Wednesday, 31 December 2008

New Year's Resolutions, sort of.



It is that time of year again, when the world is littered with the lists of good intentions…

New Year Resolutions.

But it seems to me that people are doing it all wrong. Digging in the wrong place.

Every year people sit down with basically the same list of last year's failures, rework them, resolve that THIS year things will be different.

Here's an idea for you to ponder:

What if, instead of listing all the things that have eluded you every year before, what if you made a list of the things that you already can do…

And resolve to do them better?

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

A birthday, of sorts.


Some trivia for you: today I am 20,000 days old.

But the real trivia is this: On the day I was married, I was 10,000 days old.

It wasn't planned that way, it just happened.

And, no, I do not plan a cake with 20,000 candles!

As I anticipated hist event for over a year, I had actually planned a family dinner of some sort. But Martin is in Malaysia at present and the boys gave us tickets to go and see The Taming of the Shrew in the Botanical Gardens that (by chance) are for tonight. So, rescheduling. What's a day or two in 20,000?

Maybe a nice dinner tomorrow for day 20,001.


Monday, 29 December 2008

Round 2 : Awarded to the Wasps.


Last night the branch of the apricot tree that had the European wasp nest entrance snapped off.

Somewhere, a choir of little heavenly wasps is sniggering at me.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Take what happiness you can get. Or give.


In May last year I posted about one of my obscure hobbies, spiking the local playground (above) with five and ten cent coins when I am out for a walk. Just one or two. The rationale is that the happiness displayed by a small child finding one of the coins is probably the best return you can get for the money nowadays.

I have never actually seen a kid find the coins.

But the other day I was out for my walk and saw that, in the playground, there were two kids and a man. The kids were climbing on the play equipment.

Their father was on his hands and knees, raking the woodchips with his fingers.

I guess you get your happiness wherever you can.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Holiday Reading

A selection of holiday reading.

Pernicious Pork; or, Astounding Revelations of the Evil Effects of Eating Swine Flesh; 1903
Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality, by Glenn C. Ellenbogen (Editor); 1985;
How to Cook Roadkill: Gourmet Cooking; 1987
Be Bold With Bananas, by the Australian Banana Growers Council; 1972
Fashion is Spinach; 1938
Ancient Starch Research, by Robin Torrence & Huw J. Barton; 2005
Our Lady of the Potatoes, by Duncan Sprott; 1995
Cheese Problems Solved, by P. McSweeney (ed.); 2007 (CRC)
Life and Laughter 'midst the Cannibals; 1926
Lightweight Sandwich Construction, by J. M. Davies (Editor); 2001 (Blackwell Science)
Tea Bag Folding; 2001 (Search Press)
The Book of Marmalade: Its Antecedents, History and Role in the World Today, by C. Anne Wilson; 1983;

The Benefits of Farting Explained; 1727
Living With Crazy Buttocks, by Kaz Cooke; 2001;
Old Age: Its Cause and Prevention; 1912
Scurvy Past and Present, by Alfred Hess; 1982
It's a Gas! A Study of Flatulence, by Eric S. Rabkin, Eugene M. Silverman; 1991
Simply Bursting: A Guide to Bladder Control; 1998
The Golden Fountain: Complete Guide to Urine Therapy, by Coen van der Kroon; 1996 (Amethyst Books)
The Encyclopedia of Medical Ignorance; 1984
Is It Hot In Here or Is It Me?: Mastering the Maze of Menopause by Lorraine D'Abate, Nancy Kenyon; 2000
Nasal Maintenance: Nursing Your Nose Through Troubled Times by William Alan Stuart; 1983
The Do-It-Yourself Lobotomy: Open Your Mind to Greater Creative Thinking, by Tom Mopnahan; 2002 (Wiley)

Teach Yourself Alcoholism; 1975
How To Become a Schizophrenic, by John Modrow; 1992
(co-packed with) What To Say When You Talk To Yourself, by Shad Helmstetter; 1982 (Grindle Press)
How to Sh*t in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art, by Kathleen Meyer; 1988; *Diagram Prize Winner!
How To Avoid Huge Ships, by John W. Trimmer; 1992;
How To Write a How To Write Book; 2007
How To Abandon Ship; 1942
How To Do It; or, Directions for Knowing or Doing Everything Needful; 1864

Friday, 26 December 2008

Well, it was a leap year after all!


A quick and lazy post - we are off to a house warming party.

On Boxing Day.

Shouldn't it be un-boxing day, then?

Thursday, 25 December 2008

If you want it...


So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
Ans so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
Ans so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
War is over over
If you want it
War is over

Wednesday, 24 December 2008



My apricot tree is loaded with fruit. They are just starting to ripen and we may, may, have some ripe for tomorrow, Christmas Day.


But I found the local birds were on the case as well and the wattlebirds were devaluing my crop; when it comes to ripe and wattlebirds, near enough is good enough apparently. I recruited my resident stepladder (aka Simon) and spread birdnetting over the tree.

