Thursday, December 30, 2004

The post-Christmas pinch

originally uploaded by tink007.

In the spirit of cheering myself up a bit after the last posting, I came across this gem and wished I had her confidence in a two-piece. Or a one-piece, for that matter.

Walls of water bring waves of generosity

Most of you know that I've created this blog as a wannabe travel diary for the big holiday that is coming up really quickly. However, the title of this blog also lends itself to a bit of analysis about general things that are happening across the globe that make me smile, or otherwise.
I resist writing about anything political, lest I be revealed as the ignoramus I am on these issues. I don't like writing about dramatic events in world history for fear that I relegate this blog to a sad, whine-fest. But something happened yesterday that warrants a mention here.
The Boxing Day tragedy in Asia has focussed our attention on a small corner of the world that has been ripped apart by a relentless wall of water that took away lives, property, and just about everything recognisable in the region. Since the tsunamis hit, national governments have responded by contributing financial aid etc but, for citizens like me, working out the most effective way to help is tricky. What will my $100 donation do, when funds in the magnitude of $30million are on the table? In response to thoughts like this, I defer to the old chestnut that "every little bit helps".
So it was heart-warming to see the call go out across the State Government email system yesterday for volunteers to support the Red Cross Tsunami Appeal phone lines this coming weekend. In the first hour alone, 400 people registered their willingness to work for free to register donations from across South Australia.
Was I surprised at the outpouring of generosity, or was I perhaps more gratified that those people willing to help were the much-maligned public servants?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Hangovers and Leftovers

As the City remains full to its Balls (the silver ones) with post-Christmas sale shoppers, I am "safe" here in the Office, doing my very best to avoid anything resembling actual work.
I wasn't too bright this year, I must confess, and I actually committed to being at work in the break between Christmas and New Year - dumb, hey? Still, I suppose I was operating on the usual basis that the break is quiet - no phones ring, the only emails that come in are from other despairing souls looking for a coffee/beer/shopping buddy, and you end up leaving to go home at 3pm anyway.
Christmas Day was quite good this year, but I was conscious of the fact that I wouldn't be experiencing it with my family next year. In that way, if I let it get to me, I found myself getting a little more introspective as the day wore on. And as the wine and champagne - and the Cointreau (where did that come from?) - drained dry, my raucous behaviour belied someone who was feeling a little down about the impending vacation. Coupled with that, I've started making plans to catch up with loved ones "before I leave", which has such a death knoll, a sense of finality, to it. Break out the Kleenex and watch out.
Bringing materalism back into it for a second, it was nice to know that Father Christmas found me again this year, and I did very well in the present stakes. My family all loved the gifts I picked out for them, so not keeping the receipts for anything turned out NOT to be a problem. Sigh of relief all round.
So as we pick at chicken bones and open the "1001 uses for leftover ham" cookbook, I hope that in 'regrouping' after Christmas, you can say that your break was as enjoyable and filled with family and laughs as mine was.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Could I shop for 24 hours?

I think this is the first year in history that Adelaide has offered its shoppers 24 uninterrupted hours of access to its major department stores. My head spins at the very thought of it.
I am usually a Christmas Eve shopper, so I have surprised myself that I am already 100% finished, and one day ahead of schedule. Brilliant. While sugarplums danced in my head last night, some die-hard shoppers were hitting the malls looking for that last-minute gift that they their loved one just had to have.
My technique this year has been a drawn-out, strategic affair with the shops. I've mentally shopped before I've actually hit the pavement, so I've walked determinedly towards my destination, grabbed the merchandise of choice, and made a beeline for the register. Reflecting on what I've purchased for my friends and family, I feel like I've made the right choices and that the feedback will be largely positive.
But it never ceases to amaze me the number of people who emerge from under their suburban rocks to brave the City streets at Christmas time. These people obviously have little idea about where shops are, let alone what they're looking for in them. So they stare open-mouthed at the big buildings and lots of cars, and walking at a snails-pace down a congested Mall.
For city folk like me, this influx of bumpkin Christmas shoppers freaks me out. I'm not a bah-humbugger by any stretch, but even this is enough to test me. However, I need to remember that 'tis the season to be jolly and all that rot, so I will remain on my best behaviour, and smile through gritted teeth, even if it kills me.
To all my readers (regular or otherwise), I hope that Father Christmas remembers you this year and I wish you all a big Merry Christmas to you and sloppy kisses for the season!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Royalty and their pets

