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Showing posts from 2005

Xander and Nico's 2005 Christmas Letter

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  Cat Lying on Windowsill , 21 December 2005. (No, that photo isn't upside down. Xander likes to lie on the window ledge with his head hanging like that. He takes after his Mum. He's strange.) Well dear readers, 2005 has been another year of highs and lows for both Xander and myself. As hard as it is to believe, Xander is now two-and-two-thirds years old! He shows hardly any kittenish behaviour - and that's just fine with me. I don't think I could handle a little bouncing ball of fur constantly getting under my feet and chewing on things. No, Xander is more partial to naps together, a comfy lap to sit on, and "helping" me when I'm cooking (helping consists of sitting next to the kitchen bench, keeping a watchful eye on proceedings, and waiting hopefully for samples to taste!). But he's gorgeous, and now he's fully grown, it's apparent that he doesn't actually have a weight problem - he's just a very, very big cat (He weighs a bit over

The Miracle Fat Cure That Business Big Wigs Don't Want You To Know About*

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Recently, I've been compiling a list of web search referrals to the Pod. I'll be publishing a list of all the interesting ones soon, but I have to say, by far the most common referral is a search for "Alexander Downer Fishnets". I mentioned this 1996 episode, where the Alexander Downer , the Foreign Minister of Australia , posed in fishnet stockings for a magazine shoot, in a post several months ago. Obviously, I wanted to include a photo of this, but despite an extensive web search of my own at the time, I couldn't find one. But Now, I Have. Continuing our tradition of bringing you cutting edge news and opinion (okay, okay, just blathering on week after week), Xander and Nico present... Downer in fishnets! Where did I track it down? Actually, it really wasn't hard...it just required a little "creative" searching. I leave it to you to take up the challenge, if you so wish. I'm reminded of the old cliche, "A week is a long time in politics..

Loving Bill Bryson

I've been reading Bill Bryson's A Short History Of Nearly Everything this week, it would have to be one of the most amazing documents I've ever read in my life. Exactly as has been said, it will change the way you look at the universe forever (sounds like a cult or self-help book doesn't it?) It's taken me nearly all week to read, because I have to keep stopping to think about what I've read (just imagine me with eyes trained over a thick paperback, looking up, staring glassy-eyes into middle distance for some seconds, then saying softly "... wow ". I'm normally a speed reader - I once memorably read IT in six hours on New Years Day a few years ago - but this, I need to take my time over. I feel like I've learned more in a few days of reading this book than I did in seven years of high school science classes (which wasn't a great deal, though admittedly I did biology rather than physics or chemistry for HSC. In any case, I can't remem

Christmas Sneer Cheer

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For the last few days, I always seem to have the same Xmas carol running through my head, even though the only ones I've heard have been in shopping centres. This seems to be a Hooked On Xmas hangover from my childhood. (Incidentally, the other day I saw a CD advertised as "The only Xmas album you'll ever need". I was unaware that I even needed one). According to some trashy current affairs show or other (I wasn't paying attention to which one), Australian Xmas retail spending is $20 Billion each year. That's $1,000 for every man, woman and child in Australia. I'd like to know where my share of the money is going. I've never had $1000 worth of Xmas presants, and I don't know anyone else who does either. Admittedly, our family has never been big on gift-giving, but still. I'd like some expensive presents some time! Apparently the local pet shop is looking for people to foster their kittens (and puppies) over Xmas. I love this idea, but I fear

That's Why It's Called The Silly Season

This time of year brings much misery to people like myself and my cat, who despite the weather like to get around wearing a gorgeous furry black coat. Because it's summer, which in Australia is accompanied by Xmas. My opinion of Xmas has never been high (though I get into the sarcastic spirit occasionally) and I'm not a keen fan of summer either. But we often overlook it's good points. Apart from the usual suspects (abundant summer fruits, the ocean), here are some of the less frequently acknowledged benefits of summer: No need to hunt for the tea cosy as you stand bleary-eyed in your kitchen making a pot of tea in the morning. It doesn't matter if you don't have time to blow-dry your hair before you leave for work; it will sure as heck be dry by the time you get there. Friends may say, "Just take some paracetamol and you'll be fine!" if you try to use flu as an excuse for not going out, but no one argues with a bad sunburn. You can sleep in, hang th

