Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Fuckwit

Jessica and Stephen Whyte, were victims of an early trick rather than treat when they realised they had been served poo, cleverly disguised in a Chocolate Ice Sunday at Sydney's popular Coogee Bay Hotel.

Apparently, Stephen and Jessica were watching the recent NRL Grand Final with friends and family and the music was a little too loud in this rather 'young' and noisy pub. They asked staff to turn the TV down and were offered free dessert by way of apology. Two families say staff served them ice-cream laced with poo. Staff are denying it but testing has proved there was faecal matter in their ice cream. Who put it there is still a point of contention . . .

Two sides to every story:

I wonder was it:

"Excuse me, but would you mind awfully turning down that lovely background music just a little as the NRL game is getting very exciting and we'd love to be able to hear the commentator while we finish our delicious meal?"

or more . . .
"Oi! We're troyin' teh watch the friggin' game and can't hear a bloody thing over that techno racket yous dish pigs are playin'? Turn the friggin boom box down!"

. . and Gelatogate was born!

Like one of life's great mysteries, the Coogee Bay Hotel saga is embroiled in a conundrum: What came first - the poo or the gelato? The NSW Food Authority yesterday revealed laboratory tests proved excrement was indeed at the centre of the napkin used by Jessica Whyte to spit out the tainted gelato. (Go on, you're all going eeeeuuuuwww - she actually ate some!)

Bay hotel has tested the gelato and it's come up squeaky clean . . . so somewhere between the kitchen and the table, the gelato has met with misadventure!

"The Coogee Bay Hotel has never disputed the substance "The real question remains - where did it come from?" say staffers.

"Further DNA analysis by the Authority will now be conducted to determine if the sample is of human or animal origin," Mr Macdonald said. "That test will take up to a week to complete.
"Obviously, we are keeping an open mind and do not want to pre-empt this investigation."

So tonight's Friday Fuckwit the is yet to be discovered, but sure as eggs, someone who put poo in a client's knicker bocker glories!

So when those little Halloweenies knock on your door tonight asking for a Trick or Treat . . . you'd better have your lollipops ready . . . revenge can be . . . well shit frankly!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where Men's Money Goes

Erm, I was told that bed was for sex and sleep . .
apparently it's for staring like a zombie at poor graphics and yelling
"Awwww you beat me!"

There's no clever clip at the end of this post but after realising I have to live on $10 a day for the next 15 days and, arriving home after my round-the-world horse feeding trip, hitting Chippy on the head with a bucket and giving him a good soaking with the hose to stop him pinching Laurie's dinner,(no it's not cruel, he has short man syndrome!) Then ducking into the shops on a Thursday night late night shopping session for some mince to make oh so exotic hamburgers (with lettuce, tomato, onions and of course beetroot!)I was not a little pissed off at my son's announcement that he and the Fringelet were planning a luxury weekend in the city for their second 'anniversary'. It's my favourite thing to do and haven't done it for over two years!

Nice hotel, clean sheets and chocolate on the pillow, Imax and a harbour cruise. A trip over to Manly to visit Chocolate by the Bald man and maybe fish and chips on the beach. More exploring the Botanic Gardens and dinner at the very expensive Meat and Wine Co. (another intelligently named Aussie Restaurant - almost as creative as "Nicks Seafood") . . .so my demeanour upon hearing this announcement was not over zealous.

Neither was I too impressed with the announcement that "Guitar Hero would be so much better if I could put a data projector above the curtains in the lounge and project it onto the wall" or "World Tour" comes out in a couple of weeks and is only $380." Although I rather fancy that because I can sing and not have to push buttons or rely on the dexterity of my arthritic phalanges.

So don't talk to me about what men spend their money on . . it certainly isn't their clothes or groceries! They're sneaky. They buy Playstations and hide them like an expensive new dress until you finally come home early and catch half a dozen boys in the pool room blowing people up "Oh I got it cheap from . . I've had it for ages . . what this old thing?". Or blow $3000 on an unregisterable motor bike for some noisy Sunday paddock bashing when he'd have been better off buying a few new pairs of undies and a pair of jeans that actually have a hem on them.

Then there's the sound systems with surround sound and sub woofers that make the gyprock vibrate, the Motocross subscriptions, the fast food, the car stereos, the Zhiljian Cymbals. More mature men (I use the term loosely) buy another enormous TV to go into their bedroom when there are four perfectly good TV's scattered about the house or blow $5000 on a greyhound that is later euthanased because . .well . . it was a 'dog' in all senses of the word or a pool side umbrella the size of Texas. Or dip into the savings for a complete golf set that's used twice a year and 'Big Bertha driver' because it's not their handicap that's the problem . . it's the tools of the trade!

Don't get me wrong, I'm good at spending money when I have it (which is not very often these days . .even my tax rebate was swallowed because my family benefit payment had been overpaid even though I cancelled it when Adam left school - so my rather healthy return was 'garnished' and I ended up with a pittance). But I don't waste it on 'things' other than the odd scented candle from Dusk. Any spare cash I manage to eek together over the next couple of months will be spent on a new washing machine so I don't have to go through the spin cycle twice and hold the hose up so it syphons properly and a new fridge who's door doesn't fling open and with a vegie crisper big enough to allow me to bulk buy and use my juicer and a new sofa bed so that guests have somewhere comfortable to sleep other than on an old rubber mattress on the floor! I might even spring for a new pair of shoes!

