Sunday, May 22, 2016

Get Lost

I have a confession. I am geographically challenged. I could get lost inside a paper bag, I say could because I would probably struggle to locate the paper bag in the first place.

Even in places that are very familiar to me, like a shopping mall. I can be walking a long, enter a shop and then when I come out have no idea which direction I was previously travelling. No idea at all. I can walk over 100m before something kicks in for me and I have that vague feeling I am backtracking.

My sense of direction is like Google Maps during an electrical storm – it just keeps sending me off in random and often contradictory directions. Turn Left, I mean right, turn right, it is back the other way…

Often my sense of direction is a bit inside out, like my internal map is upside down. I am certain I need to turn left, when in reality it should be a right turn. This is suddenly sounding very political, and like governments I end up spending my life making U-turns.

The problem is this inside out map does not occur all of the time, just often. 60-70% tops. That leaves 30-40% when my instinct is correct. This leaves me with a conundrum. Am I right to turn left or is this a time when I admit I was wrong and actually turn right. Right? Then I start to ponder if this is just my brain trying to call my own bluff. This can be a long a exhausting mental rabbit warren to caught trapped in.

When travelling this has some positives and negatives. Let’s start with the negatives so we can finish on a high note.

I need to allow a lot more travel time in unfamiliar places to factor in firstly duration of the mental debate as to whether this is a 60% or 405 occasion. Then there is the time for the back tracking, U-turns and general wandering around dazed hoping something familiar just sort of miraculously pops up in front of me.

I can complete many circles, and unlike the Griswalds as they circle endlessly around the Lambeth Bridge roundabout in European Vacation my circles are not always in the same direction and are rarely that funny.

I can pass monuments many times from very different directions all in a sense of bewilderment that no matter what direction I set off I end up back where I started.

Then there is the sense of panic that I will never be able to find where I want to be nor will I ever be able to find my way home. Getting home is worse because I can not reverse directions. A 20 minute journey to a destination can be a 90 minute journey home

On the upside when travelling I get to see things I would not have otherwise have seen, sure I may see some off them many times. Some of these things never make the guide books or tripadvisor, so a days outing can be full of surprises. Many times these surprise findings turn out to be better than the intended destination. Every day is an adventure.

Walking down the side streets and back alleys I also discover little shops and eateries that are designed and operated purely for the benefits of the locals, they are part of the fabric of every day life. I get to see places and people as they really are not just the tourist fa├žade.

The destinations are immediately much more exciting than they otherwise would have been just thorough the sense elation and relief felt upon actually arriving.

And I get to eat more, I have to, just to keep up the energy for needed for the hours of walking, and I still lose weight. And I have calves to die for!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Simple Pleasures

With the hustle and bustle and general stress of daily life we are constantly told of ways we can unwind and detox most of which are elaborate and expensive that requires some forward planning and organising, which in turn often adds as much stress as they purportedly reduce.

Here are some of my simple pleasures that can be savoured and enjoyed for what they are

  • ·         A perfectly ripened piece of fruit, it is sweet juicy and the perfect texture, for me it is biting into a crisp apple
  • ·         On the topic of food, how good is a potato? Either mashed or fried as a chip there is something homey and satisfying
  • ·         Removing a pair of boots, real boots like work boots, ski boots or serious hiking boots, trendy hipster fashion boots do not count. The removal of the weight and the releasing of the feet from the tight confines. Aaahhhhh.
  • ·         Whilst speaking of Aaaaaah. That internal feeling immediately after having a good poo.
  • ·         A bath or shower when the water temperature is Goldilocks - just right
  • ·         Clean sheets on the bed.
  • ·         A warm towel straight out of the drier.
  • ·         A beloved pet falling asleep on your lap. Sure this is difficult if your pet is a gold fish.
  • ·         The satisfaction when after brushing your hair on those rare days when it is perfect.
  • ·         When your drink of choice is prepared exactly as you like it.
  • ·         Someone remembering your birthday without previous reminders.
  • ·         Your own pillow after time away from home.
  • ·         Putting on your favourite t-shirt
  • ·         Spending a lazy morning in your pyjamas
  • ·         Having an empty inbox because everything has been dealt with. Even if only for a moment or two
  • ·         The sound of rain  on an iron roof
  • ·         A friend unexpectedly calling or popping in just to say hi.
  • ·         Finding money that is already yours but had been misplaced and forgotten like $5 in a jacket pocket.
  • ·         Finally getting that little piece of food out from between your teeth, that piece that has driven you mad for ages.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Domestic death traps

I have noticed a new and alarming trend in OHS practices currently being implemented in Melbourne’s major shopping precincts. A practice that will make us all question our competency as ambulatory adults and raises serious concerns about the physical safety of all members of society when attending shopping centres and other public spaces that are not implementing these same measures.

