Tuesday, September 29, 2009

He Just Smiled and Gave Me A Vegemite Sandwich

I think the bitch is back! The Twittersphere is alive with outrage, advertising execs are upset but one very happy lad is 'escaping' to Bali because he won a Kraft competition to rename a new version of Vegemite.

Now for the uninitiated, and I've mentioned it before, Vegemite is a black gooey, salty, yeasty spread that appears in just about every Aussie pantry. There's nothing quite like it spread thinly on toast or fresh white crusty bread (yeh I know but it doesn't taste the same on healthy wholemeal.) We love our Vegemite. We eat it, we write songs about it, we recall the advertising jingles from our childhood.

It doesn't melt, it doesn't go off . . it's as parochial to us as Fish and Chips to the English, Sauerkraut to the Germans, Apple Pie to the Americans, Sushi to the Japanese erm strange pickled eggs with baby chickens in it to the Malaysians and the Croissant to the French. It's featured in songs, it's berated by foreigners and it's the one thing that Aussies overseas miss the minute they land on foreign soil even if they never eat it at home. It's the epitome of 'comfort food'!

So when you muck about with it and add processed cream cheese to it that adds insult to injury. When you run a competition to name it and the name ends up being as lame as the product, we are outraged! What G7? What missile fired from Iran? What NRL Grand final . . that isn't news!

THIS is news:

Kraft announced the new name for its Vegemite and cream cheese mixture - iSnack 2.0 - what the? And household debate wondered towards whether Kraft had tampered with the untouchable (and for some the indigestible). Besides the obvious attempt to link to the 'i' pod/shuffle/Mac generation do they realise that 2.0 is over four years old? And I don't know but my Gen Y's like the real deal. Especially when they're poorly and all they can stomach is a cup of tea and Vegemite soldier boys!

Kraft reckon that three million jars of the new gloop, with the label "name me" have been sold since July, and they received more than 48,000 entries offering to rename their product. The competition was won by West Australian web designer Dean Robbins.

But the brand name that many marketing experts said would have been perfect for the new product - CheesyMite - is registered with national baking chain 'Bakers Delight' so no joy there although you'd think the power of Kraft could have perhaps bought the trademark from them. I mean their CheesyMites are bread scrolls with Vegemite and melted cheese. Hardly your gazillion dollar enterprise or gourmet experience.

Well I've yet to taste the cheesy-cheaters black gloop. I probably won't since I rarely eat Vegemite but I'm sure out of 48 THOUSAND entries there must have been something that would endear the new cousin of Vegemite to the Australian public.

We're not happy little Vegemites any more, yep it's even a noun to describe happiness! Puts a rose in every cheek you know!

Try doing that with smooth cheesy iSnack 2.0!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Birthday Gift

Hail Storm, January 2007 . . my car! Hail stones the size of golf balls fell on a 35 degree day
Climate change or has it happened before?

I've participated in this over the past couple of years. Once a year. Blog Action Day requests interested bloggers to nominate a topic for discussion across the Blogosphere. It's no surprise that this year, the winning theme is Climate Change. Frankly, I was a C02 slammer, a carbon trading promoter but as time goes by and the fact is sieved from the fiction, I'm not so sure. Research will have to be done. There is no doubt that the globe is warming, the argument is really about the cause. No, the argument is really "What are we going to do about it?"

Dust storm, my back yard. Sydney, September 2009 as a result of harsh winds and 11 years drought and an unusual cool front coming from the South Australian desert
- freak event or has it happened before.

It's a subject particularly close to the hearts of many Australians and in fact helped our current Government to be elected. With many Pacific Islands slowly becoming submerged, our Prime Minister taking carbon trading initiatives to the United Nations and fierce debate on whether it's a furfy or a cause, it's a tough topic. You don't have to take an environmental stance or even post a factual post. You can write a story, an anecdote, anything you like which brings Climate Change into the debate.

I will probably argue that global warming - no longer a fashionable term which has been sanitised to "Climate Change", is a fact of life. It's happening, in fact it's happened before, and we need to do something to protect against it as best we can. But don't pre-empt me now. Take a look and if climate change is a topic close to your heart. Join in the debate and bring this important issue to the forefront. So on Blog Action Day, Thursday 15th October (a day before my birthday, so take note!) Why not discuss what climate change means to you, your thoughts, your opinions whether it's affected you or whether frankly you don't give a shit - and share it with the bloggers in your neighbourhood. Over 8 million have already registered. Only through informed debate and broadened awareness can we hope to resolve the issue or at the very worst, learn to live with it. So don't buy me a present . . . give me a gift and post on Blog Action Day (Theme Thursdayers . . you can do it on Wednesday or Friday!)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Fuckwits

Friday again and not before time. The new job is hectic and I haven't actually had a proper handover. She who is supposed to be teaching me the ropes was sick Monday, gave me an hour on Wed and Thursday and is now off until next Wednesday. Talk about a baptism of fire!

So . . today's Friday Fuckwits are left-handed men . . but only those who have trouble getting their willies out to have a slash and apparently take 3 seconds longer than right handed men thanks to the slit in their under chunders opening to the right. Really guys. I mean you don't have to struggle with panty hose and the Bridget Joneses or hoicking your skirt up to your waist before wiping the drips of the previous slasher who refused to lift the toilet seat - all whilst your bladder is the size of a hot air balloon and screaming to release it's contents!

The new range, by UK-based Hom men's nicky noos, will have a horizontal opening instead of a vertical slit accessed from the right-hand side, breaking a tradition that has lasted for 75 years.

"In our view, this is a vital step toward equality for left-handed men," said Rob Faucherand of Debenhams store. Haha . . .don't talk to me about equality you willie wankers.

Almost 10 percent of British men are believed to be left handed but men's Y-fronted underpants have traditionally had a right-handed opening from the time they were invented in 1935.

