Monday, 17 December 2007

The Next Survivor Series

Thanks to Kathryn for this one. Add to this list work full-time and run a small business and you've pretty much got it covered. -MG


Six married men will be dropped on an island with one car and 3 kids each for six weeks.

Each kid will play two sports and either take music or dance classes.

There is no fast food.

Each man must take care of his 3 kids; keep his assigned house clean, correct all homework, complete science projects, cook, do laundry, and pay a list of 'pretend' bills with not enough money. In addition, each man will have to budget in money for groceries each week.

Each man must remember the birthdays of all their friends and relatives and send cards out on time.

Each man must also take each child to a doctor's appointment, a dentist appointment and a haircut appointment. He must make one unscheduled and inconvenient visit per child to the Urgent Care (weekend, evening, on a holiday or right when they're about to leave for vacation).

He must also make cookies or cupcakes for a social function.

Each man will be responsible for decorating his own assigned house, planting flowers outside and keeping it presentable at all times.

The men will only have access to television when the kids are asleep and all chores are done.

Each father will be required to know all of the words to every stupid song that comes on TV and the name of each and every character on cartoons.

Each man will have to make an Indian hut model with six toothpicks, a tortilla and one marker; and get a 4 year old to eat a serving of peas.

Each man must adorn himself with jewelry, wear uncomfortable yet stylish shoes, keep their nails polished and eyebrows groomed. The men must try to get through each day without snot, spit-up or barf on their clothing.

During one of the six weeks, the men will have to endure severe abdominal cramps, back aches, and have extreme, unexplained mood swings but never once complain or slow down from other duties. They must try to explain what a tampon is for when the 6-yr old boy finds it in the purse.

They must attend weekly school meetings, church, and find time at least once to spend the afternoon at the park or a similar setting.

He will need to read a book to the children each night without falling asleep, and then feed them, dress them, brush their teeth each morning by 7:00 . They must leave the home with no food on their face or clothes.

A test will be given at the end of the six weeks, and each father will be required to know all of the following information: each child's birthday, height, weight, shoe size, clothes size and doctor's name. Also the child's weight at birth, length, time of birth, and length of labor, each child's drink, favorite toy, biggest fear and what they want to be when they grow up, favorite color, middle name, favorite snack, favorite song, best friend.

They must clean up after their sick children at 2:00 a.m. and then spend the remainder of the day tending to that child and waiting on them hand and foot until they are better.

They must have a loving, age appropriate reply to 'You're not the boss of me'.

The kids vote them off the island based on performance. The last man wins only if he still has enough energy to be intimate with his spouse at a moment's notice.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

The Perfect Dress

This one was sent to me by my DSIL Jan. --MG


Jennifer's wedding day was fast approaching. Nothing could dampen her excitement -- not even her parents' nasty divorce. Her mother had found the PERFECT dress to wear and would be the best dressed mother-of-the-bride ever!

A week later, Jennifer was horrified to learn that her father's new young wife had bought the exact same dress as her mother! Jennifer asked her step mom to exchange it, but she refused.

"Absolutely not, I look like a million bucks in this dress, and I'm wearing it," she replied.

Jennifer told her mother who graciously said, "Never mind sweetheart. I'll get another dress. After all, it's your special day."

A few days later, they went shopping and did find another gorgeous dress. When they stopped for lunch, Jennifer asked her mother, "Aren't you going to return the other dress? You really don't have another occasion where you could wear it."

Her mother just smiled and replied, "Of course I do, dear. I'm wearing it to the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding."

Sunday, 11 November 2007

A Dog Story

This was posted to my other blog on the 30th of December, 2006.

In the mornings, I go for a long walk along the local reserve on Sydney Harbour's foreshores. Because I've taken some time off work between Christmas and New Years Day, I've been going later in the morning and see lots more people out walking than I usually do. And I've seen lots more dogs as well.

This morning there were lots of dogs and their owners out and I saw something I don't usually see during my early morning walks: the dog-smelling-dog ritual greeting. And this, in turn, reminded me of a story that my dad always told my brothers and I while we were growing up . He always swore that it was true.

Now, there aren't many stories that my dad told us while we were growing up that I can share with anyone outside my immediate family. But I think I can get away with this one if I tell it carefully.

Once upon a time, my dad would say, there was a big dance hall where all the dogs would go on Saturday night for dancing. Dogs from all around would gather at the big dance hall every week, some coming from miles and miles away.

Before they would go into the dance hall, each dog would hang their dog bottom up outside the door, like people hang up their coats on a winter night, on rows and rows of coat hooks. After dancing the night away, they would collect their dog bottom on their way out of the dance hall and head on home.

One Saturday night, tragedy struck and a fire broke out at the big dance hall. In their panic to escape the flames, the dogs just grabbed any old dog bottom on their way out of the dance hall. Of course, they didn't grab their own dog bottom but got someone else's. Which means that some other dog has their dog bottom.

And that is why dogs smell each other's bottom when they meet, just in case they found their dog bottom lost the night of the fire at the big dance hall.

Even after all these years, his dog story still makes me laugh.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

The Race That Stops A Nation

For the Australians who read this blog, this post isn't really for you. It's for everyone else who has probably never heard of the Melbourne Cup.