Escalators are breaking down, requiring servicing or maintenance. As a result said escalators are being turned off, left stationery where they previously conveyed unassuming passengers either up or down between floors.

This is where the dangers, lurking beneath apparently rise to the surface.

Previously, when not operating, these escalators – now death traps – were still accessible by the unassuming public as a standard staircase. Despite the steps all falling within Australian standards for their height and depth, stationery escalators always feel clumsy to negotiate compared to their moving counterparts.

This was perception, when not moving an escalator does in fact become a set of visually elaborate but functionally standard set of ordinary steps.

Not any more.

Twice this month I have encountered non operating escalators, in both the Bourke Street Mall and the QV Building that were not accessible to the shopping public. In both cases not only was there a plastic barriers blocking the entrance and exit to the escalator but there was also a security officer stationed directly in front of the escalator to ensure no-one received clandestine access to the steps.

It is to be noted that in both cases the escalator steps were all in tact, there were no gaping holes and not active maintenance crews.

The steps are too dangerous for the untrained shopper. Only professional step-climbers with the appropriate certification, training and experience were going to be allowed to access these steps. 

Stationery steps are dangerous people. Rumour has it that stationery steps may cause cancer.

At QV shoppers were directed to the fire exit to ascend from the basement to the ground level. The fire exit that consists of stationery steps!

The fire exit that consists of stationery steps that are narrower, steeper and more difficult to access than the stationery steps of the escalator.

It does make me wonder which other common pieces of infrastructure which have been trusted by millions of people without major incident and therefore considered safe are actually unmitigated death traps that need to be removed immediately. I do not know what will be next but I am sure that A Current Affair/Today Tonight will soon uncover the truth and that breakfast television shows will follow up with an outside broadcast including a panel of experts providing the general public 5 basic tips for survival if they encounter such hazards: How to drink from a public bubbler without drowning.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Weight loss loyalty

I enjoy food. Potato is one of my favourite with either mashed or fries being my preferred ways of preparing the humble spud. Which makes the potato gem (Tater Tots for American readers) my favourite of all time as it combines the two into balls of fried mashed potato.

When it comes to sweets it is chocolate. Sure I may entertain a slice of cheesecake or an apple pie every now and then but I will always return to my dark master… the cocoa bean.

Like Manu from My Kitchen Rules I am also partial to a good sauce.

These things are not conducive of maintaining or even losing weight.

I exercise regularly and yes I know it is good for my physical and mental health and I yes feel better having done it but the real motivation for exercise is so that I can enjoy my food.

So losing weight requires a bit of discipline with both diet and exercise.

It is the diet that is hardest. As I have explained I enjoy my food and instead of going extreme full on dairy, free, sugar free, gluten free vegan only to discover all of my meals have the flavour and consistency of dirt I am working on the principle of “everything in moderation”. This way I also think it has a greater chance of becoming a sustainable lifestyle choice.

Yes I have chocolate most days. But instead of a couple of rows from a family block (or more) per day, I now only eat a couple of squares. I am also more selective of the types and quantities of food I consume at meal times.

That said, losing weight it hard work. I think it should be more like airline loyalty points. People can earn points in many ways, not just by flying. And like points, members get status credits when they do take to the air.

In the same way you lose weight  in a number of ways. Substituting, milk, juice or soft drinks for water. Not having seconds. Riding instead of driving to work. One scoop of ice cream instead of two (and yes no scoops of ice cream might be better still). Grilling the chicken instead of frying it. This list of ideas is endless.

But what about the status credits. There is a fresh packet of biscuits in the lunch room at work. You know they are there, you have seen them, they are free and yet you choose not to take one. 5 status points!

The chocolate that you are very disciplined in rationing your consumption are just sitting there in the fridge tempting and teasing you every time you go to get a glass of chilled water. Every time you take the water without a companion piece of chocolate 7 -12 points depending on the brand.

You could stay snuggled up in bed all Sunday watching shows on Netflix with your cat or dog curled up next to your instead you get up and go for a walk, 15 points 920 if it’s raining.
You come home tired and just feel like pizza. It would be easy just to order one on line but you instead you use the 30 minutes it would have taken for the delivery to arrive to actually make your own pizza from fresh ingredients – with no oil and only the smallest amount of cheese – 25 points!

Then when you get to 300 points you instantly lose 1 kilo.

The loyalty should be rewarded.

Substituting meat for soy product in the shape of the meat it is replacing like tofurkey (turkey), facon (bacon) and notdogs (hotdogs)  steak is not acceptable and should be punished.

The inclusion of these products into a meal, or similar, should nullify any other weight loss activity for that day. You could have run a half marathon done 1000 sit ups, consumed  nothing but water and kale up until the evening meal of poserhouse steak and salad and the net result for the day is nothing.

