Showing posts from 2012


Greetings from my much neglected blog. I don't know why I've left it so long. I think up ideas for posts, but then BabyG knocks a lamp over, or Xander throws up on the carpet, or the fish does that creepy upside down swimming thing, or DH points out I'm 26 hours late for work, and I turn to religion as I always do at moments of crisis, if by religion you mean "God, I need a drink". But it is not too late for me to change my ways! Oh, I've made all sorts of vows for 2013. I will exercise more, spend less, be less annoying, more patient, more helpful, less illegal. And yes - I have set myself the goal of at least 15 blog posts a month. With such a quota, I'm going to have to mine pretty deep for material, so next time you observe current events and think "I wonder what a fat, prematurely middle aged leftie woman with bicep tattoos and a hangover thinks of this", rest assured I will be there, with a post that misses the point entirely. Happy new yea

The Santa Question

After wishing fervently that Christmas would just go away during my single years, I do quite like it now. Maybe I even like it a little too much, overcompensating with my enthusiasm (when I saw this  inflatable Santa on a train  for sale, my only question was would one be enough, until DH told me in no uncertain terms that for the sake of our marriage, one would be too many). We're not Christians, but it's a cultural thing to us; the chance to relax after a long year, spend time with family, gorge yourself on food, get into arguments with family and wear shoes with sand in them. But of course, it's BabyG that really makes Christmas special for me. Last year, he was just a bald, red lump that existed solely to eat and excrete, and I was too gobsmacked by the realities of new motherhood to feel anything other than exhaustion, but this year he's up and moving, he's fun, I can't wait to see him get into the presents under the tree. However, there lies my dilemma. Wh

Yes, I Will Call You Out, Melissa George

Social media is aflame this morning over the matter of one Melissa George. The former teen Home and Away star, who has spent much of the past decade living and working overseas, is being excoriated and defended in turns following  an incident on morning TV  last week, where Ms George bemoaned people referring to her teen soap star status in the 1990s. It must be bloody annoying to have it mentioned in every interview, sure. She's done other things. Time to move on. Ok, she comes across as kind of entitled and rude, sneering at the small minded Australians she left behind - an attittude seen in many expats - when she says " I just need them all to be quiet. If they have nothing intelligent to say, please don't speak to me any more. I'd rather be having a croissant and a little espresso in Paris or walking my French bulldog in New York City". But that's her right. The Australian media can be an irritating pack of noids sometimes. But it's her comments regar

Shaming Kids

It's been a running theme in society since the time of Plato that the current generation of kids are spoiled, decadent, out of control. Well, maybe, but there's one thing that hasn't changed; that some adults think it's okay to shame kids. Getting the bus to work this week, a kid of around ten, dressed in a primary school uniform, boarded the bus without his bus pass. Okay, he probably should have mentioned this to the driver, but he was probably too shy to do so. Anyway, after the kid sat down, the driver pulled the bus over and roared "Get down here!" No one moved. The driver got out of his seat and stood in the aisle. "You - with the skateboard. Get down here!" The poor kid walked up to the driver, who shouted "Where does it say that this bus is free?!" "I forgot my pass" stammered the poor boy. "That's no excuse! You ask for permission to board or pay! You don't just get on! Now SIT DOWN". And the poor kid di

The Real Story Behind the Jones Backlash

The public reaction to the cruel, stupid comments made by Alan Jones at the Sydney University Liberal party fundraiser has been astonishing; the most successful social media campaign in Australian history; over 100,000 signatures (more than Jones's audience figures some morning), over 60 major companies pulling their advertising from Jones's program and his station 2GB, constant discussion on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere. The right, scrambling to find meaning in all this, have decided it is all part of some left wing plot to destroy Jones, and have rushed to defend him. The comments were made in jest, at a private function. He's said he was sorry. What more do we want from him? Paul Sheehan, the most coherent of the right wing columnists, ties it all together nicely in today's SMH . He describes, host of the largest petition to dump Jones, as "orchestrating a campaign" to destroy Jones (neglecting to mention there is also a petition on Change.or

Selective Schools The Magic Button?

