Boring, Meme

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Meme, Our World, Rant

KONY 2012

Today I woke up to find my Twitter, Facebook and most other social networks filled with KONY2012 references.

After checking the local news sites, they too are full of the KONY2012 stuff. But what is it?

Joseph Kony is a rebel leader in Uganda, who orders the systematic kidnapping of children to be used in his rebel army. The boys are taught to shoot, often with their first kill to be that of their own parents; whilst the girls are raised and sold as sex slaves to help raise money for guns and ammunition.

These children are robbed of a childhood, some as young as 5 or 6 years old, their parents lose their children, and all so this pathetic excuse for a human being can have an army that robs, kills and makes him rich.

The person who has created this viral video has embarked on a monumental task, but so far he has Barack Obama on board, and has managed to get the US Government to send 100 US Troops to Uganda to assist local authorities in tracking Kony down in the dense jungle.

Whilst their funding methods are questionable (explained here) their cause is not. Support the cause, even if you don’t support KONY2012, and get the word out there!

This has been going on for over 20 years now, and is only just making it into the public eye. The more popular and visible this topic remains, the harder it will be for it to be ignored.

Please, watch this video. Share it, reblog it, post it to other social media outlets. Join their Facebook page here. Get friends to join. Write a letter to your local representative in Government or Senate. The more voters that get on board with as many of the world Governments as possible, the more likely it is to remain an issue, be addressed in the UN, and for something major to happen. The video’s main link was recently blocked on Facebook, so the more people to share a link to it from their own blogs, the more widespread it can become, and the more people can get on board.

People often complain and whinge that “The world has gone to shit…” …well, now is your chance to try to make a difference.

Crimes against children are never okay, but crimes against children on such a large-scale should be sanctioned and eradicated by world leaders.


March Photo A Day, Meme, Music, Rant

March Photo A Day 2 – Fruit

March Photo A Day 2 – Fruit


I don’t eat as much fruit as I probably should. I know I should eat more, I just don’t like it in general. Beyond the occasional Apple or Banana, It’s a rare thing for me to eat fruit at all.

For this reason, I didn’t have any fruit on hand for this photo. So instead, I went all ‘lateral thinking’ on you, and decided to write about Apple Records.

I wanted to remind people of Apple. Not the Apple that most people know today that sells iPods, iPads, iMacs and all of that. I am talking about Apple Records.

This record label was started by the four members of The Beatles, s a part of their Apple Corps. interests. The Beatles were wanting to branch beyond their music and thought that they could succeed in many other areas with just their name as backing. Apart from electronics, clothing and even film (Magical Mystery Tour and Monty Python’s The Life of Brian were a few of their better known films) they decided to have their own recording label. Apart from various solo tracks of their own, they also signed on a few other artists, including Billy Preston, Yoko Ono, Ravi Shankar and James Taylor.

The Beatles had already bought up the majority of their own lyrics and written music, signing it all to their own music publishing company known as Northern Songs. The phrase “Northern Songs” comes from their lyrics in “Only a Northern Song” which can be heard in the Yellow Submarine film. They had realised that there was some serious money to be made selling the written music and lyrics to their entire back catalogue, with many firms reprinting them and pocketing huge profits. The Beatles decided to sanction this by buying their material back, and signing their exclusive rights to their own company. If anyone else wanted to republish their material from this point on, they needed the written permission of Northern Songs, or face a lawsuit.

As with most of their business decisions of the time outside of the music world, it eventually pushed all four Beatles to near-bankruptsy, and most of the Apple Corps. other ventures were shut down. Apple Records existed, but rarely released anything until the 90’s, when The Beatles re-released their back catalog to CD, all of which carried the Apple Records logo.

March Photo A Day, Meme, Personal, Rant

March Photo A Day 1 – Up

March Photo A Day 1 – Up

Some people say that the best volume to listen to awesome music is loud. To some extent I agree, however I feel that after a while, “turning it up to 11” loses its effectiveness. If a person listens to evey song at full volume, what do they do for their favourite tracks? I prefer to turn up the volume of my favourite tracks, making them more defined in a playlist than the other tracks. Then the people I happen to have around me KNOW which songs are considered awesome by me.

This is relevant throughout many things in everyday life. If a person always wears their hair in a bright green mohawk, or always wears odd socks, or even simply has a loud shirt on every day of the week, these people are eventually seen as “acting normal”, and their loud and trend-setting ways are lost in a crowd. However, if a person was to wear a suit to work for a month, and then one day turned up in a bright purple pimp-suit and a green mohawk, then that person would be noticed.