While I was tying it down I made a discovery:

Insects had built a nest in the trunk of the tree. Rats!

And or, more accurately, wasps!

Or even more accurately, European wasps!

So, primed on how to deal with them, I stole some red cellophane off a present under the tree and taped it to my torch. Apparently wasps can't see red. Funny how English has the term 'seeing red' for when someone is angry. I was about to make them very angry but still hopeful that they would not see me in the red gloamin* of my torch. And from a safe distance and ready to run, I squirted the contents of a can of 'Wasp-rid R Us' at the entrance in the tree while trying to block a sudden but quite relevant question from my mind: Is there more than one entrance?

The entrance is now quiet.

I hope the nest does not mean that the tree is totally rotten inside now; its days may be numbered.

If the can of insecticide doesn't kill it in the meantime, of course.


*Gloamin is the tid o day whan it is nae fell daurk thareoot, but the sun is nae up.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

"Ooops. I wish I hadn't said that!"


Four children looked on as their father was electrocuted while fetching a kite which had become entangled in power lines in Queensland last night.

A shopkeeper, who had known the man for more than 20 years, said the town was overwhelmingly forlorn as it came to grips with the tragedy, just days before Christmas.

"It's just total shock - you can't imagine," he said.

50,000 volts usually is.




"One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul
and yet no one ever came to sit by it.
Passers-by see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney
and continue on their way. "

On this day, in 1888, Vincent van Gogh cut off his ear.

Apparently he presented it to a prostitute called Racheal. (It's not recorded what she said but "F#ck me!" would probably have been suitable at a number of levels.)

Monday, 22 December 2008

Kumquat. Cumquat. Whatever.


Deceptive graphic, this; a real kumquat is only about 3-4cm in diameter. (An inch and a bit in the old currency).

I have always called them cumquats but I see most Google entries have them as kumquats. Being as they are Chinese in origin, any English name is just a stab in the dark anyway.

My cranberry post got a bit of curiosity on cumquats happening so I thought I would enlarge on them.

There are a number of varieties. The ones I am familiar with are a 'squashed ball' shape, like a tiny mandarin. (And in the pic above). Others I have seen on line are oval or pear shaped.

They are almost inedible raw. Not impossible, as legions of small school boys have proved their right to manhood by eating one raw, but not the way of choice. Contrary to most citrus fruits, the skin is okay, it is the flesh that is very tart.

I have a long association with them - my Granny had a big one in the centre of her front garden. Well, I remember it as big. I now have one in our driveway (below), trimmed to keep it away from the car.

They have a very intense flavour and so usually do a supporting role.

My recipes for them include:

Cumquat brandy, a liqueur.
Cumquat cordial, I have done a lemon/orange/cumquat blend to acclaim.
Cumquat marmalade, but I prefer an orange/cumquat blend, 75:25.
Pear & cumquat tart
Cumquat and cardamon syrup cake.


Sunday, 21 December 2008

Enough, already!

It seems that cranberries are the flavour of the month. Year even.

Now, they are alright but they are not that good and certainly not in every recipe. I went looking for kumquat recipes last week; I have a kumquat tree; I wanted to make a dessert with them. I settled on pear and kumquat tart. But most the recipes on-line were for kumquats and cranberries.

The weekly recipes in my local paper - salads, one had cranberries in it. Why?

Perhaps they are the new wonder health food but when you look up a list of antioxidant foods you find that cranberries come in quite a way down the list, below blueberries and just above artichoke hearts (List). Interestingly cinnamon is the 'best'* antioxidant and you get more more antioxidants from two black plums than you do from a cup of cranberries.

And don't get me started on 'food miles'. The things only grow in the northern hemisphere, what are we doing sprinkling the little suckers in our salads in Australia?

I think I will go and suck on a kumquat.

*Whatever 'best' may mean.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Einstein was not the only one with theories!


How about these for winning theories!

A contest was held for people to submit their theories on ANY subject. Here are the winners:

4th RUNNER-UP (Subject: Probability Theory)--If an infinite number of yobboes riding in an infinite number of four wheel drives fire an infinite number of shotgun rounds at an infinite number of highway signs, they will eventually produce all the world's great literary works in Braille.

3rd RUNNER-UP (Subject: Bio- Mechanics)--Why Yawning Is Contagious: You yawn to equalize the pressure on your eardrums. This pressure change outside your eardrums unbalances other people's ear pressures, so they then yawn to even it out.

2nd RUNNER-UP (Subject: Symbolic Logic)-- Communist China is technologically underdeveloped because they have no alphabet and therefore cannot use acronyms to communicate technical ideas at a faster rate.

1st RUNNER-UP (Subject: Newtonian Mechanics)--The earth may spin faster on its axis due to deforestation. Just as a figure skater's rate of spin increases when the arms are brought in close to the body, the cutting of tall trees may cause our planet to spin dangerously fast.

HONORABLE MENTION (Subject: Linguistics)-- The quantity of consonants in the English language is constant. If omitted in one place, they turn up in another. When a Bostonian "pahks his cah," the lost R's migrate southwest, causing a Texan to "warsh" his car and invest in "erl" wells.