Today was the running of the annual Melbourne Cup thoroughbred horse race, also known as The Race That Stops a Nation. It is a key event in the Spring Racing Carnival at Flemington Race Track. With the quarantine on transportation of horses in NSW and Queensland because of the equine flu outbreak, there were questions around whether or not the race would be held. As if.

Melbourne Cup is so important that it is a public holiday in metropolitan Melbourne so that nothing gets in the way of the race. But I prefer the way it is celebrated in Sydney. Everyone fronts up to work as normal but lots knock off about noon for a Cup Day lunch, with friends or co-workers, that lasts until the race at 3pm. There are the obligatory bets and the ubiquitous sweeps and the odd glass of champagne and more hats than you could shake a stick at. As 3pm approaches, everyone watches the Cup on the nearest big screen TV. Then it is back to work as if nothing was out of the ordinary. Productivity for the day may suffer, but it is the Melbourne Cup.

While Australia is a nation of punters (translation: gamblers), for lots of us, Melbourne Cup is the only day that we set foot into the TAB (translation: where you go to place bets in NSW). To take some of the pressure off the city TABs, they open a huge TAB in Martin Place, the large pedestrian mall in the heart of the Sydney CBD. It is usually packed and has extra staff on hand to handle all the questions of once-a-year punters.

This year, I not only bet on the tips from a friend's dad, but I also bet on jockey Michael Rodd, the nephew of my good friend Pennie Darling. And I had quite a few winners, including the Cup itself. That's right, sports fans, Michael Rodd was riding Efficiency, this year's winner of the Melbourne Cup. I've never picked the winner of the Melbourne Cup before so I was pretty chuffed. Thank you Pennie!

Horse racing has a long history in Australia, dating back to the very beginning of the Sydney colony. I can't find my copy of The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes to confirm the details, but I remember a story that strikes me as being quintessentially Australian.

It seems that the powers that be in the colony decided that the convicts would benefit from the civilising influences of a day of horse racing. So it was decided to give the convicts a day off from their labours with two provisos: (1) no gambling and (2) no drinking.

The big race day came and was a huge success. Except for two things: (1) the next day, most convicts were still too drunk to work and (2) the ones who weren't still drunk couldn't work because they were naked. Seems that the convicts didn't have any money to bet on the races so they bet their clothes or they traded their clothes for rum.

Somehow, Melbourne Cup seems a bit tame in comparison.

P.S. I wrote this on Tuesday night but forgot to hit the Publish Post button. Ooops.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

My Favourite Australian Joke

This won't make much sense to the non-Aussies who read this, but here goes, my all-time favourite Australian joke:

The last sheep was shorn and two shearers started to talk as they gathered up their belongings. The first shearer says to the second one, 'Now that the shearing season is over, what are you going to do?"

The second shearer thinks for a minute and says, "I think I'm going to go down to Sydney."

The first shearer asks, "Which route are you going to take?"

The second shearer thinks for a minute and then answers, "I think I'll take the wife. She stayed with me through the drought."

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Clever New Proverbs

Thanks to Shirley for sending me these. --MG
  1. Home is where you hang your @.
  2. The e-mail of the species is more deadly than the mail.
  3. A journey of a thousand sites begins with a single click.
  4. You can't teach a new mouse old clicks.
  5. Great groups from little icons grow.
  6. Speak softly and carry a mobile phone.
  7. C:\ is the root of all directories.
  8. Oh, what a tangled web-site we weave when first we practice.
  9. Pentium wise, pen and paper foolish.
  10. The modem is the message.
  11. Too many clicks spoil the browse.
  12. The geek shall inherit the earth.
  13. There's no place like home page.
  14. Don't byte off more than you can view.
  15. Fax is stranger than fiction.
  16. What boots up, must come down.
  17. Windows will never cease.
  18. Virtual reality is its own reward.
  19. Modulation in all things.
  20. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to use the Net and he won't bother you for weeks.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Madtv - Apple I-rack

This is just too funny ...

A Fred Story

This one was published on my other blog on the 28th of March, 2007.

My dad's birthday was on Tuesday and he would have been 74. I still miss him and thought about him a bit more than usual this week. And, as often happens with my dad, I was reminded of a Fred story ...

From the time I was born and through the first couple of years of school, my dad was going to graduate school and getting first his Masters degree and then his PhD in Mechanical Engineering while also teaching at uni and working full time. Part of the unfinished basement was fitted out as a combo den and office so he could study. The old TV and lounge were put down there as was an old Franklin stove (cast iron wood burning stove) to keep the cold Connecticut winters at bay. He had an old china tea pot, white with royal blue swirls and gold accents, that sat on top of the Franklin stove to keep the tea warm. I've never been able to find a teapot that looks anything like that one I remember from the basement.

My dad worked hard at everything he did and our family life in those years was organised around his very busy schedule. As a family, we still celebrated birthdays, but always in the middle of the night. Dad would get home from uni well after we'd gone to bed. So we'd be rousted out of bed in the dead of night and sit around the kitchen table in our jammies singing 'Happy Birthday' and waiting for the lucky parent or kid to blow out the candles before tucking into cake and ice cream. When we were finished, we had to brush our teeth AGAIN and go back to bed. The family dog must have thought we were nuts.

