Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's a miracle

I don't get the whole miracle thing. You know, the concept that by praying really hard to a dead person somehow they will effect a change in your circumstances. And why you? And not the hundreds of other people also praying for a miracle. How come, say, Mary MacKillop cures one person of cancer and not every other person also praying to her to be cured? That's almost implying that one person's faith was so much stronger than everyone else's, isn't it? And therefore deserving of reward.

It's the same when there's a disaster, or terrrible accident and the survivor says "God was looking out for me that day." Why didn't he also look out for all the people that died?

See, that's where the whole God thing breaks down for me. I don't understand how people can believe in a supernatural being who picks and chooses who is going to survive a disaster, illness or accident. Perhaps it's an extension of that ever so divisive concept of "God's chosen people." Really? But aren't we all meant to be God's creation? Does that mean he plays favourites?

Sorry, but God seems a bit too capricious for my liking.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's a jungle out there

When Smithy and I 'remodelled' our garden several years ago, we decided we wanted one that would thrive on neglect, one that would survive us going overseas for three months at a time, one that didn't mind if it didn't get watered too often. And it's done well over the years. Sure, we lost a couple of plants through the drought, but all in all, it was looking good.
Then, last weekend we thought we'd better get out there and do some tidying up and discovered that when you aren't looking nasty things start growing. We were hacking back the monsteria that was living up to its name and becoming monstrous and swamping the poor little fig tree that's struggled for years to get any bigger than two feet tall, when we discovered a nasty, thorny vine growing up into the canopy. Not just one vine either. Oh no, there were four of the nasty buggers growing there. Out came the secateurs and we began snipping it off and tugging it out of the trees. One of those vines was a good five metres long, snaking its way through the lilli-pillis. And what did we find at the end of it? An asparagus fern! Yes, that lovely, innocuous little plant that looks so sweet in its pot had transmogrified into a triffid-like monster that is the stuff of nightmares. It took an axe to get its root system out of the ground.
Needless to say, Smithy and I won't be waiting another six months before doing some gardening!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Bill of Rights for Australia?

I've been reading with interest the debate about an Australian Bill of Rights and the one argument against such a bill that I just cannot fathom is the one that suggests our rights are best protected by politicians.
Really? Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't it politicians that made homosexuality illegal? Politicians who barred lesbians and single women from access to IVF? Politicians who wrote the "White Australia" policy? Politicians who suspended the Racial Discrimination Act?
Politicians are in thrall to their electorates and will pander to all sorts of interest groups in order to secure their votes, regardless of whether the rights of others are trampled on, or ignored.
I say bring on a Bill of Rights! I'd rather entrust my rights to a disinterested judge than to a politician with his/her eye on re-election.

A letter to the Prime Minister

Dear Mr Rudd,
Could you stop already with the "hardline" rhetoric about "illegal immigrants." They're asylum seekers and it ain't against the law to seek asylum. The only illegal immigrants are the ones already in the country. You know, all those people overstaying their work and tourist visas.
Your government has enormous political capital at the moment, so I don't understand why you are perpetuating the mean-spirited nastiness of Howard over the refugee situation. Why pander to that segment of the community and media when you have a fantastic opportunity to set this country on a path that is generous and compassionate to others. Take a leaf out of Malcolm Fraser's book and deal with this latest wave of refugees with the same open-heartedness that his government did.
We voted for you because we wanted something different from Howard, not 'Howard Lite'. So please, please stop demonising asylum seekers as illegal immigrants.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Head in a book

I love reading and I've always got my head stuck in a book. I read at breakfast, on the train going to work, last thing at night. I read whilst watching the telly, which Smithy always marvels at - "How can you concentrate on the show if you're reading?" - but shuts up when I rattle off what's happened in the last ten minutes. I'd rather read than do just about anything else.
Last October, I decided to keep a record of the books I read. I was curious how many I got through in a month. Also, I wanted a history of what I read. Of course, the hundreds and hundreds of books I'd read up to then would never be recorded, but I had to start somewhere.
So, a year down the track, I've managed to read one hundred and thirty six books. Sixty two of them were fiction. Twenty four were by Australian authors. I owned fifteen of those books - the rest were borrowed from the library. On average I read 11 books a month, or 1 every two and a half days. The most I read in a month was 18 and the least, 7. Three books I read twice - two deliberately as they had been chosen (after I read them) for my book club. The other one accidently - I've only discovered that fact right now! Even with a list I can't always keep track!
Here's a small selection of what I read: Horses like lightning, Breath, Empires of the Indus, Why the Dalai Lama matters, Mountains of the mind, The long way round, Gilead, K2: savage mountain, The songlines.
Some of my favourites were: Slicing the silence - history of Australia's involvement in Antarctica, The lost dog, In search of the medicine Buddha, A teardrop on the cheek of time - a history of the Taj Mahal, Inheritance of loss and Wanting.
I've just finished reading Janet Evanovich's Finger Lickin' Fifteen and have made a start on The art of racing in the rain.
To explore more of the books on my shelves, why not check out my LibraryThing account.

