Home AboutGiveawaysRecipesOur Town SeriesReviewsShop
Look happy, be attentive and wear an apron. Okay, you can leave that last part out.
It was back around, ooh, February I think.

We were at Dick Smith, which is an electronics store here in Australia. I was doing my bricks-and-mortar research on computers, having already done the online kind and gotten in the ballpark of what I wanted.

Mrs Speech and I wandered around the laptops. The tech specs for each machine were on A4 flyers tucked underneath in little pigeon holes, only they had been mass-misfiled and no flyer matched the computer it was underneath.

We spent ample time looking confused. No help was forthcoming.

Finally I sauntered over to the checkout, and asked for help. The girl had dyed hair and a facial piercing I can't quite recall. No biggie. She can look however she wants as long as she helps me.

"So, I'm looking for abc computer, with an xyz graphics card."

"Um, okay."

"Can you help me find that?" She wandered over to the flyers and began to sort through them, her apathy bleeding through every sigh and unpleasant facial expression.

"Um, you can look at the flyers. They show what the computer has."

"Yes, I did that...they're mixed up."

"Um, okay. I don't know." She looked through more flyers and began half-heartedly rearranging them. That was going to be a twenty minute job. She had this passive-aggressive thing going on that suggested I was taking up her time.

"Do you work in...computers?"

Seriously, am I keeping you from something more important?

"No. No-one works in any particular department anymore. We all do the whole store."


Long story short, she reluctantly found someone else to help me, who knew what I needed to know. We left without making a purchase.

Is there anything more omnipresently irritating in modern western consumer life, than bad customer service? Is there anything that can, as consistently, get you to grind your teeth in frustration?

Your service needs some first aid

We were recently at the mall. We ducked into the chemist to find out how much some bandages were. Our local pharmacy is awesome and sells them on the cheap.

We hit the first aid section and squeezed past an older lady customer who chose to not move even though she had ample room on her side of the aisle. Again, no biggie. She was obviously distracted speaking to the pharmacy employee who was assisting her.

Mrs Speech and I tried to find the bandage for a couple of minutes. I think we looked appropriately lost and in need of help, displaying all the signals:

  • Shrugging shoulders
  • Looking around aimlessly
  • Picking up various items, looking at the packaging, then putting them back
  • Shaking head
  • Mumbling things like, "no, I guess they don't have it."

Pharmacy employee was three feet to our right when this occurred. But when she had finished helping older lady, she turned on her heel and left. You'd have to be a goldfish not to pick up on the signals we were displaying.

In the digital economy, you don't get to be this bad at retail service. And, ironically, his job is now owned by a bank of servers.
Then there was the girl at Rebel Sport (I'm not picking on the girls, honest. I've had some fantastic service from women over the years). We were looking for running shoes as our walks were taking on the hardship of one of those brutal twelve hour triathlons.

I waited four feet from her, holding a shoe I wanted to try on. Aren't they supposed to acknowledge your presence, you know, sort of "I'll be with you in a minute" ? That sort of thing? When we finally got her attention she was lovely but before then I felt like the invisible man.

Watch me invisibly walk out the door with a pair of shoes I haven't paid for. Then see how quick you pay attention to me.

This is a serious issue beyond personal irritation. Australian retail did not get the jump it wanted last Christmas. For the past couple of years sales have been sluggish, even though our economy is strong.

But when you can buy most anything online and save yourself time and money doing so, why would you drive to your local, put up with parking issues (Westfield is charging to park at some of its malls), crowds, rude gen-z schoolies, and all the rest of it, just to be ignored, sighed at, patronised and otherwise passively neglected?

Power Retail pulls no punches. Australian businesses suck at customer service. They're awful. They don't bother.

The report also shows that two-thirds of Australians will abandon a sale due to poor customer service, while more than half will spend more with a company that is able to provide good service.

Kids come up through the ranks of the fast food franchises learning personal organisation and point-of-sale technique. But they don't learn how to be professional in their service. It can be like talking to an eggplant, some of these kids. I was the same way when I was fifteen. You have to teach them.

