Somewehere Over The Rainbow Blue Cars Drive #NaBloPoMo

Ah, the smell and excitement of a new car, there’s nothing like it. Or so my childhood recollections tell me, since it has been more than a little while since I have driven a new vehicle. The feint lingering of car paint odour mixed in with a hint of faux leather topped off by a smidge of detailing fluid. Just enough to lull you into a false sense of luxury, unless of course you have purchased a luxury car in which case please let me know if the smell lingers for just that little bit longer.

I remember growing up that new car adoption in our family was a momentous occassion. We would stand on the street admiring the new acquisition from every angle, exclaim over its beauty, sit in it acclimatizing to the new sensation and then finally take it for a spin. We would puff with pride at the showroom shine and the immaculate tyre black knowing they wouldn’t last beyond the first month. The paper foot print mats that came in the vehicle would also remain for some months until my parents would finally concede that paper was no match for dirt stuck to our shoes and that really they didn’t need a sign post of where to put their feet.

lego carMy mother was a fairly groovy car chick. She would always pick the best colours in vehicles. All the women in my family knew without any verbal form of communication that the only two important things about a new car behind the smell was how well the radio sounded and the colour of the paint. And so she never failed to deliver. Her first car was a metallic green, sporty number with black trim. A stick shifter and with an AM band only radio perpetually stuck playing classical music or Perry Como. Yeah baby!

Her next car was a bright orange number, one again with a stick shift and black trim. It looked like an orange on wheels on a sunburned day and only had two doors.  You know who was always was the one who had to climb in the back, but by that time FM radio had made an appearance and when I could wrestle Perry Como off his perch, I had the wonderful strains of Abba to listen to.  We had this auto until the doors failed to open from the inside and dad had to finally administer last rights.

The point was though that you could see this baby coming from miles away because of its colour. My mother passed on her wonderful taste in car colour to moi, when I purchased a bright yellow hatch notwithstanding that the sales guy was a condescending misogynist who asked me why I was enquiring about the tachometer and was hell bent in showing me the make up mirror behind the driver’s sun shade. I mean really, didn’t he know the radio was far more important?

Roll the film forward and we now have more cars on the road than ever before. It seems however that our innovation in car colourscar-colors stopped somewhere around 1985.  As I survey our roads all I can see is a never ending sea of white, silver, black, charcoal and beige. The homogeneity is occasionally broken up by the odd splash of navy blue, burgundy or red, but generally not a green, yellow or orange vehicle in sight. And nary a psychedelic purple on the horizon.

Have car consumers become more conservative and pragmatic as time has worn on? Has safety and the cost of a paint job overtaken the desire to make a personal statement?

Now, dear readers a small mea culpa. My current vehicle is not colourful. But in my defence, I have had it for more than a decade and when I bought it there were not many other cars on the road of that colour. So it was seriously rad or bad or whatever back in the day, but now it is one of the crowd.

Oh, how the wheels of progress have turned to mute us all down. Bring back the colour on our roads.

New car ma’am? Certainly, would you like that in white, off white, cream or oatmeal?

Have you noticed a blending of the car colours where you live? What car colour would you choose if money was no object?

 

Low Hanging Fruit and Horse Race Wrap Up #NaBloPoMo

Thank you for all of your wonderful tips from the Horsing Around With A Race That Stops A Nation post.

The race has now been run and the winners and losers sorted.  Champagne has been drunk and bunions have been formed. Time to put the fascinators away for another year.

After the resounding Tres Blue backing from the blogosphere, I placed a small bet on the horse. You’ll be happy to know he finished 22nd out of a field of 24. So I guess the trainer and owner are now Petit Blue.

But fear not, dear readers for that is not where the story ends.

After a more thorough analysis of the form guide and deciding that the pink stripe on the jockey’s fabric of Fiorente was more purple than pink if you squint hard enough and look at it in a tunnel, I placed a bet on the favourite.

AND SHE WON!!!

In addition to that I drew another horse which came second in the office sweep, so a somewhat profitable day all around.

low hanging fruitWhere things get a bit murky is the somewhat predictable love note I found from the local council placed under my windshield wiper when I returned to my car after my hard day at work. After running a little late for work that morning, I went through my usual routine of parking my car near the bus stop.  The bus stop happens to be near a racecourse. Parking is usually tight, but on Melbourne Cup day it is at a premium. Lucky for me I still scored a spot in the morning. The kicker is that parking in this street is two hours only for non-residents. Normally, I run the gauntlet and park there anyway as the street is seldom monitored. You can see where this is going, can’t you?

