Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Flowers? Who needs 'em?

Look what my baby bought me:



They arrived in the mail today ...and I don't have to hunt for just the right vase.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tales from Bogan Land


Liz's post about working in the bogan heartland has inspired me to blog a few of my own past adventures in the land of this odd sub-species of human.

I spent 20 years working for a major bank and most of that was spent in branches dealing with the public day in, day out. I actually liked the public contact. Mostly. But when you work at a location that's within coo-ee of a Centrelink office, you just know you're going to get some *ahem* colourful characters coming in.

These are a few of my favourites:

One lunchtime, I drove over to a nearby shopping centre - the reason is long since forgotten now. Melbournians will know Northland (or as the locals like to call it "Norflands") as a hub of bogan activity. I'd completed my mission and was heading from Myer back towards the car park, when my attention was caught by a woman with several children, the eldest of whom must have been about eight years old. She had stopped in the middle of the busy walkway, grabbed him by the arm and was bent over shouting into his face.

Unfortunately, I completely missed what the child had said, but as I passed, this is what she was yelling:

WHAT DID YOU F***ING SAY?! *shakes child* HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I F***ING TOLD YOU? *Smacks child across the shoulders* DON'T. F***ING. SWEAR!!

I promise it's true.

Then there was this:

Bogan mother comes into the bank with three little kids in tow. Missing teeth, trackie dacks and probably moccasins (hard to recall now), all the trappings of bogandom.

She wanted an advance on her Centrelink payment, which was due in a couple of days. I must have heard this a dozen times a week and the answer was usually "NO", for good reason. Anyway, she gives me the old sob story - my husband's sick, we're out of food, I just need some money to buy milk and food for the kids. I suspect she trained the toddler to give the sad-eyed look on cue...

So I do the right thing, check her account and yes, she does have a fortnighly payment going in there, and the amount she wants is within my delegation limit. Hmm. I give her the benefit of the doubt and advance her some cash as a one-off thing. She grovels nicely and goes on her way.

About an hour later, I go out to get some lunch, and guess who's coming out of the Bingo hall, with a supermarket trolley full of... Milk? Nope. A carton of ciggies, a slab of VB, potato chips and a couple of 2L bottles of Coke.

I didn't ask either of them what their kids' names were, but I bet there was a poor little misspelt mite named Jorja or Kortnee amongst them. Or maybe one of these. Go have a read, it's hilarious. And while you're at it, spare a thought for poor little Diammond Sparkle.

Then again, it's noice, it's diff'runt, it's un-ewes-yul.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Help yourself


I've always been a bit iffy about self-help books. I see them on the shelves in bookshops, I hear them being talked about on the radio, and I almost always find myself wondering what kind of crackpot nonsense this one contains.

I do have a few myself. Some, I bought because something appealed to me, although it's rare that I'd agree with everything an author has to say. Still, one or two ideas or methods that help me work out some problem or other I have is OK by me. On the other hand, I have several that are complete and utter rubbish - those I bought because "everyone" was taking about them and I wanted to be able to give an informed opinion the next time I was asked what I thought of a particular book. (My opinion is pretty sure to be "Bollocks!" in case you're wondering.)

The thing that surprises me about self-help books is the same thing that puzzles me about fad diets, or those fat-loss miracle gadgets they sell on daytime TV infomercials: I'm amazed that there are so many gullible people out there. If the last thirty-seven books turned out not to contain the answer to all your problems, why on earth would you think that this new one will be "the one"?

I understand getting sucked in once, twice, even three times. But I know people with literally shelves full of these things, and they are utterly convinced that this one holds the key to happiness. It never does. There's definitely a certain type of person who likes to read about how to change their life for the better, but doesn't really want to put the effort into doing it. Surely at some point you have to stop reading books telling you how to live your life and just... live your life.

I really don't like being told what to do, so perhaps that has something to do with my aversion to literary life-changers.

So I'm curious: How many of these do you own? And is there one or more that has literally saved your life, your sanity, your marriage or something else important?

Do share.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Zapped!


Yesterday my physio decided not to stick needles in me. Instead, he electrocuted me. Yikes!

My upper trapezius on my left side has gone and tied itself in knots over the past few weeks, and we really can't figure out why. I've had pain in the side of my neck and across the top of my traps, which appeared likely to be coming from the facet joints in my neck. The muscles were so tight that manipulation or massage wasn't an option. Well, it was an option, but only if Peter the physio wanted a punch in the face...

