Thursday 27 February 2014

Mardi Gras - Celebrate the Protest

I was listening to the radio this morning and they said it was the 35th anniversary of the festival (of Mardi Gras). It struck me as odd, that all these years later, the majority of Sydneysiders see it just as a festival - a fun, colourful parade to either participate in, go and watch, or just ignore. Realistically now, it encompasses 2 weeks of festivities, plays and films, fair day and much more.

As our current Government likes to bring everything down to cost, it has the added bonus of bringing in a huge amount of tourism bucks to boot.

I love that Sydney has taken to Mardi Gras in the manner it has. Now ATMs are festooned accordingly, and the streets are lined with banners. The turn out is huge, and the event is televised.

However, it needs to be remembered that it started, back in 1978 as a civil rights march. Civil Rights. Do I need to join the obvious dots?

For all those celebrating, enjoying the parade or even those just making a buck from the increased tourism, can we think about it as a civil rights march again? Can we ask ourselves, why don't these people have the right to get married?

If we are on board with the festival of Mardi Gras, or making money out of Mardi Gras, why aren't we okay with Gay Marriage?

In 35 years we've come a long way in some respects, but last year, unfortunately, we also took a huge step backwards.

Will it really take another 35 years for us to change our tune and step with the times?

Linking up with Sunshine Sundays - on the topic "If Only..." as I'm not one for regrets, I can only say 'If only we lived in a fairer society...'

(Please note, I don't require you to agree with me but I will delete any comments I consider abusive towards myself, other commenters, the  LGBTQI community or Abbott and the Liberal Party).

Tuesday 25 February 2014


I am reviewing an electric bike tour of the city tomorrow, and I have to say I'm getting a little nervous.
I am not the most co-ordinated of creatures, and the whole electric thing, plus the city traffic is beginning to mess with my head (not that it takes much to create a whole world of drama, Walter Mitty style, for me).

I am going with a friend I haven't seen for a good six months, so hopefully that will calm me down and we'll have fun. Otherwise, I'll be a mix of burns and bruises, and you'll no doubt all hear about that, endlessly.

Wish me luck!


Torshlusspanik List:

1. Shooting (check)
2. Fencing (check)
3. Play croquet at Croquet Club
4. Laser skeet
5. Off road buggy driving
6. Play Assassins Creed
7. Jetpacking (check)
8. The Color Run (check)
9. Invent something
10. Cooking Masterclass (check)
11. Master a Masterclass (check)
12. Perform a rap song (check)
13. Trampoline adventure (check)
14. BMX Riding (check)
15. Do a cart wheel (check)
16. Ride an Electric Bike

Note, I will have this song running in my head, as I pedal round our fair city on a hopefully sunny day. I won't be wearing a long flowing dress and I will be wearing an ugly helmet. What on earth were people thinking in the '70's??

Linking up with Some Grace for FYBF

Monday 24 February 2014

First of the Month Fiction - March

Well, that was crazy. Where'd February go?

I had this great story in mind when I saw this in the street, walking to school.

However, I am not happy with the result, and can't seem to get it working in the word count:

He’d grown bored at the beach. There was never anything to do. He’d explored all the pools. He’d discover a new one, thrilled by tantalising possibility. Quickly enough, he’d see it was the same as the last. There was nothing for him here.

When the children scooped him up, he fought his instinct to escape, and sat in the bucket, nervous in anticipation of adventure. He’d never been with people before.

Finally they arrived and the children ran off. The mother unloaded the car, tossing the contents of the bucket into the street.

A moment later, the adventure was over.

So this month I've also done a 30 words or less story, which I like a little more:

The swarm came round the corner. Dave took aim at one, centred in his sight. It was Mr Grey, his history teacher. He was going to enjoy killing this zombie.

For new comers, far better examples are here. Write a story in exactly 100 words or less than 30. Story goes in comments, then link your blog so we can see your more verbose offerings too.

