Archive for May, 2008


Is There A Daily Telegraph Reader In The House?

30 May 2008

As you are all now fully aware, there are few subjects on which I can’t or won’t express an opinion.  But, believe it or not, I do TRY to stick to subjects on which I have at least a little knowledge.

The (Sydney) Daily Telegraph though is today canvassing my opinion on a topic which even I have to admit is way beyond my knowledge and competence levels

The front page of the DT declared “Toddlers on Ritalin” and told the story of the number (5, I believe) of 2 year olds in NSW being prescribed Ritalin for ADHD.  The DT then ran one of its polls “Should toddlers be prescribed Ritalin?”

Now along with I would imagine the majority of the DT readership, I have no medical qualifications (except for a couple of St John Ambulance certificates).  I’m neither a paediatrician nor a pharmacist.  My medical diagnostic and treatment ability is limited  to “I think you’ve got flu.  Wrap up warm, take to your bed, drink plenty of fluids and take paracetamol”.   So why on earth would anyone value my opinion on the efficacy of Ritalin as a treatment for ADHD in young people? 

I think the health service in NSW is really going to rack and ruin if we’re turning to Daily Telegraph readers (or the readers of any other papers, other than the Australian Medical Journal) to formulate diagnostic and prescription policy.  Should I tell a friend of mine who’s a paediatrician that next time she’s presented with a case that’s causing her concern, just phone up the DT  and ask them to carry out a survey.  My fellow readers and I will be happy to point her in the right direction.

Trust me,  I’m a Daily Telegraph reader. 


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Australians All

27 May 2008

Yesterday I became an Australian citizen.  And to say that the ceremony was ‘odd’ doesn’t really do it justice.  It was quite bizarre from beginning to end.

There were 100 new citizens there, together with family and friends, and the occasion started with the entry of the official party, led by the Mayor of Hornsby.  He had with him a vicar, two State MPs, a local Councillor and a senior Hornsby Council employee.  And for about 20 minutes he gave us a complete CV on each of these people. 

The vicar had originally trained as an accountant and practised with Coopers & Lybrand in London for a while before returning to Sydney with his wife and two daughters etc etc etc.  Fascinating stuff with absolutely no relevance to the occasion.  By the time the Mayor got to the second MP, I’d rather turned off as, apparently, had most of my fellow new citizens.  The point of all this quite escaped me.

Prior to the occasion, we’d been asked if we wished to swear an oath or affirm and I (of course) chose to affirm.  We were also told that if we wished to swear on a particular holy book, we should take our own.  (David suggested I took The God Delusion and Lara proposed something by Elizabeth Zimmerman!).     It was therefore rightly assumed by the authorities that we were a mixed bag of people representing all religions and none.  So why was it necessary for the accountant-turned-vicar to say a prayer before proceedings?  It certainly wasn’t very well received on the row where I was sitting.

Then it got even better.  The Council employee, who was the Director of the department that deals with roads, read out to us the duties and responsibilities of an Australian citizen.  Had he been especially chosen for the job (and, if so, why?) or was he just sitting in the Council at just the right time to be coerced into taking this role? 

And just when we thought that this really couldn’t go on any longer, one of the State MP’s starting talking to us about graffiti.  According to him, there’s no graffiti in London or Singapore because both places have soldiers with machine guns on street corners!   I don’t know when he went to London but David was there last week and reports that, yes, he did see graffiti and no, he didn’t actually see any heavily armed forces patrolling Deptford High Street. 

Then we at last got to stand up, shake the Mayor’s hand, get our Certificates/badges/bushes (YES, I got an Australian bush which put paid to my belief that the story about being given a tree was just an urban myth).  Then we produced the most lacklustre and slow version of the National Anthem I’ve ever heard.  At least we’ve got the lamingtons and sandwiches to look forward to.  But there weren’t enough lamingtons to go round so I missed out. 

