A Letter to Xander

Thursday, 27 April 2006

Recently in the Friday Follies, there was a link to A letter to the cats and dogs. I've been inspired by this to write a letter just to Xander.

Dear Xander,

You and me- we're a great team. The past three years with you have been the best experience of my life. But, like all great couples, there are a number of issues we need to work on. I'd like to draw your attention specifically to the following:

  • It doesn't matter to you whether you lie horizontally or vertically in the bed. But it makes a hell of a difference to me, so remember - head on the pillow, back paws pointing towards the foot of the bed.

  • I know you like your privacy when you use your tray, but I'm not in the bathroom 95% of the time. Don't wait until I'm in the shower to use your tray, then get upset because you don't want to "go" when I'm there.

  • You don't like it when I have to go to work. I don't like it when I have to go to work. But I don't have a choice. Hiding my keys, sitting on my shoes, or barracading the door with your body so I can't leave is just going to upset us both and make me late.

  • I know you like it when I give you presents. Please don't feel you have to return the favour by depositing freshly killed bugs on my bed.

  • Although I don't want to create self-esteem problems for you, it can't have escaped your attention that you're a cat with a tendency to get a little...podgy. If I don't give you seconds or thirds after dinner, don't get upset; it's for your own good. I want you to be an old cat with me when I am an old lady.

  • You're always welcome to sit on my lap. However, could you please learn to climb on when I've just sat down with a glass of wine, rather than waiting till I need to get up for a refill?

  • You don't need to get upset everytime I leave the room. I'm not actually going anywhere. Just follow and you'll find me. I could never go anywhere without you.

    With all my love, if occasional frustration,
    Your Mum.

    P.S. Only 16 days to go...what do you want for your birthday?
  • Happy Administrative Professionals Day

    Wednesday, 26 April 2006

    To all of my brother and sister admins, wherever you may be...

    And I hope that, unlike our Dear Leader, your manager remembers what day it is today, and acknowledges all your hard work in a practical (i.e. PRESENTS!) way.

    For the admin's work is never done...

    Another Year, Another Houseful of Big Brother

    Monday, 24 April 2006

    Yes, Big Brother has kicked off its sixth Australian series. In past years, I've said "I'm not going to watch it this year"...but always get suckered in. So I've been honest this year - who was I kidding? I was always going to watch it.

    I didn't intend watching it from the very beginning, but somehow I did. I made a new acquaintance back during the very first series in 2001, and when I mentioned the show, he said "I didn't think you'd be the type to watch Big Brother". I wouldn't have thought so either, but here we are. Fast forward a few years, and this person has admitted to watching BB sometimes, to "know what I'm talking about"!

    May I just be incredibly fashion-police style bitchy here, and say...

    What was with Gretel's outfit and hair last night?!?

    Honestly, that woman needs to stop taking her styling tips from The Bronwyn Bishop Big Book of Looking Good.

    When I got over the shock of that hideous hairstyle, I wondered what I would say if I was doing one of those housemate introductions. This was the what I came up with...

    "My name's Nicola, I'm 26 but feel much older...in relationships, I can be a bit of an ice queen...my friends would say I'm an annoyingly prissy bitch...I'm a neat freak and a control freak in general...I've lived alone for years and years, and can be intolerant of other people...in the house I'd miss my cat the most...in fact, I'd miss him so much that for this and all the other reasons, I would never, ever want to be a housemate, which is why this introduction is purely hypothetical."

    It's true. About the only time I would have liked to have been a housemate is during the first or maybe the second series; I was young enough for it then, and not tired, no fun, and completely set in my ways (not to mention that it all seems too smutty for my tastes - I certainly won't be watching BB Uncut, not after that episode last year, where a topic being discussed [disgust?] sent me running to be sick, and I vowed never to watch it again.)

    So it seems the history of Big Brother is also the history of how I got old, and of certain other things as well. Funnily enough though, that first series doesn't really seem all that long ago...