GRAND PRIZE WINNER (Subject: Perpetual Motion)--When a cat is dropped, it always lands on its feet, and when toast is dropped, it always lands buttered side down. It was proposed to strap giant slabs of hot buttered toast, butter-side-up, to the back of a hundred tethered cats; the two opposing forces will cause the cats to hover, spinning inches above the ground. Using the giant buttered toast/cat array, a high-speed monorail could easily link New York with Chicago.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

A Psychologist's Carol Book.


Shamelessly lifted from A Nut in a Nutshell.

1. Schizophrenia --- Do You Hear What I Hear?

2. Multiple Personality Disorder --- We Three Kings Disoriented Are

3. Amnesia --- I Don't Know if I'll be Home for Christmas

4. Narcissistic --- Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me

5. Manic --- Deck the Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets
and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Trees
and Fire Hydrants and ...

6. Paranoid --- Santa Claus is Coming to Get Me

7. Borderline Personality Disorder --- Thoughts of Roasting on an
Open Fire

8 . Full Personality Disorder-- You Better Watch Out, I'm Gonna Cry,
I'm Gonna Pout, Maybe I'll tell You Why

9. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder ---Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells .

10. Agoraphobia --- I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day But Wouldn't
Leave My House

11. Senile Dementia --- Walking in a Winter Wonderland Miles From My
House in My Slippers and Robe

12. Oppositional Defiant Disorder --- I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
So I Burned Down the House

13. Social Anxiety Disorder --- Have
Yourself a Merry Little Christmas while I Sit Here and Hyperventilate.


Wednesday, 17 December 2008

It must be Japanese thing.


TOKYO (Reuters) - A 60-year-old man who was thrown into the air in celebration at his retirement party died after his colleagues failed to catch him and he fell to the floor, a Japanese newspaper reported on Tuesday.

He worked for the Kamikaze Pilot's Federation, perhaps?

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

A lazy post.


Golden rule of blogging : If you have been too busy to think of a post, fall back on cute pics.

Especially children and animals.

Monday, 15 December 2008



An Australian gambler who lost millions in a A$1.4 billion (548.5 million pounds) gaming spree is suing one of the country’s largest casinos, claiming he was targeted by managers despite a known gambling addiction.

- Reuters.

My question is: How did a 'known gambler' accumulate A$1.4 billion??

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Dinner for one. Some dinner. Some one.


I recently had the rare treat of being home alone. The boys were out at various parties, Margaret was off at a class reunion from last year.

I was feeling reflective and had a formal dinner in honour of my Dad, who died in September.

The last time I saw him, he gave me a wine 'for a special occasion'. Did he know how bad things were for him? Maybe. The doctors said 'remission' but they are on the outside looking in. Things look different from the other direction.

So I cooked a steak and had some of his wine.

He would have approved.

A handwritten note from my Dad that lives on my study wall.
He wasn't religious but loved wisdom, wherever he found it.


Friday, 12 December 2008

Cabbage moths, butterflies, whatever.


This here is a cabbage moth. Or cabbage butterfly. Or cabbage butterflymoth.

The 'experts' seem vague on the terminology. I prefer to think of them as moths.

I like butterflies.

But I get lots of them fluttering around the garden and, I grant you, they look very pretty.

Except...the little blighters lay eggs on my cabbages and Chinese greens; the next thing I know I have multilegged green stomachs devouring my garden.

Now, on one of these oh-so-green gardening sites, someone gentle soul suggested spreading broken eggshells around the cabbages because the moths are short-sighted and socially considerate and, if they think some moth got there first, they will stay away.


The favourite hiding place in my garden at the moment is the broad beans; the flowers bear some considerable resemblance to both moths and broken egg shells.

I have been using derris dust but I am told this is environmentally dodgy. I believe there is a bacterial soup you can use and I will investigate that.


In the mean time...

I play moth tennis with a plastic sieve.

Low impact on the environment, high impact on the moth.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Books and chaos.


Avus suggested posting pictures of our bookcases. I am not sure what this will reveal about me but here goes.

Above, neat and sort of orderly, is the book pile, not really a case, to the left of me, within easy reach.

And here, in all its chaotic glory, is the bookcase to the right of me. Both photos are 'as is', when Avus suggested the post. If you click on the photos they will enlarge.

Make of it what you will!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Tries hard. Can do better.


"Teachers using red pen to mark students' work could be harming their psyche as the colour is too aggressive, according to education strategies drafted by an Australian state government.

The "Good Mental Health Rocks" kit, which was distributed this month to about 30 schools in Queensland state, offers strategies such as "don't mark in red pen (which can be seen as aggressive) - use a different color."

Other tips include structuring time for peer tutoring every day, apologizing to students when necessary and asking students to conduct a "personal skills audit" where they focus on their individual strengths rather than their weaknesses.

The kit, designed to help Queensland teachers address mental health in the classroom, suggests social and emotional wellbeing has been linked to young people's schooling, among other things.

