RandomBacon & MargarineFlowers

Food, general thoughts, food…

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Bottled Water, why all the hate?

Why all the hate on bottled water? Yes, I realise that it is expensive, yes I realise that it is bad for the planet to buy things in plastic packaging, yes I realise that much of it is just filtered tap water. I get the plastic hate; I guess the thing I don’t get is why target water specifically?

I drink tap water; I charcoal filter it prior to consumption because, in my opinion, it improves the taste. I always take bottles of water from home when I am going out of the house, usually in multiples because I drink excessive amounts of water. The thing is that when I run out, I buy bottled water.

I could buy a soft drink, in a plastic bottle, or an ice coffee, also in a plastic bottle but I buy water because I prefer water to sugary fizzy or milky drinks. I could buy an energy drink or soft drink in a can or glass bottle but again, I prefer water. I could buy a carton of milk drink but again I prefer water. If they packaged water in glass or cartons or cans, I would still buy water if I needed a drink but the fact is that they don’t. I try to drink water not only because I feel it is better for me than any of the aforementioned products but because I like it more. Again I understand the plastic hate but many other things come in plastic bottles and they are not all good for you so why the hate on bottled water specifically? Water is to me is a far better choice for your health than any other readily available beverage.

I would like it if people would lay off the water hating and just hate on plastic packaging in general. Doesn’t that make more sense?


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Who is paying our politicians?

Who is paying our politicians? Or how to get more depressed in two easy steps…

Step 1: Get up in the morning
Step 2: Read the news

It seems that we as a country are being run by the only people in the world who disbelieve the climate change evidence to such a degree that they are actively making government decisions to introduce more fossil fuels into the environment and ban or at least penalise ‘greener’ options at every possible opportunity.

I cannot think how much money it takes to convince a prime minister of a country to actively throw away his political career by standing on a platform of ‘burn more fossil fuels and stop investment in solar and wind power’. Surely Australians a whole are able to see that this is a destructive and unsustainable path, surely we as a people will put our futures first at the next election and vote out this government.

I have been, I am more and more ashamed each day to admit, a diehard Liberal voter.  Although I actively research political party policy before polls I most often decide that Liberal policy suits me best (out of a generally bad bunch) as they all have policies that I agree and disagree with in general. It is difficult to find anyone that has an all-round agreeable stance on everything I believe in, most often you have to compromise to find anyone to vote for these days…

I have many strong beliefs, not even all apparent to myself until I begin my process of choosing who to vote for but lately, considering the unusual weather patterns around the world these days, I find myself concerned more and more with making my impact, my country’s impact on the planet as small as possible. Our current government does not share those beliefs, in fact they seem to be obsessed with doing the very opposite of what those beliefs lead me to view as a good idea.

Is climate change real? I am not a scientist but I have eyes and ears. The weather has changed, that is a fact, I can see it, even in my lifetime. Is it a natural cycle? Again, I am not a scientist but if it is a natural cycle then nothing we do will affect it. The worst that can happen if we try is that our air will be cleaner, our children will be healthier, the climate may support life on earth for a little longer than it otherwise might. I fail to see a downside in this approach but then I am not becoming wealthy by promoting the coal industry, I personally stand to lose nothing by promoting ‘green’ energy alternatives. My descendants, my children, grandchildren and all future generations may have somewhere that sustains life to live. It is true that this is of no immediate benefit to me, I will live and die before the only home we have is unliveable. I do believe though that I have a responsibility, I am part of something bigger. The earth is the only planet that we know can sustain life and as such is a precious resource in itself and I should be working for its benefit, not its destruction.

In the next government election the environment will be my primary criteria for choosing a party because frankly the short sighted policies and environmental ignorance that is being shown by our current leaders frightens me. I don’t know how they sleep at night.

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What do you know?

How much do you know about America or England or Australia or any other country than you own for that matter? How much do you even know about your own country?

I see a lot of news stories and videos on the internet of people (primarily Americans) being asked questions about Australia. During these interview the participants good naturedly answer random questions about Australia and almost universally have no idea what they are talking about. They often laugh and blush and blunder their way through making some sort of attempt to explain what they think a word means or who is the current Prime Minister of Australia (always good for a laugh).

