Monday, November 30, 2009

Just nod and smile politely...

So it seems what they say about babies choosing the cardboard box over the flashy new toy, is true.

Except in my bub's case, he'd rather play with the bag containing his dirty nappy, or his dirty bib, or something with wires, or anything else I feel too guilty to let him play with.

Since becoming a mum I've found a lot of what they say about babies is true.

They put gooey hands on your face right after you've put your make up on, vomit on your new top and wake up just as you put the kettle on.

I've found that one smile from your baby can make your day, staring in to their eyes can melt your heart and hearing them cry can break it.

It's true that you never tire of watching your baby sleep and you'd give up everything to see them happy.

The cliches don't just apply to babies though...

They say new mums love to talk endlessly about life as a mum, sharing anecdotes that cause anyone other than those who can relate (and even some of them) to nod and smile politely as their mind drifts off to things they actually care about.

It appears that one is true too.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Men behaving badly... but not really.

So the judge bought it.

Despite having previously been found guilty of recklessly wounding girlfriend Katie Milligan - and sentenced to a minimum of 8 months in jail - former NRL star Greg Bird has successfully convinced a judge that it was not he who was at fault, but his girlfriend.

His crazy, neurotic, drug-taking girlfriend - the one that suffered a fractured eye socket and cuts to her eye after being hit in the face with a glass.

She was irrational, you see. Drunk and high and furious after an earlier argument, she lunged at him with a glass, and somehow - he can't quite remember how - the glass smashed into her face.

This version of events comes more than a year after the incident took place. At the time, the pair blamed the glassing on Bird's then flat mate Brent Watson, who is yet to receive a public apology for the false accusation.

Still, the judge believed the latest version - or at least accepted it - and now Bird is on the hunt for a new NRL team. His conviction was quashed and Milligan was left to take the public image fallout (and appeared happy to do so).

Not that Bird was left high and dry after the initial charge - he's been captaining French side Catalans Dragons in the English Super League.

He's facing another assault charge after being accused of tipping a drink over a woman's head and punching her. But apparently he was just defending another woman.

Time will tell whether Bird's career will benefit as a result of the publicity and subsequent outcome of the trial.

It wouldn't be the first time.

Time after time, we hear of sportsmen behaving badly - often involving violence, sexual assault or drug and alcohol abuse. They might get suspended from a couple of games, some even get sacked from their team. But very rarely are their careers irreparably damaged. In fact, the opposite is usually true, with remaining teams often fighting over accused players.

When you think about the message this sends out, it's ironic that schools are now teaching boys that violence against women and sexual coercion is wrong.

A lesson that shouldn't need to be taught in 2009.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Australia pays a high price for cheap knock-offs

Most of us would have to admit to buying or at least eyeing off the odd piece of fake designer fashion.

Lets face it, places like Bali and Thailand are famous for their cheap knock-offs - most visitors allocate a whole day to heckling for a bargain.

But these days you don't even have to leave Australia - you can find a pretty good selection of counterfeit goods at your local market.

And it's not just desighner labels from far away places being copied - Australians are ripping off Australians in their own backyards.

But while most Aussies view these stalls as a great place to snare a bargain - it's more than just the owners of the genuine articles being impacted.

According to recent reports, counterfeiting robs Australia of more than $1 billion every year.

Firstly, it's a tax-free business funded by those of us who do pay tax.

Secondly, it costs Australian companies hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost business as well as fees paid to anti-counterfeit organisations and private detectives.

Not to mention the money spent on Copyright and Trademarks.

As well as the economic impact, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, "counterfeiters run illicit business in which criminal networks thrive."

According to the OECD's report:

"These illicit activities steal market share from legitimate businesses and undermine innovation, with negative implications for economic growth.

Bribery associated with counterfeiting and piracy weakens the effectiveness of public institutions at the expense of society at large.

Moreover, the savings that consumers may achieve by knowingly purchasing lower-priced counterfeit or pirated products need to be considered in a broader context. Depending on the product, consumers can be worse off."

Despite the negative impacts on Australia, little is being done by the government to eliminate what has become an increasingly widespread problem.

At the end of the day though it's all about supply and demand...and while we continue to save a few bucks on fakes, counterfeiting groups will continue to thrive - and we'll be the ones funding their tax-free lifestyle.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Queensland Needs Saving… by daylight.

This is not a new issue. It’s an old one, and one that never ceases to amaze me. Daylight Saving - why we don’t have it and why they say we don't need it.

Whenever the weather starts to heat up, I ask myself the same question. Why do Queenslanders have to miss out on enjoying longer days, more sunlight, more time outdoors and (slightly) darker mornings?

I understand that cattle and other animals aren't about to change their sleeping and feeding patterns to accommodate Daylight Savings, hence farmers are against pushing the clock forward.

But what about the rest of us? Personally I'm not opposed to splitting Queensland's time zones, if that's the only way the South East is able to align itself with the rest of the country.