If not, they become part-time salespeople in their early twenties who fumble with flyers under computers while demonstrating that you are absolutely, taking up their time and HOW DARE YOU DO THAT.

........His name was Sonny

After Mrs Speech and I left Dick Smith, we visited another computer retailer named Harvey Norman. They had a computer I was interested in. Salesman could see I was interested.

I asked if I could spread the payments out over layby rather than put down the whole amount at once. No deal.

How come?

"Well, computers are you know, advancing so quickly, you could you know, get two months into a layby, change your mind, and then, you know, we're stuck with an obsolete machine."

Gerry Harvey kind of looks like the Russian Back Channel guy from The Sum Of All Fears. That was such an ordinary movie.
Uh-huh. If computer technology truly advanced that quickly, the friendly android from iRobot would be sorting our socks for us by next year.

That layby thing is a policy issue and Harvey Norman has its own set of management concerns that will do them in, in the end. They're run by an older dude who frowns upon this internet thing as a way of snagging customers and who generally exudes a crusty, inflexible attitude to retail proceduralism.

Then there was the time - I can still make Mrs Speech laugh while acting it out - before we were married when we were in Chicago for the day, and we wandered into a jeweller, browsing for engagement rings.

Kind saleswoman showed us one or two, and as soon as we expressed the slightest interest (literally five minutes in) she plopped a block of in-triplicate forms on the counter and proceeded to sign us up for a payment plan.

To this day, when I'm walking through a store and a salesperson asks if I need help, I think of that moment, look them directly in the eye and tell them I'm just browsing around. They back off.

I can seriously think of a dozen similar stories to share but after a while I think you'd be even more bored than you perhaps are now.

You feel my pain, right?

But eveyone's got 'em. I don't know you but I know you have similar stories.

And it's killing the retail sector. As I said, if the cost and convenience of shopping online isn't enough, poor service will absolutely destroy brick and mortar. It's the last straw.

It's flipped completely and become a buyer's market and former icons are suffering for decades of inaction on this vital issue: treat me well, and I might return. Don't, and you'll see the back of me quickly.

Don't call me mate, or luv, or - if you ever want a sale from me - 'darl', don't try to be my friend, DO wear appropriate clothing to work, don't push extra stuff on me I don't need, don't ignore the signals.

Your business depends on getting cash from my wallet to your till.

Yes, please.
One of my earlier experiences with customer service was when I was at university. I came back from a lecture one day and stopped at a cafe in the Myer Centre. They had good lasagne and I was feeling mildly Romanesque so I rocked up to the counter.

There were two trays of lasagne: the one on the left looked like it might have been rejected by the starving kids on a World Vision commercial. Curled and cloyed together as with glue that pre-schoolers use, its pale,dry rancidity was eclipsed in pure desperation by the steaming pan it was still sitting in.

As though the fact that steam rising from it could convince a guy that it was still fresh.

Pan on the right had new lasagne. Legitimate steam rose from its freshly cooked cheese, neatly cut squares of Italian delight topped with non-wrinkled tomato.

Said to man behind the counter, "Can I get a lasagne, please."

He begins to plate up the stuff from five years earlier.

"Um, actually...d'you reckon I could have some from that newer pan?"

He looks at me challengingly.

"do you want it or not, mate?"

That cafe is no longer there.
I don't care how much of a Christmas junky I am, that is NOT going in our house.

Click to enlarge.
Yesterday was a busy one for us.

For starters we had to go see the local bureaucrats. Now on a scale of one to ten, going to see the bureaucrats is a big gritting my teeth and pretending there aren't half million things that could more usefully occupy my time.

But we did, and the bureaucrats told us to come back because the paperwork wasn't quite correct, and so an hour and a half in which we might have solved world hunger went begging.

After that we ran a chore for Mrs Speech. She had to get some scripture references printed up for the awesome Jesse Tree Ornaments she is selling. We found some classy, gloss paper, thick too and printed up a bunch.

