December 30, 2003
On yer bike
Did Santa get you the scooter you asked for? No? Well, how about this - my site now has a couple of sponsors and guess what? They are flogging scooters! How's that for a coincidence! Just what you wanted, right? Anyway, you'll find the links under the new Sponsors heading over in the right-hand column of my blog (just above my Paypal button). It'd be great if you'd check them out so they keep showing me the money. Me, I could definitely use a scooter--I'm picturing Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday--but I don't think they make any big enough to carry the two of me. Maybe when I regain my svelte (cough cough) figure next year.
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December 29, 2003
Argh. It looks like I can get Prime, NBN and some other as-yet-unidentified commercial channel, but buggered if I can tune the teev to SBS or ABC. Does this mean it's all over between me and Kerry? OK, so I'll admit it was always a little one-sided. But rarely a day went by when I didn't gaze into those baby blues as he made our politicians squirm and sweat. Ah, well. Better to have loved and lost....
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December 28, 2003
Acts of God
I can't get my head around a figure of 40,000 people killed in the Iranian earthquake. And as an atheist it just raises that age-old question: when things like this happen, how do people maintain their faith in God/Allah? He moves in mysterious ways? The work of Satan?
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Acts of stupidity
With the news today that two women were killed in a bushfire which the TV news reported as being deliberately lit, I find my blood boiling again over the concept of firebugs. Now that I'm living in the bush, albeit near the water and thankfully just down the road from the local bushfire brigade, it feels even scarier that some stupid vandal can cause so much terror with just a box of matches. If caught, such people need to be made examples of, and charged with murder and/or attempted murder for the many lives they put at risk. Anyway, found the following on my computer which I had blogged last year (shame about the link decay) in response to last summer's bushfires.
ARSONISTS ARE TERRORISTS
A teenage volunteer firefighter who has admitted lighting bushfires because he was "bored" and in order to get a "buzz" from helping put them out, has been granted bail. This is outrageous. Every summer, Australians who live in the bush or have relatives who do, and lately even those who live inside city limits, have to endure the angst of the constant bushfire threat.
Arsonists are incredibly hard to catch, so when we do catch one, who admits his liability, can we please make an example of him? These sociopaths don't deserve to be treated lightly--not when people die and when hundreds lose their homes every year. The guy needs a jail term; at the very least, take his Nintendo away for a while, get him to visit burns victims. Arson should be regarded as attempted mass murder. I can't get over this quote:
"Nevertheless, members of the Clonbinane [Country Fire Authority] unit, where his parents were also members, had offered him the chance of part-time work if he was freed, the court heard."
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December 26, 2003
Oh yeah, and I'm blogging again. I moved into my new house on Christmas Eve and have been unpacking and settling in over the past few days. The computer seems to be working fine again now, so I'm happy.
I've really lucked in with the place--it is pretty much exactly what I was looking for and perfect for a writer-in-residence, as well as for the bub. The house itself is a simple brick bungalow, but my favourite part is the big wooden deck out the back, overlooking a small yard complete with cubby house, and then behind that the most magnificent, unobstructed tranquil rainforesty backdrop as far as the eye can see. Exactly the slice of nature I was dreaming of in Sydney!
Half a kilometre down the road there's a lake where we used to play as kids, and if you follow the lake around you get to a surf beach, though unfortunately it's one with strong rips where many a tourist has drowned. There are better beaches a short drive away, but I'll be happy just dip my toes in the water for now anyway.
Thanks to my parents for putting me up for three weeks and to my father for moving my stuff in, in particularly hot and muggy weather too. Never again!
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Just a shot of whiskey away?
Luckily Tim's holidaying somewhere near Bourbon Street because he'll probably want a stiff drink after hearing the news today that President Pervez Musharraf, leader of Pakistan, the world's only Muslim country with nuclear weapons (or, as Tim put it, "al-Qaeda-R-us"), has survived yet another assassination attempt, this time even closer.
