Archive for the ‘Humour’ Category

The thing I don’t get…

February 23, 2017

The thing I don’t get about the “go back to where you came from crowd” is the apparent fear of and anger towards anyone who is different: different looking, sounding, with different habits, customs, language, religion or food.

I was in the supermarket today and two men were conversing in what may have been a sub-continental language – you know, any language of India, Pakistan or Sri Lanka. There are dozens if not hundreds of languages in that part of the world.

The two men were talking to each other, not to other shoppers nor were they seeking assistance from a member of staff. So why shouldn’t they be conversing in a language of their choice, one they probably grew up with? Conversing in a non-English language doesn’t mean they don’t know English, it doesn’t say anything about whether they are good citizens, caring people or useful members of society. It doesn’t even tell me whether or not they were born in Australia or are Australian citizens. All of these things make no difference to me. They were two people having a conversation in a supermarket. That is no threat to anyone.

Here is a small sample of English words that have Hindi or Urdu origins:

avatar, bandanna, bangle, bungalow, chutney, dinghy, gymkhana, juggernaut, jungle, khaki, karma, loot, mogul, pyjamas, shampoo, thug, typhoon, veranda, yoga.

So before you have a go at someone speaking a language you don’t know perhaps you could close your mouth, open your mind and realise that the way you do things is neither the only way or the best way. Or you could expand your mind by learning another language.

 

 

The Journey 2 November 2015

November 2, 2015

Mindfulness is not a magic potion. Like a new diet, piece of technology or idea it doesn’t work unless you use it. New running shoes don’t exercise to get fit or lose weight. I have to put the shoes on and actually go for a walk. Otherwise I just donated $40 to KMart.

I have been guilty many times in the past, as have most people, of moving on to the next magic potion, being enthusiastic about it for a while, even actually using it per the instructions. And then forgetting about it for whatever reason.

In my recent transition to another go at mindfulness, I have already reminded myself of this: yes, used well mindfulness is wonderful; I haven’t failed if I spill a cup of coffee; a moment’s inattention at the wheel could have worse consequences than that coffee; don’t be too hard on myself if I drop the ball; sometimes even when we make mistakes, we are extended grace, so that we do not receive the full consequences of our actions; and when we remember that, we may remember to extend some grace to someone else.

So what happened today? I needed to book some flights and accommodation for work to visit Groote Eylandt next week. We are using a new travel agency; I am going to Groote to present a new travel policy – I wanted to do it all “right”. I got a bit to caught up in getting it right and put myself under more pressure than I should have. As recently as a week ago this would have really thrown me out. Today, I was still stressed but mindfulness helped me get the job completed, ruefully smile a bit that I’d got myself into my own bind, mostly in my own mind but by the time I got home, it was all behind me. No rehashing it over, chastising myself. Not only had I let it go but because of the work I have pout in just recently, the letting go was closer to a natural process than a conscious process. It’s like breathing, most of the time you don’t have to think about it but it still happens.

If that doesn’t communicate, think of the scene in the original Star Wars when Obi Wan first tells Luke about the force and has him use a light sabre against a drone. Initially he is hopeless. Then Obi Wan tells him to put on the helmet so that he cannot see the drone and resume the joust. It is counter intuitive, taking away sight. Luke thought he was mad and did not want to do it. Luke did better when he used his other senses to harness the force.

Again mindfulness is not a magic potion like the Star Wars force. But sometimes you need to relax a little, see how it feels and simply dispassionately observe what difference it makes.

This week I’m improving my daily life with mindfulness to help me along the way. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

The Journey 1 Nov 15

November 1, 2015

This day has been a long time coming. There have been false starts, doubts, relapses and just plain laziness and pigheadedness. The Journey is about being present and mindful as often as possible, in all areas of life. My dear friend Kathie introduced me to the concept sometime in the last ten years. I was sceptical and resistant. After a time I tried it out. The first time I seriously tried it out was early one morning a couple of years ago in the back yard, facing the new day, eyes closed, stretching arms, legs and trunk while listening – to birds, passing cars, sounds that may not normally be obvious.Then on the drive to work, the radio was off and I just noticed things – passing cars, pedestrians, trees, gardens, signs – not the mere objects but movement, light, texture. This lasted a few days and was very powerful. Like any new habit, mindfulness has to be practised and exercised, as the newness makes way for familiarity.

