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]

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Science in the front yard

There was a tragic death here in Perth yesterday - not far from my place of work.

A WORKER involved in an explosion at a Welshpool factory this morning has lost his fight for life after suffering severe head injuries in the bizarre incident.

The explosion occurred at Diamond Powder Coaters in Division Street just before 8am this morning when the 28-year-old Sri Lankan tried to get the lid off a drum with an angle grinder.

It is believed that sparks from the tool he was using ignited fumes from solvents in the 44-gallon drum.

The explosion sent the drum lid flying about 30m in the air, Belmont Sergeant Nathan Trenbearth said.

The man was rushed to Royal Perth Hospital but died from his injuries a short time late.

Police are preparing a report for the coroner while they assist Worksafe with investigations into the incident.

The man lived in Rivervale with friends and police were still trying to contact his family.


(The article doesn't specifically refer to acetone, but it was mentioned as the chemical on a radio report.)

Anyway, as my family and a friend were sitting around the lounge last night, and I asked the adults if they heard about the accident. Miss 9's ears poked up and she asked what had happened. The conversation went like this:

Miss 9: "What happened?"

Me: "A worker tried to open a drum of acetone with an angle grinder."

Miss 9: "But an angle grinder makes sparks, the drum would have exploded."

Me: "Yes, unfortunately that's what happened."

Miss 7: "Is acetone flammable?" (Yes, she used the word flammable)

Hubby: "Yes, would you like to see how it burns?"

Both girls: "Yes!"

So we all trundle outside with a box of matches and a small amount of acetone to watch it burn.

I was surprised to see how slowly it burns.

I'm thinking that during the school holidays (starting very shortly) the girls will have to do some more experiments with chemicals and fire :) - Properly supervised, of course.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Let's spend $36b without a cost-benefit analysis ...

That is just what our lower house of parliament has decided today ....

OPPOSITION communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull's amendment to have the national broadband network subject to a cost-benefit analysis has failed in the lower house of parliament.

All four independent MPs and Australian Greens member Adam Bandt voted with the government to defeat the move to have the Productivity Commission scrutinise the $36 billion project.

The amendment was lost 57 votes to 60, with West Australian Nationals MP Tony Crook siding with the coalition.


Crazy, crazy, crazy! Oh and I'm betting the final figure will be way higher than $36b.

Sad: Comedy legend Leslie Nielsen dead aged 84

From today's news I am saddened to read that Leslie Nielsen is dead.

CANADIAN actor Leslie Nielsen, famous for his deadpan turns in Airplane! and The Naked Gun, has died aged 84, a US radio station has reported.

His death was first reported in unconfirmed messages on Twitter that suggested the actor had died in the hospital after suffering from pneumonia.

His nephew, Doug Nielson, told radio station CJOB that the actor had been in the hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for 12 days and that "he just fell asleep and passed away" with family and friends by his side.

Born in Regina, Canada, Leslie Nielsen appeared in more than 100 movies and hundreds of television shows over the course of his career.

Awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, he was also made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002 despite also being a naturalized US citizen.

He was married four times, and had two children from his second marriage, Maura and Thea Nielsen.

source: Read more:

I did enjoy a number of his films.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

Wishing all my American friends a happy Thanksgiving Day.

We seem to spend a lot of time focusing on the things that aren't positive or could be better (well I know I do anyway). I think it's great to be reminded that there are lots of things in our lives to be thankful for and that we should focus on these as well.

I know that I'm very thankful for:

* My family
* Good friends - virtual and real
* My health
* My job
* The freedoms and standard of living that I enjoy living in a country like Australia
* The people who are willing to stand up and fight to protect these freedoms. Thank you for your service.

Enjoy your time with friends and the food! Be safe all.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Splutter, splutter, cough, cough - say what?

Was reading an article on the backscatter scanners machines used in America and was stunned to read:

The body scanners, due to be rolled out across Australian airports next year, ....

Say what????

[Update]Found this article from November 9th

Full-body scanners will be introduced at international airports in Australia from early next year as part of the Federal Government's $200 million plan to boost aviation security.

Captain Woodward says there are no moves for a similar boycott here.

Instead he says AIPA will continue to work with the Government to address safety concerns.