A few times in the course of writing this blog, I've carried on about the things I like in life. And in the course of 2004, one of the things I've come to better appreciate is Aunty ABC. I used to think that she was the domain of cardigan-wearing old farts interested in warts-and-all international politics presented by cardigan-wearing old fart war correspondents.

But in 2004 the ABC turned the proverbial corner in my estimations and presented me with a virtual cavalcade of quality programming - Degrassi Junior High (freaked me oot that it was back on TV); Kath & Kim (look at moi); and even the 7pm news took on a whole new glow once that annoying weather woman FINALLY had her baby (and the finance guy is lovely even though he talks gibberish).

All this said, last night's ABC viewing left me wondering what the point of existence was. I learned more than I cared to know about royalty and their pets. In a non-stop procession of silver-spooned vowels, the eminent British actress Penelope Keith interviewed a stream of smelly nutters about regal penchants for pugs; partiality to Pekinese; and caring for Corgis.

Did I care that Queen Victoria (the frumpiest of them all) had a number of ratty, yappy dogs? Will my life change knowing that screwball Queen Anastasia had the Faberge crew carve replicas of her beloved pets in semi-precious stones?

If it seems like I paid a lot of attention to an otherwise crappy production, it's only because I had lost the TV remote control, and therfore HAD to endure the torture. Really.

Monday, December 20, 2004

I'm drunk, so it must be December

Not only does December herald Christmas, but it also brings with it near liver failure attributed to over consumption of cool, refreshing (but ultimately evil) alcohol.
Consider my program for 24 December:
  • Champagne buffet breakfast with the girls from work; and
  • Boozy long lunch with other work folk.

Obviously I haven't scheduled anything for the afternoon, because I figure that the combined effects of the morning will catch up with some time around 3pm and maybe knock me out. One hopes. For the first time in years, I have done all my shopping so I reckon I'm entitled to booze on in celebration of the Christmas season, and my own fortitude at braving the Rundle Mall hordes.

And the celebration will continue into the New Year for me, as I enjoy an 80s night at one of the major City hotels - but I got outbid for my tacky 80s costume/dress the other day, and I was too lazy to re-bid so I lost out. No matter, I'll have another glass of champagne and get back to the drawing board.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Leaving on a jet plane...

It's all confirmed. The tickets got printed on Friday, the UK visa forms are being processed right now, and I'm insured up to my eyeballs for anything that might occur whilst travelling.
And I've found a travel companion who likes me enough to drag my sorry ass around this big, weird world. Bless her. My apologies to readers who have not yet been made aware of my travel plans, or the fact that Andrea is travelling with me. I didn't want to make it known until everything was confirmed (aka we couldn't wimp out on each other).
But something that a friend said to me on Friday night, prior to the consumption of an extreme amount of beers, has been plaguing me. Good friend said that Andrea and I will be intimidating travel companions. It is worth me just adding here that I am not worried about the friend telling me this because I know he didn't mean it maliciously. In fact, I'm grateful for his observation cause it got me a-thinkin'.
How will the big, weird world react to Andrea and I? Because we bounce off one another well, will we freak unsuspecting foreigners out or be too intense with our compatible sense of humour? I haven't asked Andrea's opinion, but I have got a whole new dose of confidence at the thought of travelling with someone I know will look out for me, and of course I will look out for her too. And having someone to take my photo in front of important historical monuments, or just as silly times, will be so valuable.
Maybe it's not about being intimidating - maybe Andrea and I just won't be the rookie world travellers that people will expect, because we'll be brave and confident. I accept that, independently, we would be more cautious. But together? Look out world, here we come!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Bourgeois Barkley?!