The education aid has sparked a row in parliament, with deputy opposition leader Mark McArdle calling it "kooky, loony, loopy lefty policies.""

- Reuters
Words fail me. The only thing that rocks is the filling of the head who thought up this rubbish.

I suppose under-lining and exclamations marks will be out of order, too.

And when these poor kids get out into the real world, who will hold their hand then?

Heads up: time to buy lavender, lime and teal coloured pens, while stocks last.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Thank you (Looks at feet, shuffles back and forth awkwardly.)



This award is for any blog that truly ‘measures up’.


  1. Say one nice thing to a man in your life.
  2. List at least six ways that you measure success in your life (or for your blog).
  3. Assign this award to six other blogs and leave them a comment telling the blogger that you’ve assigned them this award.
  4. Link back to the blog that you received this award from.

I groan a little with awards, preferring just to toil away on my blogs and put them out in the world; hopefully for the entertainment, education, and pleasure (or sometimes even irritation) of the reader. I find awards a little of a distraction. The two blessings with this one are that it is not pink and the spelling is all kosher; traits often lacking in award badges.

Now, to the nuts and bolts bits:

Item 4 is the easiest. The award was given to me by the lovely Diane at Diane's Addled Ramblings. She is always a good read, whimsically tackling life as she meets it. Curiously all of the Diane's (and Dianne's) I know and have known are lovely; must be a genetic disposition.

Item 1 is probably the hardest. Curiously most of my friends are women. Perhaps I will go part way with this one and give thanks to Fabrizio, a supervisor at the telephone counselling service where I do volunteer work. Gay, tattooed, with more scrap iron on his face than I have in my shed and a tendency to wear orange sandals and crimson nail varnish, he is a true character in a world sadly in need of characters. He is also the best supervisor I have had.

Six ways I measure success in my life:

1. The happiness of my family; although I acknowledge that I cannot make them happy if they are not. If they are forging out and doing things and happy in this forging, that is the best I can ask.

2. Getting things off my 'to do' list. I have a computer-based to-do list that pouts at me if I am not moving things along. Douglas Adams said "I love deadlines, they make such a lovely 'whooshing' sound as they whiz by". I find lists help me reduce the whoosh. I suppose that makes it a 'whoosh list'.

3. A big way I judge success is what I call the 'day after' effect. When I have finished something - writing, arty stuff, cooking, gardening - I like to return to it the next day, to marvel that I really did it. And to make sure it was not just a dream. OK, returning to the cooking bit is tricky. See #4.

4. Popular acclaim and cheering is always a good sign of success. Except with cooking, where the sound of contented eating is sufficient. See #3.

5. If I learnt nothing else from my studies in psychology, I learnt that happiness lies in the doing, not in the having. I like to keep various projects on the go.

6. Finally, success is getting into a nice bed at night knowing you have achieved something and getting up in the morning wanting to do more.


Finally, I am supposed to nominate six other blogs for this award.

I'd rather not. It's like trying to pick favourites from your children.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Vegetable garden


My vegetable garden has never looked better. Ironic considering the water shortages.

My 'edible list' is :

Vegetables: lettuce (various), pak choi, chinese greens (don't know what they are - mystery plant from a previous year went to seed and I keep growing it from saved seed and using it in stir frys - peppery), radish, tomatoes, chillies, silver beet (swiss chard), spinach, green beans, climbing beans, zucchini, pumpkin, broad beans, garlic, spring onions, rocket, cucumber.

Herbs: Italian parsley, curly parsley, basil, mint, coriander, chives, oregano, French tarragon, savoury, bay leaves, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, sage.

Fruit: raspberries, tamarillo, crab apples, cooking apples (Stewart Seedling), lime, rhubarb

Fruit not in the veg garden: lemon, grapefruit, nectarine, elderberry, cumquat, apricot, blood plum, quince, mulberry, grapes & peacharine.

Our old bath tub; full of mint.

Some coriander (cilantro) left to go to seed for next year.

Part of the secret of success: rain water collection off the shed and carport.

My prickly brained mascot, on the wall going into the vegetable garden. I tried growing thyme in it to give 'falling locks' but it kept drying out. Plan B = cactus.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

A Psychic Reading for Lady Jicky - Part 2.

The Remorse of Orestes - Bouguereau

Confession time. I'm not a psychic. But you knew I would say that, didn't you?

The sequence of events over the last few days went something like this:

1. I have been reading "The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading" by Ian Rowland. Cold reading is the way so called psychics deal with people they have never met before but manage to get information out of them in a way that enables them read their pasts, predict their futures. (Although what I did to poor Lady Jicky was a hot reading; I already knew the information.)

2. Lady Jicky visited my blog. First time visitor, no idea who she was, but she started her comment with a familiar "Hi Lee". Did I know her? I asked Richard, one of my sons, "Is it one of your friends?" No.

3. Google search on "Lady Jicky" came up with a recent post where someone gave her birthday wishes. A wicked idea flickers to life. I convert the birthday to a horoscope sign and accuse her of being a Scorpio. She is understandably surprised.

