Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I Hate The Five K

There was a reason I became a distance runner there for a time.

The biggest reason of all - I hate participating in the bog standard 5 km foot race, hate the 5 km distance with a passion. I really don't like anything about the 5 km race at all. Yesterday I reminded myself of this.

The five kilometre (or three mile) track is a distance that most people of what every fitness level can walk comfortably in an hour to an hour and a half without having a coronary. For recreational runners, the five kilometre track can be conquered in around half an hour to forty minutes.

It's an accessible race, which makes it open to every man, woman, child and their dog, pushchair, wheel chair, crutches and team unicorn onesie... The five kilometre race, unless strictly banded, which it never is, is a schemozzle of the highest order. Always has been, always will be.

It's a race full of over-enthusiastic teenagers, of mothers with children, old people, charity groups who think that there is nothing madder than to set themselves off on an hour walk through parklands, only to start whining at the first kilometre mark that it's all so hard, that they need a drink, that their plantar fasciaitis is playing up or that they think that this is a stupid thing to do.

For any semi-serious runner, this is like nails on a blackboard. Any serious runner looks and the whiners and the lollygaggers and wants to slap them across the back of the head. You run around these people, risking a twisted ankle as you're normally forced into the gutter, onto the nature strip or right into a stinking mound of dog crap.

Once past the kilometre mark it gets somewhat easier. You've passed the ventolin-inhaling charity runners, the families and the groups in dayglo wigs and you can get on with the job of taking yourself around the course. You will, at times, encounter groups of slow pokes who were way to far ahead of the pack when they started. Of course at about the three kilometre you meet the recreational runners who a slowly running out of puff, searching for a gel or a jelly bean to see them through. By this stage, the crowd has thinned a bit and you're moving well.

My other problem with the five kilometre distance is that it takes me five kilometres to warm this aging body up. It's at the five kilometre mark that I found my stride. The first three kilometres are always hard as you struggle to regulate your breath, your feet and most importantly, your head. At the five kilometre mark, you reach your peak. you're in the zone.

When you get to the finish line, you feel robbed. Where's the rest of the track?

On Sunday, I walked the Run Melbourne. I walked the four kilometres to the track, timing my arrival with the start of the race. Still, we had to lollygag around for about ten minutes. There I was stuck behind the flouro wigs, the first time charity walkers, the teams of kids, the pushchairs and the people with dogs.

My hackles started to rise.

Of course, by the one kilometre mark I'd made so many trips into the gutter, dodging the dog poo, the pushers and the hyperventilating charity runners I was ready to move on.

It did get better. Even better when 51 minutes later I walked across the finished line, had my timing chip removed, grabbed a bottle of water, an apple and a medal and proceeded to walk home, perplexed as thy why I was feeling somewhat sad.

It came to me as I was walking through Fitzroy Gardens on the way home. It seems sad to me that we live in a society where for all of our riches we have to walk, run, ride, crawl for money to help the sick, the ill, the frail and the disenfranchised. You pass every sort of charity runner, from those looking for support for carers, asylum seekers, sick children, the elderly...

To me it feels so unfair that we have to get out there in force, as a community, in essence begging for assistance for those who are less fortunate. In some cases, people feel the need to humiliate themselves to attract enough attention to a cause.

The Mother's Day Classic, held every year on the second Sunday of May is testament to this. It's a bittersweet, harrowing, joyous yet devastating schlep around the Botanical Gardens track. It's a walk or run of hope, yet it's an event filled with sadness and loss. Then you think about how many people are helped by the funds raised by the event - which once again leads to conflict.

These were the thoughts in my head as I walked the four kilometres home.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Sunday Meme - Me A-Z

With this week off, I have a resolution to blog every day, starting from today. As always with my Sunday meme, it was sourced from Sunday Stealing, As always, I'm doing chores in between questions.

So here we go:

A If you were an ANIMAL, what would you be? 

