Rachel's Blog Rachel's Blog: News

Fri, 13 Feb 2009
Handmade Help for VIC Bushfire victims
Handmade Help

Handmade Helps Out is a group of crafty types who have joined forces to make raising money for the Red Cross and Wildlife Victoria more effective. Heaps of craft item sales and auctions are listed on the site with proceeds going to bushfire victims, as well as other ways crafty people can help out.

Have a look through the items, perhaps something will catch your eye. Think about the birthday and other gifts you will want to give this year.

My own felt hanging auction is still open until tomorrow evening, you can bid on it here. In addition to donating the entire proceeds to the Red Cross, I will donate an equal amount to Wildlife Victoria.

Tue, 10 Feb 2009
RRR Toiletries Drive for VIC Bushfire Victims

I have just returned from a couple of hours at the RRR studios in Melbourne this morning sorting some of the toiletries that are being donated so generously by RRR listeners.

When I arrived there were a couple of trestle tables in the perfomance space with donations already over and underneath them. By the time I left the room was like a warehouse and donations are still pouring in.

If you're able to drop items off this afternoon, there is a need for NEW underwear.

Other needed items are nappies, baby wipes, pads (including incontinance and maternity pads), tampons, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap. Clothing and food donations are not being accepted as part of this drive and additionally, all items must be new and unopened.

More information here: RRR Toiletries Drive Wednesday 11 February

Well done and thank you to Clem Bastow who is coordinating the drive and arranging a convoy of vehicles to carry the goods which will leave for affected areas tomorrow.

Sun, 08 Feb 2009
AUCTION: Victorian Bushfire Appeal 2009

This felt wall hanging is being auctioned to raise funds for the victims of the horrendous Victorian bushfires of February 2009.

Bidding is open as of now and the auction will close at 10:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time Sunday 15th February 2009.

The entirety of winning bid will be donated to the Red Cross Victorian Bushfires 2009 Appeal. A copy of the receipt as proof of donation will be sent to the winning bidder.

The hanging will be posted free of charge to the winning bidder if within Australia or at cost to overseas locations.

Living Shroud felt panel

TITLE: "The dark forest moon rising in the last misty evening before the living shroud walks. With cobwebs." Felt Wall Hanging.

MEDIA: Merino and Leicester wool, silk threads and fabric, soy fibres. Cotton backing.

DESCRIPTION: A wall hanging handmade using a wet felt method. Wet felting involves the agitation of raw fibres using soap and water until they bind together into a single piece of fabric. Other than the cotton backing, no sewing or glues were used in the formation of this panel. Due to its somewhat random and unpredictable nature, wet felting results in entirely unique pieces.
This panel shows a gnarled tree with a full moon rising behind. The white foreground 'cobweb' hangs free, giving extra dimension to the work. Silk threads (some of it reclaimed sari fibres) give a sheen and a hint of colour. See here for more detailed images.
The panel measures 40cm (15.5 inches) wide and 38cm (15 inches) high. A pocket in the back allows insertion of a rod (dowel or stick) for hanging, as seen in the photo. For ease of delivery a hanging rod is not included, however coordinating yarn will be, if you wish to copy the hanging method shown. Alternatively the panel could be framed by someone familiar with textile arts.

MINIMUM BID: $5

HOW TO BID: Simply leave a comment on this post with the amount of your bid. Be sure to check back often as you may be outbid, especially towards the end of the week.

You must leave a valid email address when you post your comment so you can be contacted if you win. I solemnly swear not to use any email address for nefarious purposes or pass them onto third parties.

If you have any questions regarding the auction item or the auction process please email me: rachel AT mechanicalcat DOT net.

Thank you and happy bidding!

THIS AUCTION IS NOW CLOSED. THANK YOU TO ALL THE BIDDERS!

Victorian Bushfires 2009

There are now 84 confirmed dead in the bushfires that continue to burn across the state of Victoria tonight. Hundreds of homes have been lost, and hundreds of thousands of hectares of beautiful bushland and farmland destroyed.

It's almost impossible to comprehend. I'm sitting not a 45 minute drive from the devastated Kinglake area, yet I can't even smell the smoke.

Here's what I'm going to do:
Make a donation to the Red Cross Victorian Bushfires 2009 Appeal
Donate blood within the next couple of days.
And I'm going to offer up a felt piece originally made for a different charity auction (it was not bid on at the time).

Living Shroud felt panel

In the next post I will call for bids for the hanging and the high bidder at the time the auction closes gets the goods and the entirety of their winning bid will be donated to the Red Cross Appeal. I'll even cover the postage.

So please spread the word, and look out for more details in the next post.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008
RIP Dorothy Porter
Fri, 13 Apr 2007
Wears pink, smiles demurely.

