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Observations January 31, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Observations.
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If someone drives one of those Ford’s from the eighties that are really boxy looking, it is very likely that they drive it like an eejit!

Also, I don’t think I have ever seen one of them done up into a street machine. They are always bombs.

Abbott on Rudd, Religion and Politics January 28, 2007

Posted by Amanda in politics.
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Tony Abbott did a good job of being the pot calling the kettle today with this statement at the Young Libs conference.

Kevin Rudd may be playing the religious card but we are not going to forget Peter Costello’s and John Howard’s sweetly timed visits to Hillsong right before the last election.

At least Kevin Rudd is open about his beliefs and does not have a bet both ways as some of the leadership of the Liberal Party are wont to do.

More on blogging January 23, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Blogs.
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Expanding on some thoughts from last night, I think blogging is like reality TV. The minutiae of other people’s live can be fascinating. Now I know that many blogs are ‘worthy’ and don’t discuss what the writer ate today but I don’t mind the ones that do just that. I like the ones that have some meaty discussion to chew on and the comfort foods of what is going on with friends who live overseas or just down the road.

To some extent, it is not such a surprise that we enjoy this sort of thing.  Part of life is talking to each other about what we and our associates have been doing or saying. It is no different to learn about a person on a blog or a program- we will get to know them soon enough if we read about or watch their lives. I have friends who I talk to about their other friends whom I have never met, but I am still interested in what is going on with these phantom acquaintances of mine.

This is the same reason why so many people love programs like Front Up and the Seven Up series. We have a little window into the lives of people who are just like us and we find it riveting.

The big blogging dilemma January 22, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Blogs.
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To blog or not to blog. That is the question.

I think that this must be something that most people who write some sort of online journal or opinion page have struggled with at one time or another. Especially when your site is more or less just a personal musings space as mine is.

I often have things that I would like to write here but have second thoughts about. I am a pretty open person and most people who know me probably are aware that I am not afraid to show my emotions or say what I am thinking, but sometimes in this space I am not sure that it would be worth the hassle.

For example, there might be something bugging me about someone but is it worth me telling them and everyone else about it in this forum? Even if I write in very general terms and don’t use names, if they check my blog, they may guess it was about them. There are things that annoy us all the time that we don’t bring up with people because it is not major enough to worry about. It could be cathartic for me, but may cause more grief down the line.

Then there is the issue that, for the most part, this is a one sided process. Do I want to make myself vulnerable to anyone who happens to click here? That is ok in a relationship where all parties are being equally vulnerable but there aren’t too many people I know who are putting their thoughts online. Many of my readers don’t even leave comments because it is somehow hard to put yourself out there.

So what is the solution? I have thought about starting a secret blog as I am sure many bloggers do. But there is the thing in me that likes an audience and would I get one with a secret blog? I am sure you would all find my secret blog much more interesting but that would defeat the purpose! And anonymous writing is somehow cowardly.

So my quandry remains. There are things I would love to get off my chest but I have to weigh up the consequences. It is not an easy one to resolve.

Any thoughts?

More water woes. January 22, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Personal.
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I have a bit of a theme going this week. It is all about the wet stuff but this post is a bit more of a personal observation.

I don’t like creeks. I don’t like going to creeks and I definitely don’t like swimming in them. There is something a bit dirty about it and it is not often a pleasant experience.  I should say that there are exceptions. I don’t mind a creek in a rainforest with clear running water, surrounded by trees and dappled sunlight but usually the water is so icy cold that I don’t want to venture in.

Today we went to the type of creek that I really don’t like. (Sorry to my sister who took us there but this is not a reflection on you). It was a sandy creek bed with some rocks and a few scrubby trees and a brownish creek. My niece and nephew enjoyed it so that is the main thing, but I just felt hot and couldn’t get over the smell of the dog crap that some inconsiderate owner had left sitting there.

Maybe it reminds me of those school camps that were always in the cheapest campsite they could find where they would force us to drag canoes around and paddle until our arms were about to fall off.

I think the real problem is that I am an ocean person and a creek just doesn’t measure up. Come to think of it, I don’t like dams or lakes much either. I love the power and infinite nature of the ocean and the way the sun looks different when you get near the sea. I love the fine sand of Australian beaches and I don’t even mind the pebbles on beaches in Europe. Compared to the ocean, a creek just doesn’t cut it. 

Wide brown land continued … January 20, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Personal, Travel Diary.
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On a slightly lighter note, the drive from Brisbane to Canberra has been an interesting contrast to the other travel Chris and I have done in the last six months.

The vast emptiness of Australia was what stood out to me today. We came down the Newell highway via Goondiwindi and Dubbo and there are times when you are looking at spaces that go on as far as you can see without much of anything. This is so different to the places in Europe and Asia where we spent most of our time overseas. In those places you can’t go more than about half an hour without seeing something that reminds of the humans about the place. Utah is probably the one place we went that had these great spaces. I would love to see Mongolia for the same reason.