I decided to make up for my lack of sustenance by seeking out the Mayor and asking him why a CIVIC ceremony included a Christian prayer.  He said that “people” would be offended if it were left out.  I couldn’t get out of him any details of which “people” he was referring to as I was quite sure the new citizens wouldn’t bat an eyelid if this was a secular event. He said that they’d tried to get other religious leaders to attend, as he thought that would appease me, but I pointed out that religion just had no place there except for those who felt that their word couldn’t be trusted unless their hand was on a holy book.   

I am not making this up.  Lara I’m sure will confirm every word and she probably remembers a lot that I missed.  Both her and David were caught between hysterical laughter and spitting blood by the time I got to them. 

I’m glad I became a citizen but this wasn’t quite how I’d envisaged it to be.  The best you could say about it was that it was memorable!

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A Day is a Day is a . . . . Weekend?

19 May 2008

A few weeks ago I mentioned my confusion at the way time is described in Oz.  Yuendumu Sports Day lasts for a weekend, World Youth Day runs for 6 days and Canberra Wool Week takes place on a Sunday.

Today I read that Farm Day is being celebrated this year on 24th and 25th May!!

I’m still a little confused about this rather vague way of describing time.  I thought a day was a day, the whole world over.  If I were asked if I’m going to World Wide Knitting in Public Day, I wouldn’t think of saying “Is it on all week?”  (And it isn’t by the way – just the one day.)   

WWKIP Day 2008 - Sydney

Next week I become an Australian citizen.  Am I ready yet?


The Continuing Saga of World Youth Day

12 May 2008

Yes, I’m obsessed!  I just find this whole shindig a disgusting waste of public funds and the time of public servants.

As the excitement grows, the papers seem to be running a daily story for our titillation. For instance:

Randwick Race Course, where the masses are to be held, is to be renamed Southern Cross Precinct for the duration of WYD (which lasts six days).   I haven’t heard yet whether the Opera House and the Bridge (two of the sites being used for the Stations of the Cross) are also to be renamed.  Any suggestions?

We were assured by the NSW Government that all pilgrims would be asked to avoid public transport until 10am so that the workers of Sydney could get to work.  The schedule of events has now been announced and, would you believe, they start at 9am?  Tantric flying anyone?

In Toronto, when the last mass was over and the portaloos emptied (the ones being used for their proper purpose, not the confessionals), the sewerage system couldn’t cope and it overflowed into streets and shops.

We’re told that money is going to pour into the State, hence the $86 million investment by the Government.  Then we’re told by the WYD organisers that the visitors will be “cash strapped”.  Most of them are being boarded by families or in schools (at our expense, presumably) and are hardly likely to spend a shit load of money while they’re here.  The hotels in Sydney, who had reserved rooms for the occasion, have found that they have few bookings. The State believes it will have a revenue of $8-10m in GST etc from the visitors.  So if there is going to be a good income from this, it’s going into private sector cafes and restaurants.  I think I may ask the Premier how much money he’s going to invest to increase the income into MY business or my husband’s.  Unfortunately we’re not in the hospitality industry so I think it’s unlikely.

There’s also a benefit for those working in the medical field.  At least one public hospital has offered its staff a paid day off if they work for a day at one of the events.  In other words, they’ll get double time, again at our expense.   

Toronto was left with a bill of $22 million when they hosted WYD. 

I wonder if and when we’ll be told what the TRUE cost of all this is.



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An Atheist’s Sunday

6 May 2008

It wasn’t planned this way but, while the church pews were filling up on Sunday, I found myself indulging in an orgy of atheism. 

I had a day at home, by myself, and planned to do (whispered) ‘housework’.  Not my favourite occupation but I decided that the ironing would be a bit more pleasant if I put a DVD on.  I’d picked up a few at the library and “Inherit The Wind” looked like a good choice.  Spencer Tracy won an Oscar for his role playing a lawyer defending a science teacher in America (in the 20’s or 30’s?) who had the audacity to teach evolution, Darwin style, in his classes, in a state where it had been actually banned in favour of the  biblical creation theory.  This was based on a true story, by the way.  (And, of course, it’s all being revisited lately with the court cases surrounding the teaching of “Intelligent Design” or creationism by another name).   Thoroughly enjoyed it, got angry and got through a load of ironing.

