Friday, April 24, 2015

V is for Victory

Today is ANZAC Day. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. April 25 is a national holiday of commemoration to honour members of our Defence Forces who have served, and who are serving our country in the cause of peace. In particular we remember those who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

I am having a right royal time in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, complaining about things, with a couple of experimental exceptions, but today I cannot complain because I feel very grateful. I live in a great country: Australia, and it's great because of the ANZAC spirit which was immortalized on April 25, 1915 at Gallipoli. The Australia and New Zealand soldiers who landed at Gallipoli at dawn on that day, suffered a calamitous defeat. 8000 brave men died. The campaign was an unmitigated disaster, and had no impact at all upon the wider European conflict. However, it spawned the ANZAC legend which is now an intrinsic part of who we are, as Australians and New Zealanders.

We applaud their bravery, and honour their sacrifice on this day. The battle at Gallipoli was lost, but the war was won albeit at an unspeakably high cost. The ANZAC spirit symbolises victory over fear and tyranny. 

No, no complaints from me today. Just thanks. I especially want to mention my late grandad, Victor Rayner, who was a paratrooper in WWII, and my uncle, Alf Cairns, who fought in Vietnam, but to all who served and are serving...thank you.

Honour the fallen. Lest we forget.

The Underwhelming performance of Umbrellas

It's Autumn in Australia, and Autumn is a season typically characterised by increasingly cool mornings and evenings, but pleasant, sunny days, and mild temperatures. However, the weather has recently been much more wintery. At the beginning of the week we had three days of continual rain, storms and chilly temperatures (by Australian standards anyway). It can be very difficult to stay dry when it rains all the time. Difficult? Okay, virtually impossible.

Umbrellas do well in their designated task of protecting one from rain...unless it's windy as well. A gusty, wet day usually sees the demise of many unfortunate rain guardians. It's indiscriminate carnage really. Smaller umbrellas, the type that are convenient to carry in your bag, in case it rains, are the generally the first victims. Larger, sturdier versions are not immune to this destruction either. I lost a dear friend this week, a faithful servant who made the ultimate sacrifice for me. (See picture above right.)

If you get one large and strong enough to give you a hope of real defence, and let's not forget that unless the rain is vertical, you'll still get wet - you are armed with a cumbersome device which makes doing just about anything extremely awkward.

I love it when you get to your car and try to close the umbrella before, or at the same time as, you try to get in. Love that little shower, and the water which flicks all over you car's floor and seats.

When the weather is really appalling, one has to realise the mortal limitations of umbrellas, and just accept the tragic inevitabilities...or somewhat comical outcomes as seen in the video below. I hope the weather is all right wherever you are in this wonderful world of ours.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Tea is Terrific

The experiment commenced on Day 7 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge continues today because the results weren't especially illuminating nor what I was expecting according to my as yet unrevealed theory. To either prove or disprove my theory, I clearly need more evidence. Hence this rather mundane blog about one of my favourite drinks (I have many actually)...tea.

I really love tea but I never have more than three mugs a day. Yes, mugs, I do not drink from tea cups. Although there are billions of varieties of tea, I generally stick to good old fashioned black tea. I'm a teabag guy, (no pots) and I like it strong in the morning, but weak in the afternoon or evening. I take it with one sugar and a little milk. It is generally accompanied by chocolate in one form or another, and sometimes a cigarette, if I am alone.

Now for some fast facts about tea courtesy of 66 Sip-a-licious facts about tea

  1. There are an estimated 1500 different types of tea (my 'billions' was a little off the mark)
  2. Tea is the national drink in Afghanistan and Iran.
  3. Ireland is the largest nation of tea drinkers per capita.
  4. China is the world's largest producer of tea.
  5. Tea is the second most widely consumed drink in the world (you can probably guess number one)
Okay, it's over to you. Share your thoughts on tea, and if you can guess what theory it is I am trying to prove with both my Grape Grapes are Great and Tea posts, I'll give you a digital copy of one of my novels.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Silliness of Soulmates

Are you looking for Mr Right or Mrs. Right? Maybe you have had the good fortune to already have met them, and you are deliriously happy together. You've found your perfect match. The only one for you. Your soul mate.

