Sunday, 18 October 2009

Awwww ...

Sometimes, even a cynic like me sees something and realises that people aren't so bad after all.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Fitzroy Falls

Always good advice.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Monday, 5 October 2009

Appreciate What You Have

Forget about global warming, baseball playoffs, tsunamis, earthquakes and the financial crisis. This is really important.

I am down to my last 8 little rolls of Necco Wafers. And when they are gone, they are gone. Done. Finito. Nada. Nyet. The places I usually order or buy US foodstuffs from here in Candy Wasteland don't have them and won't be getting them. Drastic rationing measures have been put in place in a feeble attempt to stave off certain disaster.

You are right: this is not a matter of life and death. It is much more important than that.

HRH just laughed when I told her. How much sharper than a serpent's tooth is an ungrateful child. I'm going to put on my moose jammies and take to my bed in mourning.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Friday, 2 October 2009

Danger, Will Robinson!

And not just because they can't spell ... isn't that right, Jan?

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Monday, 28 September 2009

Perth Sign

So many questions ... thankfully, so few answers.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Banana Guards

I'm probably the only one who thinks that these look ... well ... rude?

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Hilary Clinton Joke

I'm not sure where I heard this one, but still think it's funny. --MG

Bill and Hilary were driving through the backwoods of Arkansas and stopped to fill up the car with gas. Bill looked at the gas station attendant in his baseball cap and greasy overalls and said to Hilary, "If you'd married him, you be living in this little town, probably upstairs above this gas station."

Hilary smiled at Bill and said, "No, if I'd married him, he'd have been President of the United States."

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Clever Sayings

Here are some of my favourite T-shirt sayings:
  • Armageddon was yesterday. Today we have real problems. (From the book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
  • Beer. It's not just for breakfast any more
  • I've used up all my sick time so today I called in dead
  • One Tequila. Two Tequila. Three Tequila. Floor.
  • I support Two Teams, New Zealand and anyone playing Australia (I used to have this one but gave it away to a Kiwi mate when I became an Australian citizen)
  • How can I miss you if you won't go away?
And a couple for my fellow Rugby Tragics out there:
  • My drinking team has a rugby problem.
  • Who was that hooker I saw you with last night? (which, of course, means something different in rugby league)
  • Ruck. Maul. Tackle. And that's just getting a beer. (From Global Culture who also made the Two Teams one
My favourite bumper stickers:
  • So many cats ... So many recipes
  • Frodo failed. Bush has the ring. (This one used to be on my car)
  • Picture of Abraham Lincoln: It's my party and I'll cry if I want to
  • Picture of the Pilgrims: 1st Illegal Immigrants
  • Give me coffee and no one will get hurt
  • My other car is a Porsche too. (I saw this one on a Porsche)
  • Don't like my driving? Get off the sidewalk!
  • Eat beef, you bastards
And a good site for political bumper stickers. And I like their political T-shirts as well.

And, finally, two of my favourite email signature lines:
  • Animal testing should be banned. They get all nervous and give the wrong answers.
  • Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

We Are All a-Twitter

If you've never heard of Twitter or don't understand what the big deal is, read on ... enlightenment awaits!

What is Twitter?
is micro-blogging, that is, you answer the question "what are you doing?" in 140 characters or less. OK, it sounds pretty geeky, but it is really lots of fun.

Sometimes tweets (what Twitter posts are called) can be pretty banal. But, when there was an earthquake out in California, how did word get out? CNN? Fox News? Internet? Nope. Tweets posted through Twitter beat them all by a couple of hours.

There was a Twitter contest to see who could get to 1million followers first, Ashton Kutcher or CNN Breaking News and Ashton Kutcher won. Though, for news, I prefer to follow The Onion, American's Finest News Source.

And, my favourite, Brett Spinner tweeted a whole adventure leading up to the premiere of the new Star Wars movie. It was a ripper!

