Monday, September 30, 2013

Bad Blogger

Sorry I haven't been around much.

My excuses are:

1) I had to go find a new job. Sparks and Ladders got a bit strange at the end. Needless to say, I'm out of there.

2) Part of the reason things went strange at Sparks and Ladders is because I went and found a new job. The new job is good.

3) Because I have a new job, I'm overwhelmed with learning new stuff and a computer is the last thing I want to look at when I get home.

4) I've been at the gym a bit.

5) Because I'm not working in town, I've had to learn how to ride a bike again - and I have the road rash on my leg and elbow to prove it. Once the weather improves, I'll ride the 8 kilometres to work regularly. That and when my confidence returns.

6) I've been thinking about participating in Ocsober - no alcohol for the month of October - but as I am nearly teetotal, I'm thinking of giving up chips.

7) To get around eating crap at work (and I'm working for a large supermarket chain for the next few months) I've told them I'm diabetic and don't do sugar - crafty, eh.

8) I've been maintaining the rage over our new, incompetent government. Arseholes. I didn't vote for them.

9) Thankfully, I've been cleaning my flat regularly -  but if anybody would like to swap my floors for their ironing, please contact me.

10) I promise not to be so remiss next month.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Three Days Off

Sometimes, being between jobs is just wonderful. This is one of those times.

Even better as I have a job to go to tomorrow, making this time off stress free and rather fun.

After an interesting couple of weeks at my old job being told that I would be let go at the end of September, I started the search. With a lot of luck, I've stumbled across a contract that will take me up until the end of January - the Holy Grail for contractors. My old job released me from my contract - much to my pleasure and for the the last three days I've had time to myself.

It's been bliss!

So what do you do with three unexpected days off?

Well, let me see.

Shredding was the first thing on the list.

Why was I keeping utility bills from 2005? Is there a reason why I was doing this? No - but I have not attempted to de-crap the spare room in a long time and this, as well as instruction manuals from items that I threw out years ago, old research for long-ago published magazine articles, old workplace compliance forms - you name it - we found it in the spare room.

The shredding then was bagged up and taken down the local pet shop. If you take them shredded paper they will often let you have a cuddle of one of the inmates. This one looked like the dog I had a as a kid.

It makes me feel good that the puppies will be a little more comfortable in the pet shop having my old bills and work documents to pee on.

Next job was throwing out stuff.

Again, the spare room really needed a good once over. It's much better now, but it still needs more work. But what am I supposed to do with the old VCR that hasn't been used in years? And the CDs for software that went out of date two laptops ago? And shoes that will never be worn because they're just too ugly?

Three medium sided bin bags later and the room is looking a lot better.

There's also the required lunches with friends. As I won't be working in the city from Monday, there was a few people to catch up with. .

Sleeping in has been another feature of my few days off - although I was called to go for a run with a friend the other day -and today it was off to the gym b and preparing for my first day at my new role.

In all, it's been lovely to do as I please for a few days.

And so tomorrow. The start of a new regime. Once I get my bearings it looks like I'll be cycling to work instead of walking or taking the tram. Riding along the banks of the Yarra to work, could life be any better?

Here's hoping the new natives are friendly - they seemed nice at the interview.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Making Life Better

One of my latest ventures into the world of social media has me posting with the tag at the front of the post "Making Life Better".

I probably should hashtag it - you know, #makinglifebetter - but that sounds like an advertisement for kitchen appliances. Besides, the only time I twitter is to gently troll such hashtags as #askbolt. I mean, of course I want to ask Andrew Bolt when he's going to piss off away from our screens on Sunday morning and give the spot back to Ren and Stimpie. Like that is a given.

Anyway, after six weeks of acrimony about the place, most of it directed at Tony Abbott and the soon to be sworn in government, it was time to change tack. So the arsehole got into government. Doesn't mean I think any of ideas are any good. Doesn't mean he can speak in anything other than three word propaganda bites. Doesn't mean that I'm going to fixate on bringing down the bigoted, toadying wanker. No.