Mindfulness has been to the fore in my life again in just the last few weeks. Today I am starting this occasional reflection. I’m not sharing these posts to the world of Facebook or Twitter. But I want to be able to log on here when ever I want to. If people happen across this blog, there will be a lot of boring stuff but perhaps just one nugget or so.

I am very inclined to put numerical measurements in place, especially in projects like this. This time there are almost none. No word count minimum or maximum, no schedule of posts. This is my gift to myself.

Mindfulness. Already in just this last week, consciously using mindfulness has given me the perception that time has moved slower than normal. I have been busy at work and at home but a couple of times things that I thought were two or three days ago were only yesterday. It is an especially modern phenomenon that time seems to speed up as we get older; we lose time. Could mindfulness help give us our life back by giving us time to savour it more fully than before? Today, I believe so. Time will tell.

I have a huge ball of string that has built up over the last 52 years, a lot of it in the last 10 to 15 years. It’s not regrets and mistakes – most of those I have fully come to terms with. It’s mostly the practical things of how I want to organise myself. But it’s just this: start from where I am, be mindful in all things as far as possible, be kind to myself – then I will have the time , energy and inclination to participate in the world around me.

Words that Lie

August 23, 2012

There are so many English words that lie; are not true to themselves; are the antithesis of their meaning. Consider:

abbreviation – isn’t

long – isn’t

diminutive – isn’t

big – isn’t

contraction – is not

ubiquitous – probably isn’t

palindrome – nuh

Feel free to send me more!

More Pets of Tom on Tuesday: Marmie

January 11, 2011

The accompanying photo tells you a lot about what you need to know about Marmaduke, or to his family, Marmie. For instance, he chewed out the flap in the cardboard box, all by himself, because he could. Marmie chews a lot of things, just because he can! Yet he somehow manages to look sweetly innocent!

It was slightly unexpected how Marmie came to live with us. At the time, I lived with my wife and two step-daughters. One day they all went to the local animal shelter. SD #1 is a dog person and has always wanted a dog. So naturally she chose the cute ginger and white KITTEN to bring home! The Empress Jacinta was not impressed! At one time she was the lone pet in the Tom on Tuesday household. After some years, when T-o-T began to co-habit with the aforementioned human family, the Empress Jacinta was forced to share with a dog (more about him in a later post). The arrival of another cat proved too much. I have never heard the Empress hiss so much as she has since the arrival of Marmaduke.

SD #1 moved out a couple of years ago and by then she and the boyfriend had collected four pet dogs, one that she chose AFTER Marmie. And these were all BIG dogs! So, that is how Marmaduke came to stay with Tom on Tuesday.

As with the Empress, I have given Marmaduke a title, two in fact, just for fun. Marmaduke, Duke of Earlville, Earl of Dukeville. So, it is a play on the “duke” in Marmaduke. I do in fact live near a suburb called Earlville. Dukeville is fictional. And in case you were wondering, an Empress definitely outranks a Duke or an Earl. I checked. “You know who” considers it an important detail!

Marmie is definitely a curious cat. Apart from chewing various items, Marmie has yet to meet a bag, a box, a cupboard or a shelf that did not require him investigating. I once thought I would cure Marmie of his habit of climbing into open cupboards by closing the door after him. It didn’t work. He just finds space on a shelf and curls up asleep. Family members thought that his chewing and investigating behaviour meant he is somewhat stupid. Over time it has become clear that that assessment is not correct. Marmie actually prioritises activities in his life: playing, sleeping, eating, annoying the Empress. He only expends energy on important things: eating and occasionally annoying you know who. The rest of the time he saves energy. So falling asleep in any old cupboard, shelf, box or bag is simply an efficient use of energy!

The most memorable adventure Marmie had was when he disappeared for a day. Or rather he missed dinner one night. This was unusual enough to raise concern. When the disappearance extended to two days it was time to start a more determined search. Posters were made, neighbours were questioned. By day three we were really worried. Until we heard a faint “meow”. No more than twenty metres from our house, Marmie was down the storm water drain. First we could hear him, then eventually  he appeared below the grate! The two nearest grates were stuck. At least we knew where he was. We dropped some biscuits through the grate.

Next day, we requested assistance from the fire brigade (“we don’t do that”) and the local water authority. Apparently the employees of the water authority are not authorised to go into the drains! Hello!  That evening, with greater determination I removed one of the grates. I could stand in the hole but could not see along the drain. Finally son-in-law coaxed Marmie along the drain. Marmie wasn’t worried at all. He thought son-in-law had come to play, so Marmie rolled over and asked for his tummy to be tickled. One more strange thing. The drains were damp and definitely dirty. Marmie, however, after more than three days was perfectly clean!

