Friday, July 31, 2009

Four Friday Fuckwits

In early December last year, my little lad had his first dingle and was neatly sandwiched in a four car pile up. Ouchies but nobody hurt except the Magna and his pride.

All was organised, he was quick off the mark reporting the accident, getting onto the insurance company, sorting out his fine and paying his excess. There are heavy penalties for being male, under 25 and behind the wheel of a car. I paid via my Visa. Sorted! All within days of the accident.

We didn’t think anything of it until last week when he received a letter from our insurance company asking that he pay $1150 excess. Upon further investigation and much frantic rummaging through past bank and credit card statements with no sign of the $1150 being debited we called the insurance company to query the letter.

We were politely told that the payment had been declined as the card was reported ‘lost’.
Ah . . bells started ringing. I had indeed lost my Visa, had it cancelled and forgotten about the pending payment within the week it took for my new card to arrive. So, we hadn’t paid the $1150!

What really surprised me was the fact that we had only been advised of the non-payment in July 2009 when the accident was in December 2008 . . .seven months had passed and we were oblivious that the money hadn't been paid! How could I not miss an $1150 debit!

What had Adam really thinking he’d be avoiding bending over to pick up the soap in Silverwater Maximum Security prison, was the letter he received today from the claiment's insurance company threatening to sue him for $18652.64 (why they didn't round it to .65 cents i'll never know!)

In the matter of and TAKE NOTICE, THAT NRMA INSURANCE, who are the insurers of may issue legal proceedings through the COURT (well I don't know where else you'd issue them) for recovery of $18652.64 AND WITH COSTS ADDED relating t0 damage sustained to their vehicle caused by you on 6/12/2008.

This amount is to be paid by seven (7) days from the date of this letter. (The letter was dated 20 July and today is the 31st!)

If you have insurance to cover you for this loss, please contact your Insurer to avoid further personal involvement and expense.

THIS IS A FINAL NOTICE. (we didn't get a first one!) It would be in your best interests to attend to this matter
Poor kid had a caniption. . news like that could kill you.

Anyway, all’s well that ends well. We had already made the payment to our insurance company last week. The legal threats ended up being empty and the insurance will cover all the damage to the car he hit. Not his unfortunately, that is a write-off with four great wheels so if you need set, let me know!

Of course he had to hit a Volvo didn’t he? Something tells me the panel beater isn’t being quite honest about the level of damage. That's an awful lot of money for a plastic bumper bar and a splash of paint. I'm definitely in the wrong career.

So Friday Fuckwits Four . .

Me . .I didn’t even notice that the Princely sum of $1150 hadn’t been taken off my Visa in November. Clearly I have so much credit card debt that I just don’t look at the statements any more!

Budget Direct Insurance for leaving it 7 months before they asked us to pay the excess. Not a ‘reminder’ just a “Your excess is due . . .” letter.

NRMA Insurance for giving my kid a caniption fit without so much as a “Are you having problems raising the money in these hard economic times?” Bastard lawyers.

The panel beater who’s ‘fixing up’ the car Adam ran into and clearly ‘stitching up’ the insurance company – if he’s not skimming, he must be making the bumper bar out of gold plate!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

From Gumnuts to Buttons

Captain James Cook

Theme Thursday and I had to press the panic button! Where to go with this one?

Indigenous Tasmanians after white contact, became famous for their necklaces strung with tiny, lustrous shells. There is no apparent reason for this and no pre white contact history of the aborigines there addorning their bodies with any type of jewellery.

There is a theory proposed by Antique authority John Hawkins, that Tasmanian Aborigines created these necklaces as a result of being given strings of glass beads and buttons at Adventure Bay by James Cook in 1777.

Between 13 January and 27 February 1802, Nicholas Baudin was sent to map the coast of Tasmania. The expedition successfully explored the southern part of the east coast of the apple isle and Baudin’s journal relates the following regarding necklaces, gifts and trinkets.

15 January 1802
'... One of our sailors exchanged his jacket for a kangaroo skin. The native tied it round his neck and went off a little way. His principal concern was to remove all the buttons, and then he abandoned the jacket. Of these, they all appear to be very fond. Citizen Bonnefoi gave a woman a small mirror in return for her necklace. The locket on it consisted of an English penny and a metal button, but nobody could discover when she had acquired them. With everyone sitting down again, they turned their attention to pockets and the metal buttons on some of the men’s waistcoats. Several did not ask before searching through them for things they might fancy, while others
indicated by unambiguous signs how pleased they would be to own the buttons.
Some were cut off and distributed amongst them to their great satisfaction...’

Indeed, military jackets with brass buttons were also presented to other indigenous populations in Canada and New Zealand, Hawaii and etc. as a sign of status, a faux attempt at 'peace'.

Interestingly, there's an educational kit for Tasmanian school children called "From Gumnuts to Buttons" This activity explores the relationships between the European Settlers (buttons) and the Native Aborigines (gumnuts) throughout history. Not a happy history I am sad to say and we are still trying to make amends and resolve the pain of the past.

Although there is something very innocent and sweet about the indigenous inhabitants of this great brown land, divesting the European invaders of their coats only to only to have them de-buttoned and dropped in the dust! If only white diplomacy could have been pursued through a button exchange instead of invasion and attempted eradication. What a different country this would be.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

There is No Such Thing as a Silly Question

OK a complete change of pace because Sunday's post caused such a rucous. Thank you again for your very honest perspectives.

Renee is doing OK. She's still worried and there is a hard road ahead.

Now it's all about me. And a quiz for you my poppets.