So the day after the election I took myself off to the gym for the regular Sunday morning pump class. As I was setting up, hot, cute guy with the great back muscles came up to the window of the studio and gave me a smile and a wave. Hot, cute guy with the great back muscles has been doing this for a while now - ever since I spotted him working out with Erdin, one of the trainers I'm friendly with. Hot, cute guy was doing cables - and this rip in his shoulders was enough to render me speechless. He's not your normal roid-supping grunter that inhabits the weights section of the gym. He's cute - and I haven't noticed him smelling like a tin of tuna.

Made life a little better it did.

Since then, I've been trying to find things to make life a little better - take my mind off the pending shortsighted political doom and try and keep life a bit more up-beat.

Making life better was born.

I've been aware for some time that I have a pretty charmed life. Okay, I don't have the bloke, I don't have a great place to live, my car is special to me, but nothing special when it comes down to it. I don't do anything particularly special with my work - but I like what I do, which is better than half the population.

Now is the time to focus on the positives. Be the change you want to see - and I really, really want to see a cleverer, smarter, more compassionate, thoroughly grateful, environmentally aware, forward thinking Australia. This means want to try and encompass these attributes.Look to the positive. Look to the future.

What is it they say that like attracts like?

Well, it seems my little posts get a bit of recognition.

Along with the smile and wave from cute, hot guy with great back muscles, other things that have made life infinitely better:

- A nice day to walk to work.
- The courage to say no to a recruitment agent when you know a permanent job in Mount Waverley would suck the life out of you. Being true to yourself is good. 
- Honey and macadamia choc tops, great films (The Best Offer - Geoffrey Rush at his best) and 100 Vietnamese restaurants on the way home - like go the Loi Loi. Hurrah for Tight Arse Tuesday.
- Quickly obtained job interviews
 Poached eggs for breakfast - and having the time to cook them before your walk to work.
- Friday night runs to slough off the week
- Access to a bubble bath, a book and a gin and tonic - all at once.
- Working out that the best way to get to work is by bike - and knowing where you can borrow onewhile you're on the contract.

I know they seem like little things, but this is the stuff that makes life so much better. Why sweat it on the big stuff, when it's the little stuff that matters most?

The positive attitude seems to have started to have an impact. I do have a new role. 

This could have been a real downer. I was told that my contract, which had originally been extended until the end of the year, was being cut back to the end of September because work had dried up.

Rather than get down and grumpy about this, I got on the tom-toms, contacted a few people, started a gentle look around knowing that I had three weeks to look. At least I'd have a good start.

An email to one recruitment consultant bore fruit. He called Monday, asking me to come in to see him the following day. On the Tuesday we discussed a permanent role, which being located the sticks, was rejected, but another role - a four month role quite near home sounded promising.
Wednesday morning, the agent called back saying that the company wanted to see me.
Thursday 9 am - interviewed with the company. Thursday 10.30, got a verbal offer on the grounds of a reference check.
Friday after lunch, I was asked to start at the company on the following Monday.

Thankfully, my current role is releasing me even earlier. If I'm honest, though part of me has loved being back at Sparks and Ladders, the atmosphere has been different and a  it difficult at times and the project has had its ups and downs. My job has been coming to an end for a while and I was wandering what I'd be doing for the last few weeks I was there. Being let go is a win-win scenario.

Okay, I was proactive about looking for work - not that I had to look far or hard. I'm lucky that I have good experience and a good CV.

But I put it down the the positive attitude. Positive things come to those who are positive.

Well, that's my take on things.

Then you get the unexpected wows that just blow you away.

I was up in Sydney visiting friends this weekend. My hotel room had a large bath - something I took advantage of reading my book, gin and tonic nearby, bubbles up to my chin. Bliss after a positive but very stressful week. 

This morning, on leaving my hotel I went for a wander around the streets of Sydney and stumbled across this magic street. Angel Place it's called. The alley was surrounded by birdsong.