Get some Pet Care Tips here for your much loved furry friends!

Later on the night we rescued Marmie from the drain, it poured rain! Marmaduke, the charmer has a charmed life!

In Cairns – NOT swimming in the sea!

January 6, 2011

There are a few reasons why we tend to swim in swimming pools instead of the sea in Cairns. For a start, directly off Cairns Esplanade, instead of a beach there are mudflats – ugly, smelly, sticky mudflats. Most of the other Cairns beachside suburbs have poor quality sandy beaches that often disappear at high tide. It is really hard to sunbake on the rock walls! Others are not so worried about the lack of beaches as they are concerned about the lack of surf. Far North Queensland makes a living from tourists visiting the Great Barrier Reef. However the consequence of having a reef that is such a barrier is that is effectively stops the coastal areas having any surf at all.

However, the major reason for NOT swimming in the sea near Cairns is that the sea is full of critters – ones that can kill you! Dear reader, you need look no further than today’s local newspaper in Cairns: Croc wants a swim! And to think one local thought it was a goanna that was taking a dip in the sea!

It gives you some indication that the devices inserted into the sea over the summer months are called “stinger nets”. “Stingers” as in various types of jellyfish that have venomous and potentially deadly stings. Take your pick of the Box Jellyfish or the Irukandji Jellyfish. Both of these creatures have the added “benefit” of being small and difficult to see, unlike our crocodile friend above.

So, my advice. Come to Cairns. Go out to the Great Barrier Reef and snorkel or skin dive, for it is beautiful. But when you return to your holiday accommodation, don’t go near the beach if you are looking for a swim. Stay by the pool or visit the Cairns Lagoon – they are cleaner, safer and you will NOT be close enough to smile at a crocodile!

Finally, as a long term resident of Cairns who loves the place, isn’t this an odd way of publicising the delights of Far North Queensland by pointing out all the dangers? My dear blog reader, I was practising my LINKS! And if you are looking for a place to stay in Cairns this really is a good one. If there is one or two of you, ask for Unit 1813 – yep it’s mine!

The Pets of Tom On Tuesday: The Empress Jacinta!

January 3, 2011

I previously warned my dear readers that Tom On Tuesday’s domestic animals would sooner or later appear in this blog. Rarely have I had pets that were specifically mine. They were usually family pets or ones chosen by others or at other times I lived for years without any pets at all.

In 2001 that all changed. At a Saturday morning market I wandered past a couple with five fluffy balls that were kittens. On a whim I decided maybe I was interested. You realise in retrospect that to hold one is to take one home. I did however check in with my mother first as I was then living with Mum and Dad for a few months and they had not had pets in their house for years. I got the go ahead.

Returning to the market, I was introduced to “Precious” a female, long haired, Persian cross, with dark fur (chocolate brown as it turned out but easily mistaken for black). Even besotted as I was with the kitten, “Precious” was well, a bit precious even for me. As time would tell, her “birth name” it was indicative of who would usually have the upper hand in this relationship. My name for her was Jacinta. What can I say? I was newly separated so the cat got a human name and I’ve long liked J names.

I should add that some years on, on a whim and because it suits their personalities I have given each of the pets honorary titles. Jacinta, naturally has long been a princess. Later that progressed to Queen and subsequently, Empress. The Empress title only came about because well an Empress is superior to a Queen! This is one cat that was destined to reach the top! Not wanting animal egos to get out of check, the titles are of course only used on special occasions like birthdays and reviewing of the staff! You may well ask, Queen or Empress of where? If you knew Jacinta, the answer is of course where ever she wants!

After I moved out on my own, Jacinta was my only pet for another four years or so. She liked it that way. A cat with such a high opinion of herself does not brook competition and does not share staff! Staff? As any cat owner can tell you a feline’s staff are the humans who feed, clean up after and generally dote on said feline. In Jacinta’s case the staff were well, me, Tom On Tuesday.

Jacinta’s life was to change greatly when Tom On Tuesday decided to remarry, relocate and co-habit with other…staff! Three more staff to be exact. But there was a problem. For Jacinta a very distasteful, almost unmentionable problem. A dog. That’s right a D-O-G! For Jacinta, it wasn’t who let the dogs out. It was, “whose idea was it to let a dog live her in the first place, huh?”.