It was years before I found out that normal families celebrated family birthdays during the day. I felt a bit sorry for them.

We always used the backs of my dad's draft thesis and dissertation papers for drawings and writing stories and colouring. I remember when his final draft dissertation was stolen out of his car at uni. This was well and truly in the days before computers so the entire document had to be recreated from the previous drafts and notes and stuff. I'm not sure who I felt sorrier for, my dad or his typist!

Finally, the big day came and my dad was going to get his PhD. I was in the 5th grade, so I was about 10 or 11. My brothers and I were kept home from school, a very rare event because at my house, the only way you got to stay home from school when I was a kid was if you were projectile vomiting, going for both accuracy and distance, or had blood squirting on the walls or had a temperature of over 107F. Otherwise, off to school you go. But today was special and we going to the commencement ceremony at the University of Connecticut (UConn) in Storrs.

Let me digress for a moment ...

When I was in primary school, the classes were overflowing with kids. Each class was full to the gills. The only exception was the class for the mentally retarded kids. They did lots of things together with the other kids in the school, called 'main streaming' at the time, but they still had special classes every day that were just for them and there were about a third of the kids in their entire special class compared to my 5th grade class.

So, back to my Fred story.

We sat upstairs in a huge hall; I can still remember looking down at all the little people in their caps and gowns. We sat there as groups of UConn graduates get their diplomas. First they do the Associate degrees ... gowns and mortar boards (those flat graduation hats) ... calling out the names, handing over the diploma case and shaking hands. Then, group after group of Bachelor degrees ... gowns and mortar boards. They went on forever. Then a couple of small groups of Master degrees ...gowns and mortar boards. Then, finally, the PhD gradates ... just a couple of people (including my dad) with gowns but, instead of mortar boards, they wore funny baggy beanie hats.

I was devastated. My dad was retarded! That was why it took him so long to graduate. All the other kids on my street had a black&white photo at home of their very young-looking dad in a gown and mortar board. My dad was old in comparison, really old. So, my dad was retarded. Small class, funny hat ... the proof was overwhelming. No denying it. My dad was retarded.

When I went back to school the next day, all my friends asked where I'd been. I was too embarrassed to tell them the truth so I lied and told them I was sick.

I figured out the truth later and don't know if I ever told my dad this story. But it makes me laugh now.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Birthday Remembrance

This week we celebrate a special birthday. Monica Lewinsky turned 31. Can you believe it?

It seems like only yesterday she was crawling around the White House on her hands and knees and putting everything in her mouth.

They grow up so fast, don't they?

(Thanks to Shirley for this one. --MG)

Saturday, 30 June 2007

Before You De-Couple ...

When you are married and things aren't going well or you are getting restless or are bored, it is easy to look at your friends who aren't married and long for their life instead of you own. Those rose coloured glasses can keep you from seeing how things look from those of us who live it every day.

So I have decided to let you know what it's like to be a Divorced Woman in the Big City. Of course, this is just my perspective and your mileage may vary.

Are You Ready To Trade Him In For Another Model?
To set the stage, let me say that I've spent about the same amount of my adult life single as I did married. I haven't dated as many men as, say the character Sam on Sex in the City, but I've dated my share since my divorce.

If a man over 40 is available and some woman who can spot an eligible man over the age of 40 at half a kilometre in the dark and she hasn't married him yet, there is a reason. It might be obvious ... it might not be ... but the reason is there.

My experience is that men over 40 are really looking for someone to take care of them because they can't or don't want to take care of themselves. They are attracted to strong, independent women because they know she can do it.

When I refer to a strong, independent woman in this context I mean that she has no needs, no wants, puts no demands on his time or emotions or money and is totally self-sufficient. If she ever exhibits any needs, wants or ask for a modicum of support, he'll head for the hills complaining bitterly that women are all the same, ball-breakers just like his ex-wife. However, this does not prevent him from using her as an oxygen tank to suck dry in order to meet his needs and wants.

I figure if their mum's couldn't raise them and their previous wives or girlfriends or de factos couldn't raise them, why would I want to take on the job raising them? I have promised myself that I won't raise anyone that I didn't give birth to. That pretty much eliminates most available men over 40 from consideration.

If you aren't happy taking care of the husband you've got now, how do you know that the next man in your life is going to be any better? My money says that he'll be worse. So Caveat Emptor -- Let the Buyer Beware.

And Now You Are One
You will come home day after day with no one to share the trials and tribulations of your day. You will be the one to pat yourself on the back when things go well and you will be the one to console yourself when things don't. Of course, you'll have your friends -- where would we be without them? -- but they have their own lives and families and partners. You're on your own, kiddo.

In addition, you get to deal with the daily fallout from the impact the divorce has had on the kids. They won't tell their father how they feel because they are worried that he won't like it and will see them even less than he does now. If he remarries, what happens to them? And they will wonder if the divorce was somehow their fault. And who bears the brunt of their confusion and frustration and guilt? This lovely tsunami of emotion is coming your way and there is no where to hide. They know that they can do this to you because you won't ever leave them.