So among the gidgets and gadgets that men buy . . I think we women should stop hiding that little black dress or feeling embarrassed about our matching shoes and handbags . . or splash out sometime on that lovely little gold chain that's been discounted to $300! Men may not buy many of the 'practical' things but they spend a fortune on their luxury goods. Then again, maybe they're smart . . .I go out and buy two horses that I can't ride anymore but have healthy appetites and 'needs'. (read $$$$)

Although thank goodness for small mercies, we've moved on from "Slow Ride" to Knights of Cydonia, Santana's Black Magic Woman and the Killers . . .can't complain about the music selection on GH3 tonight! I might not have a social life but I have a plethora of games and cleanskin chardy is only $5.95 a bottle.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Where Women's Money Goes!

Been a bit 'heavy' re subject matter lately and frankly, I'm tired. Work is very busy. My head is full of Seminars and Spicks and Specks is calling. It's raining (which is a good thing here) so the couch and doona beckon. I just have to shift 'he who thinks my end of the couch is his' onto his own posi . . but I was sent this today by AV and although I'm not a shoe fiend thought it very clever . . my best friend on the other hand would really see the humour in it. She's the Imelda Marcos of Australia . . .yes Thommo . .that's you!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I had an email from a friend today, advising against getting a flu vaccine and voicing suspicion at the value of inoculation. Admittedly this particular friend was talking specifically about the flu 'mist' spray that apparently is prevolent in US pharmacies. He also received received some poor medical advice when his GP recommended a TB injection without first doing a 'Mantoux' test but . . . it got me thinking about the value of inoculation and the controversy that it sometimes raises.

We've all got one of those little scars on our left upper arm yes? Was it worth it. I mean as a child I had measles and mumps, I never had whooping cough but often heard my father talking about the diphtheria and polio ambulances taking children away from his working class Manchester street. And even our local swimming baths in Stockport were closed due to a polio outbreak in the early 60's.

When I was at school, it was common to see children in leg calipers, recovering from the debilitation of polio and when I was 10, Sabin syrup delivered liberation and became a mandatory medication, paid for by public health.

Now I'm not for or against flu shots. Had one last year and got a pretty nasty cold, didn't have one this year and escaped the 'flu' even though those around me had some pretty nasty bouts of the real deal. Personally, we provide them for staff members who want them and with varying levels of success but if you're aged, young or vulnerable, I can't see the harm in protecting yourself from a thoroughly miserable state of affairs. Out here, people catch heavy cold and call in sick with 'the flu'. Influenza is worse, you ache, you fever, you feel like your teeth are going to fall out and your head is going to burst. I actually have had real full blown influenza twice in my life. Once as a child, once as an adult and neither experience was pleasant.

A common myth about the flu shot though is that it can actually cause the flu, this is total rubbish. It’s a dead virus in injection form. The bigger problem is that people often wait too late to have the vaccine and have not built an immunity before being exposed to live flu viruses. The other problem is that this rapidly mutating virus has changed and the protection you've received, no longer applies to the new upgraded virus. It's like working on Windows 2000 and not being able to upload SP2 because your system won't allow it. The injection should be administered in March in the Southern Hemisphere and in August in the Northern Hemisphere to allow immunity to develop. But the flu shot used is made from dead influenza viruses, which means that it's impossible to catch the flu by receiving it. You might have an allergic reaction if you have a problem with eggs (the virus is bread in albumen) or soreness on the site but that’s common with injections.

There is a nasal spray flu vaccine which is made from live viruses, it may cause flu-like symptoms, including runny nose, headache, vomiting, muscle aches, and fever. I don't think it's available here. These symptoms however, hardly require emergency room treatment unless perhaps you have a child with a fibrillating temperature - symptoms are relieved by using paracetamol and bedrest, even if you do feel like death warmed up. Or are we a bit tough out here? Emergency is for when you’re leg’s hanging off or your brain’s squeezing out of our ears and it annoys me intensely that people use casualty departments in hospitals for sniffles and sneezles. There’s absolutely no point going to the emergency department for flu! It’s incurable. Symptoms can be treated with high fluid intake, bedrest and over the counter pain relief. And if you've had a flu shot, and the strain hasn't mutated, 'she'll be right' as we say down under.

The way flu works is it constantly mutates like a cold virus so the vaccines/mists contain amounts of viruses from the previous season – over here, the three most common influenzas from the previous year are included in the following year’s inoculations. Drug companies do need to manufacture flu viruses and other pathogens in order to make the vaccine. Much as other antigens and anti-venines are developed from live cultures. In fact we inject horses with snake and spider venom in order to extract anti-venine from their blood! Now there’s a shot you’d be glad to have in a hurry! Pharmaceutical companies also manufacture or maintain things like like Anthrax/Smallpox - I've even heard Bubonic Plague - but not to kill everyone! Except when a rogue employee decides to pop a bit in envelopes! Oh and the usual ‘reserve’ stocks for potential biological warfare - now there's a bit of viral conspiracy theory I do believe but the dangers of releasing a virus is that it's totally indiscriminate, air or water borne? Doesn't make sense - how do you know you'll only affect your target. Mustard gas or Cyanide is far more effective!

People who should not get a flu shot include:

anyone who's severely allergic to eggs and egg products (ingredients for flu shots are grown inside eggs)
infants under 2 years old
anyone who's ever had a severe reaction to a flu vaccination (although most people do not experience any side effects from the flu shot)
anyone with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a rare condition that affects the immune system and nerves
anyone with an existing fever
As for other inoculations, I am a believer. We’ve all but eradicated TB, Smallpox, Diphtheria, Polio, Whooping Cough, Measles, Mumps, German Measles and many other diseases that used to be endemic in the Western World. We even inoculate teenagers against cervical cancer!

Unfortunately a belief that a reaction might be severe is preventing some people from inoculating their younglings and these diseases are enjoying a recurrence. Particularly TB and whooping cough. Sure, every one-in-a-million might suffer a debilitating reaction, in which case it sucks to be you, but these diseases are childhood killers and the lives saved are immeasurable.

