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July 30th 2008
Published: December 13th 2017
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Jul 08

Good start to the month shopping for outfits for 2 weddings soon (they have sales here this time of year too I discovered which was bonus but of course the dress I wanted wasn't actually on sale) and I couldn't possible wear something I already have could I, no I hear you say, that's what I thought.. Plus the photos would all look the bloody same! Just need to decide now what to do about hair do:
a. be butchered here again or
b. wait for the fab 'Dots' in Dublin next month but then that'll be after the 2 weddings, hmmmm.

Went to a wine tasting by 'Wanted Man' Vineyard from VIC, very nice Marsanne Viognier (the g is silent, I checked with the wine maker, but you'll get know-it-all's correcting you - very know-it-all with the old pronunciations here I find) but was talking to a nice woman who told me she was an "economic refugee" from Adelaide i.e. had to come to 'the big smoke' to get work in the 90's, funny really when that's what we and all the country people in Dublin were in the 90's too (and 80's, 70's ....). I just never thought of that phrase before.

Furthermore I made another discovery, that should have been as plain as the nose on my face, and that is that different brands of milk and bread cost dramatically different prices for the same thing (like am talking identical quality), but no I have been lashing out $5.20 for 2L of milk for the last 10months (which I was thinking was dear but hey what could I do) when the whole time I could have had it for $2.69. My kiwi mate told me she'd walk a long way to not buy milk at this price, d'oh. How dopey am I? That's like $100 I could have been spending on clothes!!! (And Multigrain sliced pan varies from $1.79 to $5, ok $1.79 one is a bit yuk but the $2.69 seems same as the $5). Is it the same at home or in Copenhagen and if so how did I not notice this before?

So you know when they ask politicians do they know the cost of a litre of milk, I wonder do they expect them to know the minimum and maximums and what brand is what?! Speaking of politicians Aussie ones are a very funny (as in ha ha) breed, they are not into brown envelopes like our lot but more into sniffing chairs in WA (yes in a sexual way) and fighting with staff in nightclubs in NSW & then forcing the club to sign an apology! What a country.

Book review: (skip past the lined area if you are easily bored/offended)

I finished reading 'The Time travellers wife' and hmmmm is what I say and as it has had so much hype, here is my humble review, while it was well enough written and was often a page turner and I liked the main male character (although sometimes you could tell it was a woman writing with how the detail on clothes or décor was phrased) the actual love story was about 2 fairly mundane lives with alright musical taste but the description of 7 miscarriages was a bit tedious as was the detail of how she did some of her art work (the writer is an artist by trade and they do say write what you know...yawn) but the hero could only time travel to his or his wife's past or limited future, no past lives there then.

Also it alluded to crazy adventures he had but you never really got those described to you which I think would have been much more interesting than being told how much sex they had, but I guess that's another book and as for the tiresome vague side story pertaining to the wife with the privileged upbringing and her best mates man, well it just made me dislike her.

One thing that did annoy me was the mention of the moral dilemma of going to a Wagner opera due to the association between Wagner and Hitler without explaining that Wagner died when Hitler was 5 years old and knew nothing about the little maniac. Yes Wagner's writings on race and anti-Semitism reflected some trends of thought in Germany at the end of the 19th century but by all accounts he also had many Jewish friends, colleagues and supporters. As with the works of Nietzsche, the Nazis used those parts of Wagner's thought that were useful for propaganda and ignored the rest. So it's not like he put Hitler up to it!!! Hitler was also a vegetarian so let's denigrate all vegetarians while we are at it.

Anyway the book gets an tonnes of 5 stars on amazon.co.uk but I can't agree, I guess I am just not that kind of girl & while I was entertained briefly I wouldn't necessarily re-read it or recommend it but it would do for a beach read though.


14th Have moved onto 'The Alchemist' by Paulo Coelho, which is supposed to be "life changing" (Madonna is quoted on the back, puke), hmmmm in 163 pages we'll see...turns out it's on the spiritual self-help end of things, don't know if I like the writing style but the message is ok.

21st Oh God now I am onto 'Eat, love, pray' more about finding oneself spiritually, in my defence it was a gift but annoyingly I saw the writer Liz Gilbert on Oprah recently with Oprah up her ass & condoning her and anyone in the audience leaving their husbands to find themselves, so that was a bit off putting.

