Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Australia Day

Here in the Great Southern Land, it is Australia Day - our National Day. But apparently that is now something we are to be embarrased by, to not celebrate all that makes this country great, to not remember how we came to be what we are, because it is bad, bad, bad.

Well sod the lot of them. Happy Australia Day from someone who was born here, spent her life here, and has researched the history of this great country enough to know that while we have a rather chequered past, we wouldn't be Australia if our past didn't exist. We cannot sweep the past under the proverbial rug and hope it goes away. That's not how the world works. Other great nations have tried it and failed (British Empire, anyone?).


Reasons why Australia is so great? Here are some links to check out!

http://www.nhaustralia.com.au/blog/happy-australia-day/

http://www.weekendnotes.com/interesting-facts-about-australia/ 

http://neomam.com/blog/50-insane-facts-about-australia-infographic/

Monday, December 29, 2014

New Year's Resolutions - updates the second

Well I have been busy at the very least.

I brought up some clothes for my sister the other day, with more to come, plus some dvds as I had doubles of them it turns out. There will be more going to various homes as I get sufficient to do so.

Family have been spoken to along the lines of "it is time for me to stop putting you first and start putting me first". I think they understand.

I went for a walk into town yesterday as I am back up at Mum's again to go see part three of the Hobbit. The new Riverwalk is much more sturdy than the one that washed away in the 2011 floods, and I enjoyed being able to walk all the way from New Farm, where it starts, into Eagle Street, where it stops. Takes about 20-30 minutes to do so; not really a very long walk, but you get a good view of the river in the process. It also helps on the purse if you aren't having to pay for public transport. I did the return walk as well, more to prove to myself that I could, really.

I'm doing a great deal of walking at the moment as it helps to clear my head, plus it is good for getting fit.

Still working through my piles of possessions, and depositing things on people, rather like some demented Santa who's got his dates wrong, but ho hum.

More updates when there is more to say.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

New Year's Resolutions - updates the first

As promised, I'm doing updates on how my New Year's Resolutions are going.

1. Cleaning out clothes and shoes:

Half way there. Got a pile of things for my sister, a couple of boxes of stuff I want to keep that either fits now, or is so close to fitting it is only a week or two away, and bags of things to be taken to the second hand shop. I plan on having no more than three or four small packing boxes of clothes, which will be gone through again as time goes on. At the moment, it is set up as - one box of really good, one box of round the house (which is the first stuff to be ditched in the future), one box of "nice" stuff, and one box of "not sure about".

2. I've yet to start on the kitchenware. As there is stuff still at my old house that belongs to sets I have here, it is best if I give them away as a set and not as bits and pieces, so this NYR will have to wait for a bit.

3. Kids books - I found a bunch of Little Golden Books that will be very much appreciated, as well as various other early reader type books and general story books. I know there are more, and as they are found, they will be parcelled up for the twins recently born.

4. Cook Books - started this today. Had a look through my books and realised there might be one or two recipes I wouldn't mind a copy of, so I will deal with that first, then box up what is left. I plan on having no more than 10 books left (I have quite a few).

5. Selling books - this needs to wait until I have completed a lot of the others as I have no room to sort just now, but I will likely be taking the first batch of doubles and such up to Brisbane next week to see what my friend at the second hand bookshop is willing to give me for them.

6. I will try ringing Foxtel on Friday, if they are open. The box will come with me next week either way for disposal or pickup.

7. Mobile phone - I will also try ringing them on Friday to see what they say.

8. Weight issues - I weighed in today and surprised myself that I weigh less than the last time I weighed myself a few months ago, so perhaps the walking is helping, as is the diet. I have dropped my sugar in cuppas down from 1 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon however, with the hope of ditching the sugar altogether in the near future.

9. My old place - Dad is set to take me up there in January, and get it emptied, cleaned, fix the bits that need fixing, and then start the process of putting it on the market.

10. Had words with my family again today. I *hope* everyone understands I am serious about this, and it isn't just a NYR that won't be kept. 

11. Subscriptions - been getting emails back from companies whose products I subscribe to, and things are getting sorted. Despite it being Christmas.

More updates to come in a day or two.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Updates

I'm ignoring Christmas this year. Just don't want to know.

Family life here is like a war-zone (has been for months), so Christmas is officially cancelled.

Instead, I've decided to get my New Year's Resolutions sorted and started and completed as early as possible.