"We're going to work closely with the security authorities from the Federal Government to see what sort of imaging equipment they want to put in and use," he said.

"We certainly have our preference for non-ionising radiation type of equipment. So we have had preliminary talks with the security authorities and we'll continue that."

A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Anthony Albanese says the technology to be introduced in Australia will be more advanced than the machines used in the US.

She says safety checks will be carried out on all equipment by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.

From here.[/UPDATE]

[UPDATE 2]Apparently there were trials at Australian airports ...

In the six-week Australian trial, from October 15 to November 28, 2008, almost 70,000 travellers volunteered for full-body security scans at Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide airports, with Deakin University's Intelligent Systems Laboratory helping with data collection and modelling....

The results of the trial were:

The body scan trial

Melbourne Airport

Scanner: Rapiscan Secure 1000 (back-scatter x-ray)

?Used for secondary screening only

?32,011 passengers volunteered (22% of all passengers at the screening point)

? 1,078 passengers were imaged

?48% felt the process was as fast as the standard process

?58% felt it was no better or worse than the standard process

?34% felt it was better.

Sydney Airport

Scanner: AS&E SmartCheck (back-scatter x-ray)

?Used for secondary screening only

?28,422 passengers volunteered, (22% of all passengers at the screening point)

?3,227 passengers were imaged.

?48% felt the process was faster than the standard process.

?60% felt it was better than the standard process

?36% felt it was no better or worse.

Adelaide Airport

Scanner: L-3 ProVision (millimetre radio waves)

?Used for a primary screening

?8,536 passengers volunteered and were imaged

?61% felt the process was slower than the standard process.

?44% felt it was no better or worse than the standard process

?42% felt it was better.

SOURCE: Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Miss 9 cooked again tonight

The girls' principal and his wife came over for dinner tonight. Miss 9 cooked again (with a bit of help). The menu for was:

Main: Moroccan Beef Tagine served with Roast Baby Vegetables and Couscous
Dessert: Strawberries in Meringue Nests served with Chantilly Cream

Our tame chef was away for the weekend so Miss 9 was cooking with me. Luckily he helped her make the meringue nests before he went away:

Last night, Miss 9 chopped the strawberries and add some Castor sugar and put them in the fridge to macerate overnight.

She also cubed the beef nicely and we made up the spice rub and put that in the fridge too. We were using a Jamie Oliver recipe for this. We used Masterfood's Moroccan seasoning in place of the ras el hanout spice mix.

Today she finished off the Beef Tagine, made up a sample batch of the couscous to see how it worked and how long it took and then prepared the baby vegetables - carrots, corn, zucchini, brocollini and shallots for roasting.

She then chopped the strawberries for decorating the dessert and quickly made the Chantilly cream (which we had forgotten about :( ).

We roasted the vegies with some olive oil and mixed herbs for about 15mins at 220degC. She made the couscous (with some vegetable stock) and we served the meal!

Everything came together nicely and it was DELICIOUS! A very tasty and seriously impressive meal. The company was very pleasant as was the bottle of red they brought!

Here's some more photos (we forgot to take photos BEFORE we ate!):

And the dessert:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Well hubby's now on ....

the "waiting list" ...

so more waiting! BUT the operation should be performed within 3 months. So hopefully not too much more waiting.

Thanks everyone for your thoughts and prayers. This was probably the best outcome we could have got today (realistically).

Tragic, just tragic

Appears from the latest reports that the double shooting in Colorado of the Australian twins was a suicide pact.

Twin tells police shooting was suicide pact

THE Australian woman who survived a mysterious double shooting at a Colorado firing range won't tell US police why she and her twin sister made a suicide pact.

The Victorian women, Candace and Kristin Hermeler, shot themselves at the Family Shooting Centre south of Denver three days ago after renting pistols and buying ammunition from the firing range management. One died at the scene.

More details have emerged today about the 29-year-old sisters from an American cousin, who said they each had double university degrees and their parents had emigrated from South Africa to Melbourne in the 1970s, The Australian reported.

The surviving twin, who is in a serious condition in hospital after brain surgery, told police from her bed during a two-hour interview that the identical twins had made a suicide pact.