How Do I Use Twitter?
There are a couple of ways ...
  1. Sign up on-line: Go to the Twitter site and set up an account. As with most networking sites, you can then find other friends and start to follow them (see their tweets).
  2. On your phone option #1: If you live in one of the 'special' countries (US, UK and India), then you can set up your mobile phone so that you get the tweets from those you follow sent to you as an SMS
  3. On your phone option #2: If you have an iPhone, or other smart phone with internet access, there are a number of applications that you can download to make sending and reading tweets easier. I've used Twitterlator and am looking at trying TwitterFon. Both of these apps, and more, are available from the App Store
  4. On the web: I use Firefox as my browser and downloaded TwitterFox which logs into Twitter as me when I'm online and pops up a window with any tweets that my friends have sent
Anyone that I don't know or who has a marketing focus also gets blocked from following me (seeing my tweets) straight away. I also block anyone who posts inane tweets. Life is too short for boring tweets. Depending on how public you want your presence on Twitter to be, you can choose who to follow and, more importantly, who can follow you.

There are plenty of interesting things happening in Twitter. Give it a go!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Kiva - Loans that Change Lives

For my birthday last year, my friend Narelle gave me a gift certification to Kiva. Now, I'd never heard of Kiva until then but it was one of the best birthday presents I've ever gotten.

Kiva is a non-profit that allows you to lend as little as US$25 to a specific low-income entrepreneur across the globe. It is a person-to-person micro-lending site that connects you to real people who need loans to start or build a business in their local community. Sometimes they are individuals but can be families or co-operatives. They work in a wide range of businesses, from hair dressing to sewing to light manufacturing to retail, restaurants and farming.

The money I lend through Kiva gets aggregated with loans from other lenders and goes to local microfinance institutions Kiva works with. These local institutions are there on the ground and have identified real entrepreneurs from impoverished communities. As these local business grow, it not only helps the family of the business owner, but the rest of their community as well.

You choose who to lend to - whether a baker in Afghanistan, a goat herder in Uganda, a farmer in Peru, a restaurateur in Cambodia or a tailor in Iraq - and as they repay their loan, you get your money back. You can then make another loan or take your money out of Kiva.

So far, I've made 20 loans with 7 paid back in full and 13 loans still active. I get regular updates on how my loans are going and can see, down to the transaciton, just how the repayments are going for each loan on the Kiva website.

Where have I invested?
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ghana
  • Guatemala
  • Lebanon
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Phillippnes
  • Peru
  • Uganda
  • Tajikistan
  • Tanzania
  • Togo
I've had so much fun that I've started giving Kiva gift certificates to my family instead of birthday presents so they can join in the fun.

Kiva. It's a powerful and sustainable way to empower someone right now to lift themselves out of poverty.

Sunday, 17 May 2009


Well, that wasn't the picture you were expecting, was it?

I have heard David Sedaris on the radio so was expecting this book to be funny. Naked far exceeded my expectations. Some of the stories in this book had me laughing out loud, tears running down my face.

I was reading this book while sitting in the sun at a local coffee shop, trying to keep the laughter down to non-embarrassing levels and not aspirate my capuccino. Two fellow patrons come up as they were leaving and asked me what I was reading that was so funny. That it was the chapter when his mom is diagnosed with lung cancer and the family copes with the news in weird and wonderful ways might have put them off just a bit.

Worth a read.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Girl Talk

Thanks to John for sending this to me. --MG

Bill thought he was the President, too.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Who are You?

On one of the lists I belong to, someone posted a link that I decided to check out. Not something that I was interested it, but it doesn't hurt to look.

Then I read the blogger's blurb on the side and almost lost my breakfast:

Hi, my name is Melanie. I am the wife to a wonderful man for 25 years and mom to 3 beautiful girls.

This is something that I will never understand. Why would you describe yourself in terms of your role in a family or your relationship to someone else, especially a man, as the FIRST thing you say about yourself? I don't remember reading a single blog published by a man who starts off his profile with "Hi, my name is Bob. I am the husband to a wonderful woman for 21 years and dad to 2 beautiful girls."

I believe that the relationships women have with other people, even men, are a good thing, but how does that define who you are? Aren't you someone beyond those roles and relationships? Roles and relationships change over time ... does that change who you are as an individual? Is the core of your being also transient or does it persevere through those external changes?

