Wednesday, June 28, 2006

men and balls

You’d have thought that these guys were the new Anzacs. For the last 24 hours or so the media has bombarded us with epitaphs like

“our brave fallen heroes” (my all time favourite from channel 7)
“we were robbed”
“it will hurt for a long, long time”
“gutted that the dream had come to such a tragic end”
“sport can be very cruel, but today it was excruciatingly cruel”

While in Indonesian (a regime where adjectives like cruel and tragic may be more appropriately used) our PM uttered:
"I'm brokenhearted,"

Well Johnny, I’m broken hearted about Iraq, East Timor, West Papua, the callous stripping away of workers rights…and a whole lot more.

It is only a game of football, no one died.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

brunch with the chicks

I only buy the paper on Saturday. There are things in The Age you can’t read on line – dammit, so I have an old fashioned date each weekend with a classy trio of women.

First there is Bridget Jones. Long before the movie representation of her protégee, Helen Fielding’s books kept me laughing. In fact my sister and I still have conversations that slip into Jones Speak.

Next is Maggie Alderson. Although I have little interest in fashion, her quirky column continues to amuse me. She also has a few Jonesesque novels of her own, which are well written despite the formulaic genre.

Lastly there is the fortnightly treat of Stephanie Dowrick. She makes me think instead of chuckle and provides a pause for reflection between the humourous columns and the challenge of samurai sudoku.

Stephanie Dowrick has an interesting lineage. A kiwi who while doing the living in London thing co-founded the Womens Press (whose zebra spines and iconic iron still sprinkle my bookshelves). Like most people in publishing, she was also a writer and began producing some more than passable fiction before the next twist on her career path. “Running Backwards Over Sand” was essential reading in my small group of Antipodeans who had been living in England and were dealing with the emotional complexities of returning ‘home’. Next she became a respected psychotherapist and began churning out a stack of thought provoking nonfiction. My favourite is one of her earlier works “Forgiveness and Other Acts of Love”. She spent a lot of time exploring the nether reaches of the soul, journeying through Buddhism and spirituality. Her latest twist has taken her away from her previous writing focus and plunged her in a direction that leaves me a little cold, having been ordained as an Interfaith minister. But despite the most recent career change, she still writes a damn fine column.*

This week, as the financial year comes to a close she wrote about money and ethics. What a beauty. This is an issue I consciously tussle with. I believe in the Buddhist precept of ‘only taking what is given’, though am just a novice when it comes to putting philosophy into practice. For me this means little things – trying to always have a valid ticket on the tram, speaking up if someone under charges me and as Stephanie has pointed out – being honest with my tax return.

I don’t respect the government or the corporations – so this is part of the struggle. Who am I ripping off if I pay less tax or get away with eating an entrée that doesn’t end up on the bill? Ultimately, less profit means the people at the bottom of the food chain loose their jobs or another public hospital bed gets closed. In the end it doesn’t bring down the political party at the helm of the nation or bankrupt a multinational. Yet we smugly feel like we have a ‘win’ with these dollars and cents we ‘save’.

I am finding more and more that honesty does pay. It is hard to quantify financially, but if feels good when you do it.

Maggie, Helen and Stephanie

* check out her website for a more biographically correct take on all this.

Friday, June 23, 2006

you reckon?

Dearer beer would save lives.

PS: got the right link now!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Happy Solstice

Solstice is upon us.

I've been contemplating it over at the Food Nazi.

May you have a wonderful winter/summer solstice, where ever you are.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

blogging before bedtime

“Is this where you keep the dead bodies?” my not-boyfriend said, hefting an old suitcase off the top of the cupboard. This was the last item to be cleared out of the room before Operation Paint Job began.

“It’s letters”, I said without really thinking. He opened it to find not just a huge plastic bag of letters spanning a couple of decades of my life pre-internet but a bundle of photo envelopes which I grabbed with glee. “Not now, we don’t have time” he uttered as he whisked the case away to hibernate in the shed.

After he’d gone I poured though them. I thought I was rather meticulous in my picture storage but this was a bunch that sporadically went from London to Wellington to Australia – some all mixed up in the same wallet. I had cherry picked them for albums, but in the discards were still a number of gems.

