Thursday, December 30, 2010

Roadside Memorials

This is a subject that is raised in the media from time to time.  Usually with some Road Safety group or other saying that they should be removed/banned, as they are an uneccessary and dangerous distraction to drivers.

Before I get too worked up, let me preface this by saying that I am usually a passenger - although I am currently working on rectifying that issue. And noticing these things more.

As a passenger, I notice the memorials, and they make me sad.  Not too far from here, on the road out of town, there is a whopping 8foot metal cross, outlined in hi-vis (lights up when headlights hit it) paint.  In the day, it's not obvious - at night, you can't miss it.  On the other side of the road out of town, on those high-tension wires, sits a floral memorial.  This one, you can't miss during the day.  Both are visible from 50+ metres on a clear day.  The cross, you can see in driving rain.

What you can't see, at least not properly, are the markers the Government apparently puts out to mark accident spots.  A black one with a white coffin for deaths, and a red one with a white cross for injuries.  They are about the size of the reflectors on the roadside posts, and are in fact attached to the posts.  Along with the reflectors.  It took some doing, but I eventually found one.  I see the big signs telling me they are there often though.

According to lobbyists, these are safer than roadside memorials, as they are less obtrusive.  Errrr, no.  A flash, seen out of the corner of your eye, is MORE of a distraction, because your mind has to process what it could have been; rather than ' What? Oh, memorial. Poor bastards',  you've got, 'WTF? Was that a ..........? No. Then what the Hell was it? Was it important?' going on. Which takes a damn sight longer  (and more brain power) than 'What? Oh, memorial. Poor bastards.'

If you want to reduce distraction, how about removing extraneous signage?  Those damn flashing signs that you only used to see announcing roadworks, but are now used to advertise the latest special at the pub, are a ginormous hazard.  Brain says 'Roadworks sign' and you are distracted from driving, only to be reading about the cheap meals at the pub down the road.  Not a hazard at all.  Billboards aren't quite as bad, although sometimes, their placement leaves a lot to be desired.  Ditto actual road signs - put 'em where they can be seen easily!

My final thought on the whole thing, is that those who make the noise, should actually look in their own backyard.  2 police officers in the past 12 months, both members of the Road Safety Taskforce, killed while driving at high speeds (200+ kmh) after drinking at their respective police station bars.  To the point of at least 3 times the legal blood alcohol limit.  The only fortunate thing is that neither took anyone else with them.

Allow those who wish to put up memorials to do so, fix stupid speed limit changes - the one in Victoria with something like a dozen changes in 10km is a classic example, police the black spots, ban extraneous signage, and slow down!

And for the record, the (straight, flat) section of road where that monster cross is, used to be a black spot.  Since the inception of the cross, there have been no fatalities on that stretch of road.  Accidents caused by stupid speed limit changes (from 110 to 80 to 110 to 90 to 80 in about 2km), but no more fatalities.  Food for thought, doncha reckon?!

Added 7th January 2011 - so today, we drove around 600km+.  Saw 7 roadside memorials and not one Government sanctioned marker - plenty of their signs, but no markers. And a Road Safety Taskforce car, with the driver cruising along at 110kmh, chatting on their mobile phone - non-handsfree.

While I was at it, I counted the signs 1km either side of the giant cross - roadsigns, advertising, the whole shebang.  20 when heading South (so on the same side as the cross), 34 heading North (opposite side of the road).  So, in a 2km distance, that's 54 signs.  Plus driveways, a roundabout, and a crossroads.  Oh, and 4 cars for sale parked near the hospital at the roundabout.  And 3 speed changes in that same space.

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's almost 'that' time of year again.....

The time when we all make promises we hope to keep, even though we know it's not likely to happen.

One of the most common is 'This year I will lose weight, and keep it off'.  We are assisted in our pursuit of weight loss by an endless parade of wonder chemicals, diet plans, exercise plans, TV shows, and of course, surgery.

While a bit of extra assistance is always handy to shift those first few stubborn kilos, the only thing that is really required is motivation, determination, and the willpower to change.  And actual support from those close to you.

You need motivation to get started, determination to stick it out on the tough days, and willpower not to succumb to old habits too often.  But the single most important thing is a great support network.

No-one is going to succeed in a healthy eating/weightloss plan if they are eating properly prepared, nutritious food, and living with someone who routinely chomps into a pack of Tim Tams, biscuits, chips and fizzy in front of them.  The cravings will drive them to take a running leap off the good health wagon.

This is the nature of unhealthy habits, they are insidious, and trigger monster cravings.  I haven't eaten KFC in over 20 years, and yet the smell of it will sometimes see me craving food.  Ditto HJ or McD's burgers, haven't ever been a fan, but if someone sits and eats one in front of me, all I want to do is eat. Not necessarily the bad stuff, but food, of any kind.