On the death of Van Tuong Nguyen, and the Death Penalty

More on the pending execution of Van Nguyen. Before I go on, I'll just say, in relation to an earlier discussion in the comments, I'm not seeking here to explore the international politics of the situation. This is my emotional response, not an analysis of international law. Anyway... This morning on the front page of The Newcastle Herald , there was an "Execution Timeline" outlining how Nguyen will spend his final hours, until 9am AEDT tomorrow (6am Singaporean time, 10pm Thursday GMT, 5pm Thurs EST in the U.S.) when the noose will be placed over his hooded head, and the trapdoor beneath will be released. 30 minutes later, a doctor will check for a pulse before declaring death. That's one of the things which has shocked me so much about this - how cold it all seems. When you hear a statement like "...and lawyers say it now looks all but certain that Van Nguyen will die tomorrow", well that seems utterly chilling. Yes murder is a terrible thing. But to h

The Last Chance to Save Van Nguyen

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There's not a lot I can say about this, with so much that has already been said. There's an excellent website, Australia Unites , which has a case background, news links and an petition you can sign, for what it's worth now; even though it seems like all hope is lost now, "as long as there is life, there is hope" and in any case, no matter what happens, in signing the petition, you can record your disgust about the execution. So what I want to post here, is something I posted on the Necro forum : Regarding this case, I felt an emotion I never expected to feel: I felt sympathy for Ray Martin. Allow me to explain... Last week I was channel surfing, when I happened to land on A Current Affair (which I don't normally watch, The 7:30 Report being rather more how I prefer to get political insights). But anyway, Ray presented a clip of the family visiting Van in prison, then went to the results of an SMS poll of viewers, question being: "Do you believe that th

Cloud Goes Up, Cloud Goes Down

Hello work week! Well if you're tired of processing data (that's me!), or memorising the periodic table for your science exam, or whatever it is that you're meant to be doing, here's another bloated, multi-subject post to sink your teeth into. (NOTE: actually sinking your teeth into your monitor is not recommended; it will leave unsightly bite marks in the plastic, and may chip your teeth). ~~~~~ Well I had a rather culturally improving weekend; on Saturday, as I often do, taking myself off to the Newcastle art gallery to see a new exhibition I'd been looking forward to, Margaret Olley's Newcastle . Olley, considered to be Australia's greatest living painter, painted many landscapes of Newcastle in the 1960s and 70s, and the exhibiton is really worth getting along to, especially to observe the astonishing changes to the city skyline between then and now. There was an even greater treat at the gallery though - Francsico Goya's Proverbs ; his last, unfin

The Greatest Night

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W O O - H O O ! ! ! Being a soccer fan can be a long, hard, thankless task. Bt there are moments, moments which transcend mere sport and become truly highlights of your life. Last night was one of those moments. After 32 long years, Australia have qualified for the World Cup !!! Rather than giving a detailed review of the game, I'll just give you my highlights, watching at home. When Marco Bresciano scored towards the end of the first half, I was so excited I leaped out of my chair and bit my hand (which I always tend to do at moments of high excitement, I don't know why). However, this meant that the score was now 1-1 on aggregate, and Australia needed to score again to qualify. This didn't happen, not in the second half nor in extra time, and you could tell that the Uruguayans were really beginning to flag. The commentators said the game was Australia's for the taking, but they couldn't quite get that chance, and it ended with the dreaded penalty shoot-out. I don

Thanks God It's Friday - I Can Have Whine

Finally, the heatwave we've been suffering under for the past few days has broken. I'll give you an idea of how hot it was on Wednesday: at 5:30pm I put out a load of laundry. Now, the spin cycle on my washing machine doesn't work very well, so the clothes were still pretty soaked. At 6:30pm I went out to the bins, and checked the washing on the line; most of the lighter items were dry, and even the heavy towels were no more than slightly damp. Now that is a hot day. The arrival of summer also means the non-ratings period on the TV. That means, for those of us too poor for pay TV, we have nothing to watch for the next few months than re-run, mostly American, drivel. Ugh! It seems to me to be a chicken-and-egg situation; is no one watching because the programming is so poor, or is programming so poor because no one is watching? I plump for the former. Think of all the free time people have over the Xmas/New Year break, and especially with the long school holidays; surely i

