Wednesday, 29 December 2010

New Year's Resolutions may come back to bite me

I don't usually make New Year's Resolutions because they come back to bite me courtesy of my ever-alert family.

Yesterday, Miss Hissy pointed out that I would find it impossible to keep a resolution because I "never stick at anything". This coldly delivered observation was made after I took her to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (she's already seen it twice), bought her lunch at Sushi Train and took her to Dymock's so she could buy I am Four.

I don't think she meant her advice to cut so deep, but that's The Hiss. She is cruelty and malice wrapped in a cute package. Deceptive.

Despite this, I've decided to declare my New Year's Resolutions for 2011. I know I'm a fool, but what else was I gonna write about?

For what it's worth and if you're interested (yawn now) here they are:
1. I will be nice to The Hiss even though she's really mean to me*.
2. I will be less critical of my eldest daughter Precious Princess, who often leaves the house wearing outfits that leave little to the imagination and has a new boyfriend who rides a motorbike**. 
3. I will be kind to Spanner who still can't quite get around to setting up the mirror and towel rack in the bathroom, even though I bought them a year ago***.
4. I will finish my latest ms... and start another****.
5. I will achieve better ocean swim times*****.

*If you've met The Hiss, you will be aware of the momentous nature of this resolution. The Hiss is my greatest critic - she is 14.  
**PP turns 20 in 2011. PP does as PP likes. I have lost control, so have nothing to lose by accepting that while she might hear my words of wisdom, she chooses not to follow them.
***What more can I say? 
****This is two resolutions in one, and it's huge. The Hiss is correct when she says I find it hard to stick with something. I find it hard to finish a novel. I've just completed a short story, but that's a distraction. I've got to get a rough draft done by March. Gulp. And another started after that. I'm stressed already.
*****I couldn't really get any slower. "Faster, stronger, harder" is my new swimming mantra. Chortle.  

It is done. You read it here. Numbers 4 and 5 are probably the most tangible resolutions, though 1 to 3 could probably be measured by my blood-pressure count.

I don't have to start until January 1, 2011, so I've got a few more days to harangue Spanner about the chores around the house, to hassle The Hiss and send frantic text messages to PP, who is at a music festival somewhere in the wilds of Victoria.

In the meantime, back to the book... or should I do some housework and sort out the mess in the office? 

PS: I haven't included diet, drinking or exercise in my resolutions because there is no way I would be able to follow through. And would I really want to?

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Merry Boxing Day: Rolex Sydney to Hobart

Today it's raining in Sydney but Christmas Day was glorious.

After stuffing ourselves with cold ham, chicken, salads, pudding with brandy custard and pavlova with fresh strawberries, pawpaw and cream, we headed down to Rushcutters Bay to have a squiz at the Sydney to Hobart fleet.

The race starts at 1pm today, as it does every Boxing Day, so we'll probably drive to Watson's Bay and stand in the drizzle as these (mostly) magnificent boats leave Sydney Harbour for the journey south. The weather's meant to be pretty blustery.

I took some pics on my point-and-snap camera. Enjoy!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Sharks in Sydney Harbour

I start blabbing about sharks and my know-it-all friends (two actually) come onboard with fresh information. 
Mrs Onyabike refers me to a story in The Weekend Australian magazine, which compares the great white's hunting behaviour to that of a serial killer. According to the research quoted in the story, great whites are particular about their prey and return to the same location when about to hunt for food.

Supposedly to confirm the validity of the research, the journo then goes on to describe in gory detail those fatal shark attacks in Australia where the victim appears to have been the 'chosen one'.

I would like to mention that two of the fatalities were off the coast of South Australia and another was in WA (the breeding grounds for great whites) and another in a boating accident kilometres from the shore in Northern Queensland in 1977.

The weirdest of all though were two attacks off Byron Bay, 10 years apart, where both male victims had the last name 'Ford'.

My advice is to be careful swimming at Byron Bay if your last name is Ford. There's a local serial killer great white seeking out all Fords.

But really, what's the white pointer of this story? 

There were no dates provided, so the research obviously isn't new. My guess is it was commissioned by an editor who suddenly realised it was summer. And that's when Australians go to the beach. LIGHT BULB MOMENT. He then gets his hands on a couple of shark photos bound to scare the crap out of your average joe and sends his hack reporter off to research serial killer great whites. If you're interested, here's the link:

The next lot of news comes from Davo, who should be mowing the lawn on a Sundee, but instead has his mug (this is slang for 'face') in the paper (which means he was reading the newspaper when he should've been doing domestic chores*).