News from China suggests that the careless disposal of the some 200 domestic pets that die in Beijing every day are jeopardising the country's chance for "green" Olympic Games in 2008. Apparently it is commonplace for the Chinese to farewell their loved pets by turfing them into rubbish bins, or burying them in shallow graves on public property. Eww.
And the worst part of this is, the Chinese aren't concerned that the method of disposal shows little or no respect for their furry friends. Oh no, dear friends. The problem that the Chinese government has right now is that the dodgy disposal practices poses a real risk to the health of humans. It's all about us, apparently. It presents a public health issue, germs and viruses pervading our nostrils as we take a harmless (!?) stroll through Beijing's parks and gardens - never the wiser that just below the surface of the flowerbeds lay the remains of Rover, or Fluffy.
Give me a break, man. I understand that pets were taboo in China during Mao Zedong's reign as a suggestion of "bourgeois decadence", but clearly Mao Zedong never lost a pair of pantyhose to a hungry dog. There is nothing bourgeois about that.
So I suggest a new strategy - let's build pet cemeteries. Then we can encourage the remains of pups and kittens across China to be buried or cremated on holy ground. Oooh, then we can issue all school children with a copy of Stephen King's classic book (adapted into one of the suckiest films of all time), and watch everyone freak out.
Okay that is nasty, sorry.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Get a whiff of this one!

I have three favourite smells in life - freshly brewed coffee; Chanel 05; and sizzling bacon. Even in the depths of the hangover from hell, coffee and bacon are enough to rouse me. Spritzing Chanel 05 when crawling out to the kitchen is just self-indulgent glamour really, and most likely highly unnecessary come to think of it.
As I walked past my new favourite coffee shop on Grenfell Street this morning, my nose detected smells 1 and 3 mentioned above, and in I dashed. Proudly walking to the counter, I slapped $7 on the counter and proclaimed I was in dire need of a "full breakfast plus coffee, please". I have since discovered that the reference to "full" is nothing about the completeness of the ingredients. Rather, "full" refers to what you become if you're gutsy enough to devour what gets served up. People, my breakfast this morning was MASSIVE.
Cooked mushrooms, fat toast, thick bacon, the most perfect circular eggs I've ever seen, and crispy grilled tomato that mushed easily all over the toast when gently nudged with the knife. It all looked too good to eat. And the coffee was frothy, warm, and inviting. Like a caffeine-laden bubblebath.
So in between learning about tantric sex and summer fashions (courtesy of a back issue of Aussie Cosmo), I set about devouring the delectable spread before me.
And in pathetic girly fashion, I got half way through and surrendered. What crap. Well the coffee went down without even touching the sides (complimentary), but I wonder if it's necessary to leave a note to the poor kitchen staff who laboured to put together the sweet-smelling array?! Something along the lines of, "sorry I was too wimpy to finish the breakfast you slaved over in a hot kitchen to prepare"? ARGH I couldn't bring myself to face them, so I snuck out of the cafe when no one was around.
Maybe someone will bottle the essence of plunger coffee and develop a sheet of scratch & sniff bacon stickers that I can carry with me? But before you ask, you can't cut corners with Chanel 05 - in the case of some things, accept no substitutes.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

It's a numbers game

As Christmas approaches and the bank balance recedes and almost combusts in despair, my heart leaps to read about the lovely Irish nun, Sister Kathleen Murphy.
Sister Murphy was the 100 millionth passenger to fly Ryanair (freebie flights all over Europe), and as such she scored a $176,000 cash prize. Rather than whoop it up on Ibiza or snorkle on the Great Barrier Reef, the good nun donated her winnings to her convent to aid its charity work.
Now somehow that story does more for me than the Dickens "Christmas Carol" and yet, at the same time, makes me wonder what I would do with the $32 million Powerball jackpot that's coming up....something tells me that, if I win, my inner Catholic will find itself taking a vow of silence!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Pass the Kleenex