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December 20, 2003
Silent night and day
Due to a technical problem in our Brussels office, She Sells Sanctuary is unable to blog at present, but we hope to get back to regular programming very soon. Emails seem to be working again though, and oddly enough nobody seems to have told the spammers. Where I used to get about 30 spams a day, lately things have been desperately quiet. Go figure. Maybe they don't love me no more. Maybe they never did. 'Course, this frees up the old inbox for friendly messages from fellow bloggers, hint hint.
Anyway, from me, have a lovely festive break with your families, whatever religion you are or aren't. Eat, drink and be merry (I guess two out of three ain't bad...I've never in my life wanted a drink more than I have lately...).
PS. I was washing my hair in a bucket outside yesterday (we do have running water but old habits die hard up here and besides, sometimes it's just nice sitting in the sunshine doing it) and didn't notice the redbelly black snake about ten metres away til my dad pointed it out. I was like, is that all it is? I was very disappointed, because I'd been imagining something boa-constrictor sized and this was kind of hose-sized. Call that a snake?
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December 15, 2003
This is great news to wake up to, though obviously I can't help feeling sorry for the 3,000 Iraqi civilians who were sacrificed on the road to regime change. But still, well done.
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There's no place like home
Today marks the start of my serious search for my own place. It only just occurs to me now that being pregnant doesn't exactly make me the most attractive potential tenant, though I can of course state that I am still employed, just not gainfully. I will have to play it by ear. Maybe I'll have to offer to pay six months' rent in advance.
I hope to find a small place somewhere near(ish) one of the beaches. I've scaled down my expectations of the size of dwelling--though rents are very cheap in comparison with Sydney, I think it'd be more prudent to take a small place for now and live dirt-cheaply for the summer, and maybe relocate to a more comfy house further down the track. We'll see how I go.
Then tomorrow I am off to be booked into the local regional hospital. Well, when I say "local", I mean it's still an hour and a half's drive away--I never thought I'd be hoping for a long labour! At first I was fearful of leaving the brand-spanking new maternity wards of Sydney's RPA. Hey, I'm no Naomi Wolf - I was happy to submit myself to the possibly overmedicalised, high-tech shiny machine environment of a major hospital. My brother, who was a doctor once, also put the fear of regional hospitals into me by telling me that when he was a young new grad, doing part of his internship at this particular regional hospital where I am transferring to, sometimes he was the only doctor on at night--and did I really want some green young doc delivering my baby? However, he also mentioned that in 85% of cases labour is utterly routine and unproblematic. Further, I recall when he used to proudly tell us of the many babies he successfully delivered (including one in the back seat of a Beetle by the side of the road), so how hard can it be? Therefore I'll remain stoic and trust that Mother Nature will take care of me and the kid, no matter who is there to assist things at the pointy-end.
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December 13, 2003
The Australian's editor-at-large Paul Kelly has a glossy puff piece on Tony Abbott in today's Magazine in addition to a shorter piece on Mark Latham in the Inquirer section of the paper. I've just finished reading the Abbott story (no link) and have to ask, are we talking about same Abbott here? For example: "He presents as a politician of convcition yet a man of humility". Cough, splutter! Humility? This is not a word I would ever have associated with the smarmy, cocksure Abbott.
The first, say, 1000 words of Kelly's piece are nothing but flattery and leave no doubt as to who is Kelly's preferred Howard replacement. Here's a slab:
"[Abbott is] a guileless optimist endlessly enjoying himself...the most likeable hate figure in politics...Raw-boned, stubborn and engaging, Abbott is a lot smarter than he looks. When meeting people, he listens as well as talks...Abbott is a natural meeter and greeter with an easy disposition, open countenance, an educated but traditional Australian voice...Abbott likes nothing more than writing his own speeches and being his own press secretary. He believes in the personal touch, thrIves on the adversarial nature of politics, finds economics a bore, is drawn compulsively to the big questions of life, enjoys scoring off his opponents [well, who doesn't? - Ed] and deconstructs issues to the values and principles that he knows....Spend a day with him and you find the man is a grassroots politician with a naivety and brashness that means he will have a go...Abbott gets things done...He is not afraid to fail...He seems undaunted by setbacks yet is modest about his success...This is a young man (he's 46) who constantly wins the favour of older men."