At beginning of month I went to a school play for the 1st time in a long time - theme Vaudeville, my niece is the youngest in the school and was so cute singing her little heart out. Some of the acts were very good: like Maori traditional juggling called 'poi' - which developed dexterity in the wrist required for using hand weapons - that involves twirling fluorescent juggling balls on string, so in dimmed light they look like fire trails, also was a good xylophone piece and a percussion set, the school teaches a impressive range of instruments but the sentimental singing parts made me want to pick my eyes out with a blunt object, so thank God it's a bi-annual event!

4th Was a cold 5.8 degrees last night but I guess it's about 10 degrees now at midday and I seem to have a constant low level cold here meanwhile the whole rest of the kid family are all really dosed, stupid winter. Apparently spending 12 months in warm climates last year has probably thinned my blood & I used to laugh at them saying it was cold here, but it's all relative you know. Mum says its 16 degrees at home (aka summer) and I see it's a high of 31deg today in Boston, whoo hoo as am going in less than 4 weeks.

Had first ever work team lunch this week which was congenial in a trendy café called 'Blue stone' which I was looking forward to but turned out to be v. disappointing with dopey Spanish waitresses and crap service and ravioli that was like bullets complete with a hair in, nice.

Discovered there does exist "Sydney Explorer: The Complete Residents' Guide (Living and Working for Expats)" ISBN 978-976-8182-90-6 (I mention ISBN in case anyone else needs it) which I so done with a year ago...anyway.

Weekend 1 was a quite one with C out and about doing photography & me home sleeping, bliss, then out for coffee & paper reading and later watching the start of 'The tour du France' which is always a hypnotic favourite for us (plus we once saw it fly by our noses in Dublin 8), and Brittany looks very like west of Ireland, exact same style of house building & it was 17 deg and cloudy, blustery/spitting rain in summer. Sunday was less relaxed as Aunty B & Uncle C minding the juniors for the afternoon, so after trampolineing and hoolahooping at the house then we had a race back (me with buggy) from the playground so we were bleeding exhausted.

But in other news our friends and kinda relatives P&A got engaged!

Work news: 3 Resignations this month in work, number of parties 2, number of fancy lunches out 2 and I was offered an interesting contracting job in Malaysia (KL), very very tempting but would totally mess up our future visa plans for here, however if it was one year later......

Weather update: pretty wintery with wind chill (and no one has proper central heating).

Cultural event 10th: Hamlet by the Bell Shakespeare company in the Opera House with my sister, excellent 3 hour performance by all the cast and esp. aussie star actor Brendan Cowell - from first-rate TV series 'Love my way' & movie 'Noise' . But Hamlet fairly has all the quotes: "Never a borrower nor a lender be...", "To be or not to be...." 'The lady doth protest too much...", "Get thee to a nunnery....","Alas poor Yorick...."

It was lovely at the half time break sitting outside, muffled up, and sipping sparkles watching the harbour lights. I see now why it's always in top things to do in Sydney list. There are many venues in the Opera house and inside the drama theatre looks like any theatre but the overall experience is recommended even if the whole evening ends up a little bit on the expensive side.

And 2 more engagements announced today back in dear ol' Dublin, MnE (well I think this is old news but no one told me til now) & SnK, congrats. They say good things come in three's...

11th Went away for weekend to Forster, yay, a nice little beach town about 4.5 hours/300km away up the coast in NSW. Beach towns off season can be a bit sad but not Fossy, while it was quieter than the last time we were there it still had a good atmosphere, the weather was gorgeous and we caught two amazing sunsets, had fab. Eggs Florentine in a new café called 'Sotos', the shops were all having sales and had nice assistants and had some unusual things in stock and we had a great time with my sister & co. ending in 'Seal Rocks' a tiny little beach on the pacific which does actually rock, didn't see any seals but the pelicans were in residence and then we drove back via Myall national park and the great lakes while the others continued their holiday there. Another weird discovery the price of petrol goes up on a Thurs. and back down on a Monday, so need too fill you rental car on a Sunday! (Also Sydney drivers worse than Dubliners, very mean spirited and not too pushed on using indicators).

The 12th was National Aboriginal Day - public holiday perhaps? You must be joking!

This month's obsession:
I know one shouldn't talk about religion or politics in public and I've already defended an anti-Semite so in for a penny: (again skip past the lined area if you are easily bored/offended).

15th-20th is world youth day - why it's not called world youth week I cannot fathom - so anyway The Pope is in town, boat-a-cade on 17th into Sydney harbour & then pope-mobiling through the city, as you'd kinda expect. But get this, the CBD access by road is closed all week not just that day for happy clappy youth events and the government run roads web site the RTA suggests working from home or taking holidays this week! I know it's the majority religion but it's still only a quarter of the population. Why not just use the Olympic village?

