Thursday, November 29, 2007

^ Photos from a couple of churches in Lübeck.

When we were in Germany, I took a fancy to lighting candles in the churches and saying a prayer after doing so - never done anything like that before with churches or prayers and it had a nice ceremonial, reflective, serious sort of feel to it. Sometimes the candles cost a couple euros, sometimes they were free (usually depending on whether the church had a lot of tourists through or not).

I loved the art in the churches (the most peculiar things often tucked away here and there - one church in Lübeck had a plaque with delicate skeletons on it), the serene atmosphere they all had, the way your eye is drawn upward with the arches and vaulted ceilings, the combination of opulence and simplicity...

But then, I do rather like old churches.

Punica granatum

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

^ Random photo of my Dad's tie the other weekend.
Was thinking about the post-election post I made and how it sounded like I don't mind the Liberals. But the fact is, I do. And somehow I'm not surprised they've all got the knives out for J-Ho for not retiring soon enough or whatever else. And saying Work Choices should be dumped - why not a hint of that just a wee bit earlier?

Part of me would love to see Tony Abbott as the new leader of the Libs, simply because it'd be like an extra gift that just keeps on giving to the Labor party - perhaps even somehow Lathamesque.

I'm glad to see the Liberals out of power. As with every political party, there was the good. But there was also the bad. And I think there was a lot of the bad displayed in the final years. The arrogance, the dog whistling and wedge politics, treatment of refugees and the vulnerable in our society, etc. Enough people had gotten fed up with this all, and although the economy is strong enough, perhaps people are moving back thinking governments need to involve ethics somewhere. Or something like that. Or even just to have a "fresh" government. Or perhaps it's just because enough "battlers" were impacted by Work Choices and not enough by all the pork being thrown around.

Although there are still a lot of Howard Huggers out there (as demonstrated by some of the letters to editors in newspapers around the country that tell us we know not what we have wrought, followed, presumably, by "I'm going to my room!" and a full hour's worth of sulking).

But contrary to the warnings of what would happen if we voted Labor, the world hasn't ended, interest rates haven't suddenly shot up to 30%, we've not all been packed off to the gulags or anything like that. No-one would be silly enough to suggest the election of Rudd signifies some variety of glorious new dawn for Australia, really - it's politics and they're all politicians in the end. But hopefully it'll help to restore some of the balance that has been lacking in Australian politics.

I guess in some respects, I don't see myself as being committed to voting for any particular party for life or something (that said, I love my Greens). But I'll vote for whichever one will hopefully be doing the right thing for the country in terms of policies and practice, as idealistic and naive as that sounds. Governments need to change on a fairly regular basis because of the whole power corrupting thing. Change is needed for balance, and in some ways, is kind of part of the flow of things.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas Cometh

The Christmas tree (which was purchased for $20 - $20 worth of defective dementedness) has been beaten into submission with a hammer and then decorated. Inspiration was found yesterday. Although really it was procrastination, because dealing with the trimmer line for the mower was bending my brain. And the cat that randomly comes over to my house had fun batting at the lower-hanging baubles, so amusing distractions can't be too bad a thing.

Really not ready for Christmas at all. This year I've set myself the challenge of making some Christmas presents for the people at work.* It's going to be something like truffles, provided they work out. To force myself to do it, I've bought a whole lot of cooking chocolate and other ingredients to make said truffles. Besides, the recipe makes it look easy.

Chocolate, things, more chocolate, flavouring, attempt not to burn down kitchen, roll chocolatey things into balls, dip in cocoa or other chocolatey thing, put in fridge, everyone's happy. And if not, then they can throw the truffles at people wandering past their offices or something like that.

*People tend to give out Christmas presents here. Which can be kind of awkward if you haven't gotten them something. "Err, here, have this post-it note. Merry Christmas!"

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Election '07

It's interesting watching John Howard declare his innings closed.

And it's been interesting watching the election night coverage, which I really didn't think would be that interesting, but somehow it is. I thought the best thing would be the ads Channel 7 had been running about their coverage. But Channel 9's coverage was surprisingly fascinating.

Plus it's free of moustaches... (I know, it's Movember) (okay, the moustache actually makes Geoff Kennet look very dapper.)

