Monthly Archives: June 2010

Good God! An Atheist!

The other day I was driving past a small church and had a quick look to see what this weeks’ message was on the ol’ changeable sign out the front, it read:

“If God doesn’t believe in Atheists, do they still exist?” 

Now, this didn’t have me rolling round on the floor laughing, but I did have a bit of a smile. 

PM Julia Gillard

Then later this week Julia announced that she is an atheist, and good on her, you don’t see a lot of church folk being this honest, especially not church going politicians.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m a little bit tired of seeing secular leaders hiding behind a veil of religion. 

In fact I’m sort of tired of all religion.  Particularly televangelists who continually fleece their faithful for $$$, or those who think it’s Gods’ will to treat women like 4th class citizens (just behind the dog and the donkey), or the happy souls trying to reach paradise by strapping explosives to themselves and going out in a blaze of holy glory.

Anyone avoiding the extremes in any religion is ok by me.  Just as long as they leave me alone; like the Amish.  I don’t want to join, and they wouldn’t let me anyway.  Perfect 🙂  They do their thing, I do mine, and if we do happen meet it will be a pleasant, uneventful, and fairly brief encounter.   

Someone who isn’t tired of religion though is Rev. Fred Nile, and Fred has created a bit of a stir this week by announcing that he wants to ban the burkha here in Oz.  So far he’s getting a fair bit of support, and a lot of it from folk who don’t particularly like Fred or what he stands for.

A question I heard recently was, “As the number of ‘Burka wearing faithful’ increase, are we in danger of having our nations’ laws changed at some point down the track so that all women have to wear the veil?” 

"Smile!" 'Click'

I don’t know, although I hope not, I’ve got three beautiful daughters who enjoy a certain amount of freedom at the moment, I’d hate to see them, or their daughters, stifled by such a law in the future. 

Anyway, with Julia in the top job, I’m sure we’ll enter a period of peace and tranquility for a short time.  Religious factions will stop duking it out with eachother and come to a shaky peace accord in order to deal with the greatest threat to any religion:  The Atheist.

And once all the free thinking, questioning, science loving, godless, liberal types are dealt with (permanently), then they can go back to fighting eachother again for the title of: 

“The One True Religion”.  (Oh, We Are The Holiest!  Yeah!  Fist punch for God!)   

As the professor in the Woody Allen film ‘Hannah and Her Sisters’ stated, “Do you know, if and when Jesus comes back, He’s going to spend two weeks vomiting when He see’s what’s being done in His name.”

Maybe John Lennon was onto something, ‘Imagine’ that….

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Mondays Column: Gender Issues 28.6.10

“Sweetie, get your own tea!  Mummy’s got to finish her report, then knee her ‘touchy feely’ boss in the groin.”

Recently an old friend was reminiscing about her first job as a secretary on a construction site back in the 1960’s.  Women in industry were a real rarity, and she wistfully recalled how the workers would wolf whistle at her as she struggled to get in and out of her Mini Moke whilst wearing a miniskirt.  Boy, those days are certainly over now!  I haven’t seen a Moke in years… 

Today there are more women in the workforce than at any other time in our country’s history, but working mums still do the lion’s share of domestic duties at home.  In effect, they are working two full-time jobs, but only get paid for one.   

On the way into work the other night, I passed a friend who had been working late, and as I glanced at my watch in surprise she gave me a harried look, “I know, I know! And my family haven’t stopped calling wanting to know where their tea is!”  As she rocketed past, her phone started ringing, and it occurred to me that her male co-workers wouldn’t be dashing home to cook tea.  Strolling through the gates I started crooning, “Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman…” 

The next day I chanced to see Elizabeth Broderick, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, on tele talking about women in the workplace, and it was an education.  Women not only continue to earn less than their male counterparts, but lately the gap has been widening.  Approximately a quarter of women are sexually harassed at work.  Very few of them get promoted to upper level management positions, and nearly all of them are expected to sacrifice their careers and promotion prospects to have children, or to look after aging parents.  Many of our nation’s best workers are trapped at home mopping up drool, and risking brain damage from listening to Wiggles songs ad nauseum.

That night when Long Suffering Wife finally got home from work, I tried to tell her what I had learned, but couldn’t get a word in as she dumped the groceries on the counter, yelled at the kids to start their homework, put tea on, and herded the dogs outside whilst gathering up my empty coffee mugs and chip packets. 

As I toddled off to the beer fridge I decided that she’d just have to wait to learn about how unfair her working life is.