I was recently moved to read a twitter friend's account of her experiences with her ten year old son, a sensitive, intelligent boy who was being bullied at school. They worried what to do, met with the principal, eventually made the difficult decision to move their son to a new school. One point that struck a dark note with me is their prior hope that they and their son would be able to wait it out until he got to high school, or specifically a selective high school, where he would be amongst children like himself and the bullying would stop. The reason this caught in my throat was I experienced the worst bullying of my life at a selective high school. I'm dismayed at the perception that bullying doesn't go on at selective schools, and that they're the answer for intelligent, bullied kids. In my case it made festering problems worse. I arrived at selective high school age 11, young for my cohort, and with the manifestations of Asperger's Syndrome that would not be i

We Need To Talk About Creeps

It's such a familiar scene.  You've had a torturous day at work; you can't believe it's not actually a full moon, because the crazies are out in force, thought at least they provide a diversion from the customers with the IQ of a mitten. The networks were slow, the air conditioning was on the fritz, and you've a splitting headache. After nine hours you finally make your way out of the office with a glazed expression and collapse gratefully into your bus seat, looking only to lose yourself in the pulpy trash escapist novel you've been saving for this purpose until you can get home and tip fermented beverages down your throat. You open it up and have barely read two sentences when a voice interrupts. "Good book?" "I'm sorry?" you say, not sure where the voice is coming from or if it is directed at you. "Is it a good book?" asks the guy seated in front of you. You barely notice what he looks like. You don't care. You've bee

The Next Chapter

Well, after four hellish months of applications, I've finally gotten a job. Hellish is little exaggeration - I applied for over 100 jobs in that time, none of them outlandishly beyond my qualifications and experience. In the vast majority of cases, I received a form email of rejection ("the quality of applications was very high...except for yours, so no") or heard nothing back at all. About fifteen times though, I was invited in for an interview. Gah. So you get your suit dry cleaned, iron your shirt, pack spare stockings, do your hair, nails, and make up, Google map search the location, turn up, sit awkwardly in reception staring in to middle distance, then are invited in to face interviewers who, rather than discussing your skills and work history, want to play with the recruiters' toy of choice these days - behavioural questions. How I came to loathe these. Incident - action - outcome, you'd try to remember as you gave your response, but the slightest deviation

Breastfeeding - A Case for Middle Ground

So BabyG recently turned one, and I achieved a milestone I never thought I'd reach - one year of breastfeeding. I never thought we'd make it, and according to conventional wisdom, we shouldn't have. We've broken every rule in the "how to establish successful breastfeeding" book. BabyG had a little formula in hospital when my milk didn't come in and he was dehydrated (astonishingly, there are mothers who would prefer, if their milk was slow to come in and their child was dehydrated, an IV drip to formula); I regularly pumped breastmilk which he was given in a bottle so I could get out for a few hours from the time he was three weeks old; and most damningly of all, at six months and  at the end of my rope with exhaustion and PND , I decided to start comp feeding with formula, only doing one or two breastfeeds a day, figuring "if he weans...what the heck, we've had a decent run". Well, now that BabyG is one, we've stopped the formula accordi

The Shitkansen Crisis

What's the only thing worse than  riding the Shitkansen ? Not riding it, at least when there's a shitkanhitsthefansen like yesterday. Yep,  it was one of the worst delays to affect the Newcastle line in years...and we were right in the middle of it, returning from Sydney after a long weekend of celebrations for my mother-in-law's birthday with exhaustion, many bags, and an overhyped BabyG. We had collapsed into our seats at Central, knowing that in three short hours (hehe) we would be home. Little did we know. Everything seemed fine as we thrummed along quietly, BabyG even dozing off in his Ergo, when an announcement came on just north of Sydney saying there was an overhead wiring problem at Gosford, and the train would be terminating at Cowan with everyone switching to buses. I may have said a swear. I definitely said three more swears after that. So we reached Cowan, where the train just sat idle for fifteen minutes or so, before the driver announced that the platforms at

So, You're Cutting Benefits For Nurses

An Open Letter to NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell So, yesterday I read that you're  cutting penalty rates  for aged care nurses, including holiday loading and penalties for shift work (which would make nurses the only permanent workers in Australia not entitled to holiday leave loading). Budget cuts have to be made somewhere, I understand, and why not nurses? The rationale behind keeping unemployment benefits well below the poverty line is that if they were higher; people would be comfortable staying on them and have no incentive to look for work. Maybe you have a similar rationale here; that by keeping nurse pay rates low, you weed out all those greedy nurses only in it for the money and are left with the caring ones who really want to be there. They should be glad to lose their benefits for the good of the state, glad they don't have a job like yours so difficult it was deserving of  a salary of $333, 860  in the last financial year. What a lovely, rewarding job being an aged

Feminism, Choices and Support

There seems to be a belief running through mainstream feminism that as women, we're honour bound to support other women in the choices they make - no matter what those choices may be. If a woman wants to be a stay at home mum, or put her kids in childcare at six weeks to run an international corporation, or dance nude on stage whilst strangers leer, we need to support those as choices those women have freely made. Well, fine. What I'm struggling with is the notion that feminists should support all the choices that women make - even if those choices are harmful to other women. Recently there appeared a story about the Anglican church  introducing a new wedding vow  in which brides would be asked to submit to their husbands. I believe, as a feminist, that by standing up in public and maintaining such codified gender roles, women who take such vows let down all women. I was criticised for this; apparently it's expressing the view that feminism requires women to make choices th

