Friday, December 31, 2010


This time last year I wrote a post where I described 2009 as a year of change.

If 2009 was a year of change, this year has definitely been a year of challenge.

The main challenge, of course, was that brought about by my husband's illness. It required me to be more focused on the needs of the family than I had been before.

There were some high points throughout the year too:

January -
* holidaying with the family "down south"
* catching up with OldNFO and other friends in Sydney

February -
* finally getting the licence for my Stirling .22 and Tuffy

March -
* starting a new job. It was a 3-6 month contract position, I'm still there and thinking of applying for a permanent position in the company.

April -
* hunting trip where we got a number of goats (yummy)

May -
* the "Have a Go Day" at the gun club. Although this wasn't the first one we had done I think it was one of our most enjoyable.

June -
* taking my brother and his family to the range. They're hoping to go again in a couple of weeks - if the weather plays nice.

July -
* "up north" again with the family
* finishing training at the gun club. Really enjoyed doing the training with the Chief Instructor, but all day every Saturday was HARD work. This is one of the last training range reports I did. The guy mentioned in that report as having a serious car accident did come back and finish his training with us in July.

August -
Well I'm not sure I'ld class anything in August as a highlight. This is when my husband got sick (first post here) and two operations followed.

September -
* hubby getting out of hospital
* Miss 6 becoming Miss 7
* Miss 8 becoming Miss 9

October -
* hubby getting off the intravenous antibiotics
* Miss 9 getting into cooking
* planting the veggie garden

November -
* more of the girls' cooking and just generally family life :)

December -
* hubby getting a date for the hip replacement operation !!!!!!!!!!!!

Phew, I'm exhausted :)

I would like to take this opportunity to say a big THANK YOU to my wonderful friends - virtual and in real life - who have supported and encouraged me throughout the challenges of this year.

Without this support it would have been a lot harder!

Oh, and for 2011, I'm just hoping it will be a boring year :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

But he had a "Working with Children" Card ....

This reinforces my belief that things like "Working with Children" Card only proves someone hasn't has been caught ...

Wheatbelt police youth worker faces indecent assault charge

The 47-year-old man, who is an Armadale Police and Citizens Youth Club (PCYC) part-time employee, "indecently dealt" with a child between the age of 13 and 16, police allege.

The incident is alleged to have happened in a Wheatbelt town on November 12.

The man’s “Working with Children” card has been seized by police and he has been suspended from all activities associated with the PCYC.

Police spokesman stressed that the man is not a police officer or employed by the Commissioner of Police.

He is due to appear in the Northam Magistrates Court on January 11.



Monday, December 27, 2010

A web-site to help you unwind ....

After the stress of Christmas, here is a place where you can unwind.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

TTKS #300

The girls have just unwrapped their Santa presents. Miss 7 needed dad to use a knife to undo her Barbie doll. Hubby had received a pocket knife as a Christmas present from a friend. Miss 7 went and got a knife for huby to use:

Hubby: "This is my old knife."

Miss 7: "Of course, didn't want to break the new one!"

Friday, December 24, 2010

It was the night before Christmas ….

I decided this year – as we were at home and not camping like we usually spend Christmas – to revive the family tradition of a “special” Christmas Eve dinner and family presents.

The best thing about this year’s dinner was that I wasn’t cooking it. I was leaving that to my friend, Les, and Miss 9.

The menu:
· Prawn and Mango Salad
· Roast Chicken and Roast Vegetables
· Meringue Nests with Cherries and Chantilly Cream

It was a HOT day, well the official temperature was only around 33degC, but it certainly felt hotter. So I did say to the chefs that they could modify the menu if it was too much. But to my delight we were served the whole delicious meal.

Here are the photos:

The Chefs

Prawn and Mango Salad

The lettuce, herbs and cherry tomatoes were from the garden. This is a very tasty salad and the recipe can be found here.