Every time I apply for a job on, and if it's through an Agency, the rule is that you need to meet with the agency rep before they put your CV forward to the client. Now for the past 3 Tuesdays and with great thanks to my current boss who understands the need, I have had to traipse into the city (about a 1 hour bus ride) and meet with various recruitment consultants. Happily the city consultants are more 'mature' than their local counterparts, who are barely out of nappies. So today, I met with three (killing birds - one stone). But honestly, some of the questions floor me so I want your answers to the following. Try to think about a 52 year old woman with credit card debt to die for and the need for occupational validation. These are real questions. The answers however have been tempered for slightly comedic value:

"Why would you like to work for Parcels Direct"

Erm so I can get the staff discount and ship cocaine to England cheaply?"

"So, what are your weaknesses?"

Well my left knee actually and the fact that Eclipse chewing gum makes me fart

"If you had three jobs lined up in front of you, what would make you choose one over the other?"

The one closest to home or the one that pays the most - do I have a choice or is this is a trick question? You don't have any jobs do you?

"What is your greatest achievement?"

I guess considering that you're 18, living at home and still wearing a training bra . . raising two children to balanced adulthood wouldn't actually hold any resonance . .oh you need me to spell resonance and explain what it means?

"So, how much would you like to earn?"

One beeeeelllllioooon dolllarrrrrs!

"What's your idea of the perfect job?"

Well one that has me being paid one beeeeellllioooon dollllarrrs for having sex on the boardroom table with Johnny Depp (without Jay there and her camera!)

"Where would you like to work?"

In bed? In the kitchen? In the garden? Actually I don't really want to work, I want to volunteer for pets as therapy and do lunch three times a week on the Northern Beaches. Or breed pretty little ponies for spoilt rich kids. Bucking has never been so much fun!

"What excites you, motivates you?"

Having sex with Johnny Depp on the Boardroom table

"What locations are you prepared to work in?"

Erm . .Paris? Venice? Vienna? New York? I suppose Papeete is pushing the envelope?

"Describe your perfect work environment"

Well there has to be a big boardroom table and a pirate and I have to be allowed to bring my dog and an espresso coffee bar and a putting green and I can work in my pyjamas . .do you have a position at Google?

Ok your turn. Throw em at me. I am an "A" Grade Interviewee . .send me your questions . . .

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Be My Shepherd

I'm warning you, if you're looking for the Sunday photo walk . . move on now . .we're about to get heavy . . .

I received an email today in response to one I sent from a blogger upon hearing some devastating news. I've only been following for a few months. She's amazing. She receives a lot of adoration via comments but that's not really my style. She's eloquent, articulate, funny and so, so, nice I resisted commenting on her blog for a while because I thought nobody could be quite that lovely. But after a few emails. Yep. She is.

Her family is going through a total crisis. And it all crashed down on her within a week. She's not the only one but at this point in time, she's in dire straits.

Her nephew has just had his stomach and a large chunk of his oesophegus removed due to a sudden and devastating lymphoma that refused to stop bleeding. He's 25 years old. The same age as my daughter. Can you imagine! Her sister has just undergone surgery for an aggressive brain tumour which she didn't even know she had and she herself survives inflammatory breast cancer above all odds. So here's the question . . Why in these times do we turn to God, Manon, Spirit Guides . Karma . . Angels . . .Am I the only person on the planet who hasn't any spirituality at all. I'll try anything but I don't really believe. When things go wrong, I appeal to a God in whom I don't believe. How does that work?

Where are they? How do these spiritual things help? I'm not being provocative here because if I felt an ounce of spirituality it would be channelled towards this woman and millions of others who suffer. I WANT to feel spiritual. I'm inviting it but it doesn't come.

I'm convinced there's no interventionist God. There are no guardian angels . . there are no spirit guides. There is no pale-bearded face watching us humans from a Boticellian shell while we breed like a pandemic virus and scurry around our destructive business. God as a concept to me has nothing to do with organised religion. It's a word to explain the inexplicable. That which is beyond our comprehension.

There is a consciousness that humans have developed and that's what separates us from 'lower' life forms. I use the term loosely as I've seen a bird mourn it's poor car-hit partner for days so don't tell me it doesn't comprehend the concept of death and separation. Yet we arrogant humans believe that WE are God. We invented the concept. And in middle class Western Europe we've made a career of it. We control people with it, we start wars over it . .we even thank God for our Academy Awards and we've made a business out of it.

For some reason God only helps humans and the 'particularly' middle class, financially viable people from my view. Or provides comfort to the abjectly poor in the favellas and third world because they need a glimmer of hope to which they can cling. Few in the west grieve the 11 out of 12 ducklings who meet their fate before their third day when they hatch inside my pool enclosure every year. Nobody gives a flying fuck about disenfranchised Zimbabweans or Somalis because they live in a God-forsaken (forgive the pun) place. Nobody cares about the plight of North Koreans who are starving and cold whilst their Dictator postures with nuclear weapons. No-one really gives a rats arse about Afghanistan and the bhurka clad women begging in puddles on the street because they were denied education and have no man to provide for them. Nobody gave a shit about Pol Pot and his genocidal tendencies 30 years after the Holocaust. Nobody has time for the drug addicts who won't help themselves or the beggar on the corner of Pitt and George because he sits there with a sign describing his plight instead of getting off his arse and volunteering or trying to get a job.

And frankly, nobody gives a bugger about fucking over the planet of which we have nominated ourselves to become custodians, yet rape for profit and self-aggrandisement.

I'm not pointing fingers here because right now, I'm sitting in the comfort of my own home, in front of a PC talking to people all over the world with a dog at my feet that eats better than any Rwandan child and a heater burning a hole in my chair. I am guilty. So, so guilty. My family are well educated, well fed, well loved. We are dry, fat, warm and healthy.