"As a result," Debenhams said, "left-handed men have to reach much further into their pants, performing a Z shaped maneuver through two 180 degree angles before achieving the result that right handed men perform with ease." OMG . . .Z shaped . . the mind boggles!

Previously, it added, boxer shorts, with an adaptable, ambidextrous opening in the middle, have been the underpants of choice for left handed men.

The new pants mean that left handed men can finally go to the bathroom as quickly and efficiently as their right-handed colleagues, the store said. Somehow, 'quickly and efficiently' hasn't been my experience. Especially when they don't lift the seat!

"Switching the opening from vertical to horizontal may sound like a small step, but it's the major breakthrough that many have been waiting for," added Faucherand. The chunders will retail for a whopping 22 pounds! Crikey, they'd want to get the schlong out of the pocket for you at that price!

LONDON (Reuters) - A British store is launching a range of underpants for left-handed men, an innovation it says will save them both time and embarrassment in front of the porcelain.

Actually a horizontal slit in your shorts sounds a bit uncomfortable when reaching for your wedding tackle but I wouldn't know much about these things.

Fwoaaar! Nice pecks!

And before you get on your left-hoofed high horses, I'm a cacky hander and constantly have to turn my ironing board round the 'wrong' way, lay tables back to front, and struggle with right handed scissors and boy could I do with a left-handed hammer. (What do you mean there's no such thing as a left-handed hammer?)

Have a fabfuckinabulous weekend folks. I'm spending it removing red dust from outside surfaces and washing it off my windows. I should bottle it and sell it as 'natural blush'.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Nerds Gone Wild!

I don't know why but I find myself often saying w00t or calling the inexperienced n00bs. Probably because three of my good friends are nerds. Not your bespeckled uncomfortable anti-social kind of nerds but gamers or technophiles or pop culture vultures who taught me just enough to prove that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. They taught me some l33t.

l33t, 1337 or Leet . . is hack
er "5p34K" for elite. Originating from 31337 "eleet", the UDP port used by Dead Cow Cult, a hacker group, to access Windows 95 using Back Orifice, a notorious hacking program. Or so says Wikipedia, I'm prepared to be challenged by my resident nerds.

Lost yet? 1337 spread within bulletin board systems in the 1980s, where having "elite" status on a BBS allowed a user access to file folders, games, and special chat rooms. One theory is that it was developed to defeat text filters created by BBS or Internet Relay Chat system operators for message boards to discourage the discussion of forbidden topics, like cracking and hacking.

However, creative misspellings and ASCII-art-derived words were also a way to attempt to indicate one was knowledgeable about the culture of computer users. Mistypings such as 'teh' for the . .took over and 1337 took on a life of it's own. Mingled with keyboard code such as "QQ" to indicate 'crying eyes with tears' it's now a language of it's own.

Once the reserve of hackers, crackers, and script kiddies, leet has since entered the mainstream. It is now also used to mock n00bs, newbies, or newcomers, on web sites, or in gaming communities. "I pwned da n00bs". Some consider emoticons and ASCII art, like smiley faces, to be leet, while others maintain that l33t consists of only symbolic word encryption. Totally pwned yet?

More obscure forms of l33t, involving the use of symbol combinations and almost no letters or numbers, continue to be used for its original purpose of encrypted communication. It is also sometimes used as a script language.

One of the hallmarks of l33t is its unique approach to orthography, using substitutions of other characters, letters or otherwise, to represent a letter or letters in a word. For more casual use of l33t, the primary strategy is to use homoglyphs, symbols that closely resemble (to varying degrees) the letters for which they stand.

The symbol chosen is flexible—anything that the reader can make sense of is valid. However, this practice is not extensively used in regular l33t; more often it is seen in situations where the argot (i.e., "secret language") characteristics of the system are required, either to exclude newbies or outsiders in general.

Some examples of l33t include: B1FF and n00b, a term for the stereotypical newbie; the l33t programming language or pwned a mistyping of 'owned' which is often used by gamers. I'm not even going to tell you about 'rape' . . .which certainly doesn't mean what it does in the real world.

Since languages, even silly one's aren't my forte, I sought the assistance of a translator:

CrISPY, D4mi@n AND PAdU4n . . .+hanK j00 pH0r 1NTrODUc1NG mE To 4 L4n9u@93 whICh 1 dON't UNd3Rs+4nd bu+ wh1CH Actu4lLy PeRME4+E$ mY cOnvER$4TION5 A l1+tl3 M0RE thAn 1+ $HOUld. 1 C4N'+ 0p3r@+3 4 con$0LE Bu+ I'D 90 WILd Ph0r A Nerdy t sh1r+ wiTh the l33t$p33k 0n IT . . . r0FLm4COP+3r

So if you're an old fart, non gamer like me and want to impress the nerd in your family . . . have a go at this.

Haha! I'm a nerd gone wild! Total w00tage! Consider yourselves pwned, n00bs!

n0w tr0T AloN9 +o T3h +Hem3 +HUrsD4Y CoNTr18Ut0R$ 4ND 5ee WH4+ 0TH3r nerD5 haV3 90ne w1lD!

OR in plain English:

Now trot along to the Theme Thursday contributors and see what other
Nerds have gone wild!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dust Storms, Sepia and the Day Godzilla Ate the Coathanger

My back garden at 6am - then the bloody battery died!

I woke early this morning. It’s been a windy night with gale force warm winds coming up from the south west. It’s always windy in September. The dog was jittery, the wind was rustly and the sky was a very unusual orange colour . . at first I thought it was the old ‘red sky at morning, sailor’s warning’ thing but no . . .

Further investigation of the weird dawn glow helped me understand why. We had been besieged by a dust storm throughout the night. An enormous dust storm. A dust storm to even get Adam out of bed at 6am! The first like it since 1940 and nothing like anything I’d ever seen in my life. Of course my camera battery went flat at the right moment!