Being late it only occurred to me that my parked car was really low hanging fruit for the parking police when I was half way into work. Plump, juicy and ripe for the picking on race day. And plucked it was.

The state of the ledger is therefore:

  • total family winnings on Melbourne Cup  – $152
  • total payment to NSW State Government for the privilege of going to work – $101
  • funds available for the Curtain Raiser retirement fund – $51

My family has kindly donated their winnings to the fund which will be used to increase parking restriction awareness in its members and avoid any more contribution to the low hanging fruit crop.

There was a sad postscript to the race. One of the horses, a mare, was put down immediately after for a broken leg. The decision for the horse to be euthanized was not without controversy. To get the fully story, click here.

RIP Verena.

Of Razor Blades and Memories #NaBloPoMo

It’s funny what banality can trigger memories.

Sometime in the coming weeks, I will undertake a ritual for the very last time. A ritual that has always connected me to my father. A ritual that was ours when my father was alive.

old style rego stickerWhen I was little, I used to be dad’s 2IC when it came to replacing the annual registration sticker on the family car. This used to involve razor blades, hours of concentration, methylated spirits and cut fingers. Back in the day, the Government used to issue each vehicle with a registration sticker which showed the month of registration, the year of validity and the registration number, make and VIN details of the vehicle.  It was up to each owner to apply the sticker to the windshield of the car after removing the pervious year’s version as it was an offence to leave the old sticker visible. So dad and I would set off to laboriously scrape off the old sticker which was made of a thin plastic film and applied to the window with a coat of glue. It was a transparency sort of affair which we could only remove using methylated spirits and razor blades. And the reward for persisting? A formerly whole registration sticker now hacked to a million plastic bits all through the car.

Whatever was involved, I loved this father/daughter time. It was him and me against the world.

As I grew, Dad anointed me in charge of the great registration sticker exchange. Out would come the razor blades and the metho (Aussie vernacularnewer style rego sticker for methylated spirits) and out I’d go to the car and do the deed. By this time, adhesive technology had evolved to the point where the registration sticker was less transparency, more sticker in the traditional sense. No water was required to activate the adhesive. This made old sticker removal somewhat quicker and easier, although the razor blades still came in handy.

Every year I change my registration sticker I use the same tools, the same methodology and I think of my father.

Our Government has finally decided to come into the twenty-first century and will from this year rely on its computer records as proof of registration. There will be no more registration stickers to apply and only this last one to remove.

My kids will never experience this ritual.

I will miss it. As I miss him.

In the coming weeks, my final peel will be for you, dad.

father quote

 

 

 

Costco Capers #NaBloPoMo

This past weekend saw us set out on our biannual Costco run. The Italian Stallion and I do not engage in this sport lightly. The visit is a culmination of weeks of precision planning, pantry reconnaissance and rigorous training. The training consists of pushing dollar bills in and pulling them out of wallets and speedy mathematical value assessment. Apart from this physical and mental preparation, there is always the the issue of what to wear to resolve. I mean who wants to end up on the hypothetical Costco equivalent of People of Walmart.

Walmart e card 1To us non-Americans the Wal-Mart phenomenon is curious indeed. We have no real Australian equivalent that has spurned a whole subculture. In fact, I was so curious that I asked a friend to take me to a Wal-Mart in Tennessee last time I was in the States to pop my Wal-Mart cherry. It must have been a slow day because it was nothing like what I expected to see having regard to the Wal-Mart mythology from the Internet. People shopped whilst fully clothed and there were no sprawling cash register lines. Talk about underwhelming. I didn’t buy anything.

But back to Costco. For us Costco is a pilgrimage and something not undertaken lightly as it is a least a half day event. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly there is only one Costco servicing Sydney. Sydney has a population of about two million, so our Costco sees plenty of action. Secondly, the store is about an hour’s drive away and that’s not counting the time it takes to find a parking spot. Thirdly, given there is only one store social encounters are unavoidable even for a city of this size. You will always meet someone you know at Costco, which of course then ties into the whole fashion thing. This weekend’s excursion didn’t disappoint as we bumped into two of the Italian Stallion’s colleagues and their spouses.

And everything about Costco is BIG.

