Friday, 28 March 2014

Give Me Coffee and No-one Gets Hurt

Sometimes I think the definitions of ‘drug’ use in sport are a bit harsh.  If writing blogs was a professional sport, I might just get caught out.  Yes, I have a confession to make: my writing today is drug assisted.  It’s only 10 o’clock in the morning, and I’m already full of Columbia’s finest.  Coffee, that is.

Seeing everyone these days seems to be copping to coffee to boost their performance, I thought I might as well get in on the act.

Was just thinking about food etiquette. (Is there such a thing?)  If so, when did ordering coffee become so complicated?  There’s something seriously wrong with the world when it takes you less time to drink the coffee than it takes to order the bloody thing.  At some of the newer chains, you actually need a coffee just to have the energy to order one.

I should confess now that when it comes to coffee, I’m hardly a connoisseur.  In fact, I’d say I’m pretty old-school.  I also drink it black.  Not because I prefer it that way, but I’m lactose intolerant. (It turns out I’m intolerant to a lot of things – milk, celery, boiled potatoes and particularly people who check their account balance at the ATM before taking out money. I mean you either have it or you don’t. Have a crack!)

But I digress.

These days some people take drinking coffee way too seriously.  Some even think the sort of coffee you drink reflects the kind of sexual partner you look for.  Sadly, my favourite coffee at the time of my last partner, was weak, full-fat, flat white!

Of course, you could order a decaf, but coffee without caffeine has always seemed a little like non-alcoholic beer to me – they both belong in the bin marked “What’s the Point”. I believe others order a decaf skim-milk coffee, which, as far as I can work out, is actually a glass of water.

But it gets worse. I know people who order ‘froth on the side’. What the …..?  I mean, I kind of get it if you don’t like froth, but what’s the deal with having it on the side?  Sure someone on a diet might order salad dressing or butter on the side, but froth?  I haven’t read the articles closely, but I’m pretty sure the recent rise in childhood obesity isn’t directly attributable to an excess of froth.

So you can now order your coffee with milk on the side, sugar or honey on the side and froth on the side.  Well, why stop there? Why not have the coffee on the side? And the water too.  Why not just walk into Starbucks and order an empty cup with everything on the side?

In case you think I’m being ridiculous here, the other day, I heard someone order a ‘no water coffee’.  What does that mean?  Do they just get you to open your mouth, and they put a spoonful of NescafĂ© on your tongue?

As if all the complicated styles of coffee aren’t enough, people also have stupid slang words for their daily fix. I was having breakfast with a caffeine addict friend of mine this morning, and when I went to order, she interrupted “Just ask for a Gary Coleman”. A what? I studied the menu for about 10 minutes before I realized she meant a short black.

And tell me this, when did everyone in the world become a barista? Maybe I’m wrong, but it was my understanding that in the old days this title used to imply that the person had a specific set of skills and expertise. Now it seems that any donkey they let fire up the cappuccino machine automatically qualifies.  Surely that’s like the pimply teenager who cooks the fries at Maccas referring to himself as a chef, or the kid on the little aeroplane ride out  the front of the local shopping centre calling himself a pilot.

Another thing, can someone please fill me in on when coffee cups became so big?  There used to be two sizes – cup or mug.  When did they decide to start serving it in buckets?

I was in Tasmania recently and I ordered a small coffee.  The cup I was presented with looked less like you could sip from it, and more like Federer should be raising it above his head after winning a tennis tournament.  And that was the ‘small’. I mean why the hell does anyone in Tassie need to drink that much coffee?  I’ll be perfectly honest with you, there’s really not much going on there that requires you to stay awake.

However, I don’t think it’s caffeine consumption that’s giving Australia headaches. It’s bingeing on booze, right?  I read the headlines recently “Does Australia have a drinking problem?”

Yes, and it’s time to put politics to one side and have a sensible debate on how to ensure Australians drink safely and responsibly.

No, the only problem we have is when the booze runs out.

The way I see it, if we are to have a realistic and productive debate about Australia’s drinking culture, first we have to acknowledge Australia has a drinking culture.

And it does. After all, we live in a country where our two famous sporting statistics are 99.94 and 52  -  99.94 is, of course, Sir Donald Bradman’s batting average and 52 is the number of cans David Boon is rumoured to have consumed on a flight to London for an Ashes tour.