The place we printed them up is technically within the same complex as our local mall but sits on the other side of the carpark. So, we hiked back and before sunset in a while landed in the mall. Mrs Speech threatened to eat my ear if I didn't give her food so we stopped at Subway.

Well, Mrs Speech sat. I stood in line. After the bureaucrats I didn't want to see any more lines. I hope there aren't any lines again for the rest of my life.

I also bought Mrs Speech a cookie. Her mood picked up. When in doubt, buy the cookie.

A Christmas koala! Of course. No home should be without one.
From there we went a-wandering, lazily checking out the shops and their wares. To my absolute joy we found that shops have started with their Christmas decorations. This is great news for me. I'm a Christmas junky. I Love Christmas. When I was kid I loved it because I always got lots of presents. I was an only child and very, very spoiled. He-Man. Micro Machines. Matchbox Cars. Lego.

These days I love it because since becoming a Christian I more fully understand its meaning; the joy of Christ's birth is no longer a mystery. What is a mystery is how presents were once the only thing of meaning this time of year. Nowadays July isn't gone before I start longing for the carols and the mall decorations and the lights on people's houses and even the dumb commercials satirising Santa.

I can't wait, because two thousand years ago, a rustic town in the middle of a scrappy backwater Roman province saw the birth of a baby who makes all things new. And Christmas time makes it easier to focus on that, I think.

I get that the shops only elevate Christmas in order to extract more money from us. I don't care. They have their reasons. The saviour endures regardless.

We wandered through David Jones, which is one of those places. It has a small-ish section set aside for their $21.95 baubels and their $299.95 wreaths.

"I'll have one wreath please. And no Christmas presents at all this year."

Mrs Speech in Wal-Mart. I mean, Big W.
Big W has a couple of smaller aisles dedicated to the *cough* more budget-conscious among us. Mrs Speech gave me the look and suggested we buy new Christmas lights this year.

We usually come late to the party with Christmas lights. The ones we have are thirty years old and although I like them Mrs Speech...doesn't. But, by the time we get around to checking out new strings, all the good-value ones have been snapped up by folks who don't spend September to early December debating whether or not the lights we have are adequate. By that time I steadfastly decline to spend thirty dollars on lights.

We got some ten dollar ones and Mrs Speech was happy.

I like wandering through Big W. Mrs Speech always calls it Wal-Mart (must be the W) but I've been in Wal-Mart and Big W is a bit nicer. Plus, Mrs Speech once found a pink blender that I'm still kicking myself for not lay-bying for Christmas. It's not around anymore.

Also Big W has a huge range of lollies (candy). Aisles and aisles and massive jars of Nutella, too. Smack-bang at the front of the store, sweet sentinels of chocolatey goodness (badness?) daring you to pass.

Just TRY to get through to toys and electronics. See? You CAN'T!!!

Ten dollar cereal anyone? Thought not.
But as I said, I have WILL. Sort of. Somewhat. Kind of.

A little later on we passed the little shop in the middle of the mall concourse, which sells foreign lollies. English and American. The prices are criminal but once or twice a year for a treat........you know how it is.

Mrs Speech found American breakfast cereal there and almost wept from nostalgia. She hurried past me to take pictures.

I soon sensed Mrs Speech was gonna need some refreshment so I bought her a hot chocolate at Gloria Jean's. They make good stuff. One day we made the mistake of going to the Coffee Club which is where the senior citizens prefer to hang out. I felt like I was at someone's bi-weekly bridge game with bad hot chocolate.

Gloria Jean's is dark, exotic, with moody cosmetic touches that make you feel like part of the in-crowd. But you better have a tablet and be browsing on their free wi-fi and know the difference between Columbian and Mocha Colombiana or for goodness sake, GET OUT!

A much-needed break.
Nah, they're actually very friendly. Which is why we go back.

We capped the day off with a ritual visit to JB Hi-Fi (my favourite electronics store) and some grocery shopping. At which point I noticed that my feet were destroyed.

Never understood how that works...you go to the mall to relax, walk around a little and by the end of four hours your feet hurt. How's that?

