Friday, July 30, 2010

Miscellaneous Tomfoolery

I find this almost incomprehensible - but hard on the heels of the 16 year old Australia girl who sailed around the world - a 14 year old Dutch girl is about to set out on her very own around the world voyage. 
What comes next? An 8 year old girl plans to sail around the world in a cast iron bathtub - blindfolded and encased in a block of chocolate. Emma said that she hoped to eat her arms free by the time she reached the Cape of Good Hope so that she could download the weather forecasts into her  iPhone. 
The Rolling Stones are contemplating a 50th Anniversary Tour. They will need to wear their woollies because at their age it is easy to catch a chill and just fade away. They should also have a Roadie designated to cut up their meat and mash their peas. Have these guys - in say the last 10 years - seen themselves close up? I am firmly of the belief that any rock musicians this old should be at home in front of the fire with their cats. 
The Kings of Leon fled a stage recently when they were defecated upon by a flock of Pigeons. 
"The band is very sad and upset about it," Kings publicist Ken Weinstein said Saturday. No band would play under those conditions." 
Rubbish. In my day bands would play through cyclones, hails of beer bottles, stage invasions by people with axes, showers of vomit from fans and the odd electrocution of guitarists wired up incorrectly.
Can you just imagine the Sex Pistols being  put off by a bit of Pigeon poo? It would not happen. Mind you they would probably not notice. 

It had to happen. In the first election debate in Australia Tony Abbott suggested that Julia Gillard had a lack of understanding about family issues because she is unmarried and has no children.
Unlike Tony’s boss the Pope who of course who feels well qualified to make decisions which affect the family lives of billions of Catholics. 
The Pentagon is hot on the heels of the dirty spying rat who leaked a whole bunch of embarrassing documents to Wikileaks and will leave no stone unturned in their quest to bring him to justice and a suitable punishment.  
In the process they have managed to avert their gaze from the complete phantasmagorical and catastrophic pile of smoldering dung that is Afghanistan where many nations are sacrificing their soldiers and their wealth so that any number of corrupt officials, warlords and politicians can grow rich and fat before scarpering to the south of France when the inevitable happens and the whole steaming pile of poo implodes and buries the country and everyone it it. 
Barry Hickey, Catholic Archbishop of Perth, declared that Julia Gillard’s Atheism could influence Christian voters not to vote Labor. 
Well - it might if they are nitwits like Barry. Where do they get people like Catholic Archbishops - are there no entry examinations at all?  
I rather think that most Christian voters will vote for the party and policies that appeal to them most. 
Just in case you think nothing ever happens in Austria - here the some stories from the Austrian Independent.
Boy locks himself in mailbox
Driver avoiding rabbit crashes into pond
Drunk injured in bridge fall fleeing from sister
Hunter spots struggling kite surfer
Mugger beaten up by 97 year old victim
Policemen catch python
This is just from one day. It all happens here. Fantastic!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Why are these men afraid of me?

I have just received my email version of the ‘The Australian Atheist’ which of course after 'Duck Monthly' is one of my favorite reads.
Over Easter the 2010 Global Atheist Convention was held in Sydney and it caused something of a furore in religious circles. You would think we heathens had crucified Jesus on the Sydney Harbour Bridge by the sheer volume of hate mail from the clergy in general.
Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney said  - amongst other things:
“atheism is not the rational philosophy that it claims to be.”
“atheism is as much of a religion as Christianity.”
“It’s about our determination as human beings to have our own way, to make our own rules, to live our own lives, unfettered by the rule of God and the right of God to rule over us...”
“What we’re really seeing, once more [is] an example of the contest between human beings and God over who rules the world.”
“atheism was a form of idolatry.”
“As we can see by the sheer passion and virulence of the atheist—they seem to hate the Christian God—we are not dealing here with cool philosophy up against faith without a brain.”
And then there was the Catholic Archbishop Andrew Fisher of Parramatta. He certainly has a way with words:
“[It’s] the illusion that we can build a better life without God.”
“Last century we tried godlessness on a grand scale and the effects were devastating: Nazism, Stalinism, Pol Pot-ery, mass murder, abortion and broken relationships – all promoted by state-imposed atheism.”
Here I was thinking I was a reasonably good person. I love and cherish my wife and look after her like a silkworm. I am an excellent housekeeper and cook.  I love cats. I am kind and generous and donate to worthy causes.  I don’t dislike most Christians at all. (My blogging is not up to much but I am praying to Julia about this). 
And apparently I do all this bad shit. It’s to much. I can’t go on. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why does gay marriage frighten some people?

