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Friday, August 31, 2007

Metablogging Aussie-style today

Craig has a 'Get yer shit together' challenge that's he's just put together for the month of September. In his words, " Identify what needs to change in your life (you already know)..It doesn't matter what area of your life those changes relate to (health, work, relationships, destructive habits, attitude, self-talk, overcoming fears)... as long as they have something to do with creating positive change in your life...Write NO MORE THAN two hundred words to tell me (and perhaps a few thousand others) what you are going to achieve over the twenty eight days and why it will be different this time..." Please go to his site if you want further details.

My commitment will be this: many Australians know of the 10,000 steps program. I will do it with the aim of getting at least that this month. Why? I need the exercise. I'll post my step count to keep me honest!

Want to increase your blog exposure? If you're Australian, take a peek at this week's edition of the Carnival of Australia. Interested? All you need to be is Australian to qualify to enter! Here is the form. Give it a try. Next time we'll be hosted here

Last, it's my pleasure to cry out and gush "You like me! You like me!" Kin has awarded me these:

This award seeks to "recognize those people that were exceptionally adept at creating relationships with other bloggers by making an effort to be part of a conversation, as opposed to a monologue".

"This award will be awarded to those that are just nice people, good blog friends and those that inspire good feelings and inspiration! Those that care about others that are there to lend support or those that are just a positive influence in our blogging world!"

Wow, thanks Kin! Now, I'm supposed to pass this on. I can think of no better recipients than Captain Picard's Journal, D.Paul,mcewan, and Susie J

Thursday, August 30, 2007

TT - could you pass to be an Australian citizen?

It was published recently, and has been mentioned in the past, that the test one must take to become an Australian citizen is too hard. Here is a sample of some of the questions (source). Take it and see if you know your stuff, Aussies! (Or, non-Aussies, to see if you'd be a suitable candidate!) I've answered mine in bold. I will also let you know if I got any wrong in italics (I'll be honest, promise!)

1. In what year did Federation take place? 1900 no 1901!

2. Which day of the year is Australia Day? Jan 26

3. Who was the first Prime Minister of Australia? Edmund Barton

4. What is the first line of Australia's national anthem? 'Australian's all let us rejoice'*

5. What is the floral emblem of Australia? Wattle?

6. In what city is the Parliament House of the Commonwealth Parliament located? Canberra

7. Who is the Queen's representative in Australia? The Governor-General

8. Who is the head of the Australian Government? The Prime Minister

9. In what year did the European settlement of Australia start? 1788

10. Serving on a jury if required is a responsibility of Australian citizenship:
true or false? True

11. In Australia, everyone is free to practice the religion of their choice, or practice no religion: true or false? True

12. Australian citizens aged 18 years or over are required to enrol on the electoral register: true or false? True

13. What are three colours of the Australian Flag? Red, White and Blue

Only one wrong! And I can't believe that one...der...

*I left out an 'n' in 'Australian's' originally in the slip of the typing, which I've replaced here. Thanks Bryce!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

WW - choose your own title

Updated: The winners!
Adam picked la bellina mammina who said: "Who's cuter?"
I picked
autofocused who said:"If I hold this oversized-plastic pickle high enough, perhaps they won't notice the hat.....just keep smiling...."

Okay, here's your chance. The person who gives the best caption to this photo will get credit for it forevermore (including a link). I'm holding - in case you can't tell! - a pickle. A kid toy. Why? That would take too long to explain.

Please - no gags about the hat. My family has made sure I've heard them all already. Oh, okay then, the hat's game too. I'm not scared!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"How's work?"

Ah, the age-old question. Being a SAHM/WAHM* mother, I'm used to being bypassed for conversation. The above question is rarely put to me. The fact that I do do writing gigs - when I get the time - which do, in fact, pay dosh, doesn't seem to register to some people. (I won't name names). Adam is asked when am I going back to work? When's Karen going to pull in a regular salary?

