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The Muse…

Breaking Free From Society's Chains

Journalists are often perceived by the public as only interested in getting the “truth” and willing to do anything to get it.
Perhaps this perception comes from what the New York Times Chief of Staff, John Winton said in 1956, when describing Journalists.
“The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the tolls and the vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities, and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.”
This is not how Journalists wish to be perceived, and the role of the Journalist, according to the Media Entertainment Arts Alliance, is to  “respect the truth and the public’s right to information. Journalists describe society to itself. They convey information, ideas and opinions. They search, disclose, record, question, entertain, comment, and remember. They inform citizens and animate democracy. They give a practical form of freedom of expression, They scrutinise
power, but also exercise it, and should be responsible and accountable.”
Although Journalists do have a responsibility to report what they feel is in the publics interest they also have a set of guidelines to obey. The Journalism Code of Ethics was created in 1944, and  is a self-regulated code, designed by the MEAA. To break any of the codes can result in being fined, and even expelled from the MEAA.
Journalists can find themselves in legal entangles, and one of the common areas is defamation. Others include discrimination, contempt, and plagiarism.
One should recall the 2003 Jayson Blair Scandal, in which the New York Times was embroiled in Plagarism allegations. Jayson Blair, a reporter for the New York Times was charged with plagiarism. This led to the public asking how many more Journalists at the New York Times have plagiarised. And in actual fact another New York Times reporter, and Pulitzer Prize winner, Rick Bragg was also charged with plagiarism around the same time.
Not only was this a legal issue that could tarnish the reputations of other Journalists at the New York Times, but it also had the public asking how easy is it for a Journalist to pull information off the Internet, and claim it as their own.
Journalists  will disobey the code of ethics, and with that comes legal consequences.
A situation in 1995, also resulted in a review of the Australian Journalists’ Code of Ethics.
Channel Nine’s A Current Affair (ACA) reported a story relating to a gunman who was holding children hostage. A siege developed, with the house surrounded by police and special taskforce members. A Current Affair directly disobeyed Police orders by telephoning the Gunman and Mike Willisee, the host of ACA at the time, conducted an interview with the man, as well as one of the children being held hostage. The child was put at great risk, and the police operation was jeopardised, but the TV channel management thought it was a great idea for a story. There was a lot of public outcry and debate following this situation. Subsequently the station was also fined.
It resulted in adding to the Code of Ethics the protection of others, but also outlined that while Journalists have the right to exercise the freedom of expression they also have a social responsible to protect.
This, in turn, leads to how Commercialism is affecting Journalism. While it is expected for Journalists to report to the public, more and more so it’s becoming just as important for Journalists to contribute profit to the newspaper they work for. And how far are they willing to go to gain profit?
On 23rd August 1999 Channel Nine’s ACA found missing Alaskan fire-fighter Robert Bogucki, who was lost in the Great Sandy Desert. Instead of notifying authorities the crew waited 45 minutes so they could film him.
Despite the fact he was badly in need of medical help, Bogucki was made to wear a Channel Nine T-shirt and asked to walk around. He was then given a banana to eat, and left to vomit while the Channel Nine crew filmed him from their helicopter. These pictures were used as the ‘first sighting’.
It is situations like this that project the image of the ruthless Journalist, not thinking about anything but getting the scoop before the rest of the media.
Chequebook Journalism is becoming increasing popular in the media. While it is not illegal, it does question the ethics of Journalists, and their credibility. Journalists are paying extraordinary amounts to get the ‘scoop’ and sole rights to stories. But the issue is if the Journalists are paying for the story how does the public know whether the story is true? Are those being paid only telling a Journalist what they want to hear? This is certainly the issue where informants are concerned.
Advertisers can also increase pressures on Journalists by refusing to advertise with newspapers if  they are written about in an unfavourable light. There is also the problem of Journalists writing stories that look like news stories but are in fact written to compliment an advertisement for that paper.
One of the major problems in the media today is the controversy of Media Ownership. Publishing and Broadcast Limited (PBL) and News Limited own the majority of Media Outlets in Australia, and have attempted on many occasions to change the regulations of Media Ownership, so they may own more.
This is a constant concern for Journalists, because if News Limited and PBL controlled the media outlets, not only would the options for Journalists who didn’t want to work for those two companies be reduced to zero, but Journalists question whether the media outlets would be used to promote other businesses.
More importantly it would result in self-censorship by Journalists, and the stories would not be considered fair or open reporting.
The Productivity Commission has repeatedly rejected applications by both companies, stating that their business and editorial interests would influence the content and opinion of their media outlets.
It is in the public interest to ensure the diversity of information and opinion, and encouraging freedom of expression in Australia media, leads to a stronger preference for more media proprietors rather than fewer.
Unfortunately for Journalists Media Ownership has already made an impact on what is circulated in the media. An example of this is the way News Limited wrote on the Iraq war. Everything they wrote about was generally in favour of the war, and not so surprising was that Murdoch’s stance on the war on Iraq was in favour of it.
Journalists and their roles in wartime tend to change. The information divulged to the media is often from the Government, and is only what the Government wishes to tell the Media.
This make it hard for a Journalist to find out the truth, even those who are embedded with troops are only told what the military wants them to know.
This could be considered manipulation of the media by the Military, as in a sense they are controlling the media.
This manipulation was evident in the Private Lynch situation. The Media and the public were duped into believing that U.S Marines saved Private Lynch from torture, where in actual fact it was a PR exercise for the U.S Military. Lynch had not only not be stabbed as the media was told, but the footage of her being ‘rescued’ had also been edited.
It was only discovered that the whole situation was a farce when Correspondent was approached by a doctor who looked after her.
Another problem with Journalists embedded during wartime is the fact more often than not the camera footage that the public sees is footage that has been handed to the media from the military.
Technology has changed the role of the Journalist, cutting out the middle-man.  No longer are they just the reporter, but often the photographer, and the editor too.
Computer technology has changed a Journalist’s roles. Not only may they now be expected to write an article for print but also for online.
Technology such as the Internet can be a good and a bad thing for a Journalist. One of the benefits of the Internet for a Journalist is being able to research quickly, conduct e-mail interviews and video-conferencing interviews. They can also use social mediums such as Twitter to get their voices and stories heard.
Unfortunately it has also caused problems for Journalists. There is the increasingly blurred line between editorials and advertising. Advertising takes on a more dominant role than news on web pages and Journalists are concerned over what is editorials and what is advertising.
Another problem for Journalists is the credibility and accuracy of the news distributed online.
With on-line newspapers often there is very little staff available, and without staff there is no time to check or verify news stories.
The Media and Politicians generally work together to make news. Both of them need each other for some reason or another, yet there are times where relationships can become strained.
Where Politicians are concerned the media tend to look at the negative side of them.
In Canberra a Journalist can make or break the career of a Politician, and the same can be said for what a Politician can do to a Journalist.
An example was the situation between Laurie Oakes and Cheryl Kernot. It was revealed by Oakes that Cheryl Kernot was having an affair with Gareth Evans. This situation brings forth the question of ethics again. Did Laurie Oakes tell the public because it was in the publics interest, or was it revealed because of what Kernot had said about Oakes in her book?
Politicians can also have an impact on Journalists through DA-Notices. The DA-Notice means that the Australian Government has the power to decide if information should be put out into the public, or whether it is crucial to National Security. They can place DA-Notices on newspapers, which is censoring them.
Anti-Terrorism Laws, enacted after September 11 and after the Bali Bombings now mean that anyone who has information on what may be deemed as terrorism activity has to reveal this information. To do not would result in arrest.
This has changed the face of Journalism in some retrospects, and they could even be considered as in the same category as not revealing sources.
Journalists in Australia already go to jail for not revealing their sources because of lack of Shield Laws. Anti-Terrorism law such as these, while lawful and understandable, are still an infringement on confidentiality, and also in a sense are self-censorship.
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Love. It’s a word that is often bandied about. Sometimes we say it too much and sometimes we don’t say it enough. There are those people who can’t wait to fall in love and live for the day when they will find that perfect someone. Then there are those who will do anything to avoid falling in love.