I just don’t understand why so many people are frightened by gay people and gay marriage. It has always been a mystery to me that gay partnerships cannot be recognized in the same manner as other partnerships.
Well - I do understand (but of course do not accept) the religious objection - but there are other people who are against because it’s - well different. It might do something to us. We are not sure what but it scares us. 
Marriage is a convention with its origins in religion. The churches may never allow gay marriage - but a man and a woman carried be married in a civil ceremony without intervention by the church.
This is indeed possible in some countries. Why are people afraid of this?How could it possibly threaten ‘traditional’ marriages between a man and a woman?
People have expressed surprise that Julia Gillard does not support the legalization of gay marriage. She is quoted as saying on a radio show in Australia.
"We believe the marriage act is appropriate in its current form, that is recognizing that marriage is between a man and a woman, but we have as a government taken steps to equalize treatment for gay couples," Ms Gillard said.
I don’t think it is strange at all. She is trying to get elected and knows she already has an uphill struggle with the Christian vote because she is an Atheist. Gay marriage is probably a step too far at this election.
What I also do not find strange is that openly gay Labor Minister for Climate Change Penny Wong says she agrees with her party’s opposition to same sex marriage.
"On the issue of marriage I think the reality is there is a cultural, religious, historical view around that which we have to respect," she told Network Ten on Sunday. The party's position is very clear that this is an institution that is between a man and a woman."
Senator Wong said she respected Labor's view of marriage as an institution between a man and a woman.
"I am part of a party and I support the party's policies."
People are getting their knickers in a knot about this but do they really expect that just before an election - when Christian groups will be actively and virulently lobbying against the Labor Party - this would be the time to make a stand on principle about gay marriage.
Gay people are up in arms and are writing to the Sydney Morning Herald saying they will not vote for the Labor Party in the election because of the party’s stand on gay marriage.
Can they be serious? Don’t they understand politics? Like gay marriage will be possible under a Liberal government led by Tony Abbott?
Mr Abbott is a Catholic fundamentalist. Gayness is against the laws of god. Gay marriage could never ever be possible under his leadership.
Indeed - he may move to make gayness illegal again and burn gay people at the stake.
Or pray for all the gay people - that may work. Some Christians say gayness can be cured with prayer. If only it were the same for stupidity. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Remove thumb - lose weight!

The smokeless Cafe Diglas. I am pleased to say that we were there on the weekend it it was very busy. Excellent.

I have been doing a bit of Asian cooking lately and find it tedious to cut the vegetables as finely as is needed for some dishes where the vegetables have to be only cooked very briefly.

You know the thing - you cook the dish and throw the finely chopped stuff in at the last minute - its’s like a garnish. Some dishes I use Shallots and Red Capsicums for this.

Anyway - I thought I should buy myself a vegetable slicer so that I could have really thinly sliced stuff - because I want my food to look as good as it tastes.

You know those things that are advertised on TV. There is a man and a woman and the woman watches in awe as a man reduces a mountain of carrots to a pile of finely sliced carrot shavings.

Next he tackles a kilo of potatoes and produces a pile of perfectly formed chips - each one a masterpiece. Give him time he could slice the Brooklyn Bridge out of a piece of Parmiggiano-Reggiano.

So I prowled the shelves at Interspar and acquired this very find piece of kitchen equipment. It is a German engineering marvel. On Friday night before starting to cook I decided to test it with a Capsicum.

Because I had high blood pressure my Doctor in Australia recommended that I take an Aspirin every day. This apparently reduces the risk of stroke. It also means that when you cut yourself you bleed a lot because your blood does not congeal as quickly.

It took me ages to stop the bleeding and there was an immense amount of blood - and it took me a long time to clean it up - it was everywhere. I discovered that I did not have any bandages so used almost every bandaid in the house.