Some people I have known over the years spend more time in their lives trying to be noticed; seen as a wacky kind of person, that they miss out on many awesome things that are passing them by. Some of these people even go as far as to turn down or ignore friendships, because the person isn’t as wacky as themselves.

If you are old enough to remember back into the 80’s and even earlier into the 70’s, there was a not-so-small movement called Punk. When the punk movement began, the ideals were ‘do not conform to society’, ‘Anarchy’, ‘down with conformists’ etc. Ironically, all of the die-hard punks ended up conforming to themselves, all wearing the same t-shirts, leather jackets, mohawk haircuts and listening to the same music. Their very ideals in life became their downfall. The same non-conformist approach overflowed into the Goth lifestyle, and later into the Emo groups. All talk about ‘non-conformist’ behaviour, yet all are conforming to societies view on what they should wear or listen to.

My music tastes have been called strange by many people. Being able to put my iTunes onto shuffle, and get Metallica, Mozart, Cake, ACDC, Andrews Sisters, Xavier Rudd, Guns N Roses, Paul Kelly, Adam & The Ants, Beethoven, Queen, Ramones, Pavarotti, Beatles, John Lee Hooker, Led Zeppelin and ABBA play in succession apparently makes me strange. I listen to each of these artists proudly for their own accomplishments in the music world, and each has their own merits. I do not conform to a single ‘style’ of music, as it would bore me to death in about 30 minutes.

My hair is never cut to any particular passing trend. Since I had my long hair cut in 2000, I have had the same haircut by the same awesome hairdresser. I can now simply go in and say ‘the usual’ and get it with no questions asked. Between haircuts I rarely use any product in my hair apart from shampoo, and I don’t usually go to any effort to style it in any particular way; settling instead to run my hands through it and walk out the door. I have decided that ‘if every day looks as if it was a bad hair day, no one can comment on it or care that it looks a bit messy’. That’s my thing.

I also don’t dress in any particular fashion; usually settling for the ‘jeans & t-shirt with runners’ for most events; occasionally wearing a suit for work commitments or a wedding. My t-shirts have various things on them, but nothing of any trend, simply designs that I liked at the time. I have bands, Mambo, Corporate logos, slogans, cartoons etc. There is no trend in their artwork, except that they almost all have some form of artwork on them.

Does all of this make me the ideal punk?

If life was completely filled with people who wore crazy hair, odd socks, loud clothing, listened to music at the highest volume and spoke the same way, it simply wouldn’t be interesting. The fact that these things are a rarity in everyday working life makes them interesting people to the rest of us.

Feb Photo, Meme, Our World, Rant

Feb Photo 29 – Something I Am Listening To

Feb Photo 29 – Something I Am Listening To

Sometimes, when I wish to simply get away and clear my head, I head down to the Jawbone Marine Sanctuary in Williamstown, sit on the sand, and enjoy the serene and tranquil silence. Most of the time there is no mobile phone reception, no background noise of traffic, or even passing pedestrians. To be able to escape the ongoing stresses of everyday hustle and bustle, remove yourself from the digital world, and to simply be alone with ones thoughts can often do wonders for a person’s thinking capacity, not to mention the simple act of rejuvenating the mind, and perhaps thinking through some things that have been pestering or lingering for some time with a fresh mind.

Whenever I sit down at Jawbone, I often have the simple sounds of the wind in the grass to keep me company, perhaps the gentle sound of the water lapping against the rocks or sand. Occasionally I take my iPod, however I rarely have it on when I am there. It sort of defeats the purpose of being there in the first place.

Sometimes I take along a writing book or even a sketch pad, just to see what will flow when my mind is clear of other clutter. I have written a few songs down there, although none are recorded yet, and I have done a few drawings of various things. More often, however, I go down to simply think. Either to work through a problem that has arisen recently, think my way through some problems that have come up, or perhaps just to re-centre myself and de-stress before a long week at work, or an upcoming struggling time.

Different people have different ways to de-stress and centre themselves before or after a stressful or mentally trying period of their lives. Some choose to drink, some choose to go out clubbing or to a concert, some choose to go for a jog or do something fitness related, and there are always people who choose to do partake in yoga, meditation or some form of mental relaxation. Even simply sitting under a tree, or lying in bed with a good book can help the mind relax and focus itself on the challenges ahead.