 

Everyone has their own belief and definition of love. The truth is while love is often defined as how we feel, it also defines us. It shows people who we really are, what we believe in and what we feel. It can be summed up with just one word. Nor should it be.

 

My own definition of love is pretty simple:

 

Love is when you feel pain at the sight of your lover hurt, whether it’s physically or emotionally. All you know is that you want to comfort them, and soothe all their pain away.

 

Love is when you would walk through hell on earth to get to them.

 

It’s when you’re standing in the pouring rain, wrapped up in each other’s arms, and not even aware that it’s raining.

 

It’s when ever after years together his kisses still leave you breathless.

 

It’s when big monumental efforts don’t mean as much as the little things that he does for you like making you coffee in the morning because he knows you can’t function with out.

 

It’s when every word, and every action can cut that little bit deeper when you fight.

 

When you would do everything in your power to hold them that one last time, and when you know the letting go, while even harder, is the right thing to do.

 

It’s staying up all night long talking about anything and everything, without realising that time has slipped from night into day.

 

It’s being able to say everything without words, and only the slightest of touches.

 

Love is when every breath he takes becomes your breath, every heartbreak becomes your heartbreak, every tear your tear.


It’s making love all night, and when you don’t have to make love all night to prove that you love each other or even want each other.

 

It’s walking hand in hand on the beach on a warm summer’s night, and not needing words to enjoy each other’s company.

 

It’s hugging them just when they need that one hug, or two.

 

It’s listening to them when they just need to talk, and to get that angst out.

 

It’s cancelling plans with your friends because they need you with them tonight.

 

It’s looking at them one day and realising that you no longer notice the bad things about them because their good outweighs everything.

 

It’s hot kisses on rainy, winter mornings.
It’s cold kisses on hot summer nights.

 

Love is travelling halfway around the world to be with them, even if it means only sharing a few hours together before you have to leave again.

 

It’s waking up one morning and realising that you no longer have those fuzzy feelings for an ex.

 

It’s feeling at peace with yourself because you feel truly blessed to be with that special someone.

 

It’s accepting his family without questions, and his accepting yours without questions.

 

It’s accepting his friends, even the ones who joke how bad you are for each other.
It’s not listening to those friends of his or your own, who are forever trying to break you up or tell you that you can both do better.

 

Love is just being able to hold each other close and share each other’s grief after you have miscarried the child you both hadn’t been ready for, and didn’t realise how desperately you wanted until you’d lost it.