I am now better prepared. I have a better understanding of how the thing works - and how fecking sharp it is - and I have a first aid kit that would happily grace the back of an ambulance.

The loss of a large part of my thumb has helped my weight loss program but exercise is less painful and messy.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Not quite the Giro d'Italia

This is where we are going cycling next week.

We had open originally to go cycling on a Barge/Bike tour from Amsterdam to Bruges but the one we wanted was fully booked and Cate had time constraints.

So I had another look and found the Bolzano to Venice trip Boat/Bike trip. It will be something of a challenge because we are going in the middle of summer and some of the rides are quite long.

Day 1 - for example - is 70 kilometers. Granted this is not long by Tour de France standards but I expect that it will be challenge for us during the first couple of days.

We are being joined by Gwenyth and Rachel. Rachel is super fit and it will be a doddle for her. She will be propped up in the bar drinking Chianti when we straggle in sometime later.

However, there is the option of staying on the barge and this could turn out to be a very a attractive option indeed if it gets very hot - which it should - because the time we are going is the hottest time of the year.

It’s not my fault - we have to go when Cate is available - which is almost never.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A cat door is not an Alessi kettle

Cat door without flap.

It has been hot here lately. Bloody hot. Last weekend it was 37° outside and about 31° inside. The Air Conditioning works fine except when it gets really hot - then it gives up and starts blowing out warm air. This is not helpful.

At Cate’s insistence Rozalin called the AC man - again - who came and did the usual tests and said - basically - this is as good as it gets. He is accustomed to telling us this so we had a good laugh about it.

I am sure he has no AC in his apartment so it is probably difficult for him to feel much sympathy for us.

Cate says we should move. I - who packed and unpacked last time - said that is would be a bad idea and spent a long time making lists of reasons it would be too difficult to move. Not that my vote counts for much around here but I have forged the cat‘s paw prints on a petition begging Cate not to make us move.

Because I wanted the cats to have access to the terrace - but we cannot leave the terrace doors open when it is really hot - I made a cat door. This consists of a panel that fits between the two sliding terrace doors. At the bottom of the panel is the cat door.

I thought this was an engineering triumph but Cate thinks it is ugly. It is a cat door. It is supposed to look like a cat door. You cannot make a cat door look like an Alessi teapot.

It is by far the most elegant thing I have ever made because I have negligible carpentry skills so I think Cate is being unnecessarily critical. I have seen worse things than my cat door in the Tate Modern.

In fact when we have finished with it I may splatter it with cow entrails and old underwear and offer it to the Tate. It would go well between half a donkey on a stick and two tonnes of barbed wire coated with marshmallow.

The cat door works just fine unless I put the swinging flap on the door - which renders it unusable because none of the cats can figure it out. I have demonstrated it many times but just get blank looks from the cats.

Push it with your paw - just push it - oh for god's sake just push the damn thing - no with your paw - there is no point sniffing it - jesus wept just push it with your paw.

Muffin cannot understand it because she is 18 and has never been able to understand cat doors. In Sydney she would sit outside watching the other cats go in and out through the cat door - then she would meow plaintively to be let in and I would have to open the door for her. Pathetic.

I expected better from Sissi because she is clearly intellectually gifted. I will keep trying. I am looking online for cat training videos.

So at the moment we have to leave the flap off - which does not help when the weather is hot.

The city is pretty much deserted. It is always like this in July and August. The punters all go away - somewhere. Wherever it is I am glad I am not there because it must be currently the busiest and smokiest place on the planet.

Cate is back from her latest trip and will be hanging around for a month or so. The week after next we are going cycling in Italy. Why are we going cycling in Italy at the hottest time of the year? Well, firstly because it is the only time Cate had and secondly because I am a nitwit.

More about this next week.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Voodoo Economics Republican Style

Explaining tax cuts for the rich to a Republican
Mrs Woog is having trouble understanding the world around her. I would too - except I stopped trying some time ago and now just go with the flow.
I could - for example - spend some time wondering why Justin Bieber’s song ‘Baby’ is the most viewed video of all time on YouTube - or why Ford makes cars in Australia the color of baby poo - but there would be no point. It is beyond my comprehension.