Here I go:

1. Clean out the multitude of clothing & shoes I have in boxes, drawers, cupboards from various house-moves and 30-odd years of life. Dump, sell, give away. Whatever, so long as it is gone by the end of January or sooner.

2. Ditch all excess kitchen-ware. Who really needs four sets of dinner plates, and 40 teaspoons? (the second-hand shops are going to love me!)

3. Deposit on the relative who recently had twins every last children's book I own, as I have no need of them currently, and they are just taking up space; I think perhaps my dog and cats have grown out of bedtime stories now (not so sure about the horse though!).

4. Deposit on the same relative all my excess cook books that I have no need for. The only ones I want to keep are my high school cook book, and a small collection of WW2-related cook books, really.

5. Sell most of my books that I don't read. Ebay - here I come! Same goes for my craft stuff, cds, and dvds.

6. Ditch Foxtel. $140 per month? Seriously? Given I watch it maybe once a month, if that - really not worth the expense.

7. Buy out my new mobile phone so that I can change the contract down to one that is more affordable. I rarely use it as I get very little signal anyway, so why pay excess charges for it if I don't need it?

8. Lose excess weight. This weight thinks it is my best friend, it's been around so bloody long!

9. Sort out my old place and put it on the market. I've lived at my current place (down with Dad) for long enough that I really can't afford to keep the old place that I moved out of. Nor do I ever want to move back there. It was useful to hold on to while I was getting the "you do things my way or you are out on the street" routine from the family however. Plus it is a cause of contention just now, so best gone as soon as possible.

10. Remind my family that I am not their personal slave. I'm not here to nursemaid, resolve fights between family members, take sides, or generally just sit on a proverbial shelf, waiting to be needed. It has caused more heartache than necessary, and robbed me of having a fantastic life where and with whom I want. I've put up with their needs and wants for long enough. I want to have a life before it is too late.

When do I start this? Already have.

I'm walking daily while I'm up at Mum's, and I've changed my diet so that I am eating less calories than I need to keep my current weight at what it is (did the BMI/BMR thing - all sorted so it's being done properly), thereby losing weight.

Started cancelling online subscriptions to things I no longer use or don't have the need for or just can't plain afford anymore (this really would have been number 11, had I bothered to include it).

Number 1 & 2 I start tomorrow (Christmas Eve), hoping to be finished by about Boxing Day.

Number 3 & 4 needs to be sorted before I come back to Brisbane to stay with Mum next week (to see part 3 of the Hobbit), so they can be dumped at Mum's for the relative to pick up.

Number 6 I would also like to see completed before next week, as the Foxtel box needs to be picked up from a residential address, so again, Mum's.

Number 5 will take some time. Some of the books will go to a local second hand bookshop that will buy them off me, same for craft magazines and books.

Number 7 I hope to have completed by Friday this week.

Number 8 takes time. Nothing I can do about that.

 Number 9 will be worked around the storm season, as it is quite scary up at the old house when there is a storm about - plus the air con doesn't work there at the moment, so the house is like an oven most of the time. But I want it all finished and sold by March at the latest. Preferably February.

Number 10 has already been started. Words have been had with parents over this, and words will be had with siblings in the next few days over this. I've been too complacent for far too long, to my utter and abject misery. 

Now, on to other things.

Life in Australia has been a bit shit recently, hasn't it?

Last Monday in Sydney (the siege). Last Friday in Cairns (the child murders).

Deaths of previous Prime Ministers (Gough Whitlam), and previous Premiers (Wayne Goss).

Scary storms in Brisbane, the likes of which haven't been seen since the 1980s (I remember that storm - hailed so much it looked like snow).

It is interesting to note that no one has spoken about cyclones yet. By now, each year, we've had the predictions of 6-9 cyclones this storm season, but so far, I've not heard a word of it. Just daily severe storm warnings.

A few weeks back, Dad and I went without power for 24 hours due to a storm. The animals on the farm ate well out of our freezers as a result. Nothing was saved - all went to the animals.

And Joe Cocker died, Acker Bilk died, Lynda Bellingham died. 

Mum got sick, Dad got shitty at the world, I got sick of the family. We lost one of our good rams to tetanus, but his brother is still with us, so all is not lost. Most of the lambs born this year were rams rather than ewes, which will mean a culling soon I guess.

Malaysia Airlines had a bad run of things this year as well. Planes disappearing, planes being shot down. 

Heathrow Airport in the shit last week for computer errors, or so it seems, with more than half the flights in or out being cancelled.

