Thursday, 20 December 2007

For almost three years, I've talked about the place I've worked in, but have never actually mentioned the people I work with.

I think this may be a good time to introduce my team to you.

(and believe it or not, this is the creation of my boss.)

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Things to consider as I prepare to go on a hiking trip in Tasmania.
  1. Will I be able to keep up with super-fit outdoor maniacs Belinda, Joel and their one year old daughter? Yes, she is one and she will probably last longer than I can.
  2. Will I be able to escape being gnawed on by the Tasmanian Devil?
  3. Will I be so "lucky", I'll discover the one and only remaining Tasmanian Tiger, proving to the world that it isn't extinct, by being eaten by one?
  4. Will I thoroughly enjoy myself, absorbing this wonderful view?
Be back in 2008.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Is it Christmas yet?

The silly season has certainly descended on me and I cannot wait for the Christmas holidays to actually begin so that I can actually get some rest.

Can't keep up with all the Christmas parties, gathering of friends, Christmas shopping and what not that have cropped up over the last few weeks.

I don't think I've had a free weekday evening, or for that matter, a free weekend in a while. I'm truly ready for a decent holiday where I don't get to do anything.

That will probably only happen next year though....hmmm.....

Monday, 10 December 2007

Met up with a bunch of friends at a national reserve for brunch, a game of cricket and generally just to hang out yesterday.

The day was sunny, warm and just that bit on the humid side. With all that rain we've been getting over the past week, I'm not surprised.

Who would have thought that by about 4pm, storm clouds would start to roll in, making it seemed like there was early nightfall that afternoon.

A few minutes after helping Daniel get the washing in, I started hearing pounding on the roof. It was like as if really big and fat raindrops were pelting it.

That was when Daniel sprung up, exclaimed "hail!", rushed out of the house, rushed back in yelling at Kylie-Anne to move her car under shelter, ran out of the house, ran back in again, ran around the house, emerged of the house with a couple of blankets to cover the car of his other housemate who was not home at the time.

The hail stones came fast and sudden and in an enormous amount. The ground was covered with the hail stones in a few minutes.

And as I stood there gaping at the hail falling from the sky, I got hit right square in the chest by one, leaving a rather nasty red mark.

The damages from the hail around Sydney were rather high.

Random pics of Sydney hail back in 2004.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Who would have thought there would be quite that many bats in the Botanical Gardens, located in the Sydney CBD?!

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

As Brentyn commented, "Sydney spent so much money on APEC, this is the only Christmas tree they can afford."

Monday, 3 December 2007

Evel Knievel has passed away.

A somewhat strange but true fact - I first learned of Evel Knievel from a Robbie Williams song. I have no idea which song that is now, but I'm sure there was a reference to him in it.

The only thing I knew about him was the fact that he was a crazy motorcycle jumper. I didn't realise he actually crashed that many times though.

But for those who may want to find out just what this dude was famous for, here's a cute little vid.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Initially, I was curious when I chose to read the news story about how a LG mobile phone battery had exploded, killing a man in South Korea.

I grew slightly more concerned when I read that just yesterday, a Nokia phone belonging to a man from New Zealand had also exploded when he was charging it.

The news article went on to mention that Nokia has acknowledged that there are faults in some of their batteries and that they may indeed explode.

I own a Nokia phone. Who knows when it may explode and kill me?

But I was really impressed with the news article because at the very end, there was an actual link that took me to the Nokia battery replacement announcement so that I can find out if my mobile phone battery is actually a murder weapon.

That was when I nearly had a heart attack because my battery model is the same faulty model.

However, after punching a few ID numbers found on the battery, it seems like it was not actually manufactured during the faulty period, so it's supposedly "safe".

I can only hope it's true.

Read the news article here.

Visit the Nokia website if you want to find out if you have a potentially exploding mobile phone battery.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

I went to the stadium to see David Beckham yesterday evening in the Sydney FC vs LA Galaxy match.

It was good fun and I'm sure the rain actually stopped simply for the game. It was raining for most of the drive to the stadium and back, but the 90 minutes or so of game time was beautiful.

I could not help but have a bit of a giggle though. It was bizarre. Here are all these Sydney FC fans cheering for their team, but yet, the entire stadium will erupt into cheers when Beckham gets the ball.

How does one support one team and a player from the other team at the same time? Strange stuff. But it seems to work.

It was a fun night out, particularly because of the unbelievable amount of goals.

More photos here.

Friday, 23 November 2007

This just out - you cannot believe everything you read in the newspapers. Oh wait, you already knew that.

But visit the Regret the Error website any way.

Regret the Error is a highly entertaining website that publishes the various mistakes that newspapers around the world have been caught making.

The president of Latvia, Valdis Zatlers, is a man. A graphic on Page A2 Tuesday incorrectly identified him as female.

Correction: Because of a reporting error, a review of the new Boyz II Men album in yesterday’s Sidekick incorrectly said that Four Tops singer Levi Stubbs is deceased. Stubbs, who is alive, no longer tours with the Four Tops
Read more at Regret the Error.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

After working and living in Sydney for almost three years now, I think it may be time for me to consider settling in this country.

I'm thinking of buying a house.

To be more precise, I'm thinking of buying this house.

And in case the website gets taken off by the time you view this, try this instead.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

This recent report I read about how Sesame Street, the Sesame Street that I grew up with, is now deemed unsuitable for young children.

Seems like it's because "Cookie Monster smokes and eats a pipe during 'Monsterpiece Theater.' And other characters may seem too grouchy, depressed, slow, or drugged."

I'm trying to decide what to make out of this report. I cannot help but wonder if we're perhaps "cotton-wooling" children of this generation and wrapping them in bubblewrap.

I grew up with Cookie Monster. Yes, the Cookie Monster who eats far too many cookies. And I liked Grover. Endearing, silly, somewhat slow Grover. I didn't even mind Oscar the Grouch!

And well, at my current state of adulthood, I'm neither obese, stupid nor grouchy. Sure, I feel fat at times, I do some unspeakably silly things at other times and friends tell me I am far too cynical and snarky for my own good. But I do not eat pipes during my spare time, for that matter.

I honestly don't think the Sesame Street characters have had that much of an impact on me, besides helping me understand phonics and spelling!

My values and principles came from my parents, not Elmo.

What have we become that we need to "protect" children from such "horrors"?

Maybe if we actually tried to spend time with children instead of letting television do all the educating?

Friday, 16 November 2007

To all those ebay-ers out there, you will appreciate this.

Link via Kristin.
Craig Stoltz made a very accurate observation about online communities at the moment.
I ... and (I'm guessing here) you -- are beginning to suffer social network circuit overload. It is the '07 version of the '06 RSS feed flameout, the '04 bookmarking debacle, and the '02 e-mail catastrophe...It's getting to the point where I hardly have time for my full-time job...My point is that this is unsustainable, for me and for all of us who by virtue of good intentions have been sucked into the social network vortex. We have become servants of a networks of networks of our own making.
I cannot help but agree with Craig. It's crazy what I've gotten myself into that I no longer have time for, well, a proper life!

I end up trying to keep up with all my online social networks that my relationships with people around me seem to be deteriorating.

Currently, I'm spending a lot of time in Facebook. But even so, there are certain things that I just cannot keep up with (like the various groups that I've joined).

My blog is now getting updated only sporadically and let's not even talk about my RSS feeds. I've got about 500 unread feeds now.

Have I become too sucked in?

Read Craig's full article.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Am I Right?

I believe that spicy curry is one of the tastiest dishes in the world.

I believe that books need to be arranged according to their height on the bookshelf.

I believe that the church should be more tolerant and accepting of homosexuals.

Am I right?

I think I am, but what I’ve just said is going to result in two general kinds of reactions. One of support, and another of disgusted uproar.

There can’t be two rights can there? And if there isn’t, who is right?

I’d like to believe that I’m right. I like to believe that my world view, my opinions and the way I approach certain matters is the right way to do it. After all, it’s worked for me and got me this far hasn’t it?

