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Showing posts from 2004

The Last Post of 2004

And what an awful end to the year it's been with the Tsunami. Tonight we're going to King Edward Park, so it will be good to catch up with a lot of the people who post-Xmas couldn't afford to go last night (actually neither could I, but that's another story). So. Looking ahead. I don't use the dreaded "R" word, but there are some things I would like to achieve in 2005. Here they are: Most of all, to get my career back on track. When I was younger, I was so focused and driven, but I ran off the rails a few years ago. But my peter pan days have to end. I'm rapidly heading for thirty and it's time to get back on track. I do have a definite plan, and things will be happening soon. Not many people know about it yet, but watch this space, big changes to come. I want to become more civically active. I've become more so lately (the tsunami appeal, handing out how-to-vote cards) but there's so much more I could do. I will join Labor properly, campai

15 Year Anniversary of the Newcastle Earthquake

What a strange thought. It was the scariest thing you can imagine, I think more so now looking back. We had only lived in Newcastle for a few months at the time, so it didn't quite have the impact it might have if we'd been more familiar with the city. Thinking about it now...the whole of the CBD was cordoned off, for days; there was hardly a building that wasn't badly damaged. It's very hard for me now to look at photos or video footage from the time; although Newcastle has changed alot since then, you can still see so many familiar landmarks, in shreds. As for our personal experience...we had no idea it was an earthquake. I mean, you don't expect an earthquake in Australia, do you? My sister and I were playing in our bedroom, when it was as if a giant hand grabbed our house and wrenched it from side to side. Our toys fell off the shelves. My sister and I were screaming, and ran to our mother. The power and phone were off, so we found out what happened by listening

Where I Read Mark Latham's Books

I decided to read one of Mark Latham's books. Look, the guy was almost Prime Minister, so I figure someone outside of his immediate family should read one of them. I started with From the Suburbs , because it happened to be at Charlestown Library. But really, who colud fail to be intrigued by a book with chapter titles like "Reinventing Collectivism"? Anyway, reading the book, I was at first slightly engaged but then, well...utterly bewildered. I just could not figure out what the guy was on about. To put it crudely, he seemed to use big words for the sake of using big words. I felt he should have ended every paragraph by writing "SEE WHAT A GREAT INTELLECT I AM?!" Some quotes: "(an) abstract lifestyle has prduced an abstract style of politics. Symbolic and ideological campaings are given top priority. This involves a particular methodology: adopting a predetermined position on issues then looking for evidence that supports that position." Huh? "(

Morning Walkers

I seem to have an alarm clock in my head. I slept in on the weekend, but yesterday and today my eyes snapped open at 6:45am. This allows me to observe an interesting phenomenon: The Morning Walkers. I live on a very busy road, and every morning you see them slogging along the footpath in twos and threes, power walking, with such grimly determined faces you'd think that they were going on a death march and not taking a stroll. God help anyone who dares to impede their goose-stepping progress. You know the ones I mean - they're the people you see in the supermarket buying unprocessed kelp and probiotic carrot juice, when us normal people have bacon and corn chips in their trolleys. I catch snippets of their conversations sometimes. In the mornings they talk about what a hard day they're going to have at work, and in the evenings they talk about what a hard day they've had at work. (I have no idea what they talk about on the weekend - I invariably stick my head out the win

Scenes From An Office

Let me take you on the tour.On your left we have a bunch of cubicles. On your right we have a bunch of cubicles. Behind them you see a wall. There's the photocopier; there's the fax machine. I have a funny story about the ductwork... My Dilbert of a life continues. Nothing has changed round here (I've been doing this job, as funding approval from head office permits, on and off for years). Well there's one thing...the office Camping Carl, (the cubicle dweller's friend), in addition to striding around with a coffee cup, has taken up using an exercise ball. Every day he wheels it, and an instruction video, into the conference room for a few hours of downtime from all that beverage-transportation exertion. That's how it is here. No one does any work, but we all pretend to each other that we do.Today I've created spreadsheets which will never be read, made phone calls which will never be returned, sent emails which will never be answered, and talked to my boss w

