Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Summer Holiday

I have had enough of winter. It's not fun anymore. So I've dug up this photo I took a few years ago while on a summer holiday. When it was, you know, warm.

I'm joining in Wordless Wednesday with Trish from My Little Drummer Boys. Head on over for some great pics.

Monday, June 27, 2011 or

I don't know what possessed me to visit the website over my vegemite sandwich this morning, but I did. I don't as a rule because, basically, I think it's rubbish. This morning's offerings failed to sway me from this assessment. Three stories on its home page sent me spinning into a rant:

Piece No.1: "Australia's richest women seek millions more"
A valid story, yes. But using the gold-digger element was very poor form. Such misogynistic editorialising is simply foul.
It wasn't until the third paragraph that a man was mentioned. And then only so briefly you could almost imagine he was dragged kicking and screaming into the affair by these money-hungry she-devils.
It reinforces, with all the subtlety of a fog horn, the nonsensical yet widely held notion that women are not allowed to ask for more. And that successful women must be brought down a peg or 100 whenever possible.
Would a story of businessmen suing for royalties been given the same treatment? Well, possibly. But I doubt it. Most likely it would have taken a corporate-battle tone; at worst been presented with a fat cats angle.

Piece No.2: "Hawke's women erupt in airport brawl" 
Male ding-dongs, for example those between footballers, are generally not reported with such malicious glee. They are usually presented as serious affairs, not indulgent entertainment.
I can't see how this personal dispute even rates as a news story. Certainly not a leading one, with its own spot on the home page. I'm no fan of the gossipy type stories either, but if this story had to run, that's the segment where it should have been.
But guess what? Their cat fight slot in the entertainment pages was booked up. Specifically, with trash story No.3: a piece about Dancing With The Stars, with Lara Bingle and someone else apparently screeching at each other. I can't remember who - I wasn't interested enough to read it, I just noticed the link to it on the home page.
While I'm at it, may I also say I'm jack of these narky, petty stories. They do nothing beyond pander to a vicious, sniping streak and encourage us to be cruel at the expense of someone else.
Now, News Ltd obviously isn't alone in this kind of reporting. It seems to be de rigueur for the majority of news outlets today. And having worked for a News Ltd paper, and having a friend on the team, I know there's more to the organisation than tripe (I was pleased to also see this story about Gina Rinehart on a News Ltd site). I even find myself defending at times.
But on this occasion, it lost me.

Do these kinds of reports shit you to tears too? How much trash dressed up as news can you take before switching off in disgust?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Grateful for ... coffee

Give me a hit.
Image source:
I am grateful for coffee. Every week. I know, who isn't, right? Except weird other people, like my sister, who don't like it.
I'm a big fan of the stuff. Not merely for the caffeine, though at times that kick is appreciated. I just adore the taste.
And the ritual. The arrival of your flat white, latte or whatever, looking perfect and promising with its creamy fluff on top. The kicking back and shutting out the world briefly by letting your senses focus on your brew's aroma, taste and warmth.
I'm particularly grateful for coffee shops where you can eavesdrop and people watch (I've earwigged on some fascinating conversations in my time), or amuse yourself with a book. Or twitter or facebook or email. Not that I'd waste a good coffee break on twitter, you understand (ha!).
Everyone seems to have their own coffee idiosyncrasies, beyond the 'white with two' variety. Mine include a severe aversion to the instant crap version (my dad only drinks instant and will have a glass of water before going anywhere near the properly-made stuff, if you can believe that. Unfathomable.), as well as any meddling with it by way of 'flavours'. It's coffee I like and coffee I'll have, thank you - not coffee and hazelnut/caramel/vanilla/chilli specially harvested from a mountaintop in remote Thailand.
I also tend to avoid it in the mornings. Tea is lighter and easier to get down first thing. The only time I've regularly had coffee upon waking was when I had a job that required me to leave the house at 4.30am (and return at 7pm). Any kind of caffeine injection was welcome then.
In some happy coffee-related news, my workplace has just invested in a space-age DeLonghi espresso machine. Sweet! And they accidentally bought about 100kg of the dark roast, not medium roast, beans. Even better!

Are you a coffee person? How many a day? Or are you one of those crazies who can't even stand the smell of it?

