11.11.04


We will remember them.

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remembrance day

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we will remember them.

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10.11.04

The suburban rail system in Sydney is in very bad shape. Rolling stock is fairly aged and replacement carriages have been prone to regular breakdowns. There has been fairly constant friction between the government and the rail unions who are annoyed that frustrated commuters are taking out that frustration on rail staff. They are threatening a rail strike. So what's new? It's nearly Christmas and the silly season has started. We've already had a plane strike threatened. Now there's postal deliveries, petrol and beer left, and that completes the usual Christmas shenanigans.

I really think that if the public knew more about the matter, we would find that both government and union have justifiable gripes and complaints.

However,it is the public who are suffering. One day last week, not one train in either peak hour period ran to time. Many were cancelled. Run to time? The latest Minister has introduced a 10 minute leeway period. If the train arrives within 10 minutes of scheduled time,it is counted as on time. Of course,that presupposes that it could also be up to 10 minutes early, but that's pushing things somewhat. The Government has accused the union of running a co-ordinated campaign of mass sick days for drivers to make things worse. In turn, the government has been accused of union bashing, something no Labor government wants to be accused of. Some months ago, one in every three weekend services was cancelled to free up more drivers for weekday driving. Even now, when I wait to change trains at Strathfield, there are constant announcements that "the train is cancelled for today only. CityRail regrets any inconvenience." Michael Costa, the Minister says there will be no improvement till new timetables are introduced next September. We have not long had a new time table which was supposed to fix all problems.

There was a huge outcry about this and Bob Carr, the Labor Premier, tried to smooth things over. He has offered the drivers a pay increase of 12% over the next three years and, get this...a one off payment of between $1200-1500 for each driver. They will receive this, only if they don't strike. Peer pressure at work? I heard him call it an incentive. An incentive? I don't think so. I would call it something stronger, something like "a bribe."

Unfortunately, it seems that the railways are only a symptom of fairly widespread neglect by the government which was boasting a large surplus last year and applauding itself for sound financial management. Sydney's major dam was built to withstand an eight year drought. That is still quoted, but the figures stem from a time when our population was much smaller. Average house blocks were about 1/4 acre. Now we have many more people crammedinto much the same area, with town houses and units. Single houses now sit on blocks little larger than the house itself and in some sub-divisions, it seems as if neighbouring houses almost have touching eaves.

Transport and roads have suffered under this increase, as have health services, education and utilities. Today's paper reports that some Labor MPs are worried they will lose their seats in the next election unless these matters are addressed. I think that is fairly minor. What is important is that the issues are addressed and by more than an "inquiry" into the matter.

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8.11.04

I haven't done a Sunday Brunch for a while but this one appealed.

1) What is your favorite vegetable and your favorite fruit?
We have such a vast range available down here that I find it difficult to answer this. How about tiny tomatoes picked straight from the bush on a warm sunny day, or beans or peas, freshly picked, or a ripe juicy mango after a day at the beach or..., or...?

2) How many servings of fruits and vegetables do you eat a day?
Recommended servings here are at least 5 (2 1/2 cups) of vegetables and two serves of fruit. I have at least that every day. Probably more like 8 serves of vegetables and 3-4 of fruit. I almost always have a salad at lunch with somedressing made from macadamia oil and balsamic vinegar and some form of protein and lots of veges with my dinner. It's quite easy to have that many serves. Curried vegetables and chickpeas and lentils..yumm! Asian stirfry so the vegetables are still very crisp, flavoured with tamari, ginger, garlic and drizzled with a tiny bit of fragrant sesame oil. Lots of baked vegetables with roast meat. Pumpkin soup. Parsnip bread. Pumpkin pizza with tomato and bacon salsa. Potato pizza with rosemary, garlic and olive oil. Or asparagus, steamed or perhaps baked with a little olive oil for 10-15 minutes. Vegetables are just so versatile.

3) Did your parents force you to eat vegetables when you were younger?
I was never forced to eat anything in particular as a child. There are a few things I really don't like, but I enjoy a large variety of food. I was the same as a parent. I liked my boys to taste new foods but didn't force them. They are all good, adventurous cooks now. I can remember one boy at the age of five astounding visitors by declaring that his favourite food "in the whole world" was broccoli from his grandfather's garden.

4) What vegetable can you absolutely just not get down, no matter what
you are bribed with?

Nothing. I'm not a vegetarian. I do eat meat but not a lot and certainly not every day, although I love seafood. There's definitely nothing available in the shops or the farmers' markets, (of which we have lots) that I don't eat.

5) What is your favorite way to eat fruit?
How about fresh fruit or tinned apricots in winter on my bircher muesli with a dollop of homemade yoghurt? Or fruit salad? Or wonderful, juicy muscatel grapes full of rich, sweet juice? And don't get me started on tropical fruit so readily available here in summer...stone fruit, mangos,pawpaw, rock melon, honeydews (cantelope), or watermelon. Or strawberries , plain or with some form of liqueur, or melted chocolate? Or juicy peaches? Perhaps peaches grilled on the BBQ? Fruit salad anyone?

I'll have to stop this. I've just had breakfast as it's Monday morning here. I'm not really hungry but am thinking of food. Perhaps another banana.

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