My mother had TB when nursing infected children in the 50’s. This resulted in a lung lobe being removed at 20 years of age, mere months after she married and a subsequent TWO YEARS of bedrest and sunshine until an appropriate antibiotic was available. Had Streptomycin and a TB vaccine been available then, she would have survived intact with healthy lungs and would have also survived the head on collision that killed her in 1992. The collision punctured her remaining lobe. I certainly wish that there had been a TB vaccine for her those years ago. She'd still be popping in for a cup of tea at 10:30 after her shift!

Even Clare, a total needlephobic to the point of veins collapsing and fainting spells, inoculated herself before her travels. She suffered Hepatitis, Malaria, Cholera, Tetanus and Typhoid injections and luckily has enjoyed robust health during her travels in many far flung and tropical and disease ridden places.

The only conspiracy here is drug companies making a shit load of money out of the production of relatively cheap vaccines and flogging them for a hefty price. Drug companies want us alive and paying for our medication! Quite contrary to my friend's, friend's theory that the Government uses vaccines in an effort to reduce the population.

Hard as it is to watch your kid squirm under the threat of a Triple Antigen or your teenager object to Rubella and Mantoux testing, to my mind, it's worthwhile and nothing that a lollipop afterwards can't fix.

Personally, I think we've dropped the ball on vaccination. We've forgotten that whole Asian, Melanesian and Polynesian populations were decimated by measles and smallpox brought by the white man. We've forgotten that only 30 years ago, smallpox vaccination was mandatory to come to Australia and that curable diseases plagued our indigenous populations - oh yes it was - we all had festering sores on our arms as the then live vaccine did its inoculatory work before we emigrated. Would you believe that in the 60's you even needed a Cholera vaccination if you wanted to travel to Europe.

So my friend. . .much as you might think there's a conspiracy out there, I would rather live in the disease free world that Westerners enjoy today than take the risk of infection. As for the third world, if only they had the ability to pay, I'm sure there would be a vaccine against AIDS! There's no profit in protecting Africans.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Phoctober Day 3

Struth folks, it's almost November. Crikey where'd the month go. Stone the crows and knock me on the head with a dead Dingo's donger if this isn't the last post for Phoctober which for various reasons has been a bit of a dry argument this year. Grab me a VB and bung on the cork hat, it's time for a few pickies with a tinny in hand and a quick squizz at what goes on at my place when we're not chasing emus from the outside dunny and fishing crocs outta the swimming pool. The joe blakes are all loved up and down by the creek and the blowies are buzzing in the laundry. Won't be long before the brown bombers start clinging to the bonce and Santa arrives on six white boomers . . . .Erm no, we don't actually talk like that. Not in Sydney anyway although the boys have been known to crack a fat and the girls can be skanks.

Don't get me wrong, I love where I live and am eternally grateful for my parent's hard decision to move 12,000 miles from their own families to give us a good start in life.

I often wish we'd gone to Canada but that wasn't an option. Australia is great, but it's just another country. It's huge, it's expensive, it's dry and the four minute shower is mandatory at the Bainbridge's 'desperately trying to be green' homestead. We can't water our garden or wash our car with a hose. The summer smells of bushfire smoke and everything as we've previously established wants to kill you. Getting from A to B takes a long time and little change in landscape. A drive from Sydney to Brisbane (about 10 hours) takes you through gum forests, into Banana Country then Sugar Cane . .that's it. We do have natural wonders, a highly developed cultural life (apparently the Australian Ballet is highly regarded for it's fluid interpretations). We have the biggest Gay Mardis Gras, the Grand Prix, World Rugby and arguably the highest proportion of elite sportspeople per head of population (just tipped the 21 million mark). We have great food from all over the world. Great cultural tolerance - except for the lebs because they're all related to suicide bombers (despite the fact that most are Christian) But the chinks are happy because they're now off the hook. (Now don't go giving me curry over my lack of political correctness, I'm playing up for the cameras).

The beauty of Australia is in its diversity. We're relaxed, irreverent, foul mouthed, varied, casual, largely tolerant and uniquely unable to name a suburb creatively. We are to some extent little America and to another, little China. We've got some lovely landmarks and a penchant for 'big' things . . usually bananas, potatoes, prawns and pineapples although I believe there's a big Lobster in South Australia and perhaps a giant VB bottle somewhere in the outback.

One thing I've realised through travelling and blogging is that every country has its charm. The US has amazing natural history, stunning customer service and no . . the Greyhound and Trains are not a mugger's paradise, they're cheap . . you guys should try them sometimes. Europe is antique and modern. Sophisticated and raw. Small enough to travel from country to country and taste a plethora of different cultures and lifestyles. Even countries within countries have different cultures, languages, dialects and accents. You can travel 10kms and people speak differently.

Not here although there are slight nuances between city accents and a great divide between city and country. Here - we're a multicultural blend of everything with a stereotypical attitude to everything. My Korean neighbours don't speak English but Barbecue and wear thongs. My Estonian girlfriend makes Risolya for Christmas but has no accent. My Cypriot friend looks Greek but speaks Strine. The Somali trolley boys at Coles wear Billabong jackets that they couldn't afford in their own country and Islamic women are free to practice their faith and wear the hi jab. Even the Pentecostals are welcome because they pay a load of tax. We love the diversity of halal butchers, Chinese grocers, Vietnamese bakeries and Thai yumminess, Korean Barbecue, Greek fishmongers and Italian deli's. Dining out here is an international experience yet there are some things which are quintessentially Australian . . . nobody calls their kids Bruce or Sheila any more (what is the world coming to?). Everyone takes an esky to a barbie and BYO is endemic. Meat pies are eaten at footy games and schooner's are the measure of a beer, not a small sailing ship.