This post has been part of the lovely Maxabella Loves 'Grateful' link-up.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I visited Perth last week. And so did wet weather

The view from my apartment. Ignore the bleakness of the car park and the
rain, and you can imagine it is actually quite a nice spot.
I paid my first visit to Perth last week. Have you been there? I didn't see much besides rain, clouds and traffic, which I could have seen here at Coolgardie (except for the traffic).
I was there because work decided they wanted to spend several thousand dollars sending me on a course and covering accommodation and travel while at it. And who am I to argue?
I had a great time, and am grateful to my employer, on a number of accounts.
The course was officially titled the Surface Ventilation Officer course. I know what you're thinking. BOR-RING. But it was really quite interesting. And for someone who's main career to date has primarily involved regurgitating details on Katie Perry's latest tattoo or when the community crochet fair is to be held, parts of it were downright fascinating. And I look forward to actually being a ventilation officer.
Then there was the accommodation. No bland hotel here - they put me up in a gorgeous apartment right on the water in Fremantle. I could have happily spent the entire week there gazing at the surf, but obviously had to make the 20-minute drive to class each day. Which I completed in a zippy little hire car - also courtesy of work's credit card. Bonus!
Navigating myself through a strange city - aka trying to read the map while driving and getting thoroughly lost and confused on more than one occasion - clearly posed a challenge. But it was in fact much easier than directing my stress-head of a husband behind the wheel.
He even gets quite a bit freaked. Even, at times, in Coolgardie. Which has approximately eight streets and peak hour means three other cars.
For example, the other day he wanted me to show him where the town's medical centre was as I'd been there but he was going for the first time later that week. This followed:
Me: "Well go along the highway and when you get to the street Bob lives on turn left, then -"
Him, interrupting in mild panic: "It's on that side of the highway?! I thought it was on the other side!"
Me: "No, it's on the left side".
Him: "Oh. But I thought it was on the right side!"
Me, getting tetchy: "Well if you know where it is and it's on the right side, just go to the right side."
Him: "No no, for some reason I thought it was on the right but I'm probably wrong."
We turned left and - surprise! - successfully located the medical centre.
But anyway, back to my week in Perth.
The highlight was catching up with an old friend. My best friend in high school. Whom I hadn't seen in years. It was beyond fabulous to see her again.
I also got together with another friend and her little guy, whom I hadn't seen since our road trip last year. This too was great fun, especially as they took me to a nearby chocolate factory for lunch.
There were some downsides during my stay. My Kindle crapped itself. And the bloody Telstra pre-paid internet modem I use when travelling refused to work. So I had no books and no internet stuff/blogs to read. I had to resort to watching TV!
I am not much of a TV viewer and feel completely lost when I have nothing to read, so this was quite traumatic.
And as lovely as the harbour apartment was, it had one of those stupid beds on wheels. Every time you so much as wiggle a toe it goes scooting wildly across the carpet, coming to rest on the other side of the room. I blame it for killing my Kindle. It had been functioning just fine until the wilful bed upped and moved, dislodging the Kindle (which I had propped on the bed against the wall) and sending it crashing to the floor.
And, as noted at the beginning of the post, the weather was not great and prevented me having a good look around. But I did take a quick stroll through Fremantle and - along with about 3000 other people - partook of the delights at the aforementioned chocolate factory near Midland.

Have you ever had a fantastic work-sponsored trip? Or been to Perth? If so, what do you recommend I see and do upon my (as-yet unscheduled) return?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Old friends

Nothing compares to old friendships. Last week I got the chance to catch up with my best friend from high school, who I hadn't seen since 2006. It was the highlight of a pretty special week.
Here we are in 1994 (or maybe it was 1995?). Amanda is back row, far right, and I am front row, far right.
Back in the day: My friends and I at a birthday party. Clearly we didn't
have Facebook to teach us how to, ahem, 'pose' like today's teenagers.

An interesting side note is that for much of our high school years the guy right at the back was besotted with the girl on far left in the front row. They are now married, and have beautiful a little family.

Linking up again with Trish's Wordless Wednesday at My Little Drummer Boys. Thanks Trish!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A little bit smug about my job. Also, a day in the life of me (at work)