When Bad Rock Groups Turn Good

This morning I saw Grinspoon performing on Seven Sunrise . Is it just me, or is seeing Grinspoon "up and attem" at 7:30 on a Monday morning rather disturbing? Let alone on commercial breakfast television?!? Okay, sure, three of them have kids now. But still. I had a good look at them, and I couldn't tell if they'd gotten up really early, or whether their performance was one of the last stages of an all-nighter. I was a pretty big fan of Grinspoon in their early days, but like with everything else, I just gave up about four or five years ago. I thought it was fairly prescient that the Grinners referred to Eskimo Joe as "Eskimo Blow" in the lead up to the ARIAs, Grinspoon never having won an ARIA award (The guys were also pretty scathing about losing out to Killing Heidi a few years ago, I might add). EJ may have critical acclaim now, but it's a point to keep in mind, that in the late 1990s, when Grinspoon had built up a respectable career and fanbase,

All Hail the Goddess of Weekends

I can't remember the last time I was this exhausted at the end of a working week. Even now, I'm still at the office past quitting time, because after finishing my "real" work, I have to complete all the myriads of status reports required by modern business. This won't be a very long post; I want to get out of here as much as you do. Weekends have been great, ever since the decision I made a few weeks ago, to stop trying to make plans, organise outings etc. That way, I'm not setting myself up for any let downs. Basically on Friday evening I stock up on all the food, alcohol, DVDs and whatever else I'll need, then I go home and Xander and I bunker down. I only leave the house to get the newspaper and any essentials I've forgotten, unless there's a special event on, like Necro. This may sound awfully boring and lonely, but it isn't; and it's better than calling people to make arrangements and finding that they're all busy, or worse still,

The Hole Problem

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Local readers may well be aware of the Big Black Hole in Sydney. For the rest of you, welcome and allow me to explain... Basically, what happened is that at approx 2am AESST yesterday, there was a rock collapse in the construction of the Lane Cove Tunnel, leading to a 10 metre crater in the ground...with a block of apartments, situated above the construction site, left hanging over the hole. More on the story here ; it's a pretty good overview, although I normally use ABC news for my links. This is a temporary link. The hole below the apartment block. Have you ever stood on the top of a high diving platform? And looked all the way down to the water? That's how deep 10 metres is...over 30 feet. It's a big hole. An aerial view of the apartments, perched above the hole. All the residents were immediately evacuated, and no one can say when they might be allowed back in; although there have been assurances that the building is not about to collapse, yesterday there was hourly up

The Melbourne Cup - Much Ado About Nothing

Well, the Melbourne Cup has been run and won for another year. If you want to get an idea of all the hype there was, see here . Me, I was utterly nonplussed by the whole event. First of all, because I don't gamble, ever (sorry to be a wowser...but I think that if there's one thing on Earth that truly is a sin, it's gambling. Okay, bigotry and gambling). But secondly, because of what I've come to know as my Melbourne Cup day curse. Every year since at least 1995, something terrible has happened to me on Melbourne Cup day. It's some to reach the stage where it's almost like a dear old enemy; yesterday it came along like clockwork as usual, in the form of a very nasty situation at work, in which I'm being blamed for a large problem not of my causing; I know who the real culprit is, but can't really do anything, not being much of a snitch. Anyway, yesterday wasn't a good day, and as usual I missed the race. But really my point, as I alluded to in the ti

IR Reforms Show Coalition's True Colours

The Australian Goverment's proposed industrial relations reforms, which they have called "work choices" (you've got to admire the Orwellian synchrinocity of the moniker) may be one of the worst things to ever happen to the average Australian. Now, I've often labelled things that the Howard government has done as being dreadful for Australia. When they were first elected, shortly before my 17th birthday, I wrote a long, impassioned essay in my diary (no blogger in 1996!) about how dreadful it all was. I debated with myself as to whether I should transcribe that essay here, but decided against it; it's poorly written and rather banal, and in any case, at that age I was capable of only abstract criticism, not cohesive analysis. But I do remember, several months after that election, when our local Medicare office had been closed, massive job cuts had been announced at the ABC , and in the public service , and it generally seemed like Australia was going to hel

The Wonder of My Hair

Well, as I've been describing, I'm growing my hair out (I had waist length hair for about five years, until I had it cut into a short bob in August 2004). This has now reached the "very annoying" stage; my hair is just too short to tie back, and hangs on my neck, getting sweaty and caught in my shirt collars. Also, it looks really shaggy, because it's several different lengths where the layers are growing out. Now the sensible thing to do would be to go to the hairdressers for a trim. But, as I think I may also have mentioned before, I'm terrified of the hairdressers. I'm much too timid to get my point across, so when I get in the chair and the impossibly perky hairdresser says "So, what are we having done today?", I smile nervously and murmur, "Just a trim, thanks." At which stage the hairdresser usually looks personally wounded at this insult to his craft. "My darling," he says, with accompanying hand gestures, "I don&

Working Hard, Or Hardly Working?