I'm really crazy mad about this stuff today. Life is fragile, we are a destructive organism bent on over-indulgence and we're killing each other and the planet through war and diseases that were hitherto unknown 200 years ago - lifestyle disease. Or maybe people just died of these afflictions and we didn't know how to diagnose them.

We are the cancer and then we wonder why God treats us badly, hurts good people, let's unfortunates suffer and yet lets ingrates like Madoff and Murdoch and a plethora of other rip- off merchants and arms dealers, so-called captains of industry and unscrupulous politicians succeed.

It's a lottery folks. There is no control no matter how much we yearn for it, no matter how we try to capture it, no matter how many self-help groups we attend or positive affirmations we make. Shit happens and for no particular reason and with a randomness that surpasses selecting lottery numbers.

We don't control our lives or our future . .it just happens. I'm sure there's a philosophical name for this chaos that surrounds us . .Chaos theory perhaps? Or is it the Butterfly Effect?

Whatever . . .we are born, we struggle, some more than others and then we die and many of us have a great time in-between, more of us live abominably short and painful lives.

This particular family, and I'm sure there are millions like them, are close, warm, loving, God fearing, appreciative yet suffering along with others they don't even know.

So . contrary to my spiritual beliefs or lack of them, please draw on whatever your beliefs might be and say prayers, have a coning ceremony, send karma and healing, draw on your spirit guides do what you can . . but for me . . all I can do is email and provide comfort. It's a sad but integral part of life. Life is beautiful, harsh, endearing, amazing, devastating, painful, labouring, leisurely, magnificent and terrible!

My thoughts are with her. My empathy gland is working overtime but I have no higher court to which I can appeal. All I can do is email and wish I could help her with the mundane- the ironing, the cooking, the cleaning, things she doesn't need to worry about between hospital visits and I'm sure her friends are doing this for her.

Frankly I don't know ho we as a race have lasted this long but for Renee I have enormous, compassion, empathy and feeling so why do I feel like an animal documentary producer who doesn't intervene because it will spoil the integrity of my Big Cat Diary?

Because I don't know what intervention will cure her woes. I don't know how to help. I don't know how to project healing. I don't know how to warm her heart and chase her fear. I can't draw on my own spirituality. Frankly, I don't know what to do for a myriad of people who suffer like her. I just DONT KNOW and it's terrible. I want an interventionist God and a guardian angel. I want to believe that there is more and that suffering will end for those who endure it . .I just can't see it . .

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Just a Little Loopy

Leah didn't tag me officially (naughty Leah) but invited others to do a post in their native handwriting. It's interesting to see how people who spend their time typing on the blog actually write. Leah was a surprise. Neat, no smudges or misspellings, clearly printed, no flamboyance , just straight sans serif and easy to read . . . maybe that's how she is . . . I actually thought she would be wild and scrawly and loads of loops . For someone who types 90wpm, I rarely bother to write apart from the odd note berating 'da son' for making a mess or leaving orders for 'da daughter' to bring in the washing. So here you go. Cacky handedness at it's finest . .

You'll have to click to enlarge. Written in blue, medium ballpoint on white 80gsm Reflex.

I then went online (as you do) and had a go at an analysis of handwriting although you have to write with a mouse which isn't really indicative . . their analysis:

You plan ahead, and are interested in beauty, design, outward appearance, and symmetry. True
You are a social person who likes to talk and meet others. True
You are negative, fearful, resistant, doubtful, and/or selfish. True
You are a talkative person, maybe even a busybody! Maaaaybeeee!
You enjoy life in your own way and do not depend on the opinions of others. False I enjoy life but man, I'm so into the opinion of others!

Oh poo! Another website analyses me as: A person with light pressure writing (not much emotional or physical energy) and a left slant (tries to avoid emotional situations). This person will be emotionally withdrawn, cold, indifferent and self centered! Clearly he's coming out of a bad relationship with a left hander.

Have a go and report back to Aunty!

Clearly I'm only a little loopy!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Fuckwit

I've had little time for a Friday Fuckwit and tempting as it is to vilify agencies and their vague advertisements for jobs which sometimes I think may not even exist. Or if they do, must have some encoded specific criteria visible only to those in the know . . .here's a tidbit to make you smile from the 'apparently', highly employable, very well qualified, wonderful job candidate, who my current Manager would employ in a heartbeat if there wasn't a freeze on Government recruitment, can't even seem to get to first base and score an interview! I can't imagine what they'd think if they knew I was 52 and fat! I'm thinking of putting a full page ad in the Sydney Morning Herald . .seriously . . either that or joining a Convent, at least the food and board is free . .

Nuns on the Run at Triple the Speed Limit
Posted Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:00pm AEST
Updated Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:32pm AEST

A Roman Catholic nun has been caught speeding at 180 kilometres per hour in Italy.

Her speed was more than three times the limit, and the nun was not travelling alone - there were two other sisters in the car at the time. (Wheeeeeeee!)

The nun told police she was anxious to be by Pope Benedict's side at his holiday home in northern Italy, (Lucky, lucky bastard!) where he is recovering from an injured wrist. (Now I wonder how he did that?)

Oh . .of course . . .

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

If the Shoe Fits . . .

Theme Thursday and I could have walked a mile with a gazillion things on this week's theme of


There is always something special about buying your baby's first pair of shoes. It's one of those rights of passage when they actually need some support for those stumpy little toes. I still have my first shoes. For some reason my mother decided they were worth keeping. A little pair of white Clarks leather baby shoes with a buckle on the side and tiny perforated flowers along the front as decoration. They're worn and powdery with too much chalky white polishing (they never did get white polish right) and they're hidden in the Red Case on the top of my wardrobe for posterity or Narnians or the things that go 'boo' to find, whoever is brave enough to delve there first.