Someone was complaining to me about bloody catholics and I was thinking "shut up" until I heard about closing CBD. But this isn't the most outrageous bit at all (if you are a catholic), even if you live in Sydney it costs $175 to see The Pope say mass at Randwick race course on the 20th & they expect 100k locals (so the person who said to me "are the bloody catholic's paying" can at least be told "yes they bloody are"😉. I have seen a Pope say mass in Ireland in 1979 and it cost Nought!

I looked at the 'wyd2008' website and it has loads of 'pilgrim' packages up to $400 (or cheaper for poor countries if they can scrape together an airfare which presumably is doubtful) for the 125k tourists they are expecting but what surprised me most is how 'The tourist things to do in Sydney that cost money' isn't just a list of links to other sites but fully sponsored Flash adverts on the 'holy' website itself, am really quite shocked, also there is official merchandise & an online shop (well what did I expect when everyone seems to be out to make a buck)! To add insult to injury I see in the paper the most insidious company in the world (in my opinion) McDonalds are one of the official sponsors!

So the total 'admission fees' come to $67,500,000, what the hell (or heavens) could cost that much? Like all the tourist accommodation in the $400 packages is being provided for free by parishioners and the hotels are doing discounts for anyone else & are not included here in these figures.
Jesus upturning the Pharisees money changing tables in the temple is springing to mind.

And they lied: they said Sydney weather in July is like May in Dublin or June in Krakow, I don't think so, with wind chill it's more like October sunny & crisp esp. in mornings and quite cool in evenings. There's camping the night before the finale at the race course, can't say I'd fancy that in 5 degrees & South Pole winds. Like yesterday evening I had to wear my coat watching TV sitting at home!

Before you think what a NUT JOB I AM
1. I am cognisant of how cantankerous I sound, but anyone I have talked to agrees.
2. I know it isn't 1979 anymore and that this country is not 90%!c(MISSING)atholic (it's 26%!f(MISSING)or the record).
3. Goes without saying I and everyone I am acquainted with has spent this kind of money on a music festivals (but at least there's multiple performers!).
4. But it's the principle of the thing, Jesus didn't say "where 225,000 are gathered in my name charge them an astronomical amount".

Apart from showing how balanced I am the reason fee compelled to justify myself is recently I reviewed some Oz hotels on trip advisor as you do, you know, in a free country and did not give particularly adverse reviews I may add but random Oz strangers emailed me to argue with me, weirdoes!

Update 4th: Just read in the SMH.com.au the NSW government have given police extra powers for wyd08 to deal with any one protesting about the Popes visit (nothing to do with what I ranting about even though it's still a crime!) and will be vetting t-shirts & banner slogans whereby they can fine people $5,500 on the spot if have an offensive slogans.

The likely groups who may protest - gays, pro-contraception organisations, atheists, agnostics, victims of abuse by Catholic clergy, and civil libertarians - said they had no intention of protesting but bloody will now to highlight the absurdity of these extra police powers. Good on them.

15th I see some answers to my questions in the Sydney Morning Herald
"Olympic Park just would not work as they needed a site which was close to transport and which would enable hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to have a direct line of sight to the Pope as he celebrated the final Mass." So supposedly the logical venue was Randwick racecourse. But there's a rail link to the Olympic Park and surely a direct line of site to the purpose built arena?

I also see "the Commonwealth is contributing $20 million to World Youth Day" and the tax payers are in for $160m which still doesn't answer why locals pay $175 a head. I see schools or parish halls (hope they publish the unwanted pregnancy rate too!) are also doing accommodation, surely they are not charging the church $400 a head, although I do know some of the $400 is for food.

Purportedly "scenes at the official merchandise shop for World Youth Day yesterday were reminiscent of Christmas sales, with international and local pilgrims snapping up clothes, flags and souvenirs emblazoned with the WYD08 logo and slogans such as "I love Jesus". Merchandise on offer included Virgin Mary candles for $15 and youth day water bottles for $25" (Why are people so stupid? Bet they are all tack made in Taiwan or China).

But they did mention EMG (whoever they are) "will share an undisclosed amount of the profits with the World Youth Day organisers". Why not disclose it? Are any of profits of wyd going to charity by any chance???