You might recall I had begun the big countdown to my last day at work, when I had 45 (no wait, 50) days left to go. Well time has passed since then, and I'm down to about 20 days - I've lost count again.
But my attention has turned to farewell parties. In fact, I've already had a few people just this week asking me whether there is any big send-off planned. I wouldn't mind if someone just treated me like a cruise liner, belted me upside the head with a bottle of champagne, and pushed me onto the pavement. But I think there will be a need to have a more ceremonial affair than that.
And with the fun and frivolity that comes with the party atmosphere, I am tinged (and I mean slightly) with the sadness that comes from leaving a bunch of people whose lives I've shared for the past - count 'em - SEVEN YEARS. Yikes.
I will no doubt dissolve into a blubbery mess at the time of my departure, telling all and sundry that I love them dearly bla bla bla. Someone who articulated those sentiments a little more eloquently than I think I'm capable of is Shauna, the Aussie ex-pat whose blog I've come to read ultra regularly.
When it comes to saying goodbye to those people who know me best, I think a packet of Kleenex will quickly become my new handbag.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Yuletide Verbosity

When Kate turned 21 not too many years ago (!!), I was given the dubious privilege of delivering a congratulatory speech in front of her friends and family.
I found it quite tricky because although I love to talk, presenting a structured, coherent series of engaging thoughts is not usually in my repertoire (something this blog is designed to address I suppose).
So I remember I spoke about the "Guide to Verbosity" that Kate and I had been informally compiling that year. The book was a A-Z guide of the biggest words we could think of to sound as wanky as we possibly could. The speech wasn't funny on reflection, and actually made me and the birthday girl sound kind of sad, but at least it was painless.
At this time of year, I found it amusing to find a collection of rather verbose wannabe Christmas carols on the net that I'd like to share with you:

Oh, member of the round table with missing areas or Oh Holy Night
Wanted in December: top forward incisors or All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth
The lad is a diminutive percussionist or Little Drummer Boy
Cup-shaped instruments fashioned of a whitish metallic element or Silver Bells
Far off in a haybin or Away in a Manger
We are Kong, Lear, and Nat Cole or We Three Kings
Duodecimal enumeration of the passage of the yuletide season or The Twelve Days of Christmas
Our fervent hope is that you thoroughly enjoy your yuletide season or We Wish You a Merry Christmas
Listen, the winged heavenly messengers are proclaiming tunefully or Hark the Herald Angels Sing
As the guardians of the woolly animals protected their charges in the dark hours or Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night
I beheld a trio of nautical vessels moving in this direction or I Saw Three Ships
Jubilation to the entire terrestrial globe or Joy to the World
Do you perceive the same vibrations which stimulate my auditory sense organ? or Do You Hear What I Hear?
Parent was observed osculating a red-coated unshaven teamster or I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus
May the Deity bestow an absence of fatigue to mild male humans or God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Now that's what I'm talking about!!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I'm in the wrong business

You know those times when you have something repaired, or you need to order something in, you start to realise that you're in the wrong business?
Well I went to the Travel Doctor today and got charged a stack of cash for what was, for all intents and purposes, a routine vaccination. Coupla injections here, a signature on the dotted line there, and I walked out $210 worse off. In my drug-addled haze, I was given some sort of info like "bla bla Medicare, bla bla health insurance" and at the end of it, the kind lady at the Medicare office acutally GAVE me money, but not as much as I gave the hacks at the travel doctor place. Damn.
Okay so I understand you shouldn't cut corners where your health is concerned, and with the HepA coverage even 0.00000000004ml of infected blood will pose no threat, but come on! I didn't even get a lollipop.
So in my next life, I want to come back as a Travel Doctor - a cushy office right next door to a fab Cafe with top espresso coffee, and I get to poke people with syringes and rob them blind.
What a golden career aspiration.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Sleighbells Ring

I have the Christmas spirit, and I'm lettin' the world know about it. I was even humming Hark the Hairy Angels Sing earlier today, and there was no reason for it.
I even tolerated the sticky-fingered little kids lining up to see Santa, jostling and huffing around the wannabe Magic Cave in Harris Scarfe's. And I visited a toystore today...just because I wanted to. Going into a toy store at Christmas time is suicide, man, and yet I did it. Voluntarily. Whoa I am brave. And the brat in the pusher in front of me at the checkout was carrying on like a porkchop, and I didn't flinch. Inspired.
So I'm puttin' it out there, people - I'm looking forward to Christmas. I have bought some kickass presents for the loved ones, and I can't wait until the big reveal on the 25th.
And for you bah-humbuggers out there, no, I am not drunk.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

All you can do is, step back in time

If you could go back in time to relive a particular event, what would it be?