And Now You Are Looking for The Next One
Be prepared to be seen as a threat to still-married women who used to be in your local circle of friends but now view you as a threat to their marriage, their family and their way of life. Suddenly they are busy or forget to call you back ... a hundred very plausible reasons that you won't stay in touch.

You will be amazed at the number of school or work or social functions that you won't be comfortable attending without a partner. When you were married you would have laughed at this but when you are the one with out a date, it all changes. And if you've been married for a really long time, you are out of practice at doing these things on your own.

And having a husband who wouldn't go to them with you so you went alone doesn't count. You were married then and you aren't now. Being available instead of married means that the old rules don't apply any more.

And just where are you going to find this guy? Of course single men flirt with you when you are married. It's safe for them. But once you are single, they seem to evaporate. And meeting new men isn't that easy when you are now shouldering all the responsibilities for the children. Of course, a woman over 40 with kids who just came through an unpleasant divorce ... who wouldn't find that attractive?

And Now You've Found The Next One
Lucky you. You won't ever be alone with him. The ghost of his ex-wife will be with you every moment as he complains or constantly thinks about the last stunt she pulled or what she's got the kids doing or wondering what she's up to or something ... it will always be something.

You will get treated to endless tales of how he was hard done by in court or how she manipulated things to her advantage and he ended up screwed. Of course, that isn't how it happened but he'll chew it over and over for years. All for your regular listening pleasure.

And you will be in the queue behind his kids and his ex-wife and his hurt pride. Might be a bit tough if you are used to being higher in the queue than that.

The tricky bit is that, even if you end your marriage without to much drama and get an absolutely fabulous financial settlement, you aren't out of the woods. You are bringing with you all your foibles and hang-ups and problems into your next relationship. What's to stop it from all ending up the same way again? You are already half way there.

And Then There is Sex ...
I loved the episode of Sex and the City where Carrie has the line: "We made love like teenagers. He was terrible and I didn't say anything." It was followed later by the line: "He thinks that sex is like masturbating but with a woman instead of his hand."

If I had a dollar for every time a divorced man complained "I never understood why my wife stopped having sex with me", I'd retire now, a wealthy woman.

The first time I heard this, I said without any hesitation, "I know why. You're really not very good at it." Well, that is the abridged version. If memory serves, I burst out laughing and my answer was much more detailed and thorough than what I've written above. There is a very good chance that the term "shithouse" was used, more than once. But you get the idea. Since then, I've learned to suppress the comment and am still working on the laughter.

Studies show that men think about sex, on average, every three minutes. If it is so important to them, how can they make it to 40 and, with a few notable exceptions, be so incredibly bad in bed? Don't give me that crap about problems men face as the get older. I get spam emails every day offering Viagra and can't listen to the radio without hearing a dozen ads for 'nasal delivery technology'. That's not what I'm talking about.

If sex is so important to men, why don't they know more about it? Their practical knowledge of female physiology is non-existent except for a vague idea of where to find your vagina. They have no idea how to satisfy a woman in bed. And the idea that satisfying your partner in bed is a good thing seems to totally foreign to most men.

His Next Wife
Statistically, your husband is much more likely to re-marry than you are. How will you feel when he brings his new girlfriend or wife to family functions ... graduations, weddings, family gatherings, family holidays down the coast? She'll be there and so will you. Or she'll be invited and you won't.

And your kids are going to meet her and, in all likelihood, will like her. A lot. And they'll talk about her and her kids and things they all did together. And she'll be way cooler than you are. Maybe younger. Probably better educated. And prettier. And dress better. And thinner. With perkier breasts.

It's gonna happen, so best to be ready.

Divorced-Induced Poverty
It is more likely that your ex-husband will bounce back financially from the divorce than you will. And that you will never be as well-off financially once divorced as you were when you were married and had stayed married.

And you can kiss your comfortable retirement good-bye. You won't be able to afford it. So it is very likely that you will continue to work for as long as you are physically able. And I hope that you enjoy working because you'll be doing it for the rest of your life.

It's easy to say that the money doesn't matter when you live comfortably indoors and are used to eating regularly. But it's another thing all together when you have to sell your home and some of your possessions in order to stay out of bankruptcy and keep food on the table.

And In Closing ...
There are a number of very good reasons to get divorced -- alcohol or drug abuse, physical or psychological abuse, mental illness -- but boredom or frustration probably aren't near the top of that list. Divorce isn't a decision that should be made after surveying your friends for what they think. What if all your friends are getting divorced or talking about it and that's got you wondering if you should too? Just because it's suddenly in fashion doesn't make it a good thing.

Deciding about divorce is a decision that you have to make for yourself and for good reasons. But I can tell you that being single and over 40 is not the picnic that it might look like from inside an unhappy or boring marriage. Before you make the leap, you should know what kind of aromatic decaying fecal matter you might be landing in and how deep it can be.

But if you are thinking about ending your marriage, then let me wish you luck, no matter which way you decide to go, from someone who's been there and will quite happily stay divorced for the rest of her life. I can not imagine anything or anyone that could induce me back into marriage again. But, as I said before, your mileage may vary.

I Am The Queen

I am consolidating some stuff I wrote on my other blog to this one. Don't worry, two new posts are in the works, they just need a bit more ... refining, to be ready to be published. In the meantime, some older works will be migrated here.