So when someone disagrees with me, when someone approaches something differently, and most of all, when someone doesn’t subscribe to my values, my opinions, my methods, I get frustrated, annoyed and somewhat disdainful of them.

And may the heavens show mercy on the person who does not understand what I’m saying. How can they be so stupid as to not see my point of view? How can they be so thick and not realise what I’m trying to express?

Haven’t I been just a tad egotistical, measuring everything against how I would think, feel, see, do? Just when did I become the yardstick of everything? Not since I last checked a second ago.

As far as I know, God is still in charge and I’m nothing more than a fallible, sinful human being.

So why am I demanding that everything be done according to my standards?

Maybe it’s time I start realising that we have all been created differently, with different priorities and different opinions. Maybe it's time I start realising that we all process things at a different rate and are guided by different value systems.

Maybe when I do that, I'll start being more tolerant of others.

Am I right?

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

I'm a public relations officer, but what is actually expected of me? I'm not sure.

I think I have an identity crisis.

I spend the majority of my time writing news articles for our internal publication. Chasing news stories for our internal production.

Occasionally, I come across a news story that I could also use to pitch to the external media.

But is there all there is to it? Nothing more than a news generating machine?

Isn't there more to public relations than simply news clips?

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

This is a shameless plug, but I think I can afford that sometimes.

Seventh-day Adventists will be featured on the ABC Radio this Sunday. Would be interesting to find out what non-Adventists think and have to say about Adventists and their emphasis on health!

Find out more.

Monday, 15 October 2007

As a writer, I realise the importance of actually researching a topic before going into writing about it.

This after all, makes the story more true to life, hence making it more believable.

This, however, is a bit too much. Excerpt:
Maybe you heard about the arrest of Jose Luis Calva, who is described as an “aspiring horror novelist.” Police found a draft of his manuscript Cannibalistic Instincts, along with pieces of his girlfriend stashed in various places around his apartment, including in the frypan. I know, I know, I had the same reaction: it’s pretty unfair to call him “aspiring.” It sounds like that draft was finished.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Seventh-day Adventists have an inferiority complex.

We like to shy away from telling people who we are, from saying that we belong to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Instead, we prefer to dance around the topic.

"Er..well..I'm a Christian."

"You wouldn't have heard of my church."

mumbling "I'm a Seventh...."

This lack of pride has led to many church members deliberately avoiding mentioning the dreaded words "Seventh-day Adventist Church" on any materials that they produce and even for events they plan.

There's no "proudly brought to you by the Seventh-day Adventist Church". Instead, it's usually "brought to you by [insert obscure non-descriptive name]" or "we are a group concerned about your happiness" or something like that.

And only when we are cornered, only when we don't have a choice but to voice up, do we hesitantly admit that we are from the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Why this lack of pride? What are we afraid of?

Is there truly something wrong with the Adventist Church? And if so, why are we still in it? Don't we need to ask ourselves some serious questions if we are staying in a church that we don't actually believe in, don't actually pride ourselves in?

And surely we have a responsibility to be honest to the public so that they know exactly whose materials they are reading, whose events they are attending?

It's not about overwhelming them with the Seventh-day Adventist Church logo or plastering the name of the church everywhere. It's a very simple common courtesy to inform people that something is sponsored by the church.

If we don't do that and only choose to fess up because we don't have a choice but to do so, or if the public finds out through their own investigation, wouldn't they feel duped? Wouldn't they feel that they've been deceived?

And wouldn't it spiral into a vicious cycle where Adventists develop a reputation of being devious and deceptive?

We choose to believe that people don't like Adventists and so we skulk around corners, hiding our identity.

However, we need to be more confident about who we are as a church. The Adventist Church has done good things and there are people out there who feel positively towards the church. And that is what we should reinforce, not the fact that we have an inferiority complex and are out to pull the wool over people's eyes.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

I just found out why Mr Potato Head is so happy...

Full story here.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Want to donate to a cause but not quite sure what?

Want to help someone but not quite sure how?

Want to actually assist someone in becoming self-sufficient?

I've just found this great website where you can "loan" money to folks in third world countries who want to start their own business.

This is not Joe Smith who wants to start a business for profit purposes. This is for the single mother in Africa who hopes to have a means of living that will regularly sustain her family.

You get to keep in touch with these folks through emails and it seems that loans get "repaid" 99% of the time!

But the thing is, you don't get the loan repayment back in cash. You get it back in credits which you can then use to loan another budding entrepreneur.

Sounds like a real interesting concept I say.

Check out kiva now!

Thursday, 20 September 2007

I'm leaving for Tahiti tomorrow to conduct a training seminar in public relations, media relations, writing, design, branding and toilet cleaning (ok, maybe not the last one).

Will be gone for a week or so, but in the meantime, enjoy some of my pics taken when I was on holiday in Adelaide!

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Did I mention I got a further follow-up from Woolworths?

No, of course not. That's because I disappeared for almost a month didn't I?

Been travelling around the country for work and I leave for Tahiti (it's a work trip, really) on Friday morning for a week again.

So between all that running around, and taking up a part-time class in writing, and trying to sort out my life, no wonder I've failed to update.

Anyway, Woolworths.

I got a phonecall from the manager of the Thornleigh Woolworths, who basically apologised profusely and mentioned how "deeply disturbed" she was by the whole incident.

She promised she would talk to the shouting lady and asked that I do continue to shop at Woolworths. I haven't been back since though, not deliberately, I just haven't been home to go there.

But she said I should drop in, ask for her and say hi one day. Maybe that's when she'll offer me a lifetime supply of Nutolene...

Monday, 27 August 2007

A reply regarding the Woolworths incident

Dear Ms Tan

Thank you for contacting the Woolworths website, Feedback such as yours plays a major role with the improvements which we are able to provide to our customers.

I would like to confirm that your complaint regarding service encountered at our Thornleigh Supermarket has been acknowledged and referred to the appropriate Regional Office for their attention and response to you.

Customer service and satisfaction are of paramount importance to us.


Bev Wright
Website Feedback Co-ordinator
Woolworths Limited

Thursday, 23 August 2007

A letter to the manager of Woolworths supermarket sent today:

Re: Unpleasant treatment by Woolworths employee

Dear Sir/Madam

This letter is to inform you of a highly unpleasant episode that my partner and I experienced with an employee while shopping at the Woolworths supermarket at Thornleigh.

On the evening of August 22, 2007 at about 7.30pm, we visited the branch to shop for groceries as we have been doing since it was opened. We were also there to collect and purchase some items that we had previously put on a raincheck.

We were referred to Lisa, the checkout supervisor, regarding the redemption of the raincheck. When we presented the raincheck voucher, it was established that there was a misunderstanding regarding our raincheck - as we were under the impression that we had made a raincheck for 20 tins of Sanitarium Nutolene, however, Lisa said it was only for one.

The reason why we had made a raincheck was because the store had run out of Nutolene at that time (three weeks ago), and there was a very good special going on. We had bought 20 tins of a different variety of Sanitarium products at the special price, and decided to get a raincheck for 20 tins of Sanitarium Nutolene as well.

From our point of view, we would not have bothered to get a raincheck if it were simply for just one tin.

Unfortunately, Lisa was certain our raincheck was only for one tin. The conversation that followed was one of the most unpleasant and humiliating one that I have experienced.

Although we tried to be polite and explained to Lisa our situation, she raised her voice and adamantly refused to listen to our side of the story. She repeatedly interrupted us and cut us off, and made us feel as if we were being extremely difficult even though all we were trying to do was understand and explain the situation.

She kept telling us, in a very aggravated manner that "I've been doing this for 6 years and I know what I'm doing and I was the one to write it out and I remember when it happened and that if it was for 20 that I would have written 20 - see it doesn't say twenty - so it's for one."

We were very calm and tried to explain ourselves. However, Lisa never tried to listen to us. Instead, she consistently reprimanded us in a very harsh and stern manner, in a loud voice. She also frequently in various ways told us that we had done the wrong thing and gave us the impression that we really should not be shopping at Woolworths at all.