I am a complex person, or I'd like to think that I am. A single label or title might describe a portion of who I am and, depending on the situation, may be all that is required. But I would never include my marital status or family role as the very first thing that someone needs to know about me. My life and my sense of self are so much richer than a single role or title and richer because of those relationships and roles.

And not just for myself. How my daughter and her friends see themselves and their place in the world is still influenced and limited by how we, as their mothers, see and present ourselves to them and to the rest of the world. If she wants to be a wife and mother, you go girl. If she wants to be that and more or something else instead, you go girl. Hopefully not for a while, mind you. Please, Scout, finish high school first.

People like Karen pop up from time to time just to remind me just how different I am. Just wish she'd waited until I'd had my first cup of coffee.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

A Reliable Wife

I read a half a dozen rave reviews of this book and decided that I had to read it for myself. I wish I hadn't.

Yes, there were twists and turns and, every step along the way, I found that I didn't believe a word of it. I didn't care about the characters or find them credible. It couldn't end fast enough.

And, if you read reviews that tell you the book is set in New England, unless the state of Wisconsin has moved east in the last 20 years, it isn't.

Give it a miss.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I've just finished reading this one and couldn't put it down. I can't wait to read the next one in Larsson's Millenium trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire.

Worth a read.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Eurovision Song Contest is Coming!

I don't know if everyone can get this but, if you can, the Eurovision Song Contest worth a watch. It is cultural kitsch at its very best. HRH and I watch it every year, including both semi finals, and it's a real hoot.

It plays to big audiences here in Australia, all the more amazing when you remember that Australia isn't eligible to either perform or vote. It's on in Sydney on the 15th, 16th and 17th on SBS at 7.30pm.

Lordi from Finland won in 2006 ... and we've been hooked ever since. Just skip the first 40 seconds or so if you click on this link ... it's the between-the-acts filler from the Greek TV broadcast.

Other winners include Serbia in 2007 and last year, Russia, which means that they host this year's contest. I have no idea what the rollerskating guy is for in the Russian entry but these videos will give you some idea of why we watch year after year after year.

Be sure to watch through to the end of each show. Compiling the votes is sometimes the best part.


Wednesday, 6 May 2009

The Mother's Day Classic

Mother's Day is this weekend and I'm walking again in The Mother's Day Classic at The Domain family and friends to help raise money for breast cancer research.

What started as a socially acceptable way to escape the inherent dangers and heartbreak of being served breakfast in bed has now become a bit of a traditional way for us to start Mother's Day. I have lost too many friends to this disease and it still is having an impact on the lives of some of the super women in my life. Enough is enough.

Breast cancer strikes one in nine Australian women. The Mother’s Day Classic gives us the chance to make a difference to the lives of those women. Since 1998, the Mother’s Day Classic has raised $4.4 million for the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s research programs.

And to keep up with the events, check out The Mother's Day Classic on Facebook.

If you'd like to sponsor me, please use this link.

Thanks and have a Happy Mother's Day.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

E=MC2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation

I know that I'm a technerd and a bit of a geek, but I really enjoyed this book.

In the true style of a biography, it starts off with the background of each of the individual components of the equation and then moves on to the lies, deceits, illicit affairs, mismanagement and misadventures of those who were involved in deriving the equation, studying it, proving it and using it. It shows the key role this equation played in World War II and how it continues to affect our everyday lives.

Worth a read.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Where Have All The Good Ringtones Gone?

In the early days of mobile phones, there were plenty of web sites that provided cool and fun ringtones. But as the mobile phone market has matured, most sites providing ringtones require you to pay for them or, even worse, subscribe to a service that charges you $5 every week whether you download anything or not. It makes me nostalgic for those old ringtone web sites.

So, how do you get cool ringtones so that you don't have to use the dogsbody ringtones that come with your phone? I have found two solutions that have saved me from boring ringtones.

Good Web Site
The Tones 360 site has tonnes of cool and funny ringtones in a number of different formats, including MP3, AMR and M4R, the one that works on my iPhone. Once I download the M4R ringtone, I import it into iTunes, remname it to something meaningful and sync my iPhone to iTunes.