Instead he's been doing dry needling and I've been icing and stretching like mad, hoping to get some improvement so then he can get in with his magic fingers and do some real work. Only, things have got worse over the past week, and I don't know why.

So today he dragged out the TENS machine and boy, was that an odd experience! The muscle fibres were twitching away in a very spazzy way. It wasn't at all painful, but it did become very irritating after a while. Oh, and I didn't escape the needles altogether - I still copped a couple in my right elbow.

I can't believe I pay for this.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

J'apprends le fran├žais



Remember last pay day, I said I was going to shout myself a present? Yeah, completely forgot about that...

Anyway, two weeks later, Debstar's post jogged my memory and I finally remembered that I need to order myself some French language CDs.

Yep, I'm brushing up my very rusty French skills, because:

1. I learned the language in high school, back in the middle ages. I was pretty good at it, and can actually remember a lot of it, although my pronunciation is appalling.

2. We have major travel plans when we retire - which is fast approaching (yay!) - and I figure it would be useful if one of us can muddle through at least one European language.

3. I loathe my drive to and from work; it's a completely wasted hour at the beginning and end of each day. So I figure that instead of screaming abuse at the idiots trying to kill me every day, I can make better use of the time by getting in some French practice. At the very least, I can learn to swear in French. I'm sure it sounds far more elegant...

I just ordered myself the very basic Pimsleur basic CD set, so hopefully by next Tuesday I'll have the car CD player loaded and ready to go.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Um.

I've been sitting here trying to write a post for the past twenty minutes. I write a line or a paragraph ...delete it. Write a few more words ...delete them. I officially give up. I just can't get the words to flow today.

Maybe the four-hourly cocktails of Panadeine and Brufen I've been swallowing for the past couple of days have addled my brain. I'm thinking I'll ditch the codeine today; something's making me feel all crappy and fuzzy-headed.

*thinks* It's either the codeine or some menopausal shit going on.

Let's hope I don't have to use my brain for anything at work today.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Get over yourself!

This week has been insane. I've been overworked and overwhelmed, and it is ALL MY OWN FAULT, because WHY DID I SAY YES TO WORKING AT THE STUPID FEDERAL ELECTION, when I SWORE I WASN'T GOING TO DO IT THIS TIME. So when the Returning Officer rang me and practically begged me to PLEASE COME AND HELP US, BECAUSE WE NEED EXPERIENCED PEOPLE and WE WILL PAY YOU MONEY.... instead of the words Sorry, no way! coming out of my mouth, I heard myself saying: Where, and which position? And now I have homework to do and a briefing session to attend and the setting up the polling place deal on Friday, plus a grindingly long 15-16 hour day on Saturday to look forward to.

Sheesh. I don't need the cash that badly, I just feel bad letting people down. Learn to say no, Kek....

Anyway, apart from that, Bike Boy has been travelling again, I've been at the office for long hours daily, doing my thing (yawn), I have clients to take care of, I'm in the middle of reorganising the house, and I've taken on some projects that I don't actually have time for, but oh well....

So the stress has been building all week, and then yesterday I spent the day in excruciating pain from my neck and shoulder after a spectacularly gruesome physio visit on Thursday, and got all sulky and sooky and had a big pity party about it all. The evening started with tears and ended with red wine. It's amazing how when you're stressed and in pain, your thoughts and emotions can go all haywire and end up in some completely illogical place.

But I'm taking steps:

1. Take the goddamn prescription anti-inflammatories. And some analgesics.
2. Ice the sore bits. Moron. You know this!
3. Talk to the doc on Friday at my next review appointment. What else can I try - Sports doc? Some alternative treatment? Do I need some time off to give things a rest?
4. Get on the phone on Monday and give my office HR people hell for not providing me with the chair the occupational therapist recommended TWO MONTHS AGO. I don't care what staffing problems they're having and who lost my file (or whatever).
5. DO NOT TAKE ON ANY MORE COMMITMENTS.

That's what I need - an action plan.

Right now, I'm off to IKEA again for some retail therapy - that always helps. :)

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Relaxing weekend? Ha!



Did Spring come early this year, or what? Because, apart from the magnificent sunny weather yesterday (and so far today - touch wood it hangs around!), personal training enquiries have gone nuts this past week. I've been furiously answering emails and phone calls and thinking to myself: Did I fall asleep and miss August?

