When ‘they’ say that you can learn anything on the internet, they are quite right. And I feel richer for knowing all the above.  A little traumatised, but… yeah.

1. Never giving your child a bath in case they might decide to run one for themselves and drown is not paranoid parenting.

2. Mint, cinnamon, peaches, curry powder, barbecue sauce, honey, sweet chilli sauce, soy sauce, vegemite and kalamata olives are considered legitimate additions to bolognese.

3.  Despite the plethora of research outcomes concluding the opposite, if your child does not do homework in early primary school, they are doomed to a life of failure, ostracism and bad fashion sense due to a lack of essential skills they should have learned at the age of five.

4. People will ask for, and give, advice on literally everything online. Child have a funny rash? Post a photo and let others guess what it is.  And hey, even if you have no medical skills or education, have never seen a rash like it, have a guess and suggest the child has some rare disease you’ve just found on google and never actually seen IRL.

5. If you are a vegetarian and invite meat eaters over, you must serve them meat, regardless of your reasons for vegetarianism.  You stand to deeply offend people, who apparently can’t live for 3-4 hours without a meat top up. It may also be necessary to scatter candy bowls containing meat around the house, just so the omnivores in your vegetarian house don’t feel out of place or overwhelmed.

6. Spiral pasta, when cooked, cooled and mixed with Kanton Sweet n’ Sour sauce, is considered a salad and guests will rave about it when you serve it.  Likewise, boiled diced potatoes, when cooled can be mixed with Miracle Whip and chives for what has been described as the best potato salad ever. <– just think of all the time you wasted making proper salads! For shame.

7. Hawaiian shirt day at the office, to raise money for flood relief, is considered to be politically incorrect and offensive to some people.

8. If you send your child to a nice school, where all the parents are partnered, none are gay, and none have parents who are single by choice, your child will do better in life.

9. If you touch or approach a stranger’s baby in the supermarket, be prepared to be torn a new one, and possibly need to have your jaw wired.

10. If someone tells you their deepest, darkest secret and asks you not to tell anyone, it’s OK to post the secret on the internet under the guise of asking if it’s ok to tell your husband.  There is no issue in doing this, even if you are easily identifiable and so is the secret teller.

11. School supply stores should keep their stocks at an adequate level so back-to-school shoppers can find everything they need in one store, even if that store or its suppliers have been underwater for most of the month.

12. The word ‘daft’ is making a comeback.

13. The frequency at which a person washes their clothes is a contentious issue.

14. The definition of a good baby name is really, truly, subjective.

15. Queensland flooded because we let too many immigrants in.

16. Queensland flooded because we didn’t vote for Tony Abbott.

17. Nobody knows the plural of platypus.

18. There is no such thing as right or wrong, just ‘differently informed’

19.  The word ‘hooey’ is making a comeback (if i have anything to do with it)

20. When, in another 5-10 years, some journalist writes a social commentary piece about grandparents who aren’t involved in their grandchildren’s lives, who don’t babysit, don’t visit, and don’t have the kids overnight, I can tell you now that in a lot of cases, this isn’t the grandparents’ fault.  I have seen women do a forensic analysis of the crumbs on the kid’s high chair tray because she is certain her mother has fed her child something not on the ‘approved’ food list (not allergen list, just white bread over wholemeal). I’ve seen fights break out because grandma was supposed to stay home all day with the baby, and was spotted at the local park or shopping centre, with a happy child enjoying a day out. Grandparents ostracised because they gave the child its first hair cut, or bought its first pair of shoes, or encouraged the baby to walk without ‘permission’.  So when Grandparents give up and decide it’s better for everyone if they just don’t offer to help, this will be why.

Thoughts on eclipse.

14 Jan 2011 In: General Idiocy

I just found this in drafts from June 2010. Thought since we are so close to being able to give Breaking Dawn Pt 1 a good bollocking, I’d take it out of hibernation!

As much as I think the Twilight epidemic is some of the worst media to be foist onto children in three decades, I admit my hypcricy in two ways. First, I love bad movies. Love them. I generally feel somewhat let down if I sit through two hours of film and have nothing to criticise. So in that regard, the Twilight films really punch my lottery ticket.