In graphic technicolour was a litany of changing haircuts, some very bad 80’s clothes, a number of babies – including an actual birth (by candle light, with Mozart playing) and a disquietening amount of old lovers. I heard an imaginary ding each time I saw the smiling mug of another one. Fortunately I ran out of photos just as I had no further fingers left to count them on.

It is true, that every picture tells a story. Each one triggered a tale and I spent far too long cozied up on the couch reminiscing.

Can’t wait to read the letters!

Bugger this digital world. It's reawakened a craving to write illegibly on paper again and have photos printed in bundles, even the bad ones. Bring back real crossouts and Freudian slips, doodles on the back of the page, cramped ps's and half focused, lopsided pissed pics.

Monday, June 19, 2006

definition is in the mind of the beholder

I don’t care whether Rex Hunt likes to do a nudie run in public places, visit prostitutes or have 3 “girlfriends”. Married or not. Really I don’t care.

What does amuse me though is the mind games that people play with themselves, to make a situation that may not sit entirely comfortably with them - ok. I got many hours of fun from Bill Clinton’s definition of sexual intercourse, but he may be gazumped by a local player this week.

When I stumbled over the Hunt/Hood story in The Age, I was entertained by Robyn Hood’s (what imaginative parents she must have) assertion that in their 9 year relationship she neither had sex, nor was paid for (not having) sex with the fish kissing "celebrity".

She admits to encounters with Hunt in laneways, where he would inevitably end up naked. She also says that he gave her “gifts”.

“(I) only received gifts of money to buy a dress, flowers or luxury items”. Like cars Robyn?

Sure, on a birthday or Christmas, some stumped relative has given me a delicious little cheque to buy myself something. But they never got naked first or sadly, did it every time we met.

Hunt, on the other hand, has no qualms about admitting that he paid her up to $1000 a week for sex.

Perhaps the ATO and the Vice Squad need to have a little chat with Ms Hood about what constitutes goods and services, and what is indeed a present.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

travel to foreign countries, make new friends and ...

I’m still not 100% but think I must be improving as I can face reading the newspaper again. But while I have been snuggling under the doona the same old atrocities have been playing out in the real world.

Iraq is still a mess, with something like 40 locals being blown up yesterday. But there is another group of casualties that have not been getting a lot of attention and it was good to finally read a piece about them yesterday in the Saturday Age. This is the story of the Fijian contractors, recruited by large American companies to do mostly security work in war torn Iraq and other delightful places in the Middle East. In the past 2 months 11 of them have died.

I have never had a lot of sympathy for those who sell themselves to the highest bidder to work in the world’s hot spots, then get upset when it all goes cactus. When our Dougie Wood got kidnapped in Iraq last year, I didn’t loose any sleep over it and quite frankly thought he got what he deserved (in this case he was rescued and bought back to Australia where he sold his story to the media – so perhaps he got a lot more than he deserved). However, these Fijian men have not taken on the role with quite the same kind of informed consent.

An acquaintance that has spent a lot of time in a small Island community has alerted me to this over the last couple of years. Contracting companies come onto the islands recruiting the big beefy, under employed guys. This is village life, which is based on subsistence farming, hanging out with family and friends, maybe drinking kava with your mates. There is little or no money. People are still living in basic conditions. In come the big American men flashing money about, “Come to Iraq and be a security contractor. We’ll give you lots of money – more money than you could ever dream of”. For someone who’s likely to never venture far from the island, let alone own a passport, this is very alluring.

Back in the village, there is no internet. No tv. There is one communal phone if you are lucky. The locals vaguely know about September 11 and might have heard about Iraq but certainly don’t have any independent information as to what is going on over there. The danger is not quantified even by the trickle of news reporting we get in Australia.

The recruiters are very persuasive. The Age article mentions many of those who sign up are ex Fijian military, but the reality is all men are being targeted. Many have children and responsibilities. Whole communities are loosing their men and that means that the muscle behind the subsistence farming is gone and the wellbeing of the whole village is affected. Everyone.

The government isn’t going to make a fuss about this. After all it’s bringing a lot of foreign cash into its pitiful economy. In fact, according to The Age, the remittances from Iraq rack up 7% of the GDP.