 

It’s when you can use your partner’s body to warm your frozen feet without his complaints.

 

It’s when just a smile from your loved one is the sunshine through your darkest day.

 

It’s weathering the storm, and knowing as soon as you see your special someone that you’re going to be okay.

 

It’s support. It’s constantly being told when you are in doubt of your own worth that you are truly beautiful.

It’s someone telling you they’d love you no matter what size you are, despite the fact you suspect they’re lying.

 

It’s not words read out aloud, not poetry, written songs or flowery words but honest words that come straight from the heart.

 

It’s being able to honestly tell that special someone exactly what you thought of them the first time you met them.

 

It’s the feeling of struck lightning from the very first moment.

 

It’s connecting with someone, and feeling like you have known them for a lifetime, and wanting to know them for another lifetime.

 

Love is being completely oblivious to your surroundings, and not caring where you are as long as you’re together.

 

It’s defending your partner against anything that comes his way, and fighting side by side with them.

 

It’s heroes allowing heroines to sweep them off their feet.

 

It’s the knowledge you would die for them.

 

It’s realising you want to spend the rest of your life with them.

 

It’s when you know despite the arguments, despite the tears and fears, you’d fight hell to hold them.

 

Love is when forever isn’t long enough.

 

 

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January 8th would have been Elvis Presley’s 76th Birthday.  It’s hard to believe that he, along with the likes of John Lennon would be that old. It kind of makes you wonder whether he would have approved on today’s music, or even if he would still be contributing.

Elvis, or the King of Rock N Roll as he is famously known as, was a trail blazer in his own right. Considered one of the pioneers of today’s pop culture, he had a voice that was both distinctive and versatile. While many musicians tend to stick to one genre, Elvis was renowned for his versatility and for crossing the many musical genres. His music covered country, gospel, rock, blues and pop.

Known mainly for his singing career, Elvis was also an actor and starred in over 30 films – nearly all of which he was the headline act. Unfortunately bad film choices and poorly written scripts did not allow critics to consider Elvis the serious actor that he would have liked to have been seen as.

His poor movies choices aside, Elvis is still one of the biggest selling artists of all time and thanks to the smarts of Priscilla Presley, Elvis Presley and Graceland are a multimillion dollar enterprise.  Graceland, alone, sees fans from all over the world flocking to catch a glimpse of the home of the King in all its glory and excess.

To commemorate the life, the talent and the impact of Elvis music on pop culture of today, I’ve put together a top ten list of the Elvis songs that should be on your ipod.

01. ‘Suspicious Minds’

Written by songwriter Mark James, ‘Suspicious Minds’ is considered the single that shot Presley back into stardom. . At a time when his career was starting to flag, Presley performed ‘Suspicious Minds’ shortly after his ’68 comeback special. The single, released in 1969, rocketed to number #1 and would be his final #1 single in the United States.

A song about mistrust and dysfunctional relationships, ‘Suspicious Minds’ has been re-recorded by many artists over time including Dwight Yoakum, but none do it better than Elvis.

02. ‘Kentucky Rain’

Released in 1970, ‘Kentucky Rain’ was a hit song for Elvis that peaked at #16 in the charts. While it was released as a single, it only appeared on his compilation album Worldwide 50 Gold Award Hits Vol 1.

While it’s considered it a hit song, it seems to be a lesser known one – often missed from the many, many greatest Package hits that have been released since his death in 1977. One of the reasons this song stands out with its beautifully written lyrics and could be categorized as a cross between country and pop. It’s without a doubt one of the finer performances of Elvis in his later years.

03. ‘Hound Dog’

‘Hound Dog’ was released as a B Side to ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ in 1956  and is one of his most famous songs. Originally recorded by Big Mama Thornton, it is Elvis’s version that is the more well-known. The overall success of both ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ and ‘Hound Dog’ as it’s B-Side saw the single reissued as a Double A Side. It has been ranked #19 on Rolling Stone’s ‘500 Greatest songs of all time’ and appeared on numerous motion soundtracks including Forrest Gump and A Few Good Men.

‘Hound Dog’ sold 4 million copies on its initial release and spent 11 weeks at #1 in 1956. A rollicking song, Elvis’ performance of it live on shows such as Ed Sullivan saw him dubbed as Elvis the Pelvis.

04. ‘In The Ghetto’

Written by Mac Davis and released in 1969, ‘In the Ghetto’ is a sad narrative of a young boy born in the ghetto, only to grow up to steal, fight and eventually die as another child is born. The songs undertones imply that the newborn’s fate will be identical.

‘In the Ghetto’ reached #3 on the U.S Charts and was Elvis’ first top ten hit in four years. One of his more poignant songs and his soulful voice complements this sorrowful tale of fate, resignation and despair. Backed by a well orchestrated arrangement and soulful backing vocals, this song is not to be missed.

05. ‘Jailhouse Rock’

A hit single for Elvis in 1957, it was released to coincide with Elvis’ film by the same name.  ‘Jailhouse Rock’ was a #1 hit in the U.S for seven weeks and a #1 hit in the UK for three weeks. It was released again in 2005 in the UK and shot to #1 immediately before dropping in the charts after a week.

