one foot in the gutter

“It’s odd the way that, in spite of the exuberant appurtenances of fame, the undeniable and, let’s face it, enjoyable tokens granted by success, I’ve always had one foot in the gutter.”

Russell Brand

I’ve always thought Fatboy Slim’s album title ‘Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars’ is an apt description of life.

As Oscar Wilde famously said:

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”

oh lordy lamington

We’ve been experimenting with having special homemade desserts for various occasions throughout the year. So far we’ve had homemade pumpkin pie for thanksgiving and homemade baked cheesecake for New Year’s Eve. Today is Australia Day and Kitty had the brilliant idea of making homemade lamingtons for desert (which were delicious!)

There’s a funny story behind the origins of lamingtons about Lord Lamington:

There are various stories (probably apocryphal) about how the lamington was invented. However, it seems likely that it was devised by Armand Galland, the French chef to Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. Galland is said to have had a Tahitian wife – hence his use of coconut. There is debate about whether lamingtons were first served at Government House or, as the locals claim, at the governor’s country residence at Toowoomba. Lord Lamington reputedly referred to the cakes as “those bloody, poofy, woolly biscuits”.

The thing I love about lamingtons is the person who they were named after reputedly hated them! Imagine having something named after you that you hate; how Australian! 🤣

overseas travel tips for australians

I travel overseas for work quite a bit so I’ve worked out a few things that make it easier and more streamlined when traveling abroad. 

Here they are in case they come in handy for you:

  1. Vodafone overseas roaming is a godsend for traveling Australians. It’s automatically activated for post-paid accounts and charged at aud$5 per day for 90 odd countries (including all the big ones like USA, Canada and the UK) and free for New Zealand! Since it’s automatic you can use your phone as you would at home to make and receive any number of calls and use your included data. I used to use Optus but their $10 daily travel packs are limited and complicated so I’m so glad I made the switch to Vodafone. 
  2. Using foreign ATMs is risky. I’ve had cards swallowed by ATMs whilst abroad which is a PITA so I avoid using foreign ATMs completely, avoiding ATM fees, skimming and potential card loss. I do this by having a few hundred dollars of currency of each country I regularly visit which I use for things like very small purchases where cards aren’t taken and tipping. I keep the currency for multiple trips so I don’t need to get currency for each trip. For everything else I have a 28 Degrees MasterCard which offers fee free currency conversion so I use this whenever I travel for all purchases. 
  3. When departing Brisbane airport you can use the BNE Airport App to generate a QR code which you can use to print departure cards at the airport. This saves standing around trying to fill out your departure card at the airport with everyone else. For other airports I keep a few spare departure cards in my passport pouch and fill them out at home so they’re ready to go. Same applies to arrivals cards for coming back into Australia – I always have one pre-filled to avoid filling it out on the plane. 
  4. Australians can claim the GST they paid on items costing $300 or more that they purchased during the 60 days before their departure. You need to take the receipts, and items to the TRS counter at the airport (after customs). There’s a TRS app you should use to prefill your details which allows you to use the express queue (which can still take some time – so be early)
  5. Drinking plenty of water is the most important thing you can do on any flight; especially long haul ones. I always take my own water bottle and fill it during the flight during the filtered water dispensers which are typically near the toilets. You’ll need to empty it before taking it though airport security but you’ll be able to refill it airside at water fountains available in all airports.  
  6. If you’re an Australian traveling to the US  on an ESTA, you can use the kiosks on arrival into immigration. You don’t need to fill out the blue US arrivals form given to you on the plane (no matter what the flight attendants tell you).
  7. When coming back into Australia avoid bringing any items which you need to declare (such as wood or food) as this will slow you down a lot coming back in. 

This year I’m experimenting with taking carry on luggage only so I’ll see how that goes. 

That’s all for now. Here’s wishing you a streamlined overseas travel experience. 

what you need to understand is…

“What you need to understand is that the business exists to flush you out – to find the thing you can do in your 20s, to squeeze all the energy and creativity out of you while your young and then look for an even younger person who can do the same thing. What I learned is: don’t let them do it. Keep coming back with something different. Avoid being pigeonholed, because then you won’t be “the young Harry” or “the ageing Harry” or “whatever happened to Harry?””

~ Harry Shearer

what are 2 things you love about your body? 

Kitty asks…

“What are 2 things you love about your body?”

That’s an interesting question for someone with low self-esteem 🤔

I like brown eyes the most and I’m lucky enough to have brown eyes so I’d say that’s the first thing I ‘love’ about my body.

The second is my arms. Not because how my arms were built; but because of what I’ve done to them. I’m happy with my full sleeve tattoos as they represent me well, which includes a labyrinth. I’m particularly happy with the section where, if you look closely, you can see the initials of the ones I love most dearly ❤

Next Question for Kitty:

“If you could live in the desert, or on the beach, which would you choose and why?”

five apps to cut out the middlemen

Here’s five of my app ideas to cut out the middlemen:

  1. App for people looking to pay for dates – cutting out pimps
  2. App for people looking for local guides – cutting out tour companies
  3. App for people wanting to swim in your pool – cutting out public pool operators
  4. App for people wanting to find local roadside produce stalls – cutting out produce wholesalers
  5. App for people wanting someone to cut their hair in their home – cutting out hair salons ✂️

The thing I realised is that all these ideas are basically replacing a community service with a paid app idea. 

Even Uber falls into this category. One day not so long ago if you needed a lift to the airport you’d ask a friend or family member. Now you just call an anonymous Uber. Parents even use Uber to drive their kids to school – who cares about asking a friend if they’d help out?

So instead of paying someone to swim in their pool you could make friends with neighbours and use theirs. Instead of charging someone to take them on a tour of your city you can make friends for life by doing this for free. Instead of paying for a date…

It seems every app idea I have is about de-personification and capitalism of society. Why can’t apps make society a better place?

goolman lookout / rocky knoll

With a slightly cool change in weather this morning I decided to take an early hike to Goolman Lookout. This hike is part of the same conservation estate as Flinders Peak but leaves from a different picnic area known as Hardings Paddock.

The hike to Goolman Lookout was pleasant and not at all difficult. The trail was wide and accessible, with some steep sections but no climbing or scrambling required.

I walked back via the ‘Rocky Knoll’ Lookout which, true to its name, was a rocky knoll which you can only access by climbing over a barbed-wire fence 😳

life should not be a journey to the grave…

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

~ Hunter S. Thompson