Saturday, January 31, 2009

Letter Doing the Rounds

seen this in a few places, thought it was worth repeating here. Not sure if it is real or not, but it is very funny.

OH WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE ALERT ....

Dear Mr. Minister,

I’m in the process of renewing my passport, and still cannot believe this.

How is it that K-Mart has my address and telephone number, and knows that I bought a Television Set and Golf Clubs from them back in 1997, and yet, the Federal Government is still asking me where I was born and on what date.

For Christ sakes, do you guys do this by hand?

My birth date you have in my Medicare information, and it is on all the income tax forms I’ve filed for the past 40 years. It is on my driver’s licence, on the last eight passports I’ve ever had, on all those stupid customs declaration forms I’ve had to fill out before being allowed off the planes over the last 30 years, and all those insufferable census forms that I’ve filled out every 5 years since 1966.

Also, would somebody please take note, once and for all, that my mother’s name is Audrey, my Father’s name is Jack, and I’d be absolutely f**cking astounded if that ever changed between now and when I drop dead!!!…

SH*T!

I apologise, Mr. Minister. But I’m really pissed off this morning. Between you an’ me, I’ve had enough of all this bullsh*t! You send the application to my house, then you ask me for my f**cking address!! What the hell is going on with your mob? Have you got a gang of mindless Neanderthal arseh*les workin’ there!

And another thing, look at my damn picture. Do I look like Bin Laden? I can’t even grow a beard for God’s sakes. I just want to go to New Zealand and see my new granddaughter. (Yes, my son interbred with a Kiwi girl). And would someone please tell me, why would you give a sh*t whether I plan on visiting a farm in the next 15 days? If I ever got the urge to do something weird to a sheep or a horse, believe me, I’d sure as hell not want to tell anyone!

Well, I have to go now, ’cause I have to go to the other end of the city, and get another f**cking copy of my birth certificate, and to part with another $80 for the privilege of accessing MY OWN INFORMATION!

Would it be so complicated to have all the services in the same spot, to assist in the issuance of a new passport on the same day?? Nooooo.. That’d be too f**cking easy and makes far too much sense. You would much prefer to have us running all over the place like chickens with our f**cking heads cut off, and then having to find some high society wanker to confirm that it’s really me in the god-damn photo! You know the photo…the one where we’re not allowed to smile?! …you f**cking morons

Signed - An Irate Australian Citizen.

P.S.: Remember what I said above about the picture, and getting someone in high-society to confirm that it’s me? Well, my family has been in this country since before 1850! In 1856, one of my forefathers took up arms with Peter Lalor. (You do remember the Eureka Stockade!!)I have also served in both the CMF and regular Army something over 30 years (I went to Vietnam in 1967), and still have high security clearances.

I’m also a personal friend of the president of the RSL. And Lt General Peter Cosgrove sends me a Christmas card each year.

However, your rules require that I have to get someone “important” to verify who I am; You know… someone like my doctor; WHO WAS BORN AND RAISED IN F**CKING PAKISTAN!!!……a country where they either assassinate or hang their ex-Prime Ministers, and are suspended from the Commonwealth for not having the “right sort of government.”

You are all f**cking idiots.

Glad I'm Not Blonde ...

from The Daily Telegraph we have:

Top 50 dumb blonde quotes: Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson

HERE are the top 50 dumb blonde jokes cracked by Hollywood's hottest actors and socialites, complied by The Sun newspaper in London.

1) Paris Hilton talking to press about the US chain store: "Wal-Mart... do they like make walls there?"

2) Jessica Simpson on NewleyWeds: “Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish? I know it's tuna, but it says 'Chicken by the Sea.'

3) Alicia Silverstone on her role in Clueless: "I think that the film was very deep. I think it was deep in the way that it was very light. I think lightness has to come from a very deep place if it's true lightness."

4) Chantelle Houghton when Big Brother said she had changed since becoming a celebrity: “I've changed? What do you mean... I've changed my clothes?"

5) Jodie Marsh in a recent interview: "Eskimos are uncivilised because they don't have any shops."

6) Paris Hilton on her technique on the red carpet: "I don't really think, I just walk."

7) Jessica Simpson on her first day at high school: "A teacher asked us if anybody knew the names of the continents. I was sooo excited. I was like, Damn it! It's my first day of 7th grade, I'm in junior high and I know this answer. So I raised my hand, I was the first one, and I said A-E-I-O-U!"

8) Goldie Horn on her favourite types of films: "Comedy is funny".

9) Sam Fox on fitness clothes: "I’ve got 10 pairs of training shoes - one for every day of the week."

10) Britney Spears on her taste in clothes: "So many people have asked me how I could possibly be a role model and dress like a tramp and get implants... all I have to say is that self-esteem is how you look at yourself and I feel good enough about myself so wear that kind of clothing... the breast implant issue has nothing to do with that..."

11) BB's Helen Adam’s on education: "The worst thing is when the press call me a dizzy blonde - I got a B in Drama, a D in English, I did a hairdressing course and a beauty certificate."

12) Lady Victoria Hervey on the homeless: "It's so bad being homeless in winter. They should go somewhere warm like the Caribbean where they can eat fresh fish all day."

13) Britney on Japan "I've never really wanted to go to Japan. Simply because I don't like eating fish. And I know that's very popular out there in Africa."

14) Jessica Simpson when offered buffalo wings: "Sorry I don't eat buffalo."