I've been thinking about this very perplexing issue since yesterday (a long time for me), and I don't think I'm any closer to an answer. On the one hand, I'd be noble and say that I'd like to relive a particular family function I enjoyed, or a dinner with friends bla bla but let's get real here.

  • Who wouldn't want to be a fly on the wall at the assassination of JFK?
    To know who did it, silly - not to watch it!!
  • Why wouldn't you want to know just how Marilyn died?
    It wasn't suicide, people!
  • Who wouldn't want to dance down the street in celebration of the end of WW2?
    There's something about dancing in the streets that just appeals to me, and you can't do it just anywhere
  • How could you not want to be a part of the maiden voyage of the Titanic (okay, without that sinking feeling at the end, of course)
    Something about the glitz and glamour on the open seas sounds neat

See how hard it is? I'd be keen to hear what you think you'd go back to in life, if you could.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Nerd Alert!

Second (and hopefully last) posting of the day, to alert readers to some news I just received. I passed my Uni Graduate Project! Results were published today and, while I got a P1, the key aspect of that is PASS - so that means I get to travel overseas with the Graduate Diploma tucked neatly into my luggage. In with the good, out with the bad (exhale and relax).

Mental State: Questionable

I have gone to bed at 9pm the last two nights running - what is wrong with me? I don't sleep until 11.30pm, same as always, so why do I feel compelled to retire so early?
I think it's the weather. There is something wiggy going on outside in the early stages of December - first it's hot, then it rains, then I flake out. Beautiful. If I wanted this weather, I would live in Queensland, okay?
And then there's the anxiety that comes with not knowing the results of my Uni thesis. It nearly undid me mentally a few weeks ago, but I was able to forget about it for a few weeks. Now I'm starting to think that results will come out soon and my future will be known, more or less. And it's the same old thing - never sure how I went, even though at the time of submitting the document I was feeling alright. ARGH such indecision.
But on the upside, I started Christmas shopping for my friends and family yesterday. I braved the department stores with the blue haired women, and the demonic children with sticky fingers and Santa balloons. I even put some goods on lay-by, the first time I've done that since I was about 17.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, la la la.....

Sunday, December 05, 2004

(My) precious little bookworm

People who know me well are aware of my book fetish. Lately I have been devouring any book that decides to invade my bedroom for any length of time (no one to blame but itself really). I suppose I can consider myself a bookophile (book fan, book worm, take your pick). And I also know that I'm not alone in this passion. There are a lot of bookies out there, and they don't hide it either. On public transport, on the beach, on a plane- they put it right out there.

So why couldn't the ABC round up 6 like-minded bookfans for last night's horrific "My Favourite Book"?! Jennifer Byrne (and all her bloody teeth) was out in full force fronting up the abysmal show, where they sought to count down the top books in Australia.

I'm not carrying on about the results because my two favourite books were in the Top 5 (To Kill a Mockingbird and Pride and Prejudice) but come on people - give a panel that can at least discuss these works credibly, objectively and LIKE ADULTS.

Even that giant knob from CNNNN was on form last night, crapping on about shit the whole time, dumping on anything remotely literary, in a vain attempt at securing laughter. He got a whole heap of sympathethic tittering from the crowd, and me leaping around my lounge room calling him a giant knob for an hour.

How hard would it have been for Channel 2 to find 6 'celebrities' to talk honestly about their favourite book (was that not the premise of the damn show)?! I've not read the Tolkien trilogy that ended up taking top honours, but I can at least recognise its brilliance, as well as understand its appeal to generations of readers.

