Tuesday, December 23, 2008

When I grow up...

This week..,

when I grow up I want to be an event planner/decorator. I actually am an event coordinator already, however, I would like my own event business. The only trouble is,

1. I like doing all the creative stuff not necessarily the boring businessy type stuff. I can do it (the boring businessy stuff, that is), but I've always found that as soon as someone shows any type of flair for this side of business everybody else immediately lets them do it... all of it. Of course, if I'm the boss, I can employ someone to do it for me, or, encourage a business-type person to be co-boss with me. Equal partners means equal committment to my vision. Yes?

2. I want to be a writer at the same time. Working long hours isn't always conducive to writing best sellers. Look at me now - nothing published let alone on the bestseller list.

3. I have no start-up money. This isn't a major problem really. I could start-up at home. I would do my own marketing, design, etc from my corner desk and hire equipment as needed. I wouldn't want to stock my own equipment to start with anyway. Building up stock slowly is better, learning what items are really useful and what aren't will cost me less this way.

4. I would like to have a partner (other than the business type person) who would give creative input and come up with lots of good ideas with me. I have someone in mind. I'm just not sure if she's really into it. She'd be great. Very good at public relations, but... well, I'll wait and see.

Finally, good old point number five...

5. Next week, I might want to do something else entirely.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Sydney Writers Festival

SWF is held every May at one of my favourite spots to be in Sydney - Walsh Bay, under the Harbour Bridge. The same area is home to Sydney Theatre Company, Bangara Dance Group and, I believe though I could be wrong on this one, Sydney Dance Company. Tucked away on the piers are several other theatre companies, dance groups, cafes and million-dollar homes and boats.

But back to the Writers Festival. I've been informed that SWF is the second largest writers festival in the world. Run over several days and always crowded, I'd believe it. This year I decided to take advantage of a very flexible job situation and volunteered for two days as a Runner. Basically, this involved helping out the event coordinator on the day and at the scene with anything that popped up. Barricade erection, queue control, water-girl, usher and ticket collector - I was foot sore and more than a little exhausted by the end of the day. But I had fun, learned a lot and was able to take advantage of my experience in the event industry.

The Writers Festival was an excellent event. I managed to see a few speakers. In particular, Kylie Kwong, who is a "celebrity" chief here in Sydney. Kylie has a couple of tv shows, the most recent being about her experiences travelling to China to discover her heritage. Great speaker, too! I was fascinated and I don't even like to cook!

Seminars, workshops, panels, films, theatre, radio shows - SWF is packed with the things to choose from. That's the hardest part of the whole thing, deciding what to do and making travel arrangements. I probably should mention at this point, that while Walsh Bay is the main venue, SWF is spread far and wide - Katoomba (linked with the fabulous Varuna Writers House), Parramatta in Sydney's west and several other city venues.

Drop in to their webhome and look for yourself. There are year around events and news.

If you're planning a trip to Sydney, come in May and take in the Writers Festival (and Walsh Bay). Volunteer if you can and meet some really dedicated people (volunteers, guests, staff and attendees). Did I mention how close it all is to the Sydney Harbour Bridge?

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Ways We Touch

Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don't want it.
What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism
is always a sign of things no ears have heard,
no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets
the bone.

-- Miller Williams

New look. New title.

I feel the new title reflects my writing nature and production. What do you think?

I've just switched to broadband and now that it doesn't take "hours" to do anything on the internet, decided an update on the old blog was past due.

Good news. I do have a couple of pieces in the works that I plan to post shortly. Really!

Some bits on marketing and some pieces on Darwin. I may even throw in a book review or two. I've just finished reading "How to Hepburn" by Karen Karbo.

I'll also be posting some comments on the Sydney Writer's Festival. I volunteered at the festival this year and had a fantastic time!

Until then

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Australia Day - January 26

Australian's love a reason for a big party and Australia Day is dedicated to just that.

It's not all party-fun though. January 26th started being celebrated as Australia Day in 1935. The party theme didn't really kick in until 1994. We may be slow but we sure know how to have a good time.