    Anyway, watching all this TV has given me alot of time to do my knitting. I'm working on a scarf at the moment, the first knitting I've done in over ten years. I was going quite well, but then I hit a few problems on Saturday night...

    Lesson learned: don't drink and knit.

    Friday Follies - Classical Style!

    Friday, 21 April 2006

    (Or old skool, for the chronologically unimpaired) More of those amusing links which I spend all week tracking down - the things I do for you people, honestly.

    It's an oldie but a goodie - George Dubya's make the pie higher

    Could this
    new Pacific solution deter asylum seekers? It would frighten me off.

    Truly disturbing album covers

    Here's one for the Red Dwarf fans (and if you're not one of them, you need to take a long, hard look at yourself) -
    the Tongue Tied video!

    Hate Tom Cruise?
    If only he'd taken the advice.

    You are reading this link, and are about to click on it

    Well, that's about it for this week, I've got a bit on today. I'll just finish with the worrying observation I just made: that my mobile phone, whilst in my laptop bag, set to silent but on vibrate, sounds alot like someone having a muffled orgasm.

    Which in turn says a lot about my state of mind, none of it good.

    Until next week...

    Stuck In The Ditch In the Quest For Eternal Youth

    Wednesday, 19 April 2006

    Recently I've begun using a well-known brand of moisturiser, which promises to "fight the seven signs of ageing".

    It hasn't worked. I've been using it for the recommended 30 days, and I'm still displaying all seven signs:

  • Grumpy

  • Constantly complaining

  • Disturbed by kids these days

  • Confused by all new technology

  • Disillusioned

  • Exhausted

  • And coveting items of furniture!

  • Can I have my money back?

    The Easter Weekend Holiday You Have When You're Not Having An Easter Weekend Holiday

    Tuesday, 18 April 2006

    Well, Xander and I aren't religious people, as you may have gathered by now. Still, it's an Australian tradition that everyone goes away at Easter, not to mention that I wanted to take advantage of four precious days off work, and do something slightly festive. So, get yourself a coffee - I'll wait - then pull up a chair and read all about it...

    On Friday everything was shut, so I just rested and hung out at home with Xander. I feel guilty because I've been so busy and not spending much time with him lately, so it was nice to enjoy some one-on-one face time (even if after awhile, it became more like "get-your-cat-breath-OUT-of-my-face!" time!)

    Xander and Bombo A photo just because.

    Then on Saturday, I was up at a ridiculously early hour, to set off on my adequatley-sized day out. Just getting anywhere was annoying - I had to get a taxi to the train station, endure a 3 hour trip to Sydney, and then get another train out to the western suburbs. Western Sydney has been much in the news lately due to the apparent outbreak of a gang war, and I was terrified that at any moment I was going to acquire "innocent by-stander" status. Still, it was lots of fun catching up...

    Then, after another two train journeys, I met up with Blubloo and Sam in Newtown. First we had lunch, which wasn't as good as it could have been - Blubloo seems to have a bad record with ordering chicken dishes when I'm around! *coughs*

    Then on to the main part of the day - SHOPPING. Now, I've noticed one of two things can happen when I go shopping - either I start spending and can't stop, or I get a bit overwhelmed by all the choice and don't buy much. After the poor selections in the shops I'm used to, I'm afraid that in Newtown on Saturday I suffered rather from the latter. I did end up with a
    Living Dead doll, bat-print footlets, a hat (enough already with the hats!) a cigarette case and a few other bits, but my expected clothing splurge didn't eventuate.

    At Gallery Serpentine I picked up
    this skirt, though in green tartan not red, for the bargain price of $40 - it turned out to be my only clothing purchase of the day. Since I rarely go out, it makes more sense to buy things for the house than clothes anyway, and I bought a print of Botticelli's "La Primavera" for the lounge room. Xander thought the tube which it came in was a much better toy, than the present I actually bought him!