There are a number of Aussie Icons of which you may or may not be aware, the Hills Hoist, the Esky, The Wine Cask and the Cochlear Implant to name a few. Like many countries, our good designs are snapped up overseas because funding for them here seems not to be forthcoming.

I didn't have to go to far for this post, all these pictures are from my own home or garden . . .these are things that are quintessentially Australian to me . . I'm not big into meat pies, cork hats or blue singleted beer bellies . . but five minutes around my place and this is why I still call Australia home. *runs off and sings Peter Allen song*

My verandah . . keeps the house cool, great for kids to ride their trykes around and the place we sit in the evening during summer righting the wrongs of the world . . .but it's a long way to the washing line (60 metres!)

Water sports . . millions of Australians have pools. When you fly into Kingsford Smith, the landscape is smattered with little blue holes. Handy in a bushfire as well. They're a shit to maintain in winter but the summer enjoyment is worth the chemical overload . .

Vegemite . .love it or hate it, we're really pissed that it's now owned by an American company. This particular shot is from Uyuni Salt flats in Paraguay, no respectable Australian travels without it.

Thongs, clearly these won't fit around my bum . .they are footwear people not underwear. Acceptable everywhere except nightclubs and posh restaurants. Valuable in thwacking spiders, keeping the soles of your feet from burning on the sand (warning to Bondi visitors) and help absorb the bindis instead of having them puncture the soles of your feet! They must be Haviainas because they're soft and uber comfy. Pommies you will get sore between your toes but persevere . . .
Weird flowers. . . this is a Sandra Gordon Grevillea . .the birds love em because they're nectar bearing but they look funny, you can't pick them for a vase and they make you itch when pruning!

Weather . . 30 one minute . .hailing golf balls the next. We watched this hailstorm last February in our bathers! The temperature dropped minimally but after it was over, the lawn was STEAMING! (and poor Babysis' car was totalled!). There is nothing 'reliable' about our weather. Summer can be hot, humid, dry and wet. . Autumn is cold and windy and Winter . .anyone's guess. Spring is usually pretty good although we had snow in the blue mountains on Wednesday and today it was 30!

Rainbow Lorikeets. As I sit here, these small parrots are chirruping away in the treetops and are INVISIBLE. Can you imagine a bird of so much colour blending into the gum trees? Well they do. This one however was very cooperative and munching my Robin Gordon Grevillea just outside Adam's bedroom . .they're noisy but so, so, beautifully coloured.

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree . .actually this is my sister's gum tree. We have them hear but I tend to hear them laugh before rain rather than see them. They do laugh and they do sound funny.

Babybro's Rodeo . . Holden . . Aussie car brand from General Motors. As Australian as the meat pie and blue singlet! You're either a Holden man or a Ford Man. . .-

Galahs, one of the most underrated cockatoos here. Snapped these lovers this afternoon. These are not drinking. The pool has just been dosed with chlorine. They're sharpening their beaks on the coping stones and licking the lime in the pebble crete much like you give a caged bird cuttlefish to chomp. Very pretty.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. Australian natives despite their well travelled reputation. They are INCREDIBLY noisy in a bunch. The size of a chicken, somehow they know when seed has been put in the tray. I only feed when I have visitors and want to impress but they come . . yep . . build it and they will come!

Blue Tongue lizard . .docile . .slow . .had one in the shower once but he was happy to be scooped up in a cylindrical post pack and released somewhere a little further than my bathroom . .
got snails in your garden? Get one!

Rather pathetic flag that my bro put up in the front lawn on some Vinidex tubing. Hey, it's not class but it shows we're proud!

The barbie . .can be as simple or as sophisticated as you want. ALL Australians have one, use one, invite friends to one . . .although sometimes you BYO alcohol and meat! It is a male bastion. The women do the work, the salads, the table laying . . men turn a chop! Talent eh?

Al Fresco Christmas . . it's usually warm and we eat outside. Cold cuts (although I do bake a glazed ham) salad, fruit, chocolate fountain, more fruit . . .Mango Daquiries and a game of cricket.

Lemon scented Gum . . how does a tree like this smell like lemons? It does. I love this tree but I hate that the bastards are diciduous all year round. I spend every Saturday blowing leaves down one end of the verandah only to have a cool change blow them back. Some pursuits are futile but necessary.

There, just a little of my world. No fall, no snow, no funny accents, no rich history, no water . . .but it's still God's country . .if only I could turn the temperature down in January . .it's not easy being green! Right, off to throw a prawn on the barbie, thwack that redback off the toilet seat with my thong and make a pavlova!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Tit for Tat

We have a rabbit problem. A big rabbit problem. Most have now moved underneath the shipping container that we use for storage and are undermining the shed but they've left a warren in the back paddock that's too dangerous to mow over let alone allow a horse to fall into. The fuckers have built a warren up the back tantamount to a Florida condominium and bigger than the World Square Apartments in George Street so before I can bring horses back, they need to be demolished.

And I have a horsey problem. My ponies are like Laurel and Hardy. A fat Welsh Mountain pony that survives on an oily rag and is about to founder because he steals food and a neglected Arab who needs a bit of feeding up. In fact Chippy is the only horse that I've seen with a visible belly button!

Old Laurie is doing well on his Coprice diet and uber pricey lucerne hay and the ribs are now covered after just 3 weeks but I need to bring him home to avoid a one hour round trip every night to feed and to cut down on the expense. Having him at home means I can feed twice or three times a day, avoid driving after work and quarantine fat boy.