As well as being busy with work, it's been one of those weeks where you're on the run constantly, and at some point you pause and realise you committed to way more than you really have time for. The house is in disarray after another mammoth shopping spree at IKEA yesterday, we had a 50th birthday party to attend last night, and today there's a family reunion on. University open days are in full swing and The Middle Child needs to do the rounds - starting today. That's Bike Boy's department, but the usual weekend washing and ironing still has to be attended to and I have to make a flying visit to the supermarket this morning if we actually want to eat over the next few days.

I might be absent for a bit while I catch up...

Friday, August 06, 2010

Remembered



"Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk of me as if I were beside you there." ~ Isla Paschal Richardson

There were long periods over the past year when time seemed to really drag, and yet here we are. Twelve months have passed and time really has blunted the raw edges of grief, as it always does.

Today I'm off to visit the old man with Mum and one of my sisters. We'll go pay our respects at the cemetary, and then we'll probably raise a glass to him over lunch.

And we'll aim to follow the advice in that quote up there, because I know Dad would much prefer that we remembered him with laughter than with tears.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Three things I like about Thursdays

Yes, today is THURSDAY and that means....

1. PHYSIO TORTURE! Yay. I'd like to be able to turn my head to the left sometime soon. Driving's kind of a challenge at the moment.

2. It also means PAYDAY! Yay. I'm going to buy myself a little present. Something to do with self-improvement/education. I'll tell you all about it later.

3. And it means THE END OF MY WORKING WEEK! Yay. Fridays off are ace.


Oops. Make that FOUR things.... I almost forgot that this particular Thursday is the day Bike Boy comes home from a four-day work trip. Yay. I hate being a single parent. I have to be both the good cop and the bad cop. That sucks - I'm always the good cop.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

You really shouldn't...

...blog when you're tired.



I have all these ideas, but by the time I get to write them down at night, the words won't make any sense. And the more I edit, the less sense they make. The problem is, this is only writing time I have at the moment, so that's when I usually bang out a post and set it to publish the next morning.

Last night I was utterly exhausted, and struggled to get the words out of my head. In the end, I just shrugged and clicked on "Publish post" anyway. I re-read that post today and even I started to get confused....

Hopefully I more or less got my point across, even if it isn't exactly literary brilliance.

Fact or fiction?

Newspapers love a sensational headline, and never more so than when it comes to scientific research into the health benefits or otherwise of food. Never mind the facts, let's grab people's attention with an out of context claim - and one that's often a completely wrong conclusion drawn by the reporter or editor, at that.

"Chocolate prevents heart disease" turns out to be based on a study showing that approximately 6g of dark chocolate per day can reduce levels of C-reactive protein (a risk factor for cardio-vascular disease). Of course, most people aren't going to get to the fine print in the article anyway. It's the headline that catches their eye, and they may think "Phew! That family block of Cadbury Dairy Milk that I've been getting through most nights in front of the TV is actually a health food".

Maybe that's a slight exaggeration...but you see what I'm getting at.

The internet is just as bad. Websites that many people rely on for health and nutrition information may not be as reliable as you think. It always pays to read the whole article, and then go do your own research into any studies that are quoted and draw your own conclusions.

A couple of weeks back, I came across a "health blog" that claimed that agave syrup was sent by the devil to kill us all. Or something like that. Apparently, it's far, far worse than high-fructose corn syrup, not to mention that it's all factory-produced, chemically-laden, processed crap and we should carry holy water to sprinkle liberally on any of this evil product we see lurking around the health food store. Then burn it at the stake, just to be on the safe side.

The reason I was even interested in this was because I use the stuff now and then. It's bloody delish, and far, far tastier than any of that aspartame garbage that so many people are prepared to swallow. Anyway, after a bit of research and some logical thought here's my perspective:

The product that I use is imported into Australia by a reputable company. It's certified organic and thanks to our ridiculously strict food laws, I'm fairly confident that it's: a) uncontaminated; and b) not going to kill me.

The whole "fructose is scary, evil stuff" notion makes me laugh. Why? Because cane sugar is known to be a poor food choice. Honey, maple syrup, golden syrup and so on are really no better. Artificial sweeteners are... well, artificial, so not really food. Here's the thing: None of these things are meant to be staples in human diets. The bottom line is, if we want to be healthy, we shouldn't be eating any of these things in large quantities.

The comments on this particular blog from dieters having meltdowns over which product was safer or whatever made my eyes pop (Oh noes! What will we DOOOOO?). I was very tempted to leave a comment myself, asking: Just how much of these things do you people EAT?

