Sunday Selections Week 34

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Today I will like to share with you our lovely new vast vista of concrete. It will probably look a bit boring to you. I have to tell you, it is most definitely NOT boring to us. This has greatly improved our life. The area we got concreted was formerly gravel and potholes and one heck of a mess in wet weather.

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The concrete was done in 3 separate pours because there is a large rectangular area with a side triangle out the back which needed quite a bit of shaping and a drain put in. In the above photo you can see the triangle, and you can see the area which has some of our old gravel there. I am thinking this might be a great area for a cactus garden – inspired by River.

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This is the drain side and you can see my Polo is happily chilling out in her new and much improved home.

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There were also two pours for the driveway itself – one for the back half, and one for the front half. This photo shows where the first pour and second pour meet, taken from the laundry door facing the back of the property.

The laundry was a room where gravel regularly got tracked in. This meant doing the laundry 99% of the time you would step on a piece of gravel. I can tell you that stepping on one piece of gravel as a surprise to yourself is akin to stepping on a lego with bare feet, which I am sure has been declared a form of torture by multiple governments *and* is almost certainly used in some cultures as a replacement ritual for the ritual of stepping on hot coals..

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This view is taken from the laundry door and shows where the second and third pour meet. Our gates had to have some work done as one of the concrete trucks got bogged out there and ended up hitting the fence, sending everything out of square and the gates no longer met in the middle.

The laundry which opens onto this area is the entrance to the house which we use the most. This is the best place to bring in groceries without worrying about a cat escaping, plus, you can pull the car boot (trunk for our US friends) right up next to the door.

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Here you can see the concrete sealer shining in the sun. The driveway sparkles like a *Twilight vampire! YAY!

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This final shot shows where the new concrete and the old driveway at the front of the house meet. The old driveway is white concrete with one of those colour spray ons over the top. For the new driveway, the concretor suggested adding some grey colour into the concrete itself to match the spray on – it would last a lot longer and work better for everyone. I think it turned out much better than the original driveway.

Every day this week I have gone out to open the gate for the other half when it is his home time, and every single day, I have found myself trying to step *up* to the old concrete because I am so used to stepping up right there. When I go out the laundry door, I find myself hitting the concrete much earlier than my body expects the ground to be there. It is a massive change and it is taking some getting used to.

Would you like to join in? The rules are very simple:-
1. post photos of your choice, old or new, under the Sunday Selections title
2. link back to River at Drifting Through Life, somewhere in your post
3. leave River a comment so that she knows you’ve joined in and can come over and see what you’ve posted.

* No Twilight vampires were harmed in the making of our concrete driveway. :)

Weekly Wrap Up –

This week I was quite determined to stay at home and go absolutely nowhere, after two weeks of “Toodling” and “Gallivanting” with holidays and my Aunt and Uncle visiting. Don’t get me wrong, I loved having them visit – it is just lovely to sit still in one place after so much travelling about.

Last Sunday we did the fortnightly shop, and I settled back in at home intending to write quite a few posts for the blog(s) and chill out with the kitties, some colouring in, NYPD Blue, a little Lumosity game I have become quite addicted to, and catching up on my reading.

The LCN Jig, It May Be Up.

I spotted this in my feedjit earlier today –

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I guess we’ll have to wait and see if they keep using the same name. That particular post continues to get a lot of views and comments here on the blog

Did you miss a post this week?

Monday – I told you about my holidays.

Wednesday – Sipowicz Says #1 – quotes from NYPD Blue will be a monthly feature here on the blog for the foreseeable future.

Thursday – I mentioned that 7 would be airing the first episode of Mr Robot. You might want to circle back and read my angry comments that I left on Friday while waiting for the show to actually air, for your own amusement. :) Can you guess how many minutes it was delayed by? Did you catch the show? If yes, leave a comment over there, I would love to know what you thought of it.

Friday – we revisited the Six Feet Under finale.

Over to you –

Did you get up to anything interesting this past week? :)

Aussie Culture, Happy Snoskred, Home

My Chinese Aunt

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You may recall my post about My Uncle from a little while back. Now, here is the story of how I got a Chinese Aunt as a surprise to myself.