Yesterday, I downloaded Poker Face by Lady Gaga, I Want to Be Famous by The Pussycat Dolls and Boom Boom Pow by Black Eyed Peas, amongst others, and the only hard part is deciding which ringtone to download next.

Make Your Own Ringtone
This blog post by Lifehacker explains how to use GarageBand to create custom ringtones on your Mac from songs you have ripped from CDs. I haven't figured out how to do this for music I've downloaded from iTunes, but haven't really looked too hard.

The only drawback here is that it's only for Mac users.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Who Does That Guy Think He Is?

God and Jesus were playing golf. God teed off first and hit the ball onto the green. Jesus took his shot and ended up in the rough. As they walked to Jesus' ball, he took his sand wedge out of his bag.

"Son, what do you think you are doing? That's not the right club for this shot", said God.

"Don't worry," said Jesus, " This is the club that Tiger Woods used on this very same shot when he won his first professional tournament." Sure enough, Jesus hit a great shot and ended up on the green close to the hole.

A couple of holes later, Jesus' ball ended up in a sand trap. As he pulled an iron out of his bag, God said, "Son, are you sure that is the club you want to use?"

"Take it easy," said Jesus, "This is the club that Tiger Woods used on the very same shot that won him his first Masters." Jesus took the shot and ended up on the green.

On the next tee, God hit a great shot that ended up close to the hole. Jesus teed up and hit his ball into the water.

As he walked out across the water to his ball, another golfer waked up to God and said "Who does that guy think he is, Jesus Christ?"

"No," said God sadly, shaking his head. "He thinks he's Tiger Woods."

Sunday, 19 April 2009

How Do You Keep Up With Blogs?

Nothing is more frustrating than checking your favourite blogs only to find that they haven't been updated since the last time you looked. And bookmark lists of blogs can look a lot like other bookmark lists. Surely there has to be a better way!

Well, there is and I'm going to tell you about one of my favourites: Google Reader

What is Google Reader?
Google Reader is a tool provided by our friends at Google that will keep track of your favourite blogs and let you know when one of them has changed.

Here is what my Google Reader page looks like:

From this, I know that 7 of the blogs that I've told Google Reader to keep an eye on have been updated since I last looked.

To have a look at the blogs that Google Reader is watching for me, I just double click on All Items (7) and then hit the space bar to move down the list a screen at a time. When All Items goes down to zero, I'm all caught up.

You can also see that I've organised the blogs I like into folders. If I don't have a lot of time to read blogs, I can pick which bunch I want to read first and save the rest for another time.

How do you get started using Google Reader?

If you are a total computer novice or would like to get an overview before you take the plunge, watch this tutorial. It lasts for about 10 minutes and covers lots of stuff that beginners would need to know and some that beginners won't need to know until later on. Worth a watch.

If you don't have a Google account, this tutorial will help walk you through this process. Remember that you don't have to use Gmail in order to have a Google account or to use Google Reader.

For more information about Google Reader, check out the FAQs (frequently asked questions, pronounced 'fax').
I hope you enjoy using Google Reader.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Vale Westpac

After 5 and a bit years, I have finished working at Westpac. It was painful and horrible and exciting and amazing ... like most jobs where you are doing what you are good at with really, really good people.

Now, when you have been a contractor somewhere as long as I was a contractor at Westpac and left as many times as I have left, farewells get a bit embarrassing. And I've been asked to come back so many times that when I'd tell someone that I was leaving, their response was, almost to a person, "Yeah, but for how long this time? A week?"

But this time, it's for real. And as part of the farewell festivities, I organised a lunch with a very select and special group of friends I've worked with or gotten to know over the last 5 and a bit years. And, because they are my friends, I organised the lunch so that I'd be sure to be invited.

Despite the rain and way too much to do and not enough hours to do it, my friends joined me for my latest Farewell Lunch.
This mob is a classic example of One Team with Westpac, BT, St George and IBM represented by some of the best.