I won't touch aspartame or saccharine because they taste disgusting. My sugar consumption is low, but if I do want a cake or a chocolate bar, I have it without worrying about consequences. I sometimes use Xylitol in cooking, although I can't remember the last time I did. These days I mostly use fruit to sweeten pancakes and yoghurt and so on.

And my jar of agave syrup? Well, I've had it for THREE YEARS, and it's still more than half full. Even if it's laced with arsenic, at the rate I'm using it, I don't think I'm in imminent danger.



P.S. If you're thinking about leaving a comment to tell me all about the virtues of Stevia, don't bother. That stuff is feral. *shudders*

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The job

I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.
- Thomas Jefferson


Personal training has its highs and lows - I suppose that's no different to any job you can name. There are times when you wonder why on earth you're in this game, and other times when it's deeply satisfying. There are days when I just don't want to do it a minute longer and plenty of others where I can't imagine doing anything else.

There are lots of things that are less than ideal - the hours immediately spring to mind - but over the years, the one thing that's brought me close to chucking it in is this:

You cannot help someone who isn't prepared to take responsibility for their actions - and anyone with half a brain knows that actions determine outcomes. Yes, I can write you a program that will get you the results you want. Yes, I can push you right out of your comfort zone in your one-on-one sessions. Yes, I can give you all the advice on nutrition you need, plus tips on changing the way you think, if that's what's required.

But here's the thing: I cannot do it for you. If you don't follow my program, don't look me in the eye and tell me it doesn't work. Of course it won't work if you don't DO it. If you're not prepared to be honest and to take responsibility, don't bother me. Go sign up for a miracle juice diet, or at one of those places that electrocute your fat away, or whatever it is they claim to do. Or maybe get yourself a pair of toning shoes.

None of those will work either, of course, but at least you won't be wasting my time.

Monday, August 02, 2010

A testing time

It turns out that this food testing thing isn't as easy as I thought it would be and I'm not sure I'm going to end up with any useful results at all.

I began on Thursday, which unfortunately coincided with a moderately nasty digestive upset. I'll spare you the details, but it started first thing, so too early to have been caused by any food I'd eaten. The initial problem has reduced to grumblings, minor pain and wind and has continued for the past three days, as such things usually do with me. Trouble is, that makes it impossible to tell whether something I've tested is upsetting me, or if this is just the aftermath of a tummy bug.

Symptoms of food allergy or sensitivity, according to this particular method, include: fatigue, headache, abdominal distress, sleepiness, dizziness, brain fog/confusion, and aching joints. Apart from the aforementioned abdominal distress (of doubtful origins), I've had none of those so far.

Today I've tried out oats, and will cram in a few more serves over the next 24 hours to see what happens before I move onto other grains, but if they are a problem, then unless the effect is really dire, I doubt I'll even notice.

I'll be seriously pissed off if this turns out to be a waste of time. Ugh. Persevere, Kek....

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The Cinderella report

The ball was a lot of fun - I forget how much fun dressing up and going out is sometimes. In winter, it's so much easier to stay home, parked on the couch in my pjs with a DVD and my boys to keep me company. But making an effort not to be a boring old fart is usually worth it.

It was a big corporate event with 2000 bods packed into the Crown Palladium room. I went with my best friend, who works for the company throwing the shindig - my old employer. I had a lot of fun going up to people I worked with ten or more years ago, calling them by name and then watching their face as they desperately searched their memories trying to place this blonde woman who was accosting them. I had dark, DARK hair back then and most of them remember me as a lot *ahem* larger.

There was dancing, and more dancing...and I have the blisters to prove it. And WHY is the damn Crown car park so far away from the function rooms? Not cool, Crown, when you have to totter all that distance in your silly high heels. Not to mention negotiating your way across slippery tiled floors through the throngs of people buying deep fried takeaway crap in the food court early on a Saturday evening. There we were in our ball gowns, being jostled by hordes of bogans in trackie dacks. I was tempted to shout "Out of the way, plebs! Can't you SEE we're important people?!"

I'd normally wear my hair up for an event like this, but I had it chopped seriously short a couple of weeks ago, so I just told my hairdresser to blow wave it and do what she could. She got busy with the curling iron and her magic hands, and somehow I ended up looking like I had a lot more hair than I actually do. It was a shame to sleep on it and ruin all her good work.



And just because you're dressed all posh, doesn't mean you can't act like a fool:



Ah well, back to reality, housework (and trackie dacks) for me today.