Like Kelly, I guess. But there's more:
"He has always been smart enough to seek advice, offers respect to his elders, but simultaneously draws attention to himself by being a rough diamond...He is no goody-two-shoes. Abbott makes a virtue of being himself - he likes to be straight, tries to answer the question and doesn't bother with focus groups. It's a trifecta that should be disastrous, but works. He's a values politician with a strong ideology, who presents as a good bloke who just wants to shake hands, slap your back, have a chat about the football and help you out in life."
Sorry, Kelly, I think you've been played like a violin. And how's Abbott's description of Howard's 'two great characteristics' of 'consistency and decency'. Consistency? Two words, Tony: "Never, ever!" Decency? Two more words: "Children overboard!" But here's my favorite line of Kelly's:
"Howard is his model, not just for politics but for life. Tony strives to emulate John. It is part of his Jesus complex."
Barf. Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading Kelly's piece on Latham. More later.
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December 12, 2003
Nobody told me there'd be days like these
Hell, is this what the internet is really like for rural and regional Australians? Excruciatingly slow loading times; having to log on five times each time to establish a connection; constant line dropouts...and we're with Optus, not Telstra (gee, those poor suckers must have it even worse). Last night a thunderstorm caused a power surge that nearly fried my computer, and I'm having stacks of problems accessing my emails. Is this the shape of things to come? Lucky I've decided to take a small break from blogging or I could really start getting depressed. Meanwhile Tim's covering everything of interest over at Surfdom, so: "what he said", "ditto", "hear hear", "ditto" and "my sentiments precisely".
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December 11, 2003
Have a read
I'm reading a novel Jozef Imrich lent me some time ago called Haverleigh (Cresscourt Publishing, 1995), by James Williams, who I gather is a buddy of Jozef's. I started it yesterday and as the cover promises, I couldn't put it down. I've been moved to tears a few times already. It kind of reminds me a little of Neville Shute's On the Beach, or even an Australian Gone with the Wind. Great for lazing around under the beach umbrella! Anyway, here's part of the blurb:
Haverleigh is a romantic saga of a community of young people in a south-east Queensland township during and after the Second World War. The story begins in 1940 as Peter, teenage son of saintly Michael Brent, loses his virginity to pretty Ruth Murray and gets to know Jonny Lavers who, dirt poor at his birth, "cried with powerful purpose and charmed those who came to give him ease". It ends with a grand Lavers party to usher in 1973. Between is what artist David Strang calls "the obscenity of war...and the effluent of the affluent society."
Nothing like a cracking sex scene to open a story, either....Anyway, as usual, when I read a book with wonderfully drawn characters I start to feel the urge to write fiction myself, so I think I'll take a short break from blogging (I think I'm going through a blogging-for-the-sake-of-blogging phase anyway; and I'm getting a bit sick of talking about myself and my new bucolic lifestyle) to try to work on some creative writing for a change. So, later, then.
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December 10, 2003
Having surgery to give you toe cleavage? (via Pen-Elayne). About as daft a trend as people spray-painting themselves brown at A$80 a pop (it lasts about a week). Is it just me?
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Watching the 7:30 Report segment last night about imagemaking Mark Latham I started wishing I'd gone into advertising and got paid hundreds of thousand dollars a year to push little colored boxes around a boardroom table and discuss what my friends think about various products and come up with witty slogans. And I also thought Kerry O'Brien looked a lot less cross when discussing Latham than he did last week when he was very hot under the collar.
