Monday, 31 August 2015


I promised a post on firearms in the US in my bear post and here it is.

Again, I'd like to apologise in advance to my American friends, but peeps - we here in the land down under are just kinda freaked out by guns. 

It's not that we have no exposure. I grew up in the country and my dad had a few guns -including a semi-automatic. I even shot a tin can once or twice. But the danger of them was always instilled and when the gun amnesty was introduced in 1996, where the government actually paid cash for all and any gun handed in, even Dad parted with his small collection.

The policy was sparked by the Port Arthur massacre that occurred earlier the same year - where 35 people were killed. And how many massacres have there been since? That's right - none. So you'd have to concede, it's been one of the most effective policies the Australian Government has ever introduced.

I find it heartbreaking to hear of all the shootings in the States. So many of them seemingly caused by easy access. The two year old who pulled a gun from his mother's handbag in Walmart and shot her. The five year old boy in Kentucky who was given a gun for his birthday - and promptly shot his two year old sister dead. 

I was also really touched by the Australian baseball player, shot in the back while jogging in Oklahoma because his teen murderer 'was bored'. I felt for everyone in this case - the victim, his family and friends, the circumstances that let the 17 year old shooter to do such a terrible thing and his family. An all-round modern-day tragedy.

So weren't we surprised when we went into the general store in downtown Wragell, Alaska (pop 2,400) to see a wall of guns displayed behind the counter. The girls and I could help ourselves. We asked the middle-aged, bird of woman behind the counter some pointy questions. You just need to imagine the answers in a drawling American accent and overly girly voice, not befitting a women in her 50s.

Not the store, but very similar!

How much are they?

Oh... you know... they range. From about $280 all the way up to about $600.
(Not nearly enough for our liking!)

Do you need a licence?

Oh yeah, you do. 
(Obviously not too tricky to get one.)

What do people do with them?

They like to hunt. Bear, deer, moose, you know...lots of things.
(No, we don't actually. And no wonder we haven't seen a moose!)

Do you hunt?

She looks wistful....
I do. I like to hunt. I like to hunt elk....

You get the gist.

Back on the boat, we share this story with another couple (could be biased, he's an Australian ex-pat). His wife confesses that when their daughter is invited for play dates, she's compelled to call and ask if there are guns in the house and if so, are they locked up. Now there's a call you don't get here!

Maybe I'm just naive. Of course there are people in Australia who own guns - it's just we now assume they're criminals or law enforcers. Okay - I'm sure there are some gun owners who  belong to shooting clubs and are farmers. But our culture, on the whole, is so gun free, that even the sight of a gun is freaky. I was at Parliament House, Canberra a couple of weeks ago and we non-regulars were gawking at the security guys, 'oooh... look at the guns!' like kids seeing an exotic tiger at the zoo. Perhaps that's not a bad thing.

PS Apologies for the highlighting thing - can't get it to turn off!!!

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Dark Blue Ankle Boots

If you've spend any extended time with me this winter, you'll know I've been in pursuit of some dark blue ankle boots.

Inspired by the chick who gave the PR talk at Elle's careers night, I rushed her at the end - where did she get those boots? That was months ago and still no luck.

I only have to type 'D' into my Google search bar and 'Dark Blue Ankle Boots' pop up. I've searched the sites of brands, department stores, fashion aggregating sites (where they list items from masses of retailer sites) - everything.

The original boots (Acne) maybe weren't quite high enough for me - and also globally out of stock :(

Then I found these! A bit expensive, but on sale and gorgeous. I ordered them. I could hardly sleep! The next day I got an email saying my order had been cancelled - WTF?? I called America. They actually didn't have them in stock :(

Disheartened and desperate, I found these. Frankly, not quite expensive enough and from one of the aggregated sites for manufacturers in China. Still, I ordered them. They looked pretty good and I was out of options.

And here's what turned up! These are NOT dark blue - they're PURPLE!!

I have complained and requested I return them. 'No can do, most valued customer. These are as advertised and same as picture - dark blue.' They bloody well are not.

I did that test on Facebook to see if I can spot colour differences - you know the one -  and I got 'Eagle Eye'. So I know dark blue from purple peeps.
(And yes, those are the frickin' boots in the top left hand corner because I've looked at them so much, they're now haunting me (or re-targeting as we say in the biz) whereever I go...)

So, here we are. Almost September, weather defrosting and still no dark blue boots. Just purple :(

Sunday, 23 August 2015

On the job.

I’m sure most of us have the same problem; if your involved in a certain industry or sector, it’s hard to turn off from it – even when you’re not at work. 

My brother is a captain for an international airline and I’m sure that on every flight he takes when he’s not driving, he’s assessing how the pilot is doing. Dad was an undertaker before he retired and I’m sure he’s running a mental critique at the funerals he attends.