After consultation with someone on the phone - presumably the store manager – Lisa did allow us to get the remaining nine tins of Sanitarium Nutolene from the shelf at the special price.

My partner and I understood that there was a misunderstanding regarding the quantity, but what we fail to understand is why we should be treated in such a rude, uncivil and hostile manner.

After her tirade regarding the raincheck that we did not feel like shopping any further - either on that night or into the foreseeable future. It was an extremely unpleasant situation that left a very bad taste in our mouth.

We would like to hear Woolworths’ side of the story and would certainly appreciate appropriate action.

Thank you for your time.

Melody Tan

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Yes, I'll admit it, I'm a bit of a Bruce Willis/Die Hard fan.

So naturally, I had to go catch Die Hard 4.0 on a cheapo Tuesday evening.

Firstly, it's a rather action-packed but ridiculous movie. Maybe it's just nostalgia, but I'm sure at least the first Die Hard was exciting and failed to incite any snide comments from me. But this? This? I liked the action, I won't deny that, but I was laughing every few minutes and going "what?!" every other.

The biggest burning question that I've got:

The whole show starts with hackers helping the bad guys hack into something or other. And then the bad guys start killing the hackers by hacking into the hackers' computers which then explodes (in a really magnificent way) when the hackers press the delete button.

And nowhere in the movie did it imply that the bad guys actually got into the hackers' homes and planted a bomb. It was all supposed to be done remotely etc.

What I would like to know is if this means that one fine day, my computer may suddenly decide to explode because oh, maybe I failed to pay my credit card bills and the bank's hacked into my computer?

Do I really have a walking timebomb?

Maybe that's why the lead hacker guy who eventually saves the day is the same Mac guy in the famous Mac/PC ads.

Maybe it's just a big ad for Mac - buy Macs! They won't randomly explode!

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Spending four days or so working with indigenous women as been one of the most eye-opening experience I've ever had.

It has been one of the most insightful moments I've had into learning about their culture and perhaps realising what is fundamentally wrong with the current white-black tensions.

It may be simplistic in nature, and I could even be completely wrong, but I can't help but deduce that the tensions are based mainly on a big gigantic culture clash.

The thing is, the indigenous/Aboriginal culture is perhaps one of the more distinctive ones in the world.

I'm not an expert on cultures, but I have had my fair exposure to a variety of cultures from my travels through Australia, Europe and Asia. Although these cultures are vastly different, they are also contradictorily similar. Not so for the indigenous culture.

These people move as their feelings demand of them. They have no regard for consequences and no interest in schedules (even if one was kind of plannned). And it is completely different to what I've grown up with and what I'm used to.

As someone I was talking to said, "they don't think in a linear fashion." But a vast majority of the world, including myself, does.

In all honesty, from my pedantic point of view, the conference I attended hosted by them was one of the poorest organised one I've ever attended.

There was no program, and when there was finally one by the second day, it was never actually followed anyway.

One of the speakers was even asked to present a workshop when she were on her way to the conference as a delegate.

None of the scheduled items started or ended on time.

People wandered in and out of the conference as and when they pleased. This meant that there was one evening when nobody actually turned up.

What went on during the conference had nothing to do in achieving the aims that was outlined to me months ago. In fact, the conference actually turned out to be the complete opposite of what I was expecting.

But the funny thing was, it worked. The conference was actually a success. The organisers were pleased. The delegates called for another conference soon.

Although nothing went the way I would have wanted it to, this wasn't about me, or my culture or my upbringing. This was about them. And it worked for them.

Which makes me think of the way the government is trying to address various Aboriginal issues over the years. Have Aboriginal people been consulted? And if they have, are we simply too impatient, or too blinded by our own coloured and tinted lenses to realise that the plans are actually going according to their culture, their plans, and their way?

Maybe there aren't any results yet because we want results served to us according to our culture, and not theirs?

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

I had wanted to post about something else today but finding out about Today Tonight's feature on "Asians taking over Australia, oh what a bad thing" through the ABC's Media Watch, I just have a burning desire to change my post topic instead.

Firstly, I just can't believe how much some parts of Australia are still racist. And the worst thing is that they've got hold of the media, and a program that is watched by a substantial number of people.

Granted, Today Tonight is usually regarded as the tabloid version of current affairs shows and most of my peers don't even take it seriously. However, Today Tonight is also watched by a particular group of people that are, for lack of a better way to put it, more prone to being influenced by TV than others.

These are the bunch of people who will believe what Today Tonight says. And not only that, they will exhibit racist behaviour based on the show. After all, this isn't the first time such racist and sensationalised segments have been shown on the show.

And Australia prides itself on being multicultural?

Multiculturalism is the acceptance of ALL cultures, not just cultures that happen to fit into the Anglo-Saxon mould. Multiculturalism is not allowing shows like Today Tonight to continue to incite such racist thoughts.

Why can't we all just live happily together in harmony?

Media Watch's assessment of the Today Tonight segment here. (There is no way I'm going to link to that racist show.)

Sunday, 12 August 2007

I'm currently on a plane flying over the desert on my way back to Sydney after a work trip to Uluru/Ayers Rock. Of course, this is going to be published after I am actually home, but well...

It has been an extremely fascinating experience, certainly unlike any other place that I've visited. It is, after all, stuck right in the middle of a desert.

As I speak, I'm looking out the plane window and it's just red red sand, dirt roads and a surprisingly large sprinkling of greenery. But other than that, it's nothing. Which is pretty much what it was like being at Uluru.

I stayed at a resort, well, the one and only resort, situated about 20kms away from the big red rock itself. It is one of the most intriguing places that I've ever stayed in.

I had expected a town like any other town I've visited around the world. Maybe a little smaller, but not what I arrived to.

The town of Yulara, where the resort was, is without a doubt the epitome of commercialisation.

It is, I suppose, a town like any other. However, everything about the town basically revolves around tourism. There are five hotels of different "stars" there, ranging from a plush five star one to a campground.

There is also a town centre, with a restaurant and takeaway that sells exorbitantly priced meals (and only one vegetarian option which nearly drove me nuts), a news agents, a post office, a supermarket, a tour agency, a hair and beauty salon and a couple of other shops selling a range of touristy stuff.

Everything is within walking distance of each other and where there is no pavement, everything is red sand.

And besides Uluru and Kata-Tjuta (the less famous sister) looming in the distance, there is nothing else. Seriously, nothing.

The nearest town, Alice Springs, is about five hours drive away. Nothing else! Just...sand!

Oh, there is a fire station, a police station and while on the free shuttle bus that takes you around the town (which I take simply because it's just too hot to walk around even if it is in the middle of winter) one day, it took me to the staff living areas, and revealed also a child care centre, a primary school and the Yulara campus of James Cook University.

This place fascinates me.
  1. What are the lives of the staff like? Where do they shop - surely they don't buy the souvenir T-shirts and moisterisers and stuff for their daily usage? Do they really raise a family there? What do they do when they're bored? Drive five hours to Alice Springs to catch a movie and drive back? How do they live? Just how? Perhaps it baffles me because I'm such a city girl, and have no idea how can anyone live so isolated from civilisation, but really. I really wanted to grab a random staff and just ask them - how do you live????

  2. Why are both Uluru and Kata-Tjuta there? I mean, there's miles and miles of sand and flatness, as far as the eye can see, and suddenly, viola! There's Uluru, and about 40kms away, Kata-Tjuta. Fascinating enough that there's one big gigantic rock, but two in such close proximity? Why? How? Was God chuckling when he planted them there?

  3. Where are the Mutijulu people and how do they live? I went into the national park where the two gigantic, and I mean, GIGANTIC, rocks are and nowhere can I see any signs of life. Besides the hordes of tourists milling around of course. Where are the indigenous people? How do they live?