Easy. I'd be a very well loved house cat. If I could have Maow Maow's life (without the allergies and the twin boys for brothers) I think that would be a very nice life indeed.

 B BOOKS: What's on your reading list? 

At the moment, the Kindle opens to Tara Moss's "The Fictional Woman". It's amazing - she's got the who being a woman thing absolutely pegged. Required reading. I'm about to start Nathan Filer's "The Shock of the Fall" and I'm looking forward to Karen Joy Fowler's "We're All Completely Beside Ourselves." I love reading.

 C COMPULSIVE about anything? 

Other than ironing my bed linen. Travel planning. When I'm going overseas I make everything off to the nth degree. Everything is photocopied, sent on and planned within an inch of it's life. Not so much when I get there, but the travel, the transfers and the accommodation are all sorted well in advance. As a single female traveller, it's a perceived safety blanket.

 D DREAMS - Do you ... dream in color? remember your dreams? keep a dream journal? 

Yes I tend to dream in colour when I do dream, not that that's been much of late. I do keep a dream journal, but it's full of the weird and wonderful stuff that comes out of my brain. As a member of a Jungian dream group, you're supposed to do this. As I haven't been sleeping all that well over the last six months, I've been pretty dream free. Hopefully I'll have another one soon.

 E EATING - what's your usual snack? 

My normal work snack is either protein bars or muesli bars. Outside of work, I'll eat pretty much anything I can lay my hands on that isn't fruit. Not a big fruit eater.

 F A Few of your FAVORITE Things: 

Here you go:

Gin and tonics
Puppies and kittens
Movies and theatre
Meeting up with friends, especially old ones
Baked beans on toast on winter nights
Roast Lamb
Creme Brulee

I could go on - I get enthusiastic about a lot of things.

 G GIGGLES! What (or who) makes you laugh? Do you have a good sense of humor? 

I have a strange sense of humour. It's quite dry. Life makes me laugh most of the time. Things that still make me laugh after many years are shows like "The Young Ones", "Monty Python", pretty much anything that's British Comedy. The film that had me laughing hours after the credit rolled - "Little Miss Sunshine." I could identify with the family road trip. Brilliant.

 H major HOT Button: 

Clive Owen.

Don't mind George Clooney, but Clive Owen is the bomb. Can I please have a Clive Owen for Christmas?

 I I am ______________ ... 

Brave. Loyal. Caring. Funny. Weird (according to my now ex workmate) Spiritual. Ethical (most of the time) Australian (unfortunately) Loved by my friends and family. An animal lover.

 K Also KNOWN As... Aliases? Screen names? A non de plume perhaps? 

Panda, Dory, The Running Fairy, Mad Cat Lady (not that I have a cat), Late.

 L I LOVE ... 

Ice cream
Cats, especially Maow Maow
He who shall not be named on this blog
Sleep ins

 M How do you feel about MEETING people? Do it all the time? Rarely? Parties or 1-on-1? 

Due to the nature of my work I meet people all the time, normally through work. Then you meet friends of friends from there. I'm pretty lucky. I like meeting new people for the most part.

 N What's the story of your NAME? were you named after anyone? Do you go by a nickname? Any aliases? 

Pandora was a very popular name when I was growing up. There were six Pandora's in my class in primary school. I have the same initials as my paternal grandmother who was a Pauline June (she went by June) I don't think that my maternal grandmother like that all that much. I also go by Panda or Pand. I also write poetry under the name of Trellawney Tom

 O OBSERVANT - What's around you right now? What do you see? 

An untidy flat, an ironing board with a duvet cover on it, my sphygmomanometer , too much paper, my knitting, my crochet, my half empty back pack, my trainers and slippers, two wrap bracelets, candles, dvds, my phone, my heart rate monitor... need I go on.

 P Who are the special PEOPLE in your life? 