I googled information to write this story when I first became aware of the situation last year, but I couldn’t find anything published to back up what I had been told. I’m sorry that it has taken 11 dead men to be able to write it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Embarrassed from Frankston*

Urbanmuse suggested I join the local Freecycle group to scout out some chairs for my new table and for the past week I have been lurking as I read through some of the most hilarious posts. People want to give away lots of broken appliances and old brown bits of furniture. A lot. Though I have been tempted by old coffee jars and citrus fruit falling from someone's tree, a trip to the other side of town has deterred me.

But one just came through this morning that needs to be shared with the wider world.

WANTED Yes Viagra/ Cialis. E.D. sufferer on pension.

Embarrassed ???? YES i am but I can only try. Without going into too
much info I am basically over the hill both financially and sexability
but Viagra and Cialis do work. The Govt was going to put them on sub
list but decided it would cost too much. Try paying nearly $80 for four
tablets out of a pension with no other income. I am flooded with emails
for cheap overseas supplies but cannot risk losing the amount wanted for
the amount you need to buy. My younger wife has needs [She will kill me]
but I am sending this in the hope that someone has some that have not
been used or no longer wanted. I know what they look like and unbroken
seal would be imperative but just a desperate PLEA from my wife and I.

someone help the poor lovie out!

* suburb has been changed to protect identity.

not worth getting up for

Still not quite 100% but I reckon a little rant will help unblock some of the gunk from my head.

I woke up to a news bite from Barnaby Joyce ranting on like the boy who cried wolf. For those of you who don’t know him, he is a conservative (National) Senator who sees himself as a renegade. Repeatedly, with the unseemly amount of draconian legislation the government has been shovelling through parliament since they got a majority in the Senate, this little pip squeak from the bush has jumped up and down and said – I might vote against it but you wont know til the vote comes. Each time he’s back down and voted with his cronies. The latest is the immigration law changes, proposing to process all asylum seekers off shore in places like Naru. Such changes would once more see children in unlimited detention.

In world news the shrub had a secret 5 hour visit to Baghdad – of all the missiles blowing up the wrong people on the planet, why not him?

Speaking of missiles an Israeli military investigation into the shelling of families having a picnic on the beach in Gaza last week, killing 7 (6 from 1 family) has gone “nah, we didn’t do it”. Yeah sure, who else would?

Old news from the weekend, but a true testament to my unwellness that I was unable to comment – the suicide of 3 detainees in the US Torture Camp in Cuba. This was not an act of desperation in response to 4 years of inhumane treatment, no according to their torturers, this was a terrorist act.

With this kind of crap going on in the world, no wonder I just want to go back to bed!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

New route of transmission

It was only yesterday I was reading of Lucy Tartan’s ill health and by last night the lurgy paid me a visit.

Beware readers coming to a blog near you- the isick virus. Perhaps it only affects Mac users?

Symptoms may include:

Getting hopelessly hooked on Bollywood Beatles on You Tube

Hallucinations – such as believing your cat can serve you hot beverages

A craving for pulp fiction

Lack of concentration (what was I going to say?)

Sore throat

Thick gluggy mucus

General malaise

I’ve called in the cavalry. In this case my favourite Propagandist – who has survived the end of first semester celebrations, recovered from ridiculously late nights finishing off work, blogged for the first time in months and has promised to visit with lemons and honey and feed me raw vegetables and soup.

Princess Prissy Paws however has found a deliciously warm north facing window sill and is doing a spot of sun bathing. She refuses to be roped into foot warming duty or other general amusements.

Statcounter seems to be also suffering some kind of malady and won't cough up any visitor numbers, so leave a comment to let me know this blog is just not an echo in a mucus filled head.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

one way to view the world

Strangely this piece doesn't appear to be attributed to anyone.

...and meanwhile in the Middle East

Does this qualify as a war crime?

What is unacceptable these days in the conflict between Israel and Palestine? If I comment that I find an Israeli shelling spree of men, women and children just enjoying a bit of a paddle at the beach beyond the pale, will I be called an anti-semite?

For the record, I don't equate a country with a religion. But I think who ever sanctioned this recent attack (during an unofficial truce) should be tried as a war criminal, regardless of his or her spiritual practice.