I tell you what it does - it pisses me off.

(By the way, my latest article, 'Climate Control' is available to be read in Coles Baby Magazine right now, Issue Spring 2007. I'm just saying...)

So when a friend (this friend) asked me, "How about you? What work's happening right now?" I could've kissed her. I was so grateful.

Actually, it's semi-interesting. 2008 marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of L. M Montgomery's novel, Anne of Green Gables. I'm starting to think about what I could write about to co-incide. Any thoughts? I know there are thousands of Anne-lovers out there. Anyone have any juicy anecdotes about Montgomery or their own reading experiences of the novel(s)?

*I really hate acronyms.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Clive James, Cory Doctorow, The Melbourne Writers Festival, and me

On Saturday, as rather a spontaneous decision unlike me, I decided to go to the Melbourne Writers Festival. So, I went to see Clive James and, in another session, Cory Doctorow speak on a panel.

I was quite excited, as the last time I went to the MWF was four years ago, when I was in the early stages of pregnancy with Keira, and I was doing all I can to stop vomiting all over the floor in the middle of a session with Sophie Cunningham speaking, in front of a hundred people. So, as you can understand, it wasn't an entirely happy day for me.

Unlike yesterday. Clive James, as I expected, was urbane, fascinating, and charming. He covered a gamut of topics from his love of Albert Camus, to his disdain of JP Satre, to Nazi Germany, to his television shows, Katherine Hepburn and lots more. The session went over time, and I don't think anyone wanted it to end!

Then I went to a session about Creative Commons and the state of copyright in this digitised age. It was educational. I learned a lot I didn't know before, and Cory Doctorow was a bit of a revelation. So intelligent. So well spoken. He owned that panel. People were nudging themselves in the audience, impressed.

To top it off, it was a glorious day, and I fully enjoyed my walk back to the train station, in the middle of the city, watching the scullers row up the Yarra in their little toothpicks of privilege.


Thanks to all you who commented yesterday. I will get around to responding to them later in the day when I have time.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Blogging – redefining friendship in the 2.0 age

How is blogging like keeping a pen-pal? Is it at all? Let's see: you can keep in touch, cross continents. There is often dialogues and confessions. Conversations are as likely to be continued via email, person to person, once contacts and trust has been established. It is arguably more convenient, also. One can choose to leave comments or not. One can choose not even to visit a blog or not anymore. That arguably leaves less evidence than of a hand-written relationship; of papers left in drawers, aged epistles which are proof of the owner’s lack of depth or patience.

I have a secret. When I was in primary school, there was an initiative to begin a pen-pal program with kids in America. Sexes were split between hats and our future correspondent was drawn as a lottery-- about as random a start to a relationship as any. Thus, many, I’m certain, were doomed from the start. Mine sure was. I do not remember much about my pen-pal, except that she lived in Ohio, and had the roundest, happiest writing I have ever seen and for years after associated with the personality of Americans as a whole. Did I respect her though? No. It was the writing; I have long had mistrust for people with nice penmanship (as those with appalling penmanship, like me, tend to do). So every time I got a letter on that pastel pink paper, peppered with love-hearts instead of dots on the ‘i’s, it made my young blood boil. Would it now? No.

But now I have other tastes to discriminate with.

If I am perusing new blogs and am in less than a benevolent mood, I could (and have) spent a good few minutes coveting their design, their owner’s ability to photoshop, their spacial abilities to be able to fit all their images and accoutrement's into the coding matrix. I can on mine, don't get me wrong, but that’s only because I paid someone to set it up to my liking in the first place. I sometimes feel like a fraud. I feel like I’m one of those domineering (male) bosses in those old movies, dictating speeches and letters to a secretary who is madly typing nearby, being the facilitator of information. What exactly have I done on my blog that is completely unique?