Last night had been cool and breezy after a warm 32 degree day so we went to bed leaving all the windows open and the fresh air flushing through. By 5:30 this morning, the entire house, every surface in every room was covered with a thin layer of the Simpson Desert . . blown all the way across the state from South Australia.

City from Milson's Point at about 6:30am

I’m actually very glad that it only happens once in a blue moon! But by 3:30 . . clear skies and high winds and not a spec of dust . . .except in my house!

It didn't take long to hit the emails!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wonder Wall Part 2

Right you lot. You know I love your faces and your pets or your environs.

From Monday, I will have a permanent corner of the world and I am inviting you to participate in the Wonder Wall Part II. I've kept your generous donations from the previous wall but you're all six months older, some of you are new or were just shy or damned lazy and not everyone participated. If you're up for a photo of your glorious visage, send it forward, otherwise, if you're shy-like . . send a photo of something that is meaningful to you because I'm buggered if I'm going to spend the next two years looking at a beige fabric covered cubicle.

All contributions to bainbridge1610atgmaildotcom . . . I love your faces! And I will photograph and post the finished product. Here you go, I'll start you off . . gorgeous thing that I am!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mt Tomah and How to Snipe Your Dicky Knee

Mt Tomah Botanic Gardens with Bushfires in the distance! Ah, this is Australia!

I was still in my pj's and tempted to have a day of couch-hugging but opted for a day of tree hugging instead. Adam and Amy accompanied me due to their new desire for exercise . . and let's face it, he and I need a little. I wasn't quite so prepared for the reality that my knee is really stuffed and serious weight loss needs to be addressed.

Anyhoo . . We headed half way up the Blue Mountains along the Bells Line of Road to
Bilpin, famous for it's apple orchards and what is now arguably one of the most gorgeous Botanic Gardens around but located on a steep hillside and catering for plants who enjoy a cooler climate than their tropical city cousins.

Unfortunately, we were just a couple of weeks early to witness the explosion of Waratahs, Azaleas and
Rhododendrons which were laden with buds but . . after hundreds of steps (ok I might be exagerating just a little), steep climbs up and down, ventures into rock gardens, eucalypt forests and rain forests we all agreed the hour's drive was well worth it even if my Barramundi on caper and dill mash and the kid's enormous club sandwiches were grossly overpriced.

The Gardens take their name from the mountain on which it is located. The original owners of the land were the Darug Aboriginal people. 'Tomah' is an Aboriginal word meaning tree fern. Tree ferns for the uninitiated are those bracken style things that in our climate grow literally into trees but in Europe tend to barely pierce the forest floor.

In 1804 the naturalist and explorer George Caley was the first European to visit Fern Tree Hill, now Mt Tomah. In 1823 Archibald Bell, with Aboriginal guides, found the route across the northern Blue Mountains now known as Bells Line of Road. (I'm glad I researched that because I always thought it a weird name for a road). Even driving up there today, you wonder how these explorers managed to forge a way through the eucalypt forests and sandstone outcrops but it's an incredibly pretty drive and one I indulge all visitors so . . .wanna see it? Get on over here!

The first land grant in the area was made in 1830 to Susannah Bowen. She too had a mountain named after her . Three sawmills also operated in the area milling Coachwood (Ceratopetalum apetalum), Sassafras (Doryphora sassafras) and Brown Barrel (Eucalyptus fastigata). These species still dominate the rainforest sections of the mountain. The fastigata are similar to the Californian redwoods. Some over 500 years old, huge, tall and magestic.

In the early 1960s the 'then' owners of the land stipulated that they would donate it to become an annex to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney and presented the land in 1972. It opened to the public on 1 November 1987. It wasn't long after that I first visited it. Rather barren, full of saplings and new plantings and only a glimmer of it's full potential. It's now 186 hectares of sandstone woodland and gullies, beautifully maintained as a conservation area.

Today was the first time I'd been back for about 15 years and it's come on a treat . . .enjoy!

Black Boys . .not very politically correct but slow growing, black stumps charred by years of bushfires and green spikey hair. . .much prized by minimalist gardeners.

This little fellow was loving the bluebells. (DBM I'm so proud of this shot. Hand held and the little bugger was flitting like a hummingbird!). Bluebells are not native to Australia but obviously delicious. I have no idea what type of bird he is other than there were heaps of them all tiny and chirping and chipping and very difficult to photograph due to their speed and enthusiasm for bluebell nectar. So, so, pretty.

Eucalypt Fastigata, not long for this world I fear but I think there might be faeries in there. Adam crudely nicknamed it the 'vagina' tree . . strange how young men's minds work!

Waratah, a native to Australia and NSW emblematic flower, I'll be honest, I've never seen one before other than in florist's shops.

Wollomi Pine . . discovered a few years back as the oldest conifer in Australia and now propogated by the Botanic Gardens. Apparently dinosaurs ate them. One this size will set you back about $150 . . but make sure you have a big garden, this one's only 2 years old!

Even the South Africans love it here. These King Proteas were huge!

As were the
Koi who followed us along the path hoping for a feed.

Beautiful in blue with an amazing view and buzzing with bees . . I tried a macro shot but there were too many and they weren't happy about being photographed.

Bloody tree hugging yuppies!

If you're into things like this. Click on the Flickr Slideshow . .I'll have them up in a jiffy!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Fuckwit and Beautiful Bubbly

This week there is only one Friday Fuckwit . . and I have no idea who they are but to the idiot clerk in Premier's Department who attached my position description to the wrong business case causing a month's delay in me securing a lucrative 2 year contract with Landcom . . you're a Fuckwit!

The good news, I signed a letter of engagement today and begin my new position on Monday. No more making the day stretch, I get a decent wage, one rostered day off a month and a boss with the same sense of humour as me. I can't wait. Now the nerves set in wondering if I can actually 'walk the walk' and not just 'talk the talk'!