Roast Chicken and Roast Vegetables

The vegetables included Dill Roast Potatoes, as well as roasted zucchini (from a friend’s garden), garlic, onions, carrots, celery (delicious), pumpkin and cherry tomatoes (totally delicious). These were sprinkled with fresh herbs (again from the garden, as were the cherry tomatoes.

Meringue Nests with Cherries and Chantilly Cream

Due to the humidity the last couple of days, the meringue nests were purchased instead of homemade. They were filled with fresh cherries (from a local orchard) and blueberries and served with a slice of lime, Chantilly cream and a delicious cherry sauce. This sauce utilised some “cherries in cognac” that my mother had given us as a Christmas present last year. The jar contained a variety of fruit in cognac and from what I could make out the Chefs had tasted it all to make sure it was still fit for consumption :)

Over the top of the nests, Miss 9 had sprinkled crumbled peppermint chocolate (and placed a piece on the side). It really set it off nicely.

In between the courses we unwrapped the presents and chatted.

The girls playing with Miss 9's DS

It was a nice, stress free way to do Christmas.

I’m hoping that all my friends around the world have similar enjoyable and stress free Christmas celebrations with their friends and families.

Merry Christmas all – and be safe!

Combat preparations

This is how it starts ...

The old warrior slowly ran the stone down the length of his sword. This weapon had been made for his grandfather, and he was planning on passing it along to his own grandson. He could be buried with some of his lesser weapons, but this piece of family hardware would pass down the line along with the strong bodies and tough minds that had set him and his brothers apart during the wars. Once the edge was sharp enough to shave with, he ran an oiled rag down its length to protect it from the elements.

... read the rest here ...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Google Reading Level Rating

Here are my results:

Google has added a new reading level rating to their Advanced Search.

Check out your favourite blogs / sites to see how they rate.

Hattip to Every Day No Days Off

A Date, A Date, A Date

Just got back from the hospital.

The appointment was for 7.45am and we got there by 7.30am and managed to get a disabled parking space. (Woo hoo, they're as rare as hen's teeth).

We were taken straight up to radiology. The radiologist was a complete card (as were the other two patients who came with us). Once the banter died down, hubby had a chest x-ray and then we went back to the pre-admission waiting room.

Over the next four hours we saw the nurse (twice), physiologist, anaesthetists and doctor. He had an ECG, swabs for MRSA, urine and blood tests. No less than 4 forms were filled in (one by each person and a few we had to take with us). Each time the same questions were asked?!? After being asked "Do you smoke?" 4 times (even though it was on the form we had filled in ahead of time) I was beginning to wonder what would happen if we started answering "yes" instead of "no".

Two of the "rather odd" questions were (asked by the nurse) "How old are your children?" and (asked by the Doctor) "Do you live in a house?", "Do you own the house?" Huh? I could, sort of, understand that question from the physiologist as sometimes modifications are needed to the house - but by the Doctor?

In between times we caught up with the other patients in the waiting room. They were undergoing a similar round-a-bout of interviews. There was a lot of banter between the patients and their partners which made the waiting less boring.

Anyhow, we were told that the operation is tentatively scheduled for Jan 28th (until we get a letter it's "tentative", but that's the date on the system). It is scheduled for Freo hospital but we don't know if it's morning or afternoon yet. He'll be in hospital for about a week or so after the operation and then he starts the long process of rehabilitation.

Thanks again for all the support. Please keep thoughts and prayers coming that the date won't get pushed out as it would be really good to get this finally sorted.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Her mind worries me ...

Watching the news, saw pictures of the snow falls in the UK, including pictures of a snowed in Heathrow and soccer players playing on snow

Me: "Look at that, they normally play on grass."

Miss 9: "Now they're playing on glass."

Trying for PSH and failing

Found an article along the lines of "OMG this was in the shops in Australia, how terrible, how terrible". (Article in green, my comments in black).

Gobsmacked? Yes, I was when this photo was sent to me last week.