Okay it's installation art and there are such artworks all around the world.

I just like to add it the positive things that keep turning up in my life. 

Little bits of everyday beauty and magic.

When you focus in the good and the fun and the beautiful and the enjoyable - no matter how small, it's amazing how things become so much less hassled.

Give it a try - Find one thing every day that makes life a bit better. It's a matter of perspective - playing peekaboo with a baby on a tram - patting a puppy - an excellent cup of coffee - rainbows - finding "that" pair of shoes" on sale... little things.

I'd love to hear how you get on. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

From the Coalface

Standing around the gates of St Ignatius Church at the end of a laneway leading to the hall, I had a feeling of that for the first time in my life, I was a part of something - something far bigger than me.

I took the decision to hand out how to vote cards for the Greens a few weeks ago. My reasoning was clear and multidimensional.

Firstly, I live in the only Green electorate in the country. Adam Bandt, our MP, is a good guy - reasonable, rational, very intelligent, active in the community, approachable and he's done a good job over the last three years. Even better as he was the only Green member of the House of Representatives. I didn't hesitate putting a 1 next to his name on the ballot paper.

Secondly, normally a Labor voter, some of the policies coming from Labor had left a bad taste in my mouth. That and the instability in the party. I look at the job Julia Gillard did - okay, I wasn't overly happy at how she got the job, but she did a brilliant job - getting through the crap that was dished out to her with dignity and grace - good on her. Lesser women would have crumbled. Anyway, for a change, I didn't want to vote for the Labor candidate. As I said to the guy handing out Labor how to vote cards, may the best person win - but they're both pretty good choices. We are so lucky in the seat of Melbourne. Two decent, respectable, intelligent, community minded  people to vote for - not everywhere in the country had that choice.

Thirdly, after watching the Liberal Party playbook - and the influence of the Murdoch Press - I wanted to make a stance. I really felt like I had to stand up for a bit of decency, kindness, compassion and forward thinking - and in Melbourne, Adam Bandt and the Greens offered that. So after a phone call one night, I got enlisted to help out on Election Day.

It felt good to stand up for what I believe.

I've never done the how to vote thing before. I went for a run/walk with Kitt on Friday night. Kitt is a member of the Liberal Party. She's also small L liberal - just as I'm small L Labor. We agree on 90% of things. She's not overly fond of Abbott and his cronies either, but she is loyal to the party. We get on because we respect each other's considered opinion. She's thought long and hard about her commitment to the Libs - as I have to the other side of the fence. Kitt's out at every state and federal election helping around the polling booth's. She said I'd love being a part of the election juggernaut.

Another friend of mine, Bernie, works at polling booths on election days, marking off people and handing out ballot papers.

Arriving at 4 pm, I was accosted by a number of Greens folk. "Sorry guys, I've voted - just need to find Mitch."
"Ah, he's up the end, just keep going and turn left."

A few metres up the way, the representative for the Labor candidated offered me a card. I told him the same story. "May the best person win - and we have two great candidates - win-win." I told him.
"I agree," he smiled back at me.

The guys from Get Up were next. Get Up do great work. If I wasn't snaffled by the Greens I'd be handing out the Get Up score cards that objectively compare all of the big parties policies.

Dodging the Democratic Socialists, The Fred Niles guys and Family First, I finally found Mitch, donned a t-shirt, was given a heap of how to vote cards and made my way back to the front gate of the church to start work.

It was a fantastic two hours.

First up I got to have a quick chat with Adam Bandt himself - a lovely man, who appeared to have time for everybody. He came and talked to me, thanking us for helping on the campaign. I felt like a bit of a dud  - I put myself down for the two hour late shift. But still, it was great to be appreciated.

I was part of a two person team - Stacey, a party member who'd run for the Greens in local elections in the last few years got to chat while giving out our papers. A lawyer doing her articles, into animal welfare and big on getting things done in the party, her passion blew me away. She was interested as to why I, for the first times, was out on the coalface helping out.