And to those of you struggling trying to get employment my heart goes out to you in every way. I'd employ you all if I had the means. Believe me there have been things going through my head and within my little family unit that I dare not mention on the blog. It's been hell, humiliating, embarrassing, demoralising and devastating. Especially to Roy and Brian, keep looking, keep trying . . .

All I can say to you is work at
anything to get you by, use the welfare system if you need it, that's why you've been paying tax all your life, it's there as a safety net for you. I wish you all the luck and good timing in the world. Frankly this position was sheer luck, in the right place at the right time and I'd had 4 weeks to prove I had a little more nouse than most and a world of experience and a supervisor and two ex-employers who were prepared to give me glowing references. For that I can't thank them enough.

I've worked for a pittance for 8 weeks, (remember I'm a single so no other wage to see me through the dark times). I've applied for about 160 jobs and had rejection after rejection without them even meeting me. I've been interviewed four times and pipped at the post and finally . . . something came through. It's not perfect, it's not my dream job but it's a job, I think it will be reasonably rewarding and I've never been more grateful in my life! Unless you've been through it, you probably will never understand the awfulness of being rejected for something you know you are well equipped to achieve.

Have a great weekend folks, I have a bottle of French Champers to scull. I mean sip gently. . ! It's been on ice since Mother's Day in May and I vowed not to open it until I had a permanent position.

My kids are often and particularly in this case, AWESOME! Thank you Adam and Clare for putting up with what's been a very hard time for all of us. I love you more than you will ever know and unfortunately, you know more than perhaps you should.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Over the Hill . . .and Hell on Wheels

Hell on wheels and Buster . . age 6

Over the Hill . . .Meaning that you are "
40yrs old, therefore you have reached the climax of your life time and are "over the hill."
So says the Urban Dictionary but let’s face it, it's written by 16 year old gamers who haven’t had more than a wet dream and are still learning how to shave! Over the hill! I most certainly am not!

They say you’re as young as the man you feel so I feel like a 25 year old . .right now thanks . . . bring him on, hand him over!

OK so I guess to some, I am over the hill. My benchmark? Well these are some things which I guess ‘brand’ me as a baby boomer but only the brave or the stupid would dare to tell me that I’m over the hill! I've barely gone past base camp.
Using dial telephones, the ones you stick yer finger in da hole and operator connected STD and ISD calls
Remembering driveway service in petrol stations (Otin, pay attention!)
Remembering Black and White Television
Music on vinyl and no stereo, let alone sub-woofers (I luvz my subwoofer)
Having a husband who missed out on the Vietnam Draft by one day
Twin tub washing machines
Dabbling in Eastern religions, meditation, yoga, tai chi, alternative medicine, vegetarianism, controlled substances, and/or composting. (Some of which I retain as my right, to the grave!)
Owning a copy of The Joy of Sex, Zen and Motorcycle Maintenance or the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Remembering a time where you could smoke cigarettes EVERYWHERE . . even in the movies and the Marlboro Man was a TV hero
Typing on a manual typewriter ‘ka-ching!’ Seriously, I learned to type on an old Olympic manual "Colon, A, colon, A, colon, A." Murder on the pinkies.
AM transistor radios were a miracle of technology, computers filled entire rooms, and data entry was done on key-punch machines.
Seeing the advent of the Pill and the return of the condom.
Doing my own Tie-Dying
Putting playing cards held by wooden pegs into push-bike spokes to make your bike sound like it had an engine.
Milk being delivered to the front door by the milkman
Giving your old clothes to the rag and bone man and feeding an apple to his stinky horse
A time when happy and gay meant happy and happy
Surviving the ordeal of running with sharp objects, playing on see-saws, swinging on monkey bars and whizzing around in roundabouts. And trampolines didn’t have those stupid net things around them.
And like every baby boomer, I have an old photo of myself ridiculously dressed by Marks and Spencer and with possibly the world’s worst haircut.
Taken just before we emigrated . . .age 11

You can now congratulate me, send hugs, kisses and very expensive presents or a random sexual encounter to celebrate the fact that I:

a) Missed/forgot my 1000postiversary

b) Remembered 1004 posts on this banter that is Baino!
I am LEGEND (in my own lunchtime)

Find more Theme Thursday hilarity right here!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I Hope He Had the Time of Is Life

I'm not a great one for tributes to those who've passed if I don't know them, but sometimes, just sometimes, I am actually touched by an actor or celebrity who seems to have been a pretty awesome person. It's a sad day today. I know greater men have passed, broader intellects, grand philosopher's and philanthropists but last night Patrick Swayze, the swoon meister and all round nice guy died.

Not the greatest of Thespians but I don't think there's a woman out there who wouldn't want to be swept of her feet, taught to dance or have strong arms wrapped around her whilst slopping about on a pottery wheel and the man loved horses . .what can I say?

Thank you Patrick Swayze for bringing incurable romance to our screens and the sheer swooning joy that was Dirty Dancing and Ghost. Thank you for feeding us incurable romantics the food of love, for making two of the ultimate chick flicks and for being so brave in publicising your cancer and raising awareness. And as they said in Ghost . . ."You take the love with you." I sincerely hope you do.

Thank you Mr Swayze and bless those you leave behind. And I think for the best part, he and his wife of 37 years did have the time of their life.

And a huge 'take it easy' to my darling GrannyMar who has just yesterday had a hip replacement and should be being dragged out of bed after her surgery, right about now. Baby steps Grannymar and remember "Nobody leaves Baby in the corner"

Monday, September 14, 2009

Celebrity Adoption, Tax Avoidance and Boody Auto Formatting

So Sir Elton John has fallen in love with a Ukranian orphan, he doesn't really want kids but his partner does so he's thinking of adopting one.