Most Aussies are not wowsers.  A lot of us enjoy a drink.  And I know it’s not politically correct to say this in public anymore, but a lot of people enjoy a drink because – and lets linger on this for just a moment – drinking when done responsibly, can be fun.

Bugger it, if we’re being honest, let’s be completely honest. Sometimes drinking can be lots of fun when it is done irresponsibly.  Some of my best memories are the ones I can’t remember.

This is the dirty secret of the drinking debate.  A lot of people drink to excess because it’s fun.  Yes it can also be dangerous and destructive, but if we’re going to move forward in this debate, we first have to acknowledge this simple but important point.

Regardless of what people might think is ideal in a perfect world, we live in a country which a certain percentage of the population sees the recommended alcohol limit, not as a warning, but as a challenge.

And does this surprise anyone?  Remember this is a country where more people know the words to the VB advert than the National Anthem.  We will never be able to fully combat the problems associated with binge drinking until we admit that a lot of ordinary Australians often drink to get drunk.

So however hard the government might try to convince us, our problems are not going to be solved by raising taxes if we don’t first deal with the fact that, in our culture, if a news report suggests it’s healthy to drink two glasses of wine a day, we tend to think, “Well, imagine how healthy I’d feel if I drank two bottles a day!”

Again, I digress … come on Kate!!!

Drugs in sport. From AFL to Rugby, players have been professing to popping pre-game pills to perk peak performance.
Ex Wallabies captain George Gregan once said a couple of caffeine tablets could increase performance by 7%, which, at least, goes some way to explaining what footballers mean, I post match interviews when they say “the boys gave 110% today”.

Of course, if you really need to take caffeine tablets to stay awake, the question should be asked “how bloody boring is your sport?”  Surely instead of footballers, it should be lawn bowlers and synchronized swimmers who are popping cups of cappuccino.

Authorities are also worried if high-profile sportspeople admit to taking caffeine tablets impressionable kids might copy this behavior.  Luckily these days, kids are too busy smoking, swearing, taking drugs, pouring beer over themselves or sending dirty texties to even notice.

I don't even remember why I started this and what my point was!!!!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Theory of Evolution

Some people may have read bits and pieces of this. I have just expanded it.

Sometimes I think we have stopped evolving as a human race.  If you need evidence, simply read the instructions on the back of almost anything you buy.
I purchased a packet of peanuts recently, and just reading the labelling made me despair for humanity.

First it was the big bold letters that said ‘Warning, may contain traces of nuts’ – well, duh – but it was the second line that pushed me over the edge.  It simply read: ‘Instructions, open packet, eat nuts’.  Phew, lucky they put that there. I just wouldn’t have known otherwise.

But it’s not just nuts that have gone nuts!  I bought a glass biscuit jar and it came with instructions.  Think about that for a moment. Instructions.  I’m sorry, but if you need instructions to open a jar, I don’t think you should be trusted with glass.

Is there really anyone who looks at a jar with a lid on it, and thinks “But how do I put my biccies in there? Damn, I wish this thing came with instructions.”
Maybe the people who need that kind of help, are also those who buy the deodorant I use. The one that has the warning on the back in big letters “Do not spray in eyes”.

OK, here is my first question …. Who has sweaty eyes?  What moron gets up in the morning and thinks “Gee my eyes smell …..  ow, ow, ow, there should be a warning”.

You think that warning is stupid? I got some sleeping pills for an overseas flight once, and on the packet it said “Warning, may cause drowsiness”.

Really? Well I’d better have a few cups of black coffee and some Red Bulls to take the edge off them.

That’s like having a packet of Asprin that reads “Warning. May relieve the symptoms of a headache” or a packet of Viagra that says “Warning. May cause Grandpa to chase Grandma around the kitchen table”.

There is actually an electric power drill that comes with the warning “Not to be used as a dental drill”.  I swear that’s true. ‘Look, we’ve used the drill for the pergola, now let’s use it for that troublesome molar.’  I’m sorry, but if you need that information on your power-tool, then you are, in fact, a tool.

Or the hair colouring that comes with the instruction: “Not to be used as an ice-cream topping”.  Although to be honest, if you are stoned enough to think that is a good idea, then you are probably stoned enough to eat it too.