15) Paris Hilton on her fame: "There's nobody in the world like me. I think every decade has an iconic blonde, like Marilyn Monroe or Princess Diana and, right now, I’m that icon."

16) Chantelle Houghton on George Galloway: "He looks at us like we're stupid, scatty, uneducated girls. He's a right chauvinistic pig, whatever that means!"

17) Cameron Diaz on science: "I've been noticing gravity since I was very young."

18) Britney Spears on where she might start her theatre career: "I would rather start out somewhere small, like London or England.”

19) BB's Helen Adams on magic man Paul Daniels: "Yeah, you know Jack Daniels... he does all the magic stuff!"

20) Christina Aguilera on film festivals: "So where’s the Cannes film festival being held this year?"

21) Paris Hilton on her career choices: "First wanted to be a veterinarian. And then I realised you had to give them shots to put them to sleep, so I decided I'd just buy a bunch of animals and have them in my house instead."

22) Alicia Douvall on motherhood: "I think a 16-year-old with a nice, sexy figure will do really well as a model as long as she's managed well. That's why I'm happy for Georgia to have a boob job because it will give her a career."

23) Chantelle Houghton on hearing George Galloway was an MP: "Does that mean you work in that big room with the green seats?"

24) Britney on capital punishment: "I am for the death penalty. Who commits terrible acts must get a fitting punishment. That way he learns the lesson for the next time."

25) BB2's Helen Adams on pulses: "How much chicken is there in chick peas?"

26) Chanelle Hayes on her Posh spice obsession: “I like what she (Victoria Beckham) wears. That's what magazines are all about - there's always a picture of a celebrity and where to buy a replica of what they're wearing. It's not as if I'm doing anything weird.”

27) Paris Hilton on her title: "I don't want to be known as the Hilton heiress, because I didn't do anything for that."

28) Tara Reid on her fellow blonde celeb: "I make Jessica Simpson look like a rock scientist."

29) Ivana Trump on literature: "Fiction writing is great. You can make up almost anything."

30) Christina Aguilera on herself: "I'm an ocean, because I'm really deep. If you search deep enough you can find rare exotic treasures."

31) Britney Spears on her first tour: "Where the hell is Australia anyway?"

32) Alicia Douvall on surgery: "I know it (plastic surgeries) will kill me. But I'd rather die trying to sort things out."

33) Jodie Marsh on cooking: "Is an egg a vegetable?"

34) Kimberly Stewart on Jennifer Aniston: "I like her cos she's like, homely. She must have something else going on cos it's not like she's gorgeous or anything.”

35) Jessica Simpson on her mood at the VH1 '05 video awards: "Isn’t it weird I’m getting all emotionable."

36) Helen Adams on BB2 : "I probably sound Welsh on the telly."

37) Mariah Carey on the death of the King of Jordan: "I loved Jordan. He was one of the greatest athletes of our time."

38) Chantelle Houghton on different types of doctors: "What’s a gynaecologist?"

39) Pamela Anderson on her secret to success: "I don't think about anything too much . . . If I think too much, it kind of freaks me out!"

40) Ivana Trump on getting one over on her ex's new girlfriend: “Gorgeous hair is the best revenge.”

41) Brooke Shields on her campaign against smoking: "Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life."

42) Heather Locklear on being proud of her heritage: "From an early age I was aware of what America meant, and how the Marines at Camp Pendleton were ready to defend us at a moment's notice. I also remember what fabulous bodies those troops had."

43) Jessica Simpson on her scantily clad videos: "I'm definitely shy, so it was definitely acting for me to drop a trench coat and be in a bikini and try to get my cousins out of trouble by using my body. That was definitely acting!"

44) Chantelle Houghton working out the shopping budget: "Eleventy-twelve pence? I don't get it. How much is that then?"

45) Britney on why she did a cover of I Love Rock and Roll: "I always loved Pat Benatar."

46) Emma Bunton on moobs: "I wish men had boobs because I like the feel of them. It's so funny - when I record I sing with a hand over each of them, maybe it's a comfort thing."

47) Cyndi Crawford on modelling: "In the studio, I do try to have a thought in my head, so that it's not like a blank stare."

48) The late Anna Nicole Smith on suicide bombers: "Doesn't that hurt?"

49) Jessica Simpson to the President when visiting the White House: "I love what you’ve done with the place!"

50) Mischa Barton on being blessed with looks: "Pretty people aren't as accepted as other people. It comes with all these stigmas."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Do "Parents" still exist?

I really asked myself this question after reading the following news article, from the Hobsons Bay Leader:

Security guards watch over Point Cook playground

A SLIDE at a Wyndham housing estate playground is being watched by security around the clock after it was deemed too dangerous for small children.

Urban developer Villawood Properties said it had paid security to guard the slide at Alamanda Estate Point Cook day and night for the past three months to make sure children below 1.28m tall did not use it. This was because three children under the height were seriously injured on the slide at Bayview Park in October last year, a month after it was installed with approval from Wyndham Council.

The Leader this month saw many children using the slide, including those under the specified height, in the presence of security, believed to be costing the developer thousands of dollars.

A guard watches the slide from a car at night.

The council, which owns the playground and will one day take over its management, was not aware last week that the slide was still open. Wyndham Council chief executive Peter Marshall said the developer had closed the playground on the council’s recommendation last September after concerns were raised about equipment there.

Mr Marshall said three children who “persisted in using the equipment after the closure” injured themselves on it and the developer subsequently hired security to restrict access to it.