“She told us they planned to commit suicide together and did in fact shoot themselves,” Arapahoe County sheriff's Captain Louie Perea said.

But the investigators left the hospital not knowing why the twins, visiting the US from Victoria, would hatch such a plan.

“We asked that question, obviously more than once, and she didn't want to answer that question,” Captain Perea said.

“We do not know why they did it.

“But, we do know they were in the Denver area for five weeks and one of them went to the shooting range approximately two weeks ago and took some shooting lessons and then about a week ago they went to the same shooting range and took some more lessons.

“Obviously they went back to the shooting range on November 15 and shot themselves.”

The names of the twins will not be released until sheriffs match their identities with fingerprints taken by US immigration officers when the women first entered the US.


More here

[update] more here too [/update]

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Impressed with Miss 7

When I packed Miss 7's lunch yesterday I included a 'mini' home-made LCM bar* (they're the size of mini muffins). She saw me pack it and asked for another one for the friend she eats lunch with. Apparently she's been sharing the last few I've given her. (My eldest shares one out amongst three or four friends?!?).

So anyway I packed two and sent them off to school.

I was cleaning out their lunch boxes after school and was surprised to find one of the mini LCMs still in Miss 7's lunch box.

When I asked her why she hadn't eaten it, she replied that she did eat one, but her friend wasn't at school so she hadn't given the other one away!

I thought that was pretty impressive and shows good self-discipline!

* Used recipe 1 from this post - and made them in mini papper cupcake cases inside a mini muffin tin.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thoughts and prayers for Friday please

Hubby has an appointment with the surgeon again.

We're hoping:
1) the appointment isn't cancelled
2) the surgeon is actually there this time and we're not waiting for 2 hours to be told that he's not available
3) that everything is alright with hubby's hip
4) and this is the big one - THAT WE GET A DATE FOR HIS SURGERY in the VERY VERY VERY near future.

Will let you know how it goes.


Monday, November 15, 2010

What is the purpose of recess and lunch times at school?

Seems like an odd question doesn't it? I must admit it's not one that I've given much thought to, until recently.

On Friday morning before school, Miss 9 came up to me and said that her teacher had assigned classmates for them to play at recess and lunch time and she had been given two boys to play with whom she didn’t really get on with and she really was upset that she couldn't play with her friends – unless her 'buddies' (and their 'buddies') played too. Apparently they also had to eat lunch with these kids and not with their normal groups.

I was stunned! And tried to discover what the 'real' story was.

From her I gathered that one girl (who is a known trouble-maker) had made another girl cry over something and there was a boy who was also 'being mean' to other kids and the teacher wanted them to play with different people to stop this behaviour.

Needless to say I decided to talk to the teacher.

I stopped by the Principal's office for another reason and mentioned it to him. He said it sounded strange but to take it up with the teacher first and if I didn't get an answer I was happy with to go back to him.

I spoke to the teacher. She basically said that "they were having social integration issues in the classroom and this approach had worked successfully in the year 1 class so I want to try it". I put forward my point of view that I considered recess and lunch time a "time out" for my daughter where she could unwind from the stress of the class and relax and play with her friends and making her play with kids she wouldn't normally play with would stress her. I also pointed out that there was a big difference between the social development of year 1 and year 3 children.

The teacher did concede "that the pairing (my daughter) had ended up with wasn't ideal" but that my daughter had "strong social skills which she hoped would help the other children". I pointed out that I didn't think this was likely and that all I could see it doing was stressing my daughter.

In the end, we decided to give it a go for the day and see how things went. I was reluctant to do this but didn't feel that I was getting anywhere with the teacher and my daughter, when the teacher asked her if she was willing to try it, said "yes". I mentioned the situation to the Principal and said I would give him feedback the following week.

After school I asked Miss 9 how it went. She said it was "okay" but that apparently one of the boys had slammed the other boy's fingers in the toilet door and that put an end to the "playing together" (this happened at the end of the lunch time anyway).

However, Miss 9 had a VERY DISTURBED night on the Friday night. She was crying in her sleep, calling out and was generally not settled. We've not seen this sort of behaviour from her in a long time and it is definitely a sign of stress with her. So I decided to talk to the teacher again this morning to ensure that they weren't going to do it again.