So taken was I, with my own ankle biter's little pitter-patter of tiny feet, that I've preserved their first shoes, well not quite their first but Clare's first satin ballet shoes and Adam's first pair of soccer boots, by having them bronzed. At great expense I might add but they did look rather cute on their shelves until they became as passe as My Little Pony and Duplo. Unfortunately, the ballet shoes are no longer on display and whilst they are safely tucked it was too big a project to retrieve them for a blog post. Rooms have changed as have tastes and little Queen Anne bedheads and nick-nack shelves have been replaced with a slick and colourful double bed and modern wall unit adorned with little else than hats, scarves and jewellery and, oddly enough shoes! The 'boy's' room now has a modern black cube unit, adorned with a Playstation and flat screen TV and another persistently unmade double bed. His little Puma soccer boots however were handy enough and once divested of the thick pall of dust that seems to congregate on his shelf unit, reasonable enough to photograph.

You can go "Awww" now . . he's a size 11
Were his feet ever that small?

My sister was quite impressed with the bronzing and so I offered to do the same to my little nephew's first shoes as a Christening present. What a lovely gesture on my part. Because I wouldn't normally have spent that much but hey, he's special. He's little when the other nephews have all left home. He's sweet and fragile and I rarely see him these days so . . bronzing was just never going to be too good for this little poppet's teensy footwear. . .except . . . .

He's now 10 years old! This theme Thursday finally prompted me to grab these little blue sandals which I've had safely tucked in the wardrobe for a decade . . . in order for them to be bronzed!

I'm such a procrastinator . . .well, you know what they say ". .if the shoe fits!"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Role Models, Heros and How Many Ankle Biters Have You Got?

It's Madhouse this week and I haven't participated for a couple of weeks so here goes. Not really a hero, but perhaps a role model of sorts. I must admit that work and schedules have left me time poor so there's a tenuous link here:

I have no aptitude for languages. Seriously. Apparently as a 14 year old I showed some promise in French class for intonation and syntax tempered somewhat by my crush for Swiss teacher Mr Christie but due to my constant moving from one school to another and the bizarrely inconsistent curriculum interstate, I never pursued French as a language. I did once enter into an unwanted conversation with a french speaking Genevan because I asked for two strawberry ice creams in such perfect French that he thought I was a local. Big mistake, don't get it too perfect because the jig is soon up when they realise you can only speak essential phrases.

Language is a weird thing and I've been fortunate through the blog to meet people who speak, one, two, sometimes three or more languages. Ted from Buen Viaje is a Taiwanese American who's currently learning Spanish, Quickroute is an Irishman with an Argentinian wife, Ropi speaks English more perfectly than he realises and even corrects my grammar, Candie speaks Italian, French and English, Renee French and English, Gaye at least Turkish and English, Ces, well I'm not sure what Phillipino language but probably more than one, Ebony the sweetest little Finnish girl with a wonderful command of English (and I suspect other languages that she doesn't let on!) I'm sure there are many more who are bi-lingual without my being aware.

Nup, all I do is speak English . . Australian English . . far from perfect.

One thing I have learned though, is the difficulty of understanding your second language when colloquialisms appear. It's one thing to learn the grammatical nuances of a language but I have undying admiration for those who catch on to the colloquialisms . . .in fact young Ropi and I have the odd fall out over colloquialisms. We mistake each other for being critical when in fact we are joking . .it's so, so, easy to do. Now here's the tenuous link, not so much because this man speaks more than one language, he doesn't but he does speak a 'different' language to me and most of his workmates.

There's a guy at work . . . he has an astute limp due to cerebral palsy, which has affected his legs, his hips propel one leg in front of the other, but he manages and has an amazing if not a little 'blue' turn of phrase. He's rough, he's friendly, he calls a spade a fucking shovel. This is important because it affects the way people 'think' and interact with him. He might as well be a foreigner.

He's the sort of guy that my boss comes over and asks "Is he annoying you . .? " as if he has some intellectual disability or there's some communication difficulty or language barrier. I think after 40 years of living with his affliction, he's quite comfortable in taking liberties and knowing that nobody's going to challenge him.

I like Rick. He's one of the few who are friendly and speak to me each day and he's very funny. He tells me what he's cooked for lunch and the combinations are a little odd . .banana, ham and honey toasted sandwiches! Lost me at the Banana! He has an interest in horses but rather brutal and economic as it's purely from the racing scene and is a part owner in three would-be money-earners so it's not unusual for him to say . ."Helen, come and look at my filly . . look at the legs on this girl!" Of course, we're looking at the latest 2 year old hopeful for the Golden Slipper. He's unafraid to voice his opinion or to ask questions . .someting NOBODY has done in my four weeks of working there. . not one person has asked me what I'm doing.

As he bumps his wobbly and lop-sided way from his desk to the kitchen, he pops his head over my partition and passes gems that you'd think could only be heard on a weird website for Australianisms:

"So, you got ankle biters?"
"What does your old man do for a crust?"
"Time for me to rack off and get a banana"
"Sold a ripper of a block for a motzah just now"
"Bought a fillly the other day, one run and she's rooted"
"If you want us to buy your land, you'll have to come across"
"God the train fanged past me this morning and I missed it"
"Hooroo . .I was in early so now I'm on the bus"
"Scored the trifecta with that one!"
"Had a good bash on the weekend, how about you"
"Ok time to do a runner and get a sanger on the barbie"
"Get a gander at me gourmet sarnies . . ham . .cheese . .banana and honey!" (gag)
In a workplace of pleasant but largely uncharismatic people, he's very refreshing. Sweet, obnoxious and flirty . . he's regarded as 'old school' by the younglings but I rather like him.

