Spider Pig

One of my oldest and dearest friends, has a Tumblr and she updates it fairly regularly with really funny memes, great photos of delicious food, lots of bacon memes and the most gorgeous pictures of puppies and other cute baby animals.

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Well today, she posted gifs of huntsman spiders doing disgusting things like climbing all over a toilet and one in a web playing with a cigarette.

ERR MER GERD.

Anyway. I am not going to post the pictures here.

What I did find incidentally, was I started to reminisce about 1995 and have spent much of the last hour discussing 1995 with her and two others from high school on Facebook. In 1995, we were in year 7 and went on a camp to Glenbrook in the lower Blue Mountains west of Sydney.

It started off as good as can be, sunny, enormous rucksacks filled to the brim on our little 12 year old frames. Full of excitement. We caught the train out to Glenbrook and then hiked for hours and hours about three kilometers to our campsite, where we then put our tents up and built a camp fire to cook our sausages and toast our marshmallows.

My good friend brought along a toy ghost to hang in the tent, it was clap activated, making this “oooooohhhhhhh” sound and emitting a green light. She hung it from the centre and we had a good laugh, until this enormous thunderstorm happened out of nowhere and the ghost would not shut up.

Then we started talking about The X-Files. Remember that really awesome sci-fi show with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson? Well, my friend told us about a worm that lived in the sewer.

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The stuff of nightmares
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Game over man. Toilet was not happening.

Another friend (who is chatting to us on Facebook) developed gastro. Probably from an undercooked sausage that hadn’t been kept cold enough while we hiked to camp. She wanted us to go to the toilet with her because she was terrified that the worm would come out while she was sitting down.

Uh-uh. Way too scary. Poor thing was on her own. Plus it was pouring with rain. Torrential. This storm was horrific. Our tents were starting to leak, they were so sodden with the rain.

We must have surely gotten some sleep that night. I can’t remember. However finally in the morning when the sun rose and we could see the damage from the night’s storm and rain, I remember thinking we were quite lucky to have gotten out of it unscathed. There were fallen branches from the huge trees everywhere and the creek had swollen right up into quite a torrent. There were kangaroos greeting us and we couldn’t start a fire because the wood was wet.

When we did pack and start the hike back, we stopped off at toilet that flushed and I made a very hasty entrance ready to finally go (remember the worm? I refused to use the non-flush hole in the ground toilet at camp) when I shut the stall door and looked up… THERE WAS A HUNTSMAN SPIDER.

I bolted. Thankfully did not wet my pants. I was busting. Put my rucksack back on and continued on until we got to the train station!

I remember at the time being terrified and it would absolutely horrify me if my daughter ever went on a camp like that, however gosh it was a good time. To think that nearly twenty years on, we can still laugh about it, is a very good thing.

I’m linking this blog up with Slapdash Mama at The Lounge. Pop on over and say G’day to her.

Also, just because I can:

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Bacon stock cubes. I got a little bit arty-farty taking that photo on Hipstamatic. Yes the pack is open, I’ve tried it. Very salty, I’ll be sticking to real bacon in the future.

Xx

Working For The Man

Unless you’ve been living under a rock in Australia in recent years, you will have noticed that the price of clothing has dropped dramatically.

Stores like Target, Kmart, Rivers, Cotton On, Coles and Big W have always sold cheaper clothing as opposed to other retailers such as David Jones and Myer. However even for their cheaper prices, in recent times their prices have gone even lower. It’s possible now to buy a T-shirt for a few measly dollars.

Interestingly, I cleaned out my wardrobe last Christmas, donating four large bags of good quality clothing that no longer fitted me, to charity. When I was in the charity store, I noticed that they were selling second hand clothing for $10/piece. Which, was way more expensive than going to Coles and picking up a Mix branded, brand new T-shirt. I discussed this with my mother and we both agreed that the people who would normally shop in charity stores, would understandably be more likely to go to Coles now to get something fashionable and brand new.

Earlier this year, an eight storey clothing factory collapsed in Bangladesh. Over 1000 workers were killed. When I heard of this occurring, I remembered the tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire where 146 people perished and 71 were injured as a direct result of appalling working conditions. The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire happened in the midst of a major unionisation movement and led to the improvement of conditions and allowed the growth of the unionisation of the workers to enforce safe working conditions and reasonable working conditions.