Second, A lot of the areas in which I criticise Twilight, I will quite cheerfully ignore when watching Buffy, the Vampire Slayer (or even more pointedly watching Angel).  The only real distinction I’ll make is that Buffy is reasonably light on cringeworthy moments (at least in the later seasons, not so much in the first two) and that Buffy is very light on poor actors.  And I’ll even concede that it takes a pretty good actor to deliver lines such as, ‘I’m cookie dough. I’m not done baking.’ without even a hint of irony.

So anyway.  It was with mixed feelings that I sought to watch Eclipse.

As usual, converting a novel from the Twilight franchise into a screenplay basically means turning every ‘chagrin’ into a pained expression. In New Moon, this meant one eyebrow raised in a, ‘oh, is that a wet squid being slapped on my thigh?’ expression, while in Eclipse, chagrin seemed to equate to looking like a cat having its temperature taken.
Even ignoring the book and pretending this film was just made for the entertainment of random viewers, it’s hard to escape the reality that it had no plot, and no character progression. At all. At the start of the film, Edward wants Bella to marry him. She agrees (with conditions) part way through the film, and that’s about as far as their relationship grows. There is pseudo tension with Jacob, however this is a decaying horse that was flogged 12 months ago in New Moon. She made her choice at the end of the last one. The only thing she really wants (and is causing apparent conflict between all three main characters) is for Jacob to hang around and lay platitudes at her feet, even while she’s off bonking the vampire.  Um, yeah. I can see why this would appeal to emo tweens and teens, because the insane selfishness is very familiar to most of them.  I have no idea why the vast majority of adults who watch this movie weren’t cringing and covering their eyes throughout a lot of it.

Of course, the main reason for not yawning and wandering off 45 mins into this tripe was the promise of a Clash of the Titans style epic war at the end. Well, at least something in that ballpark. Now, to be fair, I actually complained that a film studio went to all the trouble of remaking Clash of the Titans  and still didn’t put any titans in the damn thing, so the bar was already set pretty low.  But I was left wondering if I should be in suspense or not, while the characters vacillated between, ‘newborn vampires are incredibly strong, the strongest they’ll ever be’ to ‘the Cullens are teh uber fighters, despite all but one having no experience, this battle is no biggie’. Well, which is it? Are they an issue or not? The question was answered during the 45 second battle, where the Cullens were ripping off heads and limbs with such apparent ease it appeared they did a few accidentally. ‘Whoops, sorry about that, I was trying to shake your hand, not borrow your arm!’ The war of the butter people. In fact, the only injury that happens is Jacob, who apparently wanted to be killed, and they couldn’t even manage to give him that.

The culmination of the ‘battle’ was the Volturi gliding in like a small crowd of drowsy skateboarders.

I notice that finally, Breaking Dawn is listed on IMDB as two films, and now actually has a director. Despite the IMDB message boards being aflurry with praise for Bill Condon and the one decent film he directed, I’ll take it as vindication of my opinion that solid announcements for the fourth/fifth films have been delayed by two things: 1/because any director who didn’t have a masochistic desire to be an industry laughing stock wouldn’t touch it and 2/they were waiting to see what kind of revenue Eclipse pulls before starting filming, rather than risk losing record amounts of dosh on a pair of laughing stock films that may well go down in history as the most laughable vampire films ever.  Truly, the equivalent film of my generation was Lost Boys, which makes Twilight even funnier, and makes me pity gen y even more for the bile they are being spoonfed.

Or, at the very least, considering petitioning the government to apply an IQ test to cheap broadband deals.   My stance on free speech is also being questioned every time I read yet another absurd attack on the National Broadband Network scheme and why it will lead to the destruction of civilisation as we know it. Or something like that.

On reading an opinion piece by John Daley of the Australian today, I was overwhelmed with the desire to thump my head against a wall several times, in response to yet another self aggrandising vomit from a media machine determined to demonstrate to us little people how likely it is that anyone in favour of the NBN has simply missed the glaringly obvious reality that it will not only fail to help us, but will make everything from employment to coffee prices worse for anyone living outside a metropolitan centre.   Just when it seems like the opposition can’t top the most cringeworthy statements in relation to this subject (seriously guys, I’m sure some advisor told you to mention the whole $43bn and not just the government’s $26bn spend, but stating it like that ad nauseum just makes you look like you didn’t understand the briefing memo), the media manages to pick up that fumbled ball and run with it over the line, under the stadium and down the length of the shower room.