I love these long drives through the Australian landscape. Quite a few people expressed surprise when I said we were driving to Canberra not flying, but this is something that my parents have done all my life and we all enjoy it. There is something amazing about driving all day. It can be quite meditative but can also be the time when you have the best conversations.

The most enjoyable holidays Chris and I have had together are those where we have just driven and driven. Our best effort was when we drove 8500 kilometres in two weeks and went to Broken Hill, Coober Pedy, Uluru, Kings Canyon and then back to Sydney via Mildura, Melbourne and Lakes Entrance. Our drive through Utah and Arizona was a highlight of our most recent travels.

I know to a lot of you this sounds like torture but it is almost something that I have to do every now and again. It feels like freedom.

The Drought January 20, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Uncategorized.
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Those of us who live in the city may talk about what we are doing to save water, and how the water restrictions are affecting us but I have just driven to Canberra from Brisbane with my parents and I don’t think that we urban dwellers have much of an idea how bad it really is. Our high falutin talk about water tanks and washing the car with a bucket is so petty when you see the situation that the land is in.

We drove for twelve hours today and I don’t think I have ever seen the country drier. There are isolated spots where there must have been some rain but generally the country is brown all over. The sheep are indistinguishable from the land because it is all dust. There are areas where there doesn’t seem to be a blade of grass. It must be just heartbreaking for the people whose lives are tied to the land and the weather.

One can’t help but wonder what is going to happen to these towns and farms if the current patterns of frequent droughts continue. It seems inconceivable that anyone can keep on doing this for long but I suppose there are people who have been living through it for 50 years or more.

I feel quite hopeless about it all.

Moving blues … January 11, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Uncategorized.
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I am not very nice to be around for the first few months of being in a new (or in this case old) town. Although I really like living in different places, I do find myself being irritable and not very happy during the settling in period.

The problem is amplified because Brisbane is not somewhere new, not somewhere exciting (for us) and there isn’t too much for us to discover. Whereas usually we have all those experiences of finding the interesting places to eat and shop, here it is all a bit familiar. It feels like the end of the new and the rest of our lives stretch out before us.

I have never been a person who can imagine spending the rest of their life in one city. Hopefully Brisbane can be a sort of base for us where we spend a few years and then go somewhere else for a while and then come back again.

At the moment, we feel like we have at least three home towns. London felt like home when we were there, it felt wrong not to be getting off the plane to stay in Sydney when we landed there and Brisbane is where our history and families are. It is all very confusing but I don’t regret living in any of those places for a time. I think that diversity of experience gives you a totally different perspective on life.

It is difficult to know where we fit here as well. Our old friends are here, but most of them in a very different stage of life to us. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to hang out- not at all- but I suppose we need to re-establish ourselves and find things to do.

This is not helped by the fact that we can’t move into a place of our own until we get jobs. I think I will feel much better when I can have my own space and the cats back!

Anyway, apologies to anyone around whom I seem cranky. And as a side note, if I seem reluctant to talk about our plans, it isn’t personal, it is just another weird thing about me. I find it hard to talk about that stuff in detail.

The Telstra Woman January 2, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Uncategorized.
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I have never minded the push-a-button-to-get-to-the-right-section thing when it comes to phoning companies. Usually it is pretty efficient and you can get to where you want. I have never really had a problem with that.

What drives me crazy is the voice activated system used by Telstra where I have to listen to an overly polite, sickly sweet voice asking me what I want and then waiting for my verbal reply.  I hate it! I hope you have internet monitors Telstra!! And while we are at it, I also am annoyed by the woman with the speech bubbles in the Westpac ATMs. She is equally smiley, sweet, fake and frustrating.

Most of us are used to dealing with computers and automated systems. We have all adjusted to that quite well. However, when an automated system pretends to be a human, it is infuriating. Don’t pretend we are getting personalised service when we are not. Don’t make us actually have to speak to the machine- it is humiliating. It reinforces the idea that companies think consumers are stupid and will be fooled by a pre-recorded voice.

Please Telstra, go back to “Press 1 for mobiles, press 2 for internet”!

Don’t be following us! January 1, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Travel Diary.
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It has happened again. Disaster follows us.

This time I am referring to the New Years Eve bombings in Bangkok. Chris and I were of course supposed to stay in Asia until January 3 and were planning on having New Years in Bangkok. One of the bombings was right near where we were staying and another one in the shopping strip where we went many times.

Of course last time we were in Asia, we left Phi Phi island just before the tsunami. And on this trip a typhoon hit southern Vietnam after we were there and there was flooding in Hoian the day after we left. As well as that, when we went to Uluru a few years ago, the campsite where we were staying was evacuated because of bushfires a couple of days after we left.

Spooky!