If you have a clue what he's saying and English isn't your first language, I'd love to know what you make of this . . .if you don't, then walk a mile in the shoes of the millions of migrants who live here and have to understand conversations like this!

Don't worry my multilingual friends, you will get your revenge. I will travel and you will make total fun of me . .maybe I should develop a 'sympathy' limp!

And as for Rick. . .well when this assignment is over, I probably won't see him again but whilst he's not probably a role model, he's a little hero and definitely one of those people who makes an impression and I'll let him know before we part.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

In 1969, the Al-Aqsa mosque (Dome of the Rock) in Jerusalem was attacked by a fanatic. Over six websites I Googled, blamed the Israelis' who were indeed under suspicion at the time but the perpetrator was an Australian. . . a Christian cultist who plead insanity at his trial because "God" made him do it". In the blaze that followed, one of the world's most precious works of art, the minbar of Saladin, Salahuddin Al-Ayyoubi, originally installed in 1187, was destroyed. The minbar lay in ashes.

This afternoon after a day of chores and 'working' for Clare, I watched an hour of the Arts on Sunday show on ABC.

There was one small problem after the bombing. Since the industrial revolution, the middle east has been flooded with our ready-made furnishings to the point that the craftsmen who knew how to put these things together have all but disappeared. The guilds have dissolved and many of the ancient trades and knowledge lost. After all, this was a 12th Century stairway to heaven. The program was about the reconstruction of this amazing thing. It was a wooden stairwell upon which the Imam climbed to preach prayers. Ornate beyond belief in truly Saladinian manner and not a nail to be seen. The whole staircase and pulpit were pieces of an incredible geometric and astrological wooden puzzle which fitted together to support it's own weight, astoundingly ornate but a puzzle that remained unsolved until a Bedouin Jordanian Engineer looked carefully.

This Pulpit, considered one of the most beautiful in the World, was made of over 10,000 interlocking pieces of Cedar and other wood, Ivory and mother of pearl affixed without a drop of glue or a single nail. The young Jordanian engineer, entered a competition, no actually entered two competitions to solve the puzzle because the Jordanians didn't believe him in the first instance. He won both and was commissioned to draw the designs for the new Minba.

I was blown away by this little program. The staircase was rebuilt by craftsmen, many trained by the English Prince of Wales charities would you believe. They cut out the thousands of geometrically perfect pieces, carved intricate designs, assembled a giant 3D jigsaw and eventually shipped it back from Jordan to Jerusalem through some of the most troublesome country in the world. Lebanon donated not Ceder but Walnut, the Prince of Wales "School for Traditional Arts" donated expertise and Mathematician Professor Keith, the Jordanian King donated money, and local craftsmen rebuilt it as a sign of their faith. Since Jordan is still a custodian of Jerusalem, the Jordanian King opened its final installation

I learned a lot from this little program about the intellecutalism and faith of Islam . .the real Islam, not what we receive by way of Tabloid news.

All through this lovely and artistic documentary, I was thinking, "What a shame that we think of our middle eastern counterparts as terrorists, anti-feminists (yes there were women working on the project), uncivilised, uneducated, argumentative" . . to me it's like branding all of us in the west as Davidians or Jonesians. It was truly refreshing to see a documentary portraying the middle east as courageous, determined, articulate, gentle, artistic and committed.

Most of all, the cooperation between east and west to get this project up and running was palpable. If only we could do this on the political stage. Let us not tar each other with the same brush. The squeaky wheel gets the most attention but does not necssarily represent the majority. If a thing of such age and beauty can be rebuilt piece by tiny piece through international cooperation, why is world peace such a challenge?

For the purists

For the . .'fucked if I knows' . .but all the paintings are his, sadly, few Aussies even know who he is . .I lovez the Rofster!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Fuckwits

TGIF . . it's ben a l-o-n-g week but I've realised that being time poor is beneficial for household organisation. Just seen the news about the bombing of the Ritz and Marriot in Jackarta after four incident free years, the ratbags are at it again but Friday Fuckwit is about levity and silliness so here's three that captured my attention.

Shock treatment for web addicts banned in China
A Chinese hospital has been ordered to stop using electric shock therapy to cure internet addiction. The Linyi Fourth People's Hospital drew international attention for using electric shock therapy to treat young people addicted to internet use. (Phew glad they were young).

Now China's Health Ministry has ordered the hospital to stop the practice. The reason given was that its safety was not guaranteed. The Beijing News has quoted Yang Shuyun, a hospital official, as saying that the practice had already stopped, following intense media pressure.

After an article in the China Youth Daily revealed the program, the hospital was inundated with media requests to observe the therapy but its administrators preferred to keep the procedure largely secret.

Novel published one tweet at a time
Frankly I find Twitter very slow from the computer and since I don't have an iPhone, I rarely venture there but one Fuckwit has decided to clog up the channel in a novel way . . .

Twitter is a popular micro-blogging service. An American writer who failed to find a publisher for his novel is putting the book on Twitter - 140 characters at a time.

Matt Stewart, a San Francisco-based novelist, began "tweeting" his first book, The French Revolution, on the micro-blogging service on Tuesday (local time). "As far as I can tell, I'm the first person to release a completed full-length literary novel on Twitter," Stewart wrote on his website.