My friends - they are wonderful. Strange, but wonderful all of them.
He who shall not be named on this blog is pretty special, but we don't talk about him. He's special but he's on the other side of the world and gives me happiness and aggravation in equal measure.

 Q Any Little QUIRKs About Yourself: 

I get cysts in my scalp that need cutting out by a doctor every few years when they get annoying. Is that quirky enough? I can only use scissors with my left hand?

 R What do you like to do for RECREATION?

Read, movies, gym, walk, go out with friends, write. The normal stuff.

 S Do You SING in the Shower? In the car? For your friends? 

I sing a lot, especially at work when I'm stressed. I sing all the time at home, in the shower, around the place, in the car. It's good that there's nobody here to hear me as I really can't carry a tune without the aid of a bucket.

 T What's at the Top of your TO DO list?:

Get my the Literacy, Language and Numeracy unit for my Cert IV out of the way. Finish Millie's baby blanket. Get all of the mason's crap out the way as I'm well and truly over it.

 U Any UNUSUAL Experiences: 

Plenty. They happen to me all the time - and this is  good thing.

 V VEGAS, Vienna, Venice, Vladivostok... How far have you traveled? What's your favorite City? 

I'm pretty well travelled. Many Australians are well travelled. Over the years I've been to: The United States, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Spain, The Netherlands, Germany, Greece, Italy, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and New Zealand. As much as I love London and Paris, my favorite city would have to be Toledo in Spain. It's magnificent. Would love to return to Spain soon.

 W WINTER, Spring, Summer, Fall... What's your favorite season? What makes it special? 

Autumn (or Fall as it's known in the Americas) I love the colours and the fact that you can shove on a jumper after months of running around in light clothing. The cooler nights mean better sleep too.

 X EXes - Things You Don't Do Anymore (but did, once (would you, again?)

I don't suck my thumb any more
Nor put myself down
Drink to much most of the time
Work in the back office of an investment back (and I can't see myself doing that again)

 Y Any secret/deep YEARNINGS? 

I've always wanted to play the piano. And be the new JK Rowling.

 Z ZERO to ZENITH - Where are you in your life? Still growing? On an upward (or downward) curve? Just skating along? 

Middle aged, still growing, hopefully on the upturn and really, all things considered, doing pretty well. I know I'm lucky.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Week Off

It doesn't happen like this very often.

I have a week off between jobs. Whoooooooohooooooooo!

Tomorrow is my last day on my current contract which has been both challenging, boring and great. Challenging in the way that it was a strange program with strange people. Boring in that the work could have been done by a trained monkey. Great in that I've made two friends who I hope will stick around for a bit - my team has made going to work bearable for the last three months.

So Monday week I head off for a two month stint at an energy company doing something I've never done before in a challenging environment. It will do me the world of good.

However, I now have a week to fill. It's scary how much I'd like to get done.

This is the list so far:

  • Finish the Language, Literacy and Numeracy unit for my Cert IV
  • Clean out the fridge
  • Have a big chuck out / put stuff on Ebay
  • Finish a couple of masonic jobs
  • Have lunch with a few people
  • Walk 10 kms a day
  • Get a really good wriggle on with a baby blanket that I'm making
  • See a few movies
  • Have my hair cut
  • Blog daily
  • Read a couple of books
  • Gym every second day
  • Start thinking about what I might like to write about in my research project 
  • Clean the flat from head to toe
That's a start anyway. I'm also hoping to have a few sleep-ins during the week.

The other thing that I'm aware of is I'm starting my Masters on 1 September. The powers that be at Swinburne University said that I could join the fold, so I'm starting what looks like it will be a four year path of learning. An expensive four year path of learning. 

I'm really looking forward to starting this new venture. It's part time. It will take up most of what free time I have for 36 weeks of the year, but I'm hoping it's going to be worth it. My first unit - Research and Writers. Not that I've received the course materials, but I'm becoming really quite bouncy about the thought of working towards something again.