France this past weekend having two terrorist attacks on French soil. Now they know how we feel here in Australia, I guess. All terrorist attacks are bad though, no matter where and how many or how often.

My sibling sometime in the past year went to a Citizenship Ceremony for a friend here in Brisbane. It got me looking at what is involved in becoming an Australian citizen, which reminded me of something I read on another blog (possibly Ceramix, not sure) about British citizenship exams. To get citizenship or "indefinite leave to stay" in the UK, you must first prove that you have an understanding of the English language up to a certain level, unless you come from one of the countries listed on the UK Border Agency website, which I do (Australia being about third down on the list), and then you must do something called the Life in the UK test. I had a look at this today, and I average about 86% on the practice tests online. Sometimes I get only about 50% which is a total fail, but anything over 75% is a pass, so for the most part, I'm doing quite well. Given the questions are WAAAAAY out there, and not all that relevant to English modern life as we see it (one question was "Who was the first Archbishop of England?", another being something about "When was the Battle of Bannockburn?"), I think I did pretty well. Asking questions like "What is the drink/drive limit on UK roads?" might be a more useful one (it's 35, for those who are interested - thank you "Motorway Cops" and "Traffic Cops" for instilling that bit of information in my head), or "What side of the road are you required to drive on when in England?" (same side as Australia, as it happens) or even, continuing with the driving theme "How long can you drive on a foreign licence before you must sit for an British driving licence?" (it's 12 months - again thanks for the knowledge from the british cop shows).

Having done the online practice test for the Aussie Citizenship exam, I did pretty well, except on things like politics. Given that Queensland has only one legislative assembly (the other states have two), and that each state has its own rules and regulations - right down to road rules - the tests are pretty hard. That said, I did pass. You need 15 out of 20 questions right, and I got 18 out of 20, so not bad. Our questions are a bit more relevant to Australia though - "What is the reason we celebrate ANZAC day on 25 April each year?", "What is one of the roles of the Governor General?" "Who keeps peace and order in Australia?" (I liked that one as one of the answers offered in the multiple choice for that question was "lawyers"). Another question that is quite relevant is "What are the colours of the Aboriginal Flag?".

And moving right along, changing directions again, as I am wont to do, I've been complaining to my boyfriend of late about the severe pain in my left foot. It got so bad I could barely walk at one point. I was starting to think that I had broken a bone in one of my toes, it felt so painful. Anyway, one night I remembered that my Dad - keeper of all bits of irrelevant knowledge (he'd do well on the UK citizenship test, that's for sure!) - once told me that when dealing with a dog with arthritis (when you have greyhounds in the family, all medical knowledge generally gets said to you with "this is how I treat a greyhound with the same symptons..."), he gave them fish oil, calcium, and glucosamine for the arthritis, and magnesium to stop the cramps that generally come with arthritis (actually it comes from walking funny to avoid the arthritis). Having tried this in the past and found it works, I've been back on it now for about a month. While I still had some pain in my foot, it seems to have magically disappeared since I've been at Mum's since Saturday and going for walks every day. I'm starting to wonder if the pain didn't arrive when I stopped walking after four months in Brisbane in the middle of the year looking after my sick Mum! Either way - one less thing to make me grumpy and feeling like the world is ending anyway.

So that is how things stand at the moment. Updates will come when New Year's Resolutions get completed. 

The long and the short of it is - I'm sick of not having any control over my life, so I've told the relatives most nearest and dearest to me that they need to keep their nose out of things, look after themselves for once, and LET.ME.HAVE.A.LIFE.

So there you go.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Gough Whitlam - 21st Prime Minster of Australia

To the man who was Prime Minister when I was born,

Edward Gough Whitlam
11 Jul 1916 - 21 Oct 2014


Thank you for Medicare - without it I wouldn't get the medical care I need as I couldn't afford it.

Thank you for abolishing University fees (even if they got brought back in before I started University in the 1990s).

Thank you for standing up for the natives of this lovely country and for the women also, for fighting for and allowing us to have a voice and the same rights as men.

Thank you for getting rid of conscription. War is a horrible thing. (But thank you also for fighting for Australia in WW2).

You have done much more than just the few things listed above, even though you only stood in power for a short while, and sadly you may be remembered most for being the only Prime Minister of Australia ever to be taken down by the Governor General.

But you will be missed.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Brisbane

I've been taking walks around Brisbane recently, as I've been staying with my Mum. I also have a new camera, so I've been playing with some of the filters it comes preinstalled with. I've had a chance to visit New Farm, South Brisbane, and the CBD in recent days, and these are some of the results.