Villawood said in a statement that its extended slide, built to Australian standards and based on one in Paris, encouraged outdoor activity among children and teenagers.

Security would remain there indefinitely to ensure it was used safety "Villawood immediately employed 24-hour security upon learning of an incident that occurred at the site in 2008 and, at the same time, closed the use of the slide until appropriate signage could be installed,” the statement said.

“Signage was installed quickly and Villawood made the executive decision to retain security as a further back-up to ensure all visitors to the park are aware of the height constraints.”

It did not respond to questions about how much the security was costing.

The developer said it could not detail the children’s injuries, saying it heard of them from other sources, but that there had been no reported injuries since.

“We believe the injuries may have occurred on the first bend where small children may have tried to slow down,” it said.

A pool security gate at the slide entrance that cannot be opened by children under 1.28m and rubber coating to slow users down have been installed.

There is a shorter slide adjacent to the extended one for small children.

Villawood was not aware that children under 1.28m had been using the slide.

The council said it would ask the developer to modify certain equipment before it took over operation and maintenance of the playground.

Mr Marshall said the council approved the slide because it complied with Australian standards but that these standards did not specify slide lengths and gradient ratios.

Mr Marshall said that he was not aware of security being at any other Wyndham playground.


The original article has a photo of the signs, which are VERY NOTICEABLE. Makes me a bit concerned about the type of society where a 24hr security guard is required to ensure that people abide by signs put up for their (and their children's) safety!

Quote of the Day

From Sharp as Marble

Reached for further comment, Mr. Alcheikh bleated a few times then went back to grazing, blissfully unaware.

Read the whole article ....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

From "Atlas Shrugged"

Finally got some time today to read this book ... there's a couple of passages that have really caught my attention and which I'ld like to share here. This is the first (page 411)

There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wans a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Today's Range Report #8

It's been awhile since I've been out on the range and shot with an IPSC squad (last time was the end of November), so I was pretty nervous. Mainly because there's so much to remember and not much of it is second nature to me yet.

The club is actually on recess at the moment, but we had a really good turnout (i'm guessing 20+ shooters) and five ranges were set up. The first was a start unloaded & holstered, the second was start in box with gun & mags on a table (3m in front) and the third was an "El Prez" ... so by the time we got to the fourth stage and had to start loaded and holstered I was really concerned that I would forget to take the safety off :) (Didn't happen though!). On the second stage I shot all "A's" and the fourth only missed two (got "C's"). Accuracy wasn't too bad on the other stages either and my times are getting better but they still need work.

Next week is a "Busy Bee" so no shooting and then the club is back from holidays and everything starts up again for the new year.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bloggers

I'm spending a quiet night at home wandering around the blogosphere and I got to thinking about how you find "good" blogs to read.

I was introduced initially into the world of blogs from my good friend Sendarius, (who really needs to blog more). He introducded me to the "staples", namely: "The Other Side of Kim"; "View from the Porch"; "A Day in the Life of Ambulance Driver"; "Say Uncle"; "The Smallest Minority" and "The Breda Fallacy". From links and posts at these sites I discovered pretty much all of the people on my "Blogs I Read Regularly" list and a whole bunch other I have bookmarked and visit when time permits.

I also click on the links provided in comments (on my blog and others) and have discovered some great blogs this way too.

But tonight I clicked on the "IPSC" link on my profile and it came up with about 40 other bloggers who also list IPSC as a hobby. So I went through and clicked on their profiles and then looked at what books they had listed under "Favourite Books", as I thought this would be a good way of finding people with similar interests.

What is really strange about this is that I don't have any books listed under "Favourite Books", a situation which requires rectifying.

So, how do you find "good" blogs?

Identical Twins "Not Related"

from http://www.news.com.au/perthnow/story/0,27574,24925124-2761,00.html

Govt says identical twins 'not related'

A WA woman has been told by Australian authorities that she's not related to her identical twin sister.

Rosabelle Glasby says she is ``shocked and saddened'' she cannot bring her sister into the country to live because the Department of Immigration and Citizenship does not consider the pair to be related.

Adopted by different families shortly after their birth in Malaysia, Mrs Glasby and Dorothy Loader were separated for almost 50 years before finally meeting last September.

But now Mrs Glasby, from Margaret River, is facing an uphill battle to be permanently reunited with her twin, who lives in Malaysia.

In a letter to Mrs Glasby last month, DIAC state director Paul Farrell explained that despite the circumstances, the present laws meant Ms Loader would not be eligible for family migration.

``Under Migration Law where the legal relationship between a child and his/her birth parents has been severed by adoption, the legal relationship between the child and his/her birth siblings is also severed,'' he said.

``It therefore does not appear that your twin sister would be eligible for a permanent visa under the Family Stream of the Migration Program.''

Mrs Glasby said she was heartbroken that her long-lost twin did not qualify as family.

``We're identical twin sisters _ we're the same egg,'' she said. ``Just because we got adopted into different families they say they don't consider us related.

``It's hard to get anyone more related to me.''

Following an arduous search for her twin that stretched two decades, Mrs Glasby located her sister late last year and the pair finally met in Perth for an emotional reunion.

Having spent time in Australia and then Malaysia getting to know each another, Ms Loader said the sisters, who turn 50 next month, were desperate to be together.

``We have a bond that perhaps only other identical twins can understand,'' she said.

``We don't just want to be together, we need to be together; it is as strong as that.