The song’s writers Leiber and Stoller had previously written for Elvis and were considered amongst the greatest songwriters during the rock n roll era and ‘Jailhouse Rock’ is no exception. With its two note guitar riffs, frantic verses, ‘Jailhouse Rock’ shows Elvis had attitude and simply that he could hold his own, especially in his earlier years.

06. ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’

Taken off Blue Hawaii, ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ was released in 1961 was a hit single for Elvis. Since then it has been covered many times, although none so popular as UB40’s version of it, which saw it a hit single in 1993/1994.

Considered one of Elvis’ more heartfelt songs, was also the first indication that the King’s material was maturing. This was also the song Elvis opted to use for his finale song during his live concerts in the late sixties and seventies.

07. ‘Return to Sender’

A hit for Elvis in 1962, ‘Return to Sender’ tells the tale about a man sending a letter to his girlfriend after an argument, only for her to repeatedly write return to sender on his letters.  He keeps mailing letters, unable to accept that it is over despite his letters returning with address unknown and no such person marked on them.

‘Return to Sender’ was a hit worldwide, reaching #1 in the UK, #2 on the US charts and #1 in Ireland.

The song is recognizable for its opening bars with its baritone saxophone and is no doubt one of Elvis’ catchier tunes.

08. ‘Are you Lonesome Tonight’

This is one of the most depressing songs Elvis recorded, but it is also one of his most notable. Recorded by Elvis in 1960, at Colonel Parker’s persuasion (It was apparently his wife’s favorite song), his vocals are precise and there is an intimacy to this slow ballad that is not often on others. Perhaps it is the smoldering way Elvis delivers the spoken lyrics All the world’s a stage, and all men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts’ or perhaps it is just the solemnity of it. Whatever it was, it works beautifully and it’s not surprising it was one of the biggest selling hits of the 1960s.

09. ‘Viva Las Vegas’

You can’t have an Elvis top ten list without ‘Viva Las Vegas’, especially since this is Elvis signature tune- whether he wanted it or not.  Recorded in 1964 and released in conjunction with the film of (surprise surprise) the same name, ‘Viva Las Vegas’ has been recorded many times over by other artists and is the most widely known Elvis song. Anyone who listens to ‘Viva Las Vegas’ automatically links it to Elvis, which is probably due to his bold live costumes and outrageous style.

A fast-paced tune, it is a delightful listen and one that generates the urge to turn the song up loud and sing-along. Be mindful that singing along while striking the Elvis pose, on a train, may get you strange looks. You might even possibly get locked up. This is the impact this song will have on you. Strangely infectious, the term Viva Las Vegas tends to ignite joy to one’s heart and the urge to shake your hips.

10.Always On My Mind’

I’ve left what I consider the best for last. Released in 1972, it was originally recorded by Brenda Lee and has been covered by many artists since including Willie Nelson, who won best male performance for his rendition.

While it was recorded as a B-side, it still reached #16 on the U.S charts and in my eyes, blows the A-side single ‘Separate Way’s out of the water. At a time where Elvis was beginning to feel the effects of his hard living lifestyle, this song really shows a more poignant and mature side to Elvis. There is also a hint of sadness and resignation to Elvis’ voice and makes the song a little more heartbreaking.

A personal song, ‘Always On My Mind’ could be seen as a reflection of Elvis’ relationships and the toll his career took on him both professionally and personally. Either way, it is a stellar song and one well worthy of this list.

Elvis Presley should be remembered for his music and the impact that he had on music. Like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, he has influenced the style of many artists of today and there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that he should be considered one of the greatest musicians of all time. While people prefer to remember him as the sleek sexy creature in the black leather jumpsuit instead of the overweight rhinestone clad tragedy of his later years, it should be remembered that he still could perform as magically live as he did in his younger years.

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I’m a huge fan of The Bucket List I love the film and the whole concept of making a list of everything that you want to do before you kick the bucket, so to speak. I watched the film again last night and it got me thinking about all the things I want to do before I die. So, I decided to write my own list.

 

Anyone who knows me knows lists are not a hard feat for me. In fact, I thrive on them. I’m that sort of person. Some call it anal retentive. I call it organised. Sittng down today, chewing on my pen,  (a bad habit that can be quite disgusting especially when the pen leaks) it struck me that it’s not that easy a list to make.

 

In deciding what you want to do before you kick the bucket, do you write all the girly things most girls dream about? To meet Prince Charming, get swept off your feet for the perfect white wedding, have the 2.5 children and the white picket fence? Or go for something a little more adventurous?

 

Personally, I was never a big fan of Prince Charming so opted to cross marriage from the list. It was quite easy to do – surprisingly easy, in fact. Maybe it’s because I never wanted to grow up, get married and raise a family. I applaud all those girls who dream this, but that’s not my dream. Actually I was quite the opposite. I didn’t want to get married and be the perfect little wife. I didn’t want a big wedding. I didn’t want a parcel of kids and to be the soccer mom that my mom constantly wishes I will become.

My main reason for omitting marriage and kids from the list is this: Marriage should not be on any list let alone a bucket list. If it’s going to happen then it’s going to happen to you and if it doesn’t then you’ll survive it. The same can be said for kids.

 

So, I bet you’re wondering what the hell does a girl like me put on my bucket list?