You might automatically assume this wooden toddler toy was on sale in America. You are wrong. It was on sale at a toy stall in Mt Ommaney Shopping Centre in Brisbane last week. A friend and Naughty Corner reader took the photo and sent it to me with one word attached – “What?”

I would have thought the "what?" was easily answered. They're puzzle pieces with pictures of pistols and revolvers on them.

The toy was at hip height alongside puzzles of Australia. Totally accessible to children and treated as an educational toy.

Mmm, yes, I can see why. Teaches children to match shapes to holes. Just like any of these type of puzzles.

In her words: “ I had to do a double-take, as I couldn’t believe a toy manufacturer thought it was appropriate to make a weapon puzzle for little preschool hands. It looks just like his other educational transport and animal puzzles, and I just couldn’t imagine teaching my son –‘That’s a car, that’s a lion, and that’s a Glock’.”

Um, I thought it came with only one word attached? Oh, well, guess they need the counting games too.

“But if they’re making these kinds of “toys,” somebody must be buying them and that’s scary.”


We searched Ebay soon after and found another one of these puzzles for sale for $4 plus $6.50 for shipping.

Item number please, why make everyone who wants one have to search for it themselves? Oh, and how many people did it take to search Ebay for another one of the puzzles?

Here it is:

Mmm, interesting choice of guns - revolvers and rifles. I prefer the "all handgun" one myself.

In marketing the puzzle Riverview Gifts write that it is a “great gift for children”.

At least they linked to Riverview Gifts - so if you want one, you can get it from there.

When I contacted Riverview Gifts - to find out where the puzzle was made the told me it was for children aged 3+ and it was “made in China - from non-toxic paint.”

I had to laugh. If I was buying this toy for my child toxic paint would be the least of my worries.

Let me get this right? You believe that a PICTURE of guns is potentially MORE HARMFUL than TOXIC PAINT for your children?!? R.I.G.H.T.

Riverview Gifts failed to respond to questions about whether this was an appropriate gift for three-year-olds.

Um, they've already told you that it was for children aged 3+, so you were asking again because?

The gun puzzles have angered Australia’s Anti-Gun lobby who said the toy was disgraceful economic opportunism and trivialised violence.

IT'S A PICTURE OF A GUN ... nothing to do with VIOLENCE. If it was a picture of a man standing over a women pointing a gun at her head with a big green tick on it, then yes, I might agree with you that it was trivialising or glorifying violence. But seriously we have here pictures of inanimate objects.

“It is an attempt to get children to treat these dangerous objects as playthings,” Gun Control Australia spokesperson John Crook said.

Hang on, so the ones like this with cars on it is teaching kids that cars are playings and the ones with lions are teaching kids that lions are playthings too???

“The danger to the community is that children are inculcated with the idea that a killing device is a normal part of family living.”

And cars, which are used to kill way more people than guns in Australia each year are okay? If the criteria is how many people these are objects have been used to kill then why are we decrying guns? Surely cars / pillows and swimming pools should be banned?

I barely know where to start with this. It makes me so angry.


Why would any toy retailer think this was appropriate? And who is buying this for their children?

Judging from the comments received, most of them would have bought this had it been available when they had young kids. Most of the community is not so totally deluded to thing that a PICTURE of an object is the thing itself AND they realise that it's not the object that causes problems, but the OPERATOR of the object.

Guns are not educational toys for three-year-olds.

THIS ISN'T A GUN!!!!!!!!!

I have a big problem with gun play even for older children. Children need to understand that guns kill. And when you are dead, it’s not like in the movies or games - you don’t come back, you don’t get another life.

Cars kills, peanuts kill, pillows kill, dogs kill, trees kill, water kills ... maybe we should wrap our children up in cotton wool and lock them in their rooms (minus the pillows) until they're 21??? And anyway, IT'S NOT THE INANIMATE OBJECT that kills.

But what do you think? Is this puzzle shocking or just good fun?

Given those two choices, I'ld have to vote for fun!