Stewart says putting the book on Twitter is a "social experiment" to "see how the world reacts to a long-form tale told in snippets." He also acknowledges that he has been unable to find a publisher. (There you go you wannabe writers! Give the man a run for his money!) "My agent submitted The French Revolution to all the major publishing houses," Stewart said.
"Many of them loved it, but none were willing to buy what they viewed as a 'risky' novel - vivid language, elements of fantasy and farce, raunchy humour," he said. (It's probably a dog).
Stewart says it will take approximately 3,700 "tweets" to transmit all of the 480,000 characters in his book.

Overheard at the Office this afternoon
And finally to a client wanting to build a massive mansion on a 500sq metre block on one of the Landcom developments, lodged an appeal to break the caveat because his plans were rejected as being way outside the normal contractual conditions.

The man, formerly from Bosnia, claimed that he needed an enormous house because he suffered from claustrophobia and post traumatic stress syndrome and couldn’t possibly live in a smaller home with his large family. Nice try Luka! But no cevapi . . .

Well the clouds are threatening but I've got the washing on anyway. If it stays dry, big garden tidy and one bedroom renovation on the cards! Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

It's Just a Stage

I'm going trad on this one this week. I love the theatre. Not so many moons ago, I had a season subscription for about four years with a very reputable theatre company here called the "Ensemble". It's a repertory theatre which featured a few regulars and a number of well-known Australian thespians, comedians, television and film actors. A bunch of us would lob up three or four times a year for the 5pm Matinee then book somewhere luscious for dinner and all in all it was a great night out but frankly, the fun stuff is the Amateur Theater.

We have three locally. One in Glenorie where one of Adam's Friends often 'sings' in the odd musical. Another very good one at Castle Hill where they even get a bit risque and produce plays such as Equus . . in teh nuddy and all but the piece de resistance is in Bilpin

Now Bilpin is hicksville with an edge. It's not near a city and it's not quite the Blue Mountains. It's hill country full of orchards and spelling paddocks but the locals are decidedly 'ocker', so much so that I catch myself counting their fingers and missing feet. It's in a time warp. Dental hygiene seems unknown and the mullet and flanellette shirt are mandatory.

The RSL is tiny and there's no 'paid' bar staff. Instead the locals take turns delivering cold beer, only two varieties, a small range of spirits, gin, vodka and whiskey and of course that Australian institution . . .boxes of 'goon' or red and white wine, usually sweet. Go in there and ask for a Fluffy Duck or a Black Russian and you'll be branded a 'poof' and quickly marched out the door.

So it's rather surprising that . . . half way up the mountain in a rather nicely appointed community hall nestled among the gum trees and apple orchards, being serenaded by bellbirds, the Bilpin Players not only put on a passable play but also a cheese platters on arrival (ok they use Jatz Biscuits and the Brie comes out of a can) a terrific roast dinner, the Aussie Pavlova and assorted 'dainties'. All the punters have to do is turn up with their BYO Wine and $25 buckaroos for a pretty decent night.

So it's not quite the Ensemble, certainly not the Sydney Theatre Company and not a patch on The Stables or Belvoir Street Theatre but it's fun, they're good, and there's always a giggle when someone forgets their lines and a muffled whisper from the sidelines fills in the gaps and corrects the mondegreens:

"Psst . . it's not 'constipated cross-eyed bear you twit!' . . .You mean 'A consecrated cross I'd bear!'

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mission Possible - Being Grateful

JOYPic by mngl on Flickr

The mission from the
Joy Rebels this week is to 'personalise' gratitude and discover what makes our world rock. (I might be getting a bit Zen and crystally in my old age). There are truly reasons to be grateful even when the world seems to be spinning out of control. It's time to focus on the positive, slap myself out of malaise, realise how wonderful my life and the people in it really are. I'm enjoying this assignment at Landcom. I'm writing policy and procedures and I find it easy and logical. Despite the low wage, I'm settling in and hope they keep me on a little longer. Since work gives me intellectual joy, well yeh . .I'm pretty cool with it. But still getting depressed and focusing on the negative . . . I'm really having trouble shaking it.

So that's the yukky stuff out of the way . .but as with all things, I have much, much, much, to be grateful for, bucketloads to be thankful for so lets see if this self-affirmation stuff is working:

I am grateful, no 'joyful' that I live in a free democracy where the biggest whine is whether gays should marry or women should be allowed to wear the hijab at school. I don't mean to trivialise these issues but we have free health and education for those who need it. Social security, good quality inexpensive food and freedom of speech. A multicultural society, a country that made it to Federation without a Civil War . . and whilst it's not perfect, I live in a free, liberal, socially democratic country where I can say what I like and vote with my feet. And so can everyone else!

I'm grateful for the ties that bind my family. Whilst they’re stretched a little at the moment, our blood will always be thicker than water

Unlike almost 30% of the globe, I have a roof over my head, a warm bed, food in my belly, running water and a flushing toilet. I am eternally grateful that I did not have the bad luck to be born in places like Darfour, or Afghanistan or any number of war torn and God-forsaken places where people are cold and hungry or exhausted and beaten.

I am eternally grateful for my daughter’s ability to talk sense, reason and optimism when I am wrist-slashingly depressed. It doesn’t happen often but it has happened a lot lately. She sees sense, the other side of the story, the glass half full and is proactive in providing solutions to what sometimes seem like insurmountable problems. Of course they're not. I just need her to keep telling me that I am worthy as my disbelief in my self-worth continues to manifest.