In The Sun-Herald, fishing columnist David Lockwood advises readers not to swim in the harbour because there's lots of sharks about.

I reckon this is scarier than Mrs Onyabike's story - according to local fishermen, whaler and bull sharks were spotted breeching in the harbour last week. Mary Mother of God (dunno how the rest goes as I'm not Catholic, but you get the gist).

Lockwood writes: 'Fishing guides report seeing sharks up to two metres cruising in the harbour this month.

'The potential maneaters have been spotted off the Opera House, in Darling Harbour, at Dobroyd Point and even in Middle Harbour.'

CRIKEY. My daughter Miss Hissy sailed at Middle Harbour today - she's also there tomorrow and Wednesday.

While summer 2010 was relatively free from shark sightings, it looks like the big fellas are back because of the abundance of fish in Sydney Harbour, including bonito and kingfish.

There are two Sydney Harbour swims coming up in the next few months. Am I worried? At the moment I'm more concerned about The Hiss. I reckon she's about as tender as Wagyu beef!

*explanation for anyone born after 1965

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Now for something completely different in the lead-up to Christmas: let's talk about sharks

I picked up a postcard that advertised an exhibition at the National Maritime Museum called Planet Shark - Predator or Prey. It's on until the February 27, 2011.

As an ocean swimmer, I find sharks fascinating and terrifying. I don't think about them every time I enter the open water, but when I get separated from the peloton (I told you I was slow and lacked a sense of direction) my imagination goes into overdrive as I consider the sonar signals my kicking size-7 feet might send out to a horde of ravenous carnivores.

Bruce the vegetarian shark does not exist. Sharks eat meat using their multiple rows of monstrous dagger-shaped teeth to tear into human flesh as the victim thrashes in a sea of her own blood while her limbs are severed - one by one. And so on and so forth. Blah blah blah.

But because I'm a rational person, I know my chances of being attacked by a shark are miniscule. On, there's a list of odds, which claims the chance of dying from a shark attack is 1 in 300,000,000.

This American website says 1 in 3 people will die from heart disease (go easy on the plum pudding and custard on Christmas Day) and there's a 1 in 18,585 chance of carking it in a car accident. And to really get you in a festive mood, the chance of dying from any kind of injury during the next year is 1 in 1820.

Sharks are seriously dangerous and I'm not gonna dangle my tootsies off most of the coast of South Australia or WA, but I'm also not getting my knickers in a knot when all the ocean swimming events I enter put swimmer safety first.

Here's what Time Out magazine says of the Maritime Museum exhibition:
Explore the murky myths and fascinating facts which have surrounded one of the most misunderstood animals on earth for centuries. Journey through Planet Shark and see full-scale specimen models, fossils, real teeth and jaws, original items from the 1975 movie Jaws and interviews with shark attack survivors. Gain a new level of respect and understanding for the oceans oldest predator.

Survivors of shark attacks often become sharks' greatest advocates. Navy diver Paul de Gelder, who lost his right hand and lower leg when he was attacked by a bull shark in Sydney Harbour in 2009, now lobbies the UN for stronger international trade regulations to protect sharks.

In an interview in September, de Gelder said: "Do we have the right to drive any animal to the brink of extinction before any action is taken? Regardless of what an animal does according to its base instincts of survival, it has its place in our world. We have an obligation to protect and maintain the natural balance of our delicate ecosystems."

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Oprah's at Bondi but all the action's at the 2010 Bilgola Ocean Swim

It's a long way from Bondi in the eastern suburbs to Bilgola on the northern beaches, and though Sydney is in the grip of Oprah hysteria some of us want to escape the hype.

So, on this magnificent day my temporary swim coach, Ms Fivestar, and I ditched Oprah at Bondi for the 1.5 km swim at Bilgola.

We met my brother-in-law Davo on the beach, where he confirmed the water temperature was a chilly 16 degrees. Davo and I swam 2 km in 15 degrees at Bondi the year of the Black Saturday bushfires. And it was bloody-headache-freezing. 

Today the organisers gave swimmers the option of wearing wetsuits or going 'newd'. We opted for the latter, though I wore two caps to keep my head warm.

The water may have been cold, but the surf was non-existent, which gladdened my wimpy heart. I don't like monster waves (last year's Bilgola swim had them and it was a bugger). I've been in enough huge-surf swims to know how friggin' tough it is out there. It's no fun having to watch your back as you swim to the beach to ensure you're not pulped my a dumper.

For me, the conditions were perfect. The four (?) waves of swimmers went off with three minutes between. Davo and I wished each other good luck as he sprinted ahead of me into the water. The cold was refreshing and the swim mostly blissful. No chop and a smooth run out through the buoy gates and then north-east to the red-balloon-topped buoy.

