Goodbye Borders (Brisbane City)

May 27, 2011 4 comments

Today, Borders Brisbane City closes its doors for the last time.

While some might say “hooray, another giant bites the dust”, it didn’t feel like a party shopping there yesterday. It was like picking over the garage sale of the newly dead.

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During the day, the shop was packed with people, shoulder to shoulder, looking for something more to buy at 90% off.

By last night, three floors of books was reduced to one floor of random leftovers and fixtures and fittings with SOLD stickers. People were in until 9:30pm unscrewing speakers from the ceilings and carting out whatever they could. I acquired some bookshelves. Lovely, lovely bookshelves.

Today, everything must go. If you’re in the city, pay your last respects and pick up a bargain.

My thoughts go out to the staff.

Categories: Australia, Books, Business

Global Corporate Challenge (and another day at the office)

May 22, 2011 4 comments

Teamwork is something that most offices aspire to. This week, teamwork has taken on a new spirit, with gazillions of suckers, like me, putting on a pedometer and logging into a teamsite to record daily steps taken as part of a 16 week challenge.

It’s a virtual walk-around-the-world gig, which raises money for Children’s Challenge, Footprint Initiative and the Foundation for  Chronic Disease Prevention. And, I suppose, it’s good for us. Let’s not mention the fun.

Some people take it very seriously. Others, have already been caught out shaking the pedometer under their desks, which can look like something much worse (there has been an increase in loud laughing at the office, of late).

I’m up against another team, whose members ride to work, have personal trainers and are otherwise intimidated (in the nicest possible way) by the super-fit former PE teacher on staff.

Being against gratuitous exercise, I was lucky enough to get my daily count up this weekend by jiggling away at a fabulous 40th birthday party which had an 80s band until midnight. For anyone out there, with my allergy to exercise, that’s my hot tip #1: dancing to 80s music counts. Who can resist bouncing up and down to the outlandishly positive sounds of the 80s?

So, for 16 weeks, watch this space, as I explore what it means to be a good office-mate and fit global citizen. I might even start to enjoy exercise that doesn’t involve being first at the mid-year David Jones shoe sale.

Parents and teachers, take a look at the Children’s Challenge site and see if it’s something your schools could benefit from (it’s free to a limited number of applicants).

Have a great week, and try not to lock yourself in the fire escape if you’re going with the stairs instead of the lifts. That would be my tip #2.

Cookery class: chocolate hot cross buns in 3 easy steps

April 13, 2011 6 comments

It’s almost Easter, so it’s time to share my latest seasonal treat.

How do you make chocolate hot cross buns in 3 steps (and 30 seconds)? I did this at the office, because someone donated the ingredients and someone else made a wise-crack about combining them. (I seem to have this face that says, ‘give me food – preferably with chocolate’.)

Start with a hot cross bun and some Easter eggs from the bottom drawer…

Fire up the office toaster…

Chocolate lava-centered hot cross bun… Tastes WOW.

Tip for young players:

Don’t try this first time just before an important meeting with your boss, lest some of that chocolatey goodness should squirt out of your bun and all down your skirt. My director happened to come past in time for me to give her a big, brown grin. And I’m not at all being naughty.

Thanks to CS for the bun and YD for the awesome suggestion.

Categories: Australia, Craft, Life, Review

LOL: Crimes against language – dot dot dot

April 3, 2011 1 comment

I make a living from using words as well as I can. People pay me to make their words work for them, not against them. I see all sorts of crimes against language and clarity which make me want to rant, but laughter is more fun…

Jacqueline Howett’s response to a “discusting” book review

April 3, 2011 4 comments

In case you hadn’t heard, Jacqueline Howett self-published the unfortunately named book “The Greek Seaman” and more unfortunately still, over-reacted to a reviewer, in what might be the longest tantrum online.

Here’s the original review by Big AL:

If you read The Greek Seaman from the start until you click next page for the last time I think you’ll find the story compelling and interesting. The culture shock felt by the newlywed bride, Katy, who finds herself far from her native England, living on a cargo ship with her seaman husband Don is a good story in itself. Katy adapting to this all male environment with a crew of mixed nationality, most non-English speaking, is compelling. Whether Katy and Don will survive the criminal conspiracies the ship owner and captain have planned is yet another conflict that should keep a reader in suspense to the end.

However, odds of making that final click are slim. One reason is the spelling and grammar errors, which come so quickly that, especially in the first several chapters, it’s difficult to get into the book without being jarred back to reality as you attempt unraveling what the author meant…

Her response:

This is not only discusting and unprofessional on your part, but you really don’t fool me AL.