4. I return to Google and look closer at "Lady Licky". It is unusual enough to be distinctive. Searching for a Betty, Jenny or, say, Melinda, would have swamped me with hits.

5. From the search I learnt her husbands name; that he smoked; how long they had been married; daughter's name; grandson's name and age; a dog's name (Oscar, a Pug x), hadn't found Rosie at that stage but found her later; a love of perfume; a love of Paris; a maker of cupcakes; a love of roses; that she does pastel drawings; that she still misses Lulu, a Pekinese; her real name; town she lives in. Not in one post but in bits and pieces over a range of posts.

6. Now comes the first lucky hit: after a busy day I post a cartoon from a reserve of cartoons kept for use on busy days. The perfume and computer content is a chance double hit. I wasn't thinking of Lady Jicky when I posted it but she saw it and scored it as two direct hits. Beautiful!

7. Using the information I have, I write a specific but vague psychic reading, interspersed with fluffy things. For example: I call Lady Jicky both generous and selfish, neat and tidy. Fluffy statements that sound sort of believable. I try to be vague about the reading, the U was just part of LU Lu.

8. Some absolutely stabs in the dark score direct hits! I guessed her car colour - blue is a good guess as it covers a wide range of shades. I knew she missed LuLu and guessed she would hav a photo in her wallet. It was not difficult to guess that Oscar and Rosie would watch her make cupcakes.

So, there you are. I am a total psychic fraud.

I must thank Lady Jicky enormously for being such a good sport.
You really must have wondered what you had walked in to!

Probably still do.

A Psychic Reading for Lady Jicky - Part 1.

My original post had a photo of a bare breasted Gypsy,
a no-no apparently for people reading blogs at work.

Lady Jicky first visited my blog last week. Immediately I felt a connection with her and, much to her surprise, correctly suggested that she was behaving as a typical Scorpio. Last night I posted a cartoon that correctly picked two loves in her life: hers for perfume and her husband’s for computers. The time has come to stop messing about, to pull out the leaf tea, the crystal ball and tarot cards and give this thing a real thrashing. Either my hitherto hidden psychic skills will come to the fore or I will spiral to earth in a flaming wreck.

To most of you reading this it may be pretty boring and you can perhaps wander off and talk amongst yourselves. Tomorrow, or after Lady Jicky has commented, I will review proceedings and see how close I was.

OK, Lady Jicky. We have already correctly established that you are a Scorpio. In a added comment to a previous post I suggested the letter S may have some significance to you and you have neither confirmed or denied this. Perhaps I am picking up the Scorpio again but I sense it is a name, possibly yours or someone close to you.

You have volunteered the following: you love perfume, your husband working in computers and you have two dogs, Oscar and Rosie.

Let’s see what the spirits tell me:

First and foremost, I sense that you are a very generous person, quick to provide support to others but there are times when, if you are honest, when you recognise a selfish streak in yourself. I also sense that there is an inherent capacity for neatness, which is to your credit, but at the same time I can see that this capacity does not always prevail. I am thinking especially of the kitchen. I am sensing a lot of activity in the kitchen, an image of cakes, small cakes, iced cakes is coming to me. Oscar and Rosie are watching you closely.

I am sensing two other small creatures in your household. With one I, it’s hard to be exact but I sense the letter C is associated somehow. The other one is fainter, more distant, harder to read but possibly linked to the letter L or U. While I am sensing names I am getting a strong leaning towards M for some reason and a lesser feeling that an A is somehow associated with things that are important to you. The M could be a person or a place. I should stop this bit now before I exhaust the entire alphabet!

For some reason I am seeing a blue car outside your house.

The next card I pulled out was a 3 of Pentangles and, in conjunction with the rest of the previous ones, it suggests the sort of person who makes clear distinctions between things that are important and things that are not. You are quite analytical in this regard. You could well be the sort of person who has important photos carefully put in albums while other photos are just stuck in a box in a cupboard. I am thinking that, whoever the L/U person is above, you may have their photo in your wallet.

You say you like perfume. I can see this. I am sensing a lot of floral aromas around you, possibly more than just perfumes in a bottle, I am seeing roses, lots of roses. Also tea comes to mind. Possibly tea roses, possibly the aromas of tea. It’s not clear. Do you prefer tea to coffee?

Finally I sense a strong art undertone. Impressionist perhaps, I sense a Parisian connection. Are you French? Do you paint? I sense flowers in pastel tones.

I tried to see if I could find out more about your husband and while I am thinking the S may be related to him I am finding things about him to be sort of smokey, hazy. Not sure why.

OK. That’s it. Time to move from the spiritual to the…uh...spiritual. But wine-spirits, not the Uncle Norman-spirits.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

He's dead. Get over it.


If life was fair, Elvis would be alive
and all the impersonators would be dead.