First of all, there was a relationship misfire. My uncle brought out a lady from China and moved her in with my long suffering Aunt and Uncle, with whom he had ended up living before he left for China. They stayed for 3 months and it was quite the nightmare. She clearly could not handle many of his OCD tics, nor could she tolerate the amount he was drinking which at the time was quite a lot..

The fact that he was quite determined to learn zero Chinese, the fact that he dumbed down his English to things like “I no like” or “It is the Up Money”, the fact that he had little money and he wanted to hang onto as much of it as he could, even to the point of denying this poor woman a bag of peanuts while he bought a bottle of scotch a day and as much red wine as he felt like.. plus the fact that he made this woman do everything for him including emptying his ashtrays.. I am assuming none of this was awesome in her book.

So they went back to China, where she unceremoniously dumped him, and he went looking for a new wife to be. After a while he did find a lady and they moved in together, and thus began his three years of living in a country where he did not speak the language at all, and he resented the fact that she spoke Chinese with her family, plus he was irritated that he couldn’t read any of the menus at restaurants, nor did he like any of the food.

After three years they decided to return to Australia, even though it meant she had to leave her excellent long term Chinese job, plus now she was in a country where she did not speak the language. She does get English lessons with her visa but he is the one who has to organise it and he has not managed it thus far, even though I have given him all the information to do so. She could not easily get a job doing what she used to do, so now she works too many days a week at a local Chinese massage place.

My Chinese Aunt is fantastic and we all love her, even though some of us do have a concern that she’ll be out the door once she gets her permanent residency – and I would not blame her if she was, to be honest. She has a daughter to a previous husband and there is already talk of her daughter and her daughters husband coming out here to live. chtoes

My Chinese Cousins toes in the gorgeous white sand.

So I also have a Chinese cousin. They visited here a little while back and we took them touring about a bit, they loved it. Even though I do not speak Chinese and the daughter has only a little bit of English, we communicated very well. I took them for a day at the beach and it was amazingly gorgeous there – the water was crystal clear, the sun was shining, even *I* went in for a swim.

I’ve told my Uncle to his face that I would find it difficult to tolerate him, and I’ve told him he needs to seek some help for his depression and OCD which just a few months ago had his wife in tears during a family visit and writing “depression” and “anxiety” in Chinese on her phone and translating it to English for us.

I fear if he does not deal with his issues, she’ll be gone faster than he can blink – just as the previous ladies were. We’re not talking a little OCD, we’re talking things like turning a computer on and off for an hour, or checking many times that his cigarette has been extinguished.

I do believe that the spousal visa system needs tightening up. Just my opinion. There are way too many people from other countries married to our older Australians whose marriages last *exactly* the amount of time it takes to get permanent residency here and not a day more.

I think the easiest way to fix this would be for permanent residency to take a much longer time than it presently does, which is 2 years at the moment, or a requirement that if the partner leaves before a certain amount of time – 10 years, I think would be fair – their permanent residency is revoked as well.

Aussie Culture, family

Phone Addiction

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I made a comment on Ask A Manager a while back.. Part of my comment said –

My thought is – pick up the phone and call to schedule interviews….If you suffer from call reluctance or lost your tongue to a cat, at the very least, TEXT these people.

I had ticked subscribe to comments when I posted so I knew I would receive any replies.. I certainly did not expect very many.. And I went to bed because it was bedtime.

The next morning, I was somewhat shocked to receive a large number of replies and the majority of people were saying they would never text someone to schedule an interview. As the conversation went on, I became aware of a large gap between how Australia does things and how America does things which was deeply surprising to me.

I think I have managed to identify some of the reasons for this gap thanks to the discussion.

Firstly, you can easily tell in Australia if someone gives you a mobile number. The prefix will always be 04XX. In the US, they cannot tell – mobile and cell numbers look identical.

Secondly, it appears that some US plans charge people to receive SMS – I get free unlimited text with my phone plan and I have never heard of anyone being charged to *receive* an SMS here, though I know people sometimes get charged higher SMS fees for sending them to competitions.

Thirdly, it seems from the replies I received that not everyone in the US has a smart phone and many people are still using older style phones. Here in Australia out of all the people I know, maybe two of them have older non smart-phones. It is easy to update your phone here without having to pay any up front fees, you just go on a contract for 12 or 24 months.