While we in the West have been working in safe conditions, thanks to the brave women and men who died at work and fought ever so tirelessly for workplace safety during the industrialisation of our society, there has been up until very recently, a largely ignored population of workers who are suffering the conditions that our ancestors did one hundred years ago.

On 24 April 2013, horrific news broke out of Bangladesh. A garment factory, named Rana Plaza where thousands of people worked making clothes for multi-national companies, collapsed killing 1,127 people, with approximately 2,500 people injured and many unaccounted for.

This tragedy brought to our attention, exactly what is going on and where our cheap clothes really come from.

The sheer number of people who died, for me is unfathomable. I don’t think there are 1,500 employees at my work. Or if there are that many, the number wouldn’t be far above 1,500. To think then that another 2,500 were injured and then there are many more unaccounted for, is just horrific.

If you have an hour, I urge you to click on the link below and watch the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s episode of 4 Corners

4 Corners 24 June, 2013

The next thing for you to consider, is where exactly your clothes come from. I did look through my wardrobe today. I can honestly say that in the last two years, I’ve bought clothes mainly from Target, Big W, Rivers and Kmart. For myself and my Missy. I’m not made of money, so when I see something for $10 over the equivalent for $40, of course I pick the $10 option. Also, I compare the quality of the fabric and often there’s no difference, so I choose the cheaper option, naturally.

Seeing the ‘Made in Bangladesh’ labels on my clothes made my heart sink. Here I am perpetuating an industry that treats workers like nothing more than cogs in an engine. Churning out more and more for less and less.

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Another report on the ABC’s programme, The Roast compared these garment factory workers, to battery hens.

The Roast 25 June, 2013

And they’re absolutely right! Here we are, happily paying a few extra dollars to buy a dozen eggs that have been procured in an ethical environment for our chooks, but happily allowing the continuing plight of the most vulnerable people in the globalisation food chain.

If you click here you’ll be taken to a website that lists companies that allegedly source their labour and products ethically. Two that stand out though, are Rivers and Cotton On which were two of the companies named in the 4 Corners story. So I’m not sure of the veracity of the web page. It may be outdated information.

As I post here today, I’m making a public declaration to shop ethically. I know that by taking my business elsewhere, I’m potentially cutting off the thousands of oppressed Bangladeshi workers who rely on the garment factories to survive, however I cannot willingly support the system.

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This is what cheap clothes look like to us
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This is what cheap clothes look like to them
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They need us in the West to take a stand and say that we will not allow our fellow men and women (and even children) to be literal slaves to an industry for pittance.

It’s your turn now, are you with me?

I Love and Hate my Sunburnt Country

I’ve been reading some blogs today, especially my friend RoboMum’s blog and she asked about ranting.

Ranting is something I do on a frequent basis. Ranting is something I did quite a bit of today.

I live in Sydney. I have lived here my whole life. I’ve travelled a little, Europe, New Zealand and the east coast of Australia, but I’ve never lived anywhere else but here. Sydney is very much my home and I love this city dearly, about as much as I hate it too.

Sydney’s a funny old place. Some amazingly affluent suburbs surrounded by the poorest of the poor (think of the very wealthy Eastern Suburbs and Kings Cross) and some essentially forgotten about, ‘ghetto’ suburbs. Social experiments that had disastrous results and repercussions that are lasting decades (think Claymore and Shalvey).

The actual geography of the Sydney metropolitan area is enormous. According to Wikipedia, there are 4.6 million of us, living within 12,144.6 km2 (4,689.1 sq mi) of land. Comparing us to Singapore, where nearly 5.5 million people live in just 710 km2 (274 sq mi) of land, we do really well here.

We have access to an awful lot of social services, such a health and education. If we can’t find work, we have access to government assistance. It’s not a bad set up we have here.

Which is why today, I got on my high horse and ripped into people on the Internet who were being wrong! It seems to me that some Sydneysiders truly believe that they are better than others and that they should have exclusivity to certain areas of Sydney.

I’m a south western Sydney native, who currently lives in north western Sydney. I grew up in amongst hundreds of cultures and languages. Big lunch consisted of sharing salami, baklava and Twisties, which was awesome. I had friends who taught me to swear in Italian, Arabic and Vietnamese and it was awesome.