As you may be aware from my blog I am an avid follower of politics - and US politics in particular because they are the most visceral on the planet

(well - except of course for places like Mexico and Colombia and such places where politicians are regularly whacked by Drug Lords).
This is such an excellent idea that I am surprised it has not caught on elsewhere.
Anyway I read the International Herald Tribune every day plus a lot of news on line and I am endlessly fascinated by the crazy logic that politicians generally and the Republican Party in particular use to determine their whacky policies.
Paul Krugman in the IHT was telling the story about how the Republicans - and a few Democrats - have been kicking and biting and scratching to prevent the extension of unemployment benefits to the long term unemployed. This would cost $30 Billion and those against it are apparently quite happy to see the employed starve to death. Your government at work! Lose your job and die!
But......the unfunded Bush tax cuts for the rich are due to expire and the Republicans want them to be made permanent.
As Paul Krugman explains in the IHT
“For a while, leading Republicans posed as stern foes of federal red ink. Two weeks ago, in the official G.O.P. response to President Obama’s weekly radio address, Senator Saxby Chambliss devoted his entire time to the evils of government debt, “one of the most dangerous threats confronting America today.” He went on, “At some point we have to say ‘enough is enough.’ ”
But this past Monday Jon Kyl of Arizona, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, was asked the obvious question: if deficits are so worrisome, what about the budgetary cost of extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, which the Obama administration wants to let expire but Republicans want to make permanent? What should replace $650 billion or more in lost revenue over the next decade?
His answer was breathtaking: “You do need to offset the cost of increased spending. And that’s what Republicans object to. But you should never have to offset the cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on Americans.” So $30 billion in aid to the unemployed is unaffordable, but 20 times that much in tax cuts for the rich doesn’t count.
The next day, Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, confirmed that Mr. Kyl was giving the official party line: “There’s no evidence whatsoever that the Bush tax cuts actually diminished revenue. They increased revenue, because of the vibrancy of these tax cuts in the economy. So I think what Senator Kyl was expressing was the view of virtually every Republican on that subject.”
Now there are many things one could call the Bush economy, an economy that, even before recession struck, was characterized by sluggish job growth and stagnant family incomes; “vibrant” isn’t one of them. But the real news here is the confirmation that Republicans remain committed to deep voodoo, the claim that cutting taxes actually increases revenues.
It’s not true, of course. Ronald Reagan said that his tax cuts would reduce deficits, then presided over a near-tripling of federal debt. When Bill Clinton raised taxes on top incomes, conservatives predicted economic disaster; what actually followed was an economic boom and a remarkable swing from budget deficit to surplus. Then the Bush tax cuts came along, helping turn that surplus into a persistent deficit, even before the crash.
But we’re talking about voodoo economics here, so perhaps it’s not surprising that belief in the magical powers of tax cuts is a zombie doctrine: no matter how many times you kill it with facts, it just keeps coming back. And despite repeated failure in practice, it is, more than ever, the official view of the G.O.P.”
This is fabulous stuff - the Republicans STILL believe after Reagan and others proved it not so - that tax cuts increase revenues. There are probably even still ‘flat taxers’ out there somewhere.
This to me is what makes America such a fascinating country and why politics everywhere is so interesting to watch.
People and politicians across the globe develop beliefs in things without evidence - but here we have Republicans that believe in something DESPITE the evidence.
But.... politics is one of the few jobs in the world that you can undertake without any qualifications or experience whatsoever - and it actually doesn’t matter if you are barking mad.
It’s glorious stuff and it really makes the ‘Muddled Headed Wombat’ seem like a very normal bushland animal indeed.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Your child made my ears bleed

The prayer is working so far and today I made a trip to the new Wien and Co ‘Mega Store’ at Shopping City Sud. 

My record of finding anything at all at SCS is appalling so I did not hold out much hope but I said a quick prayer to Julia and found the bloody thing immediately. Of course gigantic signs every 50 meters helped - but even so. And I did not get lost coming out - astonishing. 

I have had many tingles and I hope my prayers a working for you and are not just because of anxious bees. 

I will do my best - but remember that Julia is in an election battle with Big Ears at the moment and can’t spend every waking moment on our trivial problems - because the future of humanity is at stake.