Which brings us to ‘voice’. Of course, our ‘voice’ is our own. No-one’s blog can be exactly like another for that reason. But I adulterate my voice at times, so how can my ‘friendships’ that are based upon the words which I write be fully legitimate? It’s like I’m friendly with ghosts, and they’re friendly with a simulacrum of me. I can see why such conferences as Blogher, then, are so vitally important. They give bloggers a chance to socialise face-to-face; in the ‘old-fashioned’ way. I’m sitting here, on the underside of the planet, where I guess I feel safe to wonder such things, but I wonder what women get out of meeting fellow bloggers? Do any get pinched by the little gremlin of jealousy? Of envy? Of awe? Do they get out of the experience all that they’ve hoped for?

I must admit; I've struggled this week. I've returned from a month's holiday, from (enforced and situational) unplugging. So, if I read your blog, you might've noticed I've not been around for a while. Or have you?

So the other night, I sat down to hundreds and hundreds of unread feeds from my favourite blogs. Do you know what I felt? Dread. A weight of unconquerable labour was gently massaging my head, about to drop completely. Could I really sift through all these posts? Did I want to? These people were my 'friends'. What did I do? I hit 'delete all'*; taking me back to nothingness.

It was a relief: so what in the hell kind of friend am I?

It doesn't seem I've changed very much from when I was a child, abandoning my long-distance pen-pal, does it? I would never knock on a RL friend's door after a month's absence, poke my head through, ask her what she's been up to for the past month, and when she's about to reply, I just put up my hand and say, "Hang on, not interested. Let's just continue our friendship from...now." So why do I do it online? And why am I confessing this secret here, where many of you are my friends, and I am fully expecting an irate retaliation (which I may or may not deserve).

What kind of friend are you? Do you do the same? How do you justify your blogging practice? Or have you been more sensible than I and decided not to follow any sort of self-imposed policy?

Or do you suspect, as I do, that I think way too much about all this. Fullstop. Period.

*On about 75% of them, as it turned out. I checked. But it's still a lot!

Crossposted at Blogrhet.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Really, I'm flattered!

Over the past two days, people have come been sent here via search engines. This is usual (and usually via weird requests), but here's the difference: people have been googling my name. Lots of people.

People who aren't me (for a change....!! Joke...)

So, if you're one of those people. Hello! Why the sudden interest? Not that I mind. It's lovely.

I think.

Part of me is also wondering, 'Uh-oh, what have I done?!'

Whereupon I elaborate on one of my main social activities...Misc Mum - card player

One of the main things which attracted me to my husband (apart from his devilish good looks) was when I first discovered we both come from families which take their card-playing quite seriously.

If I may brag, perhaps my family does more, because I knew what a trump card was by the time I reached school, and by the time I was in high-school, next to playing UNO (king of games that it is), if anyone suggested euchre, I just rolled my eyes.

Because euchre is nothing to 500.

Yes, so when I found out Adam could play, that pretty much threw studying out the window because he was housemates with other players and our university days/nights were spent huddled over cards while we sent out other suckers out to buy our beer for us. (And in the brutal Bathurst winters, that was quite a request!)

So, again, in our past holiday, we spent many nights at the table, but the scenario had changed somewhat. Despite pleading and begging, I retired at 9.30pm every night, winning or not, because dammit I was tired. I nursed a cup of coffee at my side, rather than an overly generous glass of Frangelico or some other liqueur (Tia Maria).

Adam's family differs from mine in that they also play Pontoon, otherwise known as Blackjack. Which nursed my compulsive gambling tick no end, to which I owe them a debt of thanks.*

Do you play cards? What do you play? Or are you a card-hater? Because I've met a fair few of those in my time!

*I'm kidding. Just a little bit.

Friday, August 24, 2007

TV ad provides great potential for future bribery and coercion

These ads have only just hit our shores (except the deodorant here is called Lynx). This one is my favourite. The first time I saw it I laughed and laughed. Sure, in a week or so it will get really old, but I've gotten my jollies so far threatening to all of my family here that if they are ever naughty in public from now on, this is what I will do to them.