We all then merrily conclude that Americans are ridiculously uninformed about world politics and/or anything and everything outside their own country. The question I pose is ‘are we any different?’ Confronted on the street by someone with an accent and a microphone asking pointed questions about a country that we have never visited or barely thought of, would we do any better?

Frankly I would be surprised if we did any better at all. I imagine that if most of us were questioned point blank on the street we would be unable to answer questions about our own country much less anyone else’s. As much as we enjoy watching Americans stumbling over questions about our country I think we need to keep in mind how we might perform in the same circumstances. We know what we need to know, we know what we learned at school, we know what our own media exposes us too. We don’t know anything else unless we make the effort to educate ourselves and there are much more pressing things to educate yourself on than ‘what is a chico roll?’ or ‘who is Ned Kelly?’

Trust me, I enjoy these sessions of good natured ribbing as much as anyone does but when it hits my news feed and is considered a news story, I think it just highlights that fact that it is a slow news day.

Anyway I am off to look up random facts about countries that I don’t live in, just to help me be more informed and as prepared as possible should I be confronted by a camera and a microphone next time I leave the house. In fact, I may look up random facts about my own country, I am sure that things that I don’t know far outweigh the things that I do know.

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Things that occupy my time

I realised the other day that when it comes to sweet treats, Australians are oddly specific, more than any other country I have had any experience with. Having a South African husband (yes my test group consists of one person, that’s what makes this such an accurate scientific study) I can attest that collectively sweet treats from the service station or store are called sweets. In America I believe they are called candy bars and candy. My Nan (who is English) calls everything sweets also. In Australia we have chocky bars (because to call them chocolate bars would be too long winded and time consuming) interestingly anything in a bar shape falls under this category regardless of the chocolate content. We also have chocolate (not in a bar shape, in a block instead) and lollies, none of these are interchangeable. Of course there are some things that don’t even fall under these main categories, like fudge or liquorice for instance.

Interestingly (or not) it is exactly the opposite with potato chips, hot (fish and chips kind) are called chips, potato chips in a bag from the supermarket shelf are also chips. Funnily enough, the skinny fries from a burger joint are still generically called chips even though they are clearly barely related to a good, properly cooked, thick cut chip. They are more like a bagged chip that has been on a terrible diet and then got shredded (I am not a huge fan, can you tell?).

I also find interesting the different names for things internally in Australia and then there is the absolute fascination that I have for the different names for things (particularly food, I am a little obsessive about food) between countries. One of my other favourite activities is to watch YouTube videos of people eating things from different countries, or trying their own cuisine cooked by a chain store in another country (always amusing).

Anyway this has been a public service announcement just to make it clear that these are the scintillating things that occupy my time. Forewarned is forearmed, so the saying goes, so if you chose to continue to read the ramblings that I offer, you do so at your own risk.


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What are they thinking?

Australian politicians are out doing themselves this week. Now one of our senators is backing a proposal to implement nuclear power in South Australia. This, in the land of perpetual sunshine and longest coastlines (read: solar and/or wind farms) in the world, is his big plan to eliminate power costs and make his state tax free.

I wonder who is signing his pay cheques?

Better yet he is backing a plan to take the nuclear waste from the rest of the world and store it in Australia. Wow I can’t see how this would be a bad plan. Admittedly the middle of the country is virtually desert and there is not much going on there considering it is 40+ Celsius most of the time and there is no water readily available so I suppose you could store potentially deadly substances out there and, hopefully, not contaminate the whole country and make it totally unliveable but you could also fill it full of solar panels if it came down to it. To me the idea that people would ship this stuff overseas and land it in a port in Australia, transport it through towns and cities to dump in a storage facility that might prevent it from leaking out and killing us all seems fraught with unnecessary risk.

Our esteemed Prime Minister (you know, the one that doesn’t believe in climate change because he can’t see it) thinks this is a fabulous idea, who would have guessed.

Apparently this whole plan is worth any inherent risks because it will enable South Australia to have ‘Free power, no payroll tax and no motor vehicle tax’. This of course is modelled on all of the other countries in the world that have eliminated taxes since introducing nuclear power. I guess there have not been enough catastrophic nuclear disasters in the world to convince these high thinking individuals that bringing the possibility into our own back yard is a bad idea. Admittedly there haven’t been that many but considering the scope of the damage wrought by the few disasters on record, I for one am not excited about taking the risk when there are other options available.