The human mind is a complex and mystical place, and for different people, different things work in helping it relax. Sometimes, multiple things together work, other times a single avenue of approach is required, but this could also change. nothing is in concrete when the mind is involved.

Sometimes, I prefer to sit alone at the beach and ponder. Other times, playing my guitar loudly and almost scaring the neighbours into thinking that the North Koreans are attacking. Other times, I have simply got on my bike and rode. iPod in, music up loud and simply powering down a bike track, with no destination in mind other than ‘forward’. The only way to truly clear my mind is to stop thinking, and simply do something repetitive and simplistic (for me!) that allows my brain to switch into auto-pilot and not allow any new thoughts to enter. This allows my mind to simply work through the backlog of thoughts that are floating about in there, process and file them away, allowing my mind to reset and centre itself.

I feel rather lucky to have such a wonderful and quiet place so close to my house, within walking distance, and yet it might as well be a world away. A nature reserve, bird & marine sanctuary. It is the kind of place that is not too common, especially inland (the marine part should explain why!) and to have access to this little section of pristine native land is simply amazing in today’s day and age. Australia is really a blessed country to be able to have these little sections of nature so close to the cities, housing areas and public beaches, yet have them remain relatively untouched and preserved for generations to come.

Boring, Feb Photo, Meme, Rant

Feb Photo 28 – Money

Feb Photo 28 – Money

Money is a great thing. If you have it.

For some people, living from paycheck to paycheck is a way of life. Many of these people don’t even care; they are just happy to be living in the moment. However some are struggling. Some people go without, simply because they cannot afford something that many people take for granted. Perhaps they go without a meal, or a night out with a loved one. Perhaps they go without a bed for the night, choosing to sleep on the streets, just so that they can have a meal for themselves, or perhaps a child.

There are people out there who, for one reason or another, enjoy flashing their money around, acting like they are bigger than they really are. These people, often do not have very high self-confidence, although they act as if they do. Often, these people will be seen at bars and clubs, buying drinks for many beautiful women, trying to see which ones will perhaps bother to speak with him, or perhaps even sleep with him. It is a sign of insecurity; trying to buy affection, approval and love, in exchange for money or gifts.

Money in itself has lost all value that it once carried. For example, money used to be made from precious metals, usually stamped with the likeness of the Leader of the City or Country, or the royal coat of arms. This is because only the royal family of the area would have money, often gifted to the noblemen of the areas for deeds done. Earlier still, currency would consist of precious stones; gems and other shiny objects.

Later, money became pieces of paper. They would consist of either words, stating that the bearer of this piece of paper was owed $100.00 worth of gold for example, and the holder could trade this paper with someone (usually a bank) for gold. After a while, specifically in the USA, the gold reserves were full, yet the people claimed they needed more money. The government decided to do away with “paper Vs. gold reserves” and simply printed more paper money, effectively devaluing all currency of America. The American money is now simply a piece of paper, stating its worth of X dollars. All of their paper currency is the same size, same colour and to a blind person, has no obvious differences from each other. Completely worthless, in my opinion, and literally, not worth the paper it is printed on!

Australian money, however, holds value. Although I still have no idea how a small piece of plastic can be worth $100, at least our gold reserves match with the physical money printed.

Out money is different sizes for different denominations, brightly coloured, has many security features, from micro-printing, clear windows, watermarks, magnetic strips and a few others. It is amongst the hardest in the world to counterfeit, The level or printing on these notes are amazing… looking under a macro lens, it is fairly easy to see how hard these would be to counterfeit, and have them still look legitimate. One more thing about our money, and I feel that this is best of all; its waterproof! I can go swimming or snorkelling with cash in my pocket, and still spend it when I get out of the water. I wouldn’t want to do that with a bank card, and certainly not with paper money.

As Australia is a country surrounded by water, full of people who love the ocean, swimming at the local pool, creek, river, or any other body of clean water that is located inland, I find it fitting that we have waterproof money.

Earlier in Australia’s history, around the early 1966, Australia first switched to decimal currency. This was a huge step for us, moving away from Pounds, Shillings, Pence and all of that, and into an age that was divisible by 10. One of the first changes to be made after the conversion however, was to our 50 cent coin. Originally it was round, as you can see in the picture below, and also made of 80% silver and 20% copper. The Mint decided firstly, to change the metal composition, as the value of Silver had changed dramatically, causing the coin to be more valuable in melted form than on its face value. It was changed to a tin/lead composite and value for money was restored, as well as a change of shape to a 12-sided dodecagon design, due to some vision impaired people complaining that it was too hard to differentiate between a 20 cent and a 50 cent piece.