It's like something out of Woman's Day circa 1948. Except the part about the open-toed shoes.

Wed, 10 Jan 2007
Extra-lucky feet.

Aaaand, we're back! If you missed out, here's where I got so desparate to say something that I posted to Livejournal. Yes, thank you. You can all stop laughing now.

Giant German rabbit

Fat rabbits. I think they'd make great pets. The trouble with pet rabbits is they're forever getting into places they shouldn't. What the world needs is a rabbit that can't fit behind the television to chew the wires or hop under your bed to deposit their smelly little gifts.

Even if they're too big to carry around in little handbags, imagine the potential for tying ribbons on those ears! And collars! A diamante collar for every fat german rabbit, I say.

(via FP)

Thu, 19 Oct 2006
The Shonkys
Feeling tired? Run down? Flat? Then you could drink 10ml of this product’s “bio-available oxygen” once or twice a day and “keep your body topped up with oxygen” for “enhanced quality of life”. Or you could breathe — which is widely regarded as the platinum standard for oxygenating your blood.

To find out more and discover other exciting new shonky products check out the 2006 CHOICE Shonky Awards.

Mon, 28 Aug 2006
Snap Shot Not

I was all set to sign up to Snap Shot City this Saturday. Seems like a great concept, like a cross between an O-week scavenger hunt and the old White Gloves Film Festival; grab a treasure hunt list, liberally interpret it with photos taken around your home town, upload same to the website.
But then I glanced through their terms and conditions:

  • you grant an exclusive licence to Snap-Shot-City to publish, exploit, profit from or otherwise deal with any material you or your teammates upload or submit to the Snap-Shot-City website (or associated websites)

Uh, I don't think so.

Wed, 14 Jun 2006
Don't make me vote Liberal, people.

Are we in Bizarro World?
This is the pre-school education policy Labor should be having right now. Instead of $300 bribes.

Sun, 14 May 2006
Myth of the mundane.
[Howard]'s so pragmatic and mundane it makes him rather difficult to mythologise.

I suppose some vague comfort can be drawn here; once he's gone no one will remember him.

Thu, 11 May 2006
Flexible work hours for parents.
The ability to work hours that allow them to still care for their own children is the single most important factor in women's participation in the paid workforce.

Can't do anything but agree with this.
Cathy Sherry in The Age.

Wed, 26 Apr 2006
Fatal Contagions

From Wired, a look at past scourges of technology and media and the scurrilous effect they have had on susceptible souls.

"The indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced ... at the English Court on Friday last ... It is quite sufficient to cast one's eyes on the voluptuous inter­twining of the limbs, and close com­pressure of the bodies ... to see that it is far indeed removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females. So long as this obscene display was con­fined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is ... forced on the respectable classes of society by the evil example of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion."
- The Times of London, 1816

(via nulldev)

Tue, 18 Apr 2006
Queensbane and Conjure

Got back from Conjure yesterday with my brain functioning at the level of "stuff!" "cool!" "sleep!" and "where do we keep the coffee?" It's slightly better now. It was a great con. Loads of people with ideas, cool people, weird people and at least a couple of guys who are all three.

As for the individual panels, I focussed on the science and tech ones, rather than the fannish and fantasy side. I'm still processing a bunch of ideas, so ask me about them sometime if you're interested.

The Masquerade was suitably dorky, the bar tab was a pleasant surprise, the Ditmars needed dancing boys (congrats to the nominees and winners anyway), and it all ran super smoothly. I had a great time, thanks to Kate Eltham and the whole Conjure team.

Gary Kemble at the ABC has blogged a lot of the con at Articulate.

Brislandia is a nice enough city. I'd visit again. Good food, crap beverages. Mostly I saw the inside of a couple of hotels, but Southbank and the Roma St Parklands are green and happy places.

(I'm not usually an autograph hound, but I couldn't resist asking Cory to sign my laptop.)

Sat, 25 Mar 2006
Monkey bars, but no bananas

Good news for parents of young kids:
Fed-up parents push for child care choice

Bad news for parents of young kids:
No Bananas for Nine Months

Thu, 23 Feb 2006
Rampant Individualism

How much is the rampant individualism encouraged by the Howard government responsible for the current delay and decline in childbearing or wanting that they are now trying to counter? A lot I suspect.

Tue, 21 Feb 2006
Lawer threatens ritter

The best part of this exchange between Cory Doctorow and a mystery "lawer" regarding a post about a case of Bad Samaritanitis, is the invention of the word "deflamorty".

Mon, 13 Feb 2006
Make them notice: child care and feminism.