Actually, I'm scared beyond belief, but it's a good scared.

Right, time to get some reading in before enjoying my last day in my realm of underemployment.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Jagged Little Pill

I remember laughing out loud while I was watching “Trip to Italy” recently. Two men in their forties driving around Italy in a little sports car. One of them brings the music for the trip. The only CD he’s brought along is Alanis Morrissette’s “Jagged Little Pill”.

I had to laugh.

Nearly 20 years ago I reckon I played this end on end for nearly a year.

So with a bit of daring, I removed a CD from the stacker in my car. I haven’t done this since I bought the car about three years ago. The same six CDs have been on rotation. (In my defence, I’ll play music on my phone most of the time in the car.) Portishead’s seminal “Dummy” album. The Best of Cat Stevens and four best of compilations from the Triple J Hot 100 range. Dull, I know.

Cat Steven’s lost out. In went Jagged Little Pill. 

I cranked up the volume.

Immediately, it was 1995. I was living in London in the upstairs flat in a row of terrace, sharing with a guy named Colin who of all my flat mates was probably the most idiosyncratic of the lot of them. In the middle flat lived a couple of optometrists. We didn’t see much of them. The most remarkable thing about one of the girls was she had one dark brown eye and one light green eye. Nice woman but her gaze was a bit disconcerting.

Then there was the flat downstairs. An Aussie/Kiwi/South African flatting arrangement where there could be anything up to ten people living in the three bedroomed flat at any one time.  I could be found regularly either drinking a beer in their garden or lounge room, talking in the kitchen or attending one of the their many parties which were held on regular occasions. They also used to have the occasional ritual couch burning out the back – one of the housemates was a removalist. The flat had a number of mismatched sofas. When a donated sofa came into the flat, more often than not, the least comfortable one was take out to the back yard, doused with kerosene and set alight. This happened a few times over the years I lived there. Great neighbours we must have been.

I hear “Jagged Little Pill” and I remember going to drama  lessons after work, followed by a trip down the pub, where a pint washed down a plate of jalapeƱo poppers.  This was mixed in with the music of Blur, Oasis, 4 Non Blondes and a few other groups that have never been heard from since. The denim was acid washed and came up to your navel. T-shirts covered your breasts and not much else. You wore lycra to the gym. The only hair products available for your hair was mousse or gel. There were very few micro-breweries, gastro pubs and a mobile phone was expensive and the size of a house brick.

Jagged Little Pill takes me back to these carefree days of drinking far too much far too often. The days of inappropriate, disposable men. Of never being sure of myself. Of the angst of being a twenty something in the big city. Funny, I have seen a few episodes of “Girls” – set in New York about a mob of 20 something girls – and I cringe. Were we really like that? Probably, a universal truth that women, like wine, grow into their complexity and are appreciated for it. In your 20’s you’re as robust and raw as a wine box of Fruity Lexia. In 1995 I was 27. Some of the edges had been chipped off, but not as many as now. I like me now. I’m pretty sure I didn't like myself then, Amazing what time and therapy can do.

So you listen to “Jagged Little Pill” some nearly 20 years later and you listen to the lyrics.’ You ought to know’, the angst ridden anthem for the women of my generation.  (Just as Do-Re-Mi has as singing “your pubic hair upon my pillow...” There are some great lines.  The angsty voice moans, ‘An older version of me, is she perverted like me? Does she go down on you in a theatre?”... I don’t remember lines like that.

What strikes me, nearly 20 years on, is that we all identified with this album. Alanis Morrissette was willing you to chuck on your docs, line your eyes with kohl, go down the pub, stick a cigarette in your hand and go be a predatory female, scoring, then getting dumped and getting mad about it. We thought this was normal back then. 

It's still a great album. 

I just don't know how I ever found myself relating to the lyrics back then. Did I really relate to what she was singing about?