Maybe it's the flip-flops I wear.
A selection of fabrics from the Serenade Collection.
In my (Mrs Speech) Tea Time Tutorial, I had the privilege of using the beautiful fabrics from the Serenade Collection, courtesy of Fluffy Sheep Quilting.

To celebrate the opening of my new Etsy shop, Pink Scissors Design, I am giving away surplus fabric to you, my dear readers!

It's beautiful fabric and it will be a joy to work with and create something lovely!

All four pieces are 15" x 10.5" wide.

International entries are welcome.

The contest begins midnight Wednesday, 26th September 2012 EST and closes Wednesday, 3rd October 2012 EST.

To enter please use the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The first storm of the summer season. Refreshing, til you get hit by lightning coming home from the shops.
So we went for another walk today.

It was mid-afternoon and the BOM had predicted rain and possible storms. I checked the radar, and saw a big patch of yellow, red and black (the colours representing the strongest weather) coming from the west.

"Hey Honey, let's go for a walk," said I gleefully. Knew we could beat the weather.

Bad bad bad bad bad bad idea.

You know it's a bad idea when you're praying your wife and you won't get sizzled by lightning while desperately recalling Job 38:35.

The darker, lower clouds pixelated like some mid-nineties computer game against our flyscreen security window.
It all seemed innocuous enough. We headed down the bikeway near our house (see pics here), at a brisk pace with white cloud above and greying cloud to the south-west. No biggie.

Up we headed into Broadwater Park, where I told Mrs Speech that I would like to continue down the bikeway. That is, further away from our house. She balked. I talked. We walked (back toward our house).

We hit Broadwater Road and she suggested we watch the cars for any wetness as a sign of rain nearby. Clever girl. I wouldn't have thought of that one. The clouds began to close in.

Ham Road is a horrible horrible hill, because it inevitably comes at the end of a walk, when you're already tired, and forces you to climb an incline for about 150 metres.

It's even worse when you can see the gathering storm clouds and your already-hurting legs unconsciously move much much faster as you wide-eyed-with-anxiety ponder what would happen if ten billion volts of electricity passed through you? Would it be like in that John Travolta movie? Would my IQ increase 100 points and suddenly I've figured out how my Wii can power my entire house while running on a glass of orange juice?

These are things you think about as the lightning escapes the clouds and discharges its fury. And then again, and again.

And still even as I was kicking myself for my stupidity, I wasn't done.

Yeah, I know this picture doesn't make it seem that bad. The video gives a better impression. The not-heavy rain belied the noise and confusion of the whole thing.
We had brought some cash with us because we needed a couple things from the shops. Nothing terribly important. But as we turned left on to Mount Gravatt-Capalaba Road and put the storm to our backs, my confidence increased. I was now looking at white cloud instead of dark grey. I didn't know how fast storms moved.

Five minutes later we exited the shops with the storm directly over us.


We crossed the road and speed-walked down the hill to our unit complex. Mrs Speech ran to our unit, the pattering rain harbouring horrible horrible thoughts that had left John Travolta and turned to what I would smell like as a piece of crispy bacon. I ran a little too.

We made it though. We thanked the Lord a lot.

And inside we cooled down, and the first storm of storm season 2012 passed in about twenty minutes.

There'll be more.

But I won't be walking in them, 'guarantee you that.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Labels: , ,
O McDonald's, why must thy flavoursome gastronomy intertwine so devilishly with fevered attempts at healthful combobulation?
Golden Arches,
Your fries and burger of cheese call me
I cannot go.

That's a scrappy attempt at a haiku. You don't want to see what an ode would look like.

I'm Mr Speech.

I'm trying to drop some weight.

Okay, a lot of weight.

Alright, several metric tonnes. Well, it feels that way.

I have dragged Mrs Speech for kilometre after gruelling kilometre on our walks, labouring up and down Brisbane's devastating landscape (see here, here and here). You know when kids get in the sandpit and use their bucket and spade to dig a big hole, and next to the big hole there's a big conical pile of sand? That's like Brisbane. Up and down and up and down again.