Ever since the drought, hay has been about $25 a bale (they eat half a bale a day at their current digs) and the Coprice pellets $26 for 25 kilos. Fed at 3 kilos a day, it doesn't go far and greedy chops keeps stealing it. My neighbour has a smaller paddock so I can quarantine fatso Chippy but the two can still hang around and snooze together. They've been paddock buddies for 13 years so full on separation would upset them big time. I know, I'm a sap and they should go to the glue factory but I just canna doit Captain! (Thrifty are you paying attention)

I have an overgrowth problem (nope I'm not referring to a need for a bikini wax although that area could do with some attention given the onset of Spring). The back paddock is looking like a forest so it's $350 to hire a Bobcat and driver to demolish the rabbit resort, another $500 for a slasher to bring the weeds under control . . .hang on . . *brainwave* - Son is a landscaper. Son's boss has a Backhoe and a Bobcat. Horses eat grass ergo no need for a slasher. Well it took a while for the penny to drop - I'm a bit slow on the uptake but Adam finally asked his boss if he could 'borrow' the tools of the trade for some work at home. Thanks Toddles . . .

Here is a nanoportion of the problem:

Imagine getting your fetlocks stuck in that! Let alone the tunnels beneath that resemble the Viet Cong's efforts beneath Saigon only without the wok's and sleeping quarters! Although I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd dug up a few bunk beds and a dining table. The solution? This morning Adam borrowed the work truck (he might be smelly and messy and stink up my kitchen with his garlic addiction but he's mighty handy - he does put the toilet seat down.) . . .

This has to be every little boy's wet dream. A truck, a digger and a Bobcat! (We all know what the big boys dream about!) When he was a tot, he loved playing with his Tonka Diggers in the sand pit and blew raspberry noises until his chin developed a dribble rash. No dribble today. First out came the digger and an attempt to remove an old tree stump that was clearly similar to an iceberg with massive roots beneath so we resolved to paint it orange and leave it be. (Not for the horses, for the tractor - we' ve buggered more than one tractor blade on unseen stumps!)

Then to the serious stuff. About a 15 metre square, now deserted rabbit warren with holes that could easily break a leg if you fell in one . . .naturally whilst painting a blue spray area for the lad to work in, I did! Fall in, not break a leg.

Once excavated, the fun bit . . . out comes the Bobcat which looked like more fun than a ride at Luna Park than a landscaping tool . . Look mum, two wheels!

Fill it in and smooth it over . . . .

Job's done in about an hour but packing up takes about the same time. Fitting a digger, bobcat, drills, bits, wheelbarrows and ramps onto the truck is a precision exercise. First you put the 'bits' into the bucket (which weigh a tonne mind - so of course I watched and took photographs and offered moral support "No wonder you're tired at night sweetheart. I have no idea how you do this every day! *sigh and empathy ooze*) No wonder he's developing great guns!

Then back the thing up the ramps which are about 25cms wide . . .

Then back the digger . . . .

And finally, secure the load . . .

Might seem a little pedestrian to you but today he saved me almost $1000 so board payment is suspended this month! And there's something rather wonderful knowing that a boy who grew up without much male influence is so resourceful and blokey.

The saving on board incidentally gave him enough funds to go out and buy Guitar Hero III and two guitars . . . well deserved twanging to my mind. Well c'mon he could have been an Investment Banker! Thank you darling . . next week we'll fix the fence!

Don't you love the Royal 'we'. Cut me some slack now, I did 10 loads of filthy washing and changed his sheets! That's Tit for Tat in my book!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Fuckwit x 2

Parliament Portion Probe
An Australian Federal parliamentary official has confirmed that he checked the size of the portions of beef stroganoff in the parliamentary canteen after a complaint was received from a Labor M!

Federal Labor MP John Murphy complained to the Parliament (not the dinner lady) that his wife was given a serve that was too small whilst dining on Beef Stroganoff in the Parliamentary Dining Room.

He later apologised for raising the issue in Parliament which was quite clearly an inappropriate forum considering that parliamentary debate this week has focussed almost entirely on the economy and how to get money circulating again.

The head of the Department of Parliamentary Services, Alan Thompson, has told Senators at an estimates committee that he tried the stroganoff and was satisfied. I just hope it was in passing converstation and that an estimates committee was not convened to discuss the portion size of stroganoff!

What was a member's wife doing helping herself to polly's tax payer funded beef stroganoff - fuck 'em - let them eat cake!

No Kangaroos in Austria

Austria narrowly won a coveted seat on the UN Security Council and diplomats said Vienna was lucky that only one country appeared to have confused the small Alpine nation with Australia.

Austria, which gets one of 10 nonpermanent seats on the council in 2009-2010, received 133 votes from the 192 UN member states, just five over the required two-thirds majority of 128.

While most of the other votes for the grouping went to the other two contenders Turkey and Iceland, one went to Australia, which was not competing for a seat.

UN diplomats said the most likely explanation for the mystery vote for Australia is that someone confused the two countries because of their similar spellings.

But, they said, the possibility could not be ruled out that it was an innocent joke or an attempt to annoy the Austrians.

So many people confuse Australia and Austria - Oesterreich in German - that tourist shops across the mountainous central European state sell T-shirts and other souvenirs sporting the slogan "there are no kangaroos in Austria".

Last year US President George W Bush confused the two countries when he thanked former Australian prime minister John Howard for visiting his "Austrian" troops in Iraq.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Come Into My Parlour Said the Spider to the Bird

Ok I do live in a country where everything wants to kill you (apparently) but we don't have lions or tigers or bears, or gangs or the right to bear arms by tracksuited bling boys. Our predators are largely animalian. The worst are small but this really got me with the gross factor.