So imagine my dismay, when I read this quote on my local newspaper’s Facebook page this morning regarding the proposed new railway line being built:

I spend a lot of time online and there appears to be a worrying increase in the occurrence of vandalism and crime reported in the *North West*. Where traditionally it was a quiet area, it now appears to have changed dramatically.The perpetrators of the anti social and criminal behaviour are mostly not residents of the *North West* area, but appear to have travelled from areas along the Cumberland Highway which is a direct route from the southwest area of Sydney to the *North West* districts. The first experience I personally had was in the car park at The *Club* when it first opened under that name. As a frequent visitor to the *North West* RSL at night for over 15 years, we greatly anticipated the state of the art upgrade. But what I saw was a dramatic increase almost immediately in the mediterranean youth. Drugs were being bought and sold in a rather public manner and the car park was packed with hotted up vehicles and the car park stairways were littered with these youths who were belligerent in manner and unashamedly blocked the walkways. Swearing, loud behaviour and a trendy dress dripping with gold jewellery was a complete change to the more conservative regulars. I stopped attending a night, have gradually ceased going to the club at all, in protest and through fear of safety, to this attraction for troubled youth. The club catered for this group, and the regulars and members now had to now line up to gain entry, surrounded by non english speaking youths.Everyone now had the same name bra or bro. The new management of the RSL had completely dismissed the need for the once very popular community gathering agenda, and now focused solely on the new money. Huge bouncers at the doors replaced the friendly door greeters, and the Police vehicle sirens now scarred the quiet and peace, particularly at night and on weekends.

It turns out, when challenged and she got defensive, this bigot has a ‘Lebanese’ son in law and a Malaysian daughter in law, so it’s ok to say these things because she’s totes multicultural and stuff. I’ll bet she even eats garlic on special occasions.

Another winning North West resident:

*Previous Poster* you are my long lost twin. you couldnt have said it better.
you can stand outside *Shopping Centre* and know who is and isnt from “round here” – alot of people come from parra and blacktown to *Shopping Centre* now, it used to be people i knew, now we are deterred and fit in our shopping between lunch in the city.

(I’ve only changed the names of people and locations, the spelling and punctuation remains as posted on the public forum)

To which I replied:

You lot disgust me. This ‘us and them’ attitude, it’s Australia, we are multicultural. Get over it.

So then the justification of casual racism started.

*Addressed to me*. I think the ‘us’ and ‘them’ statements refer to people who are from our area and other people/youths from areas other than the *North West* who’s behaviour in our community is cause for concern.
I personally am not looking forward to the new rail link. As I’m sure it will bring with it a lot of unwanted bad behaviour, loitering and crime.
*(Edited sentence out, it was long and pointless)*
It would be nice if there was some way to ensure that people getting on a train headed for communities in the *North West* were either going to/from home, to an event/party or the shopping malls. Specially late at night. Loitering youths from other communities with nothing to do shouldn’t be able to get on a train and loiter here either. It invites problems and crime and residents will begin to feel at risk and unsafe.

To which I bit back (because I was fired up by now):

*Previous Poster*, I wish that was the language that the previous posters had chosen to use. They didn’t though and specified areas of the world where they assumed the ‘perpetrators’ came from, and coming from those areas, must mean they are riff-raff. It just seems not enough of us are trying to stamp out casual racism in our society. So when there is a platform (such as the *Railway*) the people who are ‘not racist, but…’ come out in droves. I know I’m kidding and really idealistic by trying to post a valid argument here when it know it will fall on deaf ears, after all the attitude wins elections and is sanctioned by the very people in our society, the politicians and media, who should be using their influence, to do their bit to stamp it out.

Then this little cracker from another winning North West resident:

^ I think a part of the whole “im not racist but” has two sides. One, there is still lots of racism going on, but on the other hand, that words gets chucked around like nothing else. If you dont agree with somebody’s religion, you get called racist. Even when religion is not a race. If you disagree with a cultural trait of a group of people, you get called a racist, even when culture isnt defined solely by race. In general, i think its naive to ignore the fact that some areas are more rough than others. its all about uprbringing and culture, race has nothing to do with it.

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So that was me even though I was reading the damned thing online. Not content with not having the last word, I sunk the boot in:

It has nothing to do with disagreeing, but everything to do with judging. Sure there are areas where crime is more prevalent, however to suggest that the *North West* has none and it’s an idyllic utopia of beauty and wonder is just naive. To blame it on “Mediterranean” looking people (I’m not making this up, read all the comments) is racist. I’m not throwing the term around loosely, I’m calling a spade a spade.