How sick am I of these rich celebrities ensconcing themselves in third world countries and picking a little picaninny to bring home to their celebrity life. Although I must admit, the 62 year old crooner does provide sustenance for children through his charities, does he really need to adopt one?

The Brangelinas, Madonnas and Sir Eltons of this world would benefit so many more children if they supported the orphanages they lived in and aided adoption by people in their own countries by using their incredible wealth to benefit such children. Or even supporting childless parents with their overseas adoption ambitions because it's a lengthy and expensive process often fraught with corruption (I have friends who adopted via India and it cost them a small fortune in bribes and untoward payments.)

Let me make it clear that I have no objection at all to overseas adoption. In many cases it's the only avenue open to childless couples or those with the means to enhance the life of some poor neglected little mite by bringing them into their existing family. Wouldn't it be better to finance an improved life and education for a host of foreign children than put just one or two in the celebrity spotlight just because the 'mood' takes them. They seem to want a foreign baby as if it's an exotic pet.

I'd be interested in what you think. I know some of you who have one or more internationally adopted children but as far as I'm aware, none of you are celebrities with millions in some tax shelter. None I suspect have a hectic social life, regular bouts away from home while you're filming or in concert or enjoy the opulent Hollywood lifestyle.

Am I being harsh? I was blessed with kids of my own so maybe my perspective is skewed. Perhaps we should be thankful that saving one is better than none but how do they 'choose'?

It's a bit like U2 going on about third world debt then sheltering their millions in the Netherlands rather than pay tax in Ireland. The tax havens people like this use, undermine development. They divert income from developing countries, they ensure tax is not paid in these countries and they facilitate the flight of capital. In fact, they exacerbate the very third world debt that Bono bangs on about alleviating.

Celebrities, put your millions where your mouth is and help self-determination rather than rescue. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime

And while I'm having a rant. If anyone knows how to stop MS Word from creating shitty style sheets everytime I format a paragraph, please let me know. And turning off the Auto options isn't working. I'm doing a 175 page tender with auto numbering, lettering and TOC entries and it's driving me insane by auto formatting for me Ctrl Z has never been so useful.

Maybe I should just take a chill pill.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

All The Pretty Horses, Dust, Poo and . . .That's How We Roll

Well we finally got the right weekend and wouldn't you know? I had to choose between Yum Cha with The Benchwarmer, meeting the soon-to-be-sort-of-In-Laws or the showjumping that we missed last weekend because I bungled the dates.

Since this was the International Three Day Event, it sounded swanky. Glasses of Verve Cliquot, horses, tents and merchandise, sounded too good to be true to me and a rather worse for wear Clarebear headed out on a very hot 30 degree but breezy day to the International Equestrian Centre built purposefully for the 2000 Olympics.

First impression? And I had been there during the Olympics when there were crowds a-plenty, was that it was awfully quiet. It's a huge expanse with world class facilities but not many cars and a charming man who divested us of $15 per head for the privilege.

So a small but horsey crowd and a row of little tents selling everything from crystal horses on chains to $3,400 saddles, homeopathic cures for your tired equine and a grassy verge, were really all that greeted us. We bought water and an ice cream, an egg and lettuce sandwich and waited . ..and waited . . and waited. Too many speeches, too much 'walking the course'.

Being the last day of a three day event which involves cross-country on one day, dressage on another and today the showjumping event, all on the same mount, so these guys are pretty tired by day 3. The horses . . not the riders.

What's great about this particular equestrian sport is that all events must be completed on the same horse. Specific horses have a talent for hacking, others for jumping and dressage is usually the province of overweight warm bloods who have a knack for learning the more difficult 'dancing' movements of horsemanship. So to have a horse that has all three talents is the equivalent of a Triathlete . . he has to be svelte, athletic, look good, have brains, stamina and an incredible amount of trust in his rider.

Clare who spent three months training show jumpers in Spain and pampering spoiled pony poo's in Surrey assures me that compared to European events this was less than salubrious. No hats, no chardy, no formal wear . . but hey that's how we roll. The Aussie team are the nine times Olympic three-day event champions so suck that you poncy Europeans! With your wanky warmbloods and indoor arenas. Treat 'em rough and play it tough.

So, it was disappointing in terms of crowds, sadly lacking in Grand Prix pretention and audience quantity but amazing in terms of talent and I tell you, these guys were so big, it would have taken two milk crates for me to swing the leg over!

This is how you make a horse look happy for a photograph, wave your hat and shout 'boo boo'

Much adjudicating over height and safety

Hot and dusty so the course is dampened by sprinklers
I don't know about the horses but we were grateful for the spray

One of the junior's

Slightly more serious

I do like a man with a long pole

Not the winner but beautiful

We liked him because we own two greys

I have come home smelling of dust and sunshine and horses . . .love it! And can I say, that some of these shots look over exposed but it was a 'white' hot day and they are exactly representative of the way it was.

And this was our winner . .not pretty but a true Triathlete

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 and the 2996

No FF trivia tonight. It's a pensive day and I'm in a pensive mood. I remember heading into work that fateful day and thinking that for some reason someone had programmed a science fiction movie rather than the "Today Show" . .but they hadn't. Four planes had taken to the air to do their destructive best, and two managed to create a catastrophe unknown in the Western World. The untouchable had been touched. Terror had transcended the Middle East and flown holus bolus into the Twin Towers in arguably America's most well known city. Whilst we hear stories of civilian casualties in far flung places and barely bat an eyelid, here, in the bastion of freedom, the land of the brave, 2996 of their own were slaughtered and that brought the new message of international terrorism right to our back door. Yes OUR back door because there were foreigners working in those buildings, not just Americans.

When a Facebook friend asked me and others to participate in this project to pay tribute to each of the 2996 victims of the Twin Towers attack, I was only too willing to participate. I asked the blog author if I could pay tribute to one of the Australian victims and he kindly obliged.