Then there was the Pepper Spray that apparently comes with the disclaimer: “Caution, never aim spray at your own eyes.” Now, I must admit, this does sound like sensible advice come to think about it.

Hair dryers now come with a warning. “Do not use while taking a shower”.  Again, I feel that this one comes under the heading of moron – at the very least, because using it while in the shower must limit its effectiveness.  ‘I have it on high, but for some reason, my hair is still wet’.

This is right up there with the toilet brush that comes with the warning sticker: “Do not use orally”.

And let’s not forget the cigarette lighter that comes with the advice “Do not use near an open flame”.  Of course not.

I don’t have an iPod shuffle, but according to friends who do, they come with the warning that you shouldn’t eat them.  The question has to be asked. “Why?”  Why do we need that warning?  Why would anybody eat their iPod?  Do they listen to it, and then think, ‘well, it made my ears feel good, let’s see how good it makes my tongue feel’.

One of my favourites was the dishwasher that came with the instruction: “Do not allow children to play in the dishwasher”.  Although, I guess, if you provide them with some snorkles, it would be a pretty quick way to get them clean.  But please, whatever you do, don’t dry them off in the oven.  Use the microwave. It’s much quicker.

Speaking of the kiddies, apparently there is a quite popular brand of Baby Oil that has a warning that says “Keep away from children”.  Yes, you wouldn’t want to use the Baby Oil on babies.  It’s only for fully grown men who dress in nappies and like to coat themselves in the stuff and be spanked!!!!!!!  (I believe they exist)!!!!!

Maybe they’re hiding something more sinister.  I mean they make macadamia oil out of macadamias, and they make hazelnut oil out of hazelnuts ..... all I am saying is do the maths.  Maybe they just get a bunch of infants down the factory and fire up the blender.

But without doubt, my absolute, absolute, absolute favourite was the mattress that came with the warning: “Do not attempt to swallow”.

Now this warning disturbs and amuses me for a couple of reasons.  First, it is so random that you know the only reason it is there is because someone has tried. Secondly, how stoned do you have to be before you try to eat a mattress?

I mean there are not enough marijuana-filled boogie-board bags in the world to make me try to eat a mattress.  How dry would it be?  Well, unless you washed it down with a water-bed and maybe a little hair dye on top for flavor.

Idiocy is all around us – you just have to open your Rexona scented eyes.  I’ll give you another example.  I recently caught a bus and I noticed on the driver’s window, a little sign that said “Do not access bus through windows”.  Who is that sign for?

Ladies and gentlemen, the simple truth is, there are a lot of simple people in the world.

If you need any further proof, check this out.  I read once that in the last 10 years, over 30 Australians have died from watering the Christmas tree, while the lights were still plugged in.  What’s worse, at least a couple of those were watering plastic trees.

Now I don’t want to seem callous, but to me that is not a tragedy – that’s natural selection.

You see, from what I can vaguely recall from science at school when we weren’t sitting up the back trying to work out how to turn various household items into bongs, there was a bloke named Charles Darwin who came up with the theory of evolution.

In basic terms, it was a matter of Survival of the Fittest.  In every generation, the strongest and most intelligent would survive, they would breed together and we would evolve.  Well, no more.  We have stopped evolving as a human race.

And why have we stopped evolving?  Well it’s simple.  All these warnings are keeping these morons alive.  And today, I have three words for you, ladies and gentlemen:  Let ….. Them …..Go.

I’m serious, if you honestly have a friend who buys a brand new pair of sneakers, gets them home, unpacks them, gets that little package of chemicals out of them and wants to eat it … you let them.

It’s one less moron to be weeing in the shallow end of our gene pool and we can get back to evolving.

While we’re on the topic, signs and labelling pander to the already dumb, but there are whole industries that depend on drawing out the dumbarse in all of us. Like product development and advertising.

For example, can we just skip to a razor that has a hundred blades and be done with it?  I mention this because I was in my brother’s bathroom last time I visited and I noticed that one of the major shaving companies was about to launch a new razor with 5 blades.

That’s right, 5 blades. Apparently the first one picks up the hair, the second one cuts it and the third goes out and picks up your dry-cleaning, the fourth goes to market and the fifth goes wee, wee, wee all the way home.