    But by this time it was getting on for about 5pm and I was exhausted, so I decided to begin the long journey home. Well, it was an ordeal. First of all, the train to Newcastle was packed with people who'd been at the Royal Easter show, including a whole family (parents included!) who spent the entire journey bopping each other on the head with inflatable toys they'd bought - I took several direct hits myself, and received no apology for any of them.

    Worse, however, was to come when I got a taxi home from the train station. Picture this: you're tired at the end of a very long day, and your taxi driver hits you with this (imagine me giving a short "mmm-hmm" during every pause):
    "Have you been at the Show? We're not going this year...my husband is having problems with his legs...he won't go to the doctor, men never do...though my husband is scared of doctors, he was in and out of hospital as a child...he actually had very bad mumps in the groin...he lost a testicle...luckily it didn't make him sterile, we've had three children..."
    At this point I had to say "Well! That's a lot of information" as I feared she was going to start telling me how the children were conceived, in which case I would have jumped out the door of the moving taxi, into the traffic. Luckily she seemed to take the hint, and I was just about home anyway.

    On Sunday I was exhausted and achey, but figured I should do something a bit festive. So I bought a BBQ chicken and some salads, and Xander and I had a little feast: me with the salad and white meat, him with most of the rest of the chicken! Then I finally got started on a project I'd been planning for ages: painting a picture I wanted to do on canvas. It took much longer than I thought - by last night, I'd only done some of the outlines.

    Well, I could go on but quite frankly, I couldn't be bothered writing it (and I'm sure no one would bother reading it). It's the second of three four-work-day weeks in a row, so I'll post something a little more stimulating tomorrow...

    That's it - Friday is Cancelled. No Follies for Anyone!

    Thursday, 13 April 2006

    Well, what with the long weekend, we're going to be offline for the next few days. No posts and no Follies tomorrow (but hey, if you get bored there's an awful lot of archives to go through!)

    Xander and Nico would like to wish all of our readers a
    very Happy Easter!

    If you really need your dose of Friday humour, check out
    this post from one of my original favourite bloggers, Non-Girlfriend - it's adorable, scary and funny all at once!

    I'm off to spend all my money. See you on Tuesday..!

    Has Anyone Noticed...

    Wednesday, 12 April 2006

    ...That "Are you a member of our loyalty scheme?" has become the new "Do you want fries with that?" in shops?

    You can hardly buy anything these days without the shop assistant trying to sign you up for the store loyalty scheme. Generally, these schemes mean that if you spend a certain amount of dollars at the store, when you reach that amount you'll get a miniscule discount - usually 3 or 5% - off your next purchase.
    But the thing is, the stores don't want you to join their loyalty schemes because they have a warm and fuzzy feeling about you being a regular customer; they want to sign you up so that they can track every dollar you spend, and then send you lots of relevant advertising materials, for which they are paid by their suppliers, and encouraging you to spend even more.

    I've fallen for this myself. Recently I've bought several DVD box sets, and after the third purchase, I got tired of being given the company loyalty card spiel and decided to sign up; I'd be able to shut them up next time, and hey, at least I'd get something back. So, whilst my purchases were being rung up, I started filling in the application form. It began with the sorts of questions you'd expect - basic details, how many CDs & DVDs do you buy a month, what type of music do you like - but then became ridiculously intrusive, wanting to know my income, occupation and industry, how many people I lived with and what was my relationship to them, and lord knows what else; and I thought, Screw this. It's a store loyalty scheme, not a credit card application.

    So I tried to hand the form back to the shop assistant and said "No thanks, I don't want to join this. There are too many questions."
    She replied, "But it really only takes a few seconds, and you receive all sorts of great offers."
    Me (growing testy): "It's not that. There are too many intrusive personal questions. It's irrelevant and I don't want to join."
    Her (growing perky, parroting the company line): "We only collect relevant information. Would you like a copy of our privacy policy?"
    Me: "No, thank you".
    She still hadn't taken back my form. I made another attempt to give it to her.

