31 December, 2008

I am very excited.

My wonderful fiancé has just made an offer on a new home and it has been accepted! I apologise for anyone who doesn't share my excitement... but I am still going to indulge just this once and spam a ton of photos. :)

~ Elisa























30 December, 2008

Sad and Pathetic

It wasn't too long ago that authorities in Queensland were looking for the sick thugs who beat a baby koala up, mutilated it, cut off its head and stuffed it into a bin.

Now they're after whoever stabbed an emu to death.


Quite apart from the risk these morons took in fighting an emu - they can be pretty vicious if provoked - what the hell is wrong with people who feel like smashing an animal to bits? It really isn't even relevent that these two animals are Australian icons - it's just as sickening for any animal.

Time for a hefty reward for information and a hefty gaol term for the idiots when they catch them.

~ Elisa

29 December, 2008

Deal Or No Deal

This looked pretty cool. Enjoy!

~ Elisa

Click here to play

(The location of the game has been moved to the oldest page, so that people reading the blog aren't bombarded by music.)

28 December, 2008

Best Casting Ever

Thanks to Perez I have just learned that there will be a Gilligan's Island movie made. (The original Gilligan is pictured on the right.) And in quite possibly the Best Casting Ever, the producers have told the world who they want in the title role.

Perez called it inspired casting. And before I even saw he'd written that, I had to agree. Apparently, they want Michael Cera in the role.

Now, I'm not the guy's #1 admirer by any means. But I've gotta say they are absolutely on the mark for fingering Cera to wear the Gilligan hat. If you aren't familiar with him it suggests that not only did you miss seeing Superbad at the cinema, but you also didn't go see Juno. Have you been living under a rock?

Personal opinion: go rent Juno tonight on DVD - but don't bother going to rent Superbad. I saw Superbad and went, uhn I know what you were trying to do with this movie but unfortunately the main character was just slightly too overpowering to allow me to feel sorry for him later on and I just didn't find it believable that the other chick would fall for him. The main guy is an oafish, vulgar, overweight sexist pig, who makes constant jokes about penises, vaginas and all the women who want to have sex with him, in between putting people down and generally being unlikeable. Cera, as the downtrodden best friend, was brilliant. The film has a ton of laughs and people who enjoy rather off-taste humour will laugh at every one. But there were a handful that made me cringe with ew-factor, and I'm not a complete square, I just think there are some female bodily fluids that don't make funny jokes when displayed on camera, if you get my drift.

Juno, on the other hand, I quite enjoyed. I watched this one on a Finnair flight taking me to Helsinki. The movie gets 8 out of 10 for me. Loved the storyline, and Cera again outshone the main character. It's about Juno, a teenaged girl who decides to lose the big V with her platonic best friend Paulie (Cera) in a fumble of spur-of-the-moment confusion. She falls pregnant but decides to carry the child and give it up for adoption. The one thing the movie just didn't need was Juno becoming close friends with the adoptive dad and his subsequent divorce from the adoptive mother. It really just distracted from the main storyline, the fascinating part, which was Juno and Paulie growing up in a hurry as they cope with all the emotions involved in giving another couple the gift of a child. He was just fabulous as the awkwardly shy guy pushed to one side, who felt helpless and excluded from a lot of Juno's decisions, and he really played the "third-wheel" role well.

So as for playing Gilligan? I am struggling to think of any actor who is more suited to the role. But putting Beyoncé as the movie star, um, I don't think she's quite right. I tried to work out who it could be. Maybe Pamela Anderson? Not sure. But not Beyoncé. To me she just has a bit too much strength about her. Actually, Reece Witherspoon, Kirsten Dunst, or even Hilary Duff would be more believable than Beyoncé. Don't get me wrong, the lady is a champion, just not a good fit stranded on an island imo.

Anyway. Xheer for Cera as Gilligan.

*whistles, "...a three hour tour..."

~ Elisa

27 December, 2008

Post-Present Round Up

Well, I'm back, I'm alive, I weigh an extra ton, and it's Boxing Day. My kids are at my aunt K's place for a week. And then my mother has the joy of bringing them back here via a five-hour road trip. I'm ever so envious - not! Meanwhile, I get a week to myself. Best Present Ever.

For the family gathering, we had a nice lunch at my sister's. The food was simple but great. Cold meats, salads, bread rolls, trifle for dessert. Everyone had a relaxing day. Everyone was pleased with their gifts. We won't mention the fact that my son J had a "moment" lasting more than an hour. He got upset when a new PlayStation game wouldn't work, because my sister and I dared suggest it was due to the kids not looking after the console (which is filthy dirty). This "moment" involves going off by himself, refusing to talk to anyone, turning away from anyone trying to cheer him up or apologise, and intermittent crying. Really, the person he was upset with was himself. I hate it when he does that. I feel really useless, regardless of whether I caused the upset or not. He's just not good at sharing sad feelings. We're still working on that. Thankfully he did finally manage to believe me that he hadn't spoiled the entire day. By dinner time, when the second gathering (friends) began, he was in a much better mood, and spent the evening laughing and playing with R's kids J & J.

I got books, candles, a Pandora bracelet, bath stuff, perfume, and money. It's nice when people get you things that you like. I spent about half as much as I did last year and I think my gifts were still appreciated, too. That's enough for me. You can keep all your traditions, religions, services and rituals. I don't need any of them. Every year is a little bit different for us and we still have a great day. Doesn't matter if you spend it with friends, or family, or chatting to your besties online. It only matters that you take time to be with people who matter.

~ Elisa

25 December, 2008

Christmas Bonus

Perez sent me this and I just had to share!

Merry Christmas...