There is an interesting report in the Sydney Morning Herald about a woman who was supposedly deafened by a child on a plane. 

“American tourist Jean Barnard, who embarked on her dream holiday to Australia and New Zealand in January last year, alleges the trip became a nightmare when she boarded a Darwin-bound Qantas plane in Alice Springs, walked to her assigned seat and came face-to-face with a three-year-old boy across the aisle.

The boy allegedly leant back over his armrest toward Ms Barnard and let out a scream so severe that blood erupted from her ears, leaving her "stone cold deaf".
Now I know what this can be like. As I reported from Høje-Taastrup in Denmark a few months ago: 

‘There was a diversion in the waiting room when a small child – who was being taught (very successfully) by her parents to shriek – hit a note so high that my ears popped and stopped working and all I could hear for the next few minutes was a fizzing, crackling noise like static on a radio - or the noise an old vinyl LP makes when there is no music.
I heard the faint ringing of bells, a strange whistling and a few bars of Calendar Girl by Neil Sedaka before I recovered and moved some distance away from the child before it shattered my iPhone’.
Now I admit there was no blood so it did not compare with a Rammstein or AC/DC concert where temporarily blind, deaf and disoriented patrons have to be helped from the venue by Paramedics. 
But these types of things can catch you unawares. The spontaneous shriekers are the killers. The ones who build up more slowly are easier to cope with. The best ones are the ones whose mothers hit them to stop screaming 
(Ma’m do you really think that is  a good idea - I have experience with small children and I can assure you that if...I am sorry...I can go what?).
Well after being struck by the mother the child does stop screaming for about 30 seconds while it gathers every ounce of its strength and sucks its lungs full of air and clenches its tiny little hands.
This gives the nimble and those with their wits about them enough time to bolt from the building, get to the cosmetics section and stuff their ears with cotton wool or at least shelter behind the cornflakes (these are very workable baffles and absorb noise).
When the final shriek does come it pops the lenses out of eyeglasses, explodes pacemakers, shatters jars of peanut butter, sets off all the nearby car alarms, opens electronic garage doors and sends all dogs within a radius of one kilometer into a foaming frenzy. 
I think this is the cause of most of the deaths when for no apparent reason large dogs suddenly tturn on their owners and maul them. They should keep at least one of these dogs in every supermarket. 
This scream finally triggers the circuit breaker in the mother's brain and she can no longer see or hear the child - or indeed recognize it has her own. She can finish the shopping in  a blissful state unaware of the screaming soggy bundle in her stroller. This is necessary as otherwise mothers would simply abandon their children in supermarkets and go to nearest bar to get hammered - and then  where would we be. 
Anyway - good luck to Mrs Barnard. She is taking the legal action in LA so any outcome is possible. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's time for prayerful intervention

Some sort of Australian Duck I saw at Blackheath a week ago - Maalie will tell me what it is. 

I have had the feeling over the weekend that there are many people out there in pain. They are sick or they have suffered loss or they are just plain hungover.
I get these feelings because I am enormously sensitive. I get a tingle in my clavicle when a butterfly dies in the forest - or when a bee cannot find the right flower.
You would be surprised how often this happens and how my body tingles so. It is actually a relief for me in winter when the bees are not so active. 
Any by the way - did you know that there are actually plants that kill bees? 
God must have been having an off day to make bees and flowers and then have the flowers kill the bees. Maybe he had just been to a Tea Party meeting.

Doesn’t seem like a good idea to me but perhaps there is a larger plan of which I am not aware. 
Anyway - I have decided to pray for all those who are suffering - and - because I am an Atheist - I have to be creative about prayer - so this week I am praying to Julia Gillard. 
I am asking Julia to make things better for ALL of you - even those miserable bastards who used to read my blog and can longer be bothered (and who could blame you?)
The praying starts tonight and you will know if I am successful if things get better for you - or if Tony Abbot combusts spontaneously at the launch of the Liberal Party election campaign. 
If you have anything particular you need me to pray for please leave a comment on the blog. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