So, from the 11th of March 2007 post to my other blog, please enjoy I Am The Queen

This was originally published on 23 August 1996 by Susan Reimer who writes for The Baltimore Sun and it is a relevant now as it was then. Maybe more so as HRH has so recently discovered. I've included it here with Susan's permission.

"I am the queen," she said. "Everything you need to know starts with that fact."

Standing over her kitchen sink, her anger and agitation churning the soapy water, she was washing the dishes and recounting to me the moment when her relationship with her children changed.

Not right away, perhaps. It occurred to me that they might have recognized the scene she was describing as the periodic price of doing business with Mom and kept their heads down until it was over.

But for this woman, it was life changing. She was Copernicus, telling the world that the sun did not revolve around it, but it around the sun.

"I am not a doormat or a domestic servant. I am not a helpmate or a handmaiden. I am not your personal cheerleading section," she had told them.

"I am the queen of your world. I am She Who Must Be Obeyed. I am the straw that stirs the drink. I am Da Man. I am the be-all and end-all for all of you."

That is what she told them the morning she found clean clothes in the hamper, the results of sartorial indecision someone was too lazy to return to the dresser.

The morning she found the cap missing from the root beer and the carton of melted ice cream in the cupboard where she kept the drinking glasses.

The morning she found all those plastic sleeves from freeze pops littering the carpet in front of the television.

The morning she realized that her family (like that of the heroine of Anne Tyler's novel Ladder of Years) might not be able to describe her for a missing person's report.

"I am the reason there is always more toilet paper under the bathroom sink," she told them. "I am the reason there is always more ketchup in the pantry.

I am the reason none of you has measles, mumps or rubella," she said. "I make it happen around here. I grease the skids in your happy little lives. I feed you, I clothe you, I comfort you. I sign you up and then I drive you there, and I am not waiting any longer for you to notice.

You guys will worship the ground I walk on, and it will start now."

She demanded that they do what she could not get done and express their gratitude for what she did. She no longer asked for "help" because that implied the job was hers, done by them only as a favor or an act of generosity.

So she assigned tasks, and if they whined, or did them too poorly or too slowly, she assigned more tasks. They were indentured servants for weeks before they realised that she wasn't kidding.

These were not chores, they were responsibilities. And there were no cash bonuses, no praise, no good-job kisses for their completion.

For years, she had hustled to meet their expectations of her. Now they would live up to her expectations of them, or no one would ever go to the movies or horseback riding ever again.

Her face turned the color of her hands in the hot water as she remembered the scene. It had been no outburst, but an epiphany, the moment when she realised that she was a parent, not a character from Remains of the Day.

During a weekend visit, I saw that the queen's new law had been written on the hearts of her people. Tasks were done without complaint, and the family machine worked relatively smoothly.

I also saw a mother who was no longer a martyr but a manager -- delegating, not doing it all.

My own children, the little Prince and Princess for whom I played chambermaid for so long, did not see these things, and they flinched with surprise when, upon my return home, I declared:

"I am the queen. Everything you need to know starts with that fact ..."

Monday, 18 June 2007

Homepage Daily

If you are interested in getting a different perspective on the news of the day, check out HomepageDAILY. There is lots of good content here as well as some different opinions expressed. The Feedback section always makes for interesting reading.
Joe Bob says, "Check it out!"

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Springboks 22 v Wallabies 19

Well, it wasn't the score I was hoping for but that's the only thing about the game that I can complain about. Almost.

The Wallabies played the best rugby I've seen years. Yes, it isn't saying that much given their bad form since the last World Cup, but it is so definitely a step in the right direction. They played with rhythm, enthusiasm and some of the best defence I've seen so far this season. And the Wallabies got a bonus point! When was the last time they got one of those? Watching them play was a truly thing of beauty.

Except for three players who I won't mention by name because that wouldn't be fair. So I'll use their initials out of respect. Stephen Moore, Julian Huxley and Stephen Larkham were the standouts as the Shockers of the Match.

I'm no expert, but how hard is it to throw the ball in straight for a lineout? The other players even line up, giving you a bit of a channel to aim down. But Stephen Moore is a true individual and won't let the restrictive rules, excuse me, laws of the game get in the way of his creative genius. Thank goodness someone decided to put Al Freier back into the game, but not nearly soon enough. Stephen has earned lots of quality bench time.

As a Waratahs fan (yes, my Rugby Tragic streak runs deep), I confess to being somewhat partial to Peter Hewitt who was passed over yet again by the Wallabies selectors because of some perceived weakness in his game. Thanks to their keen insight, we were graced with the consistently appalling performance of Julian Huxley. If there was a time we needed the kick to go into touch, our mate Julian popped the pill into the waiting arms of any convenient Springbok, usually a really fast one. And when we needed the ball to stay in play, he'd kick it into touch. That kind of insight simply can't be taught; it's got to be a gift. Peter, I hope you were taking notes. Don't do anything Julian did Saturday night and you'll go far.

Which brings me to Stephen Larkham. Not one of his best nights. Not even a mediocre night. Saturday would have to have been one of the worst games he's ever had. And that would put it at the top of a pretty short list. We needed him to be in form and he wasn't.