This is the story I love most John Herron Ex-ambassador to Ireland told the Pope there are 5 types of Catholics in Australia which I think is the same the world over.
1. Relapsing Catholics - who returned to the faith when stressed;
2. Nominal Catholics - the tick-the-census-box types;
3. Anti-Catholic Catholics - baptised but who hate Catholicism ("There are a lot of them around," the Pope told Herron);
4. Smorgasbord Catholics, who take bits they like and leave those they don't (the Pope called them "café Catholics"😉
5. And of course practising Catholics - the real deal.
What about plan old for no particular reason lapsed Catholics? And what about those hypocrites who think they are the real deal just because they go to mass every Sunday but are horrible to everyone the other 167 hours of the week?

The Immigration dept. are obviously wise to the sham catholic's though as they have refused 2512 visas for World Youth Day. Heading the list of countries for refusals were Nigeria (923 refusals), Lebanon (237), the Philippines (202), Ghana (181) and Pakistan (126). Meanwhile 32 Indian 'pilgrims' have gone a.w.o.l. in New Zealand.

Allegedly visa refusals were running at about 3 per cent, compared with a 1.5 rejection rate for normal applications in 2006-07. The leading countries sending pilgrims were the US, Italy, Germany, Spain and France. What about Ireland, have we given up? Yes I know we are too small to mention but everyone knows we are the "real" Catholics, ahem.

And some rebel defaced a war memorial with "Ratzinger rules" they'll be in big trouble for that, as they love their old war memorials here.

And finally the weather story in the SMH: "21 people were forced to visit hospital emergency departments after being caught out by Sydney's cold snap. Organisers said some pilgrims from Oceania and Africa had simply never felt such cold before and came ill-prepared." (Hmm wonder why that was, stupid wyd website perhaps?). "Temperatures in Sydney fell to 5.7 degrees on Saturday night, the coldest night of the year so far."

But this is the funniest vision of all "Members from the Catholic Women's League of Australia spent the weekend frantically knitting socks, scarves and jumpers for pilgrims" but good old Qantas has donated 10,000 of the airline's old blankets.

17th A combo of catholics, protestants and hindus from work (3 Aus, 2 India, 2 Sri Lanka, 1 NZ & 1 Irl) went out to spot the Pope for free as the cavalcade was 500mtrs from work today at soon-to-be-Saint Mary MacKillop place but we didn't see his face or anything and the cars were all white.

The 'Smh' has this:
"The Pope left St Mary's Cathedral house in his 17-car motorcade shortly before 9am (AEST) and made the short journey along Macquarie Street to the official residence of the NSW Governor, where he was met by Australia's Governor General Michael Jeffery and welcoming party, including Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Yadda yadda yadda. 'The Pope went on to describe Mary MacKillop - who was beatified by Pope John Paul II in January 1995 - as "one of the most outstanding figures" in Australia's history. After the welcome ceremony, the pontiff left to visit Mary MacKillop Chapel in North Sydney, where he will meet with representatives of the order of nuns she founded. Up to half a million people are expected to flock to streets and vantage points in central Sydney on Thursday to snare a rare opportunity to see the Pope."

So that's where we were North Sydney (where there is some Jesus street art) but he was gone again by 10am so that was hardly enough time for the nuns to give him tea, eh?


Here's a random thought how did "Kind Regards" get to be the sign off for emails, who was previously offering "Cruel Regards"?

19th we hosted our first dinner party for the newly engaged couple, C outdid himself with the cooking (about 5 hours worth) yum and then it took us about about 8hrs to consume it all and imbibe much vino. That morning though I went to get veg. at local market but due to 'wyd' the harbour bridge closed and the veg guys couldn't come, very annoying, yet all the 'fast' food vendors could make it & there were3 bus loads of pilgrims there, funny that, and a single cup cake cost $5, mercenary b'stards.

23rd taking the hair-do plunge, they emailed me to offer 20%!o(MISSING)ff so it must be an omen, fingers crossed I don't look any more hideous than usual. Hair turned out ok if not particularly noticeable and now that I look at the bill they cunningly gave me a 10%!d(MISSING)iscount instead of 20%! (MISSING) Am I surprised? No.

July ends with pizza, cinema with Irl. mates C&A to see 'The Dark Knight' (the Joker is very good alright) & few schooneroos & then farewell afternoon tea in ours on Sunday with the family and massive storm including wait for it........ snow!

28th Interview that amn't that into as we are off to Boston in two days, am so psyched.
Going to old friends wedding who is having Motown Band and some of the original UCG (college) crowd will be there so should be good fun.