  4. Why in the world would people spend at least a thousand dollars to come see a big rock or two? Ok, it's big, but that is really all that you get to do. Ok, maybe you can sit by the pool for a while. Shop for a few minutes (that's all the shopping there is). After that, what? Count sand? But people still come. I'm not bagging Uluru. It's awesome and I'm glad I came, but I'm not sure if I would pay the expenses from out of my own pocket...

  5. Why is Uluru more famous?
All these mysteries that will cling to me for the rest of my life...and so will these photos.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Over the last 2.5 years as a public relations practitioner and a news reporter for the church (don't ask me how I reconcile that), I've come across a breed of people who completely amaze and exasperate me.

These are the ones who read, or rather glance through, a news article and immediately believe that our facts are wrong or that we are talking about something else entirely.

They would write irate letters to us, stating that we were wrong about something and that we really should check our sources. Or something along the lines.

Thing is, if they had actually read the "errant" sentence carefully, they would not have needed to write any such irate letter to us.

Instead, we end up having to write calm and polite letters telling them that, actually, as stated in the first paragraph, our stories mean "A-B-C", and not "D-E-F" as they had assumed.

If they had only taken the time to properly read the article before sending us a letter saying we were wrong.

I had a bit of a whinge session with my colleague about this in the morning and the quote he gave me was absolutely priceless -
Conclusion jumping should be an Olympic sport - we might have a chance of a gold!

Friday, 3 August 2007

Early last week, an issue arose at work that needed a statement written.

I wrote the statement, hoping for it to come across as uncontroversial as possible. Things were toned down, while the facts remained. All I did was try to make it as un-sensational as possible, while maintaining the integrity of the issue. Basically, what any public relations practitioner would do.

The statement went to the appropriate approval levels - upon which it was promptly knocked down. After two drafts of the statement with similar uncontroversial tones and a phonecall that basically said "Melody just does not get it!", I finally succumbed and wrote the statement the way it was wanted.

No bridges could possibly be built or mended in the final statement I wrote. But it was what they wanted, so what could I do?

Today, the statement has come back to bite us. People of the highest levels are upset. Too controversial. Too sensational. Too wrong.

If only I can wag a finger at someone and say "I told you so"...

But it also made me realise that I really should have been more forceful with what I thought would be the right way to approach the issue. After all, that was what I was hired to do right? To watch out for the organisation's best interests as a professional, and not simply to be a pen.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

They are actually sending UN troops into Darfur to help combat the genocide!

How fantastic is this?

One part of me had tears welling up when I heard the decision announced on the news this evening. It really is about time something is done.

Unfortunately, another part of me is wondering how effective it will be in ending the genocide. UN troops were in Rwanda when the genocide happened and that did nothing. Granted it's a different situation since governments were actually denying genocide back then, but the UN has been widely criticised as being powerless.

Will the genocide in Darfur end? We'll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, let's just celebrate the fact that the world has finally decided to do something.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Rodney has just started this new initiative that I cannot help but highlight.

We seem to be surrounded everyday by negativity - things going wrong, people saying things they shouldn't be...

My experience yesterday also made me realise that while you may get ten positive affirmation, it only take one negative one to pull you right down into the gutter.

Besides, you really can never get too much positivity.

An excerpt of what the Thumbs Up project is about.
Do you want to be a part of the positive? You can post a thank you to someone, a list of reasons you're thankful this week, or highlight people doing something worthwhile in your community. You don't have to post every week but it'd be wonderful if you're prepared to make the effort to write a positive post most weeks.
More at his site.

Monday, 30 July 2007

My many thanks to the wonderful people who have managed to make me feel somewhat better after my previous post.

I suppose I should realise that my articles may offend people. After all, I am writing materials that will be read by people, which means I will get reactions, and not all of them will be nice.

I guess I just never seen myself as...I don't know, opinionated?

Maybe it has something to do with an occupational hazard. Working in public relations make me want to please everybody, make everybody feel good and most certainly not offend anybody. I'm meant to be a bridge-builder aren't I? So to be told that I come off as a bit too strong by somebody in my work environment really took me aback.

It made me feel that I'm just not doing my work well enough.

But I'm also just a girl with a voice. And with thoughts. And as much as I think myself rational and fair, I suppose my thoughts don't always come off as such to others.

The main affront I've had with being told that I come off as a bit too strong is the fact that I feel like I'm being seen as some radical. Like as if I need to run down the corridor and shout "jihad!!!!!!" or something like that.

I don't know, maybe I still will. If it's on a topic I'm passionate enough about, something that I believe in, I may. Well, not shout jihad, but certainly shout something relevant.

But the incident this morning has certainly got me thinking. And perhaps I may just be that much more careful with what I write in future.
I feel like I'm being confronted about my life as a writer lately.

To cut a long story short, I overheard a conversation about my writings between two people.

Person A was advised against getting me to ghost write something because it seems like I "come out a bit too strong" in my articles.

I feel like a left wing radical extremist now.

The comment would not have been a personal attack if being a writer isn't who I am.

And I feel the need to sit down and rethink the way I write, or even if I should continue writing.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

This is absolutely hilarious, and a great excuse for me to write a post but not actually write a post.

Anyone remembers those ads from (left) on the internet about this couple?

Read about one man's obsession and his determination to find the truth.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Public relations is a profession that is notoriously hard to measure.

Sales and marketing can be measured by revenue.

Production can be measured by the number of things produced.

But how do you actually measure public perception, opinions and general feel towards an organisation?

It's something that I've struggled with.

I suppose my results can be measured by doing a pre and post survey with a random group in the population, but even that's a little hit and miss. Not to mention really costly.

Traditionally, public relations is measured by the number of media clips that a practitioner manages to get published in the newspapers. But just because it's in the papers doesn't mean it does anything to the reader.

Just because you read something doesn't necessarily change your perception of an organisation.

Perhaps a good way to measure results is by the reaction you get from readers who have read an article. But how can you ever be there to properly measure reaction?

I have no idea.

But just this week, I received a really heartwarming result that enabled me to sort of measure the results of what I have done.

The Adventist Church in Toowoomba has been involved in packing "bags of love" for children who have been taken into foster care because their parents were manufacturing drugs illegally.

They rely on donations to make up bags that contain items like homemade quilts, toiletries and toys.

After a few phonecalls, I actually managed to get their story published in their local paper.

But it wasn't the published article that warmed my heart, it was an email that I received from the folks at the church:

"We have had more interest (after the article was published) with people offering to make quilts and giving donations."

People read the article! It stirred them into action! Yay!

Thursday, 19 July 2007

New article published!

Ok, it was published about two months ago now, but I had to figure out a free file storage system that wasn't temperamental and actually allowed people to download the articles.

And I finally found it!

At least I hope I did. Let me know if the links are broken. Again.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Do you check the stats to your blog very often?

I do so occasionally and it's interesting to find out where my readers come from, how they found my site and where they go after.

However, I nearly passed out today when I received an email from a friend.
One of the joys of checking statistics on a blog is musing over the search terms people evidently use to find it. Lots of interesting stuff shows up. But today i saw one on mine that stood out. Someone has found my blog by searching for "melody tan" nude pictures. I can assure you that they were probably disappointed.
All I can say is that I hope they were looking for a different Melody Tan...

Monday, 16 July 2007

To celebrate our first year anniversary as well as my birthday, Daniel and I did the most romantic thing ever.

We went to a flying trapeze workshop.

It was honestly one of the most fun things I've done in a long time. Ok, it was also terrifying, but certainly fun.

When we first signed up for it, the only thing I thought of was "this is fun!" Thoughts of that soon disappeared when we actually turned up at the venue. That was when I was reminded that firstly, I had no upper body strength whatsoever, and secondly that I was absolutely insane to have agreed to go flying through the air.

We had all of one practice run on the training bar before the guy went "alright, you can go up the ladder now." I just kept thinking, "I'm going to die, I'm going to die..."

Then came the point where I had to climb the ladder which I thought would never end.

At the platform at the top, the only two things that I could think of was that I was a very long way up and how embarrassing it would be to wet my pants as I jumped off the platform clinging on to the trapeze bar.