I explained to the teacher how she was on Friday night and the teacher basically said that she had kept a good eye on my daughter during Friday and that she seemed okay and happy. I pointed out that while she might be able to keep up a positive front at school, I believe the experiment did stress her and I wasn't happy for it to continue.

We had a long talk at by the end of it I really believe that that teacher was hearing what I was saying. As far as I know the teacher would like to repeat the experiment next Friday, but only for recess and a group session after lunch. I am fine with that, as long as my daughter gets some time to unwind during the day.

I mentioned to the Principal briefly in the morning that my daughter had a very unsettled night on Friday night and that I was going to talk to the teacher again. However I didn't seem him after the chat with the teacher.

I was therefore surprised, but pleased, to get a phone call from him at work following up. I explained how things had worked out and that I was happy with the outcome but mentioned that I was still concerned that they were doing this for the Year 1s (the class my other daughter was in – but not as concerned as she has a very different personality and is at a different stage in personal development), but that I thought the question of what is the purpose of the recess and lunch breaks needed to be addressed with the teachers generally.

So what do you think? Should the teachers be organising who the children play with and what they do during their recess and lunch breaks or should it be totally up to the children (within normal bounds, of course)?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Junior Masterchef Cook-a-long

My girls have enjoyed watching Junior Masterchef this year and decided they would like to join in the "cook-a-long" on Friday night.

We downloaded the instructions, equipment list and cooking method prior to the show and spent most of Friday afternoon preparing. Basically everything had to be chopped and/or weighed before the show started - even down to the butter being melted.

So with everything organised (and I even learnt how to roast and deskin hazelnuts) we waited for the show to start. In the introduction of the show we learnt that it was a 90min show (as opposed to the normal 60min), they were cooking three dishes and the last one was the cook-a-long one. Which means that we had an hour to wait until we needed that melted butter - needless to say the butter was no longer melted by that stage.

Girls waiting for the cook-a-long to start

All the pre-prepared ingredients

Anyway, eventually the show got to the cook-a-long part and the girls joined in making Individual Hazelnut and Chocolate Self-Saucing Puddings with Candied
Orange Zest and Creme Chantilly
. It was fun but challenging - timewise (especially as our oven & stove top weren't in the same room); and being so late.

However, with a little bit of help (nice to have a tame chef) the girls plated up some lovely dishes.

Girls making quinellas of Creme Chantilly

This is the picture from the Junior Masterchef site as I didn't manage to get one of the completed plates from the girls:

[Update] Found a picture of the girls' plates:



Individual Hazelnut and Chocolate Self-Saucing Puddings with Candied Orange Zest and Creme Chantilly


Hazelnut Chocolate Pudding
Melted butter, for greasing
1 cup self-raising flour
1/3 cup oven roasted hazelnuts, peeled and roughly chopped
1.5 tablespoons cocoa powder
.25 cup firmly packed brown sugar
60g dark chocolate 70%, roughly chopped
140ml full cream milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
50g unsalted butter, melted, cooled
Icing sugar, to serve

Chocolate Sauce
.5 cup firmly packed brown sugar
.25 cup cocoa powder, sifted
200ml warm water

Candied Orange Zest
Zest of 1 large orange, long thin strips
.25 cup caster sugar
50ml orange juice, strained

Cream Chantilly
400ml thickened cream
1 tablespoon icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence


1. Preheat oven to 190degC. Brush six 200ml cup-capacity round ramekins with melted butter and place onto an oven tray.

2. Combine flour, hazelnuts, cocoa powder, brown sugar and chocolate in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Make a well in the centre and slowly pour the milk and egg in, whisking until combined. Divide batter evenly between prepared ramekins.

3. For the sauce, combine brown sugar, cocoa and warm water in a jug and stir to
dissolve. Carefully pour chocolate sauce over prepared puddings to just under full.

4. Bake for 13-14 minutes. Remove from oven and stand for 2 minutes. Dust with
icing sugar.

5. For the orange syrup, combine orange zest, sugar and juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes to a syrup consistency.

6. For the cream Cantilly, place all ingredients in a jug with a whisk attachment
of a stick blender and whip until soft peaks form.