``I hope the people who know about our story will have the compassion and mercy to grant this last wish of mine to be with my sister and turn my dream into reality.''

Mrs Glasby, a former WA Health Department worker who now acts as a carer for her disabled husband, echoed the sentiments of her twin sister.

``She calls me the yin and I call her the yang _ as a whole, we work together as one,'' she said.

``We've totally bonded and we want to be together. Without her, I now feel incomplete.''

Mrs Glasby's husband, Marc, said he found it difficult to understand the department's policy. ``It doesn't make sense _ I think the typical phrase is `bureaucracy gone mad','' he said.

``Now (that) the department has decreed that the identical twins are not related, this effectively closes off our last avenue to apply.''

He said because Ms Loader was over the age limit of 45 that applied for most skilled migration streams, the sole remaining hope for her to obtain a permanent visa was a plea on compassionate grounds.

``What more compassionate grounds could there be when these two have got nobody else in the world as blood relatives and they want to be together?'' he said.

A DIAC spokeswoman said the family would have to lodge a valid visa application and have it denied before ministerial intervention on compassionate grounds could take place.

``As much as we sympathise with Mrs Glasby's situation, the department is bound by Australian law and any application for a permanent visa for her sister and her sister's family would have to be considered against the relevant laws and the regulations which apply to every case,'' she said.


I can understand that if parents put their child up for adoption then they can not later turn around and claim "family relationship" status, but siblings? Seriously, let the lady in!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Zimbabwe - Is there a solution?

Just read this article on Zimbabwe:

Zimbabwe unveils $100 trillion note ahead of unity talks

ZIMBABWE unveiled a 100 trillion dollar note in the latest grim measure of its staggering economic collapse, heightening the urgency of a new round of unity talks set for next week.

Veteran leader Robert Mugabe and opposition chief Morgan Tsvangirai are set to hold talks on Monday with key regional leaders in a bid to salvage a four-month-old unity accord, which has yet to be implemented.

The stalemate over disputed elections last year has only fuelled the economic and humanitarian crisis that has impoverished the country, leaving nearly half the population dependent on food aid as a cholera epidemic sweeps the country.

The Reserve Bank announced in the government mouthpiece Herald newspaper a series of trillion-dollar denominations to keep pace with hyperinflation that has left the once-dynamic economy in tatters.

The new trillion-dollar bill would have been worth about $US300 ($A450) at today's exchange rate on the informal market, where most currency trading now takes place, but the value of the local currency erodes dramatically every day.

The move came just one week after the bank released a series of billion-dollar notes, which already are not worth enough for workers to withdraw their monthly salaries.


Hyper-inflation, starvation, cholera epidemic - what a disaster!

Makes me wonder why Mugabe wants to retain power and Tsvangirai wants to take over.

I can't imagine wanting to be in charge of a country in such a state. Maybe they see themselves as potential saviours? Maybe they want a piece of Zimbabwe's mineral (diamonds, platinum) industries? Anyone got any other ideas?

Regardless of why these men want to lead this country, is it actually possible for a country to come back from these problems? Half the country dependent on food aid, that's a lot of people.

Just checked, according to Wikipedia, the estimated population in Jan 2008 was 13,349,000, giving the country a rating of 170th in population density.

Another "interesting" piece of information in Wikipedia is "Life expectancy at birth for males in Zimbabwe has dramatically declined since 1990 from 60 to 37, among the lowest in the world. Life expectancy for females is even lower at 34 years." (reference cited at source).

If you did become a leader of a country with these issues where would you start in resolving them?

Hot, hot, hot .... hot

I'm over this weather ... two days over 38C (100F) is enough to drive me mad! ... It was 29C (84F) when I was driving to work at 7am this morning.

Tomorrow they're forecasting 33C and storms! I'm even less of a fan of humid weather than I am of heat. Mmmm, maybe I'm just hard to please!

Just found this -

Perth breaks heat record

PERTH is sweltering through the hottest start to the year since records began in 1897.

As the mercury hit 40C this morning, January moved into the record books for the hottest start to the year with an average temperature of 34.5C.

Trains on all lines slowed down this afternoon taking 20kmh from the maximum speed as temperatures hit the 40s but have been sped up by 10kmh at 3pm.

A high pressure system is bringing hot easterlies to WA and sending temperatures soaring.

There was little relief from the heat after the sun went down last night as Perth's overnight temperature dipped to a minimum of 25.4C at 11.37pm.

The hottest ever Perth night was 27.8C recorded in 1989.

By 1.30am last night, the temperature had climbed to 30c.

This time last year Perth had the equal fourth hottest January on record, according to John Ralph from the WA Bureau of Meteorology.

The hottest night ever recorded in WA was in Wittenoom on 21st January 2003 with an overnight low of 35.5C.

“We are going to be tossing and turning in our beds again tonight with the temperatures expected to drop to a hot 24C,” Mr Ralph said.

Relief is on the way with a cool change forecast for tomorrow as a trough turns the wind around to the west.

“The temperature will get cooler as the trough moves inland,” Mr Cook said.

Storms are forecast for Sunday but don’t rush out and cancel plans just yet as Mr Cook said they may not eventuate.

“If there is a storm there is always a chance of lightning but whether we actually get a storm is another question,” he said.


....

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Quote of the Day ....

"Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a member of the fruit family.
Wisdom is knowing not to include it in a fruit salad."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cape to Cape Planning Post

Planning to walk some of the Cape to Cape Track over Easter.