Fourthly, some employers in Australia are using SMS to communicate with their employees. There is a system called MessageNet which allows employers to easily set up rostering, sms groups and reminders.

This concept seems complicated so I will give you an actual example – let us say the local Mcdonalds wants to let all their employees know when a shift becomes available. In the old days, a staff member would have to call every staff member and let them know, and ask them if they wanted to work the shift. They would have to leave voicemails if someone did not answer. If you have 60+ casual staff members, calling all of them can be time consuming.

With MessageNet, you can easily and quickly send one SMS to all your staff, saying “Shift available 12/4/15 from 4pm to 10pm call X number to claim this shift” – and within minutes of sending that SMS, it is likely a staff member will call in and claim it. The other possible business uses for SMS are enormous and potentially save time, money, and hassle.

And finally, SMS confirmation has become a big thing in Australia. It started out mostly with banks and online transactions sending confirmation codes to your mobile, but it has not ended there.

I now get many appointment confirmations via SMS. My hairdresser, my doctor, my psychologist, my employment agency.. all of them will send me an SMS on the day before my appointment. I have to reply with Yes to confirm my appointment. This is actually brilliant and something I encourage greatly. I am certain this has cut down hugely on missed appointments and helps businesses to reschedule when someone has to cancel.

I track my prescription medications via a phone app that my pharmacy uses. I find most pharmacies now have one of these apps. Not only does it alert me when I have 7 days left of medicine, but within the app, you can set up a daily reminder to take it.

These days, I even order our pizza via a phone app. Our local wood fired place has an app of their very own, and it is brilliant. I can even order salad at a local healthy food place via an app.

I Am Not A Slave To My Phone –

But even with all these awesome apps and sms notifications, I am *determined* not to be constantly tied to my smart phone. How does one manage this? I try to keep some degrees of separation. Here’s how I roll –

– I don’t use my phone in the car when I am driving. EVER. It only takes a few seconds and you’re dead or you’ve killed someone else. If you do use your phone in the car, please, I am begging you, STOP doing that.

– I don’t have apps like Facebook or Twitter or Instagram installed. I did have Facebook once but I uninstalled it when they updated their messenger app so it would put peoples profile photos on my phone desktop, which was downright spooky and a bridge too far for me.

– I don’t have a lot of games installed on my Samsung Galaxy. I still have my iPhone and that contains my phone games – but that phone does not have a sim card. I find it useful to have degrees of separation between games and phone – this is very awesome for me.

– My phone does not go to my bedroom. It has a home and a charging station next to my recliner. This gives me sleep time free from buzzing and phone noise. It also means when I wake up, I get me time instead of phone time.

– I have a block on my phone between 10:30pm and 8am which turns all noise on my phone to silent without vibration, so there is no way I can hear any phone noises or buzzing from the bedroom.

– I have a camera ability on my phone, but I also have a cute little Panasonic Lumix which I use for photography, so I can keep photography and my phone separated when I want to.

– I deliberately do not have every email account I use hooked up to my phone. I select which email accounts I want to be able to reach me if I am out and about and I can turn them on and off easily.

– The Other Half and I use an app called Kakao Talk to communicate with each other for free. There are other apps you can use for this, too. The major benefit for me is this – messages from him have a very specific tone alert so I know when he is messaging me.

Toxic Relationships

It does worry me that some phone-using people – in particular younger generations of people – seem to be heading down a potentially not great path into a toxic relationship with their smartphone and in some cases their tablet. I’ve been to restaurants where people are sitting there doing stuff on their phones instead of being in the moment with each other. I’ve been to movies where people cannot resist the pull of the phone.

Nev Schulman from Catfish wrote an article on this subject – The Reasons Why Your Cell Phone Is Slowly Killing You. Of most concern to me is the new generation of hunchbacks we are creating.

I also saw this article –Trying to Live in the Moment (and Not on the Phone) – after reading it, I decided to install the app Checky. It turns out that I check my phone on average 15-20 times a day. At least 2-5 of those will be replying to messages from The Other Half. One of those will be turning off my medication alarm.

Live In The Moment

I was already thinking about living in the moment for a few different reasons –

– seeing so many photos of the 747-400 coming in to land at Illawarra Airport where almost everyone there has a phone they are holding up, taking either still images or video.