 

To Get Published

 

This means more to me than anything in this whole world. I’ve been published before. I’ve written feature articles, reviews and interviewed musicians for magazines all over the world – including Brazil, Australia and the United States. I’ve been published for my photography – it’s been in coffee table books and in Canadian Magazines. That’s not the kind of published I mean. I want to be a published author.  As in a best-selling novelist who has more than one book inside of her and wows people with her literary brilliance.

 

I dream of getting published like some girls dream of white weddings. I know it’s going to happen someday, it’s just a matter of when. As I’m getting closer and closer to finishing ‘Nowhere to Run’, it’s beginning to dawn on me that this could possibly happen. And, it terrifies me, but I guess it is one thing that I can cross off my list.

 

Move Overseas

 

Ok, I guess I have an unfair advantage.  I’ve done this already. The truth is – this one kind of goes hand in hand with the top one. My main aim is to get published within the United States, which of course means moving over there. I love the United States. In fact, I have more of an affiliation with it than I do my own birth country. I’ve never known what the connection was but maybe it was cemented by the fact I fell in love for the first time in California. Some of my first experiences happened there and they’ve stayed with me.

 

It just seems like a sane and normal decision to move over there, especially when my novels are set there. Nowhere to Run is set in Los Angeles and the second in the series is to be set in New Orleans. The third of the series will be in Texas and the fourth in New York. You get the gist of it but this means I plan on spending a lot of time in those states and cities working on the novels.

I’m not going to deny that part of the appeal comes from spending as little time as possible with my family. Don’t get me wrong. I love my family. I just love them so much more when they’re millions of miles away. This is another one I plan on ticking off either this year or next year. It may not happen straight away but it will happen.

 

Get Inked

 

I love tattoos. I love the designs, the colors and the symbolism behind them all. If you asked anyone a reason for their tatto, more often than not there is a cute little story that can be shared. For example, a friend of mine has the word darkness tattooed on her foot. She got darkness because she believes the word reflects her and is acknowledging that there is a little bit of darkness within her. I love the fact she is bold enough to go ahead and say it, knowing people will often look and wonder what the hell it means. She either explains why she chose darkness or lets them surmise it for themselves. The tattoo lends a little mystery in some respects.

 

I’m still trying to decide what to get, but I’ve decided where I want it. I want it either on my shoulder or on my lower back. I’m just not sure what yet and have been deliberating on a few things. I already have a fairy under a toadstool and some initials on my body.

The first tattoo was a drunken mistake but I don’t regret it and it’s one my parents still don’t know about. I’d like to keep it that way. The second tattoo was my ode to my first love of my life. No, not rock n roll although I have thought about getting a musical note but maybe that will be the next one.

 

The thing about tattoos is that you need to really be clear about what you want because you are stuck with them for life. One rash decision and you’re stuck with a butterfly on your ass for life or even worse an ex girlfriend’s name that has to be changed to wino – a term not exactly complimentary in any way.

 

The Valley of Kings

 

I love Egypt or, as it would happen, Egyptian History. The tales of Cleopatra and the Egyptian Kings such as Ramses or Tutankhamen have always fascinated me. I can’t explain it, but it’s almost as fascinating to me as Henry the VIII is. In fact, I love most history, but to me Egyptian is riveting.

 

One of my biggest dreams is to visit the Valley of Kings- not just because it is enriched with Egyptian History but because it is an archaeological wonder. This is a site that for 500 years has held the tombs of some of the Greatest Egyptian Kings and Queens of all time.

I love travelling of any sort and find Europe so amazingly beautiful because it is so enriched with history and marks of the old world but Egypt is it for me. I want to immerse myself in the history, the religion and experience it all. So the Valley of Kings is on my To Do List.

 

To obtain and maintain the perfect body

 

Anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with the body beautiful or my desire to have the perfect body.

 

I know that this is a New Year’s Resolution to that most people blurt out in a moment of haste and instantly forget as soon as they’re reaching for the remote control and the last piece of fried chicken. Not me. I actually hate New Year Resolutions but this year decided if I was going to get anywhere, I was going to need to suck it up and make them. So, I’ve decided to drop the 9 kilos I want to lose (18 pounds for those who refuse to switch metric systems like everyone else) and tone up to have a killer body.

 

I used to have a wee eating issue about 4 years ago called Anorexia. It’s one of those issues that never leaves you completely but you learn to live with it and sometimes you get fat, freak out and lose it again only to start the cycle again.

 

Either way, I’ve decided one of the things I want to achieve before I pass on and say goodbye to this bad-ass world is to have a body that even I would be proud of.

 

The Kokoda Trail

 

Call me crazy but one of my biggest aspirations is to trek the Kokoda trail. Yes, I know while some of you may think that this is 98kms of pure hell, but to me it would be a trek of a lifetime.

 

Firstly, photographically it would be awe-inspiring. My shutter finger is almost trembling with anticipation of the breathtaking shots that would be taken.

 

Secondly- it is a walk through history. For those who don’t know their Australian history, a series of battles were fought between the Australian and Japanese forces on the track. It’s a tourist hot spot for Australians, and each year thousands make the pilgrimage.

 

Thirdly- the physical and mental endurance would be a challenge that no fitness freak could resist. It can take between 4 days to 12 to complete but I’m sure every moment spent camping out – something I loathe with a fiery passion- would be worth it in the end.