Daley claims that businesses won’t abandon capital cities, as they want to be close to other businesses they can work with. That this level of business interaction relies on face-to-face meetings and not online. That businesses in capital cities are twice as likely to use the telephone or email than businesses in smaller towns. Wait, what? So these businesses pack themselves into corporate parks all within a 2km radius of each other, but still email each other more than if they weren’t in the city?  Daley also states that some French study showed that businesses in capital cities communicate with other businesses more often.

Apparently this backs up Daley’s opinion that businesses want to be all packed together in the same city, and nothing will change that. Of course, not being in possession of a genetic predisposition for logical thought, Daley misses the glaringly obvious reasons for this.  Regional centres lack infrastructure. Making a phone call from an office in Sydney to another office in Sydney, an hour’s drive away, costs a local call. Making a phone call during business hours from an office in a Regional centre, to another regional centre 30 minutes away, costs peak STD rates. Which means that the cost of communication is higher for businesses outside Metropolitan areas.  Add to that the higher cost of internet to these same regions, and the fact that, as Daley says, businesses are mostly in the cities, and logic will dictate that regional businesses can’t compete on the same field as city-based businesses.  City based businesses are also clearly terrified of doing business online (according to Daley), and buying from suppliers without having met the rep in the flesh (because, as we all know, if you can’t shake a hand and feel a pulse, we could accidentally deal with the spawnbot of an evil genius and not have any idea!) and he must be right, because obviously city-based business never deal with anyone interstate or internationally, never do business with anyone who isn’t within walking distance of their office, and never, ever conduct business over the phone or internet.

There’s absolutely no mention of the reality that businesses will move an hour down the road to save a few dollars on rent, will outsource their call centres and manufacturing to other countries to increase their profit margin, and do just about anything to improve their bottom line, so giving credible infrastructure to areas of Australia with a lower cost of living and higher unemployment could be seen as a good thing for many.  A lot of the reasons people give for shunning regional centres would evaporate with growth (infrastructure, health, retail, decent coffee ) as these would increase as demand dictates, just as it does in a city.  Add virtual offices, flexible work hours, better regional transport and not only would the standard of living be higher for a lot of people, but commuting back to a city when necessary would become less painful than driving from Penrith to Surry Hills at peak hour.  It’s just another example of the short-sighted idiocy that has plagued not just the opposition and the media, but government in general for the past decade, and an attitude that we must think in 3  year increments and ponder only that which costs the government nothing being shoved down our throats.  We’re being force-fed an antiquated attitude that normal people spend 40 hours or more a week sitting under flourescent lights in a cube farm, and can’t possibly function any other way.

What really causes me to take a moment is that despite these constant refrains of how little benefit the NBN will be to our nation, absurdly the opposition is offering an alternative that will have to be upgraded in under ten years, at a greater cost to the budget than the FTTP solution offered by the government, and won’t actually benefit anyone who doesn’t already have access to the fastest speeds available in Australia.  The awkward silences could be heard across the nation as Abbott valiantly tried to explain why, even though he had absolutely no technological knowledge, he was convinced that wireless technology was easily as good as fibre. I actually felt embarrassed for him when he boldly insisted that wireless would yield 12mbps during ‘peak times’, not getting that peak times were at midnight, and not actually peak traffic times.

The point being missed with wireless is that peak speeds are governed by cell sites, meaning that if a 300mb mobile tower has just four users accessing it, the speed is shared across all four, lowering the speed to 75mb. 4G/LTE trials in 2009 demonstrated that if just 20 people use a tower, the speed hits 7mbps. So to get the 12mbps Abbott is claiming, there has to be enough mobile phone towers per suburb to enable less than 15 people to access each one.  The opposition believe this will be fine, as we only really want to use it to read facebook on our iPhones and not actually use it for,  you know, business. This all means that for it to make a credible impact on the internet framework in this country, we have to blanket the nation with cell sites to ensure adequate coverage.