The photos I have attached to this post are as follows:

Above is a photo, showing an example of the microprinting on a $20 note. The words “TWENTY DOLLARS” are repeated in the background, and are almost illegible by the naked eye.
A closeup of a ‘ONE CROWN’ coin from 1937, a semi-rare coin to commemorate the assention of King George VIII, worth 5 shillings, and made from 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper.
A cluster of round 1966 50 cent coins that I have in my possession.

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Catherine, Feb Photo, Meme, Memories, Personal

Feb Photo 27 – Something I Ate

Feb Photo 27 – Something I Ate

For our last night in Hiroshima, and also Japan, we decided to go out for a banquet meal at a small local restaurant. Finding the restaurant was not an easy task, as all of the signage is in Japanese (funny about that, huh?) but after about 15 minutes of walking around the back streets, we found this lovely place that partly resembled a house, but luckily was a restaurant. We found a waitress who was able to work out through the language barrier that we wanted a meal for two, and took us to a quaint little table for two.

We were shown a menu, all in Japanese, and she proceeded to describe each dish in a mixture of English, Japanese, charades and even a drawing or two. There were 5 courses, plus dessert and drinks.

The courses were as follows (using my photographs of the evening as a guide).
Course #1: A small salad with raw beef (sashimi) that was simply delicious; almost melting on my tongue.
Course #2: A green salad / omelette, cooked at our table on a small stone-based flame.
Course #3: As shown above, a raw fish (sashimi) served whole on a bec of green salad. The middle of the fish is cut, prepared and served on the plate with the fish remains, showing how fresh it all is.
Course #4: Stuffed eggplant with tofu.
Course #5: Deep-fried eel, served whole, head included, with middle section sliced and prepared for eating.
Course #6: A vegetable soup, possibly Miso, veeery hot!
Course #7: Kiwifruit and Mango served fresh
And of course, a whole bottle of Sake to wash it all down with…

We both crossed many culinary limits that we had currently had, including eating raw beef, eel in any form, and this was my first experience with drinking Sake. I am glad that we did try these foods though, as they were simply amazing, and definitely not what I had expected them to be.

Our waitress was one of the nicest, loveliest and most polite waitresses I have ever come across, taking the time to explain what each dish was when I asked (by pointing to the menu) and again when each dish was brought to the table. I can assure you, the charades of “omelette” is not an easy task to undertake, especially when describing it to someone who has little/no clue of the language being spoken. Always serving with a big smile on her face, often laughing politely at times, like when we first saw the eel staring at us from the plate… but never laughing in a rude manner.

The best part, the 7-courses and bottle of Sake came to a grand total of $3,000Y, which translated at the time, to around $38AU. I challenge you to find a better deal in any restaurant here in Australia.

This level of politeness was almost the norm when we were travelling throughout Japan, striking up conversations with various people on trains, streetcars or simply at landmarks. Most were fascinated by Australians, almost as much as we were fascinated with just being in Japan. We had a group of people who had overheard us talking to each other on a ferry to Miyajima, and, although barely able to speak any English, managed to ask “Australia? You Australia?” I replied “Yes, we are from Australia”. They spoke excitedly amongst themselves for a while, then they caught my attention again, saying “Sid-en-ey? You Sid-en-ey?” I replied with “No, we are from Melbourne”, but they already had their camera and phone out, showing us photos of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. I think I had one photo of Melbourne on my camera, so showed them that, and they were amazed at that too… then they asked “Honeymoon? You on Honeymoon?” We laughed, and said no, simply enjoying a holiday to Japan. They giggled, but seemed content with the response.

There were many instances of people simply talking to us on transport or in the streets, which is a rarity in Melbourne, and unheard of the week before in New York City. Everyone we encountered in Japan was always so eager to please, always completely professional and courteous, and always gave 100% of their skill set to us, as if we were the only customers that they had all week, even when in a crowded store.

The banquet we had on our last night in Hiroshima will be remembered as one of our last in Japan, and also for being such a wonderful meal for so many different reasons. We have tried to match the meal at various Japanese restaurants here in Melbourne, but nothing comes close to the original.

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Oh, and if any of you are thinking of dropping past Hiroshima and want a good feed, here is the google map info for this lovely Restaurant!

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