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“You may call it washing up, I call it foreplay!”

It’s been a big week for Work / Life Balance issues… my next column deals with topic of Women at Work after a couple of chance meetings & discussions in the past week, and on top of that, the issue of men and womens’ roles, and the delicate balancing of aging, was raised in Shrek 4, and Adam Sandlers latest movie, “Grown Ups” (although I’m certain the topic will be dealt with in a very immature and unfunny way if I’m any judge of this morons’ movies.  Fart jokes and poor bedroom perfomance jibes will no doubt rule the day). 

Anyway, today I was up to my armpits painting the hallway, and in the background Radio National was filling the silence of the house.  Today’s Life Matters programme had an interesting discussion involving a group of people who were discussing a competition for ‘the mentally sexy dad’.  You can view the details here:

The sexy new look for men!

Much of the discussion centred around stay at home dads, (one of the great regrets of my life), and how they took on extra duties around the house as mum toddled off to work.  It sounds like a fulfilling life, and many of the stay at home dads were writers, and they were able to still attend to the childrens and home duties, but also found time to be creative. 

It was fascinating listening, and I found myself agreeing with a lot of the comments on the show, particularly after hearing about a bloke who was so wonderful that the host, Richard Aedy, suggested that the rest of us men form a posse and hunt him down 🙂

Some of the comments gave me food for thought: 

Have clear expectations.  Know what eachothers’ roles are.  Help eachother out.

Women often wonder why their men can’t ‘see’ what needs to be done.  Men, once they are aware of what jobs need doing, prefer to make a list then tackle the job at hand.  Multi-tasking is not their forte’.

Men are still expected to work outside, pick up more of the inside work, but often don’t find that reciprocated.  Outside remains ‘Dads Domain’ apparently.

Men who do more housework free up time for their wives to relax more, and this defuses a lot of resentment, and leads to more ‘bedroom time’. 

But the gold medal went to the woman caller whose comment is the title for todays’ blog, “You may call it washing up, I call it foreplay!” 

I’m still smiling 🙂


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Shrek 4 – In 3D, but not in Gladstone…

Just the usual chaos in a house full of children...

Last Sunday night I raced home from work, threw the pushie into the garage, tossed The Littlest Princess into the bath, dived into the shower, shovelled down a quick meal, galloped out to the car, rushed back into the house, grabbed The Littlest Princess, slung her into the car, then drove at legal speeds (while tapping on the steering wheel and muttering at the red lights) up to the cinema.  We got the trainee assistant, which meant a slightly longer wait in line, and my damned card didn’t work, so there was some stuffing about there, but with seconds to spare we slumped into our seats and prepared to watch the final instalment of the Jolly Green Giant films, Shrek 4.

"What do you mean the toilet's backed up again?! I just finished fixing it!"

Not far into the start of the film it dawned on me that Shreks’ family life was not dissimilar to mine…  marital / family duties had reduced his ‘me time’ to next to nothing, and he was pining for his old life.  Given the chance to return to his old life for a day by Rumplestiltskin, Shrek jumped at the chance… unfortunately there was one slight catch. 

Anyway, I won’t ruin it for you, but you’ll have guessed by now that the movie had a happy ending.  Was anyone surprised?! 🙂 

Not a bad yarn, and it probably would have been a novelty to have watched it in 3D, but this feature wasn’t an option.  We sort of live in the ‘boonies’ when it comes to the latest fads, fashions, and fiascos.  After the movie, TLP and I sat alone watching the credits, and I asked her, “Well, what did you think?”  She nodded, “It was alright.  Can we buy the DVD?”  So, that gets a 4 tiny Princess thumbs up from her.  I too, thought that I could sit through it again, so it gets a 3 thumbs and a little finger from me. 

Driving home, listening to TLP chatting away, I knew how Shrek felt.  Sometimes it would be nice to be on your own, but not all the time…


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Mondays’ Column – Feeling Crook 21.6.10

The Doctor’s certificate said, ‘Medical Condition’, which is the Docs’ way of saying, “No idea”.  I don’t know what I had either, but it dropped me faster and harder than a schoolbag on a Friday afternoon. 

 At the hospital I had some tests done, and got asked a lot of disconcerting questions before being discharged to die at home.  That was several weeks ago and some of you will be pleased to hear that I survived.     