Sonja Hood has an opinion piece in The Age today, What's being done about the lack of child care? She asks

[W]hat about the skilled women who are waiting at home for someone to notice that they are missing from the workforce?

The response is: what about them? No one is going to notice. Women are not wanted in the majority of workplaces and certainly won't be missed if they aren't there.

The extreme apathy of Australians has allowed, not only the rise of these human-unfriendly local, state and federal governments, but a reversion to post-WWII gender attitudes across the board. Government may claim that the marketplace will provide adequate child care places if there is a demand for it. But there is a demand and it's not being met. Perhaps this is due to the perceived femininity of caring for children. (Clearly an opinion held by people who have never looked after a screaming, sick toddler. One of the least feminine things I have ever done.) What group of money-hungry entrepreneurs is going to start a child care centre for goodness sake? That's not to suggest that what childcare needs is a wisecracking marketing team to make it more "macho". What it means is that the care of the young befalls to the community. Which should equal government. The trouble is that these governments, instead of taking care of Australians, have turned their sights to money-hungriness themselves.

In Port Phillip, fees in council centres are set to rise to $73 a day, as the council withdraws all direct and indirect funding to child-care centres, passing on all costs to parents. This is an increase of 71 per cent in the past two years.

So all things being unequal, what's to be done? Noise. Lots of noise. We need to teach our daughters and sons, and each other, that feminism is not in the past. It's relevant now. We may need to keep shouting out the achievements of feminists in the 1960s and 70s (and 1900s...), but we also need to shout out the new agenda. And that requires more energy, not less. Stop waiting for someone to notice; make them notice.

Tue, 31 Jan 2006
Mind your manners, potty mouth
Prime Minister John Howard has backed calls by NSW Chief Justice James Spigelman for Australians to improve their manners.
"I think we have seen a marked deterioration in good manners," Mr Howard told reporters.

Next he'll be telling us to take our elbows off the table, wear gloves while dancing, and respect our elders.

"There is language used now on television that some people find offensive ..."

One of the most offensive phrases currently in use on television, and elsewhere, is "Prime Minister John Howard".

Mon, 16 Jan 2006
Child-care debate roundup

There's more in The Age today on the child-care funding debate. By "debate", I mean a bunch of women across the political spectrum are clamouring for sweeping changes to the way childcare works to boost the flexibility, access and affordability of child care. With which I have no argument at all. Although some policies or strategies for change might be nice to read.

Victorian Liberal senator Judith Troeth said better child-care access should be a priority. ... "If the Government is serious about higher levels of productivity and getting and keeping women in the workforce, we should make child-care funding a higher priority."

That's an oxymoron, given the current government's Victorian-era atitudes. Howard wants both a productive economy, which necessitates as many people in the workforce as possible right now, but he wants women to a) have more kids to bolster workforce numbers in the future and b) stay at home to raise them.

For the record, what I want in child-care is a subsidised place in a high quality facility with loads of highly trained, well compensated staff and an onsite museum (while wishes are horses). Abbey would go for two or three half days a week and we'd both gain enormously from it. I'd get the time I need to work on building up my skills and career, Abbey would get valuable social interaction.

But we're not going to get anything even remotely close to that until Abbey turns three and can attend kindergarten (for which we have applied, have no guarantee of a place and for which we have to pay for in full). Until then we'll try not to get on each other's nerves too much as I balance my sanity against the amount of television Abbey watches.

Barrie Elvish has a lot more to say on the subject at The Courier Mail - well worth reading.
Vicki Dunne wants to extend subsidies to parents who stay at home - hear, hear!
Bronwyn Bishop recommends subsidies include nannies and other private care, which sounds elitist until you remember that health care and emergency services run on shifts, so who else would care for their kids overnight?
This transcript of the 7.30 Report's report includes some nasty numbers:

Australian mothers now have one of the lowest employment rates among OECD countries.
In the year to September 2005, the price of child care jumped 9.1%. That's more than three times the official inflation rate. Only the price of pork and petrol rose more than child care.

Ceridwen Spark's quality opinion piece in The Age last week.

Costello's a moron. It's easy to see where the government's attitudes lie (somewhere in the 1950s) when increased child-care to him means after-school care. Stay home while they're young, but once your kids are in school get back into the 9-5 workforce, slackers! And if he's so concerned about "bad television habits" and that "younger kids are getting chubbier, no doubt about that", why isn't eliminating junk food advertising on television during children's programming on the agenda? (Or all advertising for that matter. Or all television. Yeah, that's it. No need for television when we have the almighty Internet. But the internet is for porn.* Oh, I give up.)

*Yes, that is a very worksafe link, unless your workplace has no sense of humour. (I'm shocked that you would think otherwise, coming from me.)