Enjoy!

Kookaburra Queen II - Eagle Street, Brisbane (Sepia)


South Brisbane Town Hall



Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Villiers Street, New Farm (Impressive Art)
Story Bridge from Moray Street, New Farm (B&W)

Coronet Flats, Brunswick Street, New Farm (Impressive Art)

'King of Queensland - Wally Lewis' - Brunswick Street, New Farm

Friday, February 21, 2014

The General State of things in this here world of ours.....

Why is it that people today seem to crave dumbness? It appears that the stupider you are, the more accepted you are among your peers (and everybody else). Since when did an educated mind become a bad thing?

It never ceases to surprise me that people cannot spell correctly in this day and age. It has been a long time since education was only for the rich (or the boys); we live in a century where education is not only an available comodity, but also a required one by law. So why is it that people can't grasp the basics of spelling, or punctuation and grammar?

There was a time, not so long ago, (but before the advent of the internet) that every family had something along the lines of "the Everyman's Encyclopedia" on their book shelves, which would be taken out each night and read aloud from by one of the many children, or by one of the parents of the average family. It was not at all surprising to see that children were named after famous writers, composers, artists, musicians of the day. Perhaps the parents thought that naming their offspring "Julius Caesar Smith" would make the poor child become something more than he would have become had he been named "John Christian Smith". 

One of my grandfathers was named after a very famous poet here in Australia, and one of his older brothers was named after an equally famous artist and social commentator in Britain. Their parents were avid readers and believed in self-education as much as was possible for the time. Both my grandfather and his brother were born into an era where education went as far as about 12 years of age, unless you won a scholarship. When my grandfather reached 12, he returned to the family farm. He never went back to school, never went to university, and yet he was by far one of the most educated men I have ever known. Both of my grandfathers were early leavers of the school system, although both believed that education was a lifelong endeavour, and so both men were extremely well read, and well versed in the proper way of doing things. My own father is another example of the "leave school as soon as you can as you are needed at home" mentality. And yet, Dad has been one of the biggest influences in my education. He is the one from whom I have learnt most.

I cannot understand why and how people who get a very good education seemingly forget how to spell the minute they walk out the door of the school for the last time. Surely such knowledge stays with you for life?

It frustrates me that councils in England are going along with the 'dumbing down of the nation' by removing apostrophes from signs. I was shocked (and appalled) to find that Cambridge - the home of one of the world's finest universities - had joined in this horrendous crime on the english language.

Anyone who says that apostrophes are inconsequential should remember words like 'theirs'.

Theirs - it belongs to them
There's - ooh look, there (i)s something nice
Theres - does not exist as a word! (or if it does then it is probably a latin word that means something completely different)
They're - this one means 'they are', no matter how many times you see it used instead of 'their'! (the apostrophe stands for the letter 'a').

Apostrophes, or the very bad lack of them, annoy me. It is one of my pet hates. How hard is it to remember that an apostrophe just means that a letter is missing? 'It's' and 'Its' are NOT the same thing. One means 'It is' the other is something belonging to it. If in doubt, sound it out (or so my English teacher told me).

Apostrophes are equally not something that can be dropped in wherever you might feel like dumping them.

Sam's Warehouse, for example (a big cheap shop here in Australia) means, literally 'the warehouse belonging to Sam'.

Sams' Warehouse, however, means "the warehouse belonging to lots of Sams". It becomes a plural noun, not a singular noun, as it was when it was one warehouse belonging to one Sam.

Grrrrr. I loved grammar and punctuation at school. I loved the fact that apostrophes stood for missing letters, and that you could use them to your advantage when writing essays of a certain length, because "they are" is counted as two words, but "they're" is counted as one.

I hate seeing the bastardisation of the English language. It is a beautiful language, with many nuances. I love the fact that we can spell one word many different ways, and for each spelling differentiation, you get a different meaning.

Education is such a wonderful thing, and yet we seem not to value it. Take it away, and people would be clamouring at the very steps of government, saying it is their 'god-given right' to have education for all, and yet we discard it the first chance we get, claiming 'education is only for the young'. We ridicule and bully those who use big words, fancy words, difficult words, people who are seen to be reading books that aren't the current best seller, but are, in fact, things like Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Plato.

People fear the most the things they cannot understand.

Easy answer? 

Educate thyself!

End of lecture.