It's a miracle

Holy Guacamole - Steve Jobs has apologized to iPhone users over reception issues.
Mr Jobs said that 
"We're going to do whatever it takes to make them happy and if we can't make them happy we're going to give them a full refund and say we're really sorry we inconvenienced you, and we're going to do better next time."
Mr Jobs said that all iPhone users would get a new protective case and those who had already bought these would get a refund.
Mr Jobs went on to say that this was the first time he had ever apologized for anything - including setting his first grade teacher’s dress alight, spiking his Aunt Bessie’s bra with super glue and wiring up his Uncle Herbert's cow to the national electricity grid. 
Mr Jobs  said that his usual response to complaints was to find where the person lived and personally go round to their house to give them a good beating, torch their car and poison their dog.
But he said that he had recently seen a movie with Ben Affleck and realized the complete futility of life itself. He had decided to dance like no one was watching and apologize for everything.
In future - all Apple products will come with an Apology App.This will apologize to every user about every thing - including the length of the security queues at JFK and the the TV show ‘Jersey Shore’.

Friday, July 16, 2010

How to clip a cat's claws and live to tell the tale

Baggins after his one and only bath - and just before his demise. 
Many years ago when Muffin was not so big we took her to the Vet to be - ahem - neutered. We lived in a neighborhood where there were lots of boy cats and you know what they are like - and as Muffin was allowed to go wherever she wanted to we thought it best if we took precautions. 
We of course took into account her rights as a potential kitten producer but decided that she was not the motherly type.
So we took her to the Vet and she came home and  glared at us balefully for a few days - but recovered to live a long and happy and - we thought - child-free life.
Except that about six months after the operation she presented us with two bouncing baby boys. This was a great surprise. To us and to the vet - but probably not to Muffin. 
Well we already had three cats so it was a big ask for us to take on another two but they were as cute as buttons and we succumbed. We lived in a house with a very big garden and there was lots of room for everyone.
This was 17 years ago - long before the Lord of the Rings movies - but we were great fans of the book so we named the two boys Bilbo and Baggins. 
Baggins full name was in fact Baggins Ayrton Senna da Silva and this proved to be his downfall as - like his namesake - he was killed by a car - when he was one year old. Bilbo came to Vienna with us two years ago but did not survive the first winter. 
Muffin is still with is - barking mad - but here. 
What I wanted to tell you was that when Bilbo and Baggins were very small we decided that we would give them a bath. This seemed like a good idea at the time. 
We only did it once and I still have nightmares about it. These kittens were the size of a ball of wool but fought like deranged Tigers. I never did get all the bloodstains off the ceiling and for years after whenever Bilbo heard water running he would be off like the hounds of hell were after him. 
Anyway we have another cat and her name is Sissi. She has very sharp claws. I mean VERY sharp. You could cut glass with Sissi’s claws and she sharpens them on our feet if they protrude from the bed. 
A more difficult problem is that she sharpens them on Cate’s clothes - and particularly on new and expensive ones that she brings back from the USA. 
So when we were in Australia I suddenly thought ‘why don’t we cut Sissi’s claws’. So I googled this and it looked quite simple. Easy to do - painless for the cat - so yesterday I acquired some cat claw clippers and last night we prepared for the ordeal ahead.
Having had previous experience being torn to pieces by wild animals - and given that Sissi is the size of a Panther - we prepared for this thoroughly.
We phoned the Red Cross and warned them to have emergency staff standing by. We alerted the neighbors  to the possibility of blood curdling screams coming from the apartment. Put plastic sheets on the floor and placed bins of cotton swabs everywhere. Wrote our blood types on our foreheads with indelible ink. Donned dressing gowns, oven mitts, bike helmets and Scuba masks and gripped wooden pegs between our teeth to stem the shrieking - and pounced on the Panther. 
The Panther lay in Cate’s arms quite placidly and watched lethargically as I snipped away - quickly - with bits of nails flying all over the place. It was a wondrous experience - quite an astonishing outcome.
I wonder if I should try and give her a bath?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Vatican discovers the most serious crime!