And I’m in advertising. An geez there are some shocking ads round.

I just got out at the airport in Canberra and saw a billboard for an airline featuring one of their esteemed pilots with the headline; “I don’t just fly planes. I fly people, and there’s a difference.” Really? What – as opposed to cargo, you need to occasionally speak to what’s behind you? Seriously, who are they talking to and what the hell are they talking about?? I’m personally hoping he does fly a plane! And what does flying people even mean??

Even worse was the in flight magazine on the way up. I had no idea such a skinny mag could contain so many appalling ads – along side the seven watch ads, nine for diamonds and pearls, half a dozen for executive courses and a smattering of prestige cars, wine and leather goods were 'gems' like these:

Hilarious really given both are for 'marketing'. I'm not sure which is worse. The first is something to do with a new venture between a private school consulting business and a 'creative' brand agency - which is lovely for them but I have no idea what's in it for their target audience. In fact, if this is an example of their creative, frankly, I'd give them a miss.

The next looks like a modern-day version of the ads for Sea Monkeys that ran in comic books when I was a kid. I suspect the results will be equally disappointing.

Coming home, I flew a different airline and got a different magazine. The articles in both aren't bad at all, but the ads are all same same but different. Blah.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The fast line.

A couple of months ago, I ventured into Maccas to check the new CYO - Create Your Own. Burgers made to your specifications and served open in a windowed cardboard box or on a board. (Just quietly, it wasn't bad!)

You can either order at the counter or use a touch screen that then sends your order directly to the kitchen. I opted for the screen.

As I stood and waited (a bespoke burger doesn't happen instantaneously you know!), an elderly gentleman approached me. Now when I say "elderly", I mean so old bits of his face were kinda flaking off. I'd have picked him for about 90 not out. And when I say "approached", I really mean shuffled. Anyhoo....

I smiled and lent down as he spoke (I was wearing high heels and he was kind of small and hunched in a way ancient people are).
"I'm too old for a line...." he croaked.
Hmm, I thought. I wonder if he needs help ordering or with the touch screens? I smiled again, nodding.
"...but you look shuuuuurperb!" He arranged his fingers in the sign that indicated 'okay' - or as kids today use it, 'mint'. "Really," he insisted, "absolutely shurperb." There was a slight whistle on the 's' that was more like a 'sh'.

"Oh you've made my day!" I gushed, not lying. "really made my day. Thank you!"

I was so flattered.

Then I looked around and noticed the other patrons were pretty much all wearing polar fleece, track pants and trainers.

I was in my work clothes, including the orange neoprene jacket I cheerfully admit I nicked from the charity I go to on Sundays. That organisation takes donations of second hand clothes and then distributes them to the homeless, asylum seekers and other disadvantaged groups. When I say "nicked", it was with the blessing of the founder - they have far too many women's clothes and we all agreed this probably wasn't suitable for most recipients.

Anyway, I took a snap of my ego-inflated self so you could get an accurate picture. Not amazing I know, but hey, at my age I'm happy to take any compliment!! Maybe I should be hanging out at Maccas more often?

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Christ Almighty!

Living here in the land of heathens and the barely-believers, it doesn't really occur to us to moderate our language for the benefit of the truly devout.

In fact, here's the picture from the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2011 census:

I'm going out on a limb, but if people I know are any reflection, I reckon a good chunk of those Christians are just hedging.

I remember the 2001 census, when I said my religion was "Jedi". There was a viral campaign urging people to nominate Jedi to see if there were enough people to make it an official religion. I've just Googled and sadly I was one of only a mere 70,000. The government ran PR trying to dissuade the choice, but the appeal of 'May the force be with you' and being a princess was just too much for me!

New Zealand has always been ahead of us - first to give women the vote and make same sex marriage legal - and 42% of them claim to have no religion, which is pretty amazing.

I've posted about my lack of belief before.

Anyway, the point of all this is we were in the States recently and I cringe to think of how many people we offended.

Social analyst David Chalke once explained at an agency talk that America was founded by the religious extremist who were being persecuted in Europe - hence their strong culture of faith. Australia, on the other hand, was settled by thieves, larikins, drinkers and criminals - and those were just the people escorting the convicts here!

With every 'gosh' I was reminded how we all always say 'god'. No one here notices - it's just what we do.

I remember telling a six year old George to perhaps lay off yelling 'Jesus' all the time as maybe someone mightn't like it. And him then thinking Jesus was a swear word making an appearance in a school Christmas carol!

Anyway, I'd like to take this opportunity to now apologise for any and all the offence our family's language may have caused.


The Moroccan Bath

The girls and I have come up to Dubai for a few days to escape the Melbourne winter. It's in the 40s so we've thawed out - quickly. ...