In recognition and as an appropriate reward for their special contributions on Saturday, I believe that these three guys shouldn't be give tickets back to Australia with the rest of the team but allowed the opportunity to find their own way home. And, hopefully, they will take that time to contemplate the cranio-rectal extraction that each of them so desperately needs and sort themselves out.

And this Saturday night, I'm hoping that the All Blacks sort out the Springboks. It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth ...

I always heard that being a parent is the toughest job in the world and that being the parent of a teen-aged daughter is even tougher. But I never realised just how tough it could be until this afternoon.

My formerly darling 12yo daughter has informed me that she will watch the Wallabies game with me tonight but only so she can watch them lose to South Africa. And that she's going for the All Blacks in the World Cup.


She was raised better than this. Where did I go wrong?

Predictions from This Rugby Tragic

Tonight, the Wallabies take on the Springboks in Cape Town. Bring on the Tri-Nations series!

I've been told that you could put a bunch of little old Kiwi grannies in All Blacks jumpers and they'd kick ass. I can almost see them now doing the Haka , especially the throat-slashing one, and am quite happy not to put them to the test, mostly because I can't imagine any side would be willing to face them.

No matter how the South Africans play in the Super 14 competition, they always raise their game when they don the national jersey and take to the paddock in front of their home crowd. Let's face it, the same is true for the national side of every rugby-playing nation. But it appears that, after years of pretty mediocre playing, even by Six Nations standards, the Springboks are actually showing some form. OK, the Poms didn't really put up much of a fight. And, as much as I enjoy watching any of the 3 Pacific Islands play (Fiji, Tonga and Samoa), they simply aren't in the same class as the Springboks.

But like most truly tragic Wallabies fans, I wait for tonight's game with some trepidation. The Wallabies at their recent worst are playing better than the English side, the defending World Cup champs, at their best. But then again, since the last World Cup, the Poms haven't exactly set that bar very high. And I didn't read about any drongo behaviour from the Aussies while they have been in South Africa. Maybe things are starting to look up.

So, I'd like to go on the record and predict that the Wallabies will win over the Springboks. Or won't be beaten too badly. Or won't embarrass themselves too much. No, scratch that, I'll go with a win. There are times when you just have to be an optimist and believe that the best will happen. So I'm going to keep the faith and stick with the Wallabies over the Springboks tonight.

But you can't really be surprised. I vote Democratic in US Presidential elections too.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Know Your State Motto

These wouldn't be quite so funny if they weren't quite so true. Thanks to Carol for this one. --MG

Alabama: Hell, Yes, We Have Electricity.

Alaska: 11,623 Eskimos Can't Be Wrong!

Arizona: Yes, But It's A Dry Heat.

Arkansas: Literacy Ain't Everythang.

California: By 30, Our Women Have More Plastic Than Your Honda.

Colorado: If You Don't Ski, Don't Bother.

Connecticut: Like Massachusetts, only smaller.

Delaware: We Really Do Like The Chemicals In Our Water.

Florida: Ask Us About Our Grandkids. And Our Voting Skills.

Georgia: We Put The Fun In Fundamentalist Extremism.

Hawaii: Haka Tiki Mou Sha'ami Leeki Toru (Death To Mainland Scum, Leave Your Money)

Idaho: More Than Just Potatoes. Well, Okay, We're Not, But The Potatoes Sure Are Real Good

Illinois: Please, Don't Pronounce the "S"

Indiana: 2 Billion Years Tidal Wave Free

Iowa: We Do Amazing Things With Corn

Kansas: First Of The Rectangle States

Kentucky: Five Million People; Fifteen Last Names

Louisiana: We're Not ALL Drunk Cajun Wackos, But That's Our Tourism Campaign.

Maine: We're Really Cold, But We Have Cheap Lobster

Maryland: If You Can Dream It, We Can Tax It

Massachusetts: Our Taxes Are Lower Than Sweden's And Our Senators Are More Corrupt

Michigan: First Line Of Defense. From The Canadians

Minnesota: 10,000 Lakes ... And 10 Zillion Mosquitoes

Mississippi: Come Visit And Feel Better About Your Own State

Missouri: Your Federal Flood Relief Tax Dollars At Work

Montana: Land Of The Big Sky, The Unabomber, Right-wing Crazies, and Honest Elections

Nebraska: Ask About Our State Motto Contest

Nevada: Hookers and Poker!

New Hampshire: Go Away And Leave Us Alone

New Jersey: You Want A ##$%##! Motto? I Got Yer ##$%##! Motto Right here!

New Mexico: Lizards Make Excellent Pets

New York: You Have The Right To Remain Silent, You Have The Right To An Attorney. And No Right To Self Defense!

North Carolina: Tobacco Is A Vegetable

North Dakota: We Really Are One Of The 50 States!

Ohio: At Least We're Not Michigan

Oklahoma: Like The Play, But No Singing

Oregon: Spotted Owl... It's What's For Dinner

Pennsylvania: Cook With Coal

Rhode Island: We're Not REALLY An Island

South Carolina: Remember The Civil War? Well, We Didn't Actually Surrender, Yet!