Sometimes I read things in the newspaper and have to read them again - and possibly again - to make sure that I have not gone completely stark raving mad. Today I read in the Sydney Morning Herald that:
“The ordination of women as Catholic priests is a "crime against the faith," the Vatican has said while it issued a raft of new disciplinary rules.
Cases of "attempted ordination of women" will now be handled by the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), a Vatican statement said on Thursday.
The new rules put attempts at the ordination of women among the "most serious crimes", along with pedophilia”.
This set my ‘surreal alarm’ off and I had to throw a blanket over it and drop it into a bucket of water to stop it from squawking. 
However - as barkingly bizarre as this sounds - if the Vatican moves with the same speed on this as they have over the last few thousand years on the issue of pedophilia then any women ordained will be safely dead for centuries before they can be hunted down and persecuted. 
I will refrain from further comment as if I do I will work myself into a lather. 
I discovered with some degree of alarm when I stayed in Sydney with my brother and his wife last week that they are regular readers of my Blog. The problem is that they are also regular church goers and - if not tub-thumpingly religious - certainly have some level of faith in the potential existence of a supreme being. 
I have know this fact for some time but was not aware that they read my blog - well - religiously, 
How - I asked uncertainly - do you then cope with my regular rants about religion?
Well - they said - whoever reads the blog first warns the other not to go there. An excellent solution. I only offend one person per day.  
I did stress to them - as I have previously on this very blog - that I have no problem with people who have religion or faith - or whatever they need to get them over the line. The choice is theirs. 
What I object to is religious people telling me how I should live my life, that unless I live how they live I am a sinner, that the bible is is the handbook by which we must live our lives, that I cannot marry a member of the same sex, that if I am a woman I cannot have an abortion, that if I am old and dying in agony I cannot end my own life but must suffer torment until my last gasp,  that I must go to church and pray for forgiveness otherwise when I die I will go STRAIGHT TO HELL and will rot there till the end of time being tortured - along with Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld - (and quite a few others I would think). 
Mmmm...perhaps church is not such a bad idea after all. 
Just kidding. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Surely an Imam would know

Gardening shed - Blackheath at dawn. 
There is something decadent about traveling Business Class on Emirates and I almost think that I should not do it. I managed to overcome any minor feelings of guilt I had and threw myself into the experience. Cate of course is accustomed to this sort of hedonism so it was a Ho Hum experience for her - but I just wallowed in it. 

On Emirates just a common or garden variety Business Class passenger - as Emirates is not part of her usual airline consortium. Consequently when things go awry she cannot play the Austrian Airlines ‘Senator’ card to get special treatment. 
On Emirates I checked our seat allocation the night before we left and discovered that we were not sitting together on the first leg. I just don’t know why this always happens as we book these home leave trips six months in advance - but it always does - so we have to fight to get seats at the airport. 

This is not usually a problem on Austrian (Oh of course Ms Martin Senator - grovel) but Emirates basically  farted in our general direction  and said there was nothing they could do. 
We were initially sitting together on the second leg and had our desired window seat - but were booted out of these into the middle of the plane probably because some other frequent flying customer had priority.
Same story coming home. Seat allocations mean nothing. It was hardly a serious problem compared to the state of the world and we coped admirably. 
It is of course impossible for a normal person to eat all the meals they give you on these flights and as I am off wine for allergy reasons could not even avail myself of the fabulous selection of French Champagne and wines - but the Coke was excellent. 
The Emirates Business Class lounge in Dubai is the biggest and busiest lounge I have ever seen. Hmm...not quite true - the Qantas Business Class lounge in Canberra on a Friday afternoon when everyone in Canberra flies to Sydney has to be seen to be believed. It is like feeding time at the Zoo - although the animals in the Zoo are better behaved. 
The lounge in Dubai is always heaving with a mass of humanity scattering the the four winds on the six million flights that go through Dubai each day. There are many women in the lounge in Dubai wearing Burqas and I find these  bit scary. Probably because I am not accustomed to them. But I thought Cate looked scary in a Burqa when she went to one of those countries where the national sport is stoning women to death for daring to wear lipstick. There is something weird about not being able to see any apart of a person except their eyes. 
One of the many ratbag Imams we have in Australia said that women need to be completely covered otherwise they will arouse Muslim men to a foaming frenzy and them men will be forced to rape them. Sounds a bit strange to me - but surely an Imam would know about these things.
These type of clothing does not apply (of course) to men who dress generally like they have been sent into an Op Shop blindfolded and told to dress by feel. 
When they get to the Emirates lounge they feel compelled by some strange force to disrobe and stretch out on the lounges displaying their hairy stomachs and feet to the world. 
It is of course easy to spot the Australians in any airport in the world simply by the way they dress. I think the term ‘Slum Casual’ could be used to describe the dress of the average Australian traveler. Boy or Girl. 
I can remember walking through the Parisian catacombs few years ago with Melissa and we heard behind us, coming through the dank tunnels, the unmistakable sound of multiple flip flops.
We stopped to listen as these flipped and flopped towards us - slowing in the   tunnel next to ours. We heard an Australian male voice say ‘Jeez mate, look at all the fucking skulls’. 
Got to love that country. 
Thank you for your comments during my absence - I shall respond soon.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