I was glad to see Malcolm Turnbull keep his seat. He's someone I'd much rather see as leader of the Liberal party than Peter Costello, and I think he is someone who could be a genuinely good influence on re-creating the party for the future.

Also, in a lot of ways, a Liberal loss might be a good thing for the State Liberal parties. I think it was Barnaby Joyce who was saying Mal Brough would be a good leader for the Libs in Queensland. You never know - could be the case. The Libs in the States have been rather crummy in the past number of years. Just in the case of New South Wales alone, you know people would LOVE to have someone other than Labor to vote for but the other parties just haven't been anywhere on the radar.

With all of that said, though, I'm glad to see the Labor party and Kevin Rudd elected. It was definitely time for a change.

Hopefully Rudd will lead the country well. And perhaps choose better music to come on stage to in future... It'll be interesting to see where things go from here. Guess all we can do is find out! Even if it includes vaguel awkward Bernie Banton/Union mentioning moments. I bet they'll have the people who believed "The Unions Are Comin'!" ads quaking in their boots.

In other thoughts, BenBen and my convo about election coverage is as follows:
Ben says: I was just picturing "and now we cut live to the marginal electorate beyond the black stump ... oh dear, seems our camera crew took down the local power grid... Let's try Black Stump where there's quite a stir - looks like Marjorie has just turned up to cast her vote this evening"
Della says: *lol* "Oh wait, we've just found out Marjorie actually did a postal vote earlier in the week and has come to tell us to turn the damn lights out because she's trying to get some sleep..."
Ben says: "So as soon as George has finished his game of cards and casts his vote that's all 20 people and we can start counting. So Mildred, what do you think the result will be?"
Mildred:"I think it will be an ace of spades"
Della says: "Now, anyone for some left-over pav? I'm not taking this home!"
Ben says: That's gold
Della says: Come result time... "And apparently we have no result, as all of the locals did a donkey vote... Any of that pav left??"
Ben says: I'm just imagining the following year and a chopper is heard on the horizon: "Hey we've got visitors for the pav - I wonder if it's little johnny or Kevin '07?" ...and suddenly the candidates become reality, but not beacuse of their campaigns, but becuase the ladies are beginging to argue who's pav will be preferred (on a 2-pav preferred basis)


Friday, November 23, 2007

I remembered tonight when I got another random hang-up call that I had meant to phone Telstra about nuisance calls today. Will have to do it tomorrow. Although I'll probably end up forgetting.

Thus, if you're my random hang-y up-y phone stalker person, remind me to call about it. You're starting to annoy me.

Random pix from today.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

"If you read it, you'd be laughing!"

I didn't watch the news last night - too busy bracing myself for Nigella and her cooking and oh my goodness the chocolate cherry trifle and excuse me while I salivate slightly over said trifle... - but I was up late and caught Lateline.

"Good golly gosh" was only one way in which to describe my thoughts on the first item, which was about how it appears supporters of the Liberal candidate in the Sydney seat of Lindsay, Jackie Kelly, had been distributing pamphlets from a fake Islamic organisation, praising the Labor party for "forgiving" the Bali bombers and how they'll support building more mosques in the area.

Particularly amazing was the way in which Andrew Robb, vocational education minister, went from saying the pamphlets were bad (which they are) to attacking the Labor party for being unhappy about it. It was like he was in a six-foot deep grave, shoveling away while saying, "Yes, it was bad. But you don't see MY point. I'm right and you know it! The Labor party are evil! We've done nothing wrong at all! Bad! And I quite happen to like digging, thank-you VERY much!"

Of course, they ran out of time for what Robb and Penny Wong had been brought on the show to talk about...

Also surprising was the way in which Kelly has "laughed" off the mail campaign "allegedly" involving her husband (and also apparently doesn't know who really was the naughty person/people behind it but they have told her they were chased by Labor people and the Labor people are like totally evil and horrible and included "unionists"! and they followed us, they forced the pamphlets into our innocent hands and made us distribute them, therefore it's not our fault).