Have a wonderful March! (Time Marches on...hardyharhar)

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Age & Intolerance

I saw a guy this morning with a little topknot bun and the rest of his head shaved, and I thought to myself 'What an idiot! No one can pull that hairstyle off. You look like a goose.'

I was then struck by the fact I had that EXACT hairstyle 30 years ago.

This is the definition of old. Intolerant of things that have nothing to do with us. They have no impact on us, and cause no harm to others. Yet they inspire a reaction of aggressive irritation. Especially things that we used to do ourselves, when we were young and stupid.

Why do we become like this? Or is it just some of us? That is, is it just me?

I have this issues with pants down, showing your undies (Pharrell, I love you dearly but pull your pants up!)*.

I have issues with Miley Cyrus (Miley, YOU are a super star. Stop doing that nudie porno stuff - you really don't NEED to get that attention).

The list goes on.

Why, as we age, do we stop liking things? More than that, why do they annoy us so much, when they really have no impact on us at all?

I have no answers, and I'm a little ashamed of this ugly trait I'm developing as an old lady...However, while I am in an old lady rant, what's with the not indicating? You learn how to indicate when you get your licence, so why do you stop? It doesn't mean you're cool, it means you're a dangerous, selfish dick. Dangerous to both other cars and pedestrians. So get over that crap now.

*In my defence, I'm loving the irreverent stoner Olympians at Sochi. I will tolerate pants down snowboarders because it just seems right. Maybe I'm softening in my old age...

Monday 17 February 2014

Travel Tips

I have spent literally hours - and I mean about 15 hours on the weekend, looking at flights and accommodation to try and shave off dollars on our pending holiday. While I love travel agents, and thoroughly recommend using them where possible, I simply cannot afford to sometimes. With a family of 5, every dollar that isn't spent on travel costs, can be spent on food or activities.

These long wasted hours are worth it, if you shave off $3000 in flight costs and $1000 here or there in hotel costs. As this has been consuming my every waking moment, it's all I can think of to blog about so forgive this little detour.

However, here is what I've learnt the hard way, to save you time:

1. Sometimes on budget carriers, it is cheaper to fly in with one and fly out with another. This is the opposite of normal airlines.

2. Make sure you book luggage.

3. In hotel speak, adjoining rooms do not mean connecting rooms. You are asking for connecting rooms. You will not necessarily get it. However, make sure your hotel ACTUALLY has some for you to request. There are a lot of hotels that don't. In some countries, a bungalow nearby is deemed the same thing, or the room next door is the family offer.

4. If you are a family with 3 or more kids, it will take some time to find a suitable hotel. You will probably be charged for a bed. If you are allowed to add a bed, in many cases, you aren't.

5. Taxes. I could write a book on this one. I have had friends book a week online, only to get a bill for over $1000 in taxes on check out. It is written in the fine print, quite clearly on the websites, but where it gets tricky, is that some countries build it in to the quoted room rate, and some don't. Most countries separate it, so it may be 10% Govt tax, 7.7% bed tax and some other 5% tax, adding a further 22.7% to your room bill. Malaysia quotes prices tax inclusive, Singapore & Thailand you need to add it in yourself. I kept looking at hotels, thinking I could afford them, only to discover with the tax, I couldn't.

6. If you can't afford the beautiful beach resort, or they don't have family accommodation, get better accommodation on the mainland and spend some bucks on a day trip, or split the trip with just 2 nights on the island and the rest elsewhere.

7. Always travel with insurance. Always.

8. Sign up to every hotel reward programme (if free), even if you think you will never stay there again. You may get free upgrades, free internet or even a free night, or sometimes special prices booking through their site.

I know these things seem logical, or a hassle, but for us, it has shaved off a considerable amount off our trip. Using the travel agent to the Maldives saved us over $2200, because the wholesaler somehow avoided taxes and bundled up dinners. Always check and don't assume which way is cheaper.