I must have bored the bigots because they didn’t come back for more (disappointingly). I really don’t believe that they learned something from me today (disappointingly).

What concerns me most, is that this society we live in, has so much wrong with it. I see great community spirit in times of natural disasters and in times of trauma and sadness. When there is a sickening crime committed, the community bands together in disgust to demonstrate that bad behaviour is not tolerated. However here we see a blatant example of Australians forgetting that we have boundless plains to share.

How on earth are the big issues like the disastrous asylum seeker policy (which I’m completely opposed to locking people up for seeking asylum, FYI) ever going to be solved, when in our own neighbourhoods, people are intolerant of others who live 20km away.

As much as I love being an Australian, I hate it equally. I find it shameful at times to see just exactly how some people operate. I fear for the society my daughter is growing up in, where her social influences away from myself, her father and our family, may have these disgusting values and beliefs. I want her to know and understand that a person’s address and skin colour mean nothing, that it’s the person inside that counts. I want her to know and understand that a persons life, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or wage, is valuable and they deserve respect and dignity. Lastly, I want her to know that it’s okay to take a stand against those who think it is ok to discriminate on any grounds.

I want you to know that it’s okay to take a stand.

Racism stops with us. We have to be the example set in society for others to live like.

{Linking up today’s blog with The Lounge. Click the RoboMum link in my first paragraph}

Looking For Inspiration

The last month or so has been a total non-event in terms of training for me. And I’ve felt guilty. I have really wanted to just go for a run however there have quite literally been road blocks in the way every which way I’ve turned. Last weekend, my husband, Miss and I headed up to Katoomba to hike and get some fresh air and sunshine, but by the time we got there, it was pouring with rain. So instead, we had laksa for lunch at the RSL, then got stuck in epic holiday traffic trying to get back into Sydney.

Work. Ah work. Marking assignments has just about made me give up the will to live. Marking until 2am, lesson plans, cross-marking, uploading attendance, answering emails, blah blah blah. Ugh. Seriously, ugh. I have loved teaching so much, but the stress has really gotten to me. I’ve been so drained at the end of the day, going for a jog has been the furthest thing on my mind (behind getting work finished, parenting my daughter etc).

How on earth can the students make such silly mistakes?! So frustrating. Today I cross marked one where they didn’t even staple the pages in the chronological order they stipulated on their page numbers! Blown away. Yep, I agreed they were a fail grade too.

So today after the meeting, I got home and loaded Missy into the pram and we headed out for the first time in weeks. We did 5.3km and felt every metre. It felt so nice to be out in the sunshine. The winter sun is desperately trying to warm us up, but the mountain winds manage to keep everything quite cool.

So anyway, because of marking, I have not had any inspiration to exercise. Also because my sister in law’s wedding has been and gone, I no longer had a goal to meet. I have surpassed my weight loss goal that I set in January and I plateaued in my head. I think that’s worse than plateauing in a physical sense because that little voice at the back of my brain gets louder and louder.

“Do it tomorrow”
“Just get pizza for dinner”
“Fuck it, I’m too tired”

Etcetera.

So last week, I skipped weigh in (sorry Mish) and I’ll probably skip tomorrow too, simply because I don’t think it’s worthwhile to weigh in when I haven’t been doing the programme. I did weigh myself today though and it was after I’d eaten breakfast and lunch and even though I had myself convinced I’d gained heaps of weight, I’m only a kilogram up on what I was three weeks ago. So that in itself I’m ok with. It actually helped spur me on to get outside for a walk/jog because now I’m working toward getting down under what I was three weeks ago.

All in all, my whole attitude has changed. I’m living as healthy as I can, not restricting myself, just making much better choices. Maintaining my lifestyle now, finding balance. It’s like I had an epiphany. After a month of feeling totally over it and completely disinterested, I’ve finally switched on and things are falling into place.

I look at myself in the mirror and I’m not happy with what I see. I still see 82kg me, not 69kg me. I’m not sure if I will ever see the real me. My self esteem took an absolute bollocking and I’m still recovering from that. Also possibly what’s helping is I’ve had just about no flashbacks, nothing decent anyway, in well over a week now. So I’m either recovering really well and I’m ok now, or I’m going to crash completely and end up back where I was. Mental illness is awesome.

What is also spurring me along is this:

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My City to Surf bib! It’s getting really real now.

Anyway, I’m off. It’s nearly midnight and I’m working in the morning. Have a great day/night, wherever you are.

Xx