The walk

Tonight, we hit the most challenging route yet. Along Broadwater Road, which before an intersection with Newnham Road curves upward in a never-ending hill which never ends because it doesn't stop.

Then somehow we made it to the top, and went down Newnham Road, before we hit the Catholic School Hill.

The Catholic School Hill. I see it in my dreams.

Click to enlarge.
The Catholic School Hill. Mrs Speech had not climbed it before. It had taken on an awed oeuvre of hushed reverence in our household, lest we upset the Catholic School Hill. Shhh. Don't let anyone hear you talk about the Catholic School Hill.

In reality, the CSH has nothing to do with the Catholic School. It just happens that St Catherine's Primary School sits astride the most punishing, sweat-producing, trauma-inducing mini-mountain which ever existed. We passed two Sherpas who came back down crying. This thing rises immediately after a gentle-then-not-so-gentle elevation of about seventy metres, suddenly coming upon you and devouring your last morsel of energy and self-esteem as it batters you with its steepness.

Climb me, will you???? Folly! Pure folly!

We climbed the thing though, our unoxygenated words coming between laboured gasps for sweet, sweet air. We climbed the Catholic School Hill. I felt like we should get t-shirts printed.

Then we turned onto Mount Gravatt-Capalaba Road, took a detour down Ham Road, back on to Broadwater Road, and round again on to MG-C Road and forty-five minutes later we were home.

The problem

Freedieting.com says that tonight I burned 1064 calories based on my age, weight and what I did for how long (the option "Hiking Or Walking At A Normal Pace Through Fields And Hillsides" seems to suit; 1hr45 minutes). Mrs Speech apparently burned less, I guess because she doesn't weigh as much as me.

1064 calories is a lot. I burned up a lot of energy.

A large Big Mac Meal with a shake is 1450 calories.

The McCafe is surely the best place to get a donut for three dollars.

Click to enlarge.
If you come back home from the east, as we did tonight, the Golden Arches of our local McDonald's rises like the diet-destroying monster that it is, sucking in all without the requisite power of will, who might dare to pass. If we come home from the west the view down MG-C Road still offers an almost telescopic view of the yellow sign they bulldozed lots of quite old trees for.

I wish I had a picture of this place. Mrs Speech got one a while back but it didn't come out great.

They built this thing and it's awesome. It used to be an assumingly dull place, effortlessly attaining the grit of a truckstop without actually being one.

Now it's a combined petrol station/McDonald's/McCafe. It's new. It's clean. It's schmancy. The layout could have been given more thought, but it's inviting and warm and in the middle of winter it was a wonderful place to walk to; the inviting aroma of comfort food and the soft lighting and post-modern mainstream trend decor beckoned deliciously for us to escape the cold and try our new McAngus burger!

We actually haven't been much. Not as much as I thought we would. It can get pricey and the big boys at the electricity company take cash, not excuses about inviting aromas and former faux-truckstops.

The resistance (Just don't call us Les Maquis)

That red stuff is a sunk cherry. Otherwise: num num num num.

Click to enlarge.
It's tempting. Tonight, was tough. My legs burned and my whole body told me that I had purchased the right to those 1450 calories with every drop of sweat. But, no. If today McDonald's, then tomorrow, pizza. And the day after that, Red Rooster.

It's tempting. That sweet, sweet chocolate shake.

But I said no. Mrs Speech, too. I also don't like the idea of burning off all that energy, only to be in so far in surplus again. Kind of makes the whole Catholic School Hill ordeal a little less worthwhile.

So it's an each day sort of thing. We walk five days a week, and each day brings us home and on to a collision course with the Kilojoule Kingdom. So each day we gotta remind ourselves what we're doing this for and not to undermine it because those golden fries......yum.

So I write poor haikus and laugh at myself a little bit. And tomorrow, maybe it'll get a little bit easier.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, why are you up in Septem-ber...
As I have been saying recently, Mrs Speech's shop has been opened. She is selling her crafty things, at which she is soooo talented. Need a day quilt? she's got you covered? Need a rag doll called Darla? Done. Christmas is practically sewn up!