When it comes down to it, this is the first time that I've really felt threatened by the politics of the party that has taken office. The policies, or lack of them are dire. It all just seems so short sighted.

It doesn't help that the leader comes across like George W. Bush's gormless little brother. He's shown himself to be sexist, bigotted, racist, narrow minded, short-sighted and a bully. I want none of it. Alas, the Murdoch press and a hell of a lot of dog whistling have got him in (and to my friends who voted Liberal - if you have considered your vote, I have no issue and will not judge you for it. As long as it was a considered vote... and of course Kitt.)

Regardless, for two hours, in the cold, we stood and asked people if they wanted a how to vote card. What surprised me was that a good two out of three people took the sheet.

Those who said no to the offer of a card normally did so with a thanks and a smile before walking on. There were only two very minor incidents - one guy got in Stacey's face and screwed up the paper and threw it at her. Unnecessary and it spooked her a little. Another bogan tosser made a maniacal laugh and tried to set the slip alight. In two hours, two minor events - to the couple of hundred other people - thank you for being polite when deferring the offer of a card.

At 6 pm, as the doors of the hall closes we packed up - placards were taken down, goodbyes were said and I made my way to Georgie and Thom's to shout at the television for the evening.

I'm strangely proud of myself. Though somebody who's always been a little outspoken when it comes to politics - somebody who follows alternative media  - to get more of a balanced view on things (I cancelled my subscription to The Australian the other day - I want nothing to do with Murdoch Press.) this was the first time that I've put myself out there and shown support. It's the first time I've participated in the process.

And quite frankly, it felt fantastic.

As for the results. We have a new Prime Minister. Do I like it - not at all. But rather than being a whinger, I will get on with things - and keep up the fight for decency, honour, justice, fair play for all, new ideas and forward thinking. I care about people, the environment, education, health and making this place a better, smarter country. I don't think the new government and I will see eye to eye on much.

But I'm willing to fight for what I believe. I'd rather be a  polite, rational squeaky wheel. You get more of a positive reaction that way.

What was it Gandhi said - be the changes you want to see?

Though I'll probably never get to wear the t-shirt again, I'm really, really pleased I got to do this. And snaffle the t-shirt.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Blog Post 500 (Or This is Why I fight)

How did I ever make it to blog number 500?

It feels like yesterday that I started this blog, a venture to write about what it was like to train and run a marathon.

Some four years, five half marathons later, I'm still here. Thought I don't write about running much at the moment. I'm about to start on the Couch Potato to 5 km plan again - after straining my back last November, I haven't done much running, though I'm still at the gym regularly.

It's been a great four years. And no, I'm not going to stop blogging any time soon.

But what does the 500th blog need to be written on? It's quite a milestone. Does one talk about the exercise one does? No.

Should I talk about a restaurant I've visited? No - not that I've been anywhere lately.
Should I do a meme? Not today.
Should I rewrite "The Good Ship Venus" using the Liberal Front Bench - well, maybe later.

I'm going to call this blog "This is Why I Fight."

I feel a bit sorry for anybody who's Facebook friends with me as for the last couple of weeks, my pages has become a bit political. I try not to be openly hostile towards the Liberal/National party, I don't tell people how to vote, but I've been putting up material which hopefully makes people think about what they're doing at the polling booths on Saturday.

I'm not anti-Liberal. I don't have anything against the Liberal Party in it's tame form. Hell, I nearly voted for them in the last state election - nearly - then I looked at the guy we already have, and I like him, so he got my number one. It happens.

No, if I'm anti anything it's the complete lack of decency, respect and reason that the Liberal National Party has been treating the great unwashed Australian population.

I'm anti the mainstream media also treating us like complete and utter idiots.

I'm against the apathy that we've been forced to endure from the masses because we don't know what policies are about.

I'm anti the fact that people are letting their religious convictions stand in the way of common sense and equality - and being blatant in their bigotry.

I'm completely against the fact that there is a party out there who appear to want to not make corporations pay their dues to the people who use them.