7. Serve puddings with a drizzle of orange sauce and a dollop of Chantilly cream.

We had 250ml sized ramakins and found that the mixture only did 4 of those. I also halved the amount of cream used, as 400ml is a LOT.

Kids and motivation

Was at Little Athletics the other week and overheard the following conversation:

Kid (about 10 to his mother): "Mum, I got a PB (personal best)."

Mother: "Great."

Kid: "Where's my 10 bucks?"

I spoke to the mum afterwards and apparently she gives her kids $10 every time they get a personal best at Little Athletics. She reckoned that they were reluctant to do some of the events so this is how she got them to participate.

I've since discovered that this is not uncommon.

I am stunned! It is not something that would have occurred to me. Some of the events don't interest my girls, but I just tell them they have to do them until Christmas. After that, if they still don't want to do them, then they can skip those ones.

I'm not sure that even paying them to participate or as a reward when they get a PB would make any difference to them. I'm not sure how motivated they would be by this. I'm not willing to do it though!

What do the rest of you think? Would you pay your kids to get them to participate in things / motivate them to do better?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month ....

we remember!

The eleventh hour of November 11 marks the ceasefire ending World War I, a war in which more than 60,000 Australian men were killed.

We remember at this time not only those Australians who were killed in WWI but those killed serving in any conflict around the world.

Here's a map of where Australians have served:

The map is actually interactive. If you go to this site you can see the actual countries / areas involved in each conflict.

Thank you to everyone who is or has served in any of the armed forces around the world!

[UPDATE]Other articles and blogs on the topic which are worth reading:
- Daddy Bear's Den -
... [/UPDATE]

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

And the police were minutes away?

From today's news ( we have this article:

Women hide in garage during house raid

A PERTH woman and her daughter locked themselves in their garage as masked burglars smashed their way through the front door of their home with wooden poles, police say.

At about 4.30am WST (7:30am AEDT) today, the 56-year-old woman woke up after hearing a noise to witness a man whose face was covered with a black bandana emerging from her walk-in wardrobe.

He then ran past the woman and jumped out the window of the home in Coogee, south of Perth.

As the woman was calling police, several other people began smashing their way through the front door.

Her daughter woke up and joined her mother in trying to stop the offenders getting through the door but they were soon struck with wooden poles, police said.

The mother and daughter rushed to their garage and locked themselves inside as the offenders began smashing the windows of cars parked in the driveway.

The offenders left in a Ford Falcon sedan they had stolen on Tuesday night from a home in South Lake, south of Perth, and which was seen leaving an attempted burglary at a chemist some time later.

One of the offenders is described as being dark-skinned, 183cm tall, of slim build and wearing dark clothing.

Anyone who can assist in this investigation are urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.


Luckily it seems that the home occupants were not seriously hurt - luckily.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wow, that many

Over at Maggie's Farm they listed government agencies in California.

As it seemed like an interesting thing to do, here are a list of Western Australian government agencies and departments.

I've tried to weed out any duplication but there's a few that I'm not sure about:

Albany Port Authority, Animal Resources Authority, Arena Joondalup, Armadale Redevelopment Authority, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, Broome Port Authority, Builders Registration Board of WA, Building and Construction Industry Training Fund, Building Disputes Tribunal, Bunbury Port Authority, Bunbury Water Board, Burswood Park Board, Busselton Water Board, C Y O, Central TAFE, Central West TAFE, Challenge Stadium, Challenger TAFE, ChemCentre, Childrens Court, Commissioner for Children and Young People, Commissioner for Occupational Safety and Health, Conservation Commission, Corruption and Crime Commission, Country Housing Authority, Curriculum Council, Curtin University of Technology, Dampier Port Authority, Department for Child Protection, Department for Communities, Department of Agriculture and Food, Department of Commerce, Department of Corrective Services, Department of Culture and the Arts, Department of Education , Department of Education Services, Department of Environment and Conservation, Department of Fisheries, Department of Health, Department of Housing , Department of Indigenous Affairs, Department of Local Government , Department of Mines and Petroleum, Department of Planning, Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor , Department of Regional Development and Lands, Department of Sport and Recreation, Department of State Development, Department of the Attorney General, Department of the Premier and Cabinet, Department of the Registrar Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission, Department of Training and Workforce Development, Department of Transport, Department of Treasury and Finance, Department of Water, Director of Equal Opportunity in Public Employment, Disability Services Commission, District Court of WA, Drug and Alcohol Office, East Perth Redevelopment Authority, Economic Regulation Authority, Edith Cowan University, Electorate Offices, Electricity Generation Corporation, Electricity Networks Corporation, Electricity Retail Corporation, Equal Opportunity Commission, Esperance Port Authority, Family and Domestic Violence Unit, Family Court of Western Australia, Fire and Emergency Services Authority, Forest Products Commission, Fremantle Port Authority, Gascoyne Development Commission, Gold Corporation, Goldfields Esperance Development Commission, Government Employees Superannuation Board, Great Southern Development Commission, Great Southern TAFE, Hairdressers Registration Board of WA, Health Promotion Foundation WA, Heritage Council of Western Australia, Horizon Power, Housing Authority, Independent Market Operator, Insurance Commission of Western Australia, Kimberley Development Commission, Kimberley TAFE, Law Compass, Law Reform Commission of Western Australia, Legal Aid Western Australia, Legal Practice Board, Legislative Assembly, Legislative Council, Liquor Commission of WA, Lotteries Commission, Main Roads Western Australia, Mental Health Commission, Metropolitan Cemeteries Board, Mid West Development Commission, Midland Redevelopment Authority, Midvale SpeedDome, Minerals and Energy Research Institute of WA, Murdoch University, Nurses and Midwives Board of Western Australia, Office for Children & Youth, Office for Women's Policy, Office of Aboriginal Health, Office of Crime Prevention, Office of Development Approvals Coordination, Office of E-Government, Office of Energy, Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, Office of Government Procurement, Office of Health Review, Office of Multicultural Interests, Office of Native Title, Office of Population Health Genomics, Office of Road Safety, Office of Safety and Quality in Health Care, Office of Shared Services, Office of State Revenue, Office of State Security and Emergency Coordination, Office of the Appeals Convenor, Office of the Auditor General, Office of the Chief Nursing Officer, Office of the Chief Psychiatrist, Office of the Custodial Inspector, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Office of the Information Commissioner, Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services, Office of the Ombudsman, Office of the Public Advocate, Office of the Public Sector Standards Commissioner, Office of the State Coroner, Office of Training Accreditation Council, Painters Registration Board, Parliament of Western Australia, Parliamentary Commissioner for Administrative Investigations, Parliamentary Inspector of the Corruption and Crime Commission, Parliamentary Services Department, Peel Development Commission, Perth Market Authority, Perth Motorplex, Perth Observatory, Perth Theatre Trust, Pharmaceutical Council of Western Australia, Pilbara Development Commission, Pilbara TAFE, Port Hedland Port Authority, Potato Marketing Corporation of WA, Public Sector Commission, Public Transport Authority, Public Trust Office, Racing and Wagering Western Australia, Regional Power Corporation, River Guardians, Rockingham Development Office, Rottnest Island Authority, Rural Business Development Corporation, Salaries and Allowances Tribunal, ScreenWest, Seniors Card Centre, Seniors Contact, Small Business Development Corporation, Small Business Solutions, Solicitor General, South West Development Commission, South West Regional TAFE, State Administrative Tribunal, State Law Publisher, State Library of Western Australia, State Records Office of Western Australia, Subiaco Redevelopment Authority, Supreme Court, Sustainable Energy Development Office, Swan River Trust, Swan TAFE, Synergy Energy, The National Trust of Australia (WA), The University of Western Australia, Transperth, TransWA, Valuer General, VenuesWest, Verve Energy, Veterinary Surgeons Board, Waste Authority, Water Corporation, West Coast TAFE, Western Australia Gas Disputes Arbitrator , Western Australia Police Service, Western Australian Alcohol and Drug Authority, Western Australian Building Management Authority, Western Australian College of Teaching, Western Australian Electoral Commission, Western Australian Greyhound Racing Association, Western Australian Institute of Sport, Western Australian Land Authority (LandCorp), Western Australian Land Information Authority (Landgate), Western Australian Museum, Western Australian Planning Commission, Western Australian Tourism Commission, Western Australian Treasury Corporation, Western Power, Wheatbelt Development Commission, WorkCover Western Australia Authority, Zoological Parks Authority

That's 209 by my count.