How to get FX here:
Again this next bit could fall in the boring radar but it is part of running my life here as foreign travel is so important to me.

Getting foreign currency here is a drama and a half, you can't just go into a branch and buy it (or even phone them up anymore it's all automated 1300 numbers now, arrggghh), it has to be pre ordered and pre paid a week in advance (needless to say they all have vastly different rates), I am talking about USD not something obscure like say Danish kroner even. They all advertise they have FX but actually only have what punters brought in and exchanged back to aussie and one lot even says zero commission then you ring them and after going through 48 menus they say 'oh no we don't have any foreign currency you have to go to American Express bureau de change', who have the worst rate of all & charge min. $8, what the hell part of that is zero commission?

My own bank were least helpful of all with 'go to head office' and then finally one other bank said we can order it for you today and have it by tomorrow for collection. Then there was more drama as it wasn't my own bank I need 100pts of id. and as I don't have an effing drivers licence am treated like a pariah, even though I do have RTA photo id (that's real and cost flaming $42) which is issued by the same people as the driving licence, it doesn't count for as many points or some such ridiculous thing, but luckily I talked them around (This is also the reason I don't have a post paid mobile phone I will spare you the details but suffice to say I wasn't so calm then and there was shouting at the sales person in the phone company call centre as apparently the secret aptitude test to get bill phone us that you can drive, correction, as I can drive, is that you have a NSW driving licence).

You may wonder why I am bothering when we have atm card's that work abroad? Answer the banks here are having a laugh with their fees, would work out $7.50 for every $100 withdrawn! So the fee to change $1000 = $10 before you go vs. $75 at atm at destination for same amount. Would prefer to waste that $75 some other way entirely up to and including burning it if it meant not giving it to rip off bank. Did I mention the Banks are very profitable here? Like we have to pay a monthly fee to use the atm to withdraw out our own money (as in not on credit).

This is a perfect example of how 'the lifestyle' is not better than Europe, had a debate recently with someone who thinks being able to get a $5 steak dinner makes it a better place to live, which of course means nothing to me but even if it did I don't think I'd trust an establishment with $5 steaks. As it's such a big place maybe they just don't physically leave the continent for holidays so maybe FX just isn't an issue, the ones who do leave for hols. though must get some shock when they see their atm charges.

To add insult to injury it turns out there is a bank holiday on 4th August but it's not a public holiday, so I have messed up my leave application now and taking leave I don't have, ah well. But did you ever hear the beat of it, Good Friday is the only one of these at home as there's religion involved but there's nothing special or holy about 4th Aug, effing weirdoes. (Yes Irish Banks have 27th of Dec. off but they don't advertise it in the national holiday lists on the web!) Plus annual leave doesn't grow with time served, so you are always stuck with just 20 days (it grew in my last 2 permanent jobs) but they have long service leave which in NSW can be registered after 5 years service but you cannot actually take it until 10 years served or something.

Think I need a holiday.

Movies apart from Cinema
· Flags of our fathers - '06 dir. C. Eastwood, the other side's view of 'Letters from Iwo Jima', very good actually for a war film.
· Just sex and nothing else - '05 a Hungarian chick flick, very entertaining.
· Nathalie - '04 very French movie with Gerard Depardieu of course, is there 'franch' movies any without him?
· To kill a mockingbird - '62 Gregory Peck as Atticus and it was Robert Duvall's screen debut as Boo Radley, exactly the same as the book, must have had no screen play writers then, I enjoyed it but of course the book is better.
· Saw - '04 Aussie horror really good. (There are 4 sequels.)
· Sicko -'07 The new Michael Moore doco. OMG you don't want to get sick in the U.S. even with health insurance.
· It's a wonderful life (1946) - Still great even if Jimmy Stewart is in it.
· Network ('76) very good - big Oscar winner- and the ranting could easily apply to today
· Evan almighty '07 - what can I say it was on TV, I do think God might look like Morgan Freeman though
· The Bourne Ultimatum '07 - Jesus I was exhausted by the end. Matt Damon yawn though.
· Eastern Promises '07 - dir. Cronenberg (was always into his films) About vor v zakone (or Russian mafia), brutal stuff, Viggo Mortensen is brilliant though & Naomi Watts is a bit dull & way too skinny.
· 40 yr old virgin '05 - you either like Steve Carell or you hate him...

And oh my God 'The Jackson 5' ads for Eastenders, love 'em!


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