In real terms – Manly council area in Sydney encompasses a region of approximately 15 square kilometres. Taking only the adult population (and those under 85), assuming 2/3 of those people don’t live alone and share one internet connection per household, and that only half of those households or business sites require internet access – Manly would need over 630 mobile phone towers to supply the kind of internet speeds Abbott is promising to provide.  Or 42 per square kilometre. That would be attractive, wouldn’t it.

But wait, it’s ok, because Abbott will also offer DSL as well. What he seemed to miss though is that because DSL uses copper wires to the premises, to get higher speed they need to employ  a technique called bonding which basically doubles the copper going to the premises. So basically in order to provide this, the Government would still have to run a second line to every house or business wanting it, and they’d be doing it in a technology which degrades and needs replacing a lot more often than fibre.   Copper also loses its ability to transfer data over distance, so just 3km from the exchange, a 300mbps speed falls to around 10.  Copper is fine if you live in a 1.5km copper loop, but surprisingly few of us do. That’s because Telstra knows that the cost of copper outweighs the benefits, so only install this technology in the small pockets of the country where it can be considered profitable.  And by small pockets, I mean just 8km from the centre of Sydney is outside that area of profitability.  And I’m just going to ignore the inclusion of satellite, which if you had the kind of satellite technology currently employed overseas (which we don’t), you could get only 3mbps (and possibly up to 10 by the end of the year), but would be severely restricted in terms of downloads to the tune of about 2.5gb per month, or pay the kind of premiums only Telstra can offer with a straight face to get the kind of bandwith you need.

Yes I’m ranting, but I’m getting tired of being treated like an idiot. I’m weary of being told what is best for me and what I really think, by media primarily controlled by right-wing interest groups, who fear the loss of their Foxtel profit margins should the net in Australia truly open up to competition.

How to prevent sexual assault.

6 Oct 2010 In: Civil uprising, headline

footballderpAs yet another load (or should that be clan? Pack?) of footballers are up on pack rape charges (this time AFL players not thugby), so comes another round of  ’she was asking for it because…’. Today’s news was nauseatingly overwhelmed by pictures of Kerry-Anne Kennel and some Neanderthal asshat I’m assured can catch a ball really well, accompanied by their continual assertion that, ‘herp derp derp derp herp derp hurrrrrrrrrrr asking for it’ or something along those lines.

The only upside of this was a brilliant link that was posted on a forum today in a thread on this topic. Entitled “Preventing Sexual Assault: Tips Guaranteed to Work“, it contains ten sure-fire ways to avoid sexual assault.  This really needs to be shared since clearly the alternative list entitled “Why All Women Should Stay Indoors With The Blinds Drawn, Wearing An Everlast Chastity Belt and Never Talking To Anything With A Penis” wasn’t all that practical to most of us.

So thank you to Feminist Philosophers for this helpful list!

Preventing sexual assault: Tips guaranteed to work!

Please distribute this list. Put it up in your place of work, in your university’s library or wherever you think they might be read:

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!

6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

large-sand-artI’m starting to believe this is a sponsored outing or something, because at least once every school holiday I’m unlucky enough to get stuck in a group with these baffling types every time I take my girls to the kids craft activities held at the local shopping centre.  You know the ones – they bring these children to the activity kiosks under the guise of letting the kids have some fun, but inevitably end up frog-marching them through the activity, often outright snatching the unfinished craft from the child’s hand and finishing it themselves, while the child ends up bawling or simply looking bored and asking to go home (depending on age and tolerance).  Control-freak parent then gets exasperated and demands to know why they bother taking the child out for some fun, when all they are going to do is complain and want to leave.  Gee, what a mystery!

And I’ll bet money that most of them take said craft home and proudly show it to anyone who stands still long enough in the vicinity of their house, and insist their child must be gifted because look at how perfect this art is!

Today it was sand art.  Funnest activity ever. Kids (and teens, and adults) all get to pick a design card, and peel parts of the design off, to reveal an adhesive surface which is then sprinkled with coloured sand. Easy, all ages can do it, and it really is kinda cool.  I took my 5 year old yesterday, and as she enjoyed it so much she asked to go again today. Being a rainy day, and living in a town bereft of really fun activities, I agreed and took her back to have another go.