In winter they are soft and wet and woolly

There is nothing quite like the Blue Mountains in winter. In summer they are harsh and dry and brittle – but in winter they are soft and wet and woolly.

This is one of our favorite parts of Australia and when we lived in Sydney we usually came up here at least once a year to stay in a mountain cabin and go for long bush walks. The days would end with us sitting in front of an open fire with some good Australian red wine. Bliss.

Our favorite walk is where we are now in Blackheath and starts from about a kilometer away. It is a four hour walk and takes us down to the valley floor and along a crystal clear river winding between canyons and dense bushland.

The only difficult part is climbing out of the valley on the other side but we are always spurred on by the thought of a Steak Sandwich waiting for us in the Wattle Café.

Friday, July 9, 2010

We should not be complacent

The reason you have not had any blog updates from down under is that I have not had any Internet access. Sure Internet access abounds in this wide brown land but not where we were staying on the first leg of our trip.

This was not fault of the telecommunications companies but of the curmudgeonly mean bastards who rented us the overpriced sub-standard house in which we stayed – in the delightful community of Tamborine Mountain.

This is a wonderful spot behind the Gold Coast in Queensland and is an oasis of rainforest and wildlife with not too many houses – but with of course the obligatory street full of schlock filled ‘village stores’ stuffed to the gunwales with crystals, oils, candles, local artifacts, stuffed bears and – in this case - Cuckoo Clocks. (Cuckoo Clocks?). But every town in the known universe has this type of stuff and it is simply unavoidable.

Our house had potential on the Internet but proved to be unworthy of our patronage. It had no microwave, no clothes dryer, a blunt axe and – worst of all – no coffee machine. What sort of troglodytes would rent a so called luxury holiday house without a coffee machine?

The axe was needed because it was bloody cold and there was no heating except an open fire in the lounge room which we had to keep going so that we did not freeze to death. It was not unusual for us to go to bed fully clothed. There was plenty of wood but the axe was so blunt that we had to sort of bludgeon the larger pieces into burnable chunks.

There were also very few of the types of things one would expect in a house like this. There was a gigantic deck overlooking the mountain and the Gold Coast about 30 kilometers away – but no outdoor furniture and no barbecue. A snazzy sound system was installed – but was completely clagged. Any music that was played sounded like ZZ Top playing underwater.

I am guessing that the house was rented to a group of people who had a hell of a party and destroyed the furniture, barbecue and sound system and the owners lost heart and could not be bothered to replace any of this – but neglected to change their website to reflect the changed circumstances of the property from luxury rainforest villa to frozen equipment-free cabin with rooted sound system.

However, life moves on and we are now back in the beautiful house we also rented last year in Blackheath, in the Blue Mountains. It is a wonderful place in the bush with large grounds, lots of birds, wallabies and other wildlife. I am sure it has its fair share of snakes and spiders but we are not worrying too much about these.

But we should be careful because we come from a country where the most dangerous animal is a hedgehog – so we may have become complacent about the hordes of death-dealing creatures that abound in Australia.

I am pleased to report that PM Gillard has shelved the stupid Internet filter idea and has called instead a ‘review’. This is Polispeak for ‘this is a stupid idea and needs to be buried deep underground until people forget about it’.

Ms Gillard did have a complete brain snap about the refugee issue but I am really hoping this was a temporary lapse and not – as it looked like – a sign of insanity.