 

Visit all 50 States of the U.S

 

I love road trips. I kid you not. There’s nothing more satisfying than rolling down the window, turning up the music and just driving off into the unknown during the summer. One of my favorite memories of the first time I ever decided to go overseas by myself. I decided to head to the States and road trip around California. I had planned on short trip that lasted a little longer. I spent the first three months travelling around California by car, bus, train- any mode of transportation I could get before eventually settling in San Francisco and Los Angeles. It was a blast – an unforgettable journey, with memories that still make me want to laugh, cry or smirk.

 

Since then I’ve been to Nevada, Texas, New York and a few other wonderful places but my idea of heaven would be to travel right throughout the states either on one large road trip or a little at a time.

 

I managed to cover a lot of them last year. I think I must have visited about 20+ states and had the time of my life doing so. I can’t wait to see more. I foresee a lot of road trips once I make the permanent move to the States.

 

Establish myself as a Photographer

 

I love photography. I have since I was little and rarely remember a time when I didn’t have a camera of some sorts in my hand. I currently own 7 and just ordered my first professional camera- a Canon EOS 1000D with three extra lenses. It cost a pretty penny, but it is going to be worth it if I can establish myself as a photographer.

 

I’ve always loved being behind a camera more than I’ve liked being in front of one. Photography triggers so much emotion in me. Maybe it’s my eye as an artist that allows me to see so many things differently- not just as a writer but as a photographer.

 

I’ve been lucky enough to be published in a couple of coffee table books as well as in Aqua Pulse but I want to really build a photography folio. Luckily I have friends and family who allow me to play with them- be warned friends I plan on playing a lot more once I get my new camera.

 

One of my biggest dreams is to make a name for myself in photography as well as writing. Not just to have something to fall back on but because it is a genuine pleasure of mine.

It’s just one more profession I’d like to play with before I die, I guess.

 

Start My Own Business and Establish it

 

This has sorted of already been started in some form. In 2009 Muses II Media was formed with a fellow writer and friend Melissa. We’re not sure where we want to take it, but I know whatever we decide to do would be brilliant. We just need to get our acts together. Lately, the only thing that has consumed me has been writing Nowhere to Run and getting my new blog facingtheanimal up and running.

2010 shall be our year to kick some serious ass in every direction.

 

Learn How To Love Myself

 

This is probably one of the most important aspects of the list and the one I have failed to achieve on so many different levels.

 

I’m self-destructive, have a self-loathing that is legendary to most of my friends and my biggest critics but I’ve decided that now is the time to make changes to my life and learn how to love myself. I’ve always believed that if I can’t love myself than how could anyone else?

It’s a question I still ponder.

 

So, those are the top ten of my bucket list of what I want to do before I do. My challenge to all you fine folk is to work out what your top ten bucket items are and why?

It could be that you want to get married, become a parent or want to travel to Atlantis or the end of the earth.

Drop me a line and let me know.

 

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Diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases in the world. With an increase in obesity, it is no surprise that about 246 million people in the world have diabetes – a number that is expected to increase to 380 by 2025.

A chronic condition, Diabetes is incurable and is caused when ones blood glucose is too high. Diabetes is often a disease that many people are either uninformed about or one in which people are confused by. Many people do not realize that in being diagnosed with diabetes, their lifestyle needs to be reevaluated and in many cases changed completely.

While there is no cure for Diabetes, it is manageable. Many believe that if you are a diabetic you need to ‘diet’ however this is not the case. It just means that instead of eating what is right in front of you, a healthier alternative is required.

Many people suffer a range of emotions when first diagnosed with diabetes- the most common reaction being anger and denial. There may also be a period in which you feel depressed. However having diabetes is not the end of the world and while you may believe that your life is over, this is not the case. All it means is that your life has taken a new direction and even though you may disbelieve it at first, it is one that can be managed successfully. The first step is to understanding your body and what having diabetes means.

Whether we like to believe it or not, we really are what we eat.  Our bodies need protein to build and maintain tissues, god fats to function and carbohydrates as our energy source.  When we eat carbohydrates, our bodies convert it into glucose. Glucose becomes the fuel circulating in our bloodstream.

Glucose plays an important role in maintaining our bodies. It is the primary fuel source for the brain and red blood cells and is the main source of energy when we exercise.

In a healthy person glucose levels rise after a meal and sends a message to secrete a hormone called insulin.  Insulin drives glucose out of the blood and into cells. Sometimes glucose build up in the blood- this can be caused from the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin or it can be caused by cells not responding to the insulin. This can result in Diabetes or Pre-Diabetes.  Other factors that can contribute to someone developing diabetes can depend on how active you are and also how much you weigh.

There are three types of diabetes Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational Diabetes. While the symptoms can appear as the same, the causes can be very different.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease and is the most common disease among children.  Type 1 diabetes is caused when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. This means that insulin injections are required as well as monitoring your food intake, your insulin dose and exercise.
Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children 16 and under and it is rare for those without a family history of Type 1 diabetes to be diagnosed with it.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common of all diabetes, with 85-95% of people with diabetes suffering from it. While in the past it has been a disease for people for 40 and over, in today’s society it is increasingly becoming a younger person’s disease. Again, this is due to lack of exercise, bad eating and obesity.

The reason people get Type 2 Diabetes is because their insulin is not working properly and while our bodies will try to produce that extra insulin, eventually we will be unable to.  Once this happens, people with Type 2 diabetes will need to take medication or receive insulin injections.