I live among Sydney Funnel Web Spiders, the deadliest of all but they're small and hidden and very rarely do people get bitten. Usually gardeners not wearing gloves or people who leave their laundry on the floor in damp and cool conditions. Spiders generally dislike heat and sunshine. There are the Redbacks (black widows) but they're teensy and easily spotted with their shiny tiny black bodies and yellow, orange or more common, red stripe. Actually, they're rather delicate and shy. Sure we have one of the most poisonous snakes in the world, the 'Fierce Snake' (there's that wonderful ability for Australians to name things originally). But down here, it's browns and blackies and they'd sooner run than be discovered. And there's the odd Croc that likes the odd sandle donning tourist if they're stupid enough to swim in a NT billabong

The very worst I get at this time of the year - mating season - are Huntsman Spiders. They're docile, leggy, hairy but quite big. Around here the largest has a leg to leg span of about 10cms but they're shy, harmless and constantly victim to Adam's work boots. I was growing one for my visitor in January but now I just have corpses littering the toilet and bathroom floors!

HOWEVER . . in caps for uber emphasis. I logged into yesterday and saw this. Now I'm pretty sure that you're common golden orb is quite small . .I've had one smatter my face whilst cantering along a bush trail years ago. And yes I fell off because horseriding requires the commitment of two hands on the reins and flailing madly to remove a tiny spider and a helluva sticky web saw me seriously unbalanced.

THIS amazing image of a mammoth spider devouring a bird in someone's GARDEN! was taken in the backyard of a property near Cairns in far north Queensland. They seem to grow 'em a lot bigger up there.

The image, which is being cirulated via email worldwide, is real, according to wildlife experts, The Cairns Post reported.

The photo,taken earlier this week, shows the spider clenching its legs around a lifeless bird trapped in a web at a property near Atherton, west of Cairns.

Joel Shakespeare, the head spider keeper at NSW's Australian Reptile Park (famous for 'milking' snake and spider venom for antivenine production), identified the spider and said, "Normally they prey on large insects, it's unusual to see one eating a bird," Well you don't say!

Mr Shakepeare said he had seen golden orb weaver spiders as big as a human hand - (OMG) but the northern species in tropical areas were known to grow larger. Right, that's put Cairns right off the travel agenda!

The poor little finch is a chestnut-breasted mannikin most likely to have flown into the web and got caught. How sticky is that web! God I've got the shivers just thinking about it! Now DBM where's your camera?

"It wouldn't eat the whole bird," he said. Mmm consolation to the poor little finch! Now go away if you're scared of spiders . . don't say I didn't warn you . . .

You're average garden Golden Orb . . harmless enough and easy to identify. They're the ones with the lovely dew encrusted webs early in the morning . . .quite pretty really.

You're Cairns version. . . now this even made me reel and look at it's proximity to the house!

Mmm . . bitten off a little more than it can chew!

Addenda: This is the dude that haunts my house in spring, you can get an idea of scale. Snapped on the house bricks just outside my front door:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Six Weeks

Feeling a bit contemplative tonight . . .as the recession seems a given and a sale, ergo financial freedom, an eon away, there is light at the end of the tunnel . .

Six weeks . . . .

The time it took for my husband to be, to ask me out on a proper date
The time it took me to read my first book club book
The time it took for me to realise that I didn't want to be a teacher
The time it took to travel around the Society Islands
The time it took for me to have driving lessons before I made the test
The time I missed my parents when they first had their longest holiday and left me home with three siblings
The time it takes to get my pool blue after the duck dating service leaves
The time it took for my babies to sleep through the night
The time it took for 9 little Christmas decorations from Rothenburg to be gamma irradiated
The time it took to diagnose fibroids and ovarian cysts
The time I spent just one summer holiday off work with my children
The time it took for my wonderful father to fall from handsome and healthy to bedridden and dying
The time it took for me to talk to my now best friend
The time it took for me to recover from a miscarriage
The time it took for me to make a house into a home
The time it took for me to find a dog that is absolutely perfect
The time it took to travel from England to Australia
The time it took before I started smoking again
The time it took before anyone commented on my blog
The time it takes to get your Dyson repaired
The time it takes for a passport to arrive in the post
The time it takes for a horse to realise that you really are its new master
The time it takes to house train a puppy
The time it takes to paint the interior of my house
The time it takes for a film that I really want to see be released
The time it took to develop a particular online friendship which I value beyond reason
The time that my Christmas tree stands glorious in the corner of my loungeroom
The time it will take to organise a party . . .

It took me way, way, longer to realise that my children are indeed my legacy and people of whom I am exceedingly proud.

It's also the time it takes before my best friend comes home . . .

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This is worse for me than it is for you - NOT

Aside: Thanks everyone for your comments yesterday. I just want to make something clear. I will never censor your comments unless you are rude to another commenter or an interloper such as the Jedi twat that I deleted straight away. And I value the difference of opinion. This is a friendly place. Feel free to say what you want as long as it doesn't hurt others.

Unlike the second boardroom at work today. I hurt someone.

I had a call from a client early this morning who had received mail for someone else. Not for the first but for the third time. This is an issue, we are financial planners, our business is based on confidentiality and trust - required no more so than in the current financial environment.

The upshot? I had to sack a perfectly nice little girl for no more than being incapable of the position. I refrained from the "This is as hard for me as it is for you" line because it's not. It was surprisingly easy. Yep, the receptionist/admin assistant got the chop and whilst it definitely didn't feel as bad for me as it probably did for her it was a difficult thing to do.