I'm feeling pretty smug happy about my job these days. Quite a turnaround - a few years ago my head was not a pretty place when it held thoughts about work.
I'm happy because a) I enjoy what I do and b) what I used to do is getting a bit risky.
I used to be a sub-editor. At a newspaper. And before that, this one. If you were following the news about a month ago you'd have heard how subs are starting to become an endangered species, with Fairfax announcing plans to axe 82 subbing positions from its newsrooms. I hadn't worked for Fairfax, but am still a bit relieved I got out when I did. However if/when the gold market goes belly-up, I will be smiling on the other side of my face. Because I now work at a gold processing plant.
I started as a stickpicker. Boring and pretty well self-explanatory (picking foreign material out of ore as it trundled by on a conveyor). Then I moved to the gold room. Sounds much more glamorous and exciting than it was. More of the boring, as well as lots of nasty chemicals. We were responsible for the pouring of the gold bars, though, so that bit was impressive.
And now I've moved again - into the lab. Which I love.
Granted, it is neither as exciting as it sounds, nor as flashy as it is in TV land. For example, it's nothing like what Abby does on NCIS. There is no death metal music. No goth boots. Not even a white coat. Definitely no storming through the building yelling 'Gibbs! Gibbs! I know who the killer is! It's not the boyfriend - it's the mother-in-law!'.
And sadly no workmates a la Tony DiNozzo:
May I see your, uh, badge, Agent DiNozzo?
Image source:

 Though I will say concede of the guys could be worthy candidates for that Australia's Hottest Tradie comp. However, in my experience so far, these have been limited to contractors who come out for a few days and then disappear again, drat it.
Not that a lack of DiNozzo types is altogether regrettable. After all, as uniform and safety rules (among other things, i.e my thighs) decree that I look like this...

The work ute and me (looking slightly possessed
due to my efforts in willing the camera remote to work).

Rather than this...
Agent Ziva David: Smart and smokin'.
Image source:
... the presence or otherwise of attractive agent lookalikes is hardly relevant. (Also, my Paul works there too - he's one of the maintenance guys.)

Anyhows, I know all my former news colleagues (well, two of them. Maybe) are hanging out to hear all about my change of career. So here is what I do now.
An average day in the life of a lab tech at a gold mill
5.45am: Arrive at work. Huddle in designated smoking area for change-of-shift meeting. Try not to breathe in too much second-hand smoke (am not a smoker).
6am: Go to oven/dry-sample prep area next to lab and divide up samples of crushed ore collected by mill operators during past 24 hours. Take buckets of resultant ore into lab and divvy up into relevant trays/bags for testing for moisture content and sizing (done by us) and gold content (done by commercial lab in town).
6.10am: Go outside and up to top of leaching and absorption tanks where samples of slurry have been collected during past 24 hours by operators. We put these samples through air presses which separates the solution - the liquid - from the solids. Collect the solution in pre-prepared bottles and solids in prepared bags and oven trays.
Repeat with remaining samples (depending on the client and circumstances, number of samples here can vary from three to about eight. Usually). Also collect extra slurry samples, which I later put through sieves to determine how finely the mills have ground the ore.
Measure 'density' of slurry in stipulated tanks by weighing exactly one litre of slurry from relevant tanks.
7.30: Finish pressing samples and take everything back down to the lab. Put trays of solids in ovens to dry. Do the above-mentioned sieving. Collect a sample of 'process water'.
7.45: Now for the nifty bit! Prep solution samples. This involves drawing out set amounts of solution from the bottles using sciencey things like pipettes and squirting it into test tubes. Mix in chemical that draws out the gold from the solution so it sits, conveniently, on top of the solution. Just like oil sits on top of water.
Some time later (depending on how organised I am and how long everything has taken): The interesting bit! The chemical has done it's gold-collecting thing and the solutions are ready for testing. Boot up assay machine (a very complex bit of equipment that I don't properly understand and so won't even attempt to explain) and attached computer. Use assay machine to test gold content in each of the samples. Print out results. Also, test pH of some of the solutions.
9am or thereabouts: Take dry solids out of oven and weigh so can get data on moisture, sizing etc.
9.15am: Enter results of all the testing and weighing into spreadsheet and email to relevant big wigs. Fill in rest of paperwork required. While sitting at a computer desk for a few minutes take the chance to have a quick bite to eat - it's been a long time since breakfast at 5am.
9.30am: Bag up all the samples designated for testing at the commercial lab in town. Finish up any other jobs.
10am: Find out from office people what jobs I need to do in town.
10.15am or thereabouts: Drive to town - about 30km. Drop samples off at commercial lab. Complete other jobs - eg picking up supplies from various outlets that service the local mining industry.
By the time all that is done it's usually early afternoon. I return to site and get everything ready for the following day. As well as anything else required to keep the lab gear and supplies stocked, clean and in working order. All sciencey-type jobs, which I find myself enjoying. But don't tell anyone or they might decide to stop paying me.
4pm: Go home.

Doesn't that sound like fun? What's the favourite part of your job? And your least favourite?