Yes, I'm still busy at work. Which is why I'm within a hair-trigger of walking into the boss's office, screaming "I QUIT!", and storming out. As you may know, I'm employed on a permanent part time basis. But lately, I've been working full time hours. I'm on a salary, so I don't get any overtime. What is supposed to happen, is that I get days off work in lieu. But everytime I try to take a day off, I get phoned at 7:30am and told "We really need you into work!" so I go. You may ask why the company doesn't employ me as an official full time employee. Well that's because our parent company is about to be fully privatised (you've figured out where I work, haven't you?) and there's a hiring freeze. Actually, several people in our office have been made redundant, and I'm now employed part-time to do the job that two full time employees used to do. Anyway. You can understand that I'm poor, and I'm bitter; I am sic

Quote of the Day

"Different politicians handle you in different ways, but [Tony] Abbott has always handled us the worst. He tries to ignore you, which is fantastic. First, it makes him look petty - which isn't that hard, let's be honest - and second, it gives you a free go at him. Sometimes, you feel sorry for politicians when you ambush them. With Tony Abbot, you never, ever feel anything but fantastic. Being an a***hole to that man makes you feel like a wonderful human being." -Chas Licciardello, from The Chaser . No wonder I love those guys. For more on Tony Abbott, see here at Cotard's blog (language warning - but utterly justified, and utterly hilarious).

Jury Duty

Well my little chicks, you may be wishing me goodbye for a while. I'm not going to be at work...I've been called up for jury duty. A few weeks ago, I got the letter telling me I was on the jury roll this year, but I was quite surprised to, a few days later, receive the letter telling me that I'd been empanelled. Of course, it's easy to get out of jury duty; the fact that I haven't tried will tell you something about the dullness of my job, insofar as that jury duty seems a preferable option. And I say this, in light of the unpleasant experience I've had at the Newcastle Court house...not as a defendant (I was always too smart to get caught, haha) but as a member of the public. When I was doing Legal Studies for HSC, we went on a class trip to the courts; intending to witness minor matters, but ended up at the scetencing hearing, of a woman charged with murder after throwing her baby at a wall. Well, you can imagine the effect that that had on a group of 17-year-

All The Trouble In The World

The latest Bali bombings have really hit home. Most of the Australian victims are from Xander and Nico's own home town, Newcastle. There was a large group that travelled together, organised through a local college which my 16 year old step-sister Leasa attends. I went to my father's house for dinner on Monday night; the people from Newcastle killed are the parents of her friends; and she was very, distressed. I might ask if she wants to go to the service for the victims tonight. I've heard it repeatedly said on the news that Newcastle is a "city in mourning". Well, yes and no. People are keenly aware of it, but no one talks about it; it's as if it's just too much to bear. It was eerie watching the footage of the victims arriving home in Newcastle , because the scene is so familiar. There they were, being wheeled on stretchers through the same ambulance bay as I was myself last May following my fall. When the TV showed one horribly injured man raising his

The Dumbest Question Ever

Australians are notorious for looking for the "Australian connection" in anything. Bill Bryson has supposited that this is because the rest of the world doesn't pay attention to us, so we have to pay attention to ourselves. But it does reach ridiculous proportions. For example, a news bulletin will never report on any disaster that takes place overseas without reporting whether there were or weren't any Australians involved. Ditto when any overseas celebrity dies (such as, Don Adams a.k.a Maxwell Smart, may he R.I.P.), the media never fail to mention any trips they made to Australia, work they may have done here, etc. Well, this morning on the Today show, the all-time level of credulity was reached. Richard Wilkins , whom I've never much cared for, was interviewing the director Cameron Crowe , discussing the release of his new film. Crowe mentioned the fact that Almost Famous did better box office in Australia than in any other country. Wilkins said to Crowe: &

Another Day, Another Dollar...

Which is pretty much all I'm left with from my pay packet after taxes, bills and bus fares. But I shouldn't complain too much about my job. After all, today there's a reflexologist coming in to the office, and I can enjoy a reflexology appointment, not only that I don't have to pay for, but I'm actually getting paid whilst I receive it. How many people can say that? I'd rather it was a neck massage though, I've been having alot of problems with my neck and back lately (oh, the perils of age!) It was just a sedate weekend, I met Boof and Funky in town and we planned to go to the markets, but once we got there we were too tired to bother looking. They asked me did I want to go to dinner that night, but I couldn't really afford it, as I'd splurged on the Red Dwarf series one DVD, finally! I do like the later series better, but I decided to start at the beginning and collect the whole set. Other than watching that, and a lot of football, it wasn't a

Mark Latham, You Bloody Idiot!