Johnny Carson (1925 - 2005)

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Assorted Headlines


Survivor of Siamese twins joins parents
Blind woman gets new kidney from dad she hasn't seen in years
Never withhold herpes infection from loved one
Smokers are productive. But death cuts efficiency
Death causes loneliness, feelings of isolation
Stolen painting found by tree
Dealers will hear car talk Friday at noon
Victim tied nude policeman testifies
Judge to rule on nude beach
Complaints about NHL referees growing ugly
Police discover crack in Australia
Caribbean islands drift to left
Women's movement called more broad-based
Men recommend more clubs for wives
Dr. Ruth to talk about sex with newspaper editors
Grandmother of eight makes hole in one
Two convicts evade noose; jury hung
Drunk gets nine months in violin case
Farmer Bill dies in house
Iraqi head seeks arms
Prostitutes appeal to Pope
Enraged cow injures farmer with axe
Hitler, Nazi papers found in attic
Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
Safety Experts Say School Bus Passengers Should Be Belted
Reagan Wins on Budget, But More Lies Ahead
Miners Refuse to Work after Death
Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last for a While
Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
Deer Kill 17,000
Two Sisters Reunited after 18 Years in Checkout Counter
New Study in Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
Hospitals Are Sued by Seven Foot Doctors
Include Your Children When Baking Cookies
Kids Make Nutritious Snack


Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Hap-hap-happy face...


Venus, Jupiter and the moon conspire to give us a 'smiley' face.

Monday, 1 December 2008

The shit is not from the bull!

(Click to enlarge)

I wonder what is going through the mind of the guy on the left of the bull?

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Traditions, going forward.

Celebration #7 - Turtlekiss.

Windblownbutterfly (Susan) asked if, as an atheist, I would prefer not to see Christmas at all. This was after I bah-humbugged about Christmas gumph appearing in the shops here mid-November. Separately, Diane asked what traditions I do observe. I have decided to kill the questions of two birds with one…uh…post.

First and foremost, from my reading in psychology, I am a great believer that looking forward to things is a big positive in any person’s life. Depression thrives in looking backwards. So with that in mind, I love traditions and festivals. But I don’t delve deeply into their meaning.

Christmas and Easter are great eat-fests. What we eat for Christmas can vary enormously as the weather here is totally unpredictable in December, anything from 12-38 deg C is on the cards (54-100 degF). Easter is less foody but must have hot cross buns on Good Friday, and only Good Friday, even though they are in the shops on Boxing Day. And chocolate eggs only on Easter Sunday.

So I am more fundamental that many Christians on those ones, Susan!

My gripe with the celebrations is not that they happen, but that the retailers have made them so long they lose their special nature. This gets back to my thesis on the benefits of looking forward to festivals and special occasions. Easter runs for up to four months in the shops; how do you make it special at the correct time? For most people bun-fatigue has set in long before Easter arrives.

Also on our calendar is Halloween, something not celebrated greatly in Australia because it is “an American thing”. Don’t say that to any Celts of your acquaintance though, it long predates the US. But we have our own particular Halloween dinner each year, centring around the dessert: mud, blood & poached brains; made every year by popular request.

January 25th is Burns Day and last year we tracked down a butcher who made Haggis and ate it with all due ceremony (served with neeps and whiskey, accompanied by the reading of Burn’s poem to the Haggis).

The following day is Australia Day and roast lamb is obligatory.

St Patrick’s Day gets a mention too, if only as an excuse to have a Guinness. Bloom’s Day is equally popular, if less intelligible.

Pancake Tuesday will be properly adorned with pancakes, of course.

St Valentines Day is celebrated for itself and because it is our half anniversary. Of course, the anniversary proper is duly celebrated too.

Sundry other celebrations that appear in our calendar include birthdays and such like.

The remaining one, and it is a big one, is every Saturday night, when we are home, I do a three course candle-lit dinner. Tonight is the first time for yonks that there is just the two of us; usually there is a flux of family and friends happy to participate.

So, I have no qualms about celebrating religious festivals and pagan ones too.

Just don’t ask me to buy the story behind them.

Now, time to cook dinner.


And that means...what?


This is part of an advertisement for a sparkling apple juice in the papers yesterday.

Perhaps it is having 20-ish years of food testing that makes me respond to these things badly but look at the sticker on the apple.

I have no trouble with 'no added sugar' or 'no preservatives'.

But "100% sparkling juice from concentrate"?

What's that supposed to mean?

It sounds almost virtuous, doesn't it?

What it really means is that some cheap apple concentrate (probably imported from a third world country) has been reconstituted to the minimum strength possible and artificially carbonated to boot.

Bah! Put a lid on it.

Friday, 28 November 2008

First of the season.

It is spring in Melbourne. The vegetable garden is growing apace.

My Granny used to plant and tend her tomatoes, shading them from frosts, early in the season and considered it some achievement if she managed to get tomatoes before Christmas.

I picked my first tomato yesterday.

November 27th.

Four weeks before Christmas.

Just another pointer at the 'non-existent' climate change.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Giving thanks.


For those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope your your harvest has been bountiful.

