Thursday, 23 November 2017

Air Mail - the new snail mail: A Rant

Apparently Australia Post has done well enough to pay its CEO squillions, while reducing the efficiency of services and increasing the cost of those increasingly inefficient services. What a business model - it says so much about the times in which we are living.

That CEO, Ahmed Fahour, has quit AP now - check out this fat golden handshake as you bemoan the increase in the price of a fucking stamp: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-25/ahmed-fahour-walks-away-from-australia-post-with-$10.8-million/8841226

One of the cost-saving measures touted as a possibility by Australia Post a few years ago was not, as you might expect, reducing the astronomical six figure salary of the CEO, but reducing the number of postal deliveries from one per weekday to 3 per week. Poor Australia Post was losing money hand over fist. Nobody writes letters any more (although everyone sends parcels, it seems, and I'm quite certain that is a very very lucrative part of Australia Post's business.)

The three-deliveries-a-week thing, thankfully, did not happen here, and now that Mr Fahour has taken his money and ridden off into the sunset, the new Australia Post CEO, Christine Holgate, will take home a considerably smaller six-figure salary, saving Australia Post several million dollars per year. That is a Good Thing.

BUT (there's always a 'BUT', isn't there?)

Across the ditch, our Kiwi cousins have not been so lucky. NZ Post delivers thrice weekly. What that means, for anybody who posts anything from Oz, is that delivery times have slowed. A lot. I'm not altogether sure of the finer details, because really, you'd think it'd only mean a one-day delay, wouldn't you? (No delivery on Tuesday? No problem - deliver on Wednesday instead.) Instead, it appears to have added more than a week to the delivery time. Yes, I'm serious.

Once upon a time, posting something via Airmail - which used to be the speedy option - took just a few days to get from Canberra to Christchurch - add a day, perhaps even two if you're posting from Mallacoota, because Mallacoota mail takes a day or so to get to Melbourne before it can fly to NZ.

This year, my Dad's birthday card arrived late. I made sure I posted his Fathers Day card earlier than usual - it still arrived late. I posted another card  MORE THAN TWO WEEKS before a special event AND IT WAS FUCKING LATE!

It would appear that our postal non-services would like us to pay extra for "EXPRESS AIRMAIL", adding several dollars to the already high cost of airmail. It's true - your letter/parcel to NZ can now fly cattle class, just like you, or you can pay through the nose for it to fly (probably on the same flight) the equivalent of First Class. Unless its getting a bed to sleep in and complimentary in-flight champagne, they can shove that up their inefficient bums!

So - I posted a SMALL STANDARD item AIRMAIL WITH TRACKING to my Dad on 14 November.  It weighed about 320gms, went in an A3 sized tough-bag and cost me $17.76 to post. I've been tracking it - you bet I have - to see why it takes so bloody long.


So..... looks like it's been cooling its heels in Auckland since Monday morning after being cleared through Customs. And now it's Thursday.

Why, NZ Post?

I know that Thursday is not a delivery day, but does every single person involved in the postal process only work on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays as well? Even if that were the case, why wasn't my item happily whizzing from Auckland to Chch on Monday, which IS an NZ Post day? Or even Wednesday, which is also a delivery day? Why is it still in Auckland on Thursday?

In Chch, a private document delivery service has sprung up to fill in the gaps left by NZ Post. We Australia Post customers, however, are stuck with AusPost and NZ Post's abysmal non-service. I'm angry.

I'm thinking of getting a carrier pigeon. Or learning to swim. It'd probably be quicker.






Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Ch-ch-ch-changes

So.... New look for the blog to match the New Me. I'm going to have to do some tweaking and rejigging of everything, including the 'about me' stuff. Maybe.

It's official, and now it's about to be public - I've given up motorcycling. I am an ex-motorcyclist. I just need to get rid of all my motorcycling stuff. Like the Harley. Yes, the Harley still sits in the shed, where it has sat for the last 4 years. It's ventured out about a dozen times and I need to sell it to make everything REALLY official... end of an era. It's kind of hard to let go though.