I hired her in July after having only two suitable applications. Prior to the current economic crisis, it was a buyer's market. Let's face it we were paying award wages and more mature candidates weren't interested despite a plethora of highly qualified people for the job because the wage was low - entry level as we call it here. So we put her on knowing she was green, I had reservations about her 'diction' when using the phone or her 'absorption' regarding sorting mail, she had no nouse re board meetings but I felt most of what she needed to know could be learned and she had good mentors for 12 weeks.

There was a high degree of pressure from people who really liked her predecessor who we have promoted from within but she'd had the advantage of being three years in the position and they'd forgotten that she didn't even know how to make a cup of tea when she first started. I even enrolled the n00b in a Traineeship so that she could benefit from some professional mentoring but when 4 clients over a period of 16 weeks receive confidential financial information that belongs to someone else, it goes beyond human error and frankly becomes a dangerous precedent.

She took it well but I felt so sorry for her. She's tiny, fragile, sweet, tried very hard, stepped up to the plate when I told her she wasn't quite cutting the mustard but frankly, the job was too much for her.

What becomes of a 21 year old who can't hold down a basic Admin position. I wanted to hug her but that would be unprofessional, so offered a verbal reference should she take a less demanding position. Her character was exemplary . . her ability sadly lacking. I feel shitty, I've only done this three times and the other two were easy because the kids lied and were caught red-handed but this one really didn't do anything 'wrong' - she just wasn't up to the job. I thought she'd cry . .protest . . have something to say . . and she was given the opportunity - other than telling me that both her parents had lost their jobs and she was now the breadwinner (Jesus didn't that hit home!). But business is business and basically, she took it on the chin with a vacant look and didn't even take her termination letter or reference with her. I think her last word was 'cool'.

I've been retrenched for 'personal' reasons and I know that gut-wrenching feeling when someone says "I have to let you go . ." I just hope she prevails. I'm sorry Kel but I tried hard to bring you into the fold. And I wish you luck in whatever you decide to do.

Managing people really sucks.

No pic because it's not funny being the 'go to' girl.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Bit of a Ranty Poo

I have never believed in censorship by government. I didn't like the banning of books such as Mao's Little Red Book, Portnoy's Complaint, Lady Chatterly's Lover or more recently Noddy because he and Big Ears apparently are not in a healthy heterosexual relationship yet there's something totally normal about Tellytubbies?

I cry when I see that Nazi footage of books being burned in the street or knowing that some children will never know the joy of Dr Seuss because it is written by an American Infidel or lament that children will not enjoy the genius of Harry Potter because it's deemed un-Christian. Similarly with movies and internet, I've closely monitored, advised but never actually 'banned' content let alone tolerated a government that might want to censor my access without a fight!

I haven't exactly played porn or realistically violent stuff in front of my kids but they've seen movies over their suggested age rating but only with me and after discussing the pros and cons, the content etc. Polanski's Macbeth was necessarily brutal but they were studying it in year 10 and it had an R rating, where's the sense in that! Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have Sharon Stone uncrossing her legs in front of a 9 year old (not that I saw anything anyway it was such a fleeting glimpse) but I haven't been precious.

Internet is different, I've wanted to know where they are, what they're looking at and access times were limited. In fact I didn't even get it connected until Clare was 17 and needed an online Biology text. With the advent of MSN and IM (and my ability to locate their 'history' files if I need to but never have) I've been careful with how they access the net. Mine to my knowledge, have never been subjected to bullying or predatory behaviour. Unlike Skype where some guy called Arun from Iran is convinced his member is large enough to satisfy me if only I'll just say 'hello'.

I find the violence of some computer games confronting and it irks me sometimes to see the adeptness of my 8 year old nephew blowing beasties to bits with a variety of weapons but who knows, the kid might end up being a fighter pilot, games designer, systems analyst or working in an abattoir and will need the skills.

The Rudd Government are going to mandate internet censorship. Moves are afoot to implement compulsory cyber-safety that will require ISPs to offer a clean feed Internet service to all homes, schools and public Internet points accessible by children. Now I do not want any children to become the victims of bullying or paedophiles or any type of predatory behaviour but this is the world in which we live. We need to educate children to 'deal' with this, much like 'stranger danger', to draw it to the attention of a responsible grown up and catch the bastards at it. But mandatory? Please. It's a parent's responsibility to monitor their children's internet, reading material. And a school's responsibility to ensure that access to unacceptable sites is monitored. The erosion of parent's rights is really beginning to bug me and I think responsible for much of the undisciplined behaviour we see in young adults. Then I did go through a period where I felt parents should be licensed to breed and I guess that's the strongest regulation there is.

I remember finding some of the most disgusting porn under Adam's mattress when he was about 10. It had been left by builders across the road and biker boy had found it whilst conquering their massive sand dump with his BMX. Not your glossy FHM or Penthouse revelations but "My girlfriend in her S & M gear" tacky and ugly stuff. Clever boy hid it under the mattress because she who must be obeyed would never have the gaul to look there despite changing this sheets every week. It was even more clever than that, he hid three magazines under the mattress on the top bunk in clear view! Wicked smaht he was! We ended up looking at it together and talking about how inappropriate it was and he admitted that it was curiosity about the female anatomy that had him interested. Should have bought him the Joy of Sex much earlier!

Seriously though. The Howard Government made free software available to parents as a disk nanny but to actually force ISP's to vet content? This won't cover chat rooms and much international content where kids are indeed predated upon and is as likely to be as successful as the 'nuisance call' list (just received a call from someone wanting me to do a survey who just unceremoniously hung up when I said I had no children of school age and I'm supposed to be 'on the list'). I'm getting my phone disconnected soon. Only my Mother in Law rings me on it anyway.