Friday, June 09, 2006

warning - contains strong language

MailMarshal (an automated content monitoring gateway) has
stopped the following email for the following reason:

It believes it may contain unacceptable language, or inappropriate material.

Big Brother really is watching, in the NZ public service at least.

This bounced back to me today, regarding an email that was about my family. I may have said my mum was on a shit load of drugs for her hypertension. And hell was mentioned in passing, but that may have been in the biblical sence.

So perhaps it wasn't the cussing?

I did write about finding Great Uncle Ernie. He died at the Somme in 1918 and is buried in a war grave in France.

Now war is entirely UNACCEPTABLE and killing people quite INAPPROPRIATE, so perhaps the mail nazi was just reflecting the kiwi peace loving attitude. Right on!

Sadly, the Ministry of Transport has now blocked my mail - so Pixie - hope you have a good weekend and get a f*cking gmail box asap!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

having a smashing good time

Items I have broken in the last week:

1 jug (standard pub beer jug circa 1985)
1 fluted jug (antique)
1 green swingtop glass jar
1 ceramic sake cup

The last 3 occured in the past 12 hours.

But I think some homes in East Timor and Iraq might beat me for the record.

ps: am not planning on driving anywhere today :)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

stumbling into the weekend

New table (recycled oregon) delivered.

Champagne shared and christened.

Fantastic thai meal at the local with friends.

More wine.

Home for liquers.

Ridiculously late night.

Text from friend suggested table not truely christened until one had "phckd" on it. Oh the quaint world of messaging.

Very tired today.

Any idea where i can locate comfortable, but affordable chairs for said table? (Must be sturdy enough to withstand rigorous christening.)

Friday, June 02, 2006

friday quickie

Most disturbing, this toned down Other Rants. Talk of cats and renovations. Brain definitely blunted.

While in the rest of the world:

Iraq burns and the US Military is caught out lying about killing innocent civilians

East Timor burns and if we really wanted to help them Australia wouldn’t just send troops but actually give then back the oil reserves we have stolen from them.

In the Netherlands a lobby group for paedophiles has launched a political party. While the age of consent has always been a bit of a fluid concept where some teenagers are concerned (speaking personally), having a group of men who have a strong sexual interest in children and adolescents tell us that it should be stepped down to 12 yo, then removed entirely in the name of “childrens’ rights” is a big can of worms to be blogged about on a later date.

Then there is the idiot in Perth who was looking after his girlfriend’s baby, who decided the best way to deal with a wet child was to put it in the dryer. Burned and battered 2 minutes - later the boyfriend is now facing criminal charges.

Time to head off into the world (rather cool and grey here in Melbourne, but at least it is officially winter now) and see what Friday has to offer.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Frankenstein’s cat

I've been restraining from catblogging but MelbourneGirls’ comment reminded me about the last time I had to feed Princess Prissy Paws horrible drugs. It’s now a year since the saga unfolded and I can almost look at the picture without crying.

A week or so before I was about to fly out West for a week of winter sunlight in WA, PPP got in a bit of a tiff with one of the neighbours. I kept an eye on her and although there wasn’t any particularly nasty lesion, a few days later she became off colour. I knew the drill and diligently took her to the vet. The expensive after hours vet at that.

Vet prodded, pushed a thermometer up her bump and did the usual look-see and pronounced her ok. I persisted – I know my cat, there is something wrong. But the experts disagreed.

She seemed ok before I took off but a few days later, while sampling the yummy wines in the Margaret River, I got an urgent text from my neighbour “Urgent, Ring me. At the vet!” PPP had taken a turn for a worse and what was definitely a bite had turned into an abscess – she needed emergency surgery to make a 10cm incision, chop out the affected tissue and put a drain in. I had to ok the financial transaction, which via a mobile phone on the verge of dropping out consisted of me fuming saying – look at the records! I told you something was wrong! You can’t charge me for this!

Anyway, I returned a few days later to a cat freshly picked up from hospital, looking like this.

One very sad, sore, drain dripping with foul smelling gunk – little feline.

But she lived to tell the tale (I’d post an after shot, but you know the story with my defective canon camera) and a year down the track, you could never tell that she’d had her head sewn back on.
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