Monday, 30 July 2012

James Magnussen (hopefully) learns a lesson in humility: why it's dumb to brag before you've got the gold medal around your neck

The Missile disarmed

Australia's great white hope (not shark) in the pool James Magnussen displayed all the braggadacio of an Alpha male gorilla after his team won its heat in the men's 4x100 meter freestyle relay at the London Olympics yesterday. 

Watching this from the lounge at home, I felt a twinge of embarrassment after he said something to the effect of: it was easy, I didn't really even try and I've got heaps of fuel left.

He went on to say that he calls it like it is. Fair enough. But why not temper that confident comment with some good old Aussie humility? Balance it out with something like but we shouldn't rest on our laurels, you never know how much tiger the other teams have in their tanks

Now Magnussen is licking his wounds, his team having placed 4th after France, USA and Russia in the final. 

I know 'The Missile' is young and has an enormous amount of pressure riding on him. Some Aussies have said that he doesn't deserve the flak from commentators. I just checked in to Facebook, where my coach Mr Mean and his groupies are carrying on about Magnussen being a big man for copping the blame. So he should. 

Sure, he's worked hard. But he's reaping the benefits financially and he needs to take responsibility for the stuff ups.

During a radio interview this morning former Olympian Lisa Curry said Magnussen and his team mates were mucking around before the final so it was no wonder the other teams were pissed off. This failure to place will have hopefully taught Magnussen 'The Missile' and his mates about the importance of good sportsmanship. 

Australians* have dominated for so long in the pool but they can no longer afford to behave like winning is a given as numerous other countries emerge as contenders for gold.

I'm just trying to call it like it is.

*Of course, the USA and The Netherlands have also played a big role in swimming over the past decade.  

Friday, 27 July 2012

Pommy codgers flock Down Under to flog Coles and shore up their retirement funds

Rick Parfitt from Status Quo (centre) in Sydney two years ago
Really truly, I've had enough of these Pommy has-beens swarming Down Under like European wasps to promote one of two supermarket chains that has a stranglehold on food and grocery retail in this country. 

It started with English comedienne Dawn French, who shouted at us from the box like some pumped-up used-car salesman and lathered herself into a frenzy over the wonders of shopping at Coles. 

She should do a shop with me at my local Coles where, over the years, my favourite brands have, one-by-one, disappeared from the shelves to be replaced by Coles' own products.

Other brands jostle for shelf space - having paid premium price to Coles for the privilege - to be lumped next to a Coles item that is 50 cents or more cheaper.

The other sneaky thing Coles does is copy the packaging of like products, so the consumer might accidentally pick up the Coles product having mistaken it for the name-brand item. A good example of this is Gippsland Dairy yoghurt. The Coles yoghurt packaging is almost the same, right down to fonts and colours. 

And let's not forget what Coles did to Australian dairy farmers - by slashing the price of milk to under $3, it did its best to decimate independent milk producers.  

Having endured French's swinging uvula for months, viewers are now copping an eye and earful of withered Pommy rockers Status Quo, droning out their tired anthem Down Down with new lyrics courtesy of Coles. Down Down Prices are Down Down Down Prices are Down.

Instead of playing guitars, the band members furiously strum the red hand of pain - a Coles gimmick, which is a foam rubber hand with the index finger pointing downwards*.

When I was 16 I flung myself at the stage at the Hordern Pavilion, so desperate was I to touch Status Quo singer/guitarist Francis Rossi. I was THAT close to becoming a groupie. I adored his long black hair and dark Italian looks. 

Thank God I wasn't athletic enough. Now all I wanna do is throw myself at Rossi's scrawny old-man throat and wring it. Deadset. 

French and Status Quo must be making a pretty penny out of our suffering. Thing is, Australian consumers have little choice but to shop at either Coles or Woolworths. They have a duopoly on grocery products. 

I make a point of NOT buying meat, fruit and vegetables from Coles. I prefer to shop at Harris Farm or Norton St Grocer. I also buy brand-name products, look at where the products are manufactured and try to buy Australian whenever possible.

Obviously the lure of the Aussie dollar was too much for a bunch of dessicated Cockneys and an ageing comedienne (not funny, Dawn). What a shame they failed to research the company they're spruiking and allowed greed to prevail over a moral conscience.  