So, if one of your resolutions is going to be to shrink your girth, make sure everyone in your household is on board.  They don't have to not eat crap, just not in front of you.  If they plan a pizza night, warn you first.  If they order on a whim, you are going to have to wear it (that's willpower).

A little bit of junk isn't going to hurt.  Just watch your portions (of everything you eat), and the regularity of indulgence.  And move!

I have been on a super-strict eating plan (I am meant to have no dairy, no alcohol, no sugar, no fatty/greasy foods, no salt and no caffeine, and as few processed foods as possible) for 18 months now, and while I no longer feel the overwhelming need to eat chocolate or salt and vinegar chips as often as I used to, there are still days where the cravings are so strong, they physically hurt.  I allow myself a weekly indulgence - a skinny late, and a florentine (or a slice of savoury toast).  And I cut back my portions that evening, and the following day.  I have lost 18 kilos in 18 months, and have never felt better.  My weightloss has been helped of late by the fact that my husband has also had to change his eating habits, so the cravings have become less - as I said, seeing someone eating Tim Tams, corn chips,savoury biscuits, and HJ's on a regular basis, while sitting next to you, does NOT make craving control any easier.

So there IS hope - you just have to be strict with yourself, and those around you.  The best advice I can offer is remove 1 thing at a time - reduce, then quit.  Don't go the whole hog all at once. Good luck!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Where has the Christmas Spirit gone?

Is it hiding under it's bed, cowering in fear? Because I haven't seen it lately, and it's 2 weeks til Christmas.

Sure, I see sales screaming that this, that or the other would be perfect for so-and-so for Christmas, and tinsel and Christmas trees.

What I don't see, and am missing, is the human spirit of the season.  I am not a fan of Christmas, haven't been since Dad passed 6 years ago, but I still like to think that the spirit we celebrated it in, is about.

Have we fallen so far?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Midlife crisis? Or have we just finally lost the plot?

I am favouring the latter.  It would seem that the loss of a neighbour, an all-around top bloke, has pushed us over the edge.

Allow me to explain.  Last week, our neighbour Max died of a massive stroke at the age of 55.  Ok one day, gone the next.  Troy is 47, and is a ticking timebomb genetically.  Best estimates give him 5 years tops.

So what do we do? We decide, in our infinite wisdom, that life is too short, and it's time we did something for us.  End result, at some stage in the next 12 months we are buying a campervan and taking off around Australia.  For at least 2 years. As you do.

It'll be tough, and there will be weeks when we hate it, and each other.  My degree will take longer to complete, and we will be extremely isolated.  But, in keeping with the philospohy of 'Regret what you did, not what you didn't' we are going for it.

I am excited and terrified, and have already started the 'crap reduction' scheme.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Congratulations to Ani and Roy

on their wedding day.  I hope today and every one after is filled with lots of joy, love and laughter.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A review of the year

Well, this was meant to be the Year of Self, and to a degree (a very small one), it was.  I went to Uni, passed all my units, cleared some of the emotional detritus (and stirred up more) and got my health back on track. I also cleaned out my wardrobe, thanks to a massive weight loss.

So, why not highly successful?  Mainly because everyone else's crap kept popping up in my face (not their fault) and requiring attention, or time, or both.  Which is a fact of life, as we all know, but this year highlighted how bad it has gotten around here.

So, the goal for 2011, besides getting The Mister's health back in line, and keeping mine there, is to clear the remaining crap out of our path (court January 12 for the dickhead who assualted, stalked and threatened us), get maintenance appointments set up and kept (BIG fail on that one), and get at least a vague idea of where the Hell to next.

Oh, and a holiday or 2 as well..............

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Can we please lay off............

............ the swearing? I do not need to hear 'f***' 3 times in every sentence you speak.  And I certainly do not need to hear it from children under school age.  Thank you.

And while we're at it, could we please ditch/rework the term 'yummy mummy'?  I was a first time mum (with another 3 in my care, so 4 kids) when the term was first coined, and I can safely say, it didn't help with my post-natal self-esteem.  I didn't have perfectly blowdried hair, or a wardrobe full of perfectly ironed pastel clothes, and I sure as Hell didn't have time to take my perfect hair, clothes and flawless makeup out to lunch with my fellow yummy mummies.

These days, I find it offensive.  The media outlets flout the term with abandon, pointing to perfectly coiffed celebs as the ideal 'yummy mummy'.  Never mind that many have enough money to keep most families for several years in comfortable style, and can therefore afford in-home help, and the best clothing and makeup money can buy.  A celebrity mother who isn't perfectly polished, and looks like any average harried mother, is lambasted for letting herself go.

 These 'mummy wars' are carried out in blogs, print media, and on TV.  They have to stop.  We are all of equal value as parents, regardless of whether we wear Kmart, County Road, or the Kaiser to do our grocery shopping.  We all have different experiences of childbirth and child-raising. Sharing these experiences in an open, honest and above all, supportive way will surely help the next generation of mummies, yummy or not, to traverse the wilderness that is motherhood.