As I will be walking (at least some of the time) with my 7y.o. I think we'll aim to complete half of it (in four days) and then do the last half next Easter.

2009
DAY 1:...Cape Naturaliste To Yallingup...14 Km
DAY 2:...Yallingup To Moses Rock Road....17.5km
DAY 3:...Moses Rock Road To Gracetown....16.2km
DAY 4:...Gracetown To Rivermouth.........18km

2010
DAY 5:...Rivermouth To Hooley Rd.........26km
DAY 6:...Hooley Rd To Cosy Corner........21.5km
DAY 7:...Cosy Corner To Cape Leeuwin.....21km

We've actually done the Day 1 section before and some of the Day 2 one too. However, I would like to do it again as major sections.

I found this information on a site that does guided walks

The biggest single problem we have is not a lack of fitness, but feet problems. Shoes or boots that have been fine in the past suddenly give blisters. The terrain is sand and up and down. I cannot emphasise enough that you have very well worn in shoes or boots, and good socks, and preventative first aid as well as first aid for blisters.

Please ensure you have completed at least 3x 20km walks in your shoes.

As a prevention for rubbing and blister formation, I recommend "sleek" or "fixamull" or even duct tape. Plastic freezer bags worn between the sock and shoe can help, and others recommend "knee highs" worn under socks. Vaseline is popular too.

The principle is to have your skin "slide" rather than rub against your shoe. In all instances, prevention is better than cure. As soon as you feel rubbing, or a "hot spot", stop and do something about it. Blisters are very difficult to dress so as to be able to walk comfortably. Blister treatments vary and you may have you favourites.

The second skin variety (often sold as burns dressing) seems good, though you need good tape to keep it in place. Blister Bloc or Compeed is another choice.

TRAINING

People often ask how they can best prepare physically for the trip. Walk, walk and walk! And preferably in sand! Try to walk frequently, starting over winter if possible. Even walking around your suburb will get you walk-fit. By spring you should be able to comfortably walk 10km, and try and do a couple of 20km walks before the Cape to Cape. However, walking small distances frequently helps a lot- for instance walking 2km 4times a week and then 5km once a week is a great help. It's a good idea to try and get in some hilly terrain and some beach walking. As mentioned above, start walking in the shoes you will wear on the walk now!!


Okay, Easter is about 12 weeks away, which does give us some time to prepare ... the 2kms/4times a week and then 5kms once a week sounds good. We don't have any sand around here, but we have lots of hills.

I have hiking boots but I don't think my daughter has anything that is suitable. I will have to see what we can find.

Okay I have planned the following:
Will keep this page updated with my progress

Mon Jan 12th - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km ... DID!
Tue Jan 13th - Walk 5.5km without girls Nope :( Hubby didn't get home from gym in time
Wed Jan 14th - Walk 1 1.78km with girls then do 5.5km on own later Nope :( House guests
Thr Jan 15th - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km LA cancelled due to heat 40C (104F). DID 2km on treadmill in gym instead.
Fri Jan 16th - Walk 2 1.82km Nope, too hot - and family commitments stopped me getting to the gym

Mon Jan 19th - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km
Tue Jan 20th - Walk 5.5km without girls
Wed Jan 21st - Walk 3 1.89km
Thr Jan 22nd - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km
Fri Jan 23rd - Walk 4 2.13km

Mon Jan 26th - No walk - Australia Day
Tue Jan 27th - Walk 5.5km without girls
Wed Jan 28th - Walk 4 2.13km
Thr Jan 29th - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km
Fri Jan 30th - Walk 5 2.23km

Mon Feb 2nd - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km / Guides 1.56km
Tue Feb 3rd - Walk 5.5km without girls
Wed Feb 4th - Walk 6 2.24km
Thr Feb 5th - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km
Fri Feb 6th - Walk 6 2.24km

Mon Feb 9th - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km / Guides 1.74km
Tue Feb 10th - Walk 5.5km without girls
Wed Feb 11th - No walk planned - away in Sydney
Thr Feb 12th - No walk planned - away in Sydney
Fri Feb 13th - No walk planned - away in Sydney

Mon Feb 16th - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km / Guides 1.97km
Tue Feb 17th - Walk 5.5km without girls
Wed Feb 18th - Walk 6 2.24km
Thr Feb 19th - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km
Fri Feb 20th - Walk 7 2.58km

Sun Feb 22nd - Walk 5km (route to be confirmed)

Mon Feb 23rd - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km / Guides 2.18km
Tue Feb 24th - Walk 5.5km without girls
Wed Feb 25th - Walk 7 2.58km
Thr Feb 26th - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km
Fri Feb 27th - Walk 8 2.87km

Sun Mar 1st - Walk 6km (route to be confirmed)

Mon Mar 2nd - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km / Guides 2.38km
Tue Mar 3rd - Walk 5.5km without girls
Wed Mar 4th - Walk 9 2.94km
Thr Mar 5th - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km
Fri Mar 6th - Walk 9 2.94km

Sun Mar 8th - Walk 7km (route to be confirmed)

Mon Mar 9th - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km / Guides 2.42km
Tue Mar 10th - Walk 5.5km without girls
Wed Mar 11th - Walk 10 3.20km
Thr Mar 12th - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km
Fri Mar 13th - Walk 10 3.20km

Sun Mar 15th - Walk 8km (route to be confirmed)