Obviously , being in the southern hemisphere, it is spring here and, in the current dry conditions (in our perspective, a spring is not a source of water), it is too early to decide if we have anything to be giving thanks for. Agriculturally speaking. Nor, as a largely non-religious country, do we really have anyone to be giving thanks to.

Which is good news for the turkeys, at least.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Chain letters

(Not mine, I just took all the unnecessary F words out.)

I'm hoping Margaret's friends don't read my blog. And if some do, I am pretty sure that the ones that I am about to poke fun at don't. Shhh! Not a word, OK?

When we were travelling all our mail came to one gmail account so I had first hand contact with the sorts of emails that were being sent to her.

So many were chain letters. Or chain emails.

You know the sort I mean; they fall into several categories.

1. The 'make a wish' type. Usually cutesy emails full of love and hope and kittens. But the love, hope and kittens will all be callously squashed if you fail to forward the email on yesterday or, preferable, sooner to ten friends, and also to the sender to show that she too is loved, within 5 minutes.

2. The 'small child at risk' type. Where there is some girl in a Bolubian village with five legs and no mouth who will be saved if your immediately forward the email to everyone in your address book. Not only will she be miraculously saved but Microsoft will give 5¢ to the fund for every email forwarded. But they, Microsoft, will only perform this amazing feat of telekinetic generosity if you forward the email in the next two minutes. No it doesn't matter that the email has sat in your in-box for three days, it is the two minutes that matters.

3. The 'horror story' type. Pass this on to 15,067 people in the next 7 minutes or something horrible will happen to you like:

*Bizarre Horror Story #1
Miranda Pinstley was walking home from school on Saturday. She had recently received this letter and ignored it. She then tripped in a crack in the sidewalk, fell into the sewer, was gushed down a drainpipe in a flood of poopie, and went flying out over a waterfall. Not only did she smell nasty, she died. This Could Happen To You!!!

*Bizarre Horror Story #2
Dexter Bipple, a 13 year old boy, got a chain letter in his mail and ignored it. Later that day, he was hit by a car, trampled by a wild pig, pack-raped by a delegation of blind priests (and their guide dogs) and then struck by a meteorite on the way to hospital. He died and went to hell and were cursed to eat adorable kittens every day for eternity. This Could Happen To You Too!!!

Now, some emails and their attachments are funny. I like them.

But don't tell me some horrible misfortune will happen if I just read them and bin them.

I wont be your friend if you do.

And you will get leprosy, shingles, VD and anal warts and spend the next twenty years in the jungle, rubbing your itching, foul and rotting body with elephant dung, in a forlorn hope of a cure.

Friday, 21 November 2008

A harlot of a language!


Yesterday I was writing about the UK councils who want to remove Latin from the language used in council documents because it is difficult for migrants learning English. I would have thought that such people don't look at the origin of the words but just assume that they are English but I do take Peter's point (in comments to the last post) that you adjust the vocabulary to fit your audience. That should be done across the board, not by banning one segment of the language.

That brings me to the whole fascinating area of where the words in English originate from. They come from everywhere. Surely this is welcoming to migrants? A feeling of home, perhaps. A brief dip into some of the hodge podge of the words in use in English comes up with the following linguistic thefts:

Afrikaans (apartheid, commando, slim, trek),

Amoy - A Sino-Tibetan language (ketchup, tea)

Arabic (alcohol, calibre, monsoon, zero)

Avestan - An extinct language spoken in ancient Persia (bronze, magic, paradise)

Basque - A language spoken in Northern Spain and South West France that, remarkably, is unrelated to any other language in the world (anchovy, bizarre, jingo)

Bengali (bungalow, dinghy)

Carib (barbecue, cannibal, maize)

Czech (pistol, polka, robot)

Danish (fog, kidnap, ombudsman)

Dutch (boss, cookie, lottery, yacht)

Gaelic (bard, golf, slogan, whisky)

Gaulish (ambassador, carpenter, lawn, Paris)

Hungarian (coach, goulash, paprika, sabre)

Italian (bankrupt, fascist, opera, umbrella)

Japanese (judo, karate, soy, tycoon)

Marshallese (bikini)

Maya (cigar, shark)

Nahuatl (chocolate, guacamole, Mexico, tomato)

Nepali (Gurkha, panda)

Norse (berserk, husband, reindeer, window)

Phoenician (Bible, gypsum, purple)

Portuguese (breeze, flamingo, marmalade, molasses)

Russian (bistro, cosmonaut, mammoth, vodka)

Sanskrit (candy, orange, sugar)

Serbian (vampire)

Spanish (canyon, guitar, patio, tornado)

Swedish (boulder, mink, smorgasbord, Tungsten)

Tahitian (tattoo)

Taino - A language spoken in the Caribbean (guava, hammock, hurricane, potato)

Tamil (anaconda, curry, mango, pariah)

Tongan (taboo)

Tupi –A language spoken in the Amazon (cashew, maraca, piranha, tapioca)

Ukrainian (balaclava, Cossack)

For more, see here.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Nunc ambrosia!