– seeing people at various events using their phones to capture moments which they would never bother to get an actual camera out for.

– seeing people using phones in social situations like restaurants and cinemas.

How do you handle your smart-phone usage?

Aussie Culture, internet, life lessons, things to remember, Worried Snoskred

NSW Election Day

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If you are in New South Wales, the polls have just opened. :)

I’ll be working in a polling booth again today. My apologies for not being around so much this week, I’ve been working on the training and getting organised.

It is a super long day and it’ll take me a couple of days to recover from it, so I won’t be around too much, at least not until Tuesday or so.. :) Have an awesome weekend everyone!

Aussie Culture, elections, politics

Isn’t It Ironic…

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…that a website called news.com.au should contain so little actual news. Seriously? Your headline article is about a shopping fail? On a day when an Australian young person exploded themselves, killing 10 people in Iraq?

That news – and if you want to read about it, click here – does not even rate being in the top 4 stories listed on the site, instead, something about private detectives paid to have sex in order to bust illegal brothels, something about a pair of pants, and Maureen McCormick is evicted from a teevee show?

Well, the last one I am a little bit sad about because I did get sucked into watching the show and I loved watching Maureen on it, however this is the last week of the show so it isn’t that big a deal. It certainly is not headline news!

But it gets even worse. Check this out.

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Picture: web grab. Source – Snoskred – Life In The Country.

Web grab? Credit News Corp Australia? What the heck is up with that? So, we all can now go to any web site we like and grab a screenshot and then give credit to ourselves for taking it? I bet if I did that to a news.com.au photographer image, there would be threats of a lawsuit or something..

If the person who took the image happens upon this post, contact me with your name and I’ll give you *proper* credit.

I have long been thinking that news.com.au has jumped the shark and that it contained little news, but this is the day when I finally am giving up. I’m stating to you, out loud, that I intend to stop going there, foreverz.

Pretty please to hold me accountable on this statement. If I ever post here about news.com.au again, or link to a story on their site, I want you to slap me down hard in the comments section. SRSLY!

I don’t know how many more dress stories I can take, what with that blue or white dress last week, and now this. The only time I want to see clothes as a headline on a NEWS website would be if someone was killed by their outfit. A fashion site is a different story, of course.

So where can you get actual news now? Which sites do you go to?

Probably the only site I can think of is abc.net.au but if you have a decent news source, let me know. :)

Annoyed Snoskred, Aussie Culture, Fail Whale, In The News, Media

Night Soil

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Would you fertilize your garden with human poop?

Neither would I. But in some countries, this is the done thing. They even have a name for it. They call it Night Soil. I first read about night soil a few months ago while reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

Rice has to be fertilized repeatedly, which is another art. Traditionally, farmers used “night soil” (human manure) and a combination of burned compost, river mud, bean cake, and hemp and they had to be careful, because too much fertilizer, or the right amount applied at the wrong time, could be as bad as too little.

And unfortunately some of those countries are now importing foods into Australia, and we are eating these foods sometimes without being aware of it due to poor food labelling laws.. How many times have you seen something like “Packed in Australia using imported products” – imported from where?

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They don’t tell us.

That picture above is from the label of my favourite salad dressing. Why do they need to import ingredients? Everything they use in this product is available right here in Australia.

How has this happened to this great country we live in? A country that grows almost everything and could supply almost everything we need without having to import one single item?

How is it, that I now cannot buy a tin of grown in Australia Champignons? I’ve tried all the supermarkets. There are no champignons grown here anymore, not that I can find.

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Check the label, and you will see –

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I grew up in a household where we always used champignons on our homemade pizza. I grew up eating champignons right out of the tin. I can tell you how they tasted when they were grown in Australia – like someone took a huge bunch of mushrooms and removed their essence, their flavour, and packed it into each and every champignon. I actually preferred them to fresh mushrooms.

These Chinese champignons taste like nothing. There is *no* flavour. You might as well eat the paper on the tin.

And now, several Australians have contracted hepatitis A from frozen berries.

Could this be due to night soil? Nobody knows as yet. But you better believe I’m not buying any more products which are grown overseas. Why would we allow products from countries you need to get vaccinations to visit?