Photographing Stairs

Stairs and steps are a popular subject for photography. They provide a strong repeated pattern, offer a symmetry and lead the eye somewhere in or through the image. Stairs, outside of a Hollywood movie are also static. Ok so an escalator contains moving stairs but they are contained within a stationery framework.

This provides a predictable and unvarying subject around which a photographer can often move to explore all angles to make the most of the shapes and the light.

Let the shapes and colours of the stairs themselves guide how the image is composed.

Stairs and steps are a popular subject for photography. They provide a strong repeated pattern, offer a symmetry and lead the eye somewhere in or through the image. Stairs, outside of a Hollywood movie are also static. Ok so an escalator contains moving stairs but they are contained within a stationery framework.

This provides a predictable and unvarying subject around which a photographer can often move to explore all angles to make the most of the shapes and the light.

Let the shapes and colours of the stairs themselves guide how the image is composed.

For more information about photographing stairs visit 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Review: Fever Pitch – The sultry story of Peggy Lee

This is the inaugural solo show for seasoned cabaret and burlesque performer, Camilla Cream. What a way to start a solo career!

From the moment she appears through the black drapes in her full length gown and flapper cloche hat and radiant smile Camilla Cream commands attention on stage. Opening with Fever Cream instantly has the audience in the palm of her hands as she warmly and enthusiastically enters into the audience encouraging them to become part of the show – even getting one woman to get up and dance with her.

Throughout the show Camilla’s honest and disarming style , and beautiful voice which is everything you want a jazz/cabaret performer to be keeps the audience singing and moving along with every song.

The show is a tribute to the life and music of one of the world’s truly great performers, Peggy Lee. The story starts at the end telly of Lee's death then works its way backwards through her career and personal life.  There are two costume changes during the one hour show. One of which occurs whilst Camilla is on stage – sort of. She goes behind the drapes to changes whilst regularly sticking head back through curtain to regales interesting and entertaining piece of Peggy Lee trivia.

Camilla Cream is definitely more comfortable and confident. when singing than she is during the spoken pieces in the show and opening night for a new show is nerve racking for even the most experienced performer. Having said that there is no reason she should be nervous presenting the monologues. Her chatty style is endearing and the witty side comments – both scripted and impromptu – garner many laughs from the audience.

Strictly a limited season, get your tickets now to ensure you do not miss this engaging and highly entertaining show.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

I'm Not-Milk Intolerant

Let me clear from the start. I love milk and I have no beef with lactose. In fact if I could have a cow in my yard plumbed directly into a single purpose tap in my kitchen like rain water I would. I would, but weird animal cruelty laws prevent such practice.

What I have no tolerance for are all of the no-milk products falsely claiming to be milk that fill up our supermarket shelves and refrigerators. Just being a white liquid does not a milk make.

Milk comes from the teats of female mammals for the purpose of feeding their newborn, and for people to make thick shakes and cheese. All mammals produce it whether it is a Cuban Solenodon an armoured pangolin. It is to be said that some mammals are easier to milk than others, fitting a milking machine on a field mouse is very tricky indeed and farming blue whales is near impossible – imagine the size of the paddocks that would be required.

My complaint is with the new-age, fancy pantsy la-di-da products that are self-titled “milk”

Soy milk, is the juice or possibly the sap of a bean that tastes like rotting wood. Mmmm yes please can I have double froth on my bean sap cappuccino!

Almond milk, is not milk. More accurately it should be called nut juice. I can understand from a marketing perspective that calling a product “nut juice” my limit its selling power to a very niche market, but it is a long way from being milk. My intolerance of almond milk is somewhat tempered by its high sugar content. All of the health conscious, self –righteous food snobs who are substituting real milk for this legume by product on claims that it is some sort of super food without realise that nearly all commercially available “almond milk” are so high in sugar that they may as well be drinking a full cream  Big M strawberry milk. Mmmmm milk, and it has strawberries so it is also a serve of fruit.

On reflection organic nut juice with no added sugar, would be a hard sell. Maybe this is a new challenge for teams on the Gruen segment “The Pitch”

Coconut milk. Right of the top this is not a nut, it is a drupe which is a category of fruit, so we are back into the juice category. If stirred it does have a colour and consistency that resembles milk however it has the flavour of drinking a glass of milk in summer during the 1970s and 80s just after oiling oneself up with le Tan to get that all over bronze look. (Before we realised that treating our skin like that of a roast chicken not only aged the skin quickly but could literally kill you.

In the same way that white wine is not grape milk and liquid paper is not ink milk, and wood glue s not sticky milk we need to stop naming liquids “milk” just because they are white. Is that racist? It sounds racist.