Who will Coles haul in next? Charles and Camilla raving about Coles brand tampons?

God save us all.           

*Last year when I was in Cleveland in Queensland I saw a teenage girl and her boyfriend with a toddler in a stroller. The toddler clung to a foam rubber Coles hand - maybe it was given to him at the store as part of a promotion. I watched as the boyfriend took the hand from the toddler and whacked him over the head with it. At first the toddler laughed so the boyfriend kept it up, but he seemed to be hitting harder and harder. The toddler started to cry; the boyfriend thought this was funny. The girlfriend - I assume she was the mother - didn't even notice what was going on. This is the image that comes to mind whenever I see the Coles red hand of pain. 

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Noosa Heads, Queensland: a short break and a walk to Hell's Gates and back

Spanner doesn't like to travel far unless it revolves around Miss Hissy's sailing. So, it was a coup for him to agree to a short break in the school holidays. 

I suggested Fraser Island in Queensland but Spanner said it was "too islandy". He gave me two travel brochures - one on Adelaide in South Australia and the other on tropical north Queensland. After he informed me he didn't want to go anywhere cold and I explained that Adelaide copped Antarctic winds in winter, our choices were narrowed down to destinations in the Queensland brochure. I circled my preferences and left the final decision up to Spanner (after all, he's the one with the credit card). 

About a week later, as I was leaving work, I received a call from Spanner. He was at the local Flight Centre. "What about Noosa?" he asked in an agitated voice. 

This was the first time Noosa had been mentioned. It isn't in the tropical north Queensland brochure as it's just a two-hour drive north of that state's capital, Brisbane. It's not far from Fraser Island but I knew better than to push my case.
"Okay," I said. I was perplexed. We hadn't discussed the short break for a week(I thought, 'If it happens, it happens'). Noosa hadn't come up as an option. "Why Noosa?" I asked. 

"It's sort of warm, it's sort of close, it's on the coast and I can get us a room there."

I didn't hesitate. A holiday is a holiday, even if it's only for a couple of days. The reason for Spanner's haste was that it was 5.45pm and we were due at his dad's for dinner at 7pm. This left Spanner with a small time frame in which to purchase tomatoes, lettuce and avocado for a salad. Anxious times.

It took Spanner 10 minutes to choose a destination and to book our flights, accommodation and car hire. I bet the Flight Centre chick was ecstatic. You couldn't get an easier sale.

It was a relaxing break that ended way too soon. It rained on and off over the weekend but that didn't prevent us from seeing the sights. Here are some photos of our long weekend at Noosa Heads: 

The water was cool so it was in and out

Hell's Gates in Noosa National Park: looking at Alexandria Bay

I thought it was nice to be 'welcomed' to Hell's Gates

Hell's Gates: we saw turtles in here and dolphins further out

At Montville in the hinterland: looking towards the coast

Main Beach in Noosa Heads


Friday, 20 July 2012

Happy birthday Mr July: from the bottom of my heart

Mr July has been anxious to see himself (or part thereof) featured on this blog. I'm sorry it's taken so long but I've been in hibernation for the past week as the temperature plunges to all-time lows of around five degrees Celsius in Sydney. I can't bear it! Mr July* can bare it - but only for a select few. Consider yourselves lucky.

And so he doesn't feel quite so exposed, I have included a photo taken of me by The Hiss on a recent weekend away in Noosa Heads**. I rarely get the chance to relax in a bath, especially one with spa jets. I thought I was just emptying the spa bubbles into the bath before I turned on the spa. Unbeknown to me, Spanner squirted a whole tube of shampoo into the bath before I hopped in and turned on the spa.

God bless him.

 PS: The doggess is taking a well-earned break at a dog spa in Byron Bay. She is currently immersed in a blend of patchouli and frankincense oils but promises to return much invigorated in the next few days.

* Happy birthday Mr July! 

** More pics of Noosa Heads to come, along with references to koalas, dolphins, turtles and brush turkeys (rats with wings, if you ask me).

Monday, 9 July 2012

dogmatter: a practical explanation of the Higgs Boson thingymebob

Observe the dogmatter in the foreground
The discovery of the Higgs Boson (HB) thingy (aka the god particle) made headlines around the world (and beyond) as physicists rejoiced over the confirmation of HB's involvement in the creation of mass (or something like that).