Mon Mar 16th - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km / Guides 2.71km
Tue Mar 17th - Walk 5.5km without girls
Wed Mar 18th - Walk 11 3.59km
Thr Mar 19th - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km
Fri Mar 20th - Walk 12 3.66km

Sun Mar 22nd - Walk 9km (route to be confirmed)

Mon Mar 23rd - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km / Guides 3.14km
Tue Mar 24th - Walk 5.5km without girls
Wed Mar 25th - Walk 13 4.00km
Thr Mar 26th - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km
Fri Mar 27th - No walk - Guide Camp

Sun Mar 29th - No walk - Guide Camp

Mon Mar 30th - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km / Guides 3.30km
Tue Mar 31st - Walk 5.5km without girls
Wed Apr 1st - Walk 13 4.00km
Thr Apr 2nd - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km
Fri Apr 3rd - Walk 13 4.00km

Sun Apr 5th - Walk 10km (route to be confirmed)

Mon Apr 6th - Walk home from Little Athletics 1.31km / Guides 3.39km

Newbie over at "Politics, Guns & Beer"

Laurel at Politics, Guns & Beer (one of my frequent blog reads) has had her bub ... Abigail Wyoming. Cute baby photos are supplied!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Long Awaited Holiday Post

Firstly, here's a map of the South-West of Western Australia. Manjimup is marked and this is where we made our base.



Here is a picture of our campsite:



We bought the camper trailer second-hand last March, but this was the first time we had taken it out for a trip. It worked well, although with temperatures in the mid-30s (that's degrees celcius, folks), it did get hot in there during the day.

Here's a picture of the Karri Forests I mentioned in a previous post - yes, that is our car in the picture.



This photo was taken at the Diamond Tree Lookout, about 10kms south of Manjimup. The lookout itself, which can be seen in the next picture, is at the top of a 51metre high Karri tree (the Gloucester Tree Lookout, which is also climbable is even higher - but there were too many people there to get a good photo).



Here's a photo looking up into the top of the tree:



And here is a photo of me thinking about whether or not it would be a good idea to climb the Diamond Tree ...



I decided it wouldn't be at this time :) ... but maybe in the future .... It was scary high though.

The girls also had a try of climbing the tree, not that I would let them go too high.



There is also a wonderful (short) walk in the surrounding forest with mini-climbable trees which the girls had great fun with.



(For this one by "mini", I'm talking 3metres) ...



Some people don't have a problem with heights:



Apart from the Karri Trees - which I think are the most wonderful trees in the world. BTW if you are looking for the BEST PLACE to see them (and camp amongst them) then head to the Warren National Park, just outside Pemberton. The "Heartbreak Trail" road is a magnificant drive. We did the drive, I just don't have any photos - for some reason!

Now, as I was saying, apart from the Karri Trees, we visited some wonderful places:

* Donnelly River Wines - they do a lovely light drinking Rose (called Cascade) and their port goes down well too ...



* A Mead winery outside of Denmark. They had honey ice-creams (I tried the Rose, Almond & Honey one) and fresh honey. I am not a honey eater, but at the instance of my youngest I tried their Karri honey and YUMMO ... yes, we bought some!

* Just prior to a visit to this Meadery we went to a Toffee Factory, again some lovely samples were had and various treats purchased.

* Denmark Farmhouse Cheese and Ducketts Mill Wines - had a lovely lunch there (and only a glass of wine, promise).



* Cidery in Bridgetown - an abosolutely wonderful "find" - not sure why I don't have any photos of it. They have a lovely porch area under grape vines for enjoying lunch at, and the cider is pretty yummy too.

* Bridgetown also has a Fruit Winery - their "Sloshed Apple" port is delicous.

* The Valley of the Giants Winery and Olives place (outside Walpole) was also a great find - beautiful wines, olive oil and olives ....

No ... we didn't just EAT all the time - but we were there for 10 days!!!



So apart from the food & wine ... we visited:

* Beedelup Falls



Which has a suspension bridge:



* The Cascades at Pemberton



Where, after a short walk the girls had a great time playing



Here's another view of the Cascades taken the next day from the Pemberton Train. This picture is looking back up onto where the girls were playing the day before.



* Pemberton Train ride, an absolutely "must" if you're in the area ... this is taken at one of the six bridges we went over.



On the train ride I got a wonderful photo of my eldest ....



* And in the interests of fairness here's one of my youngest .... taken at Donnelly River Dam. The colour of the water comes from the tanins in the trees.



* Fernhook Falls was another place we "discovered".



This was quite an amazing place. There was a short walk from a swimming / canoing landing spot to the falls themselves, where the above photo was taken. There was a lots of Kookaburras there. When we walked back to the landing we noticed little birds swooping onto the river to get insects. Here's a video:

video

The girls played on the bottom step of the landing and then we noticed some fish and marron. I tried to take photos of the marron but they were just too fast.

* We also went to three beaches - Peacheful Bay, Emu Beach (in Albany) and Windy Harbour. Here's a photo of me and girls playing in the water at Windy Harbour (okay, I cheated you can't see much of me :) ).



This was a great place, quite large waves came through the rocks here making a safe but fun swimming hole.

* We also visited Big Brook Dam in Pemberton one evening ...



I loved the light on the water and took this photo too ...



* In Manjimup itself we visited the Timber Park, extremely interesting. I would like to go back when the temperature is less than 35deg. They had lots of native and foreign trees planted, old steam engines used in the forestry industry



As well as an old Police Station, Doctor's Surgery, Mechanics workshops and other historical buildings, including this old school



Definitely planning a return visit.