And don't think I won't!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Eavesdropping yields good results

[Overheard in this place. Man, I've got to eat there more often. I'll never be short of blogging material!]

Young Woman (gesticulating to her girlfriends): "Guess what, I have this friend at work...well, he's not really a friend, just a colleague. Anyway, well, guess what he buys for lunch everyday? He buys a giant sized (chinese) spring roll and then he buys a Twirl (chocolate bar) and then he smooshes a hole in the spring roll, shoves the Twirl inside, and then eats it. How totally gross is that?!"

I must admit, I have to agree.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

And we've stumbled over the line.....

Home again!

And Adam and I have come down with colds.

Co-incidence, considering yesterday's post?

Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Excuse me, I need to fall into bed, exhausted.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A not-so-hypothetical question

Imagine this:

Your daughter screams for the toilet, so your husband pulls into the nearest rest stop on the highway-- a dingy, brick cell, complete with graffiti and the usual public-toilet aromas. This place is worse, though, than the usual, and your daughter refuses to place her bottom on the toilet rim because the steel cistern and bowl are not up to her (high) standards.

She bucks her head and somehow in the process, dislodges your earring and you hear it clang into the bottom of the toilet. Underneath the water and God-knows what germs...not to mention urine.

The earring? Nothing of consequence in material terms. Not even diamonds - 100% genuine cubic zirconias. But they are nice, and I really like them, and don't have much jewellery to call my own.

So - my dilemma. To fish it out, or not to fish it out? Retrieve or flush it to it's early end?

What would you do?

See my comments to see what I did...

Monday, August 20, 2007

The beginning of the end

Today marks the start of our (slow) return back to Victoria. 3 hours today. 8 hours tomorrow (yuk). Then another 3.5 hours or so on Wednesday.

Wish us luck!!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

New folks in town

Setting: a mid-western, large country town. Karen and Adam have left the kids with their Grandmother to escape for a nice lunch by themselves. The cafe they are at is the busiest in town, and is currently packed to the rafters.

Adam (squirming uncomfortably): I think I'm a bit overdressed.

[Adam is wearing his usual attire of jeans and a nice, cotton, collared long-sleeved shirt. The other gents who are walking into the place are in the Saturday-country uniform of Rugby Jersey's of their favoured teams, wide-brimmed leather hats and lightly dusted-off RM Williams boots. There is a flannel shirt among the throng, too.]

Karen: Oh? I didn't notice.

Adam: I am. I'm getting looks.

Karen: You wore flannel when I first met you.

Adam: I've come a long way, baby.

Karen: I wouldn't say that too loud, unless you want to walk out of here without your front teeth.

Murphy's Law #100,447

Why is it after a night out at the pub; a perfectly modest occasion, I didn't even drink, just had a few dances on the dance floor with a half dozen children; why have I woken up feeling like I've just been on a university orgy of drinking and tabledancing, of the likes I haven't participated in in ten years?

It just doesn't seem fair!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Thanks all

Thanks to you all for your kind wishes yesterday, both in the comments and by private email.

I am afraid I don't have anything more scintillating to add right now because my brain has gone on holidays too, as it always does, and all the work I brought with me has sat at the bottom of my suitcase and my laptop hasn't even been fired up yet.

Do I feel bad about this?

Honestly, not really....

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Happy Blogiversary to me!

One year ago today, I became a blogger. Come good and bad--there's been a bit of both-- I haven't regretted the decision.

I've made friends with some fantastic people, discovered writers who I cannot do without a daily syntaxical-injection of, and had a modicum of success myself (how that happened, I don't know!).

I want to thank all of you - especially my regular readers and commenter's - for making this such a community.

Sorry I didn't get to post yesterday, Internet access isn't readily available. I was inundated with emails concerning my welfare*. Believe me, I was touched ;) ;)

*No, I wasn't......