But last week disaster struck again.  One evening I sauntered off to work as my devoted family gathered on the footpath to wave me farewell… who am I kidding?  I stamped down the road muttering to myself while they sat round the ol’ flat screen, unaware that I had left.  Anyway, a few productive hours later, I rang home to say ‘Goodnight’ to the wee ones, and to make sure Long Suffering Wife wasn’t entertaining some male company, who might have been thinking of taking advantage of my beer fridge while I was out. 

It was not a happy house.  Long Suffering Wife informed me that all of them had been hurling up breakfast since I left, and she asked how I was feeling.  I gazed down at the plastic dish that contained the remains of my lovingly made TV dinner, and felt my belly lurch.  It was merely gas.

The next morning, in spite of all my desperate begging to the boss to work another shift for free, I returned home.  The house ponged of disinfectant and desperation.  Inching my way through the debris, I felt like a germ-a-phobe who had stumbled into an infectious ward.

Long Suffering Wife was shattered, and the kids lay listlessly in front of the tele which was switched off; a sure sign that things were pretty crook.  I unplugged the computer, set it up in the quarantined area (aka: the shed), and consulted ‘Dr. Google’.

Of the sixty three bazillion things the symptoms could have represented, I was no wiser several hours later when the Eldest Princess arrived, sneezed in my face and announced she had a cold.  Later, as I sat alone in an empty field lathering on disinfectant, and gulping down vitamin tablets, it occurred to me that perhaps it really is possible to make yourself sick with worry.  I wonder if I could get Doc Google to print ‘Galloping Hypochondria’ on my Medical certificate?

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Freezing with Auntie ABC

Logged onto the ABC news site this morning, and noticed the two stories below, both of which gave me some unexpected laughs upon waking up after a cool night at work:

Victoria Braces for Freezing Weather

 The State Emergency Service (SES) is urging Victorians to take extra precautions, with the weather bureau forecasting damaging winds to hit most parts of the state tonight.

Weather forecasters are predicting damaging winds across most of Victoria tonight and tomorrow as a strong cold front will bring a wintry blast from this afternoon.

Ok, nothing funny so far, but the at the bottom of the article I saw that Auntie ABC was asking for comments on this ‘vital topic’, and geez I’m glad she did because it gave some folks the chance to make the rest of us smile, (comments in brackets are mine) 🙂

Auntie:  Are you feeling the cold?

Reply:  I like the cold. The colder the better.  (Mr. Ice Cube is baaaack!)

Reply:  As soon as I get feeling back in my fingers I’ll let you know!  (that will be roughly some time around October… good to see you can still type though)

Reply:  oh yeah.. try riding a scooter in this weather.. numb in 10 mins… (mate, you should try riding a pushbike in this weather, numb getting on the thing)

Reply:  I`m a lolly pop lady in Southwest Victoria and I’ve needed to have Tuesday and today off sick maybe I`ll take Thursday off for inclement weather too (obviously every snow filled cloud has a silver lining of permafrost for some, but my question to the Lolly Pop Lady is: the children!  Won’t someone think of the children?!  Who will carry on your vital work while you’re at home rugged up and snickering to yourself?!)

And finally an optimistic sounding chap calling himself, ‘The Jovial Monk’ wrote:  Hate the cold!  (now here’s a fella with a heart full of love…)

And speaking of love, one of the words for Love in Greek, is Agape, which is also having some ‘freezing’ problems of its’ own as I read in the next story: 

Freeze widened on Agape Ministries assets

"I'm here to talk to you about Jesus, and you're going to listen!"

Agape Ministries (some sort of neurotic Pentecostal, ‘End Times’ outfit) –  sprang to life on the spurious claims that its members would go to hell if they were microchipped and that the government would put them in concentration camps, gas or behead them if they refused the chips.

Police found a cache of guns, and a haven on a South Pacific island, to protect them from microchips the government was planning to implant in all humans.

Criminal proceedings are also underway against two alleged members who were arrested for firearms offences after raids on Agape Ministries.

Police allege they seized significant quantities of ammunition, rifles, batons and other weapons in the raids.  They are also wanted for fraud, and the leaders remain on the run, or in hiding. 

Cash and guns?  This might the religion for me?!  It is clear that Agape Ministries have decided that where the Disciples went wrong, was putting their trust in the Lord.  Agape Ministries, the ministry of Loooove, has decided that a little proactive ‘hidden advantage’ might even up the odds of surviving the coming holocaust against Christians.  Good for them…

Meanwhile, here in Gladstone, I’ll be doing some freezing of my own.  The ol’ swimming pool is still leaking, and I’m procrastinating about getting into the thing with a pair of goggles and trying to find the pinhole leak.  