So the question has to be asked, just how many blades does one man need?  If they keep going at this rate, pretty soon you guys will have a separate blade for every hair on your face.  Seriously, why could you possibly need 5 different blades?  Are razors like boy bands now? You have to have the blade that can sing, the blade that can dance, the ugly blade, the nerdy blade and the gay blade.

I’m all for progress, but it seems to me that any more than one blade is a little unnecessary.

What’s next?  The Gillette Tomahawk, with fifty blades and extra uranium to make sure your hair never grows back?

And while I’m having my razor rant, who is naming these things?  You have The Mach, The Fusion, The Champion, The Turbo and The Quatro.  It sounds less like the names for razor blades and more like a casting call for a new series of The Gladiators. (Yes, we all remember that show, right?)

Let’s face it, if they can come up with a razor that gives good foot massage and plays James Blunt, pretty soon us women won’t need men at all.

And have you ever read the packaging on these things? My brother is currently using a Gillette which, according to the blurb, is “the best a man can get”.
Really? Personally I would have thought any sentence that talked about the ‘best a man could get’ would have also included the words “Scarlett Johansson” and “lap dance”.

The one thing that shocked me most of all when I read the back of that packet is that that particular razor has its own website.  Yes, that’s right.  I’ll repeat it again – that razor has its own website.  I guess that’s not the site most people are expecting when they type ‘hot’ and ‘shaved’ into Google.

But think about this for a moment.  With all the infinite possibilities on the internet, how bored would you have to be to look up the website for a razor blade?

So anyway, I looked it up.

And check this out. Not only does that razor have it’s own website, but it also has its own fan-club.  I am not making this up.

Now I’m sorry, but if you are the sort of person who joins a fan-club for a razor blade, then you have a lot more serious problems than a bit of facial hair.  In fact, if you are the sort of person who would join a fan-site for a razor, I’m not sure you should be using a blade.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes it really scares me that we live in a world where nobody could name the most recent winner of the Nobel Prize, but a razor blade has it’s own fan-club.

Jeeeeeeez guys.   Give up and grow a beard.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Australia and Footy

I love Australia.

I couldn’t be more Aussie if I were riding a kangaroo down the street, eating a vegemite sandwich, drinking a VB, and staring at a picture of Mitch Johnson – all while dressed as Alf Stewart from Home and Away.

I’m Aussie as. Could not be Aussier if.  But at the risk of sounding like an un-Australian mongrel, there is not a term I hate more in our vernacular than ‘un-Australian’.

Now to some of you, that will automatically label me as a tie-dyed t-shirt wearing, dole-bludging, chardonnay sipping, tree-hugging, flag-burning, feminazi, lezbollah, latte leftie member of the inner city elite, who doesn’t know what it’s like for silent majority of LABs (Little Aussie Battlers) who live on, or a short bicycle ride from Struggle Street.

And I must confess, they’re right. I don’t know what it’s like. J

The only people who truly know what it’s like to be a battler are millionaire TV people.  They know battlers because they employ many of them as butlers.

But to me, the term un-Australian is the cane toad of our language and it continues to spread.  At this rate, next year we won’t celebrate Australia Day, we’ll have un-Australia Day. Politicians and talk-back radio hosts will crown the un-Australian of the Year while a choir sings the anthem “Advance Australia Un-Fair” and then chant “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie Noi, Noi, Noi!” Of course, all of this will be faithfully reported in the unAustralian newspaper.

Incidentally, that movie “Australia” by Baz Luhrman, can’t be Australian. If it was, it would have been made by a bloke called Bazza Luhrman and called “Straya”.

But, again, I digress.

So what is it about the dreaded label that I find so offensive?  Well, for starters, it’s so insular.  Why, in this amazing international community we are all a part of, do we feel the need to define ourselves so narrowly?  What’s next?  Un-Victorian? Un-Rooty-Hillian?  I mean, how small do we want to go?

“Excuse me, it says here that you’ve lived in this city for over 20 years, and yet, you’ve never killed someone in a really bizarre fashion.  How un-Alice Springian”.

Or “G’day mate.  I see you have three kids and none of them have mullets. How very un-Townsvillian”.

Or even “You mean you’ve never smoked, got drunk, got fat, taken drugs, taken money from a bookie, or shagged around?  That’s very un-Shane Warnian”.