Now, contrary to what sometimes seems like popular opinion, the main objective of these kinds of activities is not to produce a piece of artwork of frame-able quality. The objective is, in fact, for the child to have some fun. This means that even if the end result is a menagerie of wildly clashing colours, or the edges are scratched and bleeding together a bit because said child wants to remove the backing paper ‘all by myself’, then so be it.  The child will be proud of their art, and you can smile and lie cheerfully that it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen.

There were two absolutely ridiculous parents at this activity this morning. One had a single child (I’m guessing approximately 6 years old) and another with two girls, around the 2-4 age group.  It starts off entertainingly enough, with the mother of the single child helping her daughter pick a bird design and start colouring it. It went downhill really quickly though, I guess within a minute, when the mother snatches the card from her child and declares ‘you’re not doing it right!’  The mother thought the outline should be done in a rainbow of colour, and not a boring single colour as the child wanted.  We ended up at the same table of colours a few times, and I sadly watched the poor, bored kid trailing behind her mother, who was now not only holding the card, but spooning the sand onto it as clearly her child was incapable of doing this correctly also.   At one point I heard her ask the child what colour she wanted the tail, and when the child selected a light blue, the mother replied, ‘no, that won’t stand out, it will get lost against the background. Lets do bright pink!’ at which the child simply shrugged and looked away.  The background hadn’t even been filled at this point, but apparently the mother had a colour scheme in mind.

The other mother was worse.  She decided that her older child could have a card, but the younger one couldn’t. She then proceeded to tell the younger child off every few seconds for touching the sand.  This was another interior decorator parent. ‘What colour would you like the stars?’ ‘Pink!’ ‘How about yellow? We can do the fairy’s dress pink.’

She then finished the perfect piece of art on behalf of her daughter, had it laminated and tried to leave.  The younger child stood there, bawling, at missing out on the activity. The mother sighed. And agreed to buy her daughter one too.  The crying didn’t stop, however, since the mother wouldn’t actually let the child touch the sand or the card, and simply requested that she point out the next colour to use (which more often than not was simply ignored in favour of the mother’s choice), and pretty much dragged the sobbing toddler around the tables while she coloured in the design for her.  At one point the mother sighed loudly and declared to nobody in particular, ‘gee sometimes nothing pleases them! This is supposed to be fun!’  I was close to suggesting that next time she find a babysitter and come by herself, for everyone’s sake.

The Heisenberg Principle.

26 Jul 2010 In: Civil uprising, General Idiocy

It appears a few definitions were changed last night. Like ‘debate’.  Apparently debating no longer involves actually engaging your opponent, addressing their points, and countering with your own argument. Or ‘good’. As in, ‘this has been a good debate’, ‘yes, it has been a good debate hasn’t it’. Good now means fruitless, pointless, stupefying and I want the last hour of my life back.

Nothing that Abbott said last night surprised me. The fact that my husband has taken to calling me “toots” and keeps asking me what I’m doing out of the kitchen has helped my resilience somewhat, so now when I see him on TV I can resist the urge to run at it full tilt and try to knock the offensive off the screen.  ”You know, when Tony’s Prime Minister, you won’t be able to tell me to make my own damn dinner anymore” he tells me. “Tony understands a woman’s place”. Bless the man, he has a real taste for sardonic humour.

But enough about Abbott (please!)  I’m more concerned with Julia.

What happened to her? Her rapier wit and ability to reduce Tony (and most other politicians) to a gibbering heap of bumper sticker phrases? In the past Abbott was only able to ‘beat’ her in an argument by shouting over her. Now, she is letting him get away with making any claims he wants while she stands grinning and looking constipated. It seems that the very act of making someone Prime Minister renders them incapable of maintaining both a personality and an opinion. It happened to Rudd, and now it’s happening to Gillard.

It was obvious by the way the worm dipped violently towards ‘do not want!’ every time someone mentioned boats, that hardly anybody wants this to be an election issue, let alone a major one.   Despite that, it was inevitable it would come up. They both just repeated their commercial scripts, and pretty well ignored each other.  Gillard totally neglected to mention that Naru shouldn’t be an option for Australia, because they aren’t a signatory to the Refugee Convention! It’s a major point people should be aware of, and the reason Australia has such a shithouse human rights track record in the eyes of the world.