Big quantities, big deals, big checkout lines, ginormous trolleys and big bucks.  Costco have these great little dinner rolls that I have longingly wanted to try for the past year. I have picked up a pack every time I have been to Costco, but the thought of what to do with 36 of them has always led me to leave them on the shelf. This time though I bit the bullet bread and took the BIG small dinner roll plunge.

And the act of lovingly placing in my trolley the 3 kilos of chicken thighs that will grace our dinner plates for the next little while next to that piece of outdoor furniture that I had to have is worth the trip all on its own. I like an eclectic, variety filled shopping basket.

The fun continued with the post Costco run packathon. Getting the stuff in the car took the patience of the Dalai Lama and the precision of Tetris. Luckily for me the Italian Stallion is really good at Tetris which is positive news indeed because the whole Tetris thing had to be repeated in the pantry at home. As for finding the stuff three months down the track when we need to use it… yeah.. good luck with that.

Which leads me to divulge Fascinating Costco Fact No. 352: After buying cling wrap in bulk at Costco last year, we have figured out we use 300m of the stuff in a year. Costco therefore not only assists with inventory control but also gives good trivia.

So now we are back in training for next year’s biannual Costco run. Should be just in time for Easter.

Dinner roll anyone?Bread Rolls

 Do you ever shop in bulk? Do you have a special shopping experience you could like to share?

Print Media And A Matter of Life And Death

Post Number 2 on my student blog now out. Read all about my recent life and death encounter with print media.

Social From The Middle

This week’s course materials sent us down the rabbit hole of how the digital environment is changing the delivery of news. It was a timely journey with word that Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, was to purchase the Washington Post and related mastheads for a cool US$250million. As reported by the Post, the vendor initially approached the sale as unthinkable but went on to justify the deal as being necessary to ensure continued growth for the Post as opposed to merely survival. Bezos was apparently chosen as the anointed buyer due to his technical brilliance.

It is not beyond the realm to suggest that other high profile newspapers will go the same way in the shorter to medium term. The financial troubles of print or “old school media” (OSM) in grappling with unsuccessful paywalls, fragmentation of audiences across multiple platforms and the pressures to retain quality in their…

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It’s Unofficially Official: Feeling The Love In Australian Politics

Forgive me WordPress for I have sinned, it has been 41 days since my last post. Suitably repentant, I await your pronouncement.

Just popped back to share the political love.

You may remember, we used to have a female Prime Minister. Now we don’t. She didn’t get voted out by the people, no siree, that would be far too democratic. She got voted out by her party only to be replaced by the guy whom she knifed in a similar leadership spill about 3 years ago. The same guy whose senior party colleagues pronounced that his methods of leadership were unworkable and lead to a paralysis in party and Government decision making. Our first female Prime Minister went out in a blaze of orange haired glory amidst an onslaught of blue tie wearing men, cries of misogyny against our male politicians, most notably the leader of the Opposition and visions of knitting yarn and crocheted kangaroos (for the royal baby of course).

All of this because Australia must hold a federal election this year and the governing party got jittery over its serious slide in the polls. So, in a back to the future move, it reinstalled the campaigner and got rid of the governor.

Are you with me so far?

In short, we have been swamped by politics and received little governance. Democracy in this country has taken a hit.

men in blue tiesWithout a wiener or a sexting in site (our politics are simply not that colourful, especially not after all the male politicians starting wearing blue ties) the question on everyone’s lips is when will the new Prime Minister call the election? This is important because it will be held in Spring. In Spring people start to stir from their winter hibernation and they have wedding vows to exchange, holidays to take, gardens to tend and lives to lead.

Being the good organised governor she was, our former female Prime Minister set the date for 14 September 2013. In an unprecedented move she set this date in February so that the ever dutiful populace could clear their diaries. The new guy wants to keep us guessing.

So we are having an election, we just don’t know when and the Opposition can smell blood in the water.

It’s unofficially official, we are NOT in election campaign mode.

Except no-one told my local candidates, who have suddenly woken from their slumber after two decades of hibernation. I’m feeling so much love, I can’t tell you.

Let me digress with a little background. Australia is divided into 150 electorates. For the purposes of determining which party governs, we each get to vote for our own local member who sits in the lower house. Whichever party has the majority in the lower house governs. Unlike the United States we do not vote directly for our Prime Minister, unless he or she happens to be our local member and is the leader of the party who wins. I live in a safe party seat. The details of which party has reigned supreme doesn’t matter, suffice to say that to lose the seat would have required a swing of between 8-13%, a huge margin in Australian politics. So no attention for us, after all the prize has always remained in the bag. The prize for us being a bald-headed, former high profile rock star local member who only turned up to attend school annual prize giving ceremonies.