Meet Tony Abbott

Meet Tony Abbott, the leader of the federal opposition. He's a true Australian bloke. A battler with a mortgage. Family man. Bit of a rough tongue sometimes, tendency to open mouth, insert foot, but hey, nobody's perfect, right? At least, so runs the narrative in the mainstream media. The truth is very different, far darker - and, too often ignored. The Battler Abbott is portrayed as an ordinary working guy, struggling to make ends meet like any working Australian. The truth is he's from a background of privilege unknown and inaccessible to most Australians. He attended St Ignatius' College at Riverview, where the annual fees for Year Twelve students are well over $20,000; whilst studying a law degree at the University of Sydney (paying no fees to do so at the time, thanks to the educational reforms of the Whitlam government) he lived at St Johns College. Now, not to overgeneralise here, but I've met men who attend the residential colleges at the University of Sydne

Back at the Train Model Expo

Eight years after my  previous attendance , today I headed off to the Our Town Model Expo, with the hope of taking some photos of the train sets and delighting you all with a witty yet affectionate skewering of the foibles of model train collectors. But I can't do it. I mean, I went. But within sixty seconds, my eyes glazed over, my mind transported to another plain, and I was in a happy little railfan coma, lulled by the soothing sounds of model trains clacking over the rails..."AspergersSyndromeAspergersSyndromeAspergersSyndromeAspergersSyndrome" Does this look like a woman who is in her right mind? I abandoned my son and husband, no more in control of my actions than a puppy romping happily towards not fresh newspapers to widdle on, but DVDs of steam train rides from the 1960s, books about the politics of line closures, model cars showing livery changes throughout time. Although (as you can probably tell) I'm taking on a more rotund appearance in my premature middl

Labor vs The Greens

In a sad day for Australia, today federal parliament voted to resume offshore processing of asylum seekers, returning to the worst of the inhumane Howard-era treatment of refugees. I've posted before on this issue, so you can imagine my dismay and anger that we are to go back to paying impoverished Pacific nations to lock up indefinitely those desperate souls who, within their legal rights, attempt to come here to escape persecution. But there's a new aspect to my anger. I've heard and read several remarks from ALP supporters that this is all the Greens' fault; that if the Greens had "compromised" by agreeing to the previous proposal to house asylum seekers in Malaysia(!), reopening the processing centres in Nauru would never have been necessary. "Enjoy letting asylum seekers drown while you protect your ideology", runs the tone of some of the nastier remarks I've seen. Excuse me? The sentiment is born of anger, and is so very wrong. It should n

Watching the Olympics

Although I wasn't planning on doing so, I've watched a whole bunch of the recent Olympics. What can I tell you, except getting back into the workforce is taking a little longer than planned. Yes I know the whole thing is a shameless marketing exercise, imposes insane restrictions and long term costs on the residents of the host city, is an environmental nightmare and plays politics. But I'm still a sucker for the uncertainty of competition, the pageantry, the history. Oh, yes, the history: The first modern Olympics were held in 1859, but they weren't acknowledged until the IOC got involved in 1896. The spirit of amateurism, long a cherished Games ethos (though recently abandoned) was rooted in the notion of the aristocratic gentleman athlete who had the time and funds to pursue his hobby. The first torch relay was held in 1936 as a means of the new government promoting National Socialism throughout Germany. The first athlete to fail an Olympic drug test was a Swedi

Cover the Coal Trains!

One of the reasons I moved my family out of Sydney was for our health. I love the inner west, but the houses are usually damp, and old, and prone to mould. DH has asthma, and I was worried BabyG would develop it too; our flat had terrible mould and I worried about the effects of us breathing it in. So we moved north, and took a lot of lung-cleansing walks near the beach, but we all maintained our persistent coughs and I couldn't understand why. Until that is, I read the Newcastle Herald's investigation into  the effects of breathing coal dust . Our new house is less than 500 metres from the main rail line to the Hunter river coal loaders that service the world's biggest coal port. I'd moved my family into danger, and I had no idea. Packed coal train on the line near our house Very fine coal dust particles are inhaled deep into the lung, increasing the risk of asthma and long term respiratory complications. Recognising this, coal transported by road in required by law to