Reading the comments, most of the commentators agree!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Spicy Bean and Ham Soup Take 2

I decided to try another Spicy Bean and Ham Soup. My first version was nice - but too salty for me. So this time I decided to skip the Pea and Ham canned soup and use a soup mix.


* 250gm Dry Soup Mix (Lentils and Split Peas)
* 1 cup chopped Celery
* 2 diced Potatoes
* Chopped Basil (from garden)
* Chopped Oregano (from garden)
* 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
* 1 tablespoon chopped Jalapeno chili
* 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 2.5 litres cold water

Place these ingredients into slow cooker for 2 hours - on high.

After 1 hour I added:

* 2 teaspoons Beef stock powder

After the 2 hours I roughly blended the mix and added:

* 1kg chopped smoked ham
* 1 can of the each of the following (drained and rinsed)
- Red Kidney Beans
- White Beans
- Butter Beans
- Chick peas
- Borlotti
* 2 cans of Lentils (drained and rinsed)
* 1 teaspoon Mixed Herbs
* 1.5 teaspoons Hot Tabasco

[Update]Forgot to menion adding another litre of water[/UPDATE]

It is now cooking nicely.

Will update with results and any further modifications.

[Update]It's delicious and nowhere near as salty. The ham was a different type - last one was "sweet and smoked" this one was just "smoked". I think I like the "sweet and smoked" one better - so there will be a take 3.[/UPDATE]

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How to make Santa speechless

Miss 9 has a subscription to a children's magazine put out by the CSIRO and as part of it is invited (with family) to a Christmas party at Scitech.

Basically they open up Scitech for at least 3 hours (we left after 3hours), providing lollies and chips and a visit from Santa.

Anyway, Miss 9 queued up the see Santa and Miss 7 joined the line just before they got to the front. Santa asks what they want for Christmas and Miss 7 says a cowboy horse riding outfit.

Santa has a chat to her about this and horse riding etc and then asks Miss 9. She replies that she would like a rifle.

Santa just about freaked. He had to ask her three times to be sure he had heard right and there was lots of "oh umm, erring" going on.

After a bit he sort of recovered and said (looking at me), "I'm not sure about the rifle". I said "I don't see why not, they got one last year."

He responded "Oh, I had forgotten about that" (which I thought was an impressive come back). He then directed the girls to one of the "elves" to get a free pass.

It was quite funny! But I do wish I was videoing it.

BTW Scitech is FUN!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Update on hubby

Got to see the surgeon today. Waited for just under two hours and then had a 10min discussion with him. But good news.

He was surprised that hubby had been placed on the Category 2 waiting list (operation within 90 days), he thinks that he should be on the Category 1 list (operation much sooner). He was going to see if he could change this.

He also wants to operate at a satellite hospital rather than Freo - newer hospital, easier parking and doesn't close for so long over Christmas, so we were fine with that as well.

He did warn again about the high possibility of infection, but fingers crossed that this won't be the case.

So next week hubby has the "Pre-admission clinic" and then hopefully, early in the new year an operation!

Thanks for everyone's thoughts, prayers and support - it has been much appreciated.

Monday, December 13, 2010

She's probably right

This discussion took place in the car the other day returning home from buying Miss 7 a bike. The bike that we bought for her was a "small women's" bike as all the children's bikes were too small. (Miss 9's new bike last year was also a "small women's" bike).

Me: "Do I just have giants for kids or are all bikes built by the Chinese?"

Miss 9: "Probably a bit of both"

Friday, December 10, 2010

Spicy Bean and Ham Soup

Was chatting to GayCynic of Freethinker the other day and he gave me a great recipe for a Spicy Bean and Ham Soup.