    Finally she took it and said, "Okay, if you're sure. But there really are great offers for members."
    "I'm sure..." Then I realised something. I'd handed over my money some minutes ago, and the transaction seemed to have stalled there. "Can I have my DVDs now?"
    With an all but palpable sigh, she handed over the bag and receipt and said "Okay, maybe next time. Have a nice day!"

    Listen, lady, if you're reading this - there won't be a next time (oh, and by the way - I didn't have a nice day either). I won't be duped by loyalty scheme offers, into agreeing to have my mailbox filled with advertising. In fact, I'll be taking my considerable business to companies that don't have customer loyalty programs, and show them my loyalty for them not hassling me every time I make a purchase.

    Actually, I'll make one exception. Next time I'm asked to sign up to a loyalty program, I'm going to say yes, and list my occupation as "escort", my income as "$120,000+ a year" and when asked about my living arrangements, write "Living with nine guys, I don't know all their names, but one is called Breeze." Let's see what sort of mail I get.


    Monday, 10 April 2006

    (When I finally get around to registering for my own domain, that's the address I want...how apt).

  • I'm definitley going senile in my old age...talking to someone recently, I could not think of the word "incentive". I came up with about a dozen synonyms, but the word "incentive" which I wanted to use, just would not spring forth in my mind. As someone who's always prided herself on words, this is very frustrating, and worrying.

  • I think "Eau Bugger" would be a great name for a man's cologne (try saying it!). Now, no one steal my idea.

  • There are two guys who both just started in my office, who are evangelical Chrsitians. One is named Rod; the other one was named Glenn, but of course I've re-named him Todd (if I have to explain this, I'm going to come to your house and slap you).

  • Is Iraq in a state of civil war? Well, I think the fact that the Iraqi leaders can't even agree on whether or not it is or it isn't, really proves the point.

  • All the shop owners in my local mall have gathered to concoct a conspiracy to take my money away. There is no other way to explain the fact that on Saturday, when I popped down to get the milk and paper, I returned home with a skirt, a top, a hat, a DVD box set and a new lipstick - all purchased in 30 minutes!

  • Recently I caught a bus between just three stops. As I was getting off, I heard someone sitting in back mumble (loudly) "She could have walked that far!" I turned to face them, and said, "No, I couldn't. You see..." and they were waiting for me to explain how I'm too sick to walk far "...I'm very, very lazy!" That showed them...
  • The Friday Follies - New, Unimproved!

    Friday, 7 April 2006

  • A change is as good as a holiday, even for the Follies. Especially since I've been scared half to death twice this week - so I'm living on borrowed time.

  • The most recent incident was last night, whilst going out to the bins, when I was startled by a bat in a tree near my back door. The bat, startled by me, made a sudden flight from the tree and flew past my face. Actually, I wasn't all that scared, just jumpy about the noise in the dark. Now, I am morbidly, deathly afraid of birds. But I'm not especially scared of bats - actually, I often like to stand outside in the evenings and watch as they go flying overhead. One horrible flying creature I cannot abide (I can't go to someone's house if they've got a budgie in a cage) the other I find quite graceful. Lesson learned? Fears are irrational. Except fear of clowns. Anyone with any sense is scared of clowns.

  • Apparently, this blog is worth nearly $8,000 on the BlogShares site. I didn't even know it was listed. I just want to know - can I have the money?

  • Also to my suprise, there's a guy out there called Nico Xander who describes himself as an actor/dancer/martial artist. Really, someone named Nico Xander should be a political columnist/dilettante/condescending bore. Anyway, I wonder how many people doing web searches for him end up here, and vice versa?