Now, however, there’s a real contest here because the popularity of the Government at the hands of our female Prime Minister has suffered greatly. And that’s not because she’s female, rather because of

Do you think they know it's a battle of the polls, not a battle of the poles?

Do you think they know it’s a battle of the polls, not a battle of the poles?

her inability to connect. And suddenly, our Opposition candidate has popped up in the electorate with a physical and media presence. A couple of weeks ago he was standing on a median strip in the middle of a six lane road during morning peak hour waving cheesily to passing motorists. He wasn’t standing at a traffic light, so couldn’t talk to anyone, but just stood there waving. What he was hoping to achieve other than a death wish was anyone’s guess.

Posters have popped up everywhere bearing his image, trucks are driving around on the weekends bearing yet more posters and love letters are coming in the mail.

Better yet, his office is phoning asking us what we think are the three most important issues facing Australia today and asking who will we vote for. A personal call, with a real voice, caring about what we think. Such love, and we have only just begun, well not really, because it’s not official yet.

Ever had one of those friends who only come around when they want something? Especially one in a blue tie? Yeah, me too.

Sort of officially unofficial friendship if you ask me.

Have you ever felt the love from a politician? Do long political campaigns hold your interest? What do you think of blue ties?

 

 

 

 

 

New to Blogging? 10 Reasons to Participate in the A to Z April Blogging Challenge

A very belated happy new year to all of my blog readers, even though it’s almost February!

Where has the time gone since my last post on Christmas Day?

It’s been a wonderful Summer here and I have been enjoying the warm weather and the change of pace. I am mindful of my countrymen to the north who have faced extreme weather conditions in the form of flooding and severe storms. For the uninitiated Summer tends to bring with it extremes to Australian weather and this year has been no different with heat waves, fire and flood. And that’s just in a two week period!

Otherwise, I have been checking in and reading your blogs and making the very occasional comment. The idea for January though was to keep away from writing and just be. And I was and now it’s over.

I’m also now officially excited as I’ve just signed on for the 2013 A to Z April Blogging Challenge. This is where the blogging journey began for me last year and so I have a real soft spot for this challenge. It was the impetus for starting my blog and it gave me a great introduction to the blogging world.

A2Z-2013-BADGE-001Small_zps669396f9

The Challenge involves creating 26 posts in April, one for every letter of the alphabet. Each day has a designated letter and on that day you post a blog relating to that letter. The subject matter is entirely up to you. You then visit 5 other blogs participating in the Challenge and comment on their blogs – you can visit more if you want. Last year there were over 1,000 blogs participating!

So, if you are contemplating starting a blog, have only recently started a blog or have an established blog, here are 10 reasons why YOU should sign up for the Challenge this year:

  1. It’s just plain, good fun.
  2. It’s a great way to get your creative juices flowing.
  3. It will teach you about the craft of blogging and you will see your blog posts develop as the Challenge continues.
  4. It’s a great way to meet fellow bloggers, both on WordPress and Blogger. The Challenge is supported by its own blog site, a Facebook Page, Google + page and Twitter account. Go meet some people, ask questions!
  5. You will learn a great deal about blogging technique, community, presentation, online interaction and promotion.
  6. It’s a fantastic way to tap into a ready made audience.
  7. It’s a great way to experiment with your blog in a situation where you have the potential to receive some knowledgable and valuable feedback.
  8. You will certainly lose your inhibitions about blogging by the letter E!
  9. You have the opportunity to talk to some extremely experienced bloggers who are willing to share tips and tricks. The hosts are generous with their time and ideas and are very receptive.
  10. It’s only February and you have oodles of time to prepare.
  11. I know I said 10, but here’s a bonus reason – because 10 just isn’t enough. You will have a great sense of achievement and satisfaction when it’s done and will have likely picked up at least a dozen new followers along the way.

I hope you come and join me in the Challenge come April. If you decide to, please add a link to your blog in the comment section below, so I can visit you throughout the Challenge. Also, if you have any questions about my experience from last year, I am happy to answer them.

Join up and experience all the emotions from Anticipation to Zealous. You’ll be glad you did.

Anticipation

My post on Company for Christmas. I really am dreaming of a white Christmas. What are your Christmas dreams?