Thankfully, that did not happen. What did happen was that I thoroughly enjoyed myself, especially the part where I was swinging in the air.

That did not happen for too long however, because we had to do all these flips and hanging from our legs and stuff and it all happened in a matter of seconds.

We were also given the opportunity to be caught by another person, but by then I was so tired, I could no longer grip on to the trapeze bar with my legs long enough to be caught before falling off on to the nets.

Daniel did much better however, and when he was caught, his yells of delight could be heard miles away and he could not stop grinning when he was on ground.

The showoff.

All photos here.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

I live in an apartment block of six units. Behind our block, there is a row of garages for all six units, and in front of them are some car ports, for visitors, or for the extra person who may be living in our flats.

About two months ago, a dark Mercedes turned up in our car ports. Because we had two new people move in the block not too long ago, I simply assumed it belonged to either of them.

I've seen the driver of the Mercedes before and had no idea who he was. Talking to two ladies who lived in the apartment, they've also mentioned that they've seen him cleaning his car in our car ports on Sundays, looking quite at home. They've both thought he was new in the block.

About a week ago, a white pick-up appeared as well. By now, our car ports are getting rather full. Backing into my garage is no longer a two move manoeuvre. It's now a twenty point one because the pick-up is oh so conveniently sprawled across two parking lots right in front of my garage.

I finally got around to asking all six residents if they knew who the two cars belonged too. All had no idea and had thought it belonged to the other.

So the fact of the matter is, we have two cars parked on our property, and we have no idea who they belong to, or where they came from.

Curious and I have to admit, somewhat annoying.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

I am pretty sure the journalist had a lot of fun writing the article about a certain Mr Hell whose son got, well, hell at school because of his somewhat unique last name.

The first few paragraphs were enough to set me laughing out loud.

The only question I have though is what would Mr Hell think about the article? Doesn't seem like the journalist was taking him too seriously.

Which then begets the bigger question that shouldn't journalism be objective and about the facts?

It's still a funny article though...

Monday, 9 July 2007

Went to watch As it is in Heaven yesterday and that was when I realised why this movie is still showing in the cinemas even though it was released about three years ago.

A story about the loss and gain of trust. A story about the secrets we hide. A story about how we relate to religion and God. A simple heartwarming story about people and the things that bind us together.

I was frustrated that the abused wife could do nothing to escape her husband's beatings.

I was exasperated that the villagers turned a blind eye to it all.

I was sitting at the edge of my seat when I knew a relationship was going to develop between the lead guy and his "student", a relationship most certainly to be frowned upon.

I was shocked when the pastor transformed from being God's holy man to someone with hidden secrets like any one of us.

I was touched by the bond that developed between a group of choir members and their choir master.

I wanted to cheer when they gathered together to protect the abused wife from her husband.

And I was tearing up by the end of the movie, when the lead guy resolves his childhood trauma of being bullied and experiences life as it is in heaven.

I really do like foreign films.

I was also surprised to find out that one of the actresses was actually Helen Sjoholm, a Swedish singer whose CD I had purchased years ago when I was in the country visiting a friend.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Durex is looking for condom testers and apparently applicants will need to explain why they would make an expert condom tester.

Now I'd be interested in reading the application forms....then again, maybe not.

And in other news, as someone trained in journalism, one of the first things that I was taught and now teach to others when it comes to chasing news is that it needs to be unique and out of the ordinary.

The easiest example to use is that if a dog bites man, it's not news. However, if man bites dog, that's news.

I always thought it was a rather lame example, but one that works well. I mean, I've never seen an article really about someone biting a dog. Who would? It's kind of gross. (except my brother, but that's another story to tell.)

I now stand corrected.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Two robbers held a woman at knife point in Brazil and robbed her.

They did not steal her money or valuables however. Instead, they stole her hair. You read right, they cut off her long locks and took off with it.

This is really bizarre.

But I guess anything to make a quick buck? Wonder why they didn't take off with her wallet while they were at it.

Maybe I should think about cutting my hair now before someone else does it forcibly...

The news article here.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

28 more days with longer sunshine. Woohoo!

It's always nicer to step out of the office when the sun is still shining.
How odd to be watching the Pirates of the Caribbean 3 and realising that there is a pirate lord in Singapore.

Even funnier to see him being played by a Hong Kong actor famous for cool action movies when I was growing up.

Yes, I know that the movie is merely a figment of one's imagination, but it was still pretty surreal to see Hollywood's depiction of Singapore, albeit who knows how long ago.

A few things I learnt about Singapore from Pirates:
  1. Singapore looks like the Asian version of Venice.
  2. The pirate lord of Singapore speaks English in a distinctive Hong Kong accent.
  3. Singapore's actually such an important city it warrants its own pirate lord, as does Tokyo, Paris and what looks like Saudi Arabia or something like that.
  4. Singaporeans then wore corsets (ok, that was learnt from Pirates 1)
Seriously though, third time around and Pirates still hasn't failed to entertain. How could it? It had Johnny Depp!

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Can I just say that I love working for God.

John Howard's declaration of a national emergency in response to the aboriginal sexual abuse crisis has just sparked off a whole bunch of work for me.

That's largely because the Adventist Church actually has something to say about it, and is even organising the first ever national convention for indigenous women to address this very issue.

This also means writing releases from an angle that would make what the Church has to say relevant, timely and newsworthy. And then pitching it to the main journalists in the hope that they will pick up the story and think it worthy of a write-up.

I've done the writing part. I've also done the pitching part. The only thing left to do is wait and hope that someone, anyone, will actually pick up the story.

I've just spent the last half hour or so trying to think up of other people I can send the stories to, other things (save groveling) that I could possible do that will put my piece of news in the mainstream media.

To be honest, I started fretting.

And that was when it hit me. A voice clear as day in my head that said this, "This is up to me now. You've done all you can. You will know if I want your news to spread depending on whether I convict the journalists to pick up the story. If your story doesn't get picked up, maybe it just isn't the right time or the kind of exposure I want the church to have. Leave it to me."

I love it when I know that God's in charge.
This is a fascinating country.

Less than six months ago, reports in the papers were all about the fact that Australia is experiencing the worst drought in 100 years.

Water restrictions were high, with four minute showers and the prohibition of watering of plants and washing of cars enforced in some areas. The water supplies for farmers were going to be cut and predictions were all around that food prices were going to soar due to limited supplies.

It was so severe that the Adventist Church even declared a national day of prayer for rain.

Fast forward to June and we have reports of storms never ever experienced in the past 30 years. There's been some serious flooding and a gigantic cargo ship run aground. I don't even remember what it's like to sit and soak in the warm sunshine anymore.

It's been pouring more or less non-stop for the last three weeks. In the beginning, the amount of water gushing down from the skies was enough to make me wonder where all the water was coming from.

I've also given up trying to wash my car because there really isn't a point. It's raining heaps again today.

I'd be the first to admit that yes, the rain is inconvenient. But yet at the same time, it's heartening to know that the dam levels have risen, we may have a little bit more water, the rain is bringing relief to most people and I can't help but hope, it's also helping the drought-stricken farmers.

And I wonder, did the prayers work?

Monday, 25 June 2007

I called this old lady up this afternoon wanting to interview her about this wonderful community project she was doing.

She's been collecting blankets, clothes and various items for homeless people as well as children in Africa and I thought it'd be a neat little story to feature in her local newspaper. So I made the call, wanting to find out a little more in order to write up a media release.

Within the first few minutes of the conversation, I found out that the local paper has actually already done a news article on her, which meant that the phone call pretty much should have ended then.

However, the dear old lady just kept talking and going on a whole variety of tangents. So much so that I've sure I've pretty much been introduced to all the Seventh-day Adventists in the greater Brisbane area, as well as gain more than enough insight into what she does, why she does it, how she does it, who helps her and everything else I did not really need to know.

But she was a lovely lady, and I didn't have the heart to be rude or hang up on her. Besides, there was no way I was going to get a word in anyway. She just kept talking and talking. It was amazing. I never knew a person could have that much to say to a total stranger on the phone.