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Apologies in advance

Well, after 8.5 hours in a car yesterday, we're out here with Adam's folk in the cold west. The kids behaved extremely well considering - but more on that later when I have a moment.

I may or may not be around over the next few days. I will try though, but if I'm not, stay well and safe!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Roll up, roll up, plenty to go around

Recently, I escaped for a moment for a shower. Notice I said a moment, because within minutes I'd been tracked down by three individuals with heating-seeking capabilities, ever vigilant in case mum should ever get some time alone.

So, I'm standing there naked. Two children and husband are in front of me. Riley comes up and pinches a fold of skin on my hipbone. Mmm...delicious muffin top.

Adam seizes a chance. "Come on everyone! Let's get mum". Then I'm being prodded and poked for various other opportunities of fleshy real-estate. Pretty soon - well, within seconds - I get tired of this joke.

"Bugger off!" I say. "What do you think I am?"

This, apparently:

Sunday, August 12, 2007

1001 Book Challenge - What Maisie Knew by Henry James

A moving book; one I should pick up again now I've got children. James was a master in piqued subtlety.

What does the 'what' in What Maisie Knew mean? Very good question. Maisie is a small child, caught between the relationship breakdown of her parents. Very few writers would be able to lace a pronoun such as ‘what’- which is usually used in a questioning manner, but is here left rhetorical and open- with such implied meaning. Maisie is a pawn in the game of a very adult world, and in time comes to play a complicit role in it. As the novel progresses she understands more the nature of the 'game', and recognises the players for who they are.

If ever we as parents are tempted to think we've kept all our secrets, our troubles, our idiosyncrasies, out of the lives of our children would do well to read this book. We are not great actors; and children are much smarter than we give them credit for.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Australia - we're funny buggers

Australians are known for our dry, laconic wit. That's why some people get us; others don't. I completely understand that, especially as our humour is punctuated by lots of swearing sometimes (hence my post title). For example, when we say something like, "He's a funny bastard" some might get offended, but more often then not we mean it affectionately.

Jamie sent me this funny back in March and I'm going to cut and paste it here because I think it encapsulates what I'm trying to say completely. I'm not going to quote its source because, frankly, I don't know what it is and like most email forwards, its probably near impossible tracking it down anyway. But if anyone knows what it is, please let me know. (Like where on the Aus Tourism Website...but I sincerely doubt it's still there, if it ever was!)


The questions below about Australia are from potential visitors. They were posted on an Australian Tourism Website and the answers are the actual responses by the website officials, who obviously have an excellent sense of humour and allow we "Aussies" to have a giggle .

Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? (UK).
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.

Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street (USA)
A: Depends how much you've been drinking.

Q: I want to walk from Perth to Sydney - can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it's only three thousand miles, take lots of water.

Q: Is it safe to run around in the bushes in Australia? (Sweden)
A: So it's true what they say about Swedes.

Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in Australia? Can you send me a list of them in Brisbane, Cairns,Townsville and Hervey Bay? (UK)
A: What did your last slave die of?

Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia? (USA)
A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe. Aus-tra-lia is that big island in the middle of the Pacific which does not.. oh forget it. ..... Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Kings Cross. Come naked.

Q: Which direction is North in Australia? (USA)
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.

Q: Can I bring cutlery into Australia? ( UK)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.

Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is...oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Kings Cross, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.

Q: Can I wear high heels in Australia? ( UK)
A: You're a British politician, right?

Q: Are there supermarkets in Sydney and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.

Q: Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who can dispense rattlesnake serum. (USA)
A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca which is where YOU come from. All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make good pets.

Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Australia, but I forget its name. It's a kind of bear and lives in trees. (USA)
A: It's called a Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of Gum trees and eat the rains of anyone walking underneath them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.

Q: Do you have perfume in Australia? ( France)
A: No, WE don't stink.

Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you tell me where I can sell it in Australia? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.

Q: Can you tell me the regions in Tasmania where the female population is smaller than the male population? (Italy)
A: Yes, gay nightclubs.

Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia? (France)
A: Only at Christmas.

Q: I was in Australia in 1969 on R+R, and I want to contact the girl I dated while I was staying in Kings Cross. Can you help? (USA)

A: Yes, and you will still have to pay her by the hour.

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA)
A: Yes, but you'll have to learn it first.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Classic Miscellaneous Mum - 'How Reading Can Improve your Blogging'

Here is a repeat of the post I did over at Problogger in April:

I don’t play poker well, so I am going to show my hand early: I like to think I know a bit about writing and reading. ‘Hang on, so do I!’ may say you. Certainly if you are blogging, you already know the importance of content, of exacting the best of your knowledge and putting it out in the bloggersphere, hopefully to be respected and successful.

But are you doing this at the expense of reading? Does it even matter? I think so, and so does Francis Bacon,

‘Reading maketh a full man’

Reading is an education
Before you start squirming, believing I am going to offer a teaspoon of icky medicine, consider this - education is increasingly being seen as a commodity: something you buy and discard. It’s less Dead Poets Society than it is ‘How to get perfect grades’. Knowledge isn’t retained. We’ve forgotten what we learned at school as soon as the bell rings for summer.

Blogging can change this. You research; you search for the right words. You recognise your audience and their needs. In a way, you are becoming an educator yourself so isn’t it important to be the best you can be? Further, wider, reading can improve your grammar (an area most of us are unsure about, let’s be honest) and expands your vocabulary. If you recognise various types of writing style or authorial voice, you are less likely to imitate them. Because the point is to develop your own, isn’t it? There’s nothing more frustrating for a reader than a self-conscious writer.

Take a look at your blog. Are you overly apologetic? Do you always sit on the fence? Is your language bland? Do you overuse graphics and photos to compensate for language failings?

Tip: Read a blog you admire, and pick a post you particularly like. Imagine the author sitting at the keyboard and forming the keystrokes as they type. This is an adapted exercise many writing students are asked to complete (usually substituting keystrokes for pen strokes) in order to get a sense of rhythm and pace.

Reading affirms self
We are bombarded with images everyday: via television, billboards, even our mobile phones. When we do read, it’s usually without joy. We plough through websites or our RSS feeders, scanning for tidbits of gossip, or breaking news, or scandal - things which create a momentary thrill but nothing lasting. And when reading becomes a chore, our eyes being to glaze; we question why we’re on the computer to begin with.

Tip: Get off the chair and turn off the computer. It will be there in the morning. Pick up a magazine. Go to bed early with a novel you’ve had on your ‘must read’ list for a while. ‘De-plugging’ is a good option for those of us on the point of burnout. Standing back from your own words may give you a better perspective than if you are crouched over a desk.

Turning to another subject you have passion for may just be an opportunity to tie together those parts of your self you are happy with; and overlook those bad ones we judge ourselves harshly for. What better reason than to read?

You have power as a reader
The skill of critically evaluating a text is commonly taught today. It is not enough to simply say you like (or don’t like) something anymore. You need to back up your claims and once properly done so you can debate a subject at a greater depth than you otherwise would have.

Writing for business and pleasure rarely congregate and the same can be said about reading. Those of us (myself included) who have to pen words for dollars often lose sight of the reasons why we wanted to blog in the first place: for passion, pride, love, ambition. If we read a bit more, lose ourselves to the pleasures of words once again, these same words may find us at times of blocked thought or starting at a white screen.

Read. Be inspired. For it may be the difference between blogging and giving it up altogether.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

My husband gets revenge!

When Adam pulled up in the driveway the other afternoon, it was quite a surprise as we were not officially expecting him until the following day (although my spidey-sense was tingling all day, so I kind of expected him anyway.)

So, I run outside, arms out like Melanie welcoming Ashley home in Gone With the Wind.

Hello! I say.

Hello! He says.

Kiss, kiss.