She wouldn’t talk about Rudd. C’mon, like she didn’t think that would come up? Look over here Australia, yes, that’s right, look right at that blinking light…. *flash* good. Now, Kevin who you say? Great, it worked.   Seriously, she’s a politician. She did what politicans do. Own it, explain it, and people will either agree or not, and everyone will move on. Not wanting to discuss it makes you look like a backstabber Julia, even if you aren’t. And hell, even if you are, you’re a politician, people are cynical enough about your profession to get over it by Friday.

Abbott/Liberal is promising to cut spending and introduce no big taxes. Excellent. Now, why for the love of pete did Julia not ask him how he planned to do it? Cut infrastructure spending? Public service, programs, can improvement projects perhaps? Instead she veered her trainwreck to the right and started a one-upmanship gamble by vaguely insisting they would cut spending also. It was like watching the Budget special of “Deal or No Deal”.

I really, sincerely hope Julia gets her groove back and stops behaving as though she exists merely to justify herself to Tony Abbott.  He’s representative of all that’s wrong with this country – a middle-aged white man with no grip on reality, no true idea about how ‘average’ people live, and no true vision of the future. He described stay-at-home-mums as ‘housewives’ for sobbing out loud. Surely she realises how far above him she is?

Meanwhile the best part of the Debate was Bob Brown’s tweets, which were also incredibly depressing because the politician making the most sense and displaying the most actual, proper policies, has to do so via social networking because the PTB don’t have the vision to involve him.

ETSIt appears the ‘leanest election ever’ is still allowing for both Libs and Labor to still find ways of paying us for our vote.  We’ve had to say goodbye to an outright bogan lottery this time, because handing out random, one-off payments to various low socio-economic groups will be labelled as financial mis-management, no matter which team does it. So of course they’ve had to find less obvious ways, and tax rebates is again turning out to be the most popular.

This time, it’s the Education Tax Rebate. Also known as the ‘buy a new laptop every financial year’ rebate, because basically that’s all you could do with it the past two years.  It didn’t cover textbooks, uniforms, excursions, or any of the other expenses that school aged children actually incur.  So, two years down and a few more laptops lying around the house, internet connection beefed up with rebate moolah, and parents of school kids are left twiddling thumbs, wondering what else they can claim.  Thankfully, we’re saved by an election! Both Libs and Labs have added more random crap to the claimable list. Uniforms, books, stationery etc are on both lists. Excellent.

Liberals, in another awesome example of promoting middle class welfare, have added a few hilarious extras. School fees, both public and private. Now, seriously, how many families out there with kids in private school actually get FTB part A? And to how many of them, would $500 per year rebate on school fees make any kind of difference? That’s probably the locker padlock safety deposit taken care of.

The best part though, are these items:

Extra-curricular school activities, such as music, sports, dance and drama lessons
Musical instruments
Sporting fees & equipment
School photos

Yes, that’s right. As long as I stay home, earn piss all, and allow my husband to be the bacon-earner to my little missus, the Government will pay for my children to learn ballet. Excellent.  And, this year I can go ahead and order that bumper pack of glossies from the school photographer, so everyone I’ve ever met gets a copy of  an extreme close-up of my kid glaring in front of a faux-Japanese garden backdrop. Yay government!

Wanker food.

21 Jun 2010 In: Civil uprising

I’m quite swiftly getting over MasterChef this season. I’m not a fan of reality television, but made an exception for MC, because last year it was fun. Good food, bit of drama, no rubbish elimination-teary-voting-off-your-opponents-while-blowing snot bubbles and telling them how much you love them bullshit that you see on other reality franchises.

The thing is, it’s not the sobbing contestants getting to me (they do, I’m not immune to irritation).

It’s not the conspiracy theories that the show is in fact rigged (which, I kinda think it is, and I might do another post on that. I do love a good conspiracy theory).

It’s not even the monotonous and repetitive ads for other channel 10 shows, or ads by the show’s sponsors, followed by an announcement that the show is sponsored by the company that just advertised their products ten seconds ago, which when teamed with the meaningful silences and suspense and ‘we’ll tell you something after the next ad break’ which basically allow the viewer to see 10 mins of actual cooking per hour of programming.