Me, being me, changed it a bit based on what I had in the cupboard -

* Two cans of Campbell's condensed Pea and Ham Soup
* 400/440gm cans of the following beans - Red Kidney, White, Butter, Chick peas, Borlotti
* 2x440gm cans of Lentils
* 1kg smoked Ham (thought it was on the bone, turned out it wasn't) - diced
* Oregano (from the garden) - this is a "hot and spicy" type of oregano
* Basil (from the garden)
* 1tsp dried Basil (not enough in garden)
* 1tsp dried Mixed Herbs
* 1/2 tsp Hot Tabasco sauce (never tried this before boy is it HOT and what a stoopid design of bottle, surely a squeeze bottle would work better?!?)
* 2 cloves Garlic
* 1ltr water

I put the whole lot into the slow cooker and it's now slow cooking away. Will update with the verdict (and of course, any process modifications).

Modification 1
An hour into cooking I felt it tasted salty - hubby said it wasn't too bad, but as I had a cooked potato laying around in my fridge, I chopped that up and put it in too!

Modification 2
An hour later I thought it didn't taste spicy enough so stirred in another half teaspoon of the Tabasco.

Modification 3
Miss 7 will only eat hot food if it is pepperoni. Because this had a bit of heat I told her that it had the pepperoni she likes in it. She, after eating a spoonful, told me I didn't put enough pepperoni in. She then got me to slice some into a bowl and serve the soup over the top if it. Miss 9 wanted the same as did hubby. So after doing this I cut up the rest of the stick (500gm total) and put it into the soup as well.

The soup, now being the next day, is yummy (but still a touch salty to me).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Veggie Garden - One Month On

Back on the 8th of November I posted this picture of the veggie garden:

Here's what it looks like today (from the other end - due to the position of the sun):

The only issue that we've had is that the side where the snow peas were planted seems to get a lot of radiant heat and the plants just don't grow. I think the inside of the garden bed catches all-day sun and radiates the heat back into the patch. We've now put some straw down that side, but I'm also contemplating putting a roll of newspaper under the straw and keeping it moist to cut down on this. Any other ideas?

We've harvested a lot of the cherry tomatoes (delicious) and the cos lettuce (crunchy and tasty). The straw that we used was chickpea straw and a huge number of pea shoots have sprouted. These taste yummy but there were just too many to cope with and they began to affect the surrounding plants, so I pulled out most of them yesterday but have left a few to grow to see if they'll produce chick peas.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Know what you want to accomplish ...

Via way of Tam I discovered TJICistan's post on "Getting things done".

She linked with the descriptor "Organizing for Dummies" and I think that is an apt one!

One of the things that stood out from the very useful post was this:

When you speak, know what you want to accomplish ... think about what you’re trying to get ... Once you know what it is, you can make that your thesis statement.


Julian Assange's message

I decided to post this here as I'm not sure if my American friends will see this otherwise:

Don't shoot messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths

WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks.

IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide's The News, wrote: "In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win."

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch's expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.

I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.

People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.

If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.

WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain's The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.

Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be "taken out" by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be "hunted down like Osama bin Laden", a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a "transnational threat" and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister's office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.

And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by Julia Gillard and her government. The powers of the Australian government appear to be fully at the disposal of the US as to whether to cancel my Australian passport, or to spy on or harass WikiLeaks supporters. The Australian Attorney-General is doing everything he can to help a US investigation clearly directed at framing Australian citizens and shipping them to the US.

Prime Minister Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.

We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn't want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.

Has there been any response from the Australian government to the numerous public threats of violence against me and other WikiLeaks personnel? One might have thought an Australian prime minister would be defending her citizens against such things, but there have only been wholly unsubstantiated claims of illegality. The Prime Minister and especially the Attorney-General are meant to carry out their duties with dignity and above the fray. Rest assured, these two mean to save their own skins. They will not.

Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by US agencies, Australian politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: "You'll risk lives! National security! You'll endanger troops!" Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes. It can't be both. Which is it?

It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US, with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan. NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn't find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.

But our publications have been far from unimportant. The US diplomatic cables reveal some startling facts:

► The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.

► King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US to attack Iran.

► Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran's nuclear program stopped by any means available.

► Britain's Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect "US interests".

► Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.

► The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.