To be honest, somewhere deep inside the inner lining of my guts I've known HB existed all along except I didn't have a name for it. 

Here's proof: I have found evidence that HB is at work in our upstairs bathroom - under the vanity, the dirty clothes basket and around the toilet. I'm amazed and intrigued that, even though the dog is not allowed upstairs, her fur can be found in the amassed particles that I wipe away with a wet sponge on a weekly basis.

The dog says it's just dogmatter, which leads me to speculate about the dog particle and dogs in space. 

I don't think this is going anywhere... it doesn't really matter.

I think I might just go and watch the end of Revenge with Spanner and get sucked into a black hole... 

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Words from the inner doggess: why 50 Shades of Grey really sucks

I started to read 50 Shades of Grey and I can't tell you how over it I am - and I'm not even up to the inner workings of the red room of pain. Like, who gives a toss?Red, blue, green, black, buttercup yellow. Grey with smoldering gray eyes. It's all mediocre drivel.

I know what you're thinking - I'm jealous because this woman who can barely write has managed to get her three books onto the international bestseller list and is being feted by the media worldwide. My head spins. 

OK, maybe I am a teensy bit envious but that's not the point. My fingers are numb from the cold and they wouldn't be if I was rich (from book royalties) and didn't have to turn the heater off in the middle of the day to save money. I will die in the 'attic of the wannabe author' who can't find the time to write because she has to work to support her ungrateful family (to tell the truth, it's to support her desire for the finer things in life, like a trip to Heron Island in October). But that's not the friggin' point.

It frustrates me that this trite story that loosely follows Stephenie  Meyer's Twilight, down to the hapless heroine's clumsiness, is so hugely successful. 

I'm highlighting 'she/he murmured' (two to four per page, for God's sake) and the numerous references to the heroine's 'inner goddess', which does a happy hula dance every time the hero sucks voraciously on her elongated, highly erect, standing-to-attention nipples and whatever else he can get his tongue around/up/into. 

The inner goddess is ruined for me solely because of this book. 

I go to the dog, who is wisdom herself. 

Me: "Why do I hate this book so much, yet I continue to read it?"

Dog: "You're just jealous."

Me: "That's not quite true... OK, maybe... a little bit. I can't stand the lack of eloquence, the repetition, the stupid heroine and her inane references to her sparkly inner goddess. I'm over it."

Dog: "Rise above it to embrace your inner doggess. Howl at the moon. Gnaw on a bone, suck on your own bits. Your time will come."

Take from that what you will. I took the 'your time will come' part because unless you're double jointed or incredibly dextrous (or you happen to be a dog) it takes a big effort to suck your bits. 

Speak soon. 

PS: When I finish this bloody book, I will note the number of annoying she murmured/he murmured attributions. I mean, people don't murmur in real life. What the frig is wrong with 'she said/he said'?
PPS: Spanner, who has read 2.5 of the books but can't quite finish the third, pointed out that the hero Christian Grey constantly cocks his head to one side, rubs his thumb along Ana's cheek or jawline and presses his chiselled lips into a hard line.

PPPS: And I forgot to mention the peeking. (see comments)

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Barrenjoey Lighthouse at Palm Beach in Sydney

Not feeling inspired to write tonight but I thought these pics I took today might be of some interest.

The whales are heading north and yesterday Spanner and Miss Hissy jumped on a whale watching boat captained by a friend and went outside the heads at Sydney Harbour. They saw around a dozen humpbacks - not all together but in pods of two and three - heading towards warmer waters. I don't blame them. It's bloody freezing in Sydney. I'd like to join them.

I don't have photos of whales because the ones taken by The Hiss aren't that impressive, even though the whales were around 25 metres from the yacht.

Instead, I've popped up the photos I took today when Spanner and I walked to Barrenjoey Lighthouse at Palm Beach.

The weather was temperamental - sunny and warm one minute, cloudy and cold the next. Invigorating.

I hope you enjoy them. I will endeavour to bring the dog back into the conversation this coming week. She's muttered wise words that need to be recorded for posterity.

Barrenjoey Lighthouse

Palm Beach left and Pittwater right
Here's a couple more to whet your appetite for the beautiful part of the world that's 40 winding kilometres from Sydney's CBD.

We saw a lot of these pretty flowers on the walk

Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club at Newport