Mind you it could be worse, I could be in Victoria getting frostbite at some busy intersection while waiting for a missing lolly pop lady to show up 🙂

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Mondays’ Column – Fun on the Water 14.6.10

This column appeared the day after a big fishing event in our local area, the Boyne / Tannum Hookup 

For some reason, I always seem to be rostered on when this event is held, and getting time off over the Queens Birthday weekend is nearly as hard as trying to get Xmas Day off 🙂  But, as you will soon see, I’m not too unhappy with this situation…

"Hang on, I'll be right back... heh, heh, heh!"

Whoever came up with the saying, “My worst day fishing was still better than my best day at work!” should come fishing with me sometime. 

Over the years I’ve had a lot of fun on the water, but there have been other times when my life has turned into a waking nightmare, eg: like discovering what a horror story our harbours’ North entrance can be when a big tide is roaring out with the wind howling behind it.

Or when as a young teen, after swearing on a stack of Bibles to remain in the confines of the Calliope River, I immediately captained my tiny dinghy across a glassy harbour to Tide Island.  After catching a few fish I pulled up for a feed on an empty beach, and a couple of hours later snapped awake absolutely mortified to see the channel full of ‘white horses’.

Gritting my teeth I puttered into the maelstrom and was soon completely out of my depth.  Unable to turn back, I began to panic as my little boat started filling with water.  Whimpering, I draped on every life jacket I owned then started bailing.  Rash promises were made to God, all of which were promptly forgotten when I floated into the calm waters behind the Clinton coal wharf.  Gee, those fish tasted extra good that night. 

And even in the sheltered waters of Auckland Creek I managed to get into trouble.  My brother and I were holding the boat at the ramp while Dad fetched the car and trailer, when we had a small domestic dispute.  The old man returned just in time to see his beloved runabout drifting down the creek with me clinging to its’ side, while my brother stood on the ramp laughing his head off. 

As disaster loomed, I managed to clamber into the boat and manoeuvre it back to the ramp where the returning hero was greeted by a wild eyed, one man reception committee.  Drinkers at the Yachties offered some cheerful advice as my brother and I copped a well deserved booting.  Yes, happy days.

 More fun was to follow over the years, some of which I’m still getting therapy for.  So to all you folk who were out on the water this weekend I hope you had a safe, fun, and memorable time.  But if you had a shocker, then there’s always next year, and perhaps you might want to join me… at work.

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Gladstone Regional Council – On the Money, and Saving Money

The birth of the new Super Councils around our State was touted as a way of improving efficiency, better service delivery and decreasing unnecessary spending – which, as many would have had us believe, was going to save the ratepayer money… Ha. Ha. Ha.

Charges went up for pretty much everything, and fees were introduced for things which were once free, with the promise of more fees and price hikes in the future to pay for all the almagamations.  Great. 

BUT, some changes were made to our streets which I must admit has made our town look much nicer.  For example, last December, the GRC pulled out all the old, withered, stressed trees from the traffic islands near our home, and started to upgrade them.  7 months later, they finished the job (photo’s to be published at a later date!)

This is an example of some of their work uptown.  Not too shabby:

Then there is the other side of the coin.  Nearby, is a cutting where large rocks have been falling off the embankments, and rolling onto the footpaths.  There are a large number of pedestrians who use this pathway, including a slightly overweight bloke and his wife’s two dogs, who are in danger of getting struck by one of these boulders. 

The Gladstone Observer did an article on the dangers, with photographs, and our council leapt into action.  This was the result.

Pedestrians are still in danger of being struck by rocks, but now the council is legally not responsible because they have put up ‘a sign’.  I can easily imagine someone at council HQ wiping their brow and announcing, “Close thing that, we could have been sued!”

We continue to watch with amused interest…

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Expect Nothing – Zen and Me

I’ve been reading a neat little book by Clarice Bryan called, Expect Nothing.  Clarice is a retired teacher living on the West Coast of the US, and describes herself as a Beginning Buddhist.  It didn’t take me long to blast through her book, but upon finishing it, I decided to re-read it, slowly this time…  and boy, has it been a revelation! 

A great deal of stress disappeared almost instantly from my life when I dropped the following personal motto:  ‘If it has to be, then it’s up to me.’

Lowering my expectations of what I want from others, and myself, has been a huge step in the right direction. 

Let’s face it, people are messy, inconsistent, lazy, tardy, lack respect, are inconsiderate and arrogant.  They don’t realise how hard we work at ‘stuff’ and often fail to understand what we need/want done. 