Here I am, jumping up and down in excitement, and then he turns around, pulling out a package from the car.

Look! He says! Look! Look! Look!

Oh! I say. For me?

No! He unwrapped it. It was a DVD set of the television show Top Gear.

Look! Top Gear! It's awesome. C'mon, we'll watch it when the kids go to bed.

Oh. Swell.

(Actually, it was pretty cool. I can see now why it's so popular. Have you seen it?)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

WW - Irony

This photo was in no way staged. I wish it were so....

P.S - Many of you know I'm on holidays, and only have limited access to the internet. If you are a WW participant and leave a comment and I don't return to you, please forgive me. The same goes for my regular commenters too!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Australia - the food

We are very lucky in Australia; our food is rated amongst the best in the world. Unlike Britain, where you need to auction a kidney just to afford to buy a decent cut of meat (so my relatives have told me), we often forget our prices and quality are second to none. We win international awards for our wines, cheeses, and all sorts of produce.

So why are we mostly known for this?

I often think it's our own fault. It's not uncommon for international celebrities - innocent, guileless - to appear on our talk shows to have some smart-ass presenter offer them a whopping tablespoon of the stuff. We then wait with glee, hoping (and usually seeing) these poor souls twist their mouths in revulsion and reluctantly swallow.

I won't lie: Vegemite isn't for everyone. Yes, it's like marmite, but as I've only tasted marmite once in my life, I can't offer a proper comparison. We are quite parochial in our love for Vegemite, so its no wonder I've sometimes heard people whisper, like they're ashamed, "You know - I don't like Vegemite much".

Personally, I can take or leave Vegemite. I have a sweet tooth, so it's saltiness isn't all that palatable. Plus, as it's also yeast-in-a-jar, some people have to be very careful. Coeliacs especially, I hear. But it does have a heck of a lot of Vitamin B.

What else? Yes, we eat some of our national wildlife. I read in an interview the other week that our wildlife ambassador, Steve Irwin, actually wasn't really keen to see our animals on restaurant menus, but that hasn't stopped us. Kangaroo is the most popular - it's also very low in fat, so remember that if you're dieting. We eat buffalo (uncommonly). We eat crocodile (uncommonly). No, we don't eat Koala's (that I've heard of!)

What have I left out, fellow Aussies?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Australia - the inhabitants

This is Part Two of my talk about our fair land - for the introduction, see here.

I will begin with our original inhabitants; our indigenous Aboriginals, who shamefully (on our part) were only given the Federal right to vote after a referendum in 1967. That's right. They've been here for over 40,000 years and that's what you get. Our current government still refuses to publically apologise for the 'Stolen Generation' which was the "act of removal of the children from their parents, because it would leave the Federal Government open to compensation claims"(source) It's an ugly mess, and I hope one day it will be sorted out.

If foreigners are asked what they thought an Australian looked like, typically, this sort of individual is described:

A bronzed, laconic, bush-savvy larrikin who wears leather and can speak/tame the animals at will (Paul Hogan typified this; Steve Irwin took it up later). But is this accurate? Certainly in the 1980's I don't think people really cared if it did or not because it created tourism. And tourism creates MONEY.

Nowadays, I think this stereotype --that's what it is--is fading. Leaving aside the late Steve Irwin (bless him - we miss him), who else is like this? A lot of people in the regional centres, yes. Heck, I'm related to a few of them. Not exactly like Crocodile Dundee, obviously, but rugged, physical types who've lived pretty hard. Our farmers. Our roustabouts. Our shearers.

What are we like now? I don't know. But when you consider almost one in four of our citizens were born overseas, we're an eclectic bunch. That's what I like about us, actually.

I've forgotten the women, haven't I? Hmm...let's see. Famous Aussie women: Kylie Minogue, Nicole Kidman, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Naomi Watts (although I read she actually considers herself British. Hmph!). Do we all look like them? No. But I happen to think we're pretty open, friendly and hospitable. And that's even better though, isn't it?