The only really feral thing I remember doing at this time was helping another flatmate get a bit of retribution on another. It came time to dissolve the flat after many years. One of the last guys standing was this fellow from Durban. Effeminate, painful, selfish and just a complete tosser to be around. He was going back to South Africa and had his tea crates packed ready for collection ready for shipping home. Wait for the guy with the truck he said, before he disappeared for two days.

We knew that he's stolen a high end sound system from the five star hotel in which he worked, complete with Issey Miyake uniforms and signature scent. He had pilfered a couple of uniforms too. He was a bit caught up with labels this fellow.

Helping one of the other last men standing in the flat, I helped to give the lad a bit of a surprise in the following months when his tea crates arrived back on the dock in Durban. The high end stereo still has pride of place in the other flatmate's kitchen some fifteen years later. A large piece of steak was placed in each of his suit pockets in preparation for the trip. As we were cleaning out the kitchen, a couple of open jars of chutney and jam were placed in the box containing his underwear, along with a couple of roaches (butts from a spliff). The boxes were sealed up once again an given to the movers an hour or so later.

I moved to a friend's place the following day. The fellow I helped to tamper with the boxes moved out the following day.

We never heard what happened to the South African.

Ah, those were the days.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The One Thing Meme

It's Sunday and I'm bogged down with paperwork - and getting through it in no time thankfully.

Anyway, as is the normal for me, here's my take on Sunday Stealing's weekly meme.

One Thing ..... 

That makes you smile: 

Easy one this one. Give me a kitten or a puppy to play with and I'm all over them. I love animals, but kittens and puppies are my favourite. Actually, make that any cat or dog. I talk to them in the street, much to some friend's disgust. They make me happy. Have never met an animal I didn't like.

That makes you cry: 

Heart rending movies. The last time I had a good cry at the cinema was while watching "The Fault in our Stars." Wet sleeves at the end of it.

That you love to do on the weekends: 

Sleep in, not that I get to do that very often. And go to the gym.

That you do for only yourself: 

I've been accepted into a Master of Arts in Writing starting in September. The only person I'm doing that for is me.

That you have in your underwear drawer that's NOT underwear: 

There is a bar of the most beautiful rose soap in my knicker drawer. I don't want to use the soap as it it's so nice.

That you do before going to sleep: 

I normally watch a little television. Actually, I normally nod off to sleep with the telly on.The joys of living alone.

That you do within the first 15 minutes after waking: 

Go for a pee. Make coffee (which is now decaffeinated. Not fair.)

That's in your purse: 

Too many store cards. A book of stamps.

That you actually LIKE to clean: 

I don't mind doing the dishes.

That you DETEST cleaning: 

Mopping and ironing - these are an equal.

That other people would find odd about you: 

I take everything literally most of the time. My current workmate says I'm strange because of that.

That you would buy if I handed you a $100 bill: 

Probably books

That you feel you HAVE to do before you die: 

I really want to write a book. Then again, I really want to walk the Camino de Compostella di Santiago... I have lots of things I want to doo.

Sorry it's not an inspiring write today - have been doing book work all day. At least it's done now.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Three Films

Trip to Italy  3.5 stars
The Fault in our Stars  4 stars
The Two Faces of January  3.5 stars

I've been a bit slack with my movie reviews of late. Work has finally allowed me to get my head about water and contemplate doing some writing - and relaxing, and enjoying and just getting on with things.

So, in the last few months I've managed to take in three films (and a couple of plays, but that will be for a later date)

So, here's my quick verdict on my three cinematic outings:

Trip to Italy   3.5 stars

I've never been that fussed with Steve Coogan, although I used to think he was great as the revolting Alan Partridge on “Knowing Me, Knowing You” back in the 90s. Seems that Steve, and his mate Rob Brydon made a film a few years ago where they went to the Lake District and ate at some amazing restaurants and drove around, all the while doing impressions and eating at these fine restaurants.