In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said "only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government". The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.

by Julian Assange


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Merry Christmas you suckers .....

Heard this song on the radio this morning - thought it was quite amusing.

Merry Christmas you suckers,
You miserable men,
That old festive season is with you again,
You’ll be spending your money on cartloads of junk,
And from here to new year you’ll be drunk as a skunk.

Merry Christmas you suckers,
It’s perfectly clear,
That you fall for it all a bit sooner each year,
If it goes on like this you will find pretty soon,
That you’re singing “White Christmas” as early as June.

This Christmas card racket,
Will cost you a packet,
Each season it seems to expand,
The cards are so clever,
Though nothing whatever,
To do with the subject in hand

You’ll be taking the kids round to multiple stores,
To be frightened to death by some old Santa Claus,
Then its parties with spirits and vino and beer,
Merry Christmas you suckers,
And a happy new year.

Merry Christmas you suckers,
You bleary-eyed lot,
You’ll never get rid of that headache you’ve got,
But I hope you feel splendid you certainly should,
With your stomachs distended with turkey and pud.’

Merry Christmas you suckers,
Jump into your cars,
Roar off to your neighbours,
To sink a few jars,
Though your vision is double just keep smiling through,
There are others in trouble a lot worse than you.

Beyond any question acute indigestion,
Will plague you and make you unwell,
You won’t take the warning,
You’ll wake up each morning,
Undoubtedly feeling like hell,

But stick to it suckers,
Go swallow a pill,
For this is the season of peace and goodwill,
While we patiently wait for that nuclear blast…
Merry Christmas you suckers, it may be your last.


The song is by Paddy Roberts and, as far as I can determine, from 1962.

The song was released in the US with the title "And a Happy New Year".

It would be interesting to see a rewrite updating some of the 1960s concepts - like Christmas cards - aren't they all electronic now :) and the threat of a nuclear blast ... maybe "global warming" should take its place.

Monday, December 6, 2010

It could have been worse ....

While the freezing conditions sweeping parts of Europe (and America, if some of my friends are to be believed) are not a laughing matter, I did enjoy this story:

Reluctant rescue for seven people trapped inside British pub for nine days

IN what sounds like a beer drinker's dream, seven people were trapped inside a British pub for nine days by a ferocious snowstorm and 16-foot (4.8m) snow drifts.

Five staff members and two local residents were barricaded in the Lion Inn in Blakey Ridge, Kirbymoorside, North Yorkshire from November 26, but under the most optimal of conditions: plenty of food and drink and since the pub is also a bed and breakfast, there were even beds to sleep in, the Mail on Sunday said.

A snowplow finally made its way over the North York moors to the pub on Saturday, allowing those inside to leave, the BBC reported.

"It was really novel at first and quite exciting," the Mail quoted waitress Katie Underwood, 18, as saying before they finally made it out.

"It's been freezing, but we've been lucky that it's a pub and B&B we're trapped in.

.."We've got plenty of coal for our fire, which has been great, and there are rooms upstairs so we have somewhere to sleep, and plenty of food."

The Lion Inn's home website says, "The bar is well known for its good selection of quality real ales" and notes it is recommended by, among others, The Good Pub Guide and the Good Beer Guide.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Well gun legislation is certainly working ...

Not ....

From today's news:

Gun runners of Sydney revealed

THE three gun runners didn't care who was buying their lethal weapons or what they were going to do with them. All they wanted was the cash.

In cafes, backs of cars, even in the car park of a Wollongong hotel in daylight, Aristos Dionys, Michael Zarakas and Andrew Kafizas traded thousands of dollars for machineguns and assault weapons - the tools of trade for professional killers.

Lucky for Sydney, the man handing over the money and buying the guns was an undercover police officer.

What started as a whisper - or, as police say, "acting on information received" - led to a five-month operation which busted one of the biggest gun hauls in Australia.

In nine clandestine meetings police bought 12 weapons, including a Bren machinegun and Mauser semi-automatic pistols.