It's either that, or, Dame Edna Everage. I've got a scoop for some of you.......she's really a man.

That's another thing about some of our gents. The cross-dressing. Our rugged, football blokes do it; our flamboyant gay community do it. Don't ask me why. I think it's a cultural thing, certainly inherited from our mother-country England* (Little Britain, anyone?)

*But I'm sure someone will want to debate that idea!

How've I covered it all? Anything else you're burning to know?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

1001 Book Challenge - King Solomon's Mines by Henry Rider Haggard

This is the first book I'm reviewing so far in the challenge I continue to have ambivalent feelings about. I read it years ago for university, and although I daresay I owe the text a re-reading to see if my opinion has altered, I just wasn't in the mood for British White Male Takes on Africa and the Natives.

Here's a sample on what I've had to say on it before:

'Not unlike Foucault's theory of power, critic Peter Hollindale believed an author's ideology was a constant and pervading factor in their writing. In my opinion, no matter how Henry Rider Haggard may try to hide it, his British Imperialist mentality triumphs...In times such as ours, the racist and sexist parts of the novel may seem distasteful, but it is essential to put them in some sort of perspective; it's like what Hollindale says, “Any individual is free to like and admire a great work of literature, even if its ideology is repellent.” ‘Repellent’ is perhaps too strong a word to use in the case of King Solomon's Mines, because broadly speaking it is an enjoyable novel that deserves to be looked at closely, if only to understand it a little bit more.'

You try it and tell me what you think. At least, do read the book; not see the appalling movie with Sharon Stone before she was famous.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Phone conversations of the romantic kind with my husband

Adam: You miss me?

Karen: Sure do, baby.

Adam (obviously lonely and hunting for some sort of personal affirmation): Yeah? Like how?

Karen: Well, I have this absolutely ginormous pimple on my shoulder, just out of reach for me to squeeze, and it's sooooo ready, got a head and everything. It's pissing me off; I need you to squeeze it but by the time you get here it'll be better.

Adam (silence)

Karen: Hello?

Come on guys - don't lie. I bet sometimes you use your partners as some sort of personal groomer.......

Friday, August 03, 2007

Perfect Post Award - July

It's one of the nicer parts of the month when I get to stand up out of the audience, clomp my hands together and say "Bravo!" to a particular person who's outdone themselves. And, also, they get a lovely little badge with which to decorate their metaphoric lapel.

This month I've awarded the Perfect Post Award to Her Bad Mother for this post

Children can bring out the worst in people. Parents would includes themselves in that group from time to time. However, the positive affect children also have on others, particularly the elderly, is obvious, but not always recognised. HBM does, in this touching post, and she also posted updates on the gent in later posts this month. It's a lovely thing to follow.

For other Perfect Posts, please see here and here.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

I am not dead

Hello, hello! Miss me? I've been unplugged for a few days now, and Adam asked me how I felt and honestly, it was a mixture of relief and frustration. I left the place in his capable hands, but now I (hope) to be back more.

We travelled Tuesday, and the less said about the trip the better (although Keira was an angel - so you can imagine to whom the tone of my sentence belongs!)

We have been to my grandparents farm - a cattle farm. Little did I realise just how much of a city girl Keira is growing in to be. I packed her 'farm clothes' (jeans) to wear but, oh no, she must still wear dresses and stockings.

She wandered down the paddock for a little way and then froze. And started wailing.

What, what!? I said, feeling that a Brahman had set her malevolent sights on my girl and was about to trample her.

There's cow poo everywhere! said Keira, holding out her arms. Come get me mummy! Yucky! Ech!

Oh, dear, sweet Lord.

So I'm glad I'm here to expose her to a little of this lifestyle. Toughen her up, eh?

P.S For the Southerners - guess what the weather's like? Early 20's! Ha! Tropical for us!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

WW - Bathtime games

Tag? Something like this: "I am not amused."