I'm grateful for a strong son whose physical labour (even if it comes at the price of the occasional temper tantrum) helps to keep my environment neat, tidy and under control. Both of us hate doing things alone so it’s hard to pin us down for a day of tidying and fixits but when it happens, it’s cheerful and cooperative and at the end of the day, ultimately satisfying. Next weekend, weather permitting, one more irritation - my incredibly messy yard and his incredibly messy bedroom will be sorted - until the next time of course!

I am also very grateful for robust health despite the fact that I abuse my body dreadfully. I know so many who suffer and those who care for them whether it's from chronic illness or pain. Many of these sufferers and their carers are much younger than I but never complain. They put up with their agony, face their demons and continue to be an amazing source of inspiration to me and others. As I age, I will never complain about my creaky knees or failing eyesight.

Not as exciting as some but I am grateful for my life experiences. Some have been negative and devastating. Others have been exhilarating and breath-taking. My life experiences have been ying and yang, they have given me balance. I am in that respect a true Libran with an ability to weigh the good against the bad. To see both sides of the argument and to develop empathy for others because in many cases, I have tasted a little of what they are going through!

I am also grateful for sunshine. And apart from the past month which has been uncharacteriscally grey and wet, the sun shines more often than not. Sunshine makes even the most gloomy outlook seem a little less so. It warms more than the skin, lights up my life and gives me a reason to be happy about my station in life.

I am very grateful for friends who persist with me despite the fact that I am largely a social recluse and often renege on invitations to go out (mostly due to finances but partly due to the fact that I just can’t be bothered much of the time). They persist, still call, drop by, call or email and I am forever in their debt.

I'm also grateful for younglings and oldlings who find the time to Twitter, email, talk to me on Skype and give me their perspective on life the universe and everything. For me, there is no generation gap. I have friends still in their teens and friends in their 80’s and that is a marvelous thing. I am indeed fortunate and as I heard a colleague today say 'Oh, leave all that computers stuff for the youngsters!" I couldn't but think that he was missing out on a whole world of challenge, information and communication.

Finally, I'm grateful for cheap wine! Yep, it has been my solace in the evening and barely dings the budget at $6.00 a bottle! Cheers!

And much friendship and support to Mrsupole who is undergoing shoulder surgery today, may your reason to be fearful turn into a reason to be cheerful and to Steph who is recovering slowly over at the Biopsy Report, to GrannyMar who's waiting for her new hips to swivel! To Gledwood who suffers from addiction and depression. To e who suffers so, that she's awaiting a new wheelchair to make life bearable. To Ebony, a young woman of colour in a very white place who has self-doubts but is so beautiful and talented and funny, to SubTorp who is a devoted carer, to K8 who loves her Laughing Boy but will never hear him speak . . .to Susan who has kiddy challenges through Autism . . . to the Merry Widow who's missing a daughter so far away, to Thommo and TheBoss who now are empty-nesters, to my long-suffering children who put up with my rantings and ravings and are indeed my joy . . to so many of you, who have a much harder time than I but exude joy and gratitude and love, give advice and consolation, humour and goodwill . . and last but by no means least to to Renee and iBeati who struggle with cancer every day but manage to be so inspirational cheerful and full of gratitude and joy that they make me look truly ungrateful. And you my friends, are indeed my joy! Ok I'm stopping now, you'll all need bigger hats if I keep this going.

So my little army of Joy? What makes you grateful, what rocks your world.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A No Goal and a Hot 100 Home Run

This weekend has been horrible. The weather is cold and grey. I've had nothing on socially. Nobody's been online and I think we're all feeling the winter blues. Winter here lasts about 2 months, three at the most and the greyness is getting me down. So Sunday being the 'get out and do something' day, I rugged up and went to watch Clare play soccer. It was a frustrating game with a nil-all drawer but the girls had possession for most of the game and did themselves proud even if coach Rudi had a conniption at the 'snipers' (girls falling over without any apparent reason) and the lack of forward attack . . if only that ball would go in the goal!

No fear . .

Em played a great game . .fancy footwork

Mary Kate buggers the broken hand and gives chase . .

My little chicken . .nearly scored a couple of goals

Bec . . .now that's focus

Another Bec gives chase . . and could be heard 10,000 miles away
trying to motivate the team

Sore ankles coming up . .

Check out the expressions on the faces (we're the Rockets in Blue)

Half time huddle in what can only be described as
an epic fail in fashion

Em taking marking very seriously

Coach Rudi was very . . erm . . .vocal!
I think he'd rather be coaching Premier League

After the game I came home to upload the pics and my favourite radio station have been playing viewer-voted best 100 hits of all time. Unbelievable radio which has been playing the nominated songs all weekend. As I sit here banging away and editing photographs, we're down to the last couple of songs. Some were cult classics, some were surprising but I have to say it's the best radio EVER. Made even more awesome because Triple J is our national youth radio and no ads!

Today they finished the countdown . . . fantastic and quite a coup for the oldies. I was a little surprised to see the Foo Fighters pip Led Zeppelin but . . .so counting down from 10 -1 . . .
Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin
(Takes me back to finishing school - erm last day at school not 'finishing' school - and sunrise on Palm Beach)
Everlong - Foo Fighters
(hmm bit surprising, the I guess a lot of people go to Motocross meets)
Under the Bridge - Red Hot Chili Peppers
(Wouldn't have got my vote for 8 but not a bad song)
Last Goodbye - Jeff Buckley
(Stunning but then you know I want this song played at my funeral)
Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
(Aww and an interview with Freddie, I miss Freddie)
Paranoid Android - Radiohead
(Brilliant . .Thom Yorke is a creative legend)
Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division
(Hmm . . nice but no doughnut)
Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley
(Killer song . .totally awesome rendition of Leonard's lyrics)
Killing in the Name - Rage Against the Machine
(The only song that says "Fuck I won't do what you told me" then gets 12,000 people to mosh in unison singing along . . see the irony?