Until now, I never knew how much the Empress could hiss! Charming!

And the dog? He is a happy go lucky, glad to see anyone Jack Russell, named Bruno. Or to give him his full title (for special occasions only), Lord Bruno of Bentley. But HIS story is for another day.

And I’m still not sure that Jacinta has ever forgiven Tom On Tuesday for forcing her to SHARE!

Click here for more on looking after your cat!

New Year – a time for Beer glorious Beer!

December 31, 2010

You know the old joke: How do Queenslanders spell “beer”? Answer: XXXX

Well, here is something that is not a joke. Since 28 August 2009, your friendly Australian Federal Government, via its agency the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has changed the definition of beer!!! And I quote the ATO:

”In summary, a beverage is a beer if it is brewed and:

-is the product of the yeast fermentation of an aqueous extract of predominantly malted or unmalted cereals, but may also contain other sources of carbohydrates

-contains hops, or extracts of hops, so that the beverage has no less than four International Bitterness Units. If it contains other bitters, the beverage must have a bitterness comparable to that of a beverage with no less than four International Bitterness Units

-may have spirit distilled from beer added to it if that spirit adds no more than 0.5% to the final total volume of alcohol

-may have other substances, including flavours, containing alcohol (other than beer spirit) added to it but only if that alcohol adds no more than 0.5% to the final total volume of alcohol

-contains no more than 4% by weight of monosaccharide and disaccharide (sugars)

-does not contain any artificial sweeteners, and

-has an alcohol content more than 1.15% by volume.”

Stop the presses!!! Obviously Lion Nathan and Fosters have gotten their beer marketing all wrong. Instead of “a hard earned beer for a hard earned thirst”, they need to tell the punters that their beer is “the yeast fermentation of an aqueous extract of cereals that contains no less than four International Bitterness Units”.

Crikey! Who knew that we had International Bitterness Units (IBU’s)? In Germany it appears to be more dangerous for a beer maker and publican to play loose with the truth when it comes to IBU’s. In Germany selling Pilsner beer with an IBU value below 20 constitutes fraud!!!

After all that you would expect a beer with a higher IBU to taste, well, more bitter than a beer with a lower IBU. According to my research at http://www.sizes.com, “The International Bitterness Unit is NOT a measure of perceived bitterness, but of the concentration of a certain class of chemical compounds from hops.” And to measure the level of IBU’s you need a spectrophotometer in your chemistry kit!

It appears that the male fantasy of being a beer taster in a brewery is at least an exaggerated one. While many consider a nice cold beer is one of life’s simple pleasures and beer may well be simple for a Queenslander to spell, you nevertheless need a chemistry degree and a laboratory full of equipment to avoid breaking the law in Australia or committing fraud in Germany!

As another New Years Eve celebration approaches, it is cheers from me and remember – be responsible – don’t drive and consume your International Bitterness Units at the same time!

STOP PRESS: Really, Australians and Germans are so prudish concerning the definition of beer when you compare them to the Russians. For the Russians, beer is more a food than alcohol and well, beer at 5% alcohol is hardly alcohol at all when you compare it to 40% alcohol vodka! Get the story here.

Enough to curl your hair

December 27, 2010

I bought shampoo today. This is not as easy an exercise as you would imagine. Actually, it was easy for me. I looked along the rows of shampoo bottles looking for the supermarket tags that indicate what brands are on special! I suspect that most blokes shopping for their own shampoo use the same method. Unless they have their hair coloured, styled and zshooshed at a hair salon. Then, I suspect, they buy their “products” at the salon.

A brand I have used recently was on “special” at $5.94, for not a large bottle. I thought “special” for that brand was about $2 cheaper. I settled on a brand that was $4.99 for a 400ml bottle. Not the cheapest shampoo I’ve ever bought but is THIS shampoo any better for my hair?

Well, this shampoo is at least for “normal” hair, which in days gone by meant not oily and not dry. I really have no idea what sort of hair I have but it definitely does NOT belong to the ever growing list of categories – hair that is coloured, wavy or Martian! Actually I made up that last category. But it may well be real for all the sense the others make. I mean wavy? Is that naturally wavy or wavy as induced in some hair salon? The normal/dry/oily/wavy/coloured conundrum is only the start of the shampoo journey.