See, I made a funny.

The Jesse Tree Ornaments are a unique item that Mrs Speech will be selling for Christmas. They are a visual representation of the Bible Story up to Jesus' birth.

Wikipedia defines Advent thusly:

...anglicized from the Latin word adventus meaning "coming", is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.

Mrs Speech introduced me to Jesse Tree Ornaments a few years ago; a means of reflecting on the prophecies and promise of Jesus' birth without having to resort to advent calendars, filled with horrible cheap chocolate I couldn't wait to finish. When I was a kid, the (secular) lead-up to Christmas was a dread-tale of having to eat nasty chocolate. You don't want that for your family, do you???????

What they represent

So: the ornament Advent period begins on a starting day (with Mrs Speech's ornaments, it is November 29th) and culminates December 25th. You gather your family, take the ornament corresponding to the day, read the scripture associated with the ornament and hang it upon the tree, alongside your candy canes and tinsel.

Traditionally a Jesse tree is an empty bare branch, plucked from an obliging tree, stuck in a pot with some soil, and stripped of leaves.

The smaller, leaf-less branches are then decorated with ornaments. But today many families simply use their Christmas tree. Which is cool. It ends up being replete with 27 (or 25 in some cases) decorative items which say, 'hey, we're excited about Jesus' birthday.'

The ornaments

A Jesse Tree. Somehow stuck in a stump.
From Isaiah 11:1-2,

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—

The ornaments are made from high-quality felt, stitched with cotton thread and hung by wire hangers. Each ornament comes with a scripture tag, for easy cross-reference.

Mrs Speech packages them in a unique Christmas-colored cotton drawstring pouch, so they can be easily stored all-year long.

She includes a list of the daily scripture readings.

True Meaning

I love the ornaments, because I didn't grow up in a household with any Christian teaching whatsoever. I knew the (bare) basics of the Messiah story and Jingle Bells, too. I knew about Santa (a second cousin culturally to Jesus, here in Australia) and I can still recall the lines to Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

But we never related to the Biblical story of Jesus, or worshipped from the Bible. And Christmas doesn't just mean presents under the tree and 'oh it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you...'

Mrs Speech and I will be doing the ornaments this year and using it as a means to remember what Christmas is about, and as a way to get excited about the festive season.

We hope you'll join us.

Jesse Tree Ornaments can be purchased as a set of 27 with pouch for $25 plus $5 shipping. Click here for Mrs Speech's Etsy Shop.
The brownscaled viperlizard has long been the bane of the Brisbane suburbs, over the last three decades claiming hundreds of hands and feet of unwary tourists who got too close. (Nah, not really.)
Yesterday we went for another walk. Two hours or so. Very, very long walk.

We walked down to the first park near us, Boorabbin Picnic Ground (some pics of the park here) then on to the bikeway, passing through Broadwater Park, then Cresthaven Park. At Cresthaven (as we call it), there were three teens playing basketball. Just sort of chucking the ball close to the basket. Mostly not close to the basket.

We then stuck to the road which cleaves the bikeway/bushland from the residences (near where I lived as a teen) and down to the end of the bikeway area on to Wecker Road.

Wecker Road is an incredibly busy but not interesting road, serving only as a conduit between the Creek Road/Cavendish Road intersection and the suburb of Mansfield and COC (Christian Outreach Centre, a local private school). On one side of it sits decrepit housing which never gets renovated, as though their owners fear any beautification would be swallowed up by the otherwise industrial, utilitarian tone set by the low-rise light-industrial estates which are tucked back on the other side.

Mrs Speech found the vines quite interesting. I gave her grief, with my chuckling.
From there we turned up on to a street on whose corner sits a massive box of a building which is devoted to selling alcohol in huge quantities and at low prices. Opposite a carpark a pub is always advertising the latest fight.

We wound through the suburb of Mansfield, up and down the many tortuous hills - and there are many, seeking solace in the nearest bench whenever we climbed another leviathan.