  • It's Secretary's Day in a few weeks time, or as it has now been re-titled, "Administrative Professionals Day" (as an admin, in my role I'm a way up the ladder from being a secretary, though not so much). Although the day is barely recognised in Australia, if it were then I could expect a card, flowers and chocolates from the boss. Somehow that doesn't seem enough. People are always harping on about the way that celebrations have lost their true meaning these days, so surely on Administrative Professionals Day, we should be going to the Tomb Of The Unknown Admin, and saying the special prayer:
    May your in-tray always be empty,
    The coffee pot always be full,
    The databases running smoothly,
    And may flights of Angels...help you with the filing.

  • This is true: a man was "escorted" off a plane in Northern England and held as a suspected terrorist...for singing along to the Clash. The taxi driver who drove Harraj Mann to the airport became suspicious when Mann, listening to his MP3 player, started singing along to "London Calling" lyrics: Now war is declared/ and battle come down.
    "[The taxi driver] didn't like Led Zeppelin or The Clash but I don't think there was any need to tell the police," Mann told the Daily Mirror. You can read the full story

  • We share the carpark at the back of our office with a skin cancer clinic. Barely a day goes by that, when I'm out back having a cigarette, some patient - invariably a 40 years plus man - heading for the clinic doesn't say "A young girl like you shouldn't be smoking." Just once, I'd like to have the courage to reply, "Hey, I'm not the one going to a cancer clinic!"

  • Well, it wouldn't really be the Friday Follies without at least one amusing link. This week, I give you Scary Personals. As they say: "Some personal ads are just begging to be made fun of. That's where we come in." Their archives will, I guarantee, provide stomach-aching hilarity!
  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Wednesday, 5 April 2006

    Well, what with new readers arriving through BlogMad, Bust and others - a warm welcome to you all - I thought I'd take the chance to answer some of the questions I get asked about my life and our blog. So...

    Q: How did your blog get started?
    A: Back in January 2004, whilst randomly surfing the net, I came across a few blogs I liked, and having wanted a website of my own for a while, I just decided to start one of my own. I've always liked writing.

    Q: Why is your blog for both you and your cat?
    A: Basically, I think of us as a team. But not in a crazy way. There's only ever been a few "Xander posts" - like this one.

    Q: Is Xander named after the character on Buffy?
    A: No. (This is the question I get asked more than any other). I've never watched Buffy and didn't know that it had a character named Xander until people started asking me this.

    Q: Okay, how did Xander get his name?
    A: When I knew that I definitely wanted a cat, I intended to get a girl cat, and call her Zelda; but when we went to the shelter to look at the kittens I saw this little 600g bundle of black fluff. From that moment, I was hopelessly, eternally in love. So he came home with me. I knew I wanted to name him "something with an X or a Z". We threw around a few names, and as the kitten poked his head out of his box I realised I was thinking of him as Xander. So, that's what he was, is, and evermore shall be.

    Q: Where were you born?
    A. I was born in Dublin, Ireland. I came to Australia with my parents when I was two, but I've been back a few times since.

    Q: Where else have you traveled?
    A: Spain, the US (New Orleans and San Francisco), Japan, Germany and French Polynesia.

    Q. What do you do?
    A: I'm an administrative manager.

    Q: Yes, but what do you actually do?
    A: I can't tell you. Not as in "but then I'd have to kill you", but it's that I just can't explain it, other than to say...well, I piss around with databases.

    Q: So, how's your love life?
    A: NEXT!

    Q: You sometimes refer to being unwell. What's wrong with you?
    A: At the moment, my only real health problems are low blood pressure, which makes me dizzy, and a few stomach problems, so I have to watch what I eat. However, in 2004 I had a bad bout of chronic fatigue syndrome, and I'll probably be prone to tiring easily for the rest of my life.

    Q: How far is Newcastle from Sydney?
    A: It's about 150km, a little under 100 miles (why can't Americans use the metric system?!?)

    Q: How do you take your coffee?
    A: Very strong, with lots of milk and sugar (and no, I don't think that's a contradiction - just because the coffee is black does not make it strong coffee!)