Hell, it’s not even George’s deconstructed salads.

It’s the fucking micro herbs. Give me a break.  For starters, they are sprouts. And while sprouts can be an interesting way to add different flavours to dishes (not really my bag, but anyway…), calling it a micro herb doesn’t make you more hep and less hippy.

Then it’s the powdered additives. Meat glue, leithicin, that weird shit that they use to make ’snow’. multidextrose powder I think? And titanium oxide.  Now, I’m pretty sure that if a contestant used custard powder they would have their ass handed to them, and yet a chef uses some of this rubbish and suddenly it’s a legit product.  It’s easy to think it must taste excellent and you’d never know it was made by a chemist and not a chef, but then thing about the amount of industry ‘experts’ on telly right now peddling chemical ridden crap to an unsuspecting public. That dude who flogs Vegeta, which is basically MSG and salt in a can. Or Julie Goodwin, last year’s winner, who was telling us that MasterFoods flavour bases and sauces are just as good as actual cooking.   Or molecular gastronomy, which last year was rubbished and this year is a must-know technique, for all those wanting their food to not look like food.

Then there’s presentation. Schmear. Save me. What I don’t want when I’m about to eat, is the vision of anyone smearing anything across the plate, just before adding the food.  And I don’t care who you are, but a schmear of mash potato is just a stupid thing to taunt someone with.  The colour and consistency is another thing. While I recognise my preference for an actual bread roll with a burger over bread ’soil’ is a personal thing, I can’t believe what the judges will flame one day and applaud the next.  Claire’s QANTAS main course was ‘boring’ looking (which it was), but on Friday night’s Master Class, George served up a frothy mushroom sauce with the colour and consistency of dog sick. And everyone ‘ooh’ed all over it (which may be a euphemism, now I think about it).  If you’re ever going to de-construct something, it should be the colour of mushrooms.

I don’t know why they don’t just have a ‘Continental Pasta and Sauce’ mystery box and be done with it. As long as it’s garnished with micro-herbs, of course.

I don’t use petrol vouchers. The Bolshie conspiracy theorist in me knows that the 4c discount I’m getting by buying petrol from Woolworths or Coles is surely recouped many times over somewhere in the money they took from me in order for me to get the voucher in the first place.  The realist in me knows it’s a moot point, since small-town rules dictate that at some point every fortnight I’m going to have to shop at these stores anyway, or else forgo some of the nicer things in life (well, that’s an overstatement, but I can never find the peanut butter I like at the IGA).

I made an exception last night, since I had to both buy a DVD and get petrol, and I’d left the refuelling situation to the point where it was possible that if I drove across town to the independent petrol station, I’d be cruising to the pump on fumes.   Of course, Murphy’s law dictates that the moment I hand over the receipt to get my whopping $2 discount, the forces conspired against me and damaged disc one of my DVD set.

The same laws of nature of course also dictate that when I absolutely have to go into a shopping centre, daycare is cancelled.  And on finding out daycare is cancelled, my two year old flatly refused to put on shoes or brush her hair in protest.

So, running late for school drop-off, frazzled, un-caffeinated, and dragging a screaming, barefoot child who looks like she slept wearing a crown of thorns, I battle my way into the shopping centre to exchange without a receipt.   I kid you not, as we passed a gift store I heard a little girl say, ‘mummy, that child has no shoes!’ and I turned just in time to see the mother clutch her own child closer to her, looking warily at the two of us.  I knew it was going to be an excellent morning then and there.

Now, I know that I don’t have a receipt, and technically they don’t have to allow an exchange, but really, was a lecture necessary? Or the glare and the rolling of eyes?  Or neglecting to unlock the meffing DVD after I went down to the entertainment department to find the replacement, so that when I went into Woolworths a few minutes later I set off the alarms causing everyone within a 30 metre radius to stop what they were doing and stare openly at me?

And by the end, it cost me a $3.00 tub of yoghurt, a hot chocolate and smartie cookie from the cafe ($6) and a promise of lunch at McDonalds just to get out of the shopping centre without my toddler drawing any more attention to us.   So I’m down $9 and had a really rubbish start to the day, purely because of discount fuel. I told you they were evil.

work.4113510.3.fc,550x550,aquaI just had a phonecall from Telstra, who were ringing to let me know I have a new account manager (whatever that is) and to ask if I was happy with my current plan and service from them.