I am now - well, exactly what AM I? I'm not retired exactly - but I'm not quite what you'd call 'employed' in a real sense - I do about 14 hours a week casual work in the town library and shire office. I've become quite involved in Community Radio. I spend a little time volunteering at the local gallery. I do a bit of voluntary data entry for a bird project. I keep chooks. I dabble in watercolours and turn some of my paintings into greeting cards.

I get angry at the government. A lot.

I despair of the goings-on in America.

I walk and watch birds.

It's a good life, actually. I haven't changed completely - I still love chillies. I'm still scared of spiders. My 'occasional adventures', however, are pretty rare these days and nobody ever calls me Betty any more -  so I feel the title of the blog is a bit, well, fraudulent!  Can I change it? Is that possible? If so, what should I call it now? Should I even bother with it? Do I have anything to say any more? I've been pretty silent for the last few years, taking up cyberspace for no good reason....

I think maybe it's time to say sayonara. Perhaps I shall return in a whiz-bang new incarnation at some stage. Dazzle you with my art, ha ha! To the folks who've followed my adventures - friends near and far - thank you.

Over and out.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Roadkill makes me cry

Kangaroos on the school oval - a potential road risk for all of us (and especially them!)
Gosh, it's been a while since I felt inspired to write anything apart from anti-government rants. You'll probably be pleased to know I won't be mentioning anything about politicians rorting their 'entitlements'  to fly their families Business Class on holidays - and I'm staying well away from the topic of helicopters.

My topic this time is the unbelievable sadness I feel when I see roadkill.

I'm a crazy cat-lady, an animal lover and a campaigner for animal rights. I'm also getting older, and the older I get, the more upset I am by some things. One of these things is roadkill.

It's always upset me to see the remains of beautiful animals by the roadside. As a motorcyclist I have always been extremely aware of the likelihood of animals leaping out in front of me, because that could spell disaster or death for me as well as for the animal. As a car driver I am more sheltered from that fear, which is a Very Bad Thing as far as I'm concerned. People who've never ridden a motorcycle have ALWAYS been sheltered from that fear.

The reality for Aussie car drivers is that if they hit an animal, their likeliest worst case scenario is a hefty bill for panel-beating (and perhaps towing) . For most drivers it will mean some inconvenience and a minor insurance claim.

Between Cooma and Canberra at the moment there must be a LOT of tow-truck operators and a shitload of panel-beaters making a SHITLOAD of money!

On a return trip to Canberra yesterday I was saddened - no, saddened isn't strong enough.... horrified? devastated? shattered? to see roadkill about every 50 metres on the Monaro Highway between Cooma and Canberra. Wombats, foxes, little roos, medium roos, giant roos with hands the size of mine, their clawed fingers splayed...

Ultimately, though,  what I saw wasn't just corpses of animals twisted into the undignified shapes of sudden, violent death. It wasn't the misery of motorists who'd totalled their cars whacking them. I felt a horrible sort of vicarious pain.

Sometimes I think I must be going mad - but what I saw when I saw the contorted wreckage of vibrant native wildlife (and the odd introduced fox!) was suffering: awful, lonely, bellies-exposed suffering in the depths of winter. Sad, lonely, uncomforted deaths, unrecorded and unreported. No ambulance comes to help you. Nobody sits with you and holds you till the ambulance or the Grim
Reaper arrives. Nobody cares. They care instead about the damage you may have done to their car or truck as they sped to the ski-fields, or home. You are the cause of their misery; their collateral damage.

Nobody cares.

Well, I care.

I spent a good part of my drive yesterday in tears, passing roo after roo after roo. I couldn't turn off the thoughts I had of their final moments - or hours. In shock, cold, hurting - how long did they have to wait for Death to end their pain? How many more cars and trucks and bikes sped past their dying selves, oblivious as they bled out or died in agony? Did they have a mate or a family feeling their absence but not understanding it?