So why dump on it? Why not just accept it for what it is and be happy to discuss its merits? Why did that giant knob have to piss on all the Tolkien fans for being deranged? They're fans, dumbass - of course they're going to be slightly off kilter but they love something - what are YOU a fan of?! Let's see....yourself?! Bah.

Okay sorry - that was a short tirade atop a soapbox, just for Stoney xox

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Don't take the piss

A strange but true story from the UK today, where artwork by a French artist (naturally) was voted the most influential of the 20th century, beating Picasso and Andy Warhol for the honour.

My problem with this? His artwork was an upside-down urinal.

And my other problem? The urinal was considered "art" simply because the artist said so.

Say it with me, peeps: Ewwwwwww

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The funny old land of Oz

I have an issue worthy of some time on the soap box. I am Australian, I support Australian people; I love Australian products; and I join my fellow countrymen to rejoice when we do well in all sorts of endeavour.

But I am also convinced that accolades should be handed out to the truly deserving. All too often we see award shows and benefits where shiny trophies are handed out to the untalented, inarticulate, and the all-round moronic (think The Oscars, The Grammys, the list goes on).
So it is with some disappointment that I hear that Nicole Kidman is hot tip for the Australian of the Year 2005. Can anyone tell me why? Don't get me wrong, I like her. I think she is attractive, talented, articulate. But are these the new criteria for Australian of the Year? If so, give me a break. Let me consider the blurb from the relevant website:
Since 1960 our nation has celebrated the achievement and contribution of eminent citizens through the Australian of the Year Awards. The awards profile leading Australians who are role models for us all. The list of former award winners is a "who's who" of Australian achievers, including:
  • Professor Graeme Clark - pioneered the multi-channel cochlear ear implant, allowing young Aussie kids to hear for the first time;
  • Sir Gustav Nossal - who discovered why our immune systems don't attack our bodies own systems, which has led to pioneering research in HIV/AIDS;
  • Lieutenant-General Peter Cosgrove - Aussie military leader and someone you wouldn't want to mess with;
  • Slim Dusty - champion country music star, whose yearly appearance at Tamworth music festival demonstrated a real commitment to his craft;
  • Cathy Freeman - a medal-winning athlete who proudly donned a body stocking to take our 400m gold on home soil at the Sydney Olympics - not happy she's going out with Joel Edgerton, but I'll overlook it;
  • Dr John Yu - a paediatrician, Dr John opened the Children's Hospital in Westmead as a place where kids can be kids, even if they are sick - bright colours, bouncy couches, loud music;
  • Ian Kiernan - recycling guru - King of Clean Up Australia;
  • Mandawuy Yunupingu - a former teacher turned lead singer of Yothu Yindi, blending rock and traditional Aboriginal music;
  • Ian Thorpe - underwear king, oh and a pretty good swimmer too;
  • Poppy King - lipstick guru, failed businesswoman, but rose again like a phoenix from the ashes;
  • Kieran Perkins - another good swimmer - confirmed that Aussies should be feared in the pool; milk drinker; and TV commentator;
  • Professor Fiona Stanley - cares about the health of Aussie kids, and researches how to prevent major birth defects; and
  • Steve Waugh - cricketing legend, fundraiser against childhood poverty.
So it's not uncommon for 'celebrities' to be crowned Australian of the Year, but look at the ones I've cited above - look what they've done. What exactly has Nicole done? We have to pay to see her movies, which she gets paid squillions for - and then consider the media hype around the Chanel No5 TV commercial - what a waste of money for that arthouse piece of crap. Poor Coco Chanel must be spinning in her grave.
Let me reiterate that I like Nicole Kidman, and as an Aussie I'm proud of her success. She has worked hard to get where she is and no one (least of all me) can dispute that. But come on Australia, is it worthy of our national award?!
All I can say is, if I were a military leader, or a pioneering researcher into child healthcare, or an Aussie committed to the health of our environment, I might be a little irritated...