Transport for NSW

SIX reasons the crime statistics may have fallen in NSW: 1. Criminals relying on CityRail to get to and from jobs. 2. Several high-profile burglars checked in to a NSW public hospital with a minor headache, never to be seen again. 3. With all the other things to complain about in NSW at the moment, people have plain forgotten to report crimes. 4. Most criminals moved to Queensland to avoid punishing property taxes. 5. Economic boom times mean that upwardly mobile former petty criminals have shifted into the white-collar crime caper. 6. Crims were swept up in the excitement of Australian Idol and simply forgot to break the law. SIX other campaigns Captain Commuter Rebecca Turner should get cracking on now that she has gotten Sydney free train travel on Monday: 1. Free electricity for a day after Thursday's CBD blackout 2. Free bucket of water for each one spilled trying to wash a car 3. Free medicine for a day for Campbelltown and Camden hospital patients 4. Free bulletproof vest an

A Letter To The Newcastle Herald

Now, I hope you will all cut out my letter and have it laminated or, preferably, framed. But for those who don't live here and cannot purchase the paper, I'll copy the letter below. But first, a bit of background: My neighbourhood mostly consists of weatherboard cottages which have been converted into flats. Most of us are young singles or couples, with a few seniors. None of us have a lot of money, but it's a nice enough place, with no winos sucking on bottles of turps or gangs of disaffected youth. And into all this, the local council has seen fit, in its infinite wisdom, to put a ten-storey executive apartment complex. Anyway, here is the letter: "Why did Lake Macquarie Council ever give building approval for the Alto apartments? I have spoken to people all over Newcastle, and they all agree that the building is an ugly eyesore, a blight on the city landscape.Furthermore, those of us who live near the building have been subjected to constant, dreadful noise for mont

Christmas Is Upon Us Again

It won't surprise you much that as a childless woman in her mid twenties, I don't have much to do with Christmas. Actually I HATE Christmas. I hate Xmas parties, Xmas cards, Xmas trees, Xmas presents, Xmas decorations, Xmas dinner, Xmas BBQs, Xmas shops, Xmas guilt, Xmas obligations and Xmas heat. And Santa if you're reading this...I hate you, too!

Send In The Clowns

I'd like to share with you what I believe may be the single funniest thing that I have ever read. It's from Dilbert writer Scott Adams, sharing a reader tale of workplace hell: "Today wasn't a good day. The service centre people were already a bit edgy due to a worldwide ATM outage. Then, about 9AM, the system starts to crap out. People can't access the network. Calls get backed up. Then an announcement says there's no water to the building. We're told to stay out of the bathrooms. And since the water was out, that meant the air conditioning is out too, since it requires water. It was getting hot in here. Then management made one of their power decisions... They sent in the clowns. No not senior management. Those clowns would never come down here. I'm talking about real clowns. Management went out and hired a troop of floppy-shoed, white-faced, red-nosed, mop-haired, horn-tooting drama class drop-outs to come in and "entertain the troops". So

US Election - The Remote View

Channel Seven showed five and a half hours of NBC election coverage yesterday. And I saw every minute of it. I really did - if I made a cup of tea, I did it during the ads. Oh well there's one consolation - four more years of watching Dick Cheney. The guy fascinates me, I don't know why. I'm convinced he's a Satanist behind that Christian facade. I heard a friend of his saying on TV "The media demonises Cheney, but he's a warm, witty man". But to me it looks like he's never smiled in his life. I remember a quote on a Farenheit 9/11 poster asking "Can a single movie change the world?" Nope, looks like it can't.

The Australian Political Dictionary

Courtesy of The Chaser Address in Reply - The opportunity for the Opposition Leader to pretend that he has substantial policies to put forward, even though modern politics demand that he doesn't. Backbencher - Someone who badly wants to be a minister. Bicameral - Refers to the system of having two Houses. Used by the Commonwealth for parlaiment and Helen Coonan for tax evasion. Cabinet Solidarity - The convention that ensures the total lack of solidarity between Ministers is only revealed to the public by incessant leaks. Censure motion - A motion which confirms that a Minister who's been caught in a clear case of wrongdoing has gotten away with it. Conscience vote - A free vote where a majority of politicians decide that their conscience dictates that they toe the party line. Cross the floor - What Andrew Bartlett does when the Liberals stash all the good booze. Executive - The arm of government dedicated to implementing the policies demanded by the nation's business execu

Election 2004 Hangover

What words can be used to describe how I feel right now? Devastated. Inconsolable. Gutted. Sitting in an internet cafe bawling, and I can't help it. An increased majority. Not just that. Control of the Senate. Can anyone remember that before? Last night, as the news came through, I kept up a pleasant face because I didn't want to spoil Brooke's birthday (otherwise a great night; I'll tell you about it when I calm down). But this morning, listening to the radio I just couldn't help myself, startling my cat by punching the wall and sobbing. I just wanted Labor to win so badly. I want to go to the house of every person who voted Liberal, shake them and ask WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU? For once I just wanted us stiffs to get a break. I want to yell at everyone else in the boiler room here, who are playing games as if everything was okay. Goodbye Xander. When their winter is over, I'll be looking for the number for Aer Lingus.

