Friday, 27 February 2015

The weekend / festival of Cilla.

It's Friyay, people. A quick'un, today.

I am quite pooped, and am taking it easy tonight. Home delivered food on the couch in trakky daks drinking wine out of a tumbler kind of easy.

Dr. Blake's Mysteries is on soon. I love Craig McLachlan. He is a bit of a spunk and like a fine wine, he has improved with age.

I have a big weekend coming up. Tomorrow morning is the monthly WODfest at Crossfit. WOD stands for Workout of the Day. What I love is that they mix things up. Anyway, the WODfest is a 2 hour workout, followed by a BBQ.

Then I need to attend to scheduled bodily maintenance (pedi/eyebrow lopping etc). Then it is the belated 40th bday party of a friend.

Sunday is my birthday. I am having a quiet early dinner at a local gastropub with a few friends. Perhaps brunch with my family.

It is going to be a big foodie weekend. I shall report back on the eats.

I have something from the "annoying" file that I wish to share. I may be alone in this.

I it bugs me when people (shop assistants, often) describe garments as "flattering" or "slimming" on me.
I find it a bit patronising.
I am sure it is coming from a nice place, but still.

Oh yeah. And my fella has announced a sell-off of some of his boy toys, to make room for an ultimate boy-toy (a vintage car of some description).

What are you up to this weekend?
What strange things annoy you?
What boy toy does a man in your life have?

Saturday, 21 February 2015

My Vision for Australia (Or: If I were PM....)

Australian politics has deteriorated in the last 5 or so years. I never thought I would see a time where I thought "Hey, that John Howard wasn't bad at all, he actually did some good things". But I do think that now. It really is a race to the bottom.

Even Amanda Vanstone, who is a regular columnist for the "red rag" (The Age) admits that the current government got in not because people liked them, but because they liked the other party less. As a commentator said, just before the 2013 election, "Tony Abbott could drop his trousers and do a turd in the middle of parliament, and he would still become PM".

That is not the place we want to be.

In opposition, the Liberals openly derided the leadership argy-bargy and backstabbing. Alas, we now see similar leadership argy-bargy. The backstabbing is not overt, but obvious in the painted on smiles and evasive answers that MPs (ahem Malcolm and Julie) give to journalists.

After a budget which disproportionally affected the poor, negged by a hostile senate, and then a bloodbath in two state elections (I think the Prince Philip Knighting was neither here nor there), the government is worried. Rule number one of politics, it would seem, is to get back into power.

The vision of the current government was and is "Stop the boats", "Stop the bad taxes", "Cut the Debt". I don't really know what the vision is of the Labor party; perhaps they are too busy laughing, perhaps the media is too focused on the leadership argy bargy to tell us about Labor's plans, or perhaps they are taking a little time to work it out. The skeptics among us would say that they might have no plan.

I work quite closely with another doc who is a card-carrying member of the Liberal party. On many issues, I am quite left (but moving towards the centre on other issues). We have quite good chats where we solve the problems of the country. Hence I have thought about my vision for Australia.

I think that the biggest challenges facing Australia today are:
  • Tackling climate change
  • Moving the economy from being dependent on digging things out of the ground to something else (and we need to work out what that something else will be)
  • The ageing population, in particular keeping health and welfare sustainable.
  • Decreasing economic inequality, improving social upward mobility (mainly by access to good health care and education)
  • The just treatment of those in our region who seek asylum.
  • Staying wealthy in all of this.
 Being a politician would be a horribly hard job. I do not have all the answers, but here are some I propose.

  • Increase the GST, except for on fresh food. All other countries have a higher GST than we do. It is time. We need the money. People would argue that we need to tax big business, and in principle I agree, however it may drive jobs off shore.
  • Phase out the rebate for private health insurance, and put that money back into the public health system. Most of the bang for the buck in health expenditure comes from primary and preventative care. I could go on about this for a while, but I will not.
  • Encouraging innovation in industry. Rewarding small businesses who employ the young or long-term unemployed. 
  • Keeping HECS at affordable levels - education is the best way out of poverty.
  • A gradual divestment from fossil fuels into renewables - perhaps this is where Australia can lead. Germany are putting more energy into the grid from Solar power than we are, so Australia needs to buck it up a bit.
  • The issue of refugees who arrive by boat is a difficult one. I have read somewhere that people who arrive by boat are more likely to be genuine refugees than those who arrive by plane. The rapid processing of applications while people are in the community seems to be the most humane answer, however the logistics of this are far more difficult.
That is not a very comprehensive list.
I will turn it over to you.

What do you think are the basic issues facing Australia (or your country)?
How do we solve the issues? What would you do if you were PM?

Thursday, 12 February 2015

If I don't get Fit, I'll get Cross.

Or: CrossFit.

I am fairly consistent with my exercise. That is something I have been getting right. The difficulty is finding the time nowadays, with busy work and PhD demands.

I had been working out with a trainer in a group situation, for about 18 months. Over the last few months, she has become increasingly shouty. There have been the odd threats of more reps if we don't do the ones she said fast enough. If things hurt, we were doing them wrong, rather than her modifying the exercise. There were a few subtle points made about my weight, and she was puritanical about eating and drinking.

One day, after a particularly shitty day at work, I went to her session. It was really the last thing I felt like doing, but I know that I usually feel better after a good sweat. Sure enough, she threatened extra reps if I didn't run up a large flight of stairs quickly enough. So, I started the steps a bit up from the bottom. One of the group dobbed me in. I got accused of cheating, and told me to do it again. I said "no", and looked at her defiantly.

She did apologise and explained that she yelled at everyone to get us to work hard, but I explained that some days are just about ticking things over, the things in your mind too heavy to focus too hard on exerting yourself.

But that was it. I haven't gone back. I don't want to be yelled at. Fuck that.

I had been a bit intrigued by crossfit for a while. I like the idea - broad athletic competence, functional and varied movements. However, it gets a bit of a bad rap on the internets. Inevitable injuries, risk of rhabdomyolysis, overzealous coaches, paleo diets.

There is a crossfit gym (or "box") near my home. My curiosity outweighed my fear, and I gave the boss man a call. I told him about my niggles, asked a few questions. He was super friendly and sensible. I booked in for a trial session, which I did last night. The coach was friendly and knowledgeable, and a stickler for technique over reps.

The trial session was tough but enjoyable. I did a session tonight.

I rocked up at the "box" tonight. There were about 25 others there.  I was greeted by a shirtless young man, with bushy beard, mohawk and a chiselled 6 pack. He smiled broadly and shook my hand hello. I met the trainer from the previous night who greeted me warmly. It was very friendly.

The exercises were very reminiscent of the things that the other kids did at school while I had my nose in a book. Plus pushups (difficult ones). There was skipping, hanging off a bar and bringing knees up (hard on my girly hands) and a trial of handstands. I have a bit of a mental block to throwing myself at the ground headfirst, however the coach staged me through it. I was never any good at monkey bars as a kid, but I shall soon be swinging on a bar.

It was fun. I grunted and sweated and I felt better for it. I look forward to more.

What about you? What would you like to try?