Dionys, 58, of Fairy Meadow, the main supplier, middle man Zarakas, 43, also of Fairy Meadow, and "go-to" man Kafizas, 58, of Wollongong, all pleaded guilty last week to charges of conspiring to supply prohibited weapons.

Dionys got a minimum sentence of 10 years and six months, Kafizas five years and Zarakas eight years.

The operation showed how much money can be made in the trade of illegal guns.

The trio were charging thousands of dollars for sophisticated weapons. A Mauser c96 pistol was worth $8500. Another semi-automatic pistol cost $4250 plus $600 "commission " to the contact man, Zarakas, who referred to himself in a police interview as the "Don Corleone of Wollongong".

Automatic pistols like Mausers and Glocks can fetch anything from $3000 to $8000. Machine guns and assault weapons up to $18,000. The final haul by police was more than 100 weapons, including military style machineguns, assault weapons, ammunition, semi-automatic pistols, rifles, night scopes and silencers.

Head of the operation Detective Senior-Constable Brad Reh said: "They contacted us each time. What we saw was how often they came to us with what seemed a steady supply of weapons."

Police made secret recordings of the three gun runners talking about "cars" and "fuel" - code for guns and ammunition.

Just before the last "sting" police got a call from Kafikis.

"We have something pretty big for you," he said.

That turned out to be a Bren sub-machinegun - mounted on tanks during World War II and capable of firing 500 rounds per minute, with a range of 1.5km.

The asking price: $18,000.

When police arrested the men they were pretty happy with the 12 guns they had caught them selling. During a search of Dionys' car, a detective found a business card in the ashtray for a storage facility in Padstow.

When asked about the card and the facility a very vague Dionys said he stored "ammunition and stuff" there. What police found was an arms cache of 109 weapons ranging from sub-machineguns to double-barrel shotguns. One, a hand-held, Turkish-made 9mm machine pistol was capable of firing 800 rounds a minute and is favoured by many militia and paramilitary organisations.

"Finding that card to the storage facility was gold. It could have easily been ignored but the team followed it up and from there we have made a significant in-road into the illegal gun trade," Wollongong crime manager Acting Inspector Brad Ainsworth said.

"You can only guess whose hands they would have ended up in. The dealers themselves lived in the Wollongong area but the guns were stored in south-western Sydney."

NSW police and federal police are now investigating the source of the guns - although most had the serial numbers defaced and the crims aren't talking.

"We got rid of a couple of machineguns and a whole lot of weapons destined for the streets," Insp Ainsworth said.

"These men were recklessly selling weapons for gain. They had no idea for what they were to be used or who was getting them."


Many of the guns detailed in this story have been illegal since 1997 at least, so where did they come from?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Act like an adult

I was chatting to some guys on GBC about the removal of the "Don't ask don't tell" policy in the American armed forces.

I made the comment that "I just wish everyone would act like an adult" - which brought merriment and scoffing!

Well, obviously my workplace believes that people need help understanding how to act as adults at Christmas / End of year functions - we first received this email:

Message to all Employees

At this time of the year, it is appropriate to provide a reminder and guidance about the expected behaviour of all employees at Christmas and End of Year functions.

The intention of this communication is not to place undue restrictions on Christmas or End of Year functions or celebrations - but to serve as a reminder of employee’s responsibilities during these functions.

There are some key points that the business would like to highlight to you:

Regardless of whether Christmas / End of Year functions are held outside of hours and / or outside of the workplace - if the function is organized or sponsored by or on behalf of the Company, then it is more than likely that the function will be deemed to be work related, therefore all company functions will have a designated start and finish time.

The Company and individuals can be held liable for the actions of employees and third parties (partners, clients etc) who are in attendance at such functions;

The Company and individuals can be held liable for the behaviour of our employees who attend other functions (such as a client or customer's Christmas / End of Year function) as a representative of the Company;

The Company's commitment to Zero Harm which carry obligations to provide a workplace that is safe and without risk to health - apply to Christmas / Office / End of Year functions - this extends to protecting employees (& third parties) from bullying, harassment, victimization and violence from co-workers, clients and management;

Usual Company Policy such as Appropriate Workplace Behaviour apply at Company organised functions. Disciplinary action can and will be taken for breaches of Company Policy at Company organised functions.