We get upset when they fail to to do, or say, what we expect of them.  To compensate for this, we work even harder to control them, us, and everything around us.  We want perfection in an imperfect world, and the bad news is, we are never going to get it.  In spite of our best efforts, our floors will get messy, people will let us down, the cup was broken by someone called, ‘Not Me’. 

Or worse, we are sometimes appalled to discover that some of the people around us are vindictive, abusive, or take delight in seeing us work even harder, or fail miserably at something, and this brings us out swinging! 

Then there are the people who love us: 

Our families placed expectations on us: don’t talk to them, be home at this time, eat this, don’t touch that, wear this, learn that, clean this, avoid that, etc. 

And then there are all the expectations society places on us.  We ‘have’ to be thin, orgasmically happy every waking minute, smart, funny, have all our teeth, not smoke, drink 4 litres of water a day, wear this type of clothing, talk in this manner, be decisive, walk that way, get a career, be strong, be a man, be a modern woman, be consistent, be a model employee, use this type of shampoo, don’t eat meat, maintain your lawn, start a business, be a success, don’t let folk down, always be on time, eat everything on your plate, don’t complain etc. etc. 

And trying to keep up can lead to tiredness, stress, anxiety, and eventually, mind numbing indecision which = personal misery. 

All suffering, according to the Buddhists, comes from our expectations, particularly when you say the following two words:  “I Want.” 

Sometimes, it can be too much living up to all those expectations.  Do you know what?  You are perfect just how you are, imperfect! 

Does it really matter if your house isn’t a shrine?  If you failed to get something important done? If you don’t look like a model upon waking of a morning?  Honestly, what is more important, growing and maturing with grace, and a sense of fun and adventure, relaxing surrounded by those you love, and accepting them for who and what they are, or looking good / successful / and perfect, while wallowing in internal misery?   

So, just for today, take a little time out to laugh, love, and live a little.  Spend some time with your kids, draw a picture with them and pin it on the fridge, do something nice for all the people living in your house, be considerate, be kind… and do you know what?  I don’t expect you to do any of the above!  Just be you 🙂 

I’ll end with this quote:  “On the other hand, you could just relax and realise that behind all the worry, complaint, and disapproval that goes on in your mind, the sun is always going to come up in the morning, moving across the sky and going down in the evening.  The birds are always out there collecting their food and making their nests and flying across the sky.  The grass is always being blown by the wind or standing still.  Food and flowers are growing out of the earth.  There’s enormous richness. 

You could develop your passion for life and your curiousity and your interest. 

You could connect with your joyfulness. 

You could start right now.”

Pema Chodron

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Mondays’ Column – Organ Donation 7.6.10

We Australians have an enviable record for punching well above our weight in just about anything you care to name, and good on us.  So, can someone please explain to me why we are at the bottom of the list when it comes to organ donation?  I don’t want to alarm any of you unnecessarily, but the Spanish are wiping the floor with us.  That’s right, the Spanish! 

And here in Oz, it’s the South Australians who are topping the organ donor volunteer list.  My fellow Queenslanders, this is a deplorable state of affairs and it’s time we showed the rest of the country what we are made of, and then let them have some of what we are made of. 

Folks, let me make this clear, after you die, your organs are totally useless to you, and over two thousand of our fellow Aussies need our help, so once you’ve finished with your bits, let someone else have a shot at using them and we’ll get to see just how big hearted you really are.      

Recently we had ‘the talk’ about my wish to be an organ donor, and Long Suffering Wife was a bit worried, “What if you’re in a situation where the Doctors are flipping a coin to decide between saving your life, or letting you die so they can use your organs?” 

“Look,” I replied, “if I’m in that bad a state, then let them take what they want!”  I’m no hero, in fact I’m terrified of winding up in a coma, or worse, bed bound, stuck watching endless hours of daytime TV and unable to change channels. 

So, register online, then tell your family, as it’s likely that they’ll be making the vital final call for you.  In fact, tell your Doctor, your workmates, your neighbours, in fact, everyone you know; even Auntie Doris who stiffed you a present at Christmas last year. 

I would also urge you to take the time to look after yourself, get a little exercise, give up the smokes, and watch what you eat and drink, because the last thing we need is more people swelling the organ donor waiting list.  And take care when you’re out and about, particularly around me, because even though I’m quite happy to donate my organs, I’d like to get a little more use out of them before I do.


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