Which leads me to my second problem: what we choose to label un-Australian.  After all, when we locked children in the desert detention centres there was barely an un-Oz whisper to be heard, but when petrol hit $1.55, people in the street were chanting, “Petrol has hit $1.55.  That is so un-Australian.  The only way I can calm down is by drinking this $4 bottle of water and eating this $10 banana.”

I guess I just don’t understand how we decide what is Australian and what is not.   Surely by its very definition, it is Aussie to do whatever Aussies do.  “What’s that, love?  You went to Bali and you didn’t smuggle drugs? That is so un-Australian”.

I think it shows a real lack of clear identity that we constantly define ourselves by what we aren’t.  When I fill in a form that asks for my sex, I write ‘female’ I don’t write ‘un-male’.

It seems to me that as a nation, we’re afraid to admit that Australians are just like everyone else. We’re good, bad, smart, stupid, brave, cowardly, grumpy, dozey, sneezy and Doc. (OK, you got me. I ran out of ideas at the end). Instead, we seem to think that if something is worthy of praise, it is immediately Australian, and conversely, if it’s bad, it’s un-Australian.  For example, when Russell Crowe won his Academy Award, he was a top Aussie, but when he threw the phone, he was suddenly from New Zealand.  Better still, I remember when Australians were actually proud to say that Mel Gibson was a countryman. (Although, let’s face it, he’s a drunk and a racist. What could be more Australian than that?)

And, sadly, calling someone un-Australian seems to be a trait that is, well, Australian.  After all, you don’t particularly hear about people being described as ‘un-Swiss’, ‘un-Greenlandish’ or even ‘un-Iraqi’.

I mean, are the people of Kyrgyzstan currently having a national debate on un-Kyrgyzstani behavior? And what exactly would that consist of, other than not being particularly landlocked and using too many vowels in the spelling of place names?

Are people who walk into a bar, but aren’t amusing accused of being un-Irish?  Are those who are really good at cricket labelled un-English?  And what if a back-packer to this country gets a job? Will that make them an un-New Zealander?

Ah yes, taking the puss out of Kiwis.  Now that is truly Australian.

I was talking football (Aussie Rules) with my neighbor this morning. Yes, the start of the season is almost on us.
To some people, me included, September is a happy time. Spring has sprung, the flowers are blooming, the weather is improving and so are people’s moods.  Well, everyone’s that is, except his. He hates September.
He said that he’s had 35 Septembers in his life and has hated every single one, without exception.  In fact, he wasn’t sure if ‘hate’ was a strong enough word.
You know how some hotels don’t have a thirteenth floor due to superstition? (Although who are they kidding?  Floor fourteen knows what it really is.)  If he designed calendars, there would be no September.

Clearly this would piss off a lot of Virgos – their birthdays of course, but it would certainly make his life more pleasant.  If he could, he would go to bed on the 31st August and not wake up until the 1st of October.  

So why does he want to go all Rip Van Winkle on September, I hear you ask?  What could possibly make him hate a single month so much? Yeah – you guessed it – footy finals!

We’re not implying that he doesn’t love his football team. He does. They are, in fact, his greatest passion.  Most people’s blood have red and white blood cells. His have blue as well.

So folk, there lies the rub. In all his 35 years he has never seen the doggies play in a grand final, let alone win one.  For some clubs, September is a time of hopes and dreams (go Hawthorn), for the Bulldogs, it’s a time for disappointments and planning end-of-season trips.  He says, he doesn’t know what he did in a previous life to deserve this, but he assumes he must have driven a truck full of black cats under a row of ladders and then crashed it into a mirror factory.

For those of you who don’t follow football, and I am reliably informed that there are one or two of you, the Western Bulldogs only ever played in two Grand Finals:  they won one in 1954 (years before he was born) and lost one (years before he was born).

Just pause and think about that for a moment.  The last time his club won a flag was in 1954. 1954.  To put this into perspective, if he had been around then and missed the game, he wouldn’t have been able to catch the replay because AUSTRALIA DIDN’T HAVE TELEVISION!!!

When his team won the flag, the average price of a car was $1,200.  These days, that’s about what it costs to fill up a car’s tank.

He says, he’s heard some people talk about the pain of seeing their team lose on Grand Final Day, he would just like to see his team on the ground on Grand Final Day.

Oh well, Eamon …  there’s always this September, or next, or ………