We dragged ourselves home, arriving after dusk had disappeared and night had enveloped our weary bodies. I dislike arriving home after dark; I don't know why. I think I just like the idea of leaving during the light and returning during twilight, with the night stretched out before us to relax.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Mrs Speech's Etsy shop. She's like, sooooooo talented!
So, the blog has changed a little. It's Mrs Speech's fault.

You see, she wanted to start an Etsy shop to sell her crafts. No problem. She also wanted a blog, in fact, she really needed a blog to advertise her various crafty things.

So I made her a blog. And then, I did an Etsy shop for her. And the banner for it.

And then I tried to put the banner on our blog, where you see it now. And it broke the page.

I was aware that the blog was very graphics-intensive before, but adding that little banner sent small plumes of smoke heading ceiling-ward from my computer. It was the straw that broke the camel's ability to load graphics.

So I took away the beautiful Brisbane background and replaced it with the pink. Which will stay until I figure out something else to put there that looks decent. Hopefully an image of our town which doesn't break the blog.

The pink also hopefully for a little while will draw attention to Mrs Speech's new shop.

This is totally a girl AND guy blog and no, I'm not comfortable with a pink background. Maybe I'll change it up soon and put a new background of skulls and stuff there.

In the meantime, if anyone has issues with loading our blog, please let us know.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Big lizard. Jumpy, too. Click to enlarge.
So today Mrs Speech and I went for another of our walks - we were out about two hours. The rain threatened (but that's all it does - we have had .2mm rain in two months) but didn't break on us, which was nice. In fact, the monstrous thick cumulonimbus clouds thinned above our house by the time we returned, and I ended up with a sunburned face.

We actually had a little nature hike thing going on, walking the length of the section of the bikeway that runs through our area, through the bushland which swallows it up. We came across a scrub turkey, scratching at a dirt hill as though foraging for food (maybe it has young somewhere near? It is spring here after all). Could be the same one we saw the other day. One day we'll catch it. Din-dins!

1. We spooked this guy and he moved a little.

2. Carefully moving in close to get a pic of this guy.

3. He's just sunning himself.

4. I cautiously moved in closer. His Komodo cousins in Sri Lanka eat people.

5. He soon moved off into that big hole under the tree.
Also, about thirty minutes into our walk, Mrs Speech clutched my hand in a grip of cold icy fear, and I stopped in my tracks, and looked at a massive lizard which lay on the stump of an overturned tree. They're incredibly skittish and this one moved as we passed. I managed to tip toe close and get some pictures though. Then he skittered away. He was just getting some sun I guess.

Today we began gearing up for Mrs Speech's new Etsy shop - Pink Scissor Designs - which she will use to sell her crafty creations. We've not put much up yet - just her Jesse Tree Ornaments, but more is to come. I personally am excited by Christmas already and the Jesse Tree Ornaments are putting me even more in that frame of mind. We took some photos today of what she has done, and broke out our smaller Christmas tree to hang them on.

We've put our Christmas tree up in September.

We got an interesting call today. There's a phenomenon lately here in Australia, maybe in some other western countries, where the Indians call you, and telling you they're calling from "Windows Technical Department". The line's always really shabby, it's like they're on a walkie talkie from Big W. I've never been too
Christmas in September.
far with them but I read a couple years ago that their thing is to get you to look at a certain folder in Windows on your computer. Then, they tut-tut while they tell you that they can see you have lots of malware installed on your computer, and to clean it, please go to xyz website where of course, you can download a program to get rid of all your nasty malware.

What you download puts malware on your computer.

Usually I laugh uproariously at them until they hang up but this time I had a little fun. I asked the woman on the phone if she could hang on. She said yes and I dumped the phone in the next room and made a point to forget about it.

Five minutes later I put the phone to my ear and she was still there. Some twenty minutes later Mrs Speech hung the phone up. Mrs Speech didn't seem all that happy with me, but I say anyone who cold-calls you, attempts to defraud you out of your computer security and gives you a virus, while treating you like an idiot who just fell out of that tree over there, the really big one...gets what they ask for.