* Northcliffe Pioneer Museum had another replica of an old school, an old shop and a room full of rocks ... I would loved to have spent more time in there but the girls wanted to play on the playground outside.

* Talking of playgrounds Donnybrook now has the BEST kid's playground that I have ever seen. We had a great couple of hours there.

We also visited relatives in Bunbury and Albany.

My youngest said that she reckoned this was the best holiday we've ever had. I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed everything about it, except maybe the heat :)

UPDATE: I forgot to mention Dinosaur World and Reptile Park outside of Denmark. I'm not into Dinosaurs BUT loved their reptile displays and the birds. They have a number of native and foreign birds on display. Some are out of cages and will sit on your shoulder / hat etc. I think I got bitten by at least three of them (mainly when they objected to me trying to get the off my shoulder) but it was fun!



And I forgot the Lavendar and Berry Farm - YUMMO pancakes - but warning - the LARGE is ... (i think two of us would have happily shared a small). Here's a view from their front door:

Now Mouthwash Causes Cancer ....

Apparently mouthwash has been linked to oral cancer ...

from http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,24895211-421,00.html

Top-selling mouthwash brands, including Listerine, linked to cancer
By Clair Weaver

AUSTRALIA'S top-selling mouthwashes can cause oral cancer and should be pulled from supermarket shelves immediately.

Leading independent experts have issued this strong warning after investigating latest scientific evidence linking alcohol-containing mouthwashes to the deadly disease.

Their review, published in the Dental Journal of Australia, concludes there is now "sufficient evidence" that "alcohol-containing mouthwashes contribute to the increased risk of development of oral cancer".

The ethanol in mouthwash is thought to allow cancer-causing substances to permeate the lining of the mouth more easily and cause harm.

Acetaldehyde, a toxic by-product of alcohol that may accumulate in the oral cavity when swished around the mouth, is also believed to be carcinogenic.

Listerine, the nation's biggest-selling mouthwash and a brand endorsed by the Australian Dental Association (ADA), contains as much as 26 per cent alcohol.

Mouthwash is one of the fastest-growing grocery products in Australia, with the category now worth more than $75 million, according to latest Nielsen market research.

Lead review author Professor Michael McCullough has told The Sunday Telegraph alcohol-containing mouthwash should be reclassified as prescription-only and carry written health warnings.

Prof McCullough, chair of the ADA's therapeutics committee and associate professor of oral medicine at the University of Melbourne, is calling on the ADA to urgently re-assess its seal of approval on mouthwashes containing alcohol.

"We see people with oral cancer who have no other risk factors than the use of alcohol-containing mouthwash, so what we've done in this study is review all the evidence that's out there," he said.

"Since this article came out, further evidence has come out too. We believe there should be warnings.

"If it was a facial cream that had the effect of reducing acne but had a four- to five-fold increased risk of skin cancer, no one would be recommending it."

Oral cancer is a gruelling and mutilating disease that afflicts more than 800 Australians each year and kills half of them within five years of being diagnosed.

Smoking and alcohol consumption are well-established risk factors, but alcohol-containing mouthwash use is more controversial.


I know that there's a lot of "this will cause cancer" type scares regularly, most I totally ignore, but this one seems to be well researched so I thought I would bring it to your attention.

I've never actually liked mouthwash anyway, so the most I will ever do is put some on a toothbrush and brush over my teeth and then rinse straight away.

UPDATE: An here's an report with an expert who disagrees.

Friday, January 9, 2009

JOKE: Why females should avoid a girls night out after they are married....

The other night I was invited out for a night with the 'girls. I told my husband that I would be home by midnight, 'I promise!' Well, the hours passed and the margaritas went down way too easily. Around 3 a.m., a bit loaded, I headed for home. Just as I got in the door, the cuckoo clock in
the hallway started up and cuckooed 3 times?

Quickly, realizing my husband would probably wake up, I cuckooed another 9 times. I was really proud of myself for coming up with such a quick-witted solution, in order to escape a possible conflict with him?

(Even when totally smashed... 3 cuckoos plus 9 cuckoos totals = 12 cuckoos MIDNIGHT!)

The next morning my husband asked me what time I got in, I told him 'MIDNIGHT'... he didn't seem pissed off in the least. Whew, I got away with that one! Then he said 'We need a new cuckoo clock.' When I asked him why, he said, 'Well, last night our clock cuckooed three times, then said 'Oh
s**t.' Cuckooed 4 more times, cleared its throat, cuckooed another three times, giggled, cuckooed twice more, and then tripped over the coffee table and farted.

TWHGM: PETA & Sea Kittens

(TWHGM = "The World Has Gone Mad")

From http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,24891309-29277,00.html

PETA's campaign to rename fish 'sea kittens'

A CAMPAIGN to rename fish as "sea kittens" in order to improve their image has been ridiculed by the Federal Opposition.

Outspoken animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is using the "sea kitten" name as part of its push to restrict fishing.

"Nobody would hurt a sea kitten!" the group says on its website.

"People don't seem to like fish.

"We're going to start by retiring the old name for good.

"When your name can also be used as a verb that means driving a hook through your head, it's time for a serious image makeover."

The website features images of fish with cats' whiskers and ears.

PETA is using the campaign to entice people to sign a petition calling on the US Fish and Wildlife Service to stop promoting "the hunting of sea kittens (otherwise known as fishing)".