    Q: Why are there no comments on your blog before December 2005?
    A: Because I changed the commenting system I use from haloscan to blogger comments, and all the comments made before the change were lost.

    Q: Why did you delete my comment?
    A: Because either it was spam, too poorly written to make sense, or offensive. Healthy debate is fine, but if you want to be rude go do it somewhere else. This is my blog.

    Q: Can I add you/will you add me to favourites?
    Generally I won't add any blog that's smutty, racist/sexist/homophobic, or poorly written (you don't have to be Proust, but basic spelling and grammar is a reasonable enough thing to ask). Other than that, I'll have a look but usually I say yes.

    Q: Can you help me with my template/HTML?
    A: I'd like to be able to do this for people, but I just don't have the time. When I do get a chance though, in the not-too-distant future I hope to post a guide to working with Blogger - all the tips and tricks I've picked up that aren't in the Blogger help guide.

    Well, that's all for now. But if I think of anything else, I'll call you at home.

    The Sky Is A Hazy Shade Of Winter

    Monday, 3 April 2006

    Okay, so winter is upon us for another year (I wonder how many I've lived through? My seasons are all out, due to moving from the northern hemisphere to the southern as a child). I didn't enjoy my first non-daylight-saving work morning as much as I had hoped, because this morning at 5:50am Xander climbed onto my chest and started batting at my nose to get me to wake up; 5:50am having been 6:50am and therefore time to get up last week. (I can't really complain though - how many times has Xander stopped me from being late in the past, by waking me if my clock radio doesn't work? How does he know? He never wakes me on the weekends, or if I'm sick. I don't give that cat enough credit).

    I did give him something else...a brand new jewelled collar, complete with a purple name tag. I've been told "You can't put that on him, he's a boy!" But as I've pointed out, I don't care and neither does he. He does need to wear a tag now, as I've started letting him come out into the yard with me when I'm say, hanging out that laundry; although as when we're inside, he shows little inclination to be more than two feet away from me. Of course, not always, such as yesterday evening when I went out to the bins and he slipped past my legs, ran out the door, down the stairs and under the house. It took ages to coax him out. In the end, I resorted to pleading: "Please come out baby, it's cold out here, and I'm frightened, and I don't like the look of those teenagers!" He listened, in the end (I think he may have seen a mouse under there that frightened him).

    Of course, one of the pleasures of winter (okay, all of life) is enjoying lots of drinks, but now apparently there are calls to ban pre-mixed alcoholic drinks. Apparently they are too attractive to young drinkers. I doubt it - have you seen the price of these things?!? When I was young, we all got drunk on cask wine, because that's what we could afford. No, theses drinks are aimed at every marketers favourite demographic - the affluent, educated 25-34 year olds. (We grew up on ecstasy and can surely handle some artificial flavours and vodka now). Anyway, I'm sick of the nanny state mentality that seems to rule young people's lives these days (witness every year on TV, prior to the schoolies week celebrations, the stories on current affairs shows - "Will my children be safe at schoolies?" If they've graduated from high school, they're not children anymore, are they?)

    My main gripe is the possibility that UDL vodka and green apple could be banned. I love that stuff. So, what I propose is this: if premixed drinks are banned, I will chain myself to a flagpole and go on an alcohol strike outside Federal Parliament until the ban is lifted. I mean it, I won't touch a drop, no matter how much delicious wine I'm offered. All the bottle shops in Newcastle (and even a fair few in Sydney) will watch their profits tumble. But that's not what will change people's minds. No, the deciding factor will be the fact that the only thing scarier than me when I've been drinking is me when I haven't been drinking. Picture Bender in
    I, Roommate and you'll get the idea. Now that Canberra is hosting international heads of state on a regular basis, the last thing they'll want is an out-of-control, demented sober woman raving about the place. It will work very well.

    Who's with me?
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