pain
Things look better when sun shines
Be 'kind' is my main mantra
Small things offer the greatest pleasure
I'm an optimist, except when pessimistic.
I live on an emotional rollercoaster
Once happy, now ambivalent, always hopeful
My life is an unmade bed
No tags but play if you like.
Friday, April 11, 2008
In the 2004 budget, the then Treasurer Peter Costello urged Australia to have three children . . one for mum, one for dad and one for the country and for their troubles, each birth would be rewarded with a lump sum payment of $4258.00, affectionately dubbed "The Baby Bonus". Soon to be raised to $5,000 in July. (How many women expecting June babies will be crossing their legs until the 1st July? If you know an obstetrician, tell them not to plan a ski trip!) Not a bad incentive to indulge in a little pleasurable slap and tickle and then sagitate over 9 months planning on how to spend it.
Double your chances with twins or invitro-induced multiple births and you can earn a small fortune. The problem is, there is no stipulation on how you spend this 'bonus'. It is meant to be spent on the said ankle-biters. But Gerry Harvey of Harvey Norman has dubbed the payment the "Plasma Bonus" because it's boosted his business no end as young families spend it on plasma TV's and other high end electrical goods and computers. Clever little Snugglepots these newborns raping on Halo whilst they dribble in their mashed banana!
The revelation from one of Australia's biggest retailers comes as the Federal Government considers dramatic changes to the baby bonus scheme, effectively cancelling out the lump-sum arrangements currently in place. One proposal being examined would include 14 weeks' paid maternity leave rather than a lump sum payment to new mothers. This is particularly favoured for introduction to young parents under the age of 18 to ensure that the payment is spent judiciously on the child's welfare. But whilst the tabloid TV programs such as A Current Affair and This Day Tonight continue to plug stories of Janelle and Kylie having loads of kids to any Tom Dick or Bruce in order to claim the Baby Bonus are actually not quite hitting the mark.Oddly enough, it's the rich who are becoming the highest claimers of this untaxed, un-means and asset tested payment. High-income suburbs. The largest increase in baby bonus claims in NSW,140% in the last 4 years, came from couples in the exclusive Kirribilli and Milsons Point area, which has one of Australia's highest average household incomes. Yet the area's fertility rate has remained static since 2001 at about 1.2. As if they need it! I suppose it will pay for the Prada Pram and the Benetton booties and Sass and Bide singlets.
The largest number of payments are still being made to couples and single parents in poorer suburbs, where many people start a family -- yet more often than not those areas are registering fertility rates below the national average.I guess this proves that the baby bonus has nothing to do with fertility rates but simply a waste of taxpayer's money and an increase in middle-class welfare. It is supplemented also by a means tested 'family tax benefit' where parents receive a fortnightly payment for children up to the age of 18 and a small subsidy for daycare where the real dollars are needed so that mum can go to work and pay for the humongous mortgage.
Then again, if the cost of raising a child is $150,000 to age 18, $5,000 might as well be spent on a plasma screen . . it sure won't make a dent in the cost of raising a child.
Why we need to encourage parents to have more children, incur more debt, escapes me . . there's a perfectly reasonable solution . . .immigration . . . where we could encourage skilled labour into the country, improve services and productivity straight away, and have them hit the ground running!
OK maybe I'm being a bit bitter and twisted because I've had me bits cut out and can no longer conceive or act as an incubator to finance an overseas holiday. Or perhaps because there was never special parking for 'Mother's with a pram' next to the 'Disabled' bays when I was a Yummy Mummy. Perhaps I'm tasting sour grapes over the fact that my benefits were pitiful because I earned 2 cents over the income threshold.
Anyway it's Friday, my mood is better, I'm still in Coventry but hopeful, the weekend is upon us and it's warm and sunny. My dog didn't run away today, Adam's employed (whackadoo!) and Clare has ventured into English-speaking Miami, it's payday and because I've been living alone, I don't have to spend my weekend washing and cleaning . . .Have a good one folks . . .I can feel it in me waters . . .something good is gonna happen! (I love this clip more than the song! Terrence, touchy feely bit in the blue singlet is just for you!)
Thursday, April 10, 2008
But, in true stoic form . . I have decided to look at the world through rose coloured glasses and consider my lot a 'glass half full' . . and post something which I think is funny but many don't appreciate. Cockatoo Ridge winery has a new billboard causing a stir. So as I fight back the tears of complete disbelief, anger and total frustration . . here's something to make you giggle:
Massive billboards across the country will feature the former Miss World contestant Erin McNaught(y) with a risque slogan!