South Dakota: Closer Than North Dakota

Tennessee: Home of the Al Gore Invention Museum

Texas: Se Hable Ingles

Utah: Our Jesus Is Better Than Your Jesus

Vermont: Too Liberal for the Kennedys

Virginia: Who Says Government Stiffs And Slackjaw Yokels Don't Mix?

Washington: Our Governor can out-fraud your Governor!

West Virginia: One Big Happy Family ... Really!

Wisconsin: Come Cut the Cheese!

Wyoming: Where Men are Men and the Sheep are Scared. Home of Brokeback Mountain

Washington D.C.: The Work-Free Drug Place

Monday, 11 June 2007

Some Thoughts About Recent Violence in Lebanon

I am fascinated by what is happening in the Middle East. I'm not an expert by any means but have been doing some reading in an effort to understand why these things happen. And it is never as simple as it seems at first glance.

I listened with interest to a news report on the Lebanese Army and their battles with suspected al Qaeda sponsored militants. From what is being reported in the news, you could imagine that what is happening is that the impartial army of the nation-state of Lebanon is trying to stamp out groups of terrorists hiding out in refugee camps. And it is easy to understand why you would think that was all there was to the story.

But I don't think that it is really as simple as that. Here is just a bit more relevant detail behind the story.

The nation-state of Lebanon didn't exist until the end of World War I. It gained its independence from the French when the Germans invaded France during World War II. At the end of WWII, there was an unwritten agreement between Shi'ite, Sunni and Maronite leaders that, among other things:
  • Maronites (Christians) would accept Lebanon as an Arab affiliated country instead of a Western one,
  • Shi'ites and Sunni Muslims would abandon their hopes of uniting with Syria,
  • The President would be Maronite,
  • The Prime Minister would be Sunni, and
  • The President of the National Assembly would always be Shi'a.
For the most part, the militias affiliated with the Maronites were re-branded as the Lebanese Army, loyal to the President. People who live in Lebanon are more likely to think of themselves as members of their local clan or ethnic/religious group than they are to think of themselves as citizens of Lebanon.

Life in refugee camps is very hard with little in the way of comforts, let alone luxuries. The only internal services provided are made possible by groups that get financial and material assistance from other countries, mostly Muslim. So if you live in a Lebanese refugee camp, it is more likely that the doctor you take your kids to when they are sick or the guy giving you clean drinking water or the teacher at the local school are the same guys who are lobbing shells on the Lebanese Army and Israeli settlements.

While they are labelled as terrorists with links to al Qeada, these guys are not outsiders who have invaded your village one day. They are your friends and family, the guys who are looking out for you when no one else will. They provide you with the essentials and, when you are living rough, that's what matters. You would be no more likely to throw them out of the refugee camp than you would be to allow the Lebanese Army in.

Of course, I have glossed over a lot of detail here, but you get some idea of how much more is going on behind the headlines from Lebanon.

Friday, 8 June 2007

How To Start Each Day With A Positive Outlook

Thanks to my DSIL who posted this to me. Enjoy --MG

How To Start Each Day With A Positive Outlook
  1. Open a new file in your computer.
  2. Name it "George W. Bush"
  3. Send it to the trash.
  4. Empty the trash.
  5. Your PC will ask you, "Do you really want to get rid of "George W. Bush?"
  6. Firmly Click "Yes."
  7. Feel better.
PS: Next week we'll do Dick Cheney

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Threat to Democracy

Therapeutic cloning is going to be debated in the NSW Parliament this week and MPs will be able to exercise their conscience when this matter comes to a vote. This bill would allow scientists in NSW to obtain stem cells from embryos but would continue the ban on human cloning for reproduction, bringing NSW in line with current Commonwealth legislation and that of the other States.

But today, Cardinal George Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, has threatened Catholic MPs with "consequences" if they vote in favour of the bill to extend stem cell research. While he isn't threatening them with excommunication, he has suggested that they will not be allowed to take Holy Communion if they vote in favour of this "immoral" bill.

Let's set aside the problem that Cardinal Pell's grasp of the scientific details in this particular matter is just a bit suss. Someone that dogmatic isn't going to let the facts get in the way of his claiming the High Moral Ground.

Cardinal Pell has done something that a CEO from the big end of town, a representative of the NSW gaming industry or an alleged crime boss in Victoria wouldn't dream of doing. Publicly threatening MPs is just not on. They know that the public outcry at such behaviour would do their cause irreparable damage. There are much more effective ways to put forward your position when trying to persuade others to your point of view. But Cardinal Pell obviously isn't encumbered by concerns over the effectiveness of his message (or lack of therein).

I personally find it offensive that a Cardinal, or anyone in such a public position of trust and respect, has the nerve to publicly threaten MPs if they don't do what he wants them to do. How dare he? These MPs were elected to represent the hopes and concerns of the members of their respective constituencies. If this is to be a conscience vote, then we, as members of the public, expect them to do just that, vote their conscience, without obstacle or encumbrance.

And we don't expect them to be publicly threatened by anyone.

Monday, 4 June 2007

The Disappointment Continues

Well, it was another disappointing performance from the Wallabies on Saturday night against Wales. Yes, they won against a disorganised and under-performing side. But it could have so easily gone the other way.