I'm also really, really angry that a despotic ex-Australian citizen has the gaul to try and manipulate the voting electorate and the media with slurs so vile - especially when you consider that this despotic ex-Australian citizen has business offerings that have been shown to be criminal (remember the phone tapping scandal? News of the World?)

Oh, I'll shove in that the mainstream media is so bent when it come to reporting of real news and balanced opinion they could be a spirit level on a rollercoaster.)

Well, I'm over it.

And I've come out fighting.

My poor old Facebook page is out there fighting for decency and the rational.

On Climate Change - you know - we have to do something about it. 99% of scientists say it's happening. If one percent of your friendship base told you to go ram a red hot poker up your bum, would you? Not believing that the environment is precious and needs protecting is a as daft as believing in the Easter Bunny. It will be your undoing one day if you don't have some consideration.

Then there's all the things that NOBODY is talking about. The Aging Population, housing affordability, public transportation, dental plans under Medicare….

There is so much that's not being said. 

All you appear to hear from one side are three world slogans that have absolutely no substance what so ever, being emitted from the lizard-like face of the leader who is too cowardly to face a direct question - or release costings (He hasn't been on the ABC's Q and A for the whole of this last government - NOT ONCE)

The other side I have a bit more time for. Despite party in fighting, they've kept the economy buoyant, planned some great thing around progress and development and for the most part, cared about people. I'm not saying they're perfect, but I've got a lot more faith in the other team that that of the lizard-faced, bigotted, smarmy, bottom-dweller and his cotillion of conservative cronies who appear to have the morals and social conscience of a Colombian drug cartel.

Which is why I've come out fighting - and I'm encouraging anybody who has a skerrick of decency, rationality and intelligent to do the same.

Talk about this stuff with friend and family. I come from a Liberal voting household originally (Yep, I have been the the Victor Harbor Liberal Club'ss annual barbeque - I was eight-years-old and I wanted to go home, but I was there) but talk about these things that are out there. Do you want decent broadband internet? Do you want your kids to go to school and not have to pay $10,000 a year to ensure they get a good education? What about the environment - surely you don't want to see the marine parks of the Great Barrier Reef destroyed... no - well there is talk that He who will be known as the Warringah Wanker will be repealing laws around the environment and slashing funding to schools and hospitals - as well as decimating was was set to be a great, country wide broadband service. 

What about public transport - what the hell does Melbourne need an East/West tunnel for when we're screaming for an airport train and the Doncaster line and better funded, better run public transport.

What about funding for the Arts?

It goes on and on. And it could go on and on.

I think, the thick and the thin of this is that it's time for the sensible, decent, caring, rational people to start speaking out. Start yelling. Start writing letters, turning up to public meetings, reading alternative media and watching out for when people and rights are being abused or mistreated.

Case in point. Warringah Wanker had the audacity of saying that one of his incumbents, a blonde woman, slightly horsey in the face, as having sex appeal.

Seriously. Sex appeal. You say this in any modern Australian Workforce of a colleague and you're up in the HR offices being talked to, if not sacked for sexual harassment. And don't get me started on how he treated Julia Gillard. Bullying is an understatement.

What I'm saying is that the time for complacency and apathy is over. The time has come to shake ourselves off of the couch and to start fighting for the hard earned rights of civility, decency, the scientifically proven (like Climate Change, Tony, you blinkered nuff nuff)

Don't let the bogans from Greater Western Sydney or the rednecks from Bumfuck, Northern Queensland and their one-eyed, bigoted, anti-development, anti-intellectual stance take over the country.

This is something I'm passionate about. If you don't say what you think, how can you change anything? 

You may think I'm crazy. Well, it's the crazy ones who change the world.

Ah, that feels better. 

Oh, the best piece of the election to date. Kevin Rudd slapping down a preacher on Q&A.

And my favourite website - written in bogan so that everybody can understand it: or

And just in case you missed it - the anti-Murdoch add that every commercial channel has banned for fear of upsetting dear Rupert.