The 25-year-old, who’s due to appear in Neighbours this month (oo-errr made it she has), says she didn’t realise the campaign would be so smutty. Yeah right! Thanks Erin, you brought a smile to an otherwise totally shitty day.
This photo of the lovely Erin however, didn't raise an eyebrow!
Excuse me while I go and slash my wrists!
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
I have been accused of being 'clingy'. I was angry at first but my accuser is a believer in ‘conditional’ friendship and not being ‘clingy’ was always one of the conditions so I should have known better but I was emotional - not 'bang down on the floor flailing around in tears' emotional but "Why . .what did I say . . I don't understand . .why are you angry at me . . please don't be mad . .I feel awful . . .what did I do? " clingy and over-stepped the mark! I’ve calmed down a bit now but basically, he was right - I am indeed an emotional animal!
It’s weird because only my most intimate friends see the emotional side of me – most see me as cold, organised and controlling. I’m the coper. The one that steams ahead through adversity. The one who gets things done. I’m the ‘responsible’ one. The one who doesn’t need any help. The pragmatist, the cold fish. The one who is aloof, comfortable in her own skin, capable, opinionated and ultimately sensible and ‘balanced’. If only they knew the half of it! I do tend to rush in with people I like - a bit 'full on'. But those in my inner sanctum see someone different. They are partial to the fragility and my deep and varied insecurities and fears and they understand the clingy thingy. I know I sound a little mad at the moment.
But which is better? To be an emotional cripple and guard your emotions so closely that nobody knows what you’re thinking. To walk away rather than confront issues and work through them? To be unable to enjoy fully functioning interactions and relationships or to be unable to interact with people? I'm sure there's a balance. I don't bottle things up. I let fly.
I looked up some definitions to see exactly where I fit or indeed if I fit.
1. expressing emotion: relating to or expressing emotion
Lately I’ve been expressing a lot of emotion. Sadness at ClareBear’s departure, loneliness living on my own without DrummerBoy, anxious about my insomnia and the house sale, nervous about a new bout of bush rats playing soccer in my ceiling after midnight. Then I get disproportionately upset when someone who is normally pleasant and joyful is rude to me or ignores me. I feel lost when someone refuses to communicate with me or storms off in a huff. When I’m happy, I’m over the moon – seriously I get quite euphoric about the smallest things. When I’m sad I’m totally down in the dumps and disproportionately possessive. Whatever happens to me and around me arouses emotion and usually quite extreme emotion. It’s part of my being and who I am.
2. easily affected by emotions: being by nature easily affected by or quick to express emotions
Absolutely, if someone is nice to me I feel a warm and fuzzy glow it can sustain my psyche for days. If I'm ignored I feel rejected, if I think I've offended I'm remorseful. If someone else is in dire straights or suffering, my heart goes out to them whether I know them or not. If someone close or remote is in pain, I feel for them. If they’re experiencing wonderful things, I try to share their jubilation and excitement. I feel physically sick if there’s discord in any of my relationships, I can’t eat and I can’t sleep, I have this churning pit in my stomach if I think I've upset anyone. Yes, I’m very easily affected by emotions . . mine and those of others.
4. stirring emotions: arousing or affecting the emotions
I’m easily stirred by the sound of bagpipes (don’t ask), the raising of a flag, a gold medal ceremony, a wedding, a graduation, beautiful scenery, the death of an animal (except rats) or when someone unexpectedly does something selfless and completely nice to me I am overwhelmed with joy. Not to the point of tearyness. I don’t cry when I’m emotional generally, tears are saved for moments of abject anger and frustration. But yes, there are events, incidents and memories that significantly stir and affect my emotions on a daily basis. I think that’s pretty normal.
5. inspired by emotion: inspired or governed by emotion, and not by reason or willpower
Instead of listening to the internal voice of reason – it had been reduced to a whisper on Monday night – my heart ruled my head and I went off on all cylinders with an emotional tyrade. Reason was relegated to the back room and I ended up in a tizz.
Frankly I take things way too personally, relationships far too seriously, and I read meaning into random and casual encounters, my heart rules my head and my mouth runs off on its own! The fingers on the keyboard aren’t bad at doing that either!
Anyway, me and my anti-clingy friend will be alright I hope. I just have to remember to put my emotions in a box and tie it up and lock it away if our friendship is to continue. Restraint has never been one of my strong points.Crank it up punters! This is what my head looks like today!