She finally hung up 15 minutes later, but not without telling me, "God bless you my darling. I've been wanting to talk to someone today and you called. It's so nice to talk to you."

What can you say after that?

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Incidents like the Melbourne shooting a couple of days ago make you wonder whether it's worth it to be a good Samaritan sometimes.

If the lawyer, Brendan, had gone about minding his own business when he saw a scuffle, he would probably be alive by now.

But the thing is, how do you walk on by? How can you pass a man obviously physically abusing a woman and pretend to ignore it?

Brendan did what any decent human being should have done, and tragically paid with his life.

And now they're hunting the shooter (who belongs to a bikie gang) and some politicians are calling for all bikie gangs to be outlawed.

I'll be the first to admit that I do feel a bit scared when I see a bunch of leather-clad, bearded man hanging around with their Harley-Davidsons, but honestly, how does it make sense for all bikie gangs to be outlawed simply because one of them happened to have killed someone in an incident that did not even have something to do with bikie gangs?

I mean, what if the shooter happened to be an accountant? Should we then call for all accountants to be outlawed?

What if the shooter was a, well, highly stressed policeman who was having a really bad day? Should we therefore remove the entire police force?

I'm not pro- or anti-bike gangs, but the logic of the recent argument baffles me.

It's tragic that Brendan died. I know that bikie gangs have a bad reputation.

But to push for one's personal agenda by jumping on a recent incident that is only slightly remotely related? That's just pushing it a bit too far.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

This is really starting to annoy me.

I'd been using Yahoo! Briefcase to store my pdf files so that it acts somewhat like my online portfolio of all the articles that I've written and got published. In theory, this provides a URL for each pdf file, making it easy for me to share my documents with others.

Unfortunately, it's extremely temperamental at the best of times.

As exhibited in the last post, files may or may not be downloaded by others, depending on Yahoo!'s mood. The URLs are highly volatile, choosing to work at times, and not at others.

Does anybody know of any other free storage sites that I can upload my pdf files on to since Yahoo! is obviously doing such a terrible job?
Does this mean I'm famous?

Considering the magazine does have a limited number of audience, I think not.

Although, I did receive a call from the youth department in the Greater Sydney region asking if I would not mind giving a presentation about "Communicating to the iPod generation" to youth workers some time next month.

I shudder to think what pearls of wisdom I would actually have...

Monday, 18 June 2007

I've recently got to thinking about climate change and its impact on Christians.

I've personally had a burden for the environment since my teenage years, trying to support recycling, the reduction of energy consumption and the likes, as best as I could. I'm not talking tying one self to the tree kind of activities, but just simple things one can do to reduce one's impact on the world.

But is this a Christian response, or a personal response?

The reason why I wonder this is because there are many non-Christians out there who are doing wonderful things advocating for the environment.

And on the contrary, there are plenty of Christians whose lifestyles and habits reflect a lack of care and concern for the limited resources that are available to them.

Should not Christians be the better stewards for a world that was bestowed to them by God?

Or maybe it's because of a Christian belief that Jesus will return soon, the world will end and so we don't really need to worry about limited resources because by the time they run out we will all be in heaven?

I don't know. And it frustrates me.

It frustrates me because I don't know whether I'm a closet tree-hugger who happens to be Christian, or I'm just stuck in a climate of general apathy.

It frustrates me because not knowing means not knowing how best to communicate the need to care for our environment.

It frustrates me because I wonder if the little bit that I'm doing is actually going to make a difference when the rest of the world acts otherwise.

It frustrates me because I'm not sure if my actions are futile, meaningless or perhaps stupid.

And I guess it frustrates me because I don't feel that enough people care.

But should anyone?

Friday, 15 June 2007

This is so hilarious I actually found myself laughing out loud in my office.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

There was once a backyard in the city. An ordinary backyard, grass, clothesline, a tree stump, the likes.

Then the owner of the house that was attached to the backyard started having dreams. He was after all a country boy trapped in the city.

First he started a small vegetable garden, growing peas, tomatoes and cucumber. Then he got more ambitious.

He spent many a night sawing, cutting and hammering away. One day, this appeared.

A few weeks later, tenants moved in.

They brought country-boy-who-was-trapped-in-the-city plenty of joy. A few months later, they brought country-boy-who-was-trapped-in-the-city plenty of eggs.

Even his girlfriend who was raised in the city and had only ever lived in the city started getting won over. "They are rather cute," she thought.

In the same backyard however, was a less than cute little Pomeranian that belonged to a housemate. It was harmless, but loved barking.

It did leave the chickens alone and was in fact just a tad afraid of the chickens, who were after all slightly bigger than him.

So they lived peacefully in the same backyard, largely ignoring each other.

Until country-boy-who-was-trapped-in-the-city had to go away for a convention, leaving his girlfriend to look after the chickens.

She braved it all. From changing the water to scooping chicken poop out of the food container, she braved it all. She was after all becoming rather attached to the chickens herself.

What she was not prepared for however, was an image that would leave her traumatised for the rest of her life.

When she was changing the water one day, said barking dog started sniffing a chicken rather closely. In fact, he simply followed the chickens wherever they went.

"Strange," she thought, but continued changing the water.

And that was when it happened. Said dog got on its hind legs behind the chicken and started trying to mate with it.

She was horrified. Images of chick-pups flashed before her as she yelled at the dog to get away.

The dog scurried off, but not without looking forlornly at the chickens.

When she returned the next day to let the chickens out of the cage, he started committing the unmentionable again.

She left the animals alone for the morning, and could only hope that nothing untoward happened to the chickens.

Today, however, she came across this that would perhaps save the chickens forever...

Carrot turns one tomorrow.

One year with her has made me like her even more. She's just such a fabulous car to drive and I think I want to grow old with her.

In all seriousness though, after one year on the road, I've come to realise one thing.

There are a lot of bullies on the road.

I'll be honest and admit that I'm kind of a stickler for the rules. I'm not a very confident driver and as such prefer to stick to the speed limit just so that firstly, I do not get booked and secondly, I simply believe it's safer for me.

The trouble with that though is that nobody else in the entire city of Sydney seems to drive at the speed limit.

Under normal circumstances, I'm left alone in the left lane to putt-putt up the road while everybody else overtakes me. However, when there is only one lane on the road, things get just a tad hairy.

Almost every time I'm driving in a one lane road and have a car behind me, it will invariably be right up my boot, which basically means if I were to brake suddenly, I will undoubtedly get rammed in from behind.

Why do people tailgate?

Tailgating does not make me go faster. It makes me more nervous, which means I've got a higher chance of getting into an accident, which will involve them since they're basically right there behind me.

But every time I have a car behind me that cannot overtake me, I get tailgated.

Whatever happened to following at a safe distance?

Whatever happened to respecting others?

Whatever happened to being safe?

Are we all really in that much of a hurry that 10 minutes make such a big difference?

Friday, 8 June 2007

It started with a baby boy (no, this is not a post about me being pregnant) who met a baby girl (this is also not a post about baby romance) while on holidays in the Sunshine Coast.

They played together, shared toys together and naturally, shared germs together.

Baby boy was sick the week before. Baby girl got sick that Sunday. So sick her birthday party that afternoon had to be canceled.

On Tuesday, baby girl's uncle got so sick, he was rushed to the emergency ward.

A week later, also on a Tuesday, baby girl's uncle's girlfriend also got sick. She was throwing up and suffering from major stomach cramps and at one point of time, her entire body got extremely tingly and numb.

She was also stripped of all energy, walking a few steps took her breath away. Naturally she was bedridden for one day and under "house arrest" the next.

That sickie was me.

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Take this test at Tickle

If you were on a soap opera, you'd be a Hopeless Romantic

Flowers, love songs, poems, roses, heart-shaped chocolates? Sounds about right for a cute and caring sweetie like you. You're a passionate person who believes in following your heart, and you'd be right at home in the love-struck world of a soap.