Opposition fisheries spokesman John Cobb was not impressed with the campaign, nor with PETA.

PETA has offended some in Australia with is high-profile campaign against mulesing, the practice of cutting away the skin from a sheep's rear to prevent flystrike.
Related Coverage

Mr Cobb said the group had little credibility.

"It is hard to take an organisation which wants to change the name of fish seriously," he said.

Many people might laugh at the sea kitten campaign, Mr Cobb said, but PETA's agenda was actually more sinister: destroying the meat and fish industries.

PETA has convinced a number of large companies to boycott Australian wool which comes from mulesed flocks.

The group argues mulesing is cruel and there are better ways to prevent flystrike.


I don't think there's any comment I could make about this inane suggestion. "I'm off sea-kittening" just doesn't have the same ring to it!

UPDATE: Do check out the PETA website for some funny cat/fish cartoon pictures.

Oh, and I've decided that "I'm going sea-kittening" does have a nice ring to it so I'm adopting it (not that I get to go very often).

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Homeschooling - the Future of Education?

Haven't read Scott Adam's (of Dilbert fame) blog recently but had a look tonight and he suggests that homeschooling may be the future of education.

I can imagine a future economy where everyone is home schooled over the Internet, and the average result is an improvement. With the Internet you could leverage the best teaching methods to the entire country. No one gets the bad teacher or the disruptive class. There are no bullies and no cliques.

I haven't read the comments to his blog post yet as I wanted to get my ideas down without further influence.

Personally, I would have loved to have been "homeschooled via the internet" instead of actually going to school. I didn't like school. My memories of school are loneliness and boredom. Homeschooling may actually have helped with the boredom aspect. I did an alternative schooling option for the last two terms of Year 8 and completed 2 years work in this period. This sort of learning would have worked great for me, but I'm not sure it would work for all kids. Some people do learn best through personal interaction rather than via reading (as we are all aware people learn differently). Neither my brother or sister excelled at this school.

Speaking as the mum of two school aged girls I am not sure that I would like this to be the only option that I had available for educating my girls.

My youngest is a very social child who loves the interaction that she got at kindergarten. She will start pre-primary this year and I believe socialisation is still a major focus at this age group as well as building the foundations for learning (especially reading).

My eldest is a quiet, reserved child who, I truely believe, has benefitted greatly from being in the school environment. I think for pure learning she would be happy with a self-paced, "learn on your own" style. But the classroom activities, particularly "news" (or "show and tell" as I knew it) have really helped build her confidence and I am not sure how this could be done outside of the school environment.

Scott Adams' take on the socialisation aspects is:

My guess is that as long as home schooled kids have friends in the neighborhood, and siblings, they socialize just fine. The social skills can be learned on sports teams and at Girl Scouts

But I do not fully agree. My girls have friends in the neighbourhood, they both participate in team sports and the eldest attends Girl Guides. I do believe that while these activities provide some socialisation opportunities they're not the "day in day out" type of opportunity provided by a school.

Prior to having kids I liked the idea of homeschooling, mainly as I didn't want my children to be bored at school like I was. However, having seen their personalities and having found the school that they are at I think that going to school is definitely a better option for them at this time. Maybe when they're older and socialisation and confidence building aren't such major issues then the "homeschooling via the internet" could be an option.

An aspect of this plan that Scott Adams doesn't address is the availability / suitability of parents to provide an appropriate learning environment. The assumption is made that a parent will be around to give better personal attention than a teacher with 20 students..

I see two problems with this, 1) those people with jobs will have to give them up to be home for the children (or we have to return to a traditional family structure where the husband works and the wife stays home with the kids); and

2) there are a lot of parents now who have enough trouble providing a suitable environment out of school hours, let alone assuming that they could do this all day, every day.

He did make an interesting observation regarding schooling all-year round, verses having the summer months off -

It's a legacy of our farming past, with no current utility. Every summer the American kids lose ground to the Japanese kids who school year round. Home schooling would have no long breaks. Another problem solved.

We are currently in the middle of our summer school holidays. School broke up on Dec 15th and goes back on Feb 2nd. I don't see the need for these long holidays (although the teachers may disagree with me), however with temperatures in the high 30s (that's Celsius, folks - tomorrow is forecast to be 98.6F), I am not sure that the kids being in school is a great idea either.

It would free up accommodation if families could take holidays through out the school year and not just at "school holiday" times (we just take the kids out of school when we want to go on holidays and that gets around this issue).

So basically, on the whole, I don't think that I would like to see the future of education go this way.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Catching Up

Still planning to do the holiday wrap up blog soon ... however, I've just been looking through my favourite blogs I discover that Monkey Girl is hanging up her keyboard :(

I've been reading her blog for a couple of months now and have found it a good read.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

On the Road

Just a quick note from a computer in a Northcliffe cafe. We've stopped here for a bite to eat on our way to Windy Harbour. We went to Windy Harbour the other day - and it was :) ... Hoping today is slightly less windy and more suitable for swimming. The weather has been pretty hot down here - but the shady trees and breeze has made it bearable.

This is the second last day of our holiday in the South-West and we've had a fantastic time.

I'll put some photos up of the area when I get back - but I don't think photos can do the Karri Forests justice. I seriously think that this is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Add to the beautiful trees the wineries, beaches and other assorted cottage type industries (toffee factory, mead icecreamery, etc) and it's a wonderful place to spend some time.

Anyway, more later ....