The Trip to Italy follows the same scenario. Coogan and Brydon, both in the midst of mid-life crises of sorts, take off around Italy to eat in fine restaurants and take in the countryside – all the way doing impressions and making some particular quips about life.  This was originally a series on television which has been made into a movie. I’d be interested to see the series as I reckon the format would work well.

This is a very funny movie in places. Ice dry wit, great impersonations, some great looking meals and a gentle plot wandering through it made for a very pleasant two hour sojourn where I only just managed not to spit water of the people in front of me from laughing. It’s a spit take sort of movie where the one liners rule. That and the playing of Alanis Morrissette’s Jagged Little Pill... something I haven’t listened too in years, the music that they played on their journey. The two of them do some great impressions of  many actors through the film as well. Brydon, a Welsh voice over actor by trade is particularly good at this. The Michael Buble line from the middle of the film nearly had me wetting myself. I will say no more.

Definitely worth  a look, just for the scenery, the barrage of one liners and to sit there and ponder whether Rob Bryden’s knuckles are going to drag along the ground at any stage (the many has a very strange body make up)

The Fault in Our Stars   4 Stars

Blarney and I went and saw this “young adult” genre film after both of us read the book and fell in love with it.

Hazel Grace Lancaster does not have a great lot in life. For the last few years she’s had a gun to her head, the clock ticking as she sees out her terminal lung cancer. In a support group, she meets Augustus Waters, a youth in recovery from osteosarcoma. And then it happens, they fall in love.

I will say no more of the plot. I loved the book and I loved the film. The film is very true to the book. Willem Dafoe’s casting as the novelist who Hazel and Augustus go to visit in Amsterdam is a stroke of genius (though I could see it as another role for the last Philip Seymour Hoffman)  Shailene Woodley is perfect as Hazel. I can see her overtaking Jennifer Lawrence as the Hollywood IT girl in the near future.

Word of warning, you are required to take a box of tissues or extra long sleeves to mop up the tears. Thankfully, they’re nice tears.

The book, and the film take an unflinching look at love when you’re a “grenade”. I use Hazel’s word for it as she fights herself and her condition through the movie. It also looks at kids with cancer without a stroke of pity. I can’t recommend the book highly enough. Read it, then get the film out. I was not disappointed.

The Two Faces of January  3.5 Stars

My most recent foray to the cinema saw Sam and I take off to the Rivoli for a late showing of “The Two Faces of January.”  The original story, written by Patricia Highsmith, the novelist who penned the books that based ‘The Talented Mr Ripley” and “Strangers on a Train”.

Sam and I loved this.  A somewhat gentle, beautifully shot movie set in the 60s in Athens, Crete and finally Istanbul (Think it was Constantinople at that stage). describes the plot as :

“Three of them are waiting. Rydal Keener is waiting for something exciting to happen in his grubby little Athens hotel. At forty-odd, Chester MacFarland has been waiting much longer, expecting his life of stock manipu­lation and fraud to catch up with him. And Colette, Chester’s wife, is waiting for something altogether different.

After a nasty little incident in the hotel, they all wait together. As the stakes—and the tension—in their three-cornered waiting game mount, they learn that while passports and silence can be bought, other things can cost as much as your life.”

The costumes and the setting are gorgeous. You’re kept in suspense from the first ten minute of the film. Kirsten Dunst is perfect as the bored, beautiful, blonde ice queen, married to Viggo Mortensen’s MacFarland. Oscar Isaac gives a great performance as the young hustler.

In the grand scheme of things this is a film about life and redemption. On the small scale, it looks at how things can go so terribly wrong in an instant.

Another film I’m happy to recommend. It may not be the fastest paced film in the world, but it takes in a world that was slower and far more beautiful than any world I've lived in. Another film well worth a look.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sunday Stealing's Fourth of July Meme

I love doing Sunday Stealing's weekly Sunday meme, however, it does have an American bias.