This event was not just an American event, it affected the world profoundly. It changed the nature of things. It changed our perception of Islam, it changed the way we do business, the way we travel, our attitudes to foreigners and neighbours, our attitudes to Government and our attitudes to personal safety. It did indeed strike terror into our hearts and in that respect, it was extremely successful.

But this isn’t about the global effect of this awful event. This is about a 30 year old Australian man who found himself in the North Tower on the 103rd floor on that fateful day 8 years ago. Andrew Knox. I don't know Andrew but he was just minding his own business, doing what everyone else was doing that day - attending another day at the office.

Andrew was a burgeoning unionist, well-known to the union and labour movement in Australia. He was an official in the South Australian branch of the Australian Worker’s Union (AWU). He perhaps had a promising career within the labour movement and maybe even politics, I don't know what his aspirations were and never will but he wouldn’t have been the first unionist to make his way into Federal Parliament - this is now a moot point - just conjecture.

Colleagues described him as mature and clear about his path ‘genuine’ and ‘respectful’. A university friend remembers him as “A gorgeous man who was as big in personality as he was in person.” Another acquaintance thought him witty and wise with a grand laugh and a contagious smile. “He lit the room up when he entered, and I don't think anybody he met will ever forget him”. Apparently a gentleman and a 'gentle man'.

An American friend recalls:

Andrew Knox lived near me on the Upper East Side. I met him one morning in 2000 when he grabbed me by the lapels and yanked me on to the 6 train as the doors were closing. His comment "Now you won't be late for work!" was his introduction. We used to run into each other on our morning walk to the subway and became friends. I miss him and think of him every time I miss a train!!!
He certainly sounded like a typical Aussie, good-humoured, strong and telling it like it is with a future of promise cut short by the act of a misguided zealot.

He will be remembered by the University of South Australia, who have established a Memorial Scholarship for research into industrial relations or labour issues in his name. The scholarship - worth A$20,500 a year for up to three years - was established to commemorate Andrew. I wonder if the students taking advantage of the grant will know his story.

In 2004 the AWU named their training centre and garden after Andrew as an added tribute to this life cut short but not forgotten.

More importantly, Andrew was a son, a brother, a friend, a person not just a statistic and that's why I wanted to pay him tribute. Andrew’s family are very private and despite some initial media attention, once his death was confirmed, he was afforded the quiet and dignity he deserved. From my family who remember their dead loved ones with deep love and affection, to Andrew's family because, no parent should ever, ever, outlive their children.

Let us not fall prey to similar zealotry and xenophobic urges that we see so often perpetrated against us. Let us see reason and understand that this was the act of a small group of misguided souls not the entire world of Islam. Let us be benevolent but watchful. Cautious but unafraid because once we give into the fear, the terrorist has his victory. Be nice to each other because you never know when harm will strike or in what shape and form.


Whilst the almost 3000 who died in the World Trade centre are worthy of remembrance as innocent victims of a barbaric attack, and the day should never, ever be forgotten, let us also not forget the tens of thousands of troops fighting the most inappropriate of wars in Iraq sent by an equally over zealous President (and in our case blindly followed by our Prime Minister) with virtually no evidence, rhyme or reason. Let us also never forget the hundreds of thousands of civilians caught between rocks and hard places in Iraq and Afghanistan and countless other more sinister wars around the world who have no-one to help or to remember their lost sons and daughters.

Lest we forget . .

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Sugar Free Gum Makes You Fart A Lot

It’s 1:03pm . .I started ‘work’ and I use the term loosely at 9:15. Yep, I can start anywhere between 7:30am and 7:30pm as long as I do a minimum 7 hour shift but of course being on an hourly rate, I’m trying to work 8 hours a day minimum.

I’m still waiting for the permanent Executive Assistant position to be approved by Premier’s Department and until it is I am a 'floater' (there's another girl in the position, who's contract doesn't expire until the end of October, and on the off chance they reject the new one she'll probably stay so a 'handover' is a little premature).

My boss is frustrated, HR are frustrated, I'm frustrated . . .it's just a wait and see, sit and look busy time! They don't seem to mind paying me to do jack shit but I'm sure getting the shits with sitting there dragging out the simplest of tasks. Despite three people taking a voluntary redundancy in the Admin area, they still don't have anything to pass on to me . . .I really hope the new job is going to be a little more hectic.

I knew the wheels of Government moved slowly. For instance, I received a 'rejection' letter yesterday for a position I applied for in May but this is now ridiculous it’s been 3 weeks since I was offered and accepted the position!

However, it isn't all bad my hourly rate has been increased almost to my pre-redundancy pay level unheard of given that I'm hired through an agency who must be charging me out at about $75 an hour to cover their super contributions and commissions!

I’m putting my hand up for pretty much anything within my area of expertise and anything outside it for that matter to keep me busy during the day. Frankly, I’d rather be at home spring cleaning and tackling the weeds, pool and cobwebs but time is money so my bum is remaining firmly on my red ergonomic chair in my soulless cubicle. (That's another thing, I can't put the Wonder Wall back up until I have a permanent office space which I'm very keen to make homey, and my own).

My workload in the past 3 weeks has comprised:

4 x (Less than 60 pages each) Procedure Manuals: Business Services, Reception, Records Management and the Collation of Board Papers "How To"
1 x HR Induction Package for new Contractors
5 x Very short Business Cases for the establishment of new positions
5 x Position Descriptions
3 x Online Advertisements
Detailed floor plan of who's who in the zoo
Hand collation of 30 Land Sale Contracts (at least I got to stand up for that)
1 x Minutes of an IT Committee Meeting
Prettyfy the Financial Statements before submission to Parliament
Update of a contact spreadsheet for an event invitation
Type up the OH&S Incident reports for the past financial year
And today . . I’ve been given some User Acceptance Testing and asked to break a new application . .I’m trying my bestd!
These are all things to 'keep me busy' and justify my existence and hardly taxing the brain or the imagination.