That was our day!
Friday, September 14, 2012
For goodness sake, don't drink the water! That's one of the things the sign says.
Mrs Speech and I have lately taken to walking around our suburb.

We started out with a walk around the (very large) block beyond our house, and not so gradually developed into gruelling hikes along grass, dirt, mud and gravel.

We live in a fairly ordinary residential area, with a ton of bushland backing on to it, behind which sits the Gateway Motorway which essentially connects Cairns with Sydney.

Combatting the local wildlife, we've looked thanksgiving dinner in the eye, and admired deadly water, while playing on the swings and sipping Powerade. In the longer, hotter months to come we may need more Powerade.

Our walks have taken us mainly in one direction in our neighbourhood. Our suburb backs on to a lot of bushland so we basically can go left or right once we leave our place.

We're going to show you what happens when we go right, and our walk takes us down a bikeway and through some of the natural beauty of our area. We do these walks around 4:30 - 5pm as the sun dips and the weather cools. It's only just turned spring and already the weather is in the high twenties (high sixties/low seventies).

When we set out, we have to walk down one street, then down another until we get to our local park: Boorabbin Picnic Ground. It's of a picnic ground really, unless you enjoy spreading out the checkered rug under enormous behemoth electrical towers. Me, I like my hair not standing spiked straight up.

I've played basketball here a few times. There's a dog off-leash area where all the pooches get to run wild for a bit and that's always popular.

A lot of Indians tend to make their way here, and some like to kick the soccer ball around or just sit on the edge of the park.

The whole thing is pretty long; you could practice your golf if you wanted to. Mrs Speech and I have played frisbee golf here before.

Bikeways were begun by council in the 90's as a way of getting people out and into some of the beautiful, typically Australian landscape that lies just behind some of Brisbane's suburbs. Obviously they're not always used for biking and can represent a good walk. Around our area they are a link in a chain of parks.

Our bikeway begins on one side of Boorabbin Picnic Ground and continues through it, leaving the park and then threading its way through undeveloped land. Most of which I anticipate will not be undeveloped for long; Brisbane's expansion will probably see a lot of turned into new housing soon.

Yesterday we caught this shot of the magpies (third picture to the left). This time of year, magpies are highly aggressive as they seek to protect their young. They swoop down on you like Messerschmidts on retreating French soldiers and try to make you look as silly as possible as you scurry away in fear. The two in the picture were stationed one on each side of the bikeway as though daring us to try our luck. They moved off and I walked backwards for a minute or two, making sure the little buggers didn't come after us.

A decent twenty or twenty five minute walk takes you through some nice greenery scenery and under Mount Gravatt-Capalaba Road, and then on to Broadwater Park.

Once you get to Broadwater Park you have options. You can amble through the upper park and head back to the main road, which takes you back to our shops, or keep going down the bikeway and possibly brave some rough tracks.

The direction we're going in this post is actually backward to when we walked this the other day.

If you keep going beyond the park, you come to a pretty little Creek (Bulimba Creek) which the local kids sometimes play near with their BMXs and iPods and what-not. I dunno. There is totally wildlife there; check the image for the scrub turkey we found. Mrs Speech's first words were to do with Thanksgiving Dinner being all taken care of. But they're flighty, even if they can't fly, and they're back in the scrub before you can say 'hey, get on our table!'

The next park in the chain is called Cresthaven Park, but if you turn left before you get there you can take what is basically a beaten track in the dirt, back down in the direction of our place. There are a myriad of options for lengthening your walk if you want to, including heading out to the main road, but the track is nice for an off-road gosh-I-need-cross-trainers kind of way. We were wearing flip flops when we did this and that was not fun. Our feet ended up filthy.

The track hugs the outer edge including the oval, of the local primary school and finishes up at what we discovered were the newly-resurfaced and equipped basketball courts at the high school. They're beautiful. Unimaginably impressive.

And with the sunset at our back and the sweat on our brow, another walk comes to an end as we traipse back home.

Today we went the other direction and pounded pavement for almost an hour and a half. But that's another post.