The third type of diabetes is gestational diabetes. This diabetes can affect women during their pregnancy.  This is due to pregnant women needing 2-3 times more of their daily needs. In most cases, after a baby is born, the blood glucose levels return to normal and the gestational diabetes disappears. There is the risk, however, of these women developing diabetes much later on in life.

Symptoms of diabetes are the following: Increased thirst, tiredness, blurred vision, leg cramps, increased urine output, always feeling hungry, itching skin infections and cuts that don’t heal and unexplained weight loss.

While diabetes is a recognizable disease, it is one that runs rampant and unsuspectingly along many people. Diabetes can be diagnosed through a simple blood test.

If you suspect that you have diabetes, particularly if you suffer any of the symptoms above you should speak to your doctor and have them arrange for you to have a blood test to measure your blood glucose level.

 

 

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Traditional Dishes

Growing up, each and every one of us has memories of a Christmas fare that has stuck with us- whether it was the traditional fare of Turkey, Roast Pork, Ham and all the trimmings or a bounty of Seafood in the form of lobster, fish and shrimps.

While over the years we have sampled and try new things, more often than not we tend to go back to the traditional Christmas fares that we know and love.

With Christmas edging closer and closer, it can be a difficult decision as to what to cook. We’ve compiled a list of five traditional Christmas dishes that are guaranteed to leave your guests happy.

Roast Turkey (serves 10)

Ingredients:

6kg frozen or thawed turkey

80g butter, melted

6 rashers rindless bacon

Stuffing (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Remove giblets, neck and excess fat from turkey cavities. Wipe turkey inside and out with paper towels. Preheat oven to 180c.
  2. Loosely stuff upper and lower cavities. Tie legs together with unwaxed kitchen string. Tuck wings and neck-flap underneath turkey. Brush turkey with half the butter. Lay bacon over breast.
  3. Place turkey on a roasting dish a little longer than the turkey, with 4-5cm high sides. Cover completely with baking paper and foil (Tuck foil over the dishes sides to seal). Place pan on the lowest shelf in the oven (This is so the turkey sits in the centre of the oven). Roast for one hour. Remove turkey from oven and baste with a little remaining butter. Recover and roast for 1 ½ hours, basting every 30 minutes.
  4. Remove bacon and baste turkey with pan juices (this will help to brown the turkey).  Roast, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until the turkey is a golden brown and just cooked through (Juices should be clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a skewer).
  5. Transfer the turkey to a warm plate. Carve meat and serve.

Mediterranean style Roast Chicken (Serves 6)

Ingredients:

2kg whole chicken

30g butter, softened

3 teaspoons of finely grated lemon rind

¼ cup chicken gravy powder

Stuffing

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 200c/180c (If using fan-forced oven). Wash chicken, including cavity, under cold running water. Pat dry, inside and out with paper towel. Place on a board. Fill cavity with stuffing. Tie legs together with unwaxed kitchen string. Place in a large roasting pan.
  2. Combine butter and lemon rind in a bowl. Rub all over chicken. Season with pepper. Roast for 1 hour and 45 minutes – 2 hours or until juices run clear when the thickest part of the chicken is pierced with a skewer. (Cover chicken loosely with foil if overbrowning when cooking). Set chicken aside for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile prepare gravy, following the packet directions. Serve chicken with vegetables and gravy.

Roast Potatoes (Serves 8)

Ingredients:

850g red rascal potatoes, cut into 5 cm pieces

850g sweet potatoes, cut into 5 cm pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 bulb garlic, unpeeled and cloves separated

Preparation:

  1. Place potatoes and sweet potato in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water. Cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium. Cook partially covered for 5-10 minutes or until tender. Drain.
  2. Preheat oven to 220c. Line a large roasting pan with baking paper. Spread potatoes and sweet potatoes over pan. Drizzle with oil. Toss to coat. Roast, turning occasionally for 25 minutes. Add garlic. Cook for an additional 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender, turning occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Christmas Trifle (Serves 10)

Ingredients:

4 x85g packets of strawberry jelly crystal

2 ½ cups boiling water

½ x 800g light fruit cake, cut into 3 cm cubes

2 cups double thick French vanilla custard (or plain custard)

1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

125g fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

 

300ml thickened cream

1 teaspoon icing sugar mixture, sifted

50g white chocolate, grated

Fresh raspberries hulled and quartered strawberries to decorate

Preparation:

  1. Place jelly crystals in a heatproof bowl. Add boiling water, stir to dissolve crystals. Stir in 400ml of cold water. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until just starting to set.
  2. Arrange cake in a 13-cup capacity serving bowl. Drizzle with brandy. Spoon half the jelly over top. Top with custard. Sprinkle with raspberries and strawberries. Spoon remaining jelly over top. Refrigerate, covered, overnight.
  3. Using an electric beater, beat cream and sugar in a bowl until soft peaks form. Fold through chocolate. Spoon mixture over trifle. Top with raspberries and strawberries. Serve.