Look, I know that roos have zero road sense. They're not very bright. They're sort of like enormous, muscular jumping sheep. But still...they are beautiful, graceful, wonderful living creatures with their own mob, their family. No policeman will ever knock at their doors to explain why they haven't come home. No ceremonies will be held to mourn their passing. There's just a sort of blank and uncomprehending void.

I could say 'well, that's Nature, it's how it works, it's only humans who get hung up on that sort of shit' except for this - it's us humans who are CAUSING this unbelievable amount of suffering and death. And we do it without a second thought. Mostly.

Several years ago I was on that Cooma-Canberra highway and I passed the corpse of a very large kangaroo. Its enormous hind legs, stiffened in rigor mortis, were sticking up in the air, and over the frame they created was draped a checked blanket.

I cried and cried. To me, that checked blanket meant that somebody had noticed. Somebody had cared. Somebody had tried to make that poor dying roo's passing more comfortable somehow. It was naive, but it was beautiful in such an incredibly sad way.

Had the blanket-owner been the killer or a compassionate passer-by? Had they been unable to put the roo out of its dying misery/pain*, and only been able to offer it warmth as its life ebbed away?

On my drive yesterday I came to the Imlay Road at "Rooicide" time. Late afternoon with the light about to start failing. After losing count of the numbers of roo corpses earlier in the day I was driving with a heightened awareness of roadside critters, especially at that late-afternoon time.

I noticed eight little wallabies, three kangaroos, a wedge-tailed eagle and two lyrebirds as I drove that road. None jumped in front of me, but I was very aware of them, and made sure I slowed down as soon as I was aware of them.

Drivers - please, PLEASE be careful - and remember that you and your cars aren't the only beings out there.

* What DO you do if you hit a wild animal? You don't want it to suffer. We tend not to carry guns in Australia - so - what is the humane way to end its suffering? This is something everybody needs to know!!!!! I've googled it and googled it and live in fear of being in this situation!

Friday, 10 April 2015

Asylum Seekers,(the telemovie) and other bright ideas



From the ‘bright ideas file’ of a government gone mad:

Don’t these asylum-seekers get it yet? The rule is “form an orderly queue and wait your turn to be processed by the refugee sausage-machine. Due process. Rules.” It’s not that hard, people.

We’ve done just about everything to stop them coming here. There was that awesome graphic novel that appeared on the Immigration department website (but is no longer there). The Guardian wrote about it though:

We’ve spent a fortune on glossy communications campaigns:

We’ve locked up the cowardly queue-jumpers (and their children) who would prefer to throw away everything they have on people-smugglers’ promises because they think that’s a better bet than taking their chances with the Taliban or Islamic State while they wait for the refugee sausage-machine to come up with their number.

We’ve made their lives unspeakably ugly in detention – so ugly that they self-harm. Some die. Still they don’t get it – what’s wrong with them? How can we get through to these people?


I know! Let’s make a telemovie! That’s SURE to work – everyone watches TV, right? – even people living in terror over there in those war-torn countries…

Imagine the excitement at the departmental morning tea when THAT idea was touted! I bet they almost choked on their sausage rolls.

A spokesperson for the Immigration Department told the ABC’s Lateline program that "television soap operas and telemovies are proven media to reach the target audience when seeking to deliver complex messages."

And they’ve picked Trudi-Ann Tierney, from Put it Out There Pictures, to produce it, by golly they have:

Ms Tierney is an experienced TV producer who worked in Afghanistan for four years making TV soap operas as well as an anti-terrorist police show called Eagle Four which was largely funded by the US embassy in Kabul and which she described as "propaganda".She also worked on Afghan programs backed by other embassies as well as UN bodies and aid agencies.In her 2014 memoir Making Soapies in Kabul, Ms Tierney wrote that: "Ostensibly I was head of drama (for a local TV company); but in truth I was nothing more than a propaganda merchant".
Here’s the whole story:

The bargain basement price tag of only $4.1m is another incentive for our government. 