Kind of a loaded question really. Should I mention that last year they accidentally removed the ADSL code from my line, resulting in three weeks without internet, because they couldn’t work out what was wrong, and the person who could fix it didn’t speak directly to customers or to the Telstra staff who could speak to me? Should I add that after it was eventually fixed (at a cost of $129 by me and much haranguing from my ISP to get Telstra to fix the ruddy issue), they then proceeded to send me letter after letter telling me my landline account had to be cancelled and set up again, because ’something’ was wrong with it? Would my new account manager want to know that I can’t hear the word ‘Telstra’ without making a face?

I didn’t bother. I just said, ‘well, I suppose it could be cheaper. ‘

She then went on to question me extensively on my phone, mobile and internet usage. Bizarrely, she asked me why I don’t make the same number of calls every month; sometimes I make 5 STD calls, sometimes 10.  She seemed confused at this behaviour.

I was already pretty annoyed by this point, as she had interrupted me watching The Princess Bride and causing me to pause just as Westley was rolling down the hill. My instinct to hang up on her battled internally with my need to know what brilliant deal they would come up with this time.  Actual customer service? A phone line that stays connected, no matter what switch the cleaner accidentally flicks?

Oh no. She wanted to sell me a Bigpond plan.  She asked what I was using now (ADSL 1, 1500 plan, 20GB download per month for $49.95) and claimed she could better this. I snorted. She paused, and then ploughed on into her spiel.  Apparently I can get ADSL2 now, and for only $69.95 I could have a whole 12GB.   This super special deal means that I could connect at up to 8000mbps, which would be shaped down to 1500 when I hit that limit.

I’ll admit this had me stumped momentarily. I’d be paying an extra $20 per month, and at best be using my current speed for half of that time given the smaller download limit.   She actually laughed at me when I pointed that out, and said, ‘but it’s faster‘.  Yes, but wouldn’t it being faster mean that I’d hit that limit even sooner? So possibly only accessing that faster speed for one week out of the month?  She laughed again. And went quiet. And then mumbled something like, ‘I don’t think you understand.’

But the weirdest part came next.

While we were chatting I was looking up my current ISP’s plans for ADSL2+.  Their equivalent plan is the same price and the same download limit I currently have.  I told her this (not mentioning that the site is telling me ADSL2 is not yet available in my area) and she said, ‘yes but Telstra speeds will be faster than another ISP’.

Me: I’m sorry? I thought you all use the same lines?

Her: We do, but Bigpond is faster on those lines

Me: How does that work? Do you slow your competitors down?

Her: Yes, so ours is the fastest available

Me: Is that even ethical? Other ISPs don’t have a choice but to use your lines, do they?

Her: If you want to use your own line you can have faster ADSL

Now, at this point I’m not sure if she was suggesting that I hire a backhoe and put my own phone lines in, which I admit is tempting.  All the same, it appeared she was telling me that Telstra deliberately slows the service available to other ISPs, so they can’t offer competitive deals.  I told her I wouldn’t sign up for a company that did that. She didn’t really know what to say.

We then had the discussion about whether Telstra includes uploads into the 12GB limit. At first she said ‘oh yes, they are included!’ as though that was a good thing, then put me on hold to speak to her manager, who said Telstra doesn’t charge for uploads.  If they don’t, it’s a new thing.

She went back to trying to convince me that ADSL2 was the business and I should definitely get on board with it.  She was now claiming that potentially, I could connect at speeds up to 20,000mbps. I said that I thought it depended on how far away from the exchange I was, wasn’t that true?  Couldn’t she tell me what speeds I’ll connect at? No, apparently that information only came from the technicians (the same people who couldn’t talk to me when my ADSL wasn’t working).  She actually couldn’t tell me until I signed up.  Yay, internet connection lottery, who knows what you might get? I said there wasn’t a chance and asked her if there was any way she could make my bill cheaper.  She ended up reducing my line rental by $10, so not only did she not get me to buy more products, I now pay a tenner less to them. I hope she doesn’t work on commission.

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