Chocolate-chip Tiramisu (Serves 8)

Ingredients:

1 cup boiling water

1 tablespoon instant espresso coffee powder

3 egg yolks

½ cup caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

300ml double thick vanilla custard

10 sponge finger biscuits

310g packet chocolate-chip cookies, chopped

Grated milk chocolate to serve

Preparation:

  1. Combine boiling water and coffee powder in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat egg yolk, sugar and vanilla together until thick and creamy. Add cream. Beat for 2 minutes or until soft peaks form. Fold in custard.
  3. Dip sponge finger biscuits, 1 at a time, in coffee mixture. Arrange over bases of 7cm deep, 8 cup capacity dish. Spread over one third custard mixture over biscuits. Top with cookies and remaining custard mixture. Cover.
  4. Refrigerate overnight. Serve sprinkled with grated chocolate.

 

 

 

Christmas is approaching fast. You’ve got all your gifts brought, your tree up and you’re starting to organize one of your famous (or maybe infamous) Christmas parties.

You’ve already got the liquor cabinet stocked and ready but you’re scrambling your brains about what to do for the friends of yours that won’t be drinking.

It’s always a great idea to serve a variety of different non-alcoholic drinks and it doesn’t need to be just soft drinks, coffee or tea.  Below are 10 non-alcoholic drinks that will appeal to not just the designated driver but also someone looking for a tasty drink without the side effects of alcohol.

Mock Champagne Punch:

Ingredients:

1 Litre chilled sparkling mineral water

1 litre chilled ginger ale

3 cups chilled white grape juice

Preparation:

In a large glass jug or carafe, combine sparkling water, ginger ale and grape juice. Serve immediately in champagne flutes.

Non-Alcoholic Punch

Ingredients:

1 litre pineapple juice

1 litre apricot or mango juice

175ml Lime Juice Cordial

2 Litres sparkling lemonade

Preparation:

In a punchbowl, combine the pineapple juice with apricot or mango juice and lime cordial. Add the chilled sparkling lemonade and serve.

Magic island

Ingredients

75ml pressed pineapple juice

25ml pressed pink grapefruit juice

25ml coconut cream

Dash single cream

1 tsp grenadine

Preparation

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend together with crushed ice. Serve in large wine goblets.
Alternatively instead of using pink grapefruit juice, you can use apple juice.

Virgin Mimosa

Splenda or Sugar

¼ cup sparkling cider

¼ cup fresh orange juice

½ lemon (juice only)

1 lemon zest

Preparation

Pour the sugar into a saucer. Wet the rim a champagne glass and press glass upside down into the sugar, therefore frosting the rim. Pour the cider, orange juice and lemon juice into the glass. Garnish with lemon zest.

Christmas Smoothie (will serve 2)

Ingredients

10 chopped strawberries
1 large banana (chopped into 4)
1/4 honeydew melon
3-4 mint leaves (optional)
4 ice-cubes

Preparation:

Place strawberries, raspberries, yoghurt, milk, syrup and ice in a blender. Blend until smooth and frothy. Pour into glasses and serve.

Non- alcoholic Christmas buttered rum (12-24 servings)

Ingredients

1 cup of butter, softened

½ cup brown sugar

½ sifting powdered sugar

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 pt Vanilla ice cream, softened

1 teaspoon rum flavoring

Preparation

Cream together the butter, sugars, nutmeg, cinnamon and rum flavoring with an electric mixer. Blend in the vanilla ice-cream. Turn into a freezer container, seal and freeze it.

When ready to serve, spoon 2-4 tablespoons of mixture into a mug. Add ½ cup of boiling water. Stir well and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Eggnog (serves 12)

Ingredients:

4 cups of milk

6 eggs

¼ cup of Sugar

1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Preparation

Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a saucepan. Using 2 cups of milk, heat the ingredients over a low heat until it reaches 160 degrees. (To check the mixture is at correct heat, test with a metal spoon. If the mixture evenly coats the back of the spoon, it has reached this point).

Remove from heat then add the remaining milk and vanilla. Whisk all ingredients together again and refrigerate for four hours. Serve chilled and garnish with cinnamon or nutmeg.

Beleini

Ingredients:

1 tablespoons of white peach puree

1 bottle of sparkling juice/non-alcoholic champagne

Preparation

Place 1 tablespoon of white peach puree into the bottom of a Champagne glass. Fill the glass with sparkling juice or non-alcoholic champagne. Serve Chilled.

Cranberry Punch

Ingredients

4 cups of Cranberry Juice

1 ½ cups of granulated sugar

4 cups of pineapple juice

1 tablespoon almond extract

4 cups of ginger ale or ginger beer

Preparation:

Combine the cranberry juice, sugar, pineapple juice and almost extract and mix with a whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved. Chill in the fridge for an hour.

Add the ginger ale or ginger beer just before serving the drink.

Wassail

Ingredients:

8 cups of apple cider

2 whole oranges

2 whole lemons

1 tablespoon ground cloves

1 tablespoon ground allspice

2 whole cinnamon sticks

4 cups of water

1 cup granulated sugar

Preparation:

Bring water to a boil. Slice the lemons and oranges in half, squeeze the juice into a separate bowl and toss the remainders of the citrus into the boiling water.

Add cloves, allspice and cinnamons to the water and leave to simmer on low for an hour.

Remove the citrus rind and pulp, add apple cider and bring to a slow boil. Remove from the heat and add orange juice, lemon juice and sugar. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Keep the Wassail warm by leaving on a low simmer. Be sure to stir often to avoid it burning.

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