If you're a faithful reader of this blog, you'll know about my goggle issues (they always fog and fill up) and my lack of a sense of direction (I have no ocean sense). Today I had to empty out my goggles half-a-dozen times, a no-no in ocean swimming where stopping wastes precious seconds. However, I was fortunate to 'attach' myself to another green-capped swimmer who I could see out of the only clear bit of my goggles. I followed him around the buoys and he made a good choice coming in, avoiding a rip that held many swimmers up.

I shuffled up the beach and belched about a dozen times as the salt water I'd swallowed made its way back up. Erk.

Davo finished after me, which is a rare occurrence. If he's reading this, he would want me to add that he didn't swim at all during winter and that his last swim, in a pool, was about six weeks ago. 

I hope that makes you feel better Davo!

I have no idea about my time. I'll have to wait until the results are up on

Friday, 10 December 2010

Blondie and The Pretenders play the Enmore

Hot, steamy and sexy. No, it's not an erotic novel. It's Blondie and The Pretenders at the Enmore.

In my continued attempts to educate my youngest daughter, 14-year-old Miss Hissy, I took her to the Wednesday night gig, where 59-year-old Chrissie Hynde and 65-year-old Deborah Harry led the charge for baby-boomer rock and roll.

The Enmore is an intimate venue in Sydney's inner-west, where you can get up close to the stage. Because the punters, except for Miss Hissy, were in the 50s-plus demographic, it wasn't hard (we just kicked the Zimmer frames and sticks out of our way).

Because old people shrink, Miss Hissy (I will call her The Hiss from now on) had a birds-eye-view of both bands. The Pretenders were up first and, as much as oldies can go wild, the room went OFF.

Hynde has charisma in spades and still looks and moves like a 20-year-old (but I am a bit blind). Her voice is stronger than ever. Drummer Martin Chambers is the only other original band member, and he is phenomenal. 

I'm not saying that a band that's been around forever should regurgitate all their old hits, but let's face it - that's why the crowd was there. When the band launched into Precious and Message of Love, a roar went up. Everyone swayed like lovesick-teenagers to Stop Your Sobbing and Talk of the Town. The 75-minute set finished with Brass in Pocket. I was in heaven and so was The Hiss.

It couldn't get any better. But then there was Blondie. When Deborah Harry arrived on stage wearing a black punk-rock frock with multiple belts and layers of tulle, teamed with diamante-framed glasses, The Hiss turned to me and shouted: "She's awesome."

From then on, it just got better. Like Hynde, Harry has an amazing stage presence. She's still beautiful - good bone structure is so important. And all those years living a nocturnal existence have preserved her skin, which is flawless. 

Highlights for The Hiss and I were original band member Clem Burke on drums and the classics such as Hanging on the Telephone, One Way or AnotherAtomic (stunning), In the Flesh, Union City Blue, Call Me, The Tide is High (which became an audience sing-a-long), Rapture (with Harry's amazing rap) and Heart of Glass (they saved that for last). 

When, towards the end, Harry tore off her tulle skirt to reveal teensy shorts underneath, a couple of blokes in the audience had minor heart attacks. Age is a state of mind.  

Afterwards, The Hiss said "Thanks Mum". It was a night to remember.                                 

Monday, 6 December 2010

Social media does my head in

I found it ironic that the particpants of last Friday's social media workshop run by the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) were asked to bring along a pen and notepad.

Twenty-six pages of jottings later, I know why. There is just too much to digest on social media, with most of the day's activities focusing on Facebook and Twitter. This is why you'll see my newly established Twitter account on my blog. Arrrgh! What do I do next?

I feel that to keep up with the rest of the mob, I've got to be there in the thick of it. I have a Facebook account, but I don't go there often. It's a time-sucker.

As you can see from my blog, I don't take advantage of all the bells and whistles that can be attached to snazz it up. My Facebook is the same. 's all too complicated.

And as for Twitter, I can't understand why anyone would care about me having a coffee at a local cafe with the mum of one of my daughter's friends.

Unless you've got something interesting to tweet, don't bother. Which is why I haven't yet activated it on my phone. I am following six people and have three followers (Hi Tam!).

By the way, Julie Posetti, who ran the workshop, really knows her stuff. Despite this knowledge, she is in strife with The Australian newspaper's Editor in Chief Chris Mitchell who is threatening litigation over a tweet Posetti sent at a conference last week. If you have Twitter, you can follow the story from Julie and her huge band of supporters' POV at #twitdef. Or you can read all about it on Julie's blog at