What is the story in your state?

Miss 9 Received an Honour Certificate last Friday

For "an excellent exposition on video games". I was surprised, mainly because I didn't think she had ever encountered a video game in her life.

She brought a copy of the article she wrote home last night. The brief was to choose a side - for or against - children playing video games and to write a persuasive article backing up your choice.

Here's the start of the article in her handwriting:

The rest of the article is as follows (including spelling/grammar errors):


Some people say "they help you be fit. they teach you collers, letters and numbers." Some of that is true but it dose not teach you reading because it usely reads things for you so when you are 20 you need to be able to read and wright not just make Mario jump and fight, but some people think the oposite. They make you have more amagenation. But if you have your own amagenation you would read a book, wright a story or mabe even play with dolls. If you have a videogame you will spend all of your money on games but some people say "My child is larning so I will buy them more" but that in real life is more and more and more and mabe more.

They might swear or get realy agresive with you if you dont get them more games or mabe even a phone or a Wii.

With all of my reasons it leads to no I do not want people to play vido games. People all over the world would be alot more healthy.


I'm was very pleased with her effort and approach!

Update on Stop and Search Laws

I last blogged about this on October 21st ( Now we have the following report:

Police Minister Rob Johnson says stop and search laws on track

POLICE Minister Rob Johnson says controversial stop and search laws are still on track, despite accepting recommendations for change to the Bill.
Mr Johnson said following a thorough review of the committee’s report, 36 recommendations had been accepted either in full or with some modification.

Just weeks ago the proposed stop and search laws were dealt a severe blow when the parliamentary committee investigating the law said it should be "abandoned immediately.''

Three of the five committee members - Greens MP Alison Xamon, Nationals MP Mia Davies and Labor MP Sally Talbot - recommended the proposed legislation "should not proceed in any form".

Ms Xamon said the proposal was "deeply flawed" and "the sheer level of imposition on the civil rights of innocent citizens could simply not be justified".

But the committee has also recommended a series of proposed amendments.

Ms Xamon said: “Clearly this is legislation which never should have gotten this far".

"There has been an appalling lack of attention to appropriate safeguards, no costings or provision for additional resources, and no clear evidence as to its effectiveness in preventing crime," she said.

Law Society opposes 'Stop and Search'

Law Society of WA president Hylton Quail said the recent misuse of Tasers by police raised serious concerns about police abuse of the proposed stop and search laws.

"Incidents involving the inappropriate, reckless and possibly unlawful use of Tasers by police officers show that WA Police should not be given additional powers which will also be open to abuse.

"No matter what checks and balances are put in place, the fact is that these powers are excessive and a gross infringement of the civil liberties of all of us,'' Mr Quail said in a statement.

Mr Barnett has previously conceded the new laws will compromise civil liberties to a limited extent at certain times in certain places.

Bill can achieve its outcome - Johnson

Today, Mr Johnson said the committee's recommendations would still allow the Bill to achieve its intended outcome.

“Where I felt it was appropriate, I have accepted the recommendation or a slight variation of the recommendation,” he said.

“Issues such as size of prescribed or declared area; supervision of operations; time period of prescribed or declared operation; notification of declaration; and reviewing and reporting of operations are all recommendations that can be accommodated and for the most part were the intended method of operation.”

Mr Johnson said although he and the Police Commissioner had repeatedly explained the intention of the Bill and how police would enforce the legislation, continued campaigns of misinformation had created a situation where some people were unsure of what the Bill was actually trying to achieve and how the law would be applied.

“With this in mind, I believe that several of the committee’s recommendations, while not actually altering the intent of the Bill, are particularly useful as they will give a greater degree of clarity to it,” he said.

The Minister said he had not accepted some recommendations as they did not keep the intent of the Bill and would have rendered it almost useless.

These included the request to exempt children under 18 and to have special considerations for children and young people, mentally disabled people, and people with cultural dress. All these issues were already addressed in normal police training and operational procedures.

Mr Johnson said it remained the Government’s intention to pass the legislation through State Parliament by the end of the year.


Let's hope it's defeated in parliament then!