Dismissing it as a "prank" (when if the Labor party had done it, they would have been all over them like a rash) also doesn't make much sense to me - I think because it seems just so inherently racist and stoops to such a new political low that in some ways it's almost incomprehensible. I know there are people in Australia who are racist and who don't like people of Islamic faith. But to deliberately be going out to target that dislike for political gain (or any gain) is just something that sickens me. So divisive, so dishonest, such race-baiting rubbish. And it disgusts me to think that it's gotten to a point in Australia where this sort of thing has the potential to work, where people's prejudices are so easily appealed to over sense.

I'm very glad to see John Howard has condemned the letter drop, though. Particularly after listening to Kelly being interviewed on the ABC and going around and around and around saying how she had read the pamphlet and thought it funny, but had actually only read about it in the newspapers this morning, yada yada, blame Teh Unionists. This isn't something that can be dismissed as a joke. It is definitely something that should be condemned, regardless of the parties involved. You can't really do something like this letter-boxing scam and not expect to get caught out with it at some point or another, particularly if you're involved somehow in a political party.

So, just how much has Australia lost its moral compass?

For other people's thoughts on the issue, check out The Age's Your Say bit or on the ABC. Also worth enduring the Kelly drivel is the vid on this story from the Today show for Lauie Oakes's comments at the end (it's around the six-minute mark if you want to get to the point). Right on the money.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More roadtrip stuff.

Just a shame I can't upload the vids (too big), but there were some hilarious moments. Including singing along to Enrique Iglesias songs. With alternative lyrics.

Caution: Christian/political-y kinda rant ahead

The more you hear, read or see about Family First, the more unlikeable they truly seem. And the less credible their claims The Greens are "extreme" become...

Oh, plus the way they go down the "Christian"-nutjob route instead of looking at the ways in which Christians are meant to behave, according to various things in the Bible like "Love thy neighbour as thyself," or "Forgive us our sins as we forgive each other," or "[You should forgive] Not seven times, but, I tell you, 70 times seven," or "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law," or "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone..." or "Judge not lest ye be judged."

I likes me some King James language sometimes...

Anyway, along with "Thou shalt not kill," there perhaps should have been somethin in the Bible about "Thou shalt not be a hypocritical jerk. Remember thou hast all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Just to keep things in a little more perspective (okay, the "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God is in the Bible. But not the first bit with "Thou shalt not...").

And yes, I realise that things like abortion can be a strongly emotional sort of topic and thing to deal with - particularly when it comes to dealing with anything like that on an individual level. I doubt many women who have abortions performed do so with a sense of glee. And yet there are these people out there who seem to enjoy pointing the finger and breaking out some serious judgin'.

Hypocrisy? Everyone does it. I'm pretty sure I do it. It's part of being human. But when we're Christians - or at least claiming that name for ourselves - we should be trying to reflect a Christ-like nature and treat others accordingly. Is that going to happen in this lifetime, realistically? Probably not at all... Nym would tell me to stop being so optimistic about people's behaviour for a start (or something along those lines).

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."
- John 8:9-11

Monday, November 19, 2007

Random roadtrip pic

There are never enough days in a weekend

I'm still braindead from the weekend, which is actually generally how I feel about Mondays anyway, but this is all due to a long, long lot of traveling over the weekend, much silliness, a great time visiting family, a couple hundred kilometre's worth of jokes about "Yass" and all of that kind of thing.

And now, for my next trick, I shall think about sleep while attempting to stay awake.

Initial thoughts upon seeing this billboard:

"So does that mean Ron Jeremy doesn't speed, then?"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

So, is God embarrassed by Family First?

I was looking at a release this morning from Revenue Review, featuring Richard Hackett-Jones condemning "religious interference in politics," and it got me thinking about religion and politics and so on.

Mr Hackett-Jones is a practicing Christian himself and has spent more than 30 years as a member of the Liberal party. Although in some ways it seems to be something having a wee bit of a whinge about Family First not giving them a higher ticketing spot (they've been put at seventh, as opposed to the second placing the Libs have given to Family First) (and especially since this is the first election he's been running in apparently), I still thought it was interesting how the title of the release was "Is God embarrassed by Family First?" and went on to affirm the importance of the separation of church and state.

He also commented about the way in which "many Christians" feel anxious about the way in which we could end up duplicating the "religious right" of the US, which he says tends to degrade democratic processes.