Now I don’t know about you but apart from the initial Procedure Manuals for which I was hired in the first place, that’s not exactly an overburdening of work considering I’m now in my ninth week.

Bear in mind, I don’t deal with clients, the phone never rings, people don’t chat much and only Rick with 'da limp' interrupts my incredibly boring day for about 15 minutes. I am distracted only by the odd dissenter who's aware of my impending position and trying to get their point across in the hope I'll mention it to the 'boss'. Not a smart idea . .it's called 'white-anting' and pretty dangerous territory.

As my esteemed colleague Rick wi' da limp said, "Just walk up and down with some papers in your hands and people will think you're busy. Whatever you do, don't tell them you have time on your hands!" (Gotta love a Public Servant with 22 years under his belt!)

Now if it wasn’t so serious, and my - and Australia's - tax dollars weren’t paying for this . . .it would be funny!

If only I didn't have a severe case of writer's block, it would be a great opportunity to start a post bank. The most exciting thing I've come up with over the past two weeks is realising that sugar free gum makes you fart! A lot!


Sunday, September 06, 2009

Thrice Thwarted but Not Defeated!

It's been a simply stunning weekend. Warm, breezy, blue skies ...

We were supposed to go to Bondi shopping on Saturday but for a variety of reasons, that didn't materialise - first 'thwart'. So Saturday afternoon we decided to walk the dog somewhere different. The local doggy park didn't impress and was the tiniest fenced off piece of land, lined with yellow doggy doo bins and a bunch of yappy fluffy things that would make better pyjama cases than pets. We decided not to stay once a growly Malamut refused to give Lily her tennis ball back. The natives were not friendly. Bloody Canucks!

We drove to a local reserve with a number of dog friendly bushwalks but they had baited foxes and the signs told us it wouldn't be safe for dogs until October. Second 'thwart'. Our now hysterically excited labrador was a little pissed off at all this jumping in and out of the hatchback and was panting like steam train and busting for a run. Thwarted but not outdone, we ended up going to Fagan Park in Galston. I had no idea this lovely space was so nice. We'll be going back for a picnic once the leaves have fully sprouted.

Vast expanses of parkland among the bush
and a plethora of waterways

Shady nooks and ponds

Even a permaculture garden - for you Grow Up!

Sunday, we were off to watch the third day of the Sydney International Three Day Event - the showjumping. Very exciting. Clare had spent 6 weeks as an Au Pair with a horsey family in Surrey and spent many a day prepping and attending such events and was reall excited to do it once again. I just love the competition and this one was to be a doozy. At $15 a head for a day's showjumping, excellent value.

Clare packed a picnic of King Island brie and Applebox smoked cheese, olive and sundried tomato baguettes, a gorgeous roast capsicum and pine nut dip and a punnet of strawberries. Sure that we could buy a glass of bubbly 'en situ', we just took a bottle of cold water to drink. We sun-creamed, donned hats and slipped along the M7 to the aptly named Horsley Park International Equestrian Centre.

We arrived to locked gates, peace and quiet, not so much as a whinny in the air! Clearly nothing happening today. Then there it was, a huge sign: "Sydney International Three Day Event 10th - 13th September, 2009" . . Yep, despite having downloaded a map, checked the days event times, I had not noticed that it was the wrong bloody weekend.

Clare proudly anounced "Mum this is your most momentous blonde moment ever!" Not a bad accolade for a brunette!

So all dressed up and nowhere to go, we hit the beach. OK it's miles in the opposite direction and this weekend we had been twice thwarted but I was not going to be defeated and our picnic was not going to go to waste.

A bit blowy and chilly but we found a nice little grassy knoll on which to enjoy our gourmet delights albeit sans wine. We walked the length of Palm Beach and back along Pittwater and back in time for tea. So no lovely horsey pics until next weekend I'm afraid.

Our grassy knoll. What you can't see are three very disobedient boys
ignoring their mother's pleas to "COME BACK XAVIER!!!!"

The Gromets enjoyed some bodyboarding

The big boys hit the freezing water.
No swimmers today!

So I guess, despite disappointment, being thrice thwarted, all it takes for a pretty awesome Sunday is a picnic, $20 of petrol and the will to make it work. I love my Sundays. Oh and today was Father's Day . . we don't have any, so happy day to those who do and very happy birthday to Megan. We have never met yet have so much in common. 'e', you are so lucky to be meeting up with her.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Friday Fuckwit

I don't often go all political on the blog but I've been off today and trawling the net, reading about the US health debate on Facebook and finding out more about Sara Palin's soul sister.

"It is not within our power as members of Congress, it’s not within the enumerated powers of the Constitution, for us to design and create a national takeover of health care. Nor is it within our ability to be able to delegate that responsibility to the executive."

Pardon? I thought that's what Congress was for?

These are the words of foot in mouth diseased Michele
Bachmann, Minnisota Congresswoman who is fighting the good fight against Obama's public health option. Now I'm no expert on the US constitution but I actually heard this woman say that the US has the best healthcare system in the world. Actually, while the U.S. is spending more on total health care when compared to other countries, the country is getting less access, patient safety, efficiency and above all - equity!

Back to our fuckwit: Her verbal
diarrhea and absolutely misguided rhetoric makes Sara Palin look like a pussycat.

Among other things, Congress has the power to “lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises” and to “provide for….the general welfare of the United States.” Correct me if I'm wrong but that's a pretty broad mandate!

Her husband owns two private mental health clinics, do you think he's feeling a little pressure from the possibility of public health providing the same services he does . . you betcha!