I wonder how many soul mates have divorced over the years. How many have fallen out of love? How many have come to see that Mr or Mrs. Right was only such for a period of time, not forever and always. I will always love you. Always? Perfect match? Come on. Get serious.

Without wishing to throw a wet blanket over the multitude of starstruck lovers floating around the world on fluffy clouds which smell like strawberries, the fact is that fairy tales are the exception not the rule. Which isn't to say that we shouldn't believe in them, or even aspire to have them. We should, but we should also be realistic enough to accept that we may never find a perfect match, and we may have to settle for, a pretty damn good match. And sometimes, relationships go sour. 

I think the idea of a soul mate is a silly juvenile concept. What do you think?

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ravenous Rain

Quite a title, isn't it? A little incongruous perhaps, but here you are so I achieved my goal by getting your attention.

I get hungry a lot, but I don't eat a great deal in one sitting. Usually, eschewing seconds, and seldom partaking of dessert, I eat until I am comfortable. However, I do eat often, and that can be a real pain sometimes. Variety is the issue you see. Although I have my favourites, you can have too much of a good thing, so I need to find different things to satisfy my ravenousity (new word - don't you love language?) The other problem is timing. Much like toileting, eating is not always possible when the call arrives. Ah, what to do with those awful and overwhelming problems?

As for the rain, well it's been coming down non stop for two days here, and I'm over it. I like rain in small doses, and unaccompanied by cold and biting wind. My umbrella was destroyed yesterday and I am still morbidly distressed. That's enough now, thank you.

Any thoughts on hunger? Or rain?

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Quintessentially Quirky

With a great title like that, I am tempted to leave well enough alone. However, the subject of quaint habits and idiosyncrasies dovetails perfectly with the title of my blog, Square Pegs. We're all just a little bit odd in one way or another, aren't we? Don't we all have funny little practices and affectations? Haven't we all felt our distinctiveness (positive connotation) or weirdness (negative connotation) from time to time? Isn't there just a whiff of Square Peg about each one of us?

Yes. We are individuals; products of both genetics and environment, prone to all manner of esotericism. ( No, I didn't intend to write eroticism- that subject is coming up later in the challenge.) Unique, fresh, one of a kind. 

Rejoice fellow humans in the abundant psychological and physical diversity of our species, and fear not that you occasionally feel like you don't belong. This is not our true's temporary, and for that reason, queer little behaviours do not really matter in the overall scheme of things.

Quirk up my brothers and sisters! Quirk on! Do you have any quirks you'd like to share?

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Private health insurance Problems

Yesterday, I was in hospital again for a planned procedure. Hopefully that will be the end of the matter which started with my visit to the emergency room nearly a month ago. Ambulance Action It was my third admission, and due to the fact that my hospital admission excess of $500 is capped at $1000 per year, I did not have to pay this time. That's good. (So was the sandwich which broke an 11 hour fast, when I woke up after surgery.)

Of course I still have to pay for the surgeon, and as he charges above the scheduled fee, there will be a gap between what Medicare pays, what my health insurance pays, and the total cost. Ah, the dreaded gap. If you think private health insurance will cover everything? Think again.

Two more examples will suffice: I am booked in for another procedure next month (unrelated to previous misadventures). I was offered the choice to have it done in the surgeon's room, under local anaesthetic, or in hospital under general anaesthetic. The procedure costs $708. If I do it in the surgeon's room, I am considered an 'outpatient' and my health insurance won't pay anything. If I choose hospital, I am an 'inpatient' and the insurance will pay about $100. Medicare will pay just over $100 regardless. Either way, I am left once again will a gap fee.

My final example is orthodontia. When asked to explain why they would only pay half of the $7000 bill for my daughter's orthodontic treatment, the insurance company representative said that orthodontia was 'complicated'. What a cop out! What they meant was that they didn't want to pay for it.

Is private health insurance worthwhile? The above examples, and others I could cite would suggest perhaps not. If I paid myself the monthly premium, and put it into a health fund for myself instead of swelling the coffers of the insurance company, would I be any better or worse off? I wonder.

On the plus side, I do get two free pairs of glasses per year, I get pretty good rebates on dentist fees, and if I need to go into hospital I don't have to go on a long waiting list. There is also no charge for ambulance services.

For around $250 per month for me and my family, I think it's probably worth it. What do you think?

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