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So far, so good
I've been coming to this neck of the woods since I was five, but rocking up only at the weekends and during school holidays meant we never felt like real local yokels, though we did feel a lot more smugly local than the rich families who would come up from Sydney in summer and stay in their posh holiday houses right on the beachfront and hoon around destroying the sand dunes with their 4WDs (uh, do I detect a bit of class envy here?-Ed).
While we maintained close friendships with our neighbors over the decades, like Jen and her family (and it's a strange feeling that her little brother Tim, who I first met when he was two, now lives a kilometre down the road with his own two toddlers), I always felt like a big city interloper, to be honest. Jen and I used to refer to ourselves as Country Mouse and City Mouse; but she bolted to bohemian Kings Cross as soon as she could, fearing the only possible life up here was as a pregnant checkout chick; I on the other hand always fantasised about 'the simple life' but until now, never had a good enough reason to leave the city behind.
Well, I guess I'll find out how well reality meshes with my fantasies, but so far the signs are positive. For example, having spent only a few days here officially as a local, I have to say the cliche does seem to hold true: smalltown folk are friendlier than city folk. Practically every single stranger I encountered during my travels around the town centre yesterday greeted me with a smile and a lengthy chat (this takes some getting used to). My folks, however, reckon this may have more to do with the fact that people are always very nice to expectant mothers.
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December 08, 2003
Cock a doodle doo
Apart from the red-belly black snake living near the house which my parents refuse to kill. (My dad reassures me that you have up to six hours to get some anti venom before you die.) Apart from the cats wailing all night wanting to be let out to play with the chickens and geese. (Until we build them a little cat-run, they are confined inside, more for the sake of the local wildlife than the geese and chicks, who can certainly look after themselves: my mum recently nearly had her ribs broken when the geese attacked her after she ventured a bit too close to a gosling.) Apart from one of the cats exploring his way up into the roof rafters in the middle of the night and getting stuck. Apart from the three roosters evidently thinking that the crack of dawn occurs at about 3am. Apart from the fact that the sun hasn't shone once since I got here. Apart from living at home again at age 32. Apart from this, I'm loving it.
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December 04, 2003
Masterless and commandless
Oh, man, this is the best feeling....Yesterday was my last day at work. It was sad farewelling my workmates, some who I've worked with for four years or more; and the girls who have been like the little sisters I never had. But, gee it's great no longer having a boss, a supervisor, an HR department. (Theoretically, anyway: I've taken maternity leave so I'm officially still employed. But nobody really expects me back.)
So here I am: Free. OK, I do have a new boss, but he hasn't been born yet...
Anyway, I might not get much blogging in over the next few days, because there's still a fair bit to do before we hit the road on Saturday. I can't wait.
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December 03, 2003
I love free speech
Writer Paul Ford, who you might know from ftrain, has recently set up the online presence for Harpers magazine, where I've just come across this feature (originally published a few months ago so you might have seen it already, but it's a good one): "A history of the Iraq war - told entirely in lies. All text is verbatim from senior Bush Administration officials and advisers." As in:
The United States approached its postwar work with a two-part resolve: a commitment to stay and a commitment to leave.
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December 02, 2003
I *heart* Latham
I was disappointed when Kim Beazley was wheeled out again last week, because if we were going to go through all this turmoil just to end up with Beazley again, I would rather have let Simon Crean have a chance to prove himself.
So, while I've been slightly fickle about Mark Latham in the past, I'm happy that he's made it to leader of the Labor party, and I reckon he is sure to grow into the role. To me, his perceived weaknesses are his strengths: for a long time now we've needed someone to punch that arrogant John Howard in the nose (figuratively speaking, ok, Mark?), while at the same time showing Labor's heart on the issues that matter most to Australians (ie. health, education, etc). Personally, I like that Latham is a bit rough and unspun, though it looks like he'll be pre-emptively sent off to charm school by his minders--he's already sworn off "crudity", for example.
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Shadow puppetry of the...
Dick (via Drudge).
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