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Before I start this post, let me just say I'm on the record here as having been a staunch Latham supporter in the past. Latham, mid-2004 That's all over now. Shall we proceed... Well, Mark Latham, former leader of the Federal Labor party who resigned in January, four months after losing the election, has published his diaries, basically spewing venom at Labor, the Liberals, the Federal Press Gallery, and everyone else. Normally for a story like this, I'd have links so you could read all this yourselves, but I must say, this has been one of the hardest stories to Google that I've ever done. Links are broken or missing (for example, the official Pariliament house website's link titled "Member for Werriwa gives you this ) , and where active, are often to subscription-only newspaper services. Now, I haven't read the book yet. No one has; it isn't released until Wednesday, and excerpts have been tightly controlled. But I have read his From The Suburbs , and

Celebrating The Chaser

On the Chaser forum , there's a thread for people to suggest their own items for the newsbar. Here, in no particular order, is a selection of my favourites (in order to get the full experience, may I humbly suggest you turn your head sideways and scroll down the page to read them): Unfunny Chaser headline lifted from The Onion Channel 9 defies Ptolemy, Copernicus: Declares Eddie centre of universe Australian Idol Reject Finalist leaves with dignity Andrew Bolt fired for objective journalism, goes quietly. Kerry O'Brien nails politician with absurd hypothetical Mid-morning news presenter listens to guest, asks unprepared question Lateline interview finishes without 'running out of time' Sensitive new age male student secretly downloads Paris Hilton sex video Glen Robbins: ‘I am ready to win a gold Logie’ Viewer still confused over Mick Molloy’s digs at Steve Vizard on The Late Show Bob Ellis predicts Kim Beazley victory, still not joking Irony of phrase 'Two Party Pr

Howard's Telstra Moment

As you are probably aware, if you're reading this in Australia, the main political story in the news at the moment is Telstra; the government wants to sell its remaining 51% share in the company, but are having problems, because the new board of directors , headed by Sol Trulijo, are basically coming out and saying that the telco is up a long creek with no paddle, riddled with problems. Apparently John Howard, our honourable PM, has been aware of these issues since August 11 , but it's only now being revealed. So last night, I switched on The 7:30 Report , expecting that there would be an interview with lil' Johnnie. And there was. But at first, the screen was frozen on the show's logo, and a voiceover came on saying, "We wish to advise that we are having transmission difficulties, we will resume the program as soon as possible." Then there were muted noises and muffled talking in the background...and then clear as a bell, you could hear John Howard's dist

Spring, Where A Young Man's Fancy Turns Lightly To Thoughts Of The Cricket

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I'm sure it won't come as much of a surprise to any of you that I'm not a cricket fan. The Irish tend not to be fans of the sport. But as I see it, cricket has little to recommend it. At least if you hate the football, it's over in two hours. Cricket can go on for five days and at the end, there still can be no winner. People have tried to enlighten me as to cricket's supposed charms, but with little success. I have a friend who is, in all other respects, a sensible and highly intelligent man, but is nonetheless enthusiastic about cricket, who spent a patient two hours last summer attempting to explain the cricket to me whilst some test or other was on. Sadly, I was paying very little attention to what he said, because all the time he was talking, all I could do was stare at the TV and think, "Darren Lehman's got bosoms!" (I must grow up. There's a TV commercial for a door sales company that runs regularly around here, and I get the giggles every t

I Want To Dialogue With You About Utilising Resources

If that sentence made sense to you, you've been spending too much time at the office and I recommend you take a mini-break; Port Macquarie is quite nice. Alternatively, you could take a week off work with horrible stomach problems, but I don't recommend that so whole-heartedly. I don't know about you, but as I look around my office I see signs of brainwashing everywhere. There's slogans on posters and sticky notes and every kind of promotional gizmo you can imagine. Mission statements, value statements, customer service charters, visions: all encouraging the harmless office serf (that's me) to become one of the crowd, blend in and toe the company line. Does that sound familiar? Yes, I fear my company, like so many large corporations, is actually a cult. Consider this: * Cults separate you from the rest of society... companies make you work so many hours you never see the rest of society. * Cults make you wear unattractive outfits... Companies make you wear unattract