A 'real' writer

Last Saturday, my writing group - Fairfield Writers Group - launched its first anthology of short stories, Beginnings: Queensland stories. Eight of us each contributed a short story on the theme of 'beginnings' and the only other criteria was the stories had to be set in Queensland. This anthology was our way of celebrating Queensland's 150th birthday.

This is me with my very first 'signing' - very exciting moment. So I guess I can now consider myself a 'real' writer, since I am now published - albeit in an anthology we all paid to have published - and have participated in a book-signing!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Central Australia Adventures

Returned home on Thursday after a sensational three weeks in Central Australia. The first two weeks were spent trekking the 230 kilometre Larapinta Trail along the West McDonnell Ranges. The trek starts at the Old Telegraph Station just outside Alice Springs and ends on the South Summit of Mt Sonder. In between is some of the most spectacular scenery I've ever seen in this country - and some of the hardest terrain. I couldn't complete all the sections because of severe bruising to one of my feet. It still hurts!
Some of the highlights: Standing atop Euro Ridge on Day 1 - fantastic views; the hike into Standley Chasm - although I could give the 'pole' a miss; Brinkley Bluff on Day 4 when one of the team had a stroke and had to be helicoptered off the ridge. The rest of us had to build a helipad ie clear away rocks, spinifex and shrubs so the chopper could land. Very gusty winds made landing tricky. Then, after a 3-hour wait for the rescue, we all had a 3-4 hour hike to rendezvous with the rest of our crew who had no idea what had been happening. The good news is that Nick is making a full recovery. Digging the Canter - 12-seater 4WD vehicle - out of the Finke River where it was bogged up to its differential in sand. Spotting wedge-tailed eagles, whistling kites, zebra finches and Port Lincoln parrots. Watching a dingo fishing at Ormiston Gorge. Falling asleep in a swag under a sky full of stars and a full moon.
Reaching the summit of Mt Sonder in time to see the sun rise. Listening to dingoes howling around our camp. Having my first shower in fourteen days back in Alice Springs.
Smithy and I stayed on in Alice after everyone else flew home to join a 3-day camping trip to Watarrka (King's Canyon), Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) and Uluru (Ayers Rock). So, with a busload of twenty-something backpackers, we had a fantastic, albeit very dusty, three days exploring these three magnificent icons of the outback. I loved every minute of it but was very happy to get back to Alice Springs and away from the dust. It ain't called the Red Centre for nothing! The dust gets into everything. I don't think my hiking boots will ever return to their original colour!
Before I went, I had no idea just how spectacular Central Australia is. I thought it would be pretty flat and barren for miles around, but it's not. Ranges of mountains stretch to the horizon and the land is covered in mulga, spinifex, ghost gums, wattles and a myriad of flowering shrubs. I'd like to go back some day and re-visit some of the places we saw on our trek.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Busway blues

I am an advocate of public transport, so you would think I would be all for the new Eastern Busway but I'm not. Sure, it will reduce the travelling time for people commuting to the city from Redlands Shire by quite a considerable amount of time, but at what cost?
It's not the people of Redlands who are paying the biggest price, but those of us living in the inner-city. The busway is going to carve a swathe of destruction through Stones Corner and Coorparoo. Whole blocks of tin and timber character housing are being mowed down along Old Cleveland Road. The busway itself will be a massive concrete eyesore cutting through Stones Corner and destroying the streetscape along Old Cleveland Road.
It's the amenity of my neighbourhood that is being sacrificed for those who choose a bayside lifestyle and expect an easy journey 20-30 kilometres into the city centre.
it just doesn't seem right.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I've just signed up to Twitter and am finding it fun. I originally did it so I could find out how it worked so that I could write an article about it for my work blog. I wanted to write about Twitter as a useful tool for staff to use to keep in touch with what various politicians and government departments were doing.
So now I have my own account - - and I have eleven followers! Not many in the scheme of things, but still. And here's the funny thing, the North Queensland Cowboys are following me! Ha ha ha - must be because I tweeted last night that I was watching the Ashes and the NRL.
I'm following a few people - Kevin Rudd and Anna Bligh, to name a couple. The others are strangers but tweet on Buddhism and self-publishing. They were following me to begin with, so now I'm following them. It all sounds a bit circular doesn't it? I have no idea how they found me originally.
The curious thing I've found about the whole Twitter thing is the compulsion you feel to 'tweet' on a regular basis. It might be micro-blogging, but the pressure to blog is ten-fold what I feel for this blog. Strange. Perhaps it has something to do with knowing people are following you and therefore expressed an interest in your activities and so there's an obligation to give them something. Whereas, with this blog, I often feel I am writing to the void. Does anyone read it? Who knows. Do I care? Not at all.
Anyway, if you are reading this, you might want to follow me - both here and on Twitter. Cheers.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hervey Bay