We are almost all sorted, still more expensive than I'd like, but less than initially quoted. Only one last lot of accommodation to sort out for the 16 day trip.

I've had a headache for the last 2 days from staring at the internet for too long. I apologise for neglecting comments, link ups and all other connections. Normal transmission will resume next week!

Wednesday 12 February 2014


When you have kids, people tell you that you love them so much it hurts, and you never really understand that until it does. They are hurt by a mean friend, they are disappointed in how they fared in the sports carnival, they didn't get the part in the school play. Whatever it is, it's just life but you ache for them, physically in your chest. You want to make it better for them but there is nothing you can do.

My son is not the elite swimmer but he jumps in at the carnival every time to give it a shot. He was told he could do the relay then bumped at the last minute. I get it, but to see him sitting on the stairs of the grandstand, so despondent just broke my heart. Two little boys with glum faces came over and announced they too, were kicked off the team. Bad mama that I am delighted in their misfortune and said gleefully "Well, at least it wasn't just one of you! You're all together so it's okay". (New parents, here's your warning now, never follow any of my parenting advice. There are no awards coming this way anytime soon).

Later a friend rang to see if my son could come over and I mentioned I'd promised him a treat as he was so upset(and in madness they'd banned going to the kiosk to buy slushies) and she replied "He's not upset. They just had the novelty events and he's laughing and they're complaining that none of their friends try out for anything".

Once the wave of relief had washed over me, my eyes brimmed with tears. What I love so much about this boy is that he never doubts himself (even if consistent lack of ability speaks otherwise) and whatever disappointment is dealt, he moves on quickly. Far greater resilience than his mother, he is a happy young man, and this will take him far.

I hope the teen years don't crush this out of him, because resilience and a cheery nature will take you much further than brains or brawn ever will. Mary Pickford said “Supposing you have tried and failed again and again. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call "Failure" is not the falling down, but the staying down.” To do so with genuine happiness, is the definition of a successful life in my book.

I love him more than I ever would have believed, as do all parents of their own children, but I don't think you really grasp that until those moments when the pain they cause you is not from what they do, but what is out of your control to change. In the same respect, we are so proud of them when they excel or behave in a kind, mature way but most of all, when they are a better person than ourselves.

An ode to my darling, much loved boy.


Monday 10 February 2014

What I learnt from Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Before you judge me, let me explain I wanted to see Railway Man or Saving Mr Banks but neither were on at the right time (what's happened to the 2pm session people??). So off I went to Jack Ryan, having never seen any of the other Clancy movies, because I'm a firm believer that any movie is better than loitering around the house.

It is not as bad as the reviews say. It is what it is and it doesn't overstretch. It's the same as all the others of it's ilk. If you're after a bit of bubblegum for the brain, it's enjoyable enough.

So what did I learn?

1. If someone tries to kill you, and you are given a gun, you will probably just put it in your bedside drawer rather than sleep with it or actually take it out with you when you leave the building.

2. If you are tied up in gaffer tape, you will miraculously be un-taped in a split second, when leaping out of a car (or perhaps if you are a director you might just decide it's too hard to deal with and no one will notice, but I did.)

3. In the second most hilarious part of the movie, Russia has magic tech walls, that mean you can read the hard drive of any computer just by plugging into the wall. (If this is a real thing, I now look like an idiot, but as I'm old and can barely use my phone, I won't believe you anyway so don't bother correcting me)

4. The most hilarious part of the plot is the nefarious Russian scheme to bring America to it's knees by basically doing exactly what the American banks did to America with the sub prime fiasco....oh, those evil Russians!