As a Wallabies fan, you gotta start asking some serious questions, like "What is wrong with you guys?" Yes, there are a lot of new faces who are playing at this level for the first time and they are the same guys who were asked to lift during the Super 14 competition. But we won't talk about the Super 14 because I can only deal with one disappointing season at a time.

Yes, they are trying out new combinations and, yes, even the experienced players are in different spots than they are used to playing. So everyone's game is suffering from nerves and new combinations and the pressure to perform.

But these guys have the best of everything -- training facilities, coaches (I know, but just work with me here), conditioning, health and medical care. As individuals, they are some of the best rugby talent we have seen for quite some time, the old blokes staying in form and the young blokes showing flashes of pure brilliance. On paper, they should be winners. But when they take to the field as a team, they just don't seem to have their head in the game.

The first half against Wales was a total write-off. Even when Gregan came on in the second half, they were still making mistakes and messing up the fundamentals. They did play better than in the first half but when you set the bar low enough ...

Don't get me wrong. I am a True Believer and I'll barrack for them through out the rest of the domestic season and straight through every World Cup match. But it is tough this year to stand by them if the first two games are any indication of what we are in for. It's just looking like last year wasn't a fluke after all.

On the positive side, Matt Dunning finally shaved that stuff off his face. Much nicer methinks.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Home Ownership?

The Federal government is offering Aboriginal communities a big pile of money if they sign over the rights to their land in return for the right to own their homes on traditional lands. For its part, the government will lease out the land for commercial development in order to build up the local economy in these areas.

Let's set aside the cultural oxymoron of personal ownership in a communal society. I wasn't aware that all the problems that Aboriginal people in remote communities on their traditional lands would be fixed by a mortgage.

Now, this is when I get confused. These are people who don't have jobs and wouldn't normally qualify for a mortgage. And, as I understand it, an asset is only valuable if there is a chance that someone else would be willing to buy it. Owning something that can't be sold means that what you own is worthless. Is there really a demand for houses on traditional lands? Selling a house in a regional or rural centre is hard enough, but in remote Aboriginal communities? Guess I missed that section on

And is Westfield really so keen to build a strip shopping mall in remote areas of Australia that they want to circumvent negotiating with traditional owners and just deal with the Federal government for that lease instead? And just what shops are they going to open? David Jones? Sunglasses Hut? Flight Centre? Gloria Jeans? And the workers for these new shops will come from where ... the local communities? Wouldn't prices be very high when you consider the additional transportation costs that the new shops would have to recover? And where would the shoppers come from, given that local people in these small communities would be spending any money they had on their new mortgages?

Home ownership requires skills to maintain and improve the property. And that takes tools and materials and training. Where would all this come from? These are costs that would be difficult for new homeowners with big mortgage payments to absorb.

I gotta tell you, this makes no sense to me at all. Hats off to those communities that tell Mal Brough and Co. to go take a hike.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Wallabies v Wales

I went to see the Wallabies play Wales last night at Telstra Stadium. As much as I enjoy the Super 14, you really need cold weather to make it seem like rugby. And the end of May in Sydney is the start of perfect Rugby Weather. And we had great seats ... 7 rows back at the 50m line and surrounded by Welsh fans. Beauty.

The press here has been complaining that the Wales Rugby Union sent the B team (or even the C team) to Australia instead of the A team and had been confidently predicting the Wallabies over Wales by 50.

Guess that they forgot to tell the boys in the red jerseys.

The Welsh side came out fighting and scored two quick tries of some embarrassing Wallabies errors. Ten minutes into the game and the boys in the gold jerseys looked like a bunch of stunned mullets. Why did I have to be sitting in a Wales section? It was the Waratahs v the Brumbies in Canberra all over again!

The Wallabies would fight back but Wales always topped 'em to keep the lead. There was a lot of sloppy Wallabies play. Note to the coaches: someone tell these guys that when the ball is just lying there on the ground, don't just look at it, PICK IT UP AND RUN WITH IT!!

While the Wales fans were yelling and cheering, there was lots of moaning and sad shaking of heads in the Wallabies fans' ranks. You often could hear the sound of an open palm being smacked against the forehead of a Wallabies fan who couldn't believe what they were seeing.

It wasn't looking good for the Aussies and those who were not True Believers had already started leaving the stadium 15 minutes before time. But we real Rugby Tragics stay until it is well and truly over, no matter how bad it looks. And sometimes it looks really bad.

The clock is ticking down the final minute of the game and the score was Australia 22 v Wales 23. Visions of an early Australian departure from the upcoming World Cup and the associated embarrassment flashed through my mind. The switch to lawn bowls was looking better and better. But you would think that after all these years of Rugby Tragic-hood I would learn not to write our boys off so soon.

The full time hooter went and they kept playing because, in rugby, the game doesn't stop until the ball goes into touch (out of bounds). Despite a strong Welsh defence, the Wallabies somehow managed to score a try about 1 minute after full time. Pandemonium erupted in the stadium. I have no voice this morning. But it went for a good cause.

Final score: Wallabies 29 Wales 23.

Full marks to Wales. They played some good strong rugby and really gave the Wallabies a run for their money. 'Onya.

And thanks to my dear friends who SMSed me to rub salt into the wound at full time. You'll keep.