~ Elisa

Happy "Religion non-specific Day"

I'm five hours away from my keyboard for December 25th, so in my absence I'll leave you with some amusing reading from an early email that was forwarded through the entire world. Yes, yes, I know this has been busted as a rumour by umpteen websites. I like to think that the story itself is true, and someone just got silly and added a fake newspaper award to it. Anyway. Enjoy.

~ Elisa

PS. If you like the pic, click it to see some awesome images and desktop backgrounds.

PPS. Cross-posted to my other blog Crazy Odd Weird News.




This is an article submitted to a 1999 Louisville Sentinel contest to find out who had the wildest Christmas dinner. It won first prize.

As a joke, my brother used to hang a pair of panty hose over his fireplace before Christmas. He said all he wanted was for Santa to fill them. What they say about Santa checking the list twice must be true because every Christmas morning, although Jay's kids' stockings were overflowed, his poor pantyhose hung sadly empty.

One year I decided to make his dream come true. I put on sunglasses and went in search of an inflatable love doll. They don't sell those things at Wal-Mart. I had to go to an adult bookstore downtown. If you've never been in a X-rated store, don't go. You'll only confuse yourself. I was there an hour saying things like, "What does this do?" "You're kidding me!" "Who would buy that?" Finally, I made it to the inflatable doll section. I wanted to buy a standard, uncomplicated doll that could also substitute as a passenger in my truck so I could use the car pool lane during rush hour.

Finding what I wanted was difficult. Love dolls come in many different models. The top of the line, according to the side of the box, could do things I'd only seen in a book on animal husbandry. I settled for "Lovable Louise." She was at the bottom of the price scale. To call Louise a "doll" took a huge leap of imagination.

On Christmas Eve, with the help of an old bicycle pump, Louise came to life. My sister-in-law was in on the plan and let me in during the wee morning hours. Long after Santa had come and gone, I filled the dangling pantyhose with Louise's pliant legs and bottom. I also ate some cookies and drank what remained of a glass of milk on a nearby tray. I went home, and giggled for a couple of hours.

The next morning my brother called to say that Santa had been to his house and left a present that had made him VERY happy but had left the dog confused. She would bark, start to walk away, then come back and bark some more. We all agreed that Louise should remain in her panty hose so the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for the traditional Christmas dinner.

My grandmother noticed Louise the moment she walked in the door. "What the hell is that?" she asked. My brother quickly explained, "It's a doll." "Who would play with something like that?" Granny snapped. I had several candidates in mind, but kept my mouth shut. "Where are her clothes?" Granny continued. "Boy, that turkey sure smells nice, Gran," Jay said, trying to steer her into the dining room. But Granny was relentless. "Why doesn't she have any teeth?" Again, I could have answered, but why would I? It was Christmas and no one wanted to ride in the back of the ambulance saying, "Hang on Granny Hang on!" My grandfather, a delightful old man with poor eyesight, sidled up to me and said, "Hey, who's the naked gal by the fireplace?" I told him she was Jay's friend. A few minutes later I noticed Grandpa by the mantel, talking to Louise. Not just talking, but actually flirting. It was then that we realized this might be Grandpa's last Christmas at home.

The dinner went well. We made the usual small talk about who had died, who was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Louise made a noise that sounded a lot like my father in the bathroom in the morning. Then she lurched from the panty hose, flew around the room twice, and fell in a heap in front of the sofa. The cat screamed. I passed cranberry sauce through my nose, and Grandpa ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering mouth to mouth resuscitation. My brother fell back over his chair and wet his pants and Granny threw down her napkin, stomped out of the room, and sat in the car.

It was indeed a Christmas to treasure and remember. Later in my brother's garage, we conducted a thorough examination to decide the cause of Louise's collapse. We discovered that Louise had suffered from a hot ember to the back of her right thigh. Fortunately, thanks to a wonder drug called duct tape, we restored her to perfect health. Louise went on to star in several bachelor party movies. I think Grandpa still calls her whenever he can get out of the house.

24 December, 2008

Bar of Wonder

A pub in Eastbourne, UK, has a collection of more than 10,000 Christmas decorations. It's quite a sight!



Read the article and see another pic at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1099026/Bar-wonder-bar-lights-The-pub-decked-10-000-Christmas-decorations.html.

~ Elisa

23 December, 2008

Man's £5 debt repaid 39 years on

Here's a feelgood story for ya :)

A Sheffield man who lent a penniless Australian tourist £5 to pay for a ferry trip in 1969 has been repaid his debt nearly 40 years later.

Read more at the BBC website.

I smiled. I hope it makes you smile too!

~ Elisa

22 December, 2008

Brain Scan Meme

Ever wondered what your brain scan would look like?

Here's mine.



I have no idea what the images on the left even are.

I am amused.

~ Elisa

21 December, 2008

How to keep cats out of your christmas tree

Quick note, since it just worked for me. (They had been chewing tinsel, smacking decorations and knocking over the entire tree for two days straight.)

1. Take a small rag (or similar) and ensure you can make it inaccessible to the cats.
2. Add a couple of drops of tea tree oil and place the rag well inside the base, or some place the cats can smell it, but not get access to it.
3. Win! My cats keep walking over to the tree for some fun, then they get a whiff of the tea tree oil, they screw their noses up and back away. And it smells far more pleasant than any other cat deterrent I've ever used.

Tea Tree Oil is probably the world's best natural antiseptic. You can use it on cuts and scrapes to kill germs. If your kid gets the chickenpox, put a couple of drops in a bowl of water and wipe all over the skin after a bath (or just put some in the bath). This will not stop the sores but it definitely helps prevent scarring because the sores are unlikely to get infected when the kid scratches.

IMPORTANT: this stuff is POTENT and it's toxic. Keep it well away from eyes and mouths. And ALWAYS mix it well with water before putting it anywhere near skin. I buy a version that is blended with carrier oil. If you buy pure oil, make sure it's never used undiluted. You also need to use this in a way the cats cannot eat it, just in case your cat is psycho and not deterred.

~ Elisa

20 December, 2008

New Template

I've been a busy girl. The new page you're viewing has been the object of my toil.

It's still a work in progress. A few things are a little awkward just now, but I'm still in the process of cleaning up. I think it's a vast improvement, myself!

Along with the new layout is another new thing. I will try to add a nice pic each week.

~ Elisa

18 December, 2008

SO PROUD!

My daughter R presented me with a small invitation a week ago, for her family to attend the school's annual Presentation night. She was receiving an academic award for coming equal first in Design Technology. Ok, I told her, we'll be there. (I've no idea what the subject actually entails... designing a computer program, a wedding dress or a garden shed, it's a mystery to me, and all are possible in an agricultural high school...)

She had also been muttering on and off for a couple of weeks about how she would soon be singing in front of the school (again). I honestly didn't pay that part much attention. She's done it a few times and if I'm perfectly honest, I had a bit of a suspicion that the older singers just tolerated her as a cute worshipper from the youngest grade.

Anyway, the day of the presentation night rolls around and she starts complaining that she has nothing to wear. Brandishing the invitation, I point out that it requests "full school uniform". She blows this off with an exasperated sigh. The kind of sigh that only 13-year-olds can do.

"Sir said I can wear comfortable clothes."

A discussion ensues on why an invitation would specify school uniform and then some teacher says she can wear whatever. "MUM! Because I'm a performer, of course!"

The penny drops. She's singing at the awards ceremony? Well... alright. I'd also conveniently just washed her jeans, which would never dry in time. Heading to my wardrobe I extract a lovely two-piece skirt and top. She dismissed it as being 'old lady'. "Ahem, R, I bought this outfit for my cousin's wedding when I was 16!"

She finally tried it on and was impressed with the look.

So my son J and I arrived to watch the performance. Opening the program guide, there's her name... she's doing a solo? What the? Have I ever felt quite this inadequate as a parent? (Not sure.) Not only that, she's the only musical performer for the night.

The sound guys somehow messed up, so she couldn't be heard in the first verse, but to her credit she kept going regardless, like a true professional. They managed to readjust the mix and when we could hear her, it was amazing. She was spot on-pitch and in a big, echoey hall half full of parents and students, and impossibly nervous, that's not a bad effort. We'll ignore the part where she breathed directly into the mic, and again when she giggled at her friend in the front row, again directly into the mic. She told me that the last time she sang in front of the school they laughed at her. Well not this time, the applause was deafening. She really was good, and I'm not usually the kind of parent to gush about her daughter's talents.

As we were leaving she was congratulated by her principal, the primary school's principal, and then the mayor.

"Mum! Did you hear that? The MAYOR said I was good!!!!!!!!!!"

~ Elisa

17 December, 2008

New Blog

I realised how many of my posts are about weird news, so I have now moved them into their own blog. It's called Crazy Odd and you can find it at http://crazyodd.blogspot.com/. It's full of weird stories, weird news, and strange reports.

You should read! You know you want to.

~ Elisa

16 December, 2008

Shopper Rage

I was silly enough to go shopping on Friday with my 13-year-old daughter (who was home from school "dealthy" ill yet strangely showed no symptoms at all during our day out). The good news is I finished my Christmas shopping for everyone except my two kids. The bad news is that the shops were TEEMING with people, on a weekday, and it's not even the last week until Christmas yet.

While waiting in one impossibly long checkout queue, I was watching the operator and wondering how long she was going to take, when I realised she was moving at a snail's pace and chatting to the customer she was serving. Ugh, great. I was more than a little annoyed. I even considered a hugely loud sigh or complaining to nobody in particular about how long the line was taking. Somehow, I refrained.

Well evidently plenty of people are unable to refrain. News.com.au reports that parents are being told to leave their kids at home to avoid shopper rage. Here's a snippet:

Reports of shoppers behaving badly include:
STEALING goods when they can't get served quickly.
RAMMING other customers' trolleys out of their way in supermarket aisles.
SWEARING at customers who stop for friendly chats with sales staff.

Yes, the last one hit a nerve with me - I'd never have sworn at the girl, but I sure felt the annoyance. I hang my head with shame. But... ramming trolleys? Holy moley, people, what sort of holiday spirit is that?

~ Elisa

15 December, 2008

Christmas Meme

1. Hot Chocolate or Egg Nog? Hot chocolate. I'm not sure I've even had proper eggnog, nor whether I liked it.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Santa never wrapped mine, but he did wrap some at our house, because at some peoples' houses he wrapped them all.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Coloured, our tree is fibreoptic and twinkles. We have white stencil lights for the windows.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Nope. Mum had a tiny wreath she used to hang over the doorway, but I'm not sure that counts.

5. When do you put your decorations up? Um... when I get in the mood. I'm not yet.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish? All of it! Mum's trifle, K's salad and G's potatoes have to be highlights though.

7. Favorite Holiday memory? Probably laughing my butt off as assorted cousins threw tantrums or yelled about not liking their presents.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? Probably about 8 or 9

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Nope, but that won't last long, since I'm moving to a country where Santa comes on Christmas Eve.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? Tinsel garlands, baubles. And a few other small things

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Love how it looks, dread it. In Australia, this question has nothing to do with Christmas.

12. Can you ice skate? Badly. Also see above.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Yes, a Snoopy Tennis Game&Watch

14. What’s the most important thing? A relaxing and peaceful day in good company.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Mum's trifle

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? The 2pm sleep / or the 3pm "stuff face with leftover food"

17. What tops your tree? A star

18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving? Giving.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? O Holy Night

20. Candy canes, Yuck or Yum? I'm hopelessly addicted to canes.

and I'm adding my own question
21. Is there any tradition that you personally have started for your family? Yes... I always make a donation to the Salvation Army. Then I send an email to let people know that I have made a donation for them all instead of sending cards. (A friend in Seattle put me on to this idea and I loved it.) When I lived in the city I also used to run a collection of non-perishable food to give to a local community centre.

with thanks to Scalpel, who didn't tag me, but whose blog is interesting.
http://scalpelorsword.blogspot.com/

~ Elisa

14 December, 2008

Organiser

Since I am so lazy disorganised, I've been making an effort to engage myself in a few healthy habits. I am the queen of procrastination, you see, and I put everything off - from cleaning to cooking and everything in between. My backyard has weeds as tall as me.

My weapon of choice is Google Calendar. I've used this before and love it to bits. I have a bunch of ongoing "appointments" like Clean the House, Mow the Lawn, Write Blog and so on. Each of them is half an hour long and most days have 4 to 6 of these. Some are scheduled daily and some once a week. And as usual, I make bargains and compromises with myself in order to get out of things.

Not three days have passed and I'm already moving tasks around because I don't want to do them. "Wrap Christmas Presents" is shoved forwards a day; I have five blog posts written up in advance and this will be number six. These things tend to reflect what I enjoy and what I truly dread doing.

If this keeps up, I'll have 25 hours' worth of cleaning pushed forward until after New Year.

~ Elisa

12 December, 2008

Technorati

I really should have named this post Ignorati, because I am. Ignorant, of course, on so many techonogical things. Techonogical was not a type-oh.

I've added a few links to this blog for assorted blog lists. Technorati is another thing I've added. I am still trying to wade my way through the challenging land of Internet Blogs, and am trying to educate myself. When I do this, occasionally usually I feel far less intelligent than before I started.

According to Technorati, the most common tag for a blog post is... weblog. And then blog. Um, aren't those two fairly useless tags, then? *scratches head* I generally find it hard to think of which tags to use. I think for today I'll go with feelings. Yeah.

~ Elisa

Helium

I've been remiss. It has been so long since I felt like writing - real, journalistic and creative writing - that I really haven't done much rating at all on Helium. When I logged in today to have a look at my earnings, they had all stopped dead at $0.00.

Ugh, in other words, my rating had fallen back to zero stars. My gorgeous starred writer rating sat there uselessly; if you don't maintain at least one rating star, you don't earn anything for your written work.

I am now making a conscious effort to fix that situation. My rating percentage is generally very good, because I DO read the articles, not just hammer-click on a random score.

I was pleased to see that I'm now also a badged premier writer. There are a handful of Premier titles that haven't got articles written and end in the next few days. Here's hoping I feel like doing some research and writing today. I need to start following Wil's advice and write, write, write.

~ Elisa

10 December, 2008

Controversial

An Indian woman has given birth to her first child at the age of 70 after IVF treatment.

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,24769548-1702,00.html


I can hear you now. Most of you are reacting like I did. Precisely, "Ugh."

There are a lot of different ways to look at this. Some people will applaud and say their congratulations. Many think that playing God is wrong, regardless of age. Some are against IVF for religious reasons. Plenty of people will wonder why people in their 70s think it is appropriate to have a child (particularly when their life expectancy falls short of the child even beginning puberty). Is it fair to the child to have elderly parents? Will they have the energy to keep up with their child? (I say no... but then, I digress.)

Now, this child was IVF. It's pretty much guaranteed that it wasn't her egg; and extremely long odds on using his sperm. That means she had both a donor egg and donor sperm. Another can of worms.

Personally, if this couple were 30 years younger, well, no big deal. But I do, personally, take issue with the ridiculous fascination so many people have with passing on their own DNA.

Why do infertile couples turn to IVF? Why do they feel their entire lives are incomplete if they have not procreated? For some people, the quest for a DNA child border on obscene. When this world is full of children without parents, why are we creating more instead of playing family match?

If you ask a desperate IVF family why they do it, they all say the same... "We desperately want a child of our own flesh and blood." But what about the rights of the child? That child is being created for the adults' benefit. Surely this is a selfish reason for having a child. Why is an adopted child not as special?

Of course some families don't mind if Junior doesn't look like his daddy. They are the heroes, in my book. We are 100 years late in supporting women with unwanted pregnancies. It's 2008 people, and with all our technologies, we are still destroying healthy babies while other women are desperately trying to create babies.

Are we stupid? Forget about the ethics for a moment and just consider the practicalities. How ridiculous is it!? It's a bit like bulldozing a brand new house and then the owner goes begging on the streets to raise money to build a house!

I think we could go a long way to reducing this silly paradox just by paying women a welfare allowance while pregnant... the same amount they would get after the baby is born, so that way anyone wanting their child keeps it, and anyone not wanting it might think twice and agree to at least carry it to term... after all, they do have a medical condition and deserve payment for their "work", even if we don't pay a red cent for the child itself.

Controversial, yes, but then, there's little else that encourages adoption when most of our society frowns on unwanted pregnancy as something to "get rid of".

~ Elisa

Caveat: I do not describe myself as pro-choice, or anti-abortion, or blah blah blah. The only way you could pidgeonhole me is to say that I do not believe in "abortion as birth control" or of convenience.
I am pro-informed-choice. In an ideal world, women would not terminate unless it were medically necessary. But the reality is that society has many different views on the subject, so to that, I say, "Women should make an INFORMED DECISION, on all three options, not just two."

Cheeseburgers

Lately I've been getting annoyed with myself over how often I feel like buying takeaway for dinner. I'm not a big fan of cooking, you see. It feels just like any other household chore. Most people don't get excited about scrubbing the toilet, and I'm the same when it comes to cooking.

I've been scouring the supermarket for easy things to cook for the nights I don't feel like cooking, and I spotted the microwave cheeseburgers. But to my annoyance, they're the same price as just going to McDonalds. I mean, what's the point? And also, you know how McDonalds is going to taste.

So I stomped my feet and just decided to make them myself. I grabbed a box of Home Brand burger patties, a bag of hamburger buns, and I took myself to my kitchen. An hour later I have 10 double cheeseburgers with onions, sauce and mustard, individually wrapped in my freezer for when my kids whine for a burger. The overall cost was about a third of the takeaway price. AND, I won't have to pay for the obligatory fries and coke.

OK, I lied. There's only 9 in the freezer, because I'm eating one now. I wouldn't say it's exactly the same, but it's pretty damned good as an alternative! (And besides, fresh cooked onion is WAY better than dried onion is ever gunna taste.)

~ Elisa

09 December, 2008

Slowest Burglar Ever

I just picked a padlock. No, not one of these kind.



More like this kind.



It took me 1 hour and 4 minutes.

I will defend my lame effort by using the excuse that I wasn't very confident in what I'm doing.

I plan to aim for 1 hour and 3 minutes next. Aiming high, and all that.

~ Elisa

Edit: Ninety seconds. NINETY SECONDS! I rock.

07 December, 2008

The "Can You?" Meme

You know what to do...

1. Knit? Yes
2. Do a cartwheel? No
3. Speak another language? I'm learning.
4. Name all the states of America? No, but I can for Australia ;)
5. Do 50 situps? Probably not!
6. Write with either hand? Yes
7. Pick a lock? Yes. Should I admit to that?
8. Drive a manual transmission (stick shift)? Yup
9. Create your own website? Yes
10. Touch your nose with your tongue? No! Despite trying really hard!
11. Play chess? Yes, badly, because I'm impatient
12. Shuffle a deck of cards? Yes
13. Read a map? Yes, pretty well
14. Speak Pig Latin? Esyay.
15. Cook Spaghetti Bolognaise? Yes.
16. Remember the 80s? Oh yeah! <3
17. Read minds? Very, very rarely. I prefer to call them visions, or whatever word you want to use
18. Shoot a gun? No, and I never intend to try. Guns disgust me.
19. Multitask? Not very well. I get too easily distracted.
20. Whistle with fingers? Nope! I can barely whistle without!

~ Elisa

OMG WHEE and DANCE DANCE DANCE!

I just got a message that Dawn Meehan is following me in Twitter. I was so stupidly crazily excited! I mean, wow, she's famous and she's following me!

And then I saw she's pretty much following every person who follows her. :S

Still, she's way cool and I feel like a teenager at a rock concert.

I went to see a psychologist yesterday. (Background... I've been feeling "stuck in a rut" for more than a year and finally got to the point that I felt I had to address it.) It was actually pretty cool. She pointed out some things that I'm doing subconsciously. This was after spending a good half hour discussing me and my issues. She just made the comment and I'm like... what the? Oh, My, GOD! You're right. How could I have dissected myself so thoroughly and got it all so wrong?! And I've been doing this silly thing for a long long time.

I found out today also, that I'm there for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. (I should have realised this the moment that she identified one of my automatic thought patterns that just wasn't true). I've briefly done CBT before and found that it was absolutely awesome. So I'm feeling positive that she will be extremely helpful.

One of the things I have to do is change my routine and add something to it. She was pleased that I've started writing again, even if it's only blogging. So far, I've kept up the daily blogging longer than usual. Hopefully I can keep up the routine. With time I might feel creative enough to write some more fiction and actual journalism. Here's hoping that happens soon. I miss writing, but when I feel no real creative spark it's like doing trigonometry homework.

~ Elisa

05 December, 2008

Home Made Gifts For Christmas - Vienna Chocolate Mix

Vienna Chocolate

This tastes AWESOME. I put it into small, clean recycled coffee jars. I then glued Christmas paper over the old label and attached a gift tag.

1/4 cup instant coffee
1 cup chocolate drink mix such as NesQuik
1/2 cup skim milk powder
1/2 cup caster (confectioner's) sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Mix all the ingredients by shaking in a large container. Put into smaller jars. Attach a gift tag:

Vienna Chocolate
Place three or four heaped teaspoons into a mug, add boiling water and a dash of cold milk.

~ Elisa

Home Made Gifts For Christmas - "Bailey's" Irish Cream

Usually I am too lazy to make anything myself. But this is something I've actually made, and it's fantastic! I took a small bottle along last Christmas just to give everyone a taste and see what they thought. My aunt said that next year all she wants is a big bottle of this! ;)

It's cheap to make and you can flavour it in a few different ways. Read the whole post before you attempt this, ok?

2 cups thickened cream (some countries call this pouring cream - it has gelatin added to thicken it)
1 cup sweetened condensed milk (some countries don't have this! see my note below)
1 cup Irish or Scotch Whiskey
few drops vanilla essence (optional)

Mix all these together to make about 1 litre of the cream base. Then flavour:

* for general Irish Cream flavour use about 2 teaspoons of instant coffee and about 2-3 tablespoons of chocolate drink powder or chocolate syrup. Taste and add more if you need to.

* for chocolate flavour double the chocolate and leave out the coffee

* a few websites said people like to use almond essence. I tried it and can't stand that version! But it might be your kinda flavour.

* any ideas that work well with milk drinks can work. Try different flavours in a small amount of the mix to see how it tastes. Choc-mint, vanilla, strawberry, malt, choc-orange, try a few. (Make sure you use either milk-flavouring syrups, powders or essence, and not any kind of fresh "juicy" type fruit or fruit juice, or it will curdle!)

Taste testing is important ;)

I tend to use a bit less than a cup of scotch. It can be a strong flavour and the mix tastes fantastic even if you make it with a very low alcohol content. We have ours served in a glass of milk. YUM! A lot of people drink it straight over ice. Or you can add it to coffee (mmmmmmm). You could even mix it into softened ice cream and then re-freeze it.

If you can't get thickened cream - it would taste fine with ordinary cream. Just not as thick.

About sweetened condensed milk - I went nuts trying to find this in Helsinki and even people who adored cooking adventurous things had never seen it in Finland. My mother-in-law only remembered it as a treat her own parents brought home from Russia when she was a child. But it does apparently exist in a few ethnic food shops including Vii Voan, which is in Sörnäinen on Hämeentie. If you can't get sweetened condensed milk, an approximate substitute is to simmer half a cup of evaporated milk with half a cup of sugar until it dissolves. If you can't even get evaporated milk, it takes a fair bit longer. You'll need to simmer 1 cup of plain milk on a very, very low heat, until it is half the volume, and then dissolve your half cup of sugar. With all that effort, I would recommend you first check your local ethnic food shops.

Awesome as a gift in a nice bottle - I have seen these at the local dollar shops for about two bucks. OR, you can use any old glass bottle and just pretty up the bottle by glueing wrapping paper over the old label.

Keep mixture in the fridge. Check the expiry date on the cream - this is the expiry date for your Irish Cream so buy the cream right before you make it and get the freshest container you can. Make sure everything you use to make this (bottles, cups, spoons) has been scalded in boiling water. Glass bottles need to be filled with warm water for 5 minutes before you empty and then fill them with the boiling water - if you pour boiling water into cold glass it will crack.

Enjoy! (...and then enjoy it again...)

~ Elisa

04 December, 2008

Exasperating Children

This afternoon, just as school let out, I got a call from my daughter. She was at the local pool, since they'd had school sport there.

"Hi Mother dear. Is it ok if I stay here and swim for a while? All my friends are here."

Well, she's 13 and she can swim. I told her it was fine. And then the phone rings again... telling me she was bored and lonely. Turns out all her friends went home seconds after she called me. Great. I decided that when my son got home from school I'd drive him up there as well.

I handed my son some money and told him that after they swim they could each buy a hot dog. They were not to buy junk. "How about a mini pizza?" Yes, that's fine, if you have enough. But not sugar and fizzy drinks etc. He was quite clear on that. Dinner-type foods. "Yeah, yeah I get it, just let me go swimming!" etc.

When I collected them, he had bought a hot dog. She had bought a packet of potato chips and Sour Cola Candy, aka Loads Of Sugar And Artificial Stuff.

Sigh. How does Supermom Dawn ever handle stuff like this? I swear her kids aren't angels either! My two drive me so nuts, that I think six kids would put me into an asylum.

~ Elisa

03 December, 2008

Bubbles

I'm hardly what you'd call a brand snob, but I'll admit there are some grocery items that I will not buy in the house brands.

Take sugar, for example. I cannot tell any difference between the sugar costing $1.59 and the one costing 89c. The ingredients are, well, sugar. It's not like the cheaper one has matchsticks and sand in it. (Or melamine.) So I buy the cheaper one. Same goes for milk, rice, frozen vegetables, basically anything that doesn't require a complicated recipe to create it.

There are also a handful of things that I'm happy to compromise on. I don't use margarine much, so I just buy the cheapest one (and my kids have never complained). I like the cheap garlic bread, the chunky spaghetti sauce, jam, peanut butter, plain crackers, and tinned spaghetti. Actually, I like the tinned spaghetti better than the most expensive one, which is too salty.

Then we have a few I won't touch. Chocolate. Shampoo. Deodorant. And generally, washing powder. I like clean clothes, so I originally bought the most expensive powder. When dollars got tight I went down a few notches to one of the cheaper brand names. But lately I've been using the stuff at an alarming rate (I chalk this up to children throwing clean folded clothes onto the bedroom floor, then returning them to the laundry when told to clean up their rooms.) So my dilemma was that the normal powder was only a few cents more than the house brand, which I don't remember trying for the last 15 years.

Was I really standing there in Franklins and weighing my options? Unfortunately yes. But it gets worse. I compared the two concentrates and then saw the 4kg standard No Frills powder on the bottom shelf. It cost less than the either of the 1kg boxes.

I decided that I surely couldn't use four times as much standard powder as the concentrates. And if it sucked royally, it could just be my "omg I've run out of powder" emergency box. I bought it. I put the normal amount into the washer. There are bubbles, and it smells nice. I may have found a winner.

~ Elisa

PS. My son begged for frozen pizza the other day. I was ready to say no until he got himself educated... informing me that there were two meat-lovers pizzas for $5. I tried the No Frills pizza 15 years ago and it was like cardboard. And it now costs less. So I let him buy it.

It was nice. I was flummoxed.

30 November, 2008

Too Good Not To Share

I've been remiss. I've been very slack indeed. I should have shared this with you long ago.

Translations can be funny. There are a few collections of them on the intarweb and here is one of them.

You should subscribe to the Engrish Funny blog. There you will see pics like this



and videos like this



and you will laugh. Lots.

~ Elisa

28 November, 2008

Addictive Blog

Now I have no desire at all - ever - to have six children. And to be honest I cannot remember how I stumbled onto this blog. But Dawn has six kids, and she also has a great sense of humour and a fascinating view of life. It's nice to know I'm not the only one whose kids do unbelievable things, or who occasionally finds unidentifiable food hidden in the strangest of places. Check out her blog, "Because I Said So".

~ Elisa

27 November, 2008

Fail!

I saw this post on another blog that I love - failblog - and had a good laugh. Actually, I've been reading the back posts for a few hours and having a lot of laughs. A few of them aren't really good for viewing at work (or by children) but I've chosen one that is nice and clean. Enjoy!



~ Elisa

26 November, 2008

How Embarrassment

Oh my goodness & wtf - and yes, in the words of Effie Stefanides, How Embarrassment.

One of my latest musical obsessions (well, let's just say, I like the song) is a rocky fun tune. I'd been happily secure in my knowledge that it was performed by Australia's rock twins Lisa and Jess Origliasso, better known as The Veronicas.

So I'm happily singing along this morning, sans microphone-hairbrush since I was playing The Sims and needed both hands for playing. And as I got to the chorus, I was admittedly a bit fuzzy about the words. Hey, that's ok, I just sing along to the first few lines since I know those. And then I listen, and I hear, "she's just being Miley." Unh. Unh? Miley. It took a second for the penny to drop, but I was bopping along to a song by HER. Yeah, one of the celebrity-spawn of Billy Ray "Achey Breaky Heart", Miley Cyrus.

Quick explanation for those who are not familiar: Miley Cyrus is best known as Hannah Montana, the teen star of a show about (woh!) a teenager who becomes a famous pop star. What a staggering stretch of the imagination. Anyway.

Now I'll admit, the bulk of what I knew about this child is coloured by the comments of the one-and-only Sir Perez Hilton, who evidently hasn't got many nice things to say about her. His words, in fact, refer mainly to him being rather irritated by her constant appearances anywhere that a photographer may be present (and often, even if one is not). I can relate. I'm also incredulous at the freedoms she has. Famous or not, she's still a child, but seems to have been given free reign with the "umfriend" who is 5 years her senior. In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, the silly flibbertyjibbet jumped around giggling and rolling on the sofa - for a good three minutes - just because Ellen dared ask if the guy was her boyfriend. She never did answer the question, apart from occasionally noting that he is a nice guy, etc. I mean, there's annoying, and there's completely annoying. This performance made Tom Cruise's sofa-jumping look tame.

Lame. Very Lame. And now I feel pretty lame myself.

~ Elisa

I will probably still sing along next time it plays on the radio.


30 October, 2008

It Irks! Oh, how it irks...

So I'm a bit of a news fan myself, and for the umpteenth time while reading about a car accident, I was annoyed to read that a witness had YET AGAIN tried to help by dragging the occupants out of the wreck.

PAY ATTENTION, KIDS. DON'T MOVE ANYONE! YOU ARE LIKELY TO MAKE THEM QUADRIPLEGIC!

On one hand, I can understand it's a natural urge. When a person gets hurt, the natural train of thought is to get them away from what hurt them. But please stop and think. The accident is over. The car isn't moving anymore. They're not going to get more injured by sitting still. In fact, you NEED to leave them still if it is possible. There is a very real risk of spinal injury, even if the person is sitting up and telling you they feel fine. There are also internal injuries that can be very, very serious if the person is moved.

Contrary to popular belief, cars catching on fire is rare. The vast majority of accidents do NOT end up in a fire. There are only a few instances where you should move someone, or let anyone move themselves.

1. You smell or see fuel leaking AND there are sparks or a flame. Fuel alone is not a good enough reason to move someone. After all, we see and smell fuel at garage when we fill up, and nobody panics and runs away from it.
2. The person is NOT breathing or does not have a pulse, and you need to move them to do CPR. This one's obvious. Better to take a small risk of injury than to watch them certainly die with their spinal cord intact.
3. Leaving them in the car presents a serious danger to them. An example might be a truck that looks like it's about to fall on the car, or the car is in an extremely dangerous position in the middle of a highway bend, or the car might be flooded and drown them etc.

So what DO you do? Talk to them. If they answer, good. Tell them your name, ask them questions about themselves and their lives, do everything possible to calm them down. If they're freaking out about another injured occupant, LIE if you have to. Tell them the friend is ok/breathing/whatever. While you're doing this call the ambulance and tell the occupants to stay as calm and still as they can for their own good. If you are trained in first aid, you know the rest...

KIDS, PLEASE GO DO A FIRST AID COURSE. Again, contrary to popular belief, it's unlikely you'll need it to assist a stranger, or to help some colleague at work having a heart attack. The most likely place you will use it is on a close friend or a FAMILY MEMBER. Imagine watching a relative that needs your help, and you don't know how. GO DO A FIRST AID COURSE.

I was also thinking about a really cool (but not cool) scenario I was given during my most recent training. I'd also been given it when I was 16 and learning the first time. I got it right the second time; the vast majority of people get it wrong the first time they hear it. Before you can attempt it, there's something you must keep in mind. When it comes to First Aid, you can't save everyone. If there's more than one patient, you MUST prioritise rationally, and if someone has a low chance to survive while someone else desperately needs you for a less serious problem... well... you have to accept you may not be able to save them both, and go help the person who has a chance to survive. It's cruel, and awful to think about, but the trainer told me he once had a train crash on his hands (literally) and had to decide who was too far gone to save. What an awful decision, but if he had worked hard on those people, the less serious ones would have died, and the serious ones would probably have died anyway. So he did what he had to, and left the ones too far gone.

So the scenario.

You're living on a country road and you're the only house for miles. You do have a mobile phone though. One afternoon, you hear a huge BANG outside as a car runs headfirst into a tree. You run outside and get to the car within 20 seconds, and you find there are three occupants.

The driver is unconscious, not breathing, and has no heartbeat.
The passenger is screaming and freaking out that she can't feel her legs.
The guy in the back seat has a huge gash in his lower thigh, and it is spurting a LOT of blood. He is awake, but quiet and pale.

You only have two hands... and the ambulance will take at least 15 minutes to arrive after it's been called... how many of these people can you help and how many have a chance of survival? What do you do, and in what order?

highlight the text below to see the answer

~ Elisa

1. The second you see the car, you pull out the mobile phone from your pocket (you grabbed it when you heard the noise!) and you call an ambulance as you run out there.
2. The girl is awake, and breathing. While she may have a very serious injury to her spine, this will not kill her. She is the least urgent. Using your VOICE, you tell her your name, explain to her that you're getting help, and encourage her to calm down and keep her head as still as she can, so that she can help you. You hand her the mobile phone so that she can relay anything that the emergency operator has to say to you.
3. The driver is not breathing and has no heartbeat. His chances are GRIM. If you dropped everything to assist him, he may not live anyway AND your back seat guy WILL die from the blood loss. Leave the driver and assist the guy in the backseat. Use any cloth available, rip your shirt if you have to, to tie around his leg and slow the bleeding. He's awake, so get him to press down and hold it as tightly as he can.
4. You did this very quickly - the driver has been without oxygen for less than 3 minutes. This means he hasn't yet suffered any brain damage from loss of oxygen. Even at up to 6 minutes there is hope. If you can, lay the car seat down as flat as you can. If you can't move the seat, drag him out of the car. (While it's better not to move people, spinal injury again won't kill him, and not breathing will.) Commence CPR. DO NOT give up and stop CPR until the emergency crews take over.

Scarily, most people get this wrong. The most common response is to concentrate exclusively on the driver. Those that think about the fact his survival chances were low still generally get it wrong and conclude that they should leave him to die.

While you can't decide what internal injuries the driver might have had, you've now done everything you could to save all three.

19 October, 2008

The Geek in me is Amused.

My travels today took me to Wil Wheaton's Blog, highly recommended for anyone posessing more than a splash of geekdom. Yes, he's that guy who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Yes, that annoying teenaged geek who was capable of steering an enormous space ship through World War 285 with the finesse of a 55yo veteran pilot and without a single casualty*.

It is so refreshing to see a celebrity who's not a celeBRATy, instead of the usual hand up to the camera lens and "talk to my agent" brushoffs. (As an aside, the first celebrity blog to strike me as amazingly honest and free of crap was Pauley Perette's - sadly she had to remove it after stalkers threatened her safety.)

But I digress. Anyone who ever received a REAL Nintendo Game&Watch as a Christmas present, and/or finished Alex Kidd in Miracle World right to the end, and/or used to lug their computer to LANs at the local hall in the days before Broadband... will love Wil's blog.

~ Elisa

PS. I almost forgot! In Wil's FAQ was found a marvellous gem. I am in awe. Here is my personal geek block.

-----BEGIN GEEK CODE BLOCK-----
Version: 3.1
GIT d- s-:- a C+++ U-- P+ L+ E--- W+++ N? o? K- w+ O !M-- V? PS+(++) PE-(--) Y+(--) !PGP t++ 5- X- R+ tv+ b+ DI+ D? G e-(*) h-- r++ x++++
------END GEEK CODE BLOCK------ decode



* I must note here, that as a ritual ST:TNG watcher in its heyday, Wesley Crusher was my absolute favourite character and I had a massive crush on his gorgeous self.

22 August, 2008

I Now Know What Boiling Urine Smells Like

One more wonderful thing I can cross off my bucket list.

All jokes aside, I had a rather interesting experience this morning that introduced me to the unique aroma. I have four small kittens you see, and this morning one of them took it upon themselves to pee directly into the surge protector powerboard that my computer was using. I was sitting at the keyboard at the time and I didn't know at first what the gradually louder noise was.

There were a few stages involved: firstly, confusion. What is that? Something outside? The kids are playing the playstation... wait, no, it's a hissing. My speakers? Damn, nope, that's a definite "electronics gone wrong" sound that I've probably heard a dozen times as components enter their death throes. You know the sound - it happens moments before your hard drive dies, or the motherboard fries, or your pc repeatedly gives you useful messages involving three short pips and "Unspecified Hardware Failure. Press F2 to continue, F6 to abort." Yeah, those. Anyway.

I stood up in a massive hurry, worried about being so close to a computer that sounded like it was shorting out. As I looked around the edge of the desk, I realised the sound was coming from behind the computer. What the? Then, OMIGOD, smoke coming from the powerboard... and the glisten of moisture being cooked. I'm trying to remember a time I felt this scared, but nothing quite comes to mind.

Fortunately I was also scared of the house blowing up, so I looked around for some way to turn it off... but I sure as hell weren't touching anything. I grabbed a nearby wooden ruler and flipped off the wall switch with a sigh of relief. Then I ran outside like a chicken and turned off the mains.

The whole room stunk. The powerboard was charred and still dripping with ghastly brown liquid. My son was staring at me and all I could think was, thank Dog I wasn't asleep, or out, or whatever.*

Incidenally, the surge protector did not trip. Its merry red light stared at me while I was trying to identify the cooking sound. (Perhaps it wasn't supposed to, since the power hadn't strictly surged... in any case, I have an Electrical Safety Switch on the mains in case I had been electrocuted.) The powerboard is now hanging (disgraced) in my laundry and will be exhiled to the rubbish. A similar fate awaits my monitor's power cord, the one which was sizzling. I had a great deal of trouble pulling it out of the board, and the appearance once I got a look at it made me never want to use it again. This decision started a manic search for replacement cords.

I've sacrificed having the heater plugged in, as I didn't have another board, and I now lack powerpoints in the vicinity. I found every other kind of cord in my search and was cursing at my lack of a spare power cord... however, it turned up during a second search of random cables and I wasn't forced to steal the cord from my kettle, as I first feared.

For anyone interested, boiling urine seems to have smelled like dirt combined with burning electrics. I'm not sure about the burning electrics part though, since there were burning electrics involved.

~ Elisa



* Dog is not a typo.