Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A note for my friends in community newspapers

My dear friends. It is a lot different, at the State's daily, to that which you probably imagine.
I know this because when I was working in country and community newspapers, I held a certain view about "the daily competition".
I always wanted to beat the West to stories. I sat nervously for days in case they ran the big scoop I was working on. I bribed and begged contacts not to go to the big end of town with the story.
There was always a great deal of satisfaction in beating the West to a story. And when they did run it, I was convinced they had read my work first. Kudos to me.
What a naive twit.
Let me tell you darlings, it is not how you think it is.
I've been made the Local Government reporter. It happened at Christmas so I've only been in the gig a couple of months. I love covering councils - I've been doing it for eight or nine years - so I was thrilled with the appointment. The charm has worn off.
Here's why.
1. I can find and write the story, but there is no guarantee it will go in the paper, no matter how good it is - there are always State, Federal, international, police and medical stories which are much more important and get better coverage.
2. I can find and get the stories FIRST, but they probably won't run for at least a week, meaning the story has been broken elsewhere by the time we go to print.
3. I can find the stories first but chances are I will pitch them and the chief of staff wont be interested in them. Further, I could read the story on the front page of the Guardian, the Herald, the Voice, the Post, the Examiner, the Advertiser... pitch a statewide angle and it still would not get passed the COS.
4. I can find the story first and pitch it, be told we're not interested and then four days later - after it has appeared in the Post of the Fremantle Gazette, or the Kalgoorlie Miner - and be asked why we didn't get the story.
It's up to you how you interpret this. With the benefit of hindsight, I can't believe I spent so much time trying to beat the big end of town when the big of town either didn't give a fuck or wasn't even watching. I guess if I knew this information while I was there, it might have encouraged me to be more bold. I think I always gave the community the best and most rounded collection of local news each week, but I could have spent less time being competitive for no reason whatever.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Action. Now.

Last night, after work, I caught up with a very dear friend. One of my oldest friends. We're busy people and don't see as much of one another as we might like so when we do see one another, it is a wonderful time. The conversation is usually very political, very rigorous and very interesting.
He is a conservative. A real one.
And I, you may have noted, am a bit of a leftie.
I would never bag this friend of mine out, but I was very upset when I left him last night.
Debate about US politics or KRudd and Carpenter... these sorts of subjects have often delivered disagreement and sometimes agreement but always respect for the others opinion. If you have to ability to articulate your reasoning, and I can see your logic, I will always respect you.
Or so I thought.
Daniel has a new car. He calls it the Land Yacht. It is an Aurion or something. If it's named after a celestial body, you know it isn't small.
I pointed out the emissions a car of that size pumps out are unacceptable and suggested he might go carbon neutral.
He shot me down. He is very cynical about how it works. He thinks carbon taxes will make things too expensive. He thinks it is ridiculous that companies are trying to sell themselves as "green".
As far as I am concerned he could not be more wrong nor more out of step with where society is heading.
I've been through many of the issues here before so I won't go through them again now. He was so strident. So unrepentant.
I looked him in the eyes... and I was trying so hard no to cry... and I put it to him like this: When we are both old men Daniel, and I pray that we get there, sitting opposite one another in Jason recliners (yours will all the bells and whistles) I'll be able to look you in the eye and say, "I was right". And I don't want to be right, because it will be too late. You're going to leave kids to inherit this planet. I am not. Think about what you're leaving behind. At least offset your car's emissions.
It was a sad note to end the night on, for me. I hope Daniel went away and thought about it.
I did.
I came home and offset another year's worth of my carbon emissions.
And, slightly drunkenly, I told Thom I wanted to do something about this. If such a well-reasoned friend of mine can be so disinterested, disbelieving, then something MUST be done. I just have to work out what that is.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Have spent the morning crying. Thank you so much Mr Rudd.
The footage of those gracious people in the Gallery, the footage of people stopped on the street under umbrellas in Sydney rain watching the apology in shop windows, or on big screens in parks.... what a beautiful moment in our nation's history.
I can only reiterate: We are Sorry.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

So proud

The new Government's performance since the election has flip-flopped a bit for me. Perhaps it's just "coming down" from the whirlwind "it's time" promises and heady celebrations of November 24.
But today I finally felt like a new era had arrived. Thank you Kevin Rudd.
A traditional Welcome To Country from an Aboriginal elder for the opening of the new Parliament is just the most wonderful innovation. Frankly, I'd like to see the black rod replaced by the message stick given to the PM by Matilda House-Clements today as part of the ceremony.
Listening to that "gracious old lady" (as a woman who knows about these things referred to Mrs House-Clements) delivering her Welcome and determinedly pronouncing her aitches in words like 'honourable', tears welled in my eyes.
I know you think I am a pussy, but it just meant so much to me. I'm not sure why. Aboriginal people are a beautiful people. I know it best firsthand having lived with my wonderful Wiradjuri Warrior, Mal, during Outback House. His welcome to country in Dubbo was a wonderful moment for me - knowing the local spirits would see me safe. He taught us all a lot about his culture while we were there.
Anyway, I'm digressing. The point I wanted to make is that I am so incredibly proud to be part of a nation, under a Government, which has done something so symbolic today. It's not every day a new national tradition is born. Finally Kevin Rudd and Kevin Sheedy have something in common beyond having a daggy first name.
But tomorrow is, undoubtedly the biggie. Tomorrow, history will be made. An apology to the Stolen Generation which, to my mind, also reads as a wider apology to the Aboriginal people of Australia for our mistreatment of them in the past.
I am so, so, fucking proud. I cannot tell you.
Thank you for restoring my faith in Government, restoring my faith in the human spirit, the Australian people and their judgement. It has been a long time coming. So long.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I have a sick feeling...

I'm so sorry, but surely the idea of having to refer to the former PM as "Sir John Howard" makes everyone else feel as fucking sick in the pit of their stomach as it makes me feel?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Dear God/Mother Earth/Gaia/The Water Cycle

Thank you for the rain this morning.
I was wonderful to wake from my drowse this morning as it burst onto my tin roof. It was wonderful to smell it soaking into the soil. Wonderful also to see it wash the dust off the trees outside my window.
So bloody welcome. It's so much cooler today.
About fucking time.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Sometimes vandalism should be applauded

And this kind of ingenuity should not go unremarked upon.

Friday, February 01, 2008

A Sterling Stirling Street Renovation: Part the First

Okay darlings, so here it is. A grapeshot of photos of my flat, pretty much "as-is". The only difference in these photos from how the flat looked the day of settlement is that I have ripped up the carpet and a bit of kitchen lino, as... exploratory surgery.
This is the kitchen.

The good people at Ross's Makeovers have done me a new kitchen which should go in a about mid March. Suffice to say it will look completely different.
The living area, below, is a lot bigger than it looks here. Not much to be done in this area except have the parquetry (which I found under the carpet) polished up. I've had one quote which was really cheap and I'm waiting for another on Monday.

Really not much to show in the bedroom which, as with Lindsay's catbox, has the bathroom coming off it. I've actually got plans for this built-in-robe though. It must be modernised.

Now for some reason my very expensive and fancy computer doesn't have an easy way for me to rotate photos, so forgive me for making you crane your head and please don't send me your chiropractic bills.
The bathroom is in a terrible state. I'm going to put on a glass shower door and replace all the taps and faucets. I'm going to put in a classy vanity, too. And those terrible blue tiles, sincerely, have to go.

I'm getting a plumber in to investigate this terrible water damage in the bathroom, too.

You can also see in that photo just how freakin cool the bathroom floor tiles are. I'm very excited about those.
So that's it. So far the kitchen has cost $6000 plus probably another $1500 to install. The floor is going to cost just under $1000... plus a bit extra because I'm going old skool (50s) black and white linoleum in the kitchen (I need help finding this people... any suggestions?). Apparently the built in robe will cost a grand, so I'm paring back my plans for that as that seems excessive. The plumber may be another $500, the vanity $500, glass shower screen another $500... This isn't a cheap exercise.
But it will enable me to increase the rent from about $165 a week to about $240-$250... which will pay the mortgage. Or this is the plan at least. AND then provide me with the perfect place to live in a few years time when, hopefully, it's basically paid off.
Or that's the plan.
I'm not good with plans.