Every year as the southern states leave us behind, I'm left wondering why we continue to resist an obvious lifestyle advantage.

Some parents have expressed concern that the extra daylight will mean children won’t want to go to bed.

Well I grew up in Melbourne where Daylight Savings has been part of life for some time now, and guess what? I went to bed at the usual time. I may not have wanted to, but bedtime was bedtime, regardless of the extra light.

Others claim the extra daylight increases the risk of UV exposure. Keeping your hat and sunscreen on for an extra hour should solve that problem.

Daylight Savings brings clear benefits, especially to families. It allows more time for working parents to play outdoors with their children, more time to exersise, be outside, enjoy the summer weather.

Not to mention the fact that most of Australia does in fact have Daylight Savings, meaning an hour of lost business for Queensland companies and SMEs. Either that or employees are forced to work Daylight Savings hours anyway.

Even wishing interstate family and friends Happy New Year becomes a maths challenge.

And when I go to Sydney next week, I'm going to lose an hour... oh well, at least I'll gain one coming back, even if it is already dark.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Having it all - when the rules keep changing

I am now officially a blogger. And as I sit down to write my first post, my mind drifts to other tasks that need doing - research story, do washing, write press release, sterilise bottles, read to baby, feed baby, bath-time, play-time, cook dinner, converse with husband, and - maybe - read a few pages of my book.

They say Generation Y (of which I am only just) wants it all. And since emerging from my new-mum cocoon, I thought I was doing pretty well at achieving the common goal. I might not have it all, all of the time - and not as much of all as I'd like - but I did think I was managing to get the balance right.

But after spending several months in a bubble of baby-bliss, I hadn't realised things have changed. The requirements for "having it all" have been upgraded, with a whole new list of must-dos adding to the pressure of getting it right - life that is.

Domesticity is back in vogue, with many young women proud to call themselves a Domestic Goddess. As I note this new buzz word I think to myself, I must be one of these Goddesses. I have chosen to work freelance to be home with my baby, after all. I spend much of the day taking care of said bub, I get the washing done, prepare dinner (order it at the very least), I even bought a Swivel Sweeper.

It turns out I am no such thing. A true Domestic Goddess does more than simply keep the pantry stocked. She grows her own vegetables, bakes cakes from scratch and baby food must be home made - cooked, mashed and divided into tiny containers. She always washes whites separately, labels Tupperware and never resorts to long-life milk.

And when it comes to dinner, thanks to an endless supply of cooking shows, a basic meal just doesn't cut it. It turns out cooking is an art to be enjoyed and savoured. Who knew?

Be it work life, home life, social life or family life - when it comes to having it all, the goal posts keep getting further away - or at least shifting. Yet we keep on running towards them. Why? I asked one of Australia's most well-known balancing acts, Mia Freedman her views on the endless quest to have it all.

On having it all - just not all of the time...

"I could have chosen to continue my corporate career in management but I pressed the eject button two years ago when I left what was then Australia's leading media company, PBL. I ejected for a number of reasons including the fact that I was no longer fulfilled by the constant politics and stress and people management that comprises any management role."

On Gen Y and wanting it all...

"A couple my friends are in their twenties, both ambitious but equally keen on marriage and babies.

"I also think our expectations for happiness are far higher with every generation.

"I know Gen Y look at Gen X and Boomers and think we're a pack of sad losers half the time and wonder why the hell we don't chase our own personal happiness more aggressively. They may be right."

On being a Domestic Goddess...

"When we were kids, it was all about pass-the-parcel and a Mintie hunt. Pin the tail on the donkey. And there was one prize in the pass-the-parcel.

"Now, every time the damn music stops and a layer of paper is unwrapped, there has to be a gift. And it's not Minties anymore, it's Cadbury Favourites with mini Snickers and Picnics and Flakes and then you need to have separate food for the parents who won't leave and expect to be served proper coffee so it's like having two parties and then you have to book a fairy or Spiderman and then lolly bags and it's all just giving me a headache thinking about it".

On changing the rules...

"I believe it's a good thing to have high expectations for happiness. Heaven forbid we convince ourselves that a mediocre existence is all we can aim for.

But is there unhappiness or perhaps stress inherent in all the choices and control (well, compared to our mothers and grandmothers) we have as women today?"

Mia Freedman is a media commentator, author, mum and owner of website Mama Mia

About Me

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Nicole is an Australian journalist, presenter and communications consultant. She spent several years as a News Limited journalist, writing for a variety of local newspapers and magazines. Following this, Nicole was a reporter and presenter with the Nine Network, filing stories for Brisbane magazine program Extra, lifestyle show Weekend Extra and National Nine News. She is now a freelance journalist, writing for a variety of publications. Her special interests are features, lifestyle, current affairs, women, parenting/family and health. Nicole is also a public relations and communications consultant.
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