I eagerly await the next bright idea from a government that is allegedly desperate to cut costs, and is willing to defund aboriginal communities and women’s refuges,  cut pensions, make the dole an impossibility for young unemployed, deregulate higher education fees while still allowing the uber-capitalists at the high end of town - the Gina Rineharts and Rupert Murdochs – to rake in the dough by avoiding their share of the ‘heavy lifting’ that our treasurer insists upon the rest of us doing.

So… I’ve been thinking about bright ideas, Aussie government, and I’ve come up with a few more to go on with in the wake of your fab telemovie:

  • Asylum seekers - the board game. A game with all the randomness and rationality of Snakes and Ladders. 
  • Asylum seekers – the phone app – race against the clock to turn back as many boats as you can. Extra points for at-sea detention or boat-scuttling.
  • Build your own Manus Island detention centre’ – a construction kit made of canvas and razor wire. Extra guard-posts available at a small cost. Comes without bathroom doors. Build your own Nauru also available.
  • Children-in-detention plush toys. Standard models come in male or female. Deluxe model cries real tears.
  • Leering guard action figures.  Pose-able action figures complete with guns and erections.


That’ll work, for sure. And if that doesn't disgust you the way it disgusts me, then nothing will.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Musings on hypocrisy and virginity tests

I was reading a mag in the staffroom yesterday as I tucked into the lovely stuffed capsicum I'd taken for lunch, and I almost choked when I read this 'In Brief' snippet, :
 Virginity tests averted
(Jakarta, Indonesia), Feb 11 - A member of parliament on the island of Java has been scrutinised following an attempt to introduce forced virginity tests for females planning to graduate high school. Kusen Andalas, deputy head of the district, insisted that the plans will not go ahead. 'I don't think it's ethical to carry out such tests. It is against people's rights'.

Seriously, ya think?

The article made me realise, yet again, how little personal power we have - how our dignity and privacy can be stripped away by unscrupulous, unethical - dare I say in some cases twisted? - officials who truly believe they have a mandate to do whatever they bloody well like to us.

Was the official in question merely a 'dirty old man' who gets off on the thought of probing high school girls and tries to shield his depravity with a veil of religious devotion to 'purity'? The conspiracy theorist in me can't help also wondering whether it's part of a larger and far more insidious plot to deter girls from wanting to get an education - to make the prospect of even finishing high school abhorrent, a rite of passage only achievable after a shameful, irrelevant and unnecessary invasion of her most private self?

How the hell do these creeps get hold of power in the first place? What kind of morons vote them in?

When my train of thought reached that point I derailed it. After all, I live in the country that voted in a creep who has spent the last 18 months locking up children and torturing asylum seekers.

I live in the country whose government is wringing as much political mileage as it can out of pretending to be compassionate and locking horns with the Indonesian government over the impending state-sanctioned killing of two Australian drug runners who knowingly flouted Indonesian law, and whose own Federal Police actually tipped off the Indonesians in the first place, knowing the consequences of drug-running through Indonesia.* WTF???

I live in the country whose government refuses to accept any whiff of responsibility for the deaths of Reza Barati, a 23 year-old Iranian asylum seeker who was killed on Manus Island during rioting at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre as an unwilling 'guest' of the Australian government, and 24 year-old Iranian asylum seeker Hamid Kehazaei, who died because of unforgivable delays securing urgent medical attention while he was also a 'guest' of the Australian government on Manus.

I live in the country that points fingers at other countries' human rights records, while ignoring its own deplorable treatment of its own indigenous people; whose self-titled Prime Minster for Indigenous Affairs supports the defunding and closure of remote aboriginal communities because they are lifestyle choices. Arrogant, ignorant, offensive creep.

*Let me make it clear that I do not support the death penalty. What I also do not support is the hypocrisy of a government that apparently values the lives of convicted criminals over the lives of innocent people who have fled torture and terror in their home countries.

For the Guardian story about this lowest of low acts, click  here