A Pre Apocolyptic Public Service Anouncement To All But The Kiwis

I have always been proud to be an Australian. Being an Aussie is seriously cool, people swoon at our accent, they love our laid back attitude and envy our natural surroundings.

Australia timezoneWhat they don’t envy though is our time zone. Our time zone is seriously unforgiving, particularly if you want to do business or socialize with Europe or the East Coast of the United States. Even more so if you want to be awake, astute and passably witty whilst carrying out your obligation to your employer to turn up during local business hours. And by that I mean turn up not only in body, but also in soul and mind.

We are also slightly confused because at present there are four timezones operating in our wonderful nation. The refusal to operate under daylight savings times by some States introduces a fourth time zone for the summer months. Don’t worry Queenslanders, your curtains and cows are still safe, experiencing less daylight hours than everyone else. Don’t forget the SPF 55 sunblock!

However, there are also a few advantages that come with that timezone.

We are amongst the leaders of the pack when it comes to experiencing worldwide events that are tied to a fixed universal time. New Year’s Eve, we’re one of the first to click over. Christmas, we’ve unwrapped, stuffed ourselves and ho, ho hoed long before most of you guys have even gone to bed for your Christmas Eve slumber.

We are at the forefront of time zonage to pretty much all other countries other than New Zealand and a few Pacific island nations.

tomorrow in australia pic

So to all my international readers who are still in yesterday this is my pre apoclyptic public service announcement to you.

It is now roughly 9am, 21 December 2012, eastern daylight saving time. There are no Mayans or Mayan spirits to be seen. The second last page of the Mayan calendar has been ripped off its hinges and discarded, actually no, hang on… that was a 2-year-old Oreo cookie that just rolled out from behind the maple syrup (yes, we have them here – Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry in fact).

So far, the only evidence of an apocalypse are:

    • the state of my closet – what does one actually wear to an apocalypse?
    • our Government  finally admitting that there will be no budget surplus this year;
    • the current state of Australian cricket;
    • the number of Baked Beans tins in my pantry (one can never be over prepared);
    • the state of Australian reality TV; and
    • the state of my kids’ rooms.

There are however 15 hours to go.

Just wondering if the Mayans were timezone sensitive. Maybe for us Aussies it all ends on the 22nd and we have been lulled into a false sense of security.

D’ang, I will now have to return all the end of the world on the 21st Mayan merchandise

The good thing is that we have the New Zealanders Kiwis, who are two hours ahead, to stand in the way of us and the apocalypse. New Zealand, we will be watching, whilst the rest of the world watches us.

apocolypse

Fear not, we Australians will sacrifice ourselves and the Kiwis for the greater international cause. We will be your apocalyptic guinea pigs!!

And the Mayans better get cracking on continuing the calendar. My desktop flip calendar is just crying out for some forward thinking Mayan wisdom and witticism. A suggestion though, the next version should be in the shape of a carrot… the world is now far more health conscious about its calendars.

In the meantime, dear readers…

KEEP CALM

and

BLOG ON

If you could predict it, how would you spend your last day on earth? Are you changing your routine for the 21st? Do you have any Mayan relatives?

Springtime is Bloomin’ Wonderful #blogboost

Image from flikr
hokkey’s photostream

If you’re anywhere near my vintage, you remember the immortal classic, Tip Toe Through The Tulips by Tiny Tim. Sung in a high, shrill voice and accompanied by the ukulele, it was a song that became popular despite itself with lines that you just couldn’t forget.

Tiptoe through the window
By the window, that is where I’ll be
Come tiptoe through the tulips with me

Oh, tiptoe from the garden
By the garden of the willow tree
And tiptoe through the tulips with me

With the temperatures pushing upwards and the days becoming longer I decided to take a mid-week minivaccay and do some of my own tippy toeing through the tulips. Every spring, our nation’s capital, Canberra hosts a major garden event, Floriade. Commonwealth Park comes alive with carpets of tulips in a myriad of colours. The flowers are planted to create designs which can be viewed from up high in a ferris wheel.

The festival runs for a month and includes various activities such as gnome painting, circus training, music, wine tasting and eating. It signifies the coming of the warmer months and is a celebration of the good times ahead.

Below are some of my photos from Floriade which I hope convey the colours and the visuals of the display. It was a wonderful day in the sun, filled with warmth and the beauty of good friends and nature.

 

 

 

 

The view from atop the ferris wheel

 

 

 

Wishing you all a bloomin’ wonderful  weekend!