Election Day 2004

Let's get right down to it. I am so worried I feel almost ill. Three more years? Peter Costello PM? Unbearable. I am handing out how to vote cards this afternoon for Jill Hall, sitting ALP member for Shortland. This is a safe Labor seat, but I have to do something. Look, I feel so strongly about this. Dole diaries? Pre-emptive strikes? Mandatory detention? I confess I have become ashamed of my adoptive homeland. So much so, that if the Coalition gets back in, I will most likely move back to Ireland. This will be an enormous wrench. Leaving behind the city I adore, where I have almost everything to stay for. My friends, my beaches, sour fruit roll-ups, I'd abandon them all, to go somewhere cold that I've spent barely a month in since we emigrated in '81? Yes I would do this. I just couldn't live with myself otherwise.

The Soundtrack of My Life

This took awhile. These are not just songs I like; they had to mean something to me to make the cut. You Am I - Heavy Heart Nirvana - Well, anything by them Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Sikamicanico INXS - Don't Change Local H - Bound For The Floor Porno For Pyros - Tahitian Moon REM - The Great Beyond Big Audio Dynamite - Rush Cordrazine - Memorial Drive Elton John - Song For Guy Soundgarden - Blow Up The Outside World The Tea Party - Halcyon Days Supergrass - Moving Alex Lloyd - Lucky Star Jeff Buckley - Dream Brother Jimmy Cliff - I Can See Clearly Now Elliot Smith - Waltz No.2 Hole - Violet Sant-Sens - Danse Macabre Nick Cave - (Are You) The One That I've Been Waiting For? Blur - To The End I could go on and on. But it looks like we might have made it to the end of this list.

On (Hating) Camping

So I agreed to go camping. I don't know why. I have a lot of emotional problems. But camping? My idea of travel is where they fluff your pillows, smooth out your towels, and recommend a wine to accompany madam's entree. But somehow I found myself sleeping on a mattress in the back of a station wagon (there was no room in the tents) at the Allyn River north of Newcastle. Anyway, I kept a diary, so you can see how the whole thing turned out... Thursday Night I've just set my alarm for 6am. This has to be the worst idea anybody ever had. And now I have to pack. I HATE packing. I haven't moved house in five years for a reason. Friday Afternoon Well here we are at the lovely Allyn River. The journey began at an hour when surely no decent human being would be awake. Boof & I went in the station wagon, Funky and the Nanny in a 4WD. Both vehicles were packed...To think that when we were 19, five of us would go camping with all our gear in a hatchback. Well, the older you g

What It Means To Be Australian

The bigger the hat, the smaller the farm; The shorter the nickname, the more they like you; Whether it's the opening of parliament, or the launch of a new art gallery, there is no Australian event that cannot be improved by the addition of a sausage sizzle; There is no food that cannot be improved by the addition of tomato sauce; On the beach, all Australians hide their keys and wallets by placing them inside their sandshoes. No thief has ever worked this out; Industrial design knows of no item more useful than the plastic milk crate; The alpha male in any group is he who takes the tongs from the hands of the host and blithely begins turning the snags; It's not summer until the steering wheel is too hot to hold; It is correct to refer to your best friend as "a total bastard". By contrast, your worst enemy is "a bit of a bastard"; The most popular and widely praised family in any street is the one with the swimming pool; The phrase "W

Australian Security

John Howard decides to test the capability of Australia's security agencies at apprehending terrorists. He releases a white rabbit into Stromlo Forest, near Canberra, and orders each agency to catch it. The National Crime Authority can't catch it, but promise that if it gets a budget increase it can recover $90 million in unpaid rabbit taxes and proceeds of rabbit crime. The Victorian police go in. They're gone only 15 minutes, returning with a koala, a kangaroo and a fern tree, all three shot to pieces. "They all looked like dangerous rabbits and we acted in self defence", they explain. The NSW police go in. Surveillance tapes later show high-ranking officers taking bribes from rabbits. The Queensland police go in. They reappear driving a brand new Mercedes, scantily clad rabbits draped all over them. The WA police actually catch the rabbit, but it inexplicably hangs itself when the attending officer "slipped out momentarily" for a cup of tea. The NT po