My thanks to each of you for making the last 5 and a bit years more fun that we probably should have had at work. And please delete my mobile number from your phones. I don't care how important or complicated or stuffed up the project is, DON'T CALL ME!!!

But if it's the Opportunity of a Lifetime ... well, you have my email address. :-)

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


Finally! A President with a brain.

Finally! A President I can respect.

Finally! I have some hope for the future.

Finally! I can feel proud to be an American.

Congratulations, Mr President.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Jon Stewart Says It Best

Jon Stewart was my constant companion during the recent Presidential campaign, and I think he says it best as we count down the final hours of the Presidency of George W Bush. Today, Monday the 19th of January. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Did You Lose It in The Divorce?

When HRH was in Year 7, aged 12, I was talking to one of her friends during school holidays. She told me about the plans she and her family had and she asked me "What are you and Em doing this school holidays?"

I said, "Well, I'm working every day so we aren't going to be doing anything special."

"Really?" she said, a surprised look on her face. "You aren't even going to spend any time at your beach house?"

"No," I answered, "we don't have a beach house."

She leaned in and, with a look of understanding that belied her years, she said, "Did you lose it in the divorce?"

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Fun iPhone Apps

I had lunch with some friends yesterday and, as you would expect, the conversation turned to iPhones. Being a bit of a GadgetGirl, I have fallen in love with my iPhone. Not just because it looks cool, which it does, but because of the fun apps (applications) you can download for it. Why be all grown up and mature if you don't have to? So, I've decided to share some of my favourite iPhone applications to encourage all you normal iPhone owners out there to explore your Inner TechNerd.

You can download these applications to your iPhone through the App Store on iTunes and most of my favourites are free. How can you go wrong?

One of the first applications I downloaded for my iPhone was Lightsaber. When you turn it on, the screen changes to a light saber, just like in the Star Wars movies, complete with sound effects. When you move your iPhone around, like you are Luke Skywalker fighting Darth Vader, it makes all the sounds of a light saber battle. And, with the latest version, you can turn on music so it's almost like being in the movie.

Too cool. Check it out.


Ever hear a song during a TV show or on the radio and wonder what it's called and who recorded it? Your days of wondering are over.
Shazam is an application for your iPhone that listens to the song and then does a Google-like search for it in cyberspace. When it finds it, it shows you the album cover art, song title, what album it is on and who recorded it. It also gives you links to the song on iTunes and any videos on YouTube, the biography of the band and their complete discography.

Too cool Check it out.

Just a word of warning, though. Don't Shazam a song while you are driving. :-)


This is an application that displays the time on your iPhone like it's a digital clock. I plug mine into a small docking station on my desk or on my bedside table and use it instead of a proper clock. I turned on the Disable Auto-Lock feature under Settings and it stays on all night long. There are a couple of different display layouts and it works a treat in either horizontal or vertical orientation.

You can set alarms through the Clock app that comes with your iPhone but you might want to mute your phone before you go to bed. I find those pesky calendar reminders at midnight to be a bit of a nuisance. But the alarm will still sound even if you have muted your iPhone.

Too cool. Check it out.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Pill Pollution

According to this recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Vatican is holding women who take the contraceptive pill responsible for polluting the environment with excessive amounts of female hormones and, in turn, causing the decline in male fertility rates.

I am trying not to let the absolute lunacy of the Catholic Church's position detract from the irony of a bunch of celibate men who are concerned about the decline in male fertility. I'm not surprised that this bastion of male arrogance and superiority is blaming women. Misogyny has always been a critical part of The Holy See since the days of St Augustine, whose own personal problems with sex and women are an early source of this lasting legacy. How long before they blame women for global warming and the world economic crisis?

I did a bit of a Google search on male fertility and found that each source advocated a different theory as to the cause of the decline in male fertility rates, including the chemicals found in pesticides, plastics, shampoos and cosmetics as well as the chemicals found in meat. But only The Vatican is blaming women and The Pill.

Fortunately, the SMH article doesn't mention just how men in the West end up consuming the urine of women who take The Pill. Obviously, I don't hang out in the right kinky sex clubs.

Please ... don't enlighten me. :-)