Now much as I like my slightly left of centre views, I am not a communist or a full blown socialist and I don't want to be censored or over-regulated. (Ces, you didn't hear that, I'm a full blown Stalinist and don't you forget it!)

I don't want my internet mandatorily controlled any more than I want literature banned or Heinz Mayonnaise and Fair Trade Coffee removed from the shelves of Coles, which they did and I'm not happy Jan. Do you think my boycott of Coles will affect their buying policy?

Not only that but blanket vetting will kill upload and download speeds as if it isn't slow enough. Do it for schools, (why kids need access to anything other than academic sites I have no idea) do it for public internet cafes on delegated machines used by under 15's but homes are the domain of individuals and the responsibility of parental guidance (sigh).

You know? I think much of it has to do with the ineptitude policy makers (and dare I say some teachers and parents) in understanding the net. For me, Facebook has been something of a revalation . . I know more about what my kids get up to through following their photo tags and comments than when I'm asleep whilst they're running amok in the pool room (that is definitely my word this week I've used it a few times, amok, amok, amok!)

Of all the regulations in all of the world, why this infringement on freedom when we berated the Chinese so hard for vetting internet access during the Olympics, there's an unacceptable double standard here and my letter to government is already in the post (yep, I had to do a written submission on internet censorship - go figure!). Censorship doesn't work. The most censored nations, remain the most ignorant. And whether you like it or not, kids are smart, way smarter than policy makers and they will find a way to access what they want.

Having said that, I wouldn't mind the Government preventing that Russian woman from emailing me on a daily basis because she wants to marry me or tackling the bank with whom I do not bank, constantly asking me to 'confirm' my account details! Nah, that would be too productive.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Phoctober Day 2 (Or Sunday in da City)

Second Phoctober Post: Today Adam and I went back for our repeat of the unproductive whale watch tour in August. If you don't see a whale, you can go back for free. Northern migration is over. The big boofer hump backed whales move north to Harvey Bay in Queensland to warm up, calve and frolic then head back south to Antarctica in October/November. They hug the coast to avoid Orca and shark attacks on their young.

Adam and I this time took ginger extract rather than Travel Calm which made us totally trippy last time and headed out in quite a swell. Not as choppy as before but boy that boat was rising and falling like the Dow Jones! It's a four hour sojourn through the harbour and beyond the heads into open ocean. Today it was boaties day. The harbour was jam packed with pleasure craft, tour boats, sailing races, jet boats and hoons in wannabe speed boats. We identified at least five different kinds of yachts competing for goodness knows what in a spinnaker raising wind and a few ending up in the drink. So here's our glorious 30 degree spring day in arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I'm not precious about Australia, it's just another country, but the harbour? Totally awesome! You can click for various bouts of bigness.

SO Sydney, popping into Circular key, one of the regular ferries in green and gold and a cruise charter longship exchanging greetings and that gorgeous lady in the background is of course the Sydney Opera House

This little Lady dwarfed the skyline . . Rhapsody of the Sea . . just popping in of for the day trippers (the big rectangular thing on the back is a rock climbing wall!)

Pulled into Circular Quay, the main ferry terminal to pick up others. Jet Boat boy was waiting for punters who feel comfortable in purple dry suits . . I'm sure he drives a Subaru Impreza!

Little boats were capsizing all over the place . . .these guys had about 4 attempts to right their skiff!

Fort Denison, "Pinchgut" to the locals was built to dissuade Russian would-be invaders during the Crimean War . . um the Russian's weren't coming. Never been there but it's on your travel agenda Notsoanonymous!

Many prefer to watch from a cliffside vantage point. There are cliff walks on both sides of the harbour and beyond . .

Look at all those tourists crowding onto Bondi beach . .possibly the most overrated beach in the world next to Copa Cabana . . . but you all wanna go there!

Then a little spurt and a brown bit!

Then a little tantalising glimpse . .we were pitching so hard on a 1.5metre swell (look at the horizon) that staying steady meant one hand on the bars and single handed camera work.) These dudes were 500metres away . .they're BIG

Something interesting down there . . .six week old calf needs a breather.

Baby fluke . . there was a very shy but enormous mum who insisted on holding her breath longer than the younglings so I missed her big breach and flap thanks to the selfish little cow who jumped up in front of me. There were three but so hard to see. Mum, a juvenile 6 year old and a tiny calf . . .Ok nothing like the gorgeous breach shots of Southern Right's that AV has on Absolute Vanilla (seriously if you like whales she's got some amazing shots) but I put my camera down for a while to look (and hang on) rather than just photograph.

Travelling back through the heads there was a swag of seaplanes heading north.
How the rich and famous go home from Catelinas Restaurant at Rushcutter's bay or Doyles at Watson's Bay . . nice flight home after a slow lunch!

Back at Darling Harbour and the thunder clouds were rolling in while the sun still shone from the west. Centrepoint tower gleamed gold . . .I like this shot and if you make it larger, you might just be able to see Egyptian Ibis in the palm trees (dirty smelly honkers - hate 'em)

One of the fountains at Darling Harbour, when we rushed over to King Street Wharf there were children paddling in the stream. Adam commented that we have to fence any pool deeper than 400cm but for some reason kids can splosh around in this. We were running late so no time for happy snaps. Darling harbour is a weird place. There's an Imac theatre, convention centre (the Motor Show was on) and one half is decidedly westy and appeals to the working class. The other side - lovely restaurants and Monaco boats. Today the Dragon Races were on which are great and really colourful but I was saving memory and we were running late so I didn't snap 'em.

We needed food and a toilet. The signs were pretty but of no use . . so we succumbed to MacDonalds (they have clean loos) and ate our Big Macs on the steps outside.

Bloody seagulls are big around here . . .and they go 'honk' not 'mine'