As a Christian, I'm in favour of secular democracies. Input from a variety of religious and non-religious groups isn't a bad thing, provided none of the groups want to start saying that whatever they're bringing to the table is far superior to anyone else's belief system. And yes, I'm embarrassed by Family First, particularly when people seem to think that's what all Christians are like. Maybe God would be embarrassed, too, but I'm not sure what He thinks on the matter and that's probably something to ask Him in a more face-to-face encounter.

I don't know that God would agree with my political choices. Maybe He would, but maybe He wouldn't. I'm not going to start saying that because I'm a Christian, the way I vote is obviously the way God would want everyone to vote - including all other Christians. Or that I have a greater right than anyone else to say what direction our country should take, etc.

Personally, I don't think the Family First focus extends beyond a rather narrow view of Christianity, Christians and what we want from our politicians - for a start, I'm not entirely sure how it ties in with "Thou shalt not bear false witness" when Steve "The Greens are Extreme!" Fielding is going around slandering the Greens on a regular basis.

I do not think that saying, "Look! We have Christian members!" makes one party better than another. Neither does "We've got Christian values!" They're politicians. I find it hard to believe they have values at all. I also find it hard to comprehend how people get fooled by that into thinking that makes the party and their policies "nice" and something worth voting for. It's like throwing in the word "Christian" means that people suddenly don't look at policies and party actions and beliefs. Those policies, actions and beliefs are what will end up being the things used over "Christian values."

Christian faith does not have to mean ultra-conservative values. Our focuses aren't just on gay marriage and abortion. They may not be on these issues at all. Some of us might even think they're all not going to herald the apocalypse. Other issues like the environment, international aid, housing, job security, Aboriginal treatment, education, healthcare, equal opportunities, etc are issues that will probably get people more interested than what consenting adults are getting up to in the privacy of their own bedrooms.

Plus with the four million or so Christians in Australia who attend church at least once a month, I'd say there would be a diversity of opinion and ideologies when it comes to the individual voters political preferences. Some might have a fancy for the Libs. Some might like Labor. There are others who'll be voting for the Greens. Some may not even have preferences, instead choosing to *gasp* just vote for random people on the day and hope to avoid all the pork barreling, political advertising and general rubbish that goes hand-in-hand with election campaigning!

I fail to understand the phobia some Christians have of the Labor party or the Greens, and yet so unquestioningly think the Liberals and Family First are sent by God to caress our wallets and our souls. Tony Abbott himself has said that the ALP and Greens doing a preference deal should sound a "very cautionary note" to Christians planning to vote for them. Oh, and they also "don't have the degree of Christian commitment (that Coalition politicians do)."

Yes, those good ol' Christian commitments and values of locking up refugees. Lying. Giving tax cuts to the rich. Ignoring the poor and homeless and mentally ill. Insulting dying people. Not saying sorry...

Recently, there was an older Christian guy I was speaking to who was saying how he'd heard that none of the Labor Party members were Christian and that they were refusing to say the Lord's Prayer in Parliament. For an e-mail forward told him so. Things turned vaguely frosty when I pointed out Kevin Rudd is a Christian, as were a number of other party members. This guy then went on to say that he hoped Labor won the election because it would be a "sign of the end of the world."

It was hard not to say, "Either that or a sign that Australia might be coming to its senses, although I wouldn't hold my breath over that just yet."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The cat who keeps coming over.

I'm not sure if it belongs to anyone, because it seems to be getting a little skinny (if it does belong to you, feed it more!!!). But it keeps turning up at my place and wanting to come inside. So I let it - because so far it hasn't hairballed anything or worse - but I think I might be a little allergic to kitties.

Maybe time to buy a little cat food or something for it...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

This, that and the other

I hate the weekend neighbours.

Or to be more specific, I hate the weekend neighbours always burning yard rubbish when the wind is blowing toward my and the nice neighbour's houses, smoking us out (I'm also not overly fond of the way they stare at you when you're out working in the yard. It's most unnerving). The weekend neighbours have an uncanny ability to only ignight random piles of leaves/twigs/etc when the breeze is coming our way. Particularly if you've just put the washing out.

And it's every weekend they come up.

This will probably be the only time I say it, but thank God the fire restriction season starts on Monday. Even if it means we're heading into bushfire season, which is another thing I hate. But at least it means we'll endure slightly fewer weekends of being smothered with smoke, courtesy of the weekend neighbours.