The history of this date is quite important in Australia being the day, in 1788, that Captain Arthur Phillip dropped off the first load of convicts and free settlers at Sydney Cove. That auspicious fleet of ships and cargo is known as the First Fleet and much of modern-Australia culture [or the underbelly of it] stems from those days. Captain Phillip went on to become the first Governor of New South Wales [we became "Australia" under the governorship of Lachlan Macquarie in 1826 though the name had been around since Matthew Flinders coined it way back in 1814].

Matthew Flinders, by the way, was quite the adventurer. He along with his buddy,George Bass,and crewman, William Martin, explored, named and mapped most of the Australian east coast, and a fair bit of the south coast, including Van Dieman's Land [Tasmania]. He later survived shipwreck on the Barrier Reef, a six year imprisonment in France and published the influential book, "A Voyage to Terra Australis".

But I digress. Having been celebrated as Foundation Day by the First Fleet settlers and later as Anniversary Day, in 1936 a Celebrations Council was set up in order to have a really good time for the 150th anniversary in 1938. The parties continued on, each year being bigger and better until 1988 and the 200th anniversary of European settlement in Australia.

1988 was a year full of controversy and the biggest party ever! Indigenous Australians made a concerted push for reconcilliation and land rights that is still being felt today. A Tent Embassy was set up outside the Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens with the aim of creating awareness of indigenous people and issues. Among the indigenous, Australia Day is known as Invasion Day. Recognition of their presence prior to European settlement and rights as prior occupants of the land has resulted in an improved standing, access to resources, official "Sorries", and a constant remnder and awareness that Europeans live on Aboriginal land.

Celebrations that year included a parade of sail from Hobart to Sydney. This event replaced the annual Sydney to Hobart race [Boxing Day 1987] and became an invitational to yachts and tall ships worldwide to participate. On Australia Day itself, the Tall Ships, historic steam ships and thousands of smaller craft paraded the Sydney Harbour. It was a magnificent day!

Since then, Australia Day has grown from a single day celebration to a party lasting several and including at least one weekend. The Big Day Out is a "touring" day-long rock concert featuring local and international performers, and attracting massive crowds. The concert series actually starts in New Zealand then spends a day each in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.

Every major city holds its own party usually involving music, family events, festivals and eventually, fireworks. Regional areas aren't to be left out either having as much fun with only slightly less the glamour.

Outside of the party theme of the day, civic ceremonies concerning gaining citizenship and naming of Australians of the Year are held around the country. Many events are also dedicated to a charity and major funds are raised through merchandise sales and donation collectors on the day.

Australian's know how to party all right and we pack as much into an event as we can.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Christmas at the Zoo!

For Christmas 2007, a bunch of family members decided that getting together on Christmas Day was not going to be doable without truck loads of stress, so we’d hang out after Christmas. And, instead of doing the usual showing up at someone’s place with some food and an esky full of cold drinks [alcoholic or otherwise], we’d congregate somewhere public where cleaning up meant dumping all empties into the closest garbage bin. It started off as a combined Christmas present for my sister and her family, and my family. A day at the Zoo! I mentioned it to a cousin, she mentioned it to someone else and the next thing we knew, we’d set a date for five related but different families to “de-chill” after the Christmas rush.

We brought our own supplies. We paid our own way. We showed up in our own good time.

And we had a lovely day.

One of Sydney’s main tourist attractions is the Taronga Zoo, but it’s not the only zoo in town. Aside from the new establishment at Darling Harbour, which I’ve yet to visit, and the great aquariums [one at Darling Harbour and one at Manly], there is also Symbio Zoo at Helensburg.
Approximately an hour’s drive south of the city [and half that from where I live], Symbio’s really is a wonderful place to spend the day. If you want somewhere to take the whole family, see some animals, have fun and not break the already exhausted budget, Symbio Zoo is the place to go. Smaller than Taronga Zoo, yes. Fewer exotic animals? Also a yes. A good range of Australian animals? A big yes! And easy to view with areas that allow visual access and almost touching access [if you really want to be stupid]. Plus they have shows and feeding sessions throughout the day - all similar to Taronga, just on a smaller scale.

But the animals here aren’t the only attraction. Symbio also has spacious and shady picnic areas dotted around the landscape. You can set up under a tree next to the dingo enclosure, close to the wandering wild birds in the wetland area or by the pool.

The zoo opens at 9.30am, so my bit of the family arrived at 9.35 in order to claim some good space. I opted for the dingoes. They were yawning, well-fed puppies and there was a big fence between them and my preferred picnic table. The rest of our growing group opted for the pool. Seeing the practicality of that option [kids + hot day = need to get wet], I acquiesced. We claimed two tables by the pool under a massive shade tree and then trotted off to mingle with the animals.

The stand-out part of the whole day as far as I was concerned was being able to pat the dingo pups who were taken for a walk by their minder to visit with the visitors and watching another minder head off to the covered amphitheatre, koala on hip, for the cuddly koala show.
The kids loved the free-range kangaroo enclosure where everybody gets to walk around the cage and hand-feed the little beasties. There were joeys in and out of their mothers’ pouches. Grey roos, red roos and possibly a few wallabies [Really, apart from size, they all look the same to me. Reds are big. Greys are middlin’ and wallabies are usually smallish].

The lone camel was amusing as it alternately pooped, ate its poop and then started again. As was the lost joey taking a rest on the shady side of the Bald Eagle cage that ignored everybody except those offering tidbits of the zoo’s kangaroo feed mix. It looked like a bag of dried grass to me, but obviously there was something special about the mix as all the kangaroos loved it. The lyrebird is an interesting, if rather camera-shy character. It displayed its magnificent tail non-stop and as soon as anyone came near with a camera, turned around to display its back end as well. I, naturally, took a snap of that and was granted a few seconds to get a shot of the prettier side too. There’s a bird who knows how to manipulate the paparazzi!

I got some great pics with lots of close ups. The cassowary shown is one of my favourites. These birds are dangerous, but when my daughter told this one to be still so I could get a photo it froze as if in shock at being ordered around. As soon as I get around to it, I’ll upload them to my Flickr account. I’m pretty sure I opened up an account a few months ago...

In the meantime, check out the zoo’s website and plan a visit soon. Go early. It did get crowded. And if it’s a hot day, grab those tables by the pool – perfect spot to eat, drink, watch the kids swimming and share Christmas horror stories!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Very mild super powers not quite up to scratch...

MS Word 2007

When I bought my new computer a few months ago, it came with Vista. My old software didn’t like the change so, of course, I needed to upgrade my MS suite to the latest version. Grrrr! It’s not that I don’t like change. Really, I love learning new stuff, but MS Word 2007 has got me by the short and... well, let’s just say that it has not been fun.

I’ll grant that I am slowly learning where the programmers/designers (whoever comes up with the torture techniques) have hidden everything, but it has never been so difficult (or so torturous) before. I will absolutely not cede that I’ve reached an age where lots of things get just that little bit harder. I am, and always have been, a dab hand at getting things to work and ferreting out the different language and usage of software packages. I consider it one of my “very mild super powers”

Let me show you a few examples.

1. The menu bars are completely different from anything I’ve used before. Even the customising dialogue boxes have me scratching my head. I don’t see the point of the change and several buttons I always used in previous versions are either no longer available or are in clever disguise.

2. I have to go looking for formatting buttons that are supposed to be Quick Access but in reality are slow access. First I need to figure out which section our formatting tool is now categorised under, then sort through the selection on offer. I’ll find it eventually, and it’s a given that also eventually I’ll get faster at locating my preferred formatting options, but in the meantime, sooo painful!

3. New commands. I don’t recall seeing commands such as “Learn from document...” in previous versions of MS Word – and I’ve crawled all through the commands lists on many occasions – and I’m not sure why I would want to “Insert Spike” into my work... I found these searching for my old formatting favourites among a few dozen other choices I’ve never heard of. Has Word suddenly become complicated or have these been lurking in the underbelly of the Word formatting world this whole time?

At any rate, I know that I’ll set up Word just the way I like it and when I'm forced into upgrading to the next version I'll be grumbling about how I've only just come to terms with this one. I admit right now that writing this article has helped immensely. I’ve now found a lot of my favourites. Perhaps it’s a comment on time or the lack of it and patience (and lack of it) rather than on change, inevitability and growing old. I just want to write stuff. I don’t want the hassle of figuring out anew how to format everything.

I’ve yet to attempt the latest versions of MS Powerpoint and Excel. One day when I’ve got an hour or two to spare (hah!) I’ll take a look at what they’ve become. For now, I’ll just muddle through with MS Word 2007.