Last month we spent a weekend up at Hervey Bay. Here are some of the photos I took of that weekend.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Stimulate me

My cheque from the government's stimulus package finally arrived and Smithy and I immediately rushed out and bought tins of paint to give the house a bit of a makeover. The front hallway, bathroom and toilet are all finished and Smithy's now got stuck into the kitchen. She's tackling it half the room at a time, so the big hutch has been emptied and moved onto the back deck. All its contents are stacked on the coffee table on the deck. I'm gob-smacked by how much stuff came out of that one cupboard! The hutch will get a new coat of varnish before being moved back into the kitchen. Then we'll have to move the fridge, take down all the shelving and dismantle the other cupboard so we - or I should say, Smithy - can paint that half of the room.

Then it'll be onto the dining room and finally the lounge room. A massive job, but one that has to be done. The place hasn't been painted for 15 years. I'm looking forward to seeing it all finished. The bits that are done look a treat. Bright, fresh, clean colours that have really sparked the place up.

Once the painting is all finished, we'll have a fun time deciding which photographs to put up and where. We've got so many from our recent trips we don't have room for them all. I often joke that we should have a rotating collection and change them every six months or so!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Charlie who?

How often do you turn on the telly, see someone famous and say "Ooh, I've met him"? My interest in the series 'Long Way Down' has been piqued ever since I met Charlie Boorman last May. The 29th May, to be exact. Which, for those of you unfamiliar with Everest history was the date on which, 55 years earlier, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climbed the famous mountain. I was at Tengboche Monastery, in the Everest foothills of Nepal, along with 80-odd trekkers and several hundred Sherpas and porters to celebrate that anniversary at a special dinner with Peter Hillary.

We'd all been up since 5am, having been woken up by conch shells and drums calling the monks to prayer, and were all getting a little over-excited. You see, the Everest Marathon was due to run straight through the monastery's grounds that very morning. And we were all lined up along the route, ready to cheer on the fool-hardy contestants. A helicopter whumped its way up the valley, causing a stir as it hovered then landed behind one of the lodges. Curious as to its passengers, I was one of many who surged over to see who had arrived. Was it Lady June Hillary perhaps? A diminutive man scrambled out of the cabin and was immediately surrounded by well-wishers bestowing the ubiquitous kata scarves on him. Who was he? Surely not Tenzing Norgay's son? But no, he was a Japanese man. I drifted away and ignored the other helicopters that landed over the next hour.

So it took a few minutes for the fact to register that the shaggy-haired bloke being followed by a camera and chatting to people was familiar. I knew it wasn't Ewan McGregor, but that was the only name that came to mind. He came over to where I was standing with a trekking mate, Richard and said Hello. "No, I'm the good-looking one," he said in response to Richard's query. "Charlie."

Of course. He asked us what was going on. Stunned to find so many people here. He'd flown up to do a little documentary because "it's the 55th anniversary." And was astonished to find out that we had all trekked in to commemorate that very anniversary and that there was a marathon due to run through at any moment. He stayed to receive a blessing from the abbot of Tengboche Monastery and then had to leave. Having flown up, he was not acclimatised to the altitude and had to go back to Kathmandu.

That's Charlie on the right, chatting to Amelia, Edmund Hillary's grand-daughter.

That trek was quite the trip for meeting famous people. We also met Peter Hillary, as well as the delightful Tony Freake, who was there to receive the 2008 Sir Edmund Hillary Mountain Legacy Medal for his humanitarian efforts in the nearby village of Phortse.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tempt me

So, one of my favourite shows, Temptation, is back on telly and I'm on the wrong side of the screen! I'm waiting for my call-up after auditioning way back in March last year. Several hundred people turned up to take their chances, filling a lecture theatre at QUT. We had to sit a 50-question exam, in which each question was read out twice and we had to write the answer down on the sheet provided. At the end, we all swapped papers with our neighbours to mark them. The cut-off was 28. I got 39 right - although I was this [ ] close to getting 40 (wrote 9 instead of 8 1/2 for the name of Fellini's film - so I was through. About three-quarters of the room left at that stage. The remaining survivors then had to fill in a short biography, get our photo taken and then give a short talk to the group telling something interesting about ourselves, so I spoke about my then upcoming trip to Nepal to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest.
This was not the first time I've auditioned for Temptation. I originally tried out back in 1988, although the show was called Sale of the Century back then. I got through that time too.
I am so ready for that call-up. Over to you, Ed.