My shampoo is in a green bottle, the sub-brand is “Naturals”, it has “Active Nourishment”, contains “Fruit Vitamins & Aloe Essence” and is “up to 7 X smoother*. I don’t care about any of this but you just know I had to go and read what came after the * (asterisk). That was on the back of the bottle in considerably smaller type than the 7 X. I also assumed that 7 X means seven times smoother, not 7 X smoother as if indicating an adults only product. The * says, “Using __________ Naturals Active Nourishment Shampoo and Conditioner vs non-conditioning shampoo”. So, I’ve done my dash. I didn’t buy the Conditioner. Apparently the all capitals Naturals Active Nourishment Shampoo alone is not enough to defeat the lower case non-conditioning shampoo. Or at least not enough to defeat it 7 times over. I mean, due to my meanness in not spending an additional $4.99, I have missed out on 7 X smoother hair! The sacrifices I make!

And what of the “Fruit Vitamins & Aloe Essence”? The ingredients list on the back of the bottle is in the smallest type of all. If the ingredients are listed in order of decreasing prominence in the final product then the fruit vitamins and aloe essence are indeed scarce. And when reading shampoo ingredients lists, one is best prepared if one has a chemistry degree. After the first ingredient, water, I am lost. Of the 26 (!) ingredients number 19, “Citrus Paradisi” and number 20, “Aloe Barbadensis Extract”, seem to fulfill the promise of “Fruit Vitamins & Aloe Essence. I am curious about number 21, “Pyrus Malus Juice” as the name sounds entirely made up. I mean it is juice but does that make “Pyrus Malus” a fruit? It sounds more like Latin for ruined paper, as in “I spilt my glass of juice and ruined the paper”!

Of all the ingredients, numbers 25 and 26 perturb me the most. While they are present in perhaps the smallest of volumes, their names sound anything but natural in a range of shampoo called “Naturals”. Number 25 is Methylchloroisothiazolinone and number 26 is Methylisothiazolinone.

Perhaps I am more influenced by the implied promise that if I use the “Naturals Active Nourishment Shampoo with Fruit Vitamins & Aloe Essence”, albeit without the accompanying Conditioner, my hair should at least be 3 1/2 X smoother than any other non-conditioning shampoo!

QEII belongs on our coins in perpetuity

December 22, 2010

The longevity of Queen Elizabeth II as monarch raises some curious issues. Hardly anyone under 50 in Australia remembers pre-decimal currency. ALL decimal coins have featured QE II on one side. Admittedly the “model” has been updated throughout the years but for those who cry out “heads” at the start of a sporting match are hoping to see the Queen’s profile.

QE II has in fact been the queen since 1952, so hardly anyone under 70 will have ever spent an Australian coin that did not feature the Queen.

I have a suggestion. When the Queen gets to 60 years as the reigning monarch, then I think it should be formalised that her likeness should stay on our coinage in perpetuity, including even if or when Australia ever becomes a republic.

Why do I lobby for this option? For at least another 60 years or so there will be people around who will only ever have known her as monarch. The sight of Charles or even William on the currency may just be too much for many to take. And should Australia become a Republic, I don’t see a great demand for successive short term Presidents to appear on the currency. For all of these successive monarchs or heads of state I would authorise a run or series of postage stamps but that’s it.

So, why keep a person’s head on coins at all? Well, we need a “heads” on a coin to distinguish heads from tails. The technical terms, obverse and reverse are hardly going to catch on at the toss at the tennis, cricket or football. And who can remember which one is the obverse and which one is the reverse anyway? Heads and tails is so much easier and with the monarch’s head on one side, is a concept that even the youngest of children will intuitively understand.

The other reason to give QE II perpetual rights over the “heads” side of our coins is that some time in the next 20 to 50 years, coins are likely to become curiosities which are only of interest to collectors and as keepsakes for those who grew up with them. For around twenty years we have had phone cards for use in public telephones. Phone cards are simply one limited form of a stored value card. Limited because they are only usable in public telephones. Come to think of it, public telephones are on the decline with the ubiquity of relatively low cost mobile phones.

Stored value cards are already common in various public transport systems around the world. These types of cards are also being adapted for other small purchases such as parking meters and low value purchases from vending machines and at convenience stores, news agencies and the like.

By 2040 we are unlikely to ever need coins again and to thank her for her longevity we should honour Queen Elizabeth II with the distinction of being the last person to ever grace our coins.