The Joy of Gardening

When I was a kid, we lived in flats and I never felt grass under my feet. Then when I was ten, we moved to Newcastle and had a garden for the first time. I hated it. Specifically, I hated the yard work I was expected to do. I hated spending my weekends weeding and lugging pavers when other girls were playing netball and going to the movies. I hated being dirty and sweaty and hated being outside. And as soon as I was old enough to dictate how I spent my time, I renounced yardwork forever. From now on I wouldn't pull a weed if Gallery Serpentine made gardening gloves. But as I passed my 30th birthday, something changed in me. It wasn't just the perky butt collapsing like a circus tent in a storm, or my newly developed fondness for ABC local radio. I wanted a garden. Sure, it would be nice after years of living in flats to not have to battle for communal washing lines and to be able to sit in the sun when reading a book on Sunday afternoon, but the truth was I also wanted to plan

The Right Wingers' Dictionary

Decipher the ramblings of the frothing right with this handy reference. Your argument makes no sense : I don't understand your argument Fool : My favourite insult, got me a caning when I called my teacher a fool in 1948 Fuckwit : My other insult, for when I'm really getting mad You're blocked : I've lost the argument Tony Abbott is a great man : He'd beat the crap out of me in a fist fight, anyway Unaustralian : Something I don't like Political Correctness gone mad : I resent having to keep my bigotry to myself I've nothing against gays but they shouldn't be allowed to get married : I've at least one thing against gays, anyway Same sex marriage destroys tradition/is bad for children : I will ignore all social, cultural, historical and empirical evidence to find excuses to cover my homophobia Illegal boat arrivals : I believe in other things that don't exist too, like the tooth fairy Queue jumpers : they should go to their local Australian embassy

Night Time Violence? Blame Alan Jones

As the world reels from yet another  gun massacre in the US , many Australians are expressing their relief that apart from rare horrific exceptions, such tragedies don't happen here. Whether it's because of our gun laws - the stricter gun laws enacted in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre are about the only thing I'll give credit to John Howard for - or some other factor, we don't face random shootings in public places on a regular basis, and for that we can all be grateful. It's hard to say that it's because we have a less violent culture than the US. With the funeral yesterday for Thomas Kelly , killed in a senseless act of unprovoked violence on his first visit to Kings Cross, there has been much discussion of alcohol- and drug- fuelled violence. Our streets aren't safe at night, the narrative runs; because of slack policing/an oversupply of venues serving alcohol/kids these days having no respect for authority, there's an epidemic of brawls, assaul

Fair's Fair In School Funding

Conservatives claim to believe in equality. I'm sure they honestly think they do; it's just that they seem a little confused about what "equality" actually means. To them, it means literally providing the same opportunities to everyone. Take the issue of school funding. Conservatives see nothing wrong with the government giving money to already wealthy private schools (not all private schools are wealthy, but the wealthy schools get their share of the booty). To them, the government providing annual funding of, say, $20,000 per student - whether that student attends The Kings School or Walgett Primary - is completely fair and equitable, because everyone's getting the same. It's so far from the truth. The idea of equity is to redress the balance. Within reason, all kids should have the same opportunities to do well at school. The problem with funding every school child at the same level is that some kids start life at a huge disadvantage; they need more - more

Novocastrians: Just A Little Bit Different

Let me just say right now, I love living in Newcastle. Love love love it. I love getting anywhere in twenty minutes, love walking from Nobbys to Newcastle beach, love the lack of pretension, love the awesome community I've slipped into. That said, there are some things I've noticed about Novocastrians and there ways that are just a little...different. I didn't really notice when I lived here before - it was just how things were, I knew nothing else - but after five years in inner Sydney, the cultural differences stand out, and they can be a little jarring. Mind Your Ps and Qs In Sydney, with thousands of people wanting to be everywhere at once, queuing is grudgingly accepted as a fact of life. Not here. Unused to it, Novocastrians can't, don't, won't queue up for anything. Witness three people approaching an ATM at once. Rather than forming a queue based on rough order of arrival, people will approach, stop at an oblique angle to the machine, and stare at a fixe

Newcastle - A Walk Through The East End

I discover that my tastes have changed in the years I was in Sydney. I'm rather less interested in pubs than I once was, and more interested in parks. Also, I've a taste for heritage and architecture I lacked in my feckless twenties. All this means is, there's parts of Newcastle I've never really explored before - and I'm having great fun doing so now. Today I headed to the East End (please click on pics to enlarge). Customs House Hotel Quirky bench Laneway houses Foreshore park, once a railway goods yard. The shed has been preserved, the turning circle reclaimed. Heaven for a rail fan! This is what actual damage done by tree roots looks like. NCC? Playground reflecting the area's rail heritage A swing for children who use a wheelchair - what a wonderful idea I wish Felipe's was a real thing; then Newcastle really would be hipster central