Mark Latham Goes Bling Bling

From The Daily Telegraph (and here's me thinking April Fools was two weeks ago): FEDERAL Opposition leader Mark Latham today promised the young people of Australia more "bling-bling". Mr Latham made the pledge during a light-hearted interview on Perth's Nova 93.7 FM radio, where he was schooled on how to appear more "cool" than Prime Minister John Howard. The Labor leader was given a T-shirt emblazoned with a new moniker Lath-Daddy, a pimp-style cap with a feather in it, and a hip-hop theme song: 'Lath-Daddy's in the house. Which house? The Lower House'. "We're going to take that all the way to Lodge," Mr Latham declared. The Opposition Leader was told that to win over youthful voters he needed to talk the talk, using phrases like "bling-bling" - an American hip-hop term referring to flashy jewellery. "Youth of Australia, Labor's policy is bling-bling," said Mr Latham. "Bling-bling for everyone." H

On Favourite Books

Playing Portishead last night and feeling decadent, I decided to compose a list of my favourite five books. This took alot longer than I expected. Let me begin by telling you about my bookcase. It arrived raw pine, in a kit, from my mother three years ago. I finished, varnished and assembled it myself, and I am so proud that what was once a pile of bare wood is now a huge, elegant showpiece in my lounge room. Anyway, I spent about 2 hours last night in front of it, taking books down and returning them, muttering " can I leave this out...I don't like this that much..." etc. After all that, I finally arrived at the list, in alphabetical order: Paula Isabel Allende (non fiction) I love the way she writes. This is just a beautiful, informative story - autobiography intertwined with the tale of watching over her dying daughter. And the ending is my favourite ending of any book. Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen (fiction) What could I say about this book that hasn

What's In Your Handbag?

It's rectangular black straw bag with fabric lining. Cost about $15. I think. Contents: Black leather wallet with $35 in notes, $8 in coins, many cards, my bus pass, joycam photo of my cat. Snickers world cup 98 keyring with keys to my house and mum's. Half-full pack of benson & hedges medium. Blue bic lighter. Nokia 3310 in magenta case with pink keys and a butterfly logo. Berry blistex, covergirl lipslicks in "daring", bodyshop blotting papers, black fine toothed comb. Copy of "The CEO of the sofa" by PJ O'Rourke. Black glasses case with red Mambo logo (metallic purple glasses are on my face)

Why International Women's Day

Because millions of women throughout the world live in conditions of abject deprivation of, and attacks against, their fundamental human rights for no other reason than that they are women. Because millions of women throughout the world are treated as property, not as human beings. Because for millions of women their dress, work, appearance, who they socialise with, who they have an intimate relationship with, their reproductive choices, and sexuality are all subject to control by family/community/the state. Because girls are still subjected to female genital mutilation. Because women are still forced into marriage against their wishes. Because millions of women throughout the world live in conditions of abject deprivation of, and attacks against, their fundamental human rights for no other reason than that they are women. Because John Howard opposes the ACT's new legislation that allows people in same sex relationships to adopt children. He thinks that children should be br

ASIO Doesn't Do It Again

For anyone who has the slightest bit of interest in the world around them - or anyone who thinks at all - I would emphatically recommend checking out   last night's Four Corners on Willie Brigitte ; his background, time in Australia (specifically why it took the authorities so long to work out that he was a terrorist) and his current interrogation in France. One point I found especially pertinent was an interview with the leader of the mosque in Sydney where Brigitte worshiped. The gist of what he said was, "How can you accuse us of harbouring a terrorist? If the government and intelligence agencies cannot work out that he is a terrorist, how are we meant to be able to? Can we read people's hearts or minds?" It was also frightening to learn that the communications room at ASIO is NOT STAFFED OUT SIDE OF BUSINESS HOURS. The warning from the French government about Brigitte being a possible dangerous terrorist, having trained in Pakistan, with links to Al Qaeda, arrived

A Political Beginning

I was a young Labor member in my late teens, volunteering at elections and spruiking the word amongst all I knew. But like many, after the twin GST disasters – the tax and the Good Ship Tampa – derailed the party in 2001 and the Crean years descended, I began voting Socialist Alliance or Greens, and lost all hope that I would ever see a party I supported in power again. My main political beliefs now could be summed up as follows (in no particular order of importance to me): • Government investment in infrastructure and regulation of industry; • Deficit is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if it creates jobs; • Universal, free healthcare and education; • Equal rights for same sex couples; • An Australian republic, and get the damn Union Jack OFF our flag; • Absolute separation of church and state; • Refugees are not queue jumpers, usually they are coming from places where there’s no queue to jump; they should be out in the community and their kids should be going to school and pla