Local authorities in the UK have ordered employees to stop using Latin words and phrases on documents written for public use.

According to The Sunday Telegraph, the ban has annoyed classical scholars who say it is the "linguistic equivalent of ethnic cleansing".

Salisbury Council has asked staff not to use ad hoc, ergo and QED (quod erat demonstrandum), while Fife Council has banned ad hoc as well as ex officio.

Bournemouth Council has listed 19 expressions that it no longer allows. They include bona fide, eg (exempli gratia), prima facie, ad lib or ad libitum, etc or et cetera, ie or id est, inter alia, NB or nota bene, per, per se, pro rata, quid pro quo, vis-a-vis, vice versa and even via.

The council noted to staff: "Not everyone knows Latin. Many readers do not have English as their first language so using Latin can be particularly difficult."

- local news.

Nunc ambrosia in turbini est!*

Now, I can understand some of them but so many are common usage anyway: eg: eg, ie, nb, etc, & via.

And what of words derived from Latin?

A brief list includes:
advert, agenda, agitator, album, alias, alibi, animal, apex, aquarium, Aquarius, arbiter, arena, Aries, August, autumn, axis, Britain, calendar, Cancer, captor, cardinal, circus, creator, creditor, curator, curriculum, cursor, Cyprus, data, December, discus, doctor, educator, equinox, February, focus, formula, forum, France, fungus, Gemini, genius, Germany, Greece, habitat, igneous, ignoramus, inch, index, inertia, inferior, innuendo, interior, joke, July, June, junior, Jupiter, Leo, liberator, Libra, London, March, Mars, matrix, maximum, May, medium, memorandum, Mercury, merit, mile, minimum, miracle, momentum, monitor, moratorium, motor, nebula, nectar, Neptune, nimbus, November, nubile, nucleus, obese, occult, October, omen, onus, orbit, pantomime, parent, pastor, peninsula, penis, picture, pirate, Pisces, premium, prohibit, pronoun, quadrant, quarantine, quota, rabid, radius, recipe, referendum, refrigerate, reign, relegate, religion, republic, respect, rostrum, rota, rude, Sagittarius, saliva, salubrious, sandal, sartorial, satellite, scale, segment, senior, September, series, silence, sinister, Spain, species, spectator, spectrum, stadium, stet, stimulus, street, study, stupid, suburb, superior, table, tacit, tandem, tavern, terminus, torpedo, transport, triangle, trident, ulterior, uniform, vacuum, vagina, valour, vehicle, ventriloquist, Venus, versus, veto, via, victim, victor, villa, violator, Virgo, virile.

Should these go too?

*Now the rice pudding's really hit the fan.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Just another snippet on the death sentence issue...


When Jason Jones was arrested in a fatal shooting in the Bronx in May, he told the police that he had been nowhere near the scene. He said he had left work, ridden the bus with some co-workers and cashed his paycheck, and later had taken a subway to see his girlfriend.

Federal prosecutors charged Mr. Jones and his older brother, Corey, in the shooting, saying they had killed the victim because he had been a government witness in drug and gun cases.

Both men could face the death penalty if the government decides to seek it.

But in recent weeks, the case has taken an extraordinary turn — because of Jason Jones’s MetroCard.

Months after the arrests, a retired detective working for Mr. Jones’s lawyers drove to a city jail located on a barge moored in the East River in the South Bronx, where Mr. Jones had been held after his arrest, and retrieved his wallet. The MetroCard was still inside.

Mr. Jones’s lawyers then asked New York City Transit to use the card to trace his movements the night of the shooting. The results supported his account, showing that the card had been used on a bus, and later on a subway roughly five miles from the shooting, just as he had described.

With that, and a photograph snapped of Mr. Jones, 26, as he cashed his paycheck, his lawyers argued that it was impossible for him to have committed the crime. Both brothers have been released on bond for now, an unusual step in a federal murder case, while prosecutors say they are continuing to investigate.

- New York Times.

Makes you think, no?

Now, it is the nature of prosecutors that once they have made an arrest then they defend that position valiantly, even if it means the death of an innocent person. The term is cognitive dissonance and the thought patterns go along the lines of (1) I am a decent person and (2) No decent person would arrest an innocent man. Therefore, as I am a decent man, the accused must really be guilty after all; we just haven't proved it yet.

Do not be surprised if the prosecutors start arguing that the accused hired a look alike to travel on the transport and collect his paycheck.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008


Had a service man call around today - the range hood fan had been playing up but, as is the way, it worked perfectly while the service guy was here *sniff* - anyhoo, the service guy took a phone call while he was here and his phone rang like a 'proper' phone. (It was actually an iPhone, so you can see where the call-out fee goes.)

"Ring-ring. Ring-ring. Ring-ring."

My phone, a bottom of the range Nokia but bought in Borneo after my previous bottom of the range Nokia was stolen, is also set to do a basic ring. But it sound much tinnier than the iPhone.

You gets what youse pays for, I guess.

What sort of ring tone does your phone have?