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Shoes ... beautiful shoes

It's no secret, among those of you who know me, that I love my new job. However, it does have certain drawbacks. Namely, the footwear:

Do you have a thing for shoes?

And thanks once again Trish at My Little Drummer boys for hosting Wordless Wednesday!

Monday, June 6, 2011

The great (proposed) baby tour

How many friends and family members of yours have had babies in the past two years or so?
For some - for example you, Pop, if you're still reading - it may not be a whole lot.
But for those of you close to my age, I suspect the number will be quite high. Scarily high if you haven't gone down that path yet, and are starting to wonder if there's something wrong with you for delaying while all around you people are procreating madly.
Because let me tell you, there has been a massive boom in my world. Just this week I received the news a uni friend of mine is expecting her second baby (congratulations Rachel and Jason!).
This comes only days after one of Paul's brothers and his partner welcomed another daughter to their family. Congrats to you guys too! And mere weeks after another member of the Mayall clan, as well as two former workmates of mine, gave birth. Congratulations all round, basically.
Expand the timeframe to the past two years and the stork has been flapping about all over the place.
And the tragedy in all this, as far as I'm concerned? I've met only a handful of these little miracles. I live too far away from most of them. But that's what I get for moving firstly to one end of the country (Cairns) and then the other (Kalgoorlie) rather than staying put.
So I've had a genius idea: I should go on a baby tour! Traverse the country and meet all these new little citizens.
Forget the parents - its the offspring I want to see (joking!). I'd love to catch up with anyone I haven't seen since before they became a mother. And not just because I have a multitude of questions for them. Though that is part of it, given the time we decided we'd start trying for parenthood is drawing close ('EEEK!' doesn't begin to cover it).
Questions like:
  • How long did it take you to get pregnant? Especially if you were, like me, on the wrong side of 30 as far as fertility is concerned. This is the one uppermost in my mind, it being the first step and all.
  • How was the birth? Did you want to die, or do your insides only go a little bit cold and watery when you think back to those hours/days?
  • Did you suffer any complications or (please god, no) a miscarriage or stillbirth? If so, how was/is this managed/being managed medically and emotionally? 
  • How did breastfeeding work out for you?
  • How did your boss and workplace respond to the news and, if you took maternity leave, what was your experience when it came to organising it? The same question applies to arranging post-leave work hours. 
  • Did someone in your family nab your favourite name before you could? Or did you proudly inform a friend of your baby's name and they responded with 'Oh I had a cat called that once. Was a horrible creature'?
  • Did you join a mothers group?
  • Did you find out the sex of the baby during pregnancy?
  • Don't you wish you had twins? Or sextuplets? Oh, you don't. 
  • Do you get sick of being asked about pregnancy and children?

Several mums have already shared their knowledge on some of these topics with me, but you can never have too much information, I say.
So, Qantas or Jetstar, or Countrylink even, fancy sponsoring me on a nation-wide baby tour?

Would any of you like to join me on this (at this stage purely hypothetical) mission? And if you have any answers to the above questions I'd love to hear them.

Friday, June 3, 2011

This week I'm grateful for ... time alone

Wine, chocolate, cheese and other goodness ... all mine
this weekend.
Image source:
This week I'm grateful for time alone. After months and months of being almost in each other's pockets - very rare for us - husband Paul and I will be apart for the weekend. And I will be on days off from work.
Now, I do love him. But ... WOOOOHOOOOO!
It's more that I enjoy time alone than I enjoy getting rid of him, for the record.
Because for the next few days I will have no demands on my time. And I won't have to share:

  • the bed
  • the Tim Tams
  • the DVD player (no freaking Avatar this weekend!)
  • the computer
  • the stereo

And I can indulge, largely uninterrupted, in:

  • trashy books
  • trashy DVDs
  • trashy food (except for chocolate. With him far away from the fridge, I can afford the good stuff)
  • sleep
  • long hours on the internet/twitter
  • a kitchen that will stay clean
  • a house that will stay tidy

What are you grateful for this week?

This post has been part of the lovely Maxabella Loves 'Grateful' link-up.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Winter

GAH! It's winter! As of today, anyway. And as I now live somewhere that actually gets cold, I'm not exactly impressed. But anyway, to wallow celebrate, here are some winter pictures for Wordless Wednesday, once again being hosted by Trish at My Little Drummer boys.

Do you like winter, or do you turn into a miserable grouch the moment the thermometer drops below 20 degrees (as I do)?
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