Simplified to its most basic principles a leaking nuclear facility means disaster, an overloaded solar power plant means a sunny day.


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Let me tell you how you feel….

One of our former politicians, now retired from politics at the ripe old age of 54 years with a full government pension (something the average Joe is only able to access after the age of 70), who is now a full time Dad to his kids and makes money on the side having opinions possibly better kept to himself has taken it upon himself to declare that depression and anxiety don’t exist.

Now I know that this revelation will be an enormous boost to those of you who suffer from these disorders, they don’t actually exist, toss out the pills you are currently using as a middle class crutch and skip off to work knowing that now this has been explained to you are a better and healthier individual.

Apparently, according to this individual, mental illness is just a popular self-indulgence that used to be called worry. Worry has always been a part of life like worrying about minor issues like driving in the wet or our children’s welfare or more important daily concern over your favourite sports teams latest performance. These issues are so trivial that we should just get on with it and toughen up instead of indulging in melodrama and medication.

Of course, currently, Australian politicians pocket around 4x the average national wage in pension payouts per year so I imagine worrying about mortgage repayments, school fees, utility bills and how to juggle being a wage earner and a parent are not things that are of great concern to the esteemed ex-member.

In the end of the day though these are just worries not depression or anxiety and anyone who has lived with the black dog of depression knows that although worries don’t help they are certainly not the deep sucking tar pit that you can find yourself sinking in without hope of ever breaking free. They are not the mind numbing darkness that envelopes you even while you wonder what is wrong with you, life is so good, why do you feel so soulless. Nor are they the twin vortex of worrying that there is something wrong with you because you have nothing to worry about so there must be nothing wrong with you, a confusing and terrible place to dwell on your shortcomings as a parent, a spouse, a human being.

Now of course I and many others are free and liberated from these demons, if only someone had thought to tell us before that they don’t exist!

Personally I would like people who have not experienced depression and anxiety first or even second hand, people who lack even basic empathy from their skill set, to refrain from weighing into the non-existent debate on this issue. I could not and would not ever express an opinion on anyone else’s experiences in regards to their mental health, nor could I or would I speak for anyone else in this regard. Each one of us is individual, a single being made from the sum of our own particular biological chemistry, life experiences and inherited genetic material, similar maybe but never ever the same.

For me, depression and anxiety do exist and medication does help and, trust me, I am forever grateful for this small mercy.
Please, please, please don’t tell me how I feel and please don’t be dismissive of other people’s concerns; they are not yours to judge.

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Summer is sputtering out

We are coming to the end of grape season here in Australia. I am not okay with that. I eat a lot of grapes (while they are in season) and miss them when they are not available. I enjoy going to my grocers and seeing what they have this week. I particularly like green seedless grapes, why green in particular, not really sure. The fondness for seedlessness is self-explanatory.

At the beginning of the season this year my grocer had these bunches of grapes that I had never seen before and were not labelled as anything particular but they were delightful. Huge round grapes, like I have never seen before, each one a mouthful on its own. When you bit into them it was like an explosion of liquid, sweet but not too sweet, almost like taking a mouthful of liquid from a glass and so refreshing. They lasted for about four weeks and then were replaced by more mundane, but still lovely, lady finger type grapes. Now I fear the lady fingers are on their last leg for the season, they are turning yellow and are super sweet (not my favourite, I prefer them when they are green and have a tang) and I fear our shelves will soon be bereft of them completely.

My favourite time of year is coming to a close, grapes and stone fruit will soon disappear and I will be reduced to the mundane everyday fruits like apples and oranges. I may not be fond of summer for the traditional Australian reasons (sand, surf, sun) but I look forward to the variety and taste explosions of the summer fruits each year and bitterly miss them when the season draws to a close.

Meanwhile, the above picture is my spearmint (not the one I re-potted recently), grown from bits from the supermarket last year. It is now flowering with gusto and has produced plenty of new leaves this year so that I can make my minty fresh lemonade as often as I wish to. This is its only job and it does it admirably. Plants make me happy.