Then, what should I find on television on Sunday evening, but “Enemies of Reason”, a documentary created and presented by Richard Dawkins.  Here he cast his very secular eye over the world of soothsayers, mediums, spiritualist churches, astrology, water dowsers et al.   Next week, he’s looking at alternative medicine.   By the way, why is it that when spirits communicate with the living, they only use their first initial?  “I’m talking to someone whose name begins with G.  Does anybody know someone who’s recently passed over with the initial G?”  Why doesn’t the spirit just give his full name and date of birth (or date of ‘passing over’), to avoid any misunderstandings? 

I just find it all laughable but it’s quite frightening really as vulnerable recently-bereaved people turn to these charlatans to try to make some sense of what they’re going through.  And, just to add insult to injury, money often changes hands too.

I like the story of Houdini,  who was absolutely sure that this was a load of bollocks.  He asked his wife and friend to meet up on the anniversary of his death for 10 years and, if it were possible for the dead to speak to  the living, he would try to contact them.  Funnily enough, after his death, he was never heard from again.





4 May 2008

And a good laugh always makes me a HOW too.

Bloggers often comment on the weird “Googles” that have brought people to their sites.  Of course I get a daily dose of variations of Pompom requests (How to make a pompom, wedding pompoms, and one of my all time favourites,  what do newborn pompoms eat!!??) are some of them.  I’ve set up a separate page with pompom making information so that I don’t get too many disappointed visitors.

Last week, someone found this blog because they googled ‘Gow Milla’.  I had to also use Google to find out who or what the hell this is.  I think he’s a singer.  But I’ve no idea how his name led anyone to my site.

But today I got another good one . . . “Extremely large bladders”. 

Ugh??  I’ve never mentioned the word ‘bladder’ on these pages.  And why would anyone be googling such a phrase anyway?  What exactly are they looking for? 

So to all of you who may be rushing to Pompom in their research of extremely large bladders, I’m really sorry.  My knowledge of bladders, large or small, is limited to my own.  And as I’ve never had the opportunity to make comparisons, I’ve no idea whether it’s large, small or just right. 



1 May 2008

The acronym GOW is bandied around a lot lately  –  Grumpy Old Woman.  I think my blog makes me often sound as though I’m one of those.  And I’m really not THAT grumpy (and I’m not THAT old either) but I am a bit bolshy a little opinionated and get on my high-horse quite easily.  I don’t think that people who know me feel that I’m a constant whinger, but who knows? 

So, to redress the balance a little,  for the next few days I’m going to try to be a HOW!   (H=Happy)

I was thinking about the things that make me particularly happy.  And the main one seems to be when someone does something unexpected, really thoughtful, or “above and beyond”.

I remember commenting on a beautiful sweater that I saw on someone’s blog.  The knitter, in America, asked for my address and posted the pattern to me. 

On another occasion, I was looking for a particular type of jacket and went into a “young person’s” shop in Sydney, complete with blaring music and staff who looked as though they were on day-release from Kindergarten.  But, boy, was I surprised?  They DIDN’T treat me as though I’d just taken the wrong turning.  I received the best service I’ve had for years and although I felt rather guilty that I wasn’t able to buy anything from them, after the time and trouble they’d taken to help me, I came out of there so much happier than when I went in. 

It isn’t that I don’t expect people to be nice to me, or that I don’t think I DESERVE people to be nice to me.  I’m really not that insecure but I suppose there’s an element of surprise that someone would go to so much trouble, just for ME.   

I can’t promise to just highlight happy moments over the next week or so because something might set me off on a rant again.  But I’ll at least try to rant with a smile on my face.