An optimist, you tend to look at the world through rose-colored glasses. But just because you see the bright side of things doesn't mean you're a total pushover. It's just that you prefer to see the best in people, which is precisely why everyone loves you so much. Just watch your back. Not everyone on those soaps has such a good heart!

Is Your Life a Soap Opera?

Brought to you by Tickle

Looks like I'll have to watch out for Maya "Drama Queen"!

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

While waiting at the baggage carousel yesterday with David after a trip to Adelaide for the day for work, I started getting a little too engaged with NCIS showing on the TV right next to it.

I got somewhat distracted when I heard some muttering behind me. I turned around, in time to catch David retracting his hand from a handshake with someone. I looked at the man David was speaking to and as I did so, caught his eye.

Realising that I did not actually know him, I turned around and continued watching NCIS. The box we were waiting for came, and David and I walked away.

As I did so, David turns to me and asks, "Did you know whose hand I just shook?"

I shrugged, thinking it was some dude he met from before. After all, he did not look particularly interesting and was in fact, I thought, rather shaggy.

"That was Ricky Ponting."

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

I'm sure my boyfriend attempted to kill me while I was sleeping last night.

He came over in the evening to cook fifty litres of soup (ok, not quite, but it filled three big pots) for a work function he was going to have today.

So first he kept me up till close to midnight cooking the jolly soup, but when he went home, he left behind a time bomb.

I woke up this morning to the smell of something burnt in my apartment. Yes, the entire apartment had the fresh fragrance of burnt something.

"It can't be the soup," I thought. "I checked when Daniel was about to leave last night that all the switches were turned off."

But still the strange smell lingered. So I padded over to my kitchen and lo and behold, parts of the floor was covered in soup.

I looked at the murder weapon - he was cooking some soup in a slow cooker and set it on high, and it remained high until I turned it off in the morning, some eight hours later.

The soup had turned to mush (but miraculously not evaporated), there was soup all over my counter top, cupboard door and floor and the smell of burnt soup continued to waft through the air.

And I leave tonight with my murderer for the Gold Coast for five days. Oh dear.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

The Australian government's decision that the Aussie cricket team will not play Zimbabwe in their country because of Mugabe's dictatorship in the country is certainly commendable.

It's about time governments make decisions like this, to lean on countries to correct their human rights atrocities. Not simply to push their own agendas.

Fine, the Australian government probably has their own reasons for their decision, which is most likely to push their own agenda, but at least this time, it has the added effect of making a decision Amnesty International would be proud of.

Next up, Darfur.

Friday, 11 May 2007

In light of Paris Hilton's sentencing to 45 days in jail, a free Paris Hilton petition has been set up.

Their reason?
She provides hope for young people all over the U.S. and the world. She provides beauty and excitement to (most of) our otherwise mundane lives.
What kind of hope?

What kind of beauty?

Excitement, well, depends on your definition of excitement I guess.

As Paul McDermott mentioned yesterday when I was at the ABC studios recording for The Sideshow, "to be fair, those who signed the petition thought they were signing up for a free DVD".

Thursday, 10 May 2007

I went for my first yoga class in my life yesterday and it was rather good!

It felt like the entire hour consisted of stretching, balancing and breathing and I was wondering how in the world was this considered to be exercise. However, towards the end, my body was actually warm and I actually went home feeling like I had actually done some exercise.

The stretching exercises were really good though, particularly because the instructor kept telling us to relax our shoulders (mine are always tense from all this computer work I do). For some strange reason it actually felt like I just had a really good massage session.

Best of all, it seems to be a rather low impact kind of strengthening exercise for my spine, which hopefully will do wonders for this scoliosis problem of mine.

Couldn't help but be amazed by the number of different names they had for poses though - the star, the one, warrior one, warrior two, warrior three, the dolphin, the eagle, the pigeon, the duck...felt a bit like I was in the zoo...

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

I am so excited!

While 4wdriving and camping at Lithgow over the weekend (will post photos later), I was struck with an excellent (I think it is) idea for a book.

Not going to go into details, besides the fact that it's somewhat akin to a travel guide, but with a twist. And no, it's got nothing to do with 4wdriving besides the fact that the idea came up while I was sitting in the car waiting to be towed up this insane hill. And no again, I wasn't driving, Daniel was.

Now to actually find time to get my research done, write the book and pitch it to a publisher! All of which I've never done before, so fingers crossed everything goes smoothly!

Friday, 4 May 2007

I have nothing insightful to say today besides wondering how one can work effectively and comfortably in an office that is consistently set at 19 degrees Celsius.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

I recently discovered the John Butler Trio and was really quite drawn to their unique blend of really quite funky music (I'm not a music critic, so I cannot tell you what kind of blend it is, besides the fact that it's a blend of dreadlocks, bongos, beards, and Rasta attitude).

It's rather fresh for me to have a listen to a mainstream music group that lacks the mainstream music style. In short, I liked it.

And in true hippie fashion, these guys are actually offering concert tickets that will offset the carbon emissions from travelling to go see them.

How cool is that?

I'm not sure if I'll go to the concert. I like them, but don't love them.

Monday, 30 April 2007

Just reading through Joshua the other day and can't help but find a correlation between his behaviour and mine.

Joshua has just had an unbelievable triumphant victory over Jericho in what was possibly a few days ago. Following that, he decides to go to war against Ai. However, he is defeated.

It's not the fact the a rather humiliating defeat followed a great victory in such quick succession that stunned me. It was how melodramatic Joshua was regarding the defeat that made me stop and think.

He had just won a victory against Jericho. And then with just one, not two, not three, but just one defeat against Ai, he forgets everything that God had done for him, all the victories, all the blessings and simply wants to go back to what was familiar.

He had a calling. He had numerous blessings. But all it took was one defeat for everything to come crumbling down.

How true that for all of us. We pray fervantly. We ask for God's guidance. When all is said and done, we are convinced God has called us to go somewhere or do something.

And it starts smoothly. We praise God and thank him and pat ourselves on our back for heeding God's will.

Then it starts falling apart, and suddenly we have doubts. In fact, we so sincerely believe that God brought suffering to us and start wondering how we are ever going to survive, or why we even did what we did, or went where we went.

Oh how quickly the human mind forgets. Forgets the conviction. Forgets the past blessings. Simply forgets.

We really ought to take time to remember God more, particularly in time of crisis.

Friday, 27 April 2007

To all Snoop fans, I apologise in advance. However, I cannot help but find this hilarious.

It's good to know that occasionally, celebrities still do not get all sorts of privileges.

What still scares me though, is the fact that for someone who has that many criminal records he is refused entry into certain countries, he is still that popular.

This is role-modeling gone wrong at its highest.

Monday, 23 April 2007

I know a guy who's going to prison.

"So what?" you say.

Turns out he's not only going to prison for Cystic Fibrosis, he's going to broadcast his radio programme from inside the cell, and is planning a prison break with some help.

Wanna find out more?

Friday, 20 April 2007

Want to get from New York to London quick?

Better start training those arm muscles!

1. go to google maps
2. click on "get directions"
3. type "New York" in the first box (the "from" box)
4. type "London" in the second box (the "to" box)
5. click "get directions"
6. scroll down to step #24

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

While trying to while away time waiting to interview a lady for a news article, I entertained myself by uploading some photos of my New Zealand holiday.

At an average of 150 photos a day, I am very proud I managed to end up with only 29 photos!
This is exactly what I've been talking about. Unfortunately, at most times, to no avail.

Mark Batterson of National Community Church (Washington, D.C.) recently analysed four ways the church can engage culture:

  1. Ignore it
    The more we ignore culture the more irrelevant we’ll become. And if the church ignores the culture, the culture will ignore the church.
  2. Imitate it
    We can imitate culture, but imitation is a form of suicide. Originality is sacrificed on the altar of cultural conformity. If we don’t shape the culture, the culture will shape us.
  3. Condemn it
    We’ve got to stop pointing the finger and start offering better alternatives. If the church condemns the culture, the culture will condemn the church.
  4. Create it
    We can compete for culture by creating culture. In the immortal words of the Italian artist and poet, Michelangelo: criticize by creating. At the end of the day, the culture will treat the church the way the church treats the culture.
[Thanks to for the link.]