I have to burn the final enormous pile of leaflitter tomorrow (sorry, ozone layer). I just hope that a) the burning behaves itself and doesn't incinerate the yard and b) the breeze oh-so-generously blows the smoke the way of the weekend neighbours.

I also hate mayonaise.

Just to balance the hate up, here is a list of things I love at the moment:
> Having the spare room clean and organised.
> The gorgeous sunny weather we've been having.
> Bundling up things for charity that I don't want any more.
> Raspberry and cranberry juice.
> Finding a 10-year-old Bliss magazine with a sample of the Spice Girls Impulse bodyspray in it while talking with Amy and laughing myself silly over it all. Although I didn't love feeling old because of that.
> The cricket.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Eriobotrya japonica

Mowing: Two hours.
Degree of Difficulty: 7/10.
Do You Want a Medal for That?: Not particularly...

Although it might be nice...

The mowing had to be done. The grass had somehow managed to return to the exact height it had been prior to mowing about three weeks ago. Some of it was actually even taller, like cutting it had been taken as constructive criticism that told it, "You're just not trying hard enough to grow. Put in more effort next time!"

Apparently this is tropical Victoria...

The yard is a challenge. Multiple terraces, weird little contours, etc. I'm just glad the yard isn't as terrible as my former officemate's yard, where you almost needed to be a skilled mountain climber just to navigate it - you'd need some particular talent to be able to rappel yourself down the yard while clutching a whippersnipper.

Anyway. Now the challenge is to work out how to replace the trimmer line - the instruction book describes it in such non-existant detail that you just think, "Fine. Would make sense to people who already know how to do this. Blindfolded. With gloves on. Hanging upside down on a trapeze."

Oh well, nothing like a challenge.

Monday, November 05, 2007

This lipgloss came with Bazaar.

It has a light!


The lipgloss itself is about as sticky as fly paper, meaning that on occasion, your lips may just get stuck together, which may not be a good thing whilst in a conversation. But the container has a light!

Shiny goodness makes up for gluey badness.

What you gonna do with all that junk, all that junkmail in your mailbox?


Today I got more of the "Labor is full of UNION OFFICIALS!!! And the world will END! And then they'll join with the state Labor governments and create an unholy union of unholiness causing the apocalypse!" junkmail from the government.

Frankly, I don't care. If I get junkmail, I want it to be proper junkmail. You know the sort - glossy pages full of specials you can find at the local supermarket, toyshop, chemist, whatever. Or those more recycled-toilet-paper-looking pages of Bunnings catalogues, which are crammed full of fascinating things.

That is the sort of junkmail I want.

So I ripped today's installment of political joy up into little bits and chucked it in the bin. Recycling, of course. I already know how I'm going to be voting in the coming election. That's not going to be changing. The political advertising is just getting rather annoying (and makes me change channels almost immediately, regardless of the party). Other people I've spoken to have said they're also sick of the advertising and know which way they'll be voting.

Let's just get on with it.
Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder treason and plot.
I know of no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

I hope it doesn't mean this bottle of milk is going to blow up in the fridge or something like that... Eww.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The excitement (never) ends

Apparently it's Winter again, with all this rain and cold and wind. My favourite, especially on a long weekend... Perfect excuse to light the fire and avoid doing any of the yard work.

Instead, today has featured:

> Making lasagne. Mmmm...
> Cleaning the entire house.
> Reorganising the bedroom.
> Sorting out the spare room.
> Finding things I'd forgotten I owned.
> Making brownies - chocolate and raspberry.
> Making a mess of the kitchen whilst making brownies.

Obviously the fun never stops on a Sunday. And there's more fun in store for tomorrow and Horsey Day, provided that the weather improves. Got the entire yard to mow again (somehow it's returned to the state it was in three weeks ago prior to when it was looking good. A pox on those growing things!).

Then again, there may be shopping involved instead.

Need more canvases. There's a store down the line that stocks canvases about two metres by a metre and a half or so. So very much a lust object. Although I'm unsure it would fit in my house... But imagine the fun you could have going all Jackson Pollock with a canvas that size! Or even just a giant still life or something.

Possibilities... Endless... Mmm!