5. I met a group of Russians overseas once, and to entertain them, I pretended to be Russian - I used my best tv villain accent and repeated a lot of brand names & literature references - Stoli Vodka, Fyodor Dostoyevsky etc. As you do, when you're an idiot. In my defence, they thought I was hilarious (and I thought I was hysterically entertaining in the delusional way only drunk people think). Kenneth Branagh's accent is a little like mine, but with less actual Russian words in there. In fact, maybe he should have used me as his accent coach. I now know "Privet" so I'm practically fluent these days (Thanks, Dora the Explorer, so educational!).

6. One thing Branagh did say, which is such a succinct description of the futility of war (in you guessed where - Afganistan) but applicable to most wars over history. "Different time, different empire, same graveyard"

7. There was also this brilliant description of regret, summing up that it's those missed opportunities that cause the problem, with tangible poetic beauty. "Regret, it piles up around us like books we haven't read". It really struck a chord for me, probably because of all those unread books I own...

8. I really like Nonso Anozie. He's one of those actors that appears in things and you think 'oh, it's that guy, I really like him'. I'd like to see him do something with more depth, he's great to watch. (image source)

Lastly, as I am very flexible with numbers, as many of you like to remind me with my random First of the Month Fiction start dates, I will make the last point 9 & 10 purely because I like symmetry.

9&10. There is a line, when Ryan's partner is finding his behaviour difficult, and he says "I love you desperately. Don't lose faith in me." Sometimes we get so caught up in our own issues - grief, retrenchment, PND, stress over something, the list is endless - we forget how this might seem to our partner. Initially they understand, but as it continues, sometimes for months, it gets harder and harder not to take things personally, or feel that the relationship is ending as one party has shut down entirely from the relationship and closed off in their own world. Even the most accommodating, patient partner will begin to struggle with the silence and the mood swings after awhile. Perhaps it is worth remembering to say those words from time to time, just to remind your partner that it will be okay in the long run, once you've sorted out your issues. They may just be the life raft needed to the person who is beginning to think it's time to jump the sinking ship.

Linking up with universal truths for IBOT with Essentially Jess.

Wednesday 5 February 2014

Treat Yo Self!

I have a number of posts bubbling in my head that I'm very keen to write, but this isn't one of them. I have thrown myself into turmoil, all in my own head.  I seem to be in a state of over-whelmed, deer in the head lights angst.

In my wisdom, I decided to send my youngest to a different school to her sibling when she started school this week. This requires me to be in two places at once, twice a day. Logistically it is possible, if extremely organised, but because I don't know anything about the new school, this morning, while we were on time, we were actually 'late' because I couldn't find where they meant her class would line up for the morning lines. My stress over this was disproportionate to the actual issue. My youngest wasn't even very concerned, but I had blown it up into a big deal internally.

The pick ups are harder, and require nothing to upset the apple cart. Yesterday, on the first day of kindy, they came out SIX minutes late. I have timed the drive between schools and SIX minutes is NOT good for the logistics. At 3pm, I am now a massive clock watcher! Every second ticks by and my agitation builds.

It is early days, and we will get a smooth routine, but currently I am acting more childish than the children involved.

So today, I took the day off. Well, actually I took the morning off. I went for a swim and sat in the spa, reading my book. Then I got lunch at Mr Chows in the Rocks, to satisfy a hankering for Chinese food that I've had for a few days. (Where do people get Chinese food from these days?) I even did some exercise. 

We did the pick up in record time - not speeding. In fact child number two required to be dragged away from his friends.

So, new kindy mums that are finding things a little overwhelming, here's my advice:

Treat Yo Self!

Pick a day, next week, and take the day off. If you have little ones, let them watch tv while you read in the bath. If you have really, really little ones, just don't tidy up when they sleep or do anything practical. Do something for you. If you like a certain food, allow yourself that indulgence while you watch a movie - whatever takes your fancy. You will feel so much better for it, and for some reason, those difficult things will seem easier.

If your budget allows, follow the advice of the originators of Treat Yo Self!

You have my permission. If anyone complains, explain it's an official celebration and no one should be persecuted for their beliefs.

Next time, I'll include Mimosas on my list...