It's something that Bob Briner's been talking about since the year 2000, in his excellent book Roaring Lambs (if you haven't read the book and want to be challenged and inspired about engaging culture, make sure you get it).

The one thing that constantly baffles me is why Christians are constantly seen as aliens. True, the bible says we should be in this world but not of the world. But surely that does not give us the license to be so completely nuts that people generally look at us askance when we say we're Christians?

How can a church not just successfully engage culture, but be able to create a culture that everybody (even non-Christians) wants to be a part of?

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Published in the March/April 2007 issue of Christian Woman.

Find out more about Francine's ministry.

Friday, 13 April 2007

I just read a post that got me thinking about my reasons for blogging.

I started, gosh, almost exactly four years ago, largely because I was extremely bored at my old employment.

There were things to do, but not enough to occupy my time and so decided to start playing around with my web "skills". Which I promptly realised I had none.

My blog was then known as Mel's England Tales and that was what it was about. It was a tool for family and friends to keep up with what I was up to, without me having to spam their inboxes. It was also a fantastic opportunity for me to rave and rant and basically use it as a soapbox.

It still is a soapbox, but towards the end of 2003, I wanted my blog to take on a different turn. It's name changed to Mel's Mindcave, not because I have an empty chasm in my head, but firstly because I was leaving England and secondly, I wanted it to reflect more of who I am as a Christian.

I wanted it to be my ministry. In a very small way, an opportunity to show others what it is like to be a Christian living in the world. How values, opinions, lifestyle and everything else is shaped because of a love of God.

That goal hasn't changed yet, even though this site is now called Aussie Adventures. It was given this name at the end of 2004 when I realised I was moving to Australia to work indefinitely. The goal was still the same, but the name had changed.

But then I took on the job as public relations office for the Seventh-day Adventist Church and suddenly, this blog is not only about God, but about communicating for God, for the church and simply about the public relations practice.

Looking back at my posts, many of it has simply been about who I am and what I've been doing.

And sometimes I wonder, am I still serving the main purpose of this blog - to share God in an unobtrusive way.

I hope in a way I am.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Brilliant ad.

It made my heart jump to my throat at first, and then brought a tear to my eye.

If only it came true...

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Embarrassed to say that I actually fell for this.

Initially I thought it was too good to be true. Then I wondered about the environmental impact.

Finally, I read the FAQ section and started getting convinced that it could be true.

That was when I started searching for the "Paper Archive" button but could not find it anywhere. (I even looked back the next day.)

Good one Gmail.

Monday, 2 April 2007

So, how relevant is Ellen White?
as published in The Edge, #61 February 2007

I haven’t always been a Christian, much less a Seventh-day Adventist.

Terms like “Pathfinders,”* “Camporees” and “Ellen White” all went over my head when I fi rst attended church.

They were phrases so ingrained into the Seventh-day Adventist mindset that nobody ever stopped to think that newcomers would perhaps be a little baffled as to what they actually meant.

For a really long time, I thought the Spirit of Prophecy was the Bible. I was also convinced that Ellen White was a biblical character and when that did not seem likely, believed she was a member of the church I was attending whom I somehow never got to meet.

There was confusion galore when “Spirit of Prophecy,” ‘Sister White” and “ Desire of Ages ” were all said in one sentence.

It took me months of regularly attending church to finally learn that Ellen White was one of the early pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and that she wrote a series of books collectively called the Spirit of Prophecy , one of which was The Desire of Ages .

Ellen G White.

The “woman of remarkable spiritual gifts who lived most of her life during the nineteenth century” and wrote more than 5000 periodical articles and 40 books.

Today, more than 100 titles are available in English, thanks to compilations from her 50,000 pages of manuscript. According to the Ellen G White Estate website, she is the most translated woman writer in the entire history of literature, and the most translated American author of either gender.

However, although extensively published and frequently referred to in Adventist circles, Ellen White most likely does not feature highly on any young Adventist’s “must-read” author list.

In fact, the very mention of her name may result in either a cringe effect or the rolling of eyeballs.

“She’s too old-fashioned,” may be a rather valid and common argument about someone who lived more than 100 years ago, but chances are, the main gripe does not stem from the innate need to criticise her writing style (J R R Tolkien had a similar writing style, albeit with a different focus, and is read more widely than Ellen White).

Instead, it is probably because they have been told too often what not to do because “Ellen White said so.” Although only a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for about seven years, I have already become all too familiar with “the teachings of Ellen White,” not from reading her literature, but from all-too-helpful church members intent on letting me know that “Ellen White says” we should not go to the movies or even ride bicycles for that matter.

Thanks to a few overenthusiastic church members and reactionary attitudes, Ellen White has been relegated to the shelf with titles such as “legalistic,” “fundamental,” “judgmental” and “strict.” Nobody likes to be told what to do and what is right, after all. Of course, the fact that she lived in the 1800s does not particularly make her seem relevant to young people today, either.

The problem with Ellen White however, is not that she is irrelevant.

It lies in the fact that some have forgotten to use “the Word of God as the rule of [our] faith and practice,” preferring instead to use the specifics from Ellen White’s writings as a weapon to reproach others about their behaviour. We forget that she is simply a “lesser light to lead men and women to the greater light.” As a friend once mentioned, “She wrote for her time period, not for mine and I must respect that boundary. The relevance I can draw from her writings are not specific ‘do’ and ‘do not do’ things.

I can draw guidelines from her writings but they can never be as specific as ‘do not go to the theatre.’” Ellen White did write about things that are very much in the context of her time, but the principles are still relevant today. The reason she instructed people not to ride bicycles had nothing to do with the mode of transportation but the high price of owning one then. When put in context, her counsel not to put on cosmetics or wigs made sense because face powders in the 19th century contained white lead or mercuric sulphide and wigs were terrifying monstrosities that threatened to snap one’s neck.

Many of Ellen White’s teachings have also become Adventist traditions and lifestyle habits. Thanks to her promotion of a healthy diet and abstinence from alcohol and tobacco 100 years ago, National

Geographic magazine recently reported Seventh-day Adventists were longevity superstars. An achievement only made possible because her health principles are still followed today.

The aim of her teachings was simply to help us deepen our relationship with God and to become more Christlike. We understand the Bible better through her writings, we gain practical advice on how we should lead our lives and we remain pure and healthy, able to learn more about God.

If we took the time to read her counsels, we would come to realise that she has left behind a very beneficial legacy for Seventh-day Adventists. A legacy that gave the church its vision and direction, which led to the establishment of a worldwide education system and a network of hospitals and clinics. A legacy that consisted of Christ-centred healthful living and a faith- and love-based church.

Ellen White can only be relevant to us if we are looking to deepen our relationship with God. Ellen White is relevant because of her insights about one’s relationship with God.

Her themes on the love of God, Jesus Christ and His sacrifice and the centrality of God’s Word draw us closer to God, providing us with gems and further understanding that only reading the Bible would not.

Specifics change, but principles never do. The way the Seventh-day Adventist Church relates to the world today may be different from when Ellen White was writing her counsels, and it needs to do so in light of an ever-changing environment. Staying relevant requires a shift in traditions and the way things are done. But that does not mean Ellen White, the founding pioneer of the Seventh-day Adventist Church more than 100 years ago, is no longer relevant.

Ellen White remains relevant, but only if we read her books in accompaniment with the Bible and with the sincere desire to know God better. All we need to do is to take the time to read her writings, remember the context in which she was writing and apply the principles to our lives.

Speaking of which, where is my dusty copy of The Desire of Ages ?

*Pathfinders is the Adventist Church’s worldwide youth activity organisation that has groups in local churches. Groups from various localities or regions meet at Camporees about once a year to interact and for an opportunity to share skills and experiences.
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