Who are you any way? Really who are you?

What do we know about you?

You never downloaded another copy you liar!

You never ever returned to me an e-mail

Besides if you want to throw crap at authors you should first ask their permission if they want it stuck up on the internet via e-mail. That debate is high among authors.

Your the target not me!

A little taste of the novel in question:

She carried her stocky build carefully back down the stairs.

Don and Katy watched hypnotically Gino place more coffees out at another table with supreme balance.

I’m not sure I have enough time to read more about this stocky ballerina who marries a seaman. I’m not even sure how one goes about watching someone hypnotically – when I look at my cross-eyed cat for too long, my eyes get watery – does that come close?

Her angry, error-laden responses (see comments), including two F offs in full glory, make one wonder about:

* how a self-proclaimed writer could have such a limited command of language

* why people treat online communication so flippantly (and disregard manners)

* the danger of bias and self-delusion (the deep end of too much positivity, perhaps?).

Sadly for other self-published writers, Jacqueline makes a good case for traditional publishing, where very few writers make it through the hoops of fire.

Google her for more details on how to get her book. Or, you could find a big nest of green ants and roll in it.

Hip new Italian eating – Vapiano

March 27, 2011 8 comments

Looking for a trendy Italian place to eat, in Brisbane? Something different? Faster than the usual restaurant experience?

Check out Vapiano on Albert Lane.

They cook your food as you order it, in front of you. This brings an element of theatre to your dining experience.

The setup is innovative, but it helps to plan your visit if you need to get in and out in a lunchtime. The place is buzzing until about 1:30pm on any given weekday.

You line up for pasta, pizza or salad - no table service, no mixed orders

A fresh fry pan for every order & fresh food, fast

Pasta, made daily, on the premises

Gluten-free gnocchi with chicken breast, onion, pesto, baby spinach in a cream sauce (Pollo e spinaci)

The food was luscious, the service, enthusiastic and the ambiance, loud and fun. There wasn’t a complaint to be heard.

Buon appetito!

Categories: Australia, Business, Review

Beware of parents

March 23, 2011 2 comments

Language is a wonderful thing; but it needs to be used sparingly and with caution.

This is especially so, with signage in high traffic areas.

“FOR THE SAFETY OF CHILDREN, PARENTS NOT PERMITTED”.

That’s a classic.

Social networking’s bleak future

March 5, 2011 4 comments

What’s next in social media? If PriceWaterhouseCoopers can do it …

Imagine,
YouTube, Twitter & Facebook  merge to form one giant, idiotic,
super time wasting website called…

Thanks to CS for the email.

Hug Mug & Chocolate OD

February 27, 2011 4 comments

I rather like chocolate, so I took it upon myself to try out a chocolate bar on the Gold Coast. My friends might be surprised to learn that I’ve never quite recovered. The photos might explain why.

Chocolate bar

While I was happily drinking my hot chocolate in a “Hug Mug”, I was thinking two things:

Dark hot chocolate, milk hot chocolate (skipped the white hot chocolate)

1. Isn’t this mug a great idea?
2. What does it remind me of?

Hug Mug (was a man standing up, or sitting down, when he thought of this?)

As if sensing my thoughts, Miss Six asked, “Mummy, why does your mug look like a men’s urinal?”

After that, nothing quite tasted right. Otherwise, I would highly recommend the nearest chocolate bar, though you might like to order a bit less than we did….

I've never met a chocolate thing I didn't like ...

Everything with its own chocky dipping sauce

Milkshakes in curious vessels

Just a tiny bit more? (Monty Python's man with the bucket comes to mind)

Brisbane City markets

February 26, 2011 3 comments

An unexpected delight this week – a fresh food market in the city!

Just some of the little lovelies …

L-l-lurvved the spelt fig pistachio bread!

Funkiest little finger limes, Aussie natives!

Beads of lime heaven, ready to burst in your mouth.

Extraordinary tomatoes - tasting as they should

I was too busy shopping and eating to take any more photos, but take it from me, it’s worth a visit. The stone fruit was the tastiest I’ve had in YEARS, ditto the apples. The French bread shop didn’t disappoint, either. My lunch break ran out before I could get to the cupcake stand, which leaves me something to look forward to for next week.

Wednesdays, top of the Mall – enjoy!

PS. Thanks to my ‘tour guide’, SJ.
PPS. Want to see more about the finger limes, check out Bagni di Lucca and Wild Finger Limes – citrus caviar. Amazing.