Linking up with this indulgence with some Grace for FYBF. Normal transmission will resume next week. Hopefully.

Monday 3 February 2014

A time for change

As I preface all my political posts, you are welcome to disagree with me, but I will delete any abusive comments aimed at me, other commenters or the members of the Liberal Party as individuals.

As someone who grew up in the hangover of the cold war, where Communism was feared as evil and the dictatorships around the world were far from benign, I acknowledge I have a somewhat knee-jerk reaction when someone wants to control the media and stop the people of a nation accessing the news in any form other than party press releases.

That said, while we may be divided on our opinions on refugees, gay marriage, education, medicare and other political issues, I can not fathom there is anyone, Liberal or Labor, that approves of silencing the media unless they only promote positive party propaganda.

We are proud to be a democracy, we have joined forces to defend that right in other countries around the globe. A democracy, in order to work, requires informed voters. The media needs to tell both sides of the argument, so the voter can weigh up where they stand on the issue. The people of Australia need to be very alarmed if this right to the freedom of speech is being taken away from them, in the dubious form of 'funding cuts'. Even that act of censorship is covert and doused in propaganda.

Look throughout history, whenever people come to power and take control of the media, it is usually because they are doing the wrong thing. If they truly believe they are acting in the best interests of the people, they can take some criticism and let the benefits of the policy speak in their defence. If you need to control the media, there is usually something that needs to be hidden. That is what the Australian public needs to be most concerned with. If it needs to be kept secret, it is probably not in our best interests.

Liberal MP Mr Craig Laundy said it best "as a proud Liberal, they (the ABC voicing their opinions) ABSOLUTELY have the right to do so without fear or favour. The best part of 'freedom of the press' is that you get a HUGE variety of views - just as you get in society." He goes on to say, that if you don't like what the ABC are saying, seek out the other opinion, the other side of the argument. Change the channel. Even Voltaire, who distrusted democracy because it gave power to the 'idiocy of the masses', staunchly defended free speech.

This quote, and those opinions voiced by Mr Turnbull, defending editorial independence, give me hope that not all is rotten in the governing party. However, if the Prime Minister intends to take away the access to independent media from the Australian public, then everybody, no matter who you vote for, needs to unite in action and take a stand.

I am not advocating to throw out the Liberal party, nor even demand another election, but Mr Abbott needs to be told that the people, whom he represents, finds his behaviour unacceptable and he should step aside. Tony Abbott is a representative of the Australian people. It seems to me that through either arrogance or denial, he has forgotten his actions are accountable to us. We deserve the right to be informed, honestly, of what those actions are. We need to demand the right to access independent news.

I would also like to remind Mr Abbott that the ABC is not just a news station. They provide locally produced entertainment, children's television and film. He is punishing not just the journalists, but the Australian Film and Television industry. Isn't this something he should be promoting? It appears to me this threatened action is a personal vendetta, rather than a just and considered funding issue. Politics is no place for those that can't keep their personal feelings and beliefs in check.

Laundy and Turnbull clearly do not agree with what the ABC was reporting, but they do agree on the journalistic independence. This is the stance of a true politician. Let's get a real politician running our country. It's time for a change.

What to do?

Get out in force at rallys. Make your opinion noticed. Sydney March in March is on the 16th at 1pm.

Get Up have a petition and are fund raising to take on this battle.

Spread the word and start the conversation. Think of the implications of this move. Is unbiased information, or uncontrolled media really something we're prepared to lose?

Please add other suggestions in the comments below.

No matter what your political leanings, it is time to take a stand. As Moore states in V for Vendetta "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people". We are at a fork in the road. Which path are you prepared to take? Let your voice, and the voice of others, be heard.

Linking up with this old post with The Lounge for the prompt of television, after tech issues made my best intentions go awry. Sorry that the plan of action is out of date.

Laundy quote from the Sydney Morning Herald article: