Sunday, 25 December 2011

Sunday Sesh #17 - Five of the Best

So unfortunately, this is my second Sunday Sesh with no beer, since I am bogged down getting ready for Santa's arrival and a road-trip home. I will, however, do a double-beer Sunday Sesh next weekend, so keep an eye out for that one.

Last week I promised you something special, and I hope you agree that this one is exactly that.

Tomorrow is Boxing Day and marks the first day of the Boxing Day test in Melbourne against the Indians. It's no secret that Boxing Day is my favourite day of the year - closely followed by Christmas and then my birthday. Then there's End of Financial Year Day (for the accountants out there), but I digress.

Since as I write this, no cricket has yet been played, I thought I'd bring you some crickety goodness by rehashing some of my favourite classic catches. My top five in fact. These videos are all thanks to youtube (what did we ever do without it?).

So, counting down from...

Number 5

Paul Collingwood shows off his amazing reach against the Aussies in 2005 to dismiss Matt "The Bat" Hayden.

Collingwood was a great fieldsman, and this rates as one of his best.

Number 4

You can't have a classic catches reel without including one of our best ever gully fieldsman, Mike Hussey. He's pulled off some unbelievable catches and saves back there, but this one rates as one of his best. Reflex catches look pretty awesome, but judging a catch going over your head is deceptively hard. As usual, Hussey makes it look easy - but he does do it one-handed, just for kicks.

Number 3

This next one from Dinesh Kartick of India, to dismiss Graham Smith of South Africa. Smith can't believe his bad luck. As you'll hear the commentator say, Kartick is one of those frustrating players who can produce moments of brilliance out of his back-side, but drops the simplest of catches under no pressure. Again, catching a ball behind you isn't easy, but he makes it look like a piece of cake.

Number 2

We're travelling back in time to 1999 at the MCG for this one.

Mark Waugh - need I say more? Mark Waugh goes down as one of our best fieldsman of all time. He produced some brilliant catches in slip, but this one at short cover defies belief. The hand-eye co-ordination required to make a catch like this stick could only be pulled off by a soccer goalkeeper, which Junior was before he chose cricket.

Also, watch the way Shane Warne moves his field around. Not one player remains unchanged - this catch is equally down to Warne getting into the head of the batsman - in this case, Nick Knight of England.

Number 1

Paul "Fatty" Vautin, football legend, and hero to backyard cricketers everywhere, thanks to this screamer taken in the Allan Border Testimonial match in 1993. This is a bit of pure Queensland genius. Tim Horan, caught Vautin, bowled Langer.

Why does this rate as my number one, above the "real" cricket catches and against some that are arguably much better? Simply because this is the thing us backyard cricketers do every summer, without cameras and without the crowds. We're legends in our own minds and families, and catches like these in backyards, parks and cul de sacs all over Australia go down into family folk lore and legend, getting better and better with each retelling.

Incidentally, stick around after they replay the catch to hear Fatty's comments.

One thing before I wrap up - what ever happened to these testimonial matches? I think a charity match for the McGrath foundation or something similar each year, maybe to kick off the summer or to wrap it up would be brilliant. I love seeing all sorts of sports men and women have a go at cricket. It's a great equaliser, and nothing draws people from around the neighbourhood like the screams of "Howzat!" and the thump of a piece of wood on a tennis ball covered in electrical tape on one side.

What do you think? Any catches I've missed? And what do you think about bringing back testimonials or charity matches?

Finally, Merry Christmas everyone, and until next Sunday's Sesh,

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

You can't beat stupid.....

Here we go again. In an article in the News-Mail, Rob Messenger is spruiking the legislation he wants to introduce after the next election to repeal the Civil Partnerships Bill that was passed in November.

He states in the article that it will "give all elected representatives an opportunity to right a wrong".

Whose wrong are we talking about, Rob? I don't want to get personal, but clearly that's the way it has to be, because you know, we're talking about personal lives here. Lives of people you've never met, and haven't had the balls to actually talk to about this issue.

You want to preserve the sanctity of marriage, you say? How about out-lawing no-fault divorce? Wouldn't that serve to preserve the sanctity of marriage more than not allowing a small number of the population to access the same rights you have?

He also says "this reform is not about politics, it's about equality". Damn straight it is Rob. So explain, if you will, how repealing the Civil Partnership Bill will promote equality? The Bill allows for same-sex as well as opposite-sex couples to access it, so there's no discrimination there. In fact, you could access it if you didnt, oh, I don't know, want to do something silly like get married again, after getting divorced?

But enough about you, Rob, because what I really want to take to task is the comments that inevitably pop up on these types of articles. I truly thought I'd seen it all (and commented on it all as well), but no. Stupid has stooped to a new low.

This from kitwalker05:

"Homosexuals die at around the age of 40, with or without aids",

and this

"homosexuals have more health issues and therefore put a higher burden on the health system".

So very glad I was informed of this fact. I can now make sure I do everything on my bucket list over the next four years, since that's about all I have left on this earth. I mean, come on. You're shitting me, right? Where does this stuff even come from?

Also, by kitwalker05's logic, I've clearly been a bigger burden on the health system over my 36 years than any of my similar-aged heterosexual friends and family. Lucky, then, that I don't get the same tax concessions as those in heterosexual marriages to pay for my excess usage of the health system.

This from noelbowman:

"I do not give a stuff how anyone else chooses to live their PRIVATE LIFE but let it be PRIVATE" (his emphasis not mine), and then "this attempt to politically hijack the ceremony and its meaning is a bloody disgrace" however "I do not want to interfere with anyone else's life so get out of mine!" (again, his emphasis not mine)

Ummm.... ? So it's not ok that I be allowed to access rights and responsibilities that you have, because that would be impinging on your rights somehow, but you can stop me from accessing them, because, well YOU don't think I should. You're not interfering in my life at all, noelbowman, not one little bit.

I don't give a toss about your marriage. I give a toss about mine. Your relationship with your wife has nothing to do with my relationship with mine. 

You can't ask that I don't impinge on your rights without impinging on mine in the process. So how about this - I get the right to marry my partner, and you get to keep your right to stay married to your wife? Because that's how it would work, noelbowman. If I get to walk down the aisle with my partner and say I do and live happily ever after, it doesn't mean that you can't. You don't lose any of your rights by giving the same ones to me.

If the thought of two women, or two men, marrying each other makes you feel sick or icky then I have two things to say to you:

1. You're definitely not gay, and
2. You think way too much about those of us on the other side of the fence.

Rubyred is concerned about the children:

"Can you even imagine what it must be like as a child to not have a mother and a father but to live with two men or two women? What will happen to him or her at school?"

I applaud your concern, Rubyred, but I ask you, do you know what that situation's like? How about I give you an example of a young man who was brought up by two women?  Bullying, unfortunately, is a fact of life, particularly in childhood, and particularly at school. Kids don't understand that "different" doesn't necessarily mean "bad". It's up to us, as adults, to tell them and show them the difference.

Look, I could go on about a lot of other things here, but I've already dealt with them in other posts.

How about lets deal in some facts now?

Civil partnerships are open to any (eligible) couple who either can't or don't want to get married, so it's not a "gay" thing.

Civil partnerships give us a way to register our relationship from the start, rather than have to prove it existed after the fact.

Existing rights are not going to change. If you are currently married, you will not be required to register a civil partnership because the legislation clearly states that the Federal Marriage Act trumps the Qld Civil Partnerships Act. There are no further rights being conferred onto gay couples that heterosexual couples don't already have.

Gays and lesbians are already parents - have been for a long time. That's not going to change. There's not going to be an explosion of gays and lesbians becoming parents because we'd be able to get married, or enter into a civil partnership.

Gay parents do not have gay babies. Heterosexual parents have gay babies. How do I know? My parents are heterosexual and have been happily married for 36 years, and they had me. They also had two heterosexual daughters and a heterosexual son.

Finally, being gay is a trait we are born with. It's not a trait that dictates my life, and it's not something that should be a big deal. It's made into a big deal by people who choose to differentiate me from them because of it.

I'm proud of who I am - not as a lesbian, but as a person. It's disheartening to think that no matter how much I contribute to my family, community and society in general, all that good can be overlooked by people who can't see past the only thing that makes me different.

It's disappointing that no matter how good my relationship is with my partner, or how much I love her, it's not good enough to be recognised by my state or my country.

Would you like to hear any of your own comments said about your son or your daughter, your brother, sister or granchildren? Would you be happy for them to be excluded from accessing the same rights you have, simply because they're different from you?  

Next time you make comments such as the ones above, think about who you could be talking about and how it may affect them.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Sunday Sesh #16 - Bee Sting

This Sunday's Sesh is brought to you by Bee Sting Honey Wheat beer, brewed by Barossa Valley Beer.

I've tried a honey-infused beer in the past - Beez Neez brewed by one of my favourite breweries, Matilda Bay - and I have to say, Beez Neez wins the battle of these two beers hands down.

Bee Sting by Barossa Valley Beer
If you like good head, this is the beer for you!

As you can see from the picture above, it poured like a soft-drink out of the bottle. Now I'm pretty gentle with my pour, but this foamed up like I was pouring it over ice-cream. The head was higher than the beer in the glass, so I had to wait until it settled a bit before I poured again. And when I poured the last of it, it foamed up again, the bubbles racing up the sides of the glass.

There's no real hint of the honey until you've almost finished, and the aftertaste lingers right off the bat. It starts to get better the more you drink, but the bitterness is quite a shock at first.

To be a little fair though, it suggests to drink this with spicey asian food or BBQ'd meats, and I can see how the bitterness would cut through something like a marinated steak, so I might give this another go next time we have a BBQ.

This Sesh marks the last Sunday before Christmas, which means Wifey and I have been busy doing odd jobs around the house (which is why this Sesh is late, again!).

Today, I played apprentice to Wifey's superior skills as a concreter/paver. That meant I did things like dropping globs of concrete onto bricks instead of in the cracks where it was meant to be, starting jobs and not finishing them, and not cleaning up properly when we were finished.

In return, Wifey sent me to Mitre 10 for a left-handed screw-driver and a long wait, gave me the shit jobs and cursed at me under her breath.

The girls supervised by finding the only shady spot under the wheelbarrow, and then dropping the ball at our feet wherever we walked.

Daisy supervises from the comfort of the wheelbarrow

We still have a million jobs to finish, but today we tackled some paving near our front gate. When we did the front fence, we ripped up the old concrete paving so we could grow grass, but that meant that we started to get a muddy patch where we came in at the gate.

We had a pile of bricks Wifey was hoarding from when she pulled down the back steps, so we thought we'd put our collective creativity in action (my brains and Wifey's brawn) and put in a pretty little entrance to our abode.

Wifey mixes the concrete
The division of jobs went like this -

  • Wifey dug the hole
  • I sorted the bricks
  • Wifey checked the bricks and sent me back for more
  • I got more bricks
  • Wifey checked the bricks and sent me back for "prettier" ones
  • I thought "stick it", but told Wifey we'd work with the bricks we had
  • Wifey set out the bricks
  • I re-set the bricks so they looked "rustic" rather then "linear"
  • Wifey rolled her eyes
  • Wifey mixed the concrete
  • I watched and played ball with Daisy and Rubes
  • Wifey showed me how to lay the concrete base and lay the bricks
  • I shovelled the concrete, dropping bits onto the bricks 
  • Wifey explained (patiently) why I shouldn't drop big globs of concrete on the bricks
  • I rolled my eyes
  • Wifey asked if I wanted to lay some bricks
  • I said no, I'm just the apprentice
  • Wifey asked could I mix some more concrete
  • I said, no, I'm just the apprentice, I don't know how to mix
  • I opened a bag of concrete and held the hose
  • Wifey mixed the concrete
  • I watched and played ball with Daisy and Rubes
Long story short, we managed to get the job done without too much drama, though Wifey tells me I started fading half-way through. It was hard though, coming up with the design, and after all my hard work I really did need a beer.

As you can see from the results below, we're pretty stoked with how we did. No more muddy entrance and one less job to do.

Our new front entrance

The finished product

So that's it from me for this Sunday. Next Sunday I'll be busy catching up with fifty or so of my closest rellies on Boxing Day at a BIG family reunion. I'll be prepared though and will have a special treat for you next Sunday, so keep an eye out for the next post.

Until next Sundays Sesh,

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Sunday Sesh #15 - Old Speckled Hen

This Sunday's Sesh brought to you by Old Speckled Hen, a UK brewed ale. This one was also a tip, by my mate in all things beer, Ang.
I bought a 6-pack of these, so I was hoping they were better than the last Pommy drop I had, Old Fart.

Old Speckled Hen Ale

This one is a dark golden colour, almost the colour of syrup. If you look closely at the bottle, you can see the gassy residue after the first pour.

It's thinness disguises it's heaviness. It's frothy in your mouth, kind of like when you drink softdrink after you've had ice-cream. The first mouthful has a distinct and immediate taste of toffee, and it has a lingering bitterness that changes to burnt toffee by the last mouthful.

It's not a bad ale this one for a Pommy beer, but it's not something I'd drink in a session. One or two of these would be enough - after that the bitterness would get too much. It's also one you could keep drinking even after it gets a little bit warm in the bottle or glass.

After finishing my first one, I switched to the Great Northern's I had in the fridge from last Sunday to enjoy the cricket with.

This third day of the second test marks fourteen more sleeps until Christmas, so I thought I would write about Christmas spirit this week. No, I'm not talking about the whiskey in the egg nog. I'm talking about the intangible stuff - the stuff we do for people just to make them feel good.

I was thinking back over Christmas's past in an effort to come up with something funny and witty to write this weekend, when a story basically fell into my lap.

Quiet literally, I was the subject of a little bit of Christmas spirit this last week.

To put the following story in context for you, I'm not a big fan of shopping or shopping centres at the best of times. Christmas just annoys the bejeesus out of me. Too many people walking too slowly, and kids on school holiays gravitate to shopping centres, milling around everywhere, being collective pains in the rear.

I sound a bit like the Grinch, but I really do love Christmas. I just don't like having to go out and shop amongst it.

Anyway, I was asked to run an errand for Wifey's Aunt, which meant heading into one of those painful shopping centres to pick up a book, and then pop it in the post. Simple really, unless you're me.

The girl who served me at the book store couldn’t find the book, until the lady I had spoken to on the phone came and served another customer and remembered me asking for it and where she put it.

Then for some inexplicable reason, I went onto autopilot and walked out the door and was half-way down the street when I realised that the post office was in the same building as the book shop. So, looking like a real goose I u-turned and went back inside and up to the post office.

I wanted to express post the package, but the post office only had HUGE express post bags and tiny document ones (very limited stock, annoys the heck out of me but it’s three blocks closer than the big PO). So I get a normal bag, fill out the addresses and go to stand in line (with the lunch rush of about thirty other people).

I've been suffering from sinus lately (thanks to the unseasonal crap cooler weather), so it wasn't surprising that I sniffled a little bit. The mix of perfume and deodorants in that small PO didn't help at all either. Anyway, my nose kept running a little so I fished around in my pockets but couldn’t grab the one and only tissue I had because it was underneath my phone - I have deep pockets.

I then did a very bad thing and sneakily just wiped with my finger, only to discover I had a nosebleed. I rush out to go to the toilets but realised that I hadn’t paid for the parcel. I'm standing there in the doorway, hand over my nose, probably looking like an idiot, and thankfully my common sense kicks in - sort of. I race over to the desk, ask if I can leave the parcel there and go to the toilet. She says that's no problem.

As I rush back out the door I realise I've never actually been to the toilets in this centre, and I have no idea where they are, so as I run out the door, I'm scanning around for the signs. Thankfully, they're on the same floor and just up a bit from the post office. I race off towards them, and there's a woman, walking slowly, in front of me. The passage-way to the toilets isn't exactly very wide, and there are people coming out as we're going in, so I can't get past without pushing her over.

Her self-preservation instinct must kick in because she turns, very slowly, and sees me rushing towards her. She puts her hand on the toilet door, and she holds it open for me, eyes popping and mouth open. I say a muffled thanks and rush into an empty loo. I plant myself on the seat, pull off wads of toilet paper and push them to my face.

Now, my nosebleeds can last a couple of seconds, or they can last nearly half an hour. They can go away, or they can come back multiple times, with a few hours. I'm hoping that it's a short one, and I can get it under control at least in time to post the parcel and get back to work. It can bleed all it wants there.

So about this time when I'm listening to flushing and hand-washing going on around me, I remember the parcel, sitting all alone on the counter. I start admonishing myself. While I hadn't paid for the envelope, I HAD paid for the book. I should have taken the book out of the envelope before I left, just in case, but I was so worried about not bleeding all over the carpet, I just wasn't thinking straight.

Thankfully, my nosebleed doesn't last long. I wait until I think all the stalls are empty (only a minute or two more) and go out to clean myself up. There's one older lady at a sink pedantically washing her hands, and going through her handbag. I casually walk over to a sink, pull out some hand towels, wet them down and start dabbing at my nose. I can see the old lady in the mirror looking at me - she does that little furtive side-ways glance like she's really curious but doesn't want me to see that she's trying not to look.

There's something so B-grade-movie about cleaning blood off your face in a toilet. The child part of me wants to turn to the old lady and ask "What are you lookin' at", just to add to the atmosphere. 

I also have to be extremely careful not to set my nose off again - once it bleeds, it can be set off again without a moments' notice - I have a very sensitive nose.

So I clean myself up (and the lady doesn't quite back out of the toilets, but close enough) and I head back to the post office. When I get back the parcel is gone! My worst nightmare has just materialised.

So I’m thinking “That’s just great! It’s Christmas for goodness sakes!”. Actually, the language was a little worse than that but you get the picture. So anyway, I go up to the girl and I ask her what’s happened to it. Apparently, a lady who was standing in line saw me rush past her with my hands to my nose, and she asked the girl what happened when she got to the counter.

And she paid for it! She left the receipt though, so I could be sure it was paid for. How wonderful!!

It was then I thought “Wow! It really is Christmas”.

So thank you to the lady who made my crap day a little brighter and brought a bit of Christmas cheer last week.
Wifey says I now need to do something good for someone else, and I will certainly be looking for that opportunity should it present itself.

This little episode made me realise two things:

1. I'm too much of a pessimist this time of the year, and I need to start acknowledging the good instead of bleating on about the bad.

2. It's always the smallest things that seem to matter the most.

That's all for this Sunday's Sesh, but I am curious - does anyone else have a story like this? I'd love to hear them.

Until next Sunday's Sesh,

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Sunday Sesh #14 - Great Northern Lager

This Sunday's Sesh brought to you by Great Northern Lager, brewed by CUB.

It's also brought to you by a hot tip from my cousin Tiff.

Great Northern Lager
The thing about a clear bottle is that you have an immediate expectation that the beer inside it's going to be quite light, and that's about right with this one. It's crisp and refreshing and went down well while watching the cricket. I normally prefer something heavier, but this one surprised me.

It's quite thin, though not watery, so I could easily have a couple of these (and I just might since I bought a six-pack). At 1.1 standard drinks, I think this may be my new pick for "away" BBQ's. And it would definitely be one I'd be happy to share with a few mates. Cheap enough too considering my taste for more expensive boutique beers.
After a huge response to my last post (I had two months' worth of visitors to this site in the space of 24hrs), thanks to a big rant, I've decided to take it down a notch this weekend. By the way, thanks to everyone who shared the post and commented. I'm happy for you to share anything on here you think is good, or crap for that matter. That is, afterall, why I blog.

Summer has well and truly started. The First Test between the Aussies and Kiwis was a cracker - I found the ABC online broadcast and listened to it while I was at work for the first two days - and today I was finally able to sit down and watch it on the telly with a few beverages.

I'm a bit disappointed that it's all over in under five days, since I planned today and tomorrow around watching the cricket (ie doing nothing except watching and having a few beers).

However, I'm very happy to see the young bowlers doing well. Our future is certainly looking bright if we can get these boys to maintain some consistency. We'll never find another combination like McGrath/Warne, but we now have a couple of young quicks who we'll be able to start building a strong attack around. Nathan Lyon is also a find in the spin department. I think he's the first young spinner we've had in the side that hasn't been hailed as the new Warney. He has his own style and he's shown he's a great thinker.

Pattinson scoring the man-of-the-match was well-deserved I thought, since he built his attack well after a jittery start. I thought he had some good change-ups and proved that bowling to a plan no matter what's happening with the batsmen produces results.

The Kiwis on the other hand were a bit disappointing. They did well to make it to 295 in the first innings, but they should have cleaned us up for just over 300 which should have left them in for a good finish. I'm glad we got stuck into them early on Day Four, but gees, they could've put up a bit of a fight at least. They have to stop leaving the heroics to Dan Vettori.

I'm looking forward to seeing what they can come up with in Hobart. I think the conditions will suit them more than the conditions at the Gabba did. I'll also be looking forward to who the Aussie selectors pick for that Test, considering neither Hughes nor Warner fired. I think Hughes is sailing very close to the wind at the moment and he may be in a bit of trouble if Warner gets going.

The other thing I was impressed by was Clarke's captaincy during the match. He made some great fielding decisions, produced a great captain's knock with the bat, and made some great bowling changes. I still think he's living a bit in Ricky Ponting's shadow, and I think once Punter retires we'll see the best of Clarke.

I've never been a fan of Clarke, since we really do like our captains to be stoic and a little bit cranky even, and Clarke really doesn't fit that mould. But I think with the youngsters coming through now, we need a different type of captain. I think having the top job has added a different dimension to his game, and I think we're yet to see his best.

That's it for another Sunday Sesh. I'm off to hook into this Great Northern six-pack in preparation for going to Carols by Candlelight tonight with Wifey (and watch Wifey mows the lawn).

Until next Sunday's Sesh,

Friday, 2 December 2011

My life but still your choice

On Wednesday night, Wifey and I watched as our state politicians debated the Civil Partnerships Bill, and eventually, passed it. There was a lot of swearing, tantrums and face-palming - and that was just in our lounge-room.

The new laws won't come into affect until at least the new year, and maybe not for another six months at least.

The biggest affect it will have on Wifey and I is that when we register our civil partnership, we will be automatically granted next of kin status in our home state. But I don't want to talk about the benefits of the Bill's passing in this post. I want to address the lies, myths and prejudices still doing the rounds, and I want to take them to task.

I'm angry. I'm angry and upset, and feel sick. Why? Because of the bile and rhetoric spewed forth in the name of debate.

Firstly, because of my sexual orientation, you:

- question my parenting abilities
- question my ability to do my job
- question the stability of my relationship
- tell me the love I have for my wife can never be the same as a heterosexual couple
- tell me I'm mentally ill, sick, depraved, a pedophile
- compare my relationship with that of a human and an animal
- tell me there are bigger issues to worry about
- want a referendum to decide what level of legal protections I should have with my wife on my behalf
- want to decide on my behalf what choices I should have for my relationship

and you expect me to not take that personally?

Yet when I call you a bigot, homophobe, ignorant, naive, and afraid of change, that's not OK?

If someone completely unknown to you were to walk up to you and tell you that your relationship with your partner or wife or husband was irrelevant, or not important enough for you to have any say over their well-being if anything were to happen to them, what would you say?

If you'd been with your wife, husband or partner for thirty years, and they ended up in hospital, only for you to be told their legal next of kin (ie their blood-related siblings, parents or children) would not allow you to see them or make any decisions on their behalf, how would you feel?

That is essentially what you are telling me. That no matter how much I love my wife, or how we live our lives together, that in one terrible moment, our life together could become irrelevant, simply because my relationship is not recognised by law.

The only thing I want for my relationship is the same legal standing as my married family and friends. No more, no less.

Why is that too much to ask for? Why is that so hard to understand?

And don't come at me with all that crap about being discriminated against because of your faith and beliefs if I get to be married. You don't know the half about being discriminated against.

Ever been out to dinner with your significant other and been stared at because you're holding hands across the table?

Ever had to pretend your wife or husband was just your friend so as not to offend someone else?

Ever lose family or friends over your choice of partner or even because you told them of your sexual preference?

Ever had to listen to people talk about others in hateful, hurtful ways and not say anything for fear of recrimination?

Ever been scared for your life simply because of who you are?

I understand that if you believe in God, you are offended by my life. Offence is not discrimination.

My being able to legally marry my wife in no way impinges on your marriage. It doesn't devalue it. You won't have any less rights than you already have if I get to access them too.

I am a good person. My wife is a good person. Together, we make a better whole than we would individuals. We want to protect that, just like you do.

I don't ask that you agree with me. All I ask is that you judge me on my character. All I ask is that you allow me the same choice as you have to marry the one person of your choosing.

Is that too much to ask?