. . . and numero uno . . number one . . the listeners' choice, the one voted best hit of all time . .
(I might be old but I'm not dead) so turn it up, crank up the sub and jump . . .

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Fuckwit (again!)

Why I sagitate and prognosticate that the honourable gentleman is overwhelmed by the exhuberance of his own verbosity!

This week's Friday Fuckwit is again our lovely tight lipped Kevin 0 sevin - Kevin Rudd, our illustrious Prime Minister gets another guernsey today. This is the man who uses language to suit his demographic. Only a couple of weeks ago, he was spouting Aussie Euphamisms (and getting his metaphors mixed) with "Fair shake of the sauce bottle mate!" For goodness sake, who says that! Not even a ribald Aussie blue singletted labourer would sprout such rubbish.

This week, he's sniffing around the G8 meeting in Germany, even though we aren't a member, and spruiking Australia's environmental and carbon reduction policy (laughable because our carbon footprint is huge considering our population).

He's known as the only world Leader outside China who can speak Mandarin so he has no problem communicating with one of our largest training partners but he has been having a little trouble with the English language and this week he left German translators sprouting gobbledegook!

Kev gave a little speech and among his illustrious and incomprehensible phrases was the statement that, “it was unlikely any progress would emerge from the Major Economies Forum by way of detailed programmatic specificity.” Try saying that three times, it makes Mrs Mugillicuddy's Rough Cut Punt sound like a cynch!

The poor old foreign translators didn't have a clue and I think he's left a few English speaking journos wondering as well!

C'mon Kev, keep it simple . . .even your own Government has a policy of 'plain English' . . Crikey mate! . . Fair suck of the sav! Better learn yerself how to speak proper digger!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Be Careful Where You Shove Your Jumbuck

Theme Thursday again . . and since I don't believe in ghosts and whilst my father might be attacking me on a daily basis with an ectoplasmic Big Bertha to try to grab my attention, perhaps I just don't have the 'sight'.

So I dug up a quintessential Australian ghost story. . . . now for those who haven't a clue what's going on:

A traveller and vagabond wonders the countryside relying on the goodwill of others. It's likely he's a rather scruffy fellow who isn't adverse to stealing food and being unscrupulous. Or perhaps he's just down on his luck.

He travels with all his belongings on his back, his utensils and sleeping in little more than a blanket which is rolled into a swag and is come to be known by country folk as a 'Swagman' or 'Swaggie'. There were many of them in the early days, making their way, itinerant workers or wonderers. Like all of us, his swag or bed has become a close friend and so he's nicknamed her 'Matilda'. Hey! He's a bloke, hardly going to call it Bruce now is he?

One day, probably in a stinking 45 degree summer, he camps by a creek that has all but dried up, leaving a large pond of water where he water is he deepest. This is known as a Billabong. He seeks the shade of a large eucalyptus tree to while away the hours.

He unpacks his beloved bedroll "Matilda" and builds a fire. Among his belongings there is a tin can with a wire handle anchored across it's diameter. This handy water-boiling, bean cooking, stew steeping can is known as a Billy. Fortunately for him, it's a pretty warm day and a couple of sheep or Jumbucks come down for a dinky die drinky poo.

The swaggie, seeing an opportunity, lobs on one of the Jumbucks and probably after helping it meet it's maker, stuffs it in his food carrying duffle bag, known as a 'Tucker Bag' because let's face it we all like a bit of pucker tucker.

Basically, this is stealing and even now considered a heinous crime. All would have been fine for our hungry Swaggie had the gore not soaked through his tucker bag or perhaps his jumbuck was still experiencing a few death throes and twitchy bits. Either way, his actions were seen by the 'landowner'. An opportunistic settler who had just fenced off a piece of Australia simply because you could in those days and who had become pretty wealthy off the fat of the lamb, discovered the plot and called the police . . so the "Squatter" and his three "Troopers" confront the vagrant about his theft.

The vagrant decides it's all to hard and life in the lock-up for pinching his dinner just isn't worth it so he takes a swan dive into the creek and drowns. Personally I think they probably held his head under!

The upshot of all this drama . . like Jason, the Swaggie comes back! He haunts the creek and sings his sad lament 'You'll Come a waltzing Matilda With Me'. Or is it a threat to any thirsty jumbucks, greedy Squatters or over zealous policemen who might venture there?

There's no mention whether the sheepy poo actually comes back as well!

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong,
Under the shade of a Coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boil,
You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me.

Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda,
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boil
You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me.

Down came a jumbuck to drink at that billabong
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee,
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag
You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me.

Up rode the squatter mounted on his thorough-bred
Down came the troopers One Two Three
Whose that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag
You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me.

Up jumped the swagman sprang in to the billabong
You'll never catch me alive said he . . . . . . .

And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong
"You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me . ."

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boil
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.

The thing about this essentially Australian tune rather than the lyrics is that it has been adapted for ghosts of many kinds. It's a football anthem, a war anthem, a rememberence anthem. We all know the words, we all know the tune. It brings out a great pride in relation to the little guy and his death defying rebellion against authority and above all, a warmth in us that we all adore. But could I find a decent rendition of the tune? Must be a ghost in the machine.

Australian Guitarist Tommy Emanuel in the US:

Look, if you have the time and I know there are more blogs out there than jumbucks in the outback please go and have a look because there are some really interesting takes on the theme and some fantastic contributors. I look forward to this bit of the week more than most things so give 'em a bash. Oh . .and when I published this, the word ghost was in yellow . . I didn't colour it! Spooky!