The use of Technology (mobile phone video cameras etc.) used to record and subsequently share vision on social media outlets (you tube, Facebook etc) is discouraged and may breach privacy legislation.

Employees are encouraged to think in advance about how they will travel to and from the event safely.

Where alcohol is available at functions responsible consumption is mandated.

If you have any questions about this communication or about the organization of Christmas / End of Year functions, please direct them to myself ...

Mmm, okay I thought, it's probably good thinking on behalf of the Company to get this out there.

Today, however, I receive this:

Really, seriously?!?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pleased with the outcome

Following on from yesterday's blog, I have just had the Deputy Principal from the school call me.

Apparently Miss 9 gave her her revised Santa List and explained the situation clearly and articulately and prior to calling me the Deputy Principal had already had a discussion with the class teacher about the situation.

Miss 9 has been asked to rewrite her letter again adding in a few details as to why she wants each item, which I think is fair enough. Apparently the Deputy Principal had a chat with her as to why people might say things and how it is important to explain her point of view with reference to where other people are at.

The teacher has been encouraged to think about bit more about things from different perspectives and not let her pre-conceptions colour the work assignments she gives the children.

I was pleased that I really had a very minor part in this, and that Miss 9 was able to explain to the Deputy Principal what had happened and why she wasn't happy with it.

I'm also very pleased that we have such a good Deputy Principal at the school!

[UPDATE: Spoke to Miss 9 this evening. She reckons that her teacher let her put up the list without a rewrite. I asked her if the teacher seemed upset or anything regarding this situation and she said that no, she seemed fine - so that's good.[/UPDATE]

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Got to have a chat with the school :(

Miss 9 and I having a discussion after school:

Miss 9: "We wrote a Christmas wish list today. I put down three things - we were only allowed to put down three things"

Me: "What things did you put on your list?"

Miss 9: "Well I put down a DS because I've wanted one for years, and - as we weren't allowed to put down knives - I put down a cookbook ..."

Me: "Woo, back up a bit, what do you mean you weren't allowed to put down knives?"

Miss 9: "Miss [Redacted] said we weren't allowed to put down weapons - like knives and guns"

Me: "Okay I'll call the school tomorrow and talk to the Deputy Principal."

Later on in the evening a boy from her class and his mum were over for a cuppa and after I told her about this, she asked her son what he put on the list. He apparently put down a "Nerf Gun" so it will be interesting to see what happens with that.

He also mentioned that she had asked the class to verbalise what they wanted on their lists before they did the written part of the exercise. Apparently Miss 9 did verbalise that she wanted more knives - and the teacher's response AFTER THIS was that "knives, guns and other weapons aren't allowed on the list". (The teacher knows of Miss 9's interest in cooking and knows that she got a knife roll and some knives for her birthday).

Mmmm, I wonder what she cuts her food with!

Will let you know how things go with the school tomorrow.

I also asked Miss 7 if she was given a list of things that she couldn't put on her list - apparently she wasn't as she actually put down 5 different toy guns and 2 Barbie dolls!

[UPDATE: Apparently Miss 9 has said "pocket knife" when asked by the teacher in class - prompting the "knives, guns and other weapons aren't allowed on the list" response. I believe that I pocket knife is a valid request - doesn't mean she's getting one though.

I asked Miss 9 what she wanted to do about this situation this morning. She said she would like to write a 'real list' for Santa and take that to school. So she did (with three items - filleting knife, pocket knife and a giant cookbook). I asked her to give it to the Deputy Principal and explain in her words why and I said I would follow that up with a call.

I am now waiting on the Deputy Principal to return my call. [/UPDATE]