And why on earth would we allow product labelling that does not tell us where the food originates from?

Go to your food pantry, right now.

And take a good look at the labels. Do you have any products which say Product of Australia? Or does everything originate from locations you personally would not travel to, let alone eat food from!

Angry Snoskred, Aussie Culture, food, potential disaster, shopping

Mesmerized

I do not truck with these real housewives shows. Not into this kind of teevee at all..

That was, until Gina Liano arrived on the scene.

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I find her eye makeup mesmerizing.

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I have no idea what is going on half the time, or who the other people are, but if I flick past and catch Gina on screen, I am stuck like mud. I have to watch to see more of that eye make up.

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The photos do it no justice. Even the youtube videos are nowhere near as good as on my tv screen. I think what it is, the thing that sucks me in, is that shade of green she uses. Seriously, watch the clip below, you can see her applying the eye makeup, plus, at the end the final shot gives you a bit of an idea of the intensity of this green eyeliner she is using.

The beyotching I have sat through, just to see more of this eye makeup. I truly cannot understand how she gets so much of that shade of green there. I’ve never even seen anything to compare to it, not even on a drag queen. And her outfits are pretty extraordinary as well.

Arena have been advertising the upcoming season pretty intensely with an ad set to one of my favourite songs, here is a short version of it –

which you can view in full here. Yes, the waving randoms on the escalator are deeply annoying, and so are the flight attendants, but all of this is richly rewarded with the synchronised walking in heels section – especially the new blonde clown on the end whose name, it appears, is GAMBLE. SRSLY! Plus, the other new chick is named Pettifleur.

The Real Housewives of Melbourne season 2 starts airing this coming Sunday at 8:30 on Arena.

Rather than be a snob about it, I’m just going to be honest with myself and admit that I like watching the eye makeup of Gina and the outfits and tune in.

Could Gina soon be Judge Gina? A pilot has been shot. And I have to tell you I would enjoy that kind of show a lot more that Real Housewives.

Aussie Culture, celebrities, Gossip, television shows

Here we go again..

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Please to explain how Bill Shorten is even an option on this poll, news.com.au. Bill Shorten is not a member of the Liberal Party and even if he were to get ALL THE VOTES there is no possible way he can become the leader of it! You might as well put Ronald McDonald on the form as well..

Look, there is zero doubt that Australia adores Malcolm Turnbull. The guy says what he thinks and it has cost him dearly at times, rather famously costing him the leadership back in 2009. He will always be known to Q&A viewers as That Guy Who Wore The Leather Jacket That Time.

The Australian Media are all in a tizzy, they love this kind of stuff *so* much. And it will run 24/7 until Tuesday, I’m certain.

Do the public love it? Having worked at the past few elections I have heard many comments from people who are forced to show up and vote, and the general theme is, I’d rather not have to vote for any of these idiots.

I had a few people tell me they’d prefer to “blow all those bastards up” which is a very Australian statement. Non-Australians might not understand how that can be an Australian statement, but this was a catchphrase here for many years thanks to The Kingswood Country. AKA – “Somebody/someone should blow [current object of annoyance] up!”

Some people advise they would prefer to urinate on them than vote for them. I’m deeply appreciative that these people are willing to express their apparent fondness for golden showers with a random like me handing out their voting papers, but the germophobe within me says, ew.

I also deeply enjoyed the drawings of genitalia on the ballot papers, though I did not understand why people drew such small penises on such a large canvas. Were these self portraits? Use the whole ballot, peoples, it is enormous. Have a look at the size of the largest ballot here – Australia’s Compulsory Voting System; Is It Good or Bad?.

In general people were vastly unhappy with all the uncertainty around Kevin Rudd and the Labor Party, so they are unlikely to be huge fans of these same issues in the Liberal Party.

With that said, the last federal election was a very clear middle finger to the Labor Party and I suspect the only reason the Liberals got in is due to the fact that they were not Labor. EG I’m voting for these people because they are not THOSE people. Nobody seemed to like Tony Abbott then, and nobody seems to like him now.

For what it is worth – there is an upcoming election in NSW and they are looking for staff if you live in NSW and you want to give it a try, click here for more. I’ve worked elections a few times and have enjoyed it enormously. :)

Aussie Culture, bitches, elections, politics, work