Some quotable quotes on rejecting the universal health care package:

“Right now, we are looking at reaching down the throat and ripping the guts out of freedom,” she said. “And we may never be able to restore it if we don’t man up and take this one on.” Freedom for whom? Those who can afford health insurance?

“This is slavery, . . .It’s nothing more than slavery.”
(on paying tax to fund health)

“What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. This will not pass. We will do whatever it takes to make sure this
doesn’t pass.” (Well that could solve the problem completely, if they all slit their wrists - no opposition - sorted!)

"You are saying that the people many conservatives have called bleeding heart liberals for years are in fact . . using health care as part of a plot to kill babies, disabled people and and the elderly!
(Yeah then we're gonna eat them!)
But there's more:

  • Voted NO on allowing stockholder voting on executive compensation.
  • Voted NO on additional $10.2B for federal education & HHS projects
  • Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation
  • Authored constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman
  • Voted NO on tax incentives for energy production and conservation
  • Voted NO on tax incentives for renewable energy
  • Voted NO on investing in homegrown biofuel
  • Voted YES on criminalising oil cartels like OPEC
  • Voted NO on $9.7B for Amtrak improvements and operation through to 2013
  • Voted NO on assisting workers who lose jobs due to globalisation
  • Voted NO on protecting whistle blowers from employer recrimination
  • Voted NO on giving mental health full equity with physical health (Remember hubbies business?)
  • Voted YES to prohibit mandatory mental health screen for students
  • Voted NO on increasing minimum wage to $7.25
  • Voted NO on redeploying US troops out of Iraq starting in 90 days

Some may think her a
darlin' but I just think she's a total fuckwit! A real American idiot.

Have a wonderful weekend. I'm hopeful of some nice photo blogs. Bondi tomorrow and the International Three Day Event showjumping on Sunday . . . may the sun shine on you this weekend and be nice to each other!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Beginning (Again)

Theme Thursday takes us back to 'Beginning' . . so because I'm tired after stretching out my hours to a 45 hour week, I'm tired of sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for 90 minutes and frankly I'm suffering incredible Blogger's Block . . .I've decided to go back to this blog's beginning. This is my first post:

I've been calling myself an old boiler since I was well, a spring chicken but it's suddenly dawned on me that I really am. My daughter says I drive like a geriatric and my son says I smell like elephant brains . . I think both were meant to be terms of endearment but I took them darkly. I decided to start a blog after being thoroughly entertained by the streams of younglings who expose their lives, dreams, hopes aspirations, drinking and sexual habits all in some cathartic or maybe it's an exhibitionist way to vent, reflect or just to document their day to day existence - either way it's a voyeur's paradise in blogworld.

Not that I'm a voyeur just a Sunday surfer . . .and not that I have anything as interesting to offer I just thought I'd have a bash. My interest was also sparked by a couple of e-friends who I've adopted through my business life and we've become good pals although we've never met and I'm old enough to be their mother. Tempted as I was, I've never lied about my age to these e-buddies but they seem to enjoy the occasional banter with some client in Sydney even though it's highly unlikely they'll ever share a joke let alone a beer. I suppose I'm a safe proposition, fun when it suits . . no commitment . . . Addicted as I am to some blogs, all written by people who I have never met and probably never will . . I decided to start my own journal.

Even if it's not nearly as entertaining as some. I now know, I can get things out in the open without boring my children, MSN'ing my tiny contact list of computer literate peers or at the very least have something that my overseas mates can log into from time to time to gauge just how tragic the middle ages (mine that is) can be. First place of choice was 'My Space' but realising that there are no postings for people over the age of 40, I turned away, spurned, hurt and cut to the core because I'm not 40, not even 45 but only a matter of weeks on the right side of 50 and that dear readers is what cuts me to the core.

Inside, I'm fabulous . . .young, spirited, thoughtful, feisty . . Christ, I listen to Triple J - I can't be that old, my girlfriend rides a motorbike in races for heaven's sake . . .I say fuck and like the Foo Fighters . . . but every now and then, my alter ego surfaces, that grumpy old woman that laments kids today because they don't know the art of conversation, it's all done via SMS on mobile phone or hieroglyphic messages on some chat line :), (: , :P, BTW, IMHO . .

Alternatively, that anal woman occupies my body and freaks out unnecessarily about the way a towel is strewn all over a bed or loses the plot because shoes are not neatly placed together and God forbid if anyone gets instant coffee granules in the sugar or leaves the toilet seat up - because the world as we know it will end.

Then there's that weeping mess of a waste of womanhood that just bursts into rivers of saltiness because someone left the door open or let the dog out or didn’t' make their bed or was so selfish that they couldn’t bloody be bothered to go up and buy some milk when they know all I want in life is a CUP OF TEA IN THE MORNING!!!!!!!

Not to mention . . .that ballistic bombshell of spiralling overconfidence, the legend in her own lunchtime, that Amazonian decision maker with supreme knowledge grounded in nothing but sheer belief in her ability!

In a nutshell, that's me . . .

I look in the mirror and see a tall, slim, dark-haired, brown eyed beauty with a face full of character and charm. A smile that would melt the ice caps and velvety skin that any man would find simply irrisistable. What's really there is a mere semblence of my formal self, not so many wrinkles but I've just about forgotten what my original hair colour is . . frequently tinted to hide the grey. My sylph like figure has well quite simply ballooned so now I really am a woman of substance and my skin . . well, nothing a 10 week acid peel regime can't fix.

Resolution for today: Remove all reflective surfaces from view.

Well that's it and clearly, my contact with gamers since this post has acquainted me with l33tspk and 'w00t', has become one of my favourite words!

Wouldn't it be great if we could just start all over and make a new beginning.

Massive thanks to GrannyMar and K8 the Gr8 because they commented on this post and they're still following me three years later. Ilovez yous both! And humungous thanks to all of you for your visits and comments. I love it, I really do. This is one thing I would not do differently if I could go back to the beginning.