So I'm going to have a bit of fun with this - as I'm as Australian as football (Aussie Rules that is), meat pies (not that I've ever deigned to eat one) kangaroos (like the ones in Mum's garden) and Holden cars.

Oh this will be fun....

1. Are you "proud to be an Australian"?

Normally yes, but since 7 September 2013 when this fascist dictatorship that claim to be a Conservative Goverment with a mandate came in has has started to ruin the lives of millions, I've begun to hang my head in shame. Worst Australian Government ever. They're trying to take away our right to a fair go and the joy of equality. It seriously sucks. If I didn't have so much paperwork to do today I'd be out there demonstrating. (Seriously)

2. Favorite Founding Father?

I've always loved the story or Burke and Wills - two fellows who tried, and died crossing Australia from North to South. They got there, but died in rather tragic circumstances on the way back, their support crew leaving their post in the hours before they arrived there. Their remains were eaten by dingoes. A bit tragic that.

3. Favorite Prime Minister?

I used to say that Gough Whitlam was my favourite Prime Minister - a bit of a larrikin, then again, up until the reptilian slime of an amoeba who calls himself our Prime Minister, most of our Prime Ministers have been a bit quirky. Malcolm Fraser has a special place in my heart at the moment as he's the only person who seems to be talking sense. I also have a soft spot for Julia Gillard. An excellent administrator who put up with far more than any woman ever should have. I give you a musical version of her best ever speech. We need more women like her.

4. Biggest "Patriotic Moment"?

Sitting at a citizenship ceremony when my friends Alice, Dougal and Jasper became citizens. That was pretty special.

5. Favorite patriotic song?

As Rolf Harris is now sitting in prison rotting, I can't really say it's "Tie Me Kangaroo Down" any more.

I suppose my favourite Australian song that is the most Australian that I know would be "I was only Nineteen". An anti-war song from the late eighties. It's haunting - and strangely patriotic.

6. Favorite Australian cuisine?

Nothing beats an Australian barbeque, with sausages, chops, barbequed onions on white bread with lots of tomato sauce (ketchup I think you Yanks call it) with a pavlova to follow... though my Kiwi friends will try and tell you that the pavlova is an invention from New Zealand.

7. Happiest political moment of your life?

Watching John Howard lose his seat and have Kevin Rudd take over as Prime Minister in 2007. That was brilliant.I hugely disliked John Howard - but not as much as I cannot abide Tony Abbott - and god I hope he suffers the same fate as Howard, rarely to be seen again, ever, if he doesn't end up in a European prison for crimes against humanity and that is if his party or an assassin's bullet don't get him first.

8. Best fireworks display you've ever seen?

The displays in the Yarra during the 2004 Commonwealth Games were very special. I wonder what happened to the big fish that were sitting in the Yarra River during that time.

9. Australia's gift to the world?

We've given the world lots of things. Wi-Fi internet, the cochlear implant and the Hills Hoist are all up there.

10. Does Australia need a Bill of Rights?

Maybe, jury is out on that one. An elected President would be a good thing. Save us from dipshits like Tony Abbott misrepresenting us at every turn. This is what happens when he's questioned by a group of 14-year-olds. Beggars belief. Completely embarrassing.

11. Favorite Australian Holiday?

Even if it means getting up at 4 am to be at the Shrine of Remembrance at 6 am - ANZAC Day I do hold dear.

12. Favorite Canberra monument?

The Australian War Memorial is one of the most moving monuments I've ever had the pleasure to go to. The museum underneath is fantastic too - a must see for all Australians.

13. Your dream for Australia's future?

Currently, my dream for Australia is to be rid of the fascists (I'm just calling out the neo-conservative, idealogic wingnuts) who are currently running the country and turn it back into the internationally caring, environmentally and scientifically respectful country where everybody gets a fair go and everybody is included no matter how much money they have or power they yield. Idealist - yes, but the way things are going, I'll be looking for a new country to live in soon.