Unbelievable win!

28 08 2006

They are the “dicker Dockers” no more! Yesterday the Fremantle Dockers played their cross-town arch rivals, the West Coast Eagles, in Perth – and thrashed them by 57 points! To make the victory even sweeter, the Dockers notched up a few more records:

  • First time to beat the Eagles in a derby twice in the one year (there are only two derbies each year, so bragging rights are pretty important)
  • Eighth win in a row!
  • Third on the AFL premiership ladder with only one game of the season to go
  • Beat ladder-leaders West Coast against a West Coast home crowd of 43,000 (about 3,000 of whom were Dockers members – the lucky ones who could get tickets!)
  • Definitely in the Finals, and if they win their last game against Port Adelaide this coming weekend, they will get two stabs at the Finals and maintain their third position in the minor premiership.

Who’d have thought it only a few weeks ago? At the end of Round 13, they were sitting at 6 wins and 7 losses, and their season was looking dire. No-one’s quite sure what happened. But somewhere in the last 2 months, the Dockers grew up. And now, despite all the pundits writing them off for so many years, they seem to have gained some respect. Sitting at 3rd on the ladder with one game to go will do that…

If the Dockers win against Port Adelaide at home next week, and if West Coast win, and if Adelaide (2nd on the ladder) win, the Dockers will maintain 3rd position and will therefore play Adelaide in Adelaide the first week of the Finals (Sept 9 weekend). Lots of ifs… and a few games to go.

Who’d have thought that there is now a chance of the Dockers making the Grand Final in only their second Finals appearance? Both Adelaide and West Coast had 15 or more Finals appearances before they won a Grand Final, so the odds aren’t good mathematically. But we can only dream…

Way to go, Freo!

19 08 2006

What a game! What a win!

We beat the Saints handsomely – doubled their score, in fact. And what a rush – 39,000 fans (minus a few St Kilda diehards) cheering their team on, chanting “Freeee-O”, and doing the Mexican wave (sort of…). A sea of purple, and such a buzz.

This was their seventh win in a row (another record) and as of right now they are 3rd on the ladder and IN THE FINALS!!! Two more games to go – the Derby against the Eagles, and the final game against Port Adelaide, then the Finals. BRING IT ON!!!!

Is the dream still alive?

19 08 2006

We’ll know in less than 5 hours if the Freo Dockers are *definitely* in the Finals or not. So far, they are but there are three rounds to go, and some unexpected wins by one or two other teams, and losses by Freo could mean that we miss out… again. The past two years it’s gone down to the last game before we knew that we’d missed the finals. Freo only has to win one game of the next three and they’re in – for the second time ever in their history.

So tonight is the first of those final three games of the season. It’s against St Kilda and we have a history of going to the wire with them in the past few games where we’ve met. It’s been raining on and off all day, so the ground will be wet, the ball will be wet, the players will be wet, and the game will probably be low-scoring because of the slippery conditions. Hopefully no-one incurs an injury this close to the Finals, but the conditions are such that it’s quite possible.

Bouncedown is in less than 2 hours, and all will be known in five hours… and with that, I’m outta here! Gotta get to the game to cheer the team on!

Comfort Food 2: Seven Mules Soup

13 08 2006

The Name: I made a variety of Pumpkin Soup for a dinner party when we were visiting friends in Monterey, California a couple of years back (2005). The host, David, tasted it, turned to my husband and said “I’ll give you two mules for her!” My husband, said “No way!”, to which David increased the offer to “Seven mules!” After my husband explained that he didn’t want to trade me, and besides, he’d have a hard time getting seven mules onto a Qantas flight to Australia, David decided to just eat the soup and stop the trading. Everyone went back for seconds until it was all gone – I was pleased, as this was a soup made with pumpkin, an ingredient that Americans typically use in sweet dishes, not savoury ones. The name has stuck and I now refer to this soup as “Seven Mules Soup”.

The Soup: Like all good soups, there’s no hard and fast recipe. Every time I make it, it is a little different, depending on the ingredients I have to hand. Subsitute according to your own tastes! And like all good soups, I tend to make a lot at once and freeze it. If you intend freezing it, DON’T add the cream/sour cream/yoghurt/coconut cream until you’ve thawed it out and reheated it.


  • Chicken stock (I usually make my own from raw chicken carcasses and add goodies such as onions, mushrooms, celery, and lots of chilli! If you want a bit of Thai flavour, add some lemon grass, ginger, and coriander. Australians: You can get five chicken carcasses for $2 from Lenards poultry stores.)
  • Pumpkin (I usually use Butternut, Jap, or Kent; don’t use Queensland Blue – it’s way too hard to cut! Americans: You call it Squash, so use Butternut Squash)
  • Cream (You can use real full cream [very rich!], sour cream, natural yoghurt, Greek yoghurt, and/or coconut cream – or any combination of these! My most recent preference is a combination of Greek yoghurt + coconut milk powder. A word about yoghurt – no fruit yoghurts!!)
  • Chicken breast fillet (optional – if you use real chicken in the stock you may not need this)
  • Fresh coriander (cilantro for the Americans)


  1. Heat the chicken stock to boiling (Note: If you make real stock, make it a few days beforehand so you can skim off any chicken fat, pull the cooked flesh off the bones, then add the flesh back into the stock discarding the fat and the bones.)
  2. Once the stock is heated, add the peeled and chopped pumpkin (approx 1 inch cubes) and simmer until the pumpkin is tender. Add chilli if you like it and you haven’t already added it to the chicken stock. Add any Thai ingredients too if you didn’t include them in the stock – lemon grass, ginger, coriander, garlic.
  3. Let it cool – I usually let it cool overnight.
  4. Blend the pumpkin/stock mix until it is fine (you *did* remove those chicken bones from the stock earlier, huh?)

At this point you can now freeze the pumpkin soup base for later use, or you can go ahead and finish off the soup ready for serving…

Prior to serving

  1. Cube the chicken breast and lightly fry it in a pan to brown it all over, then continue cooking it until it is cooked through. Drain any fat.
  2. Reheat the blended pumpkin soup base until it boils, then simmer.
  3. In a small bowl, add a big dollop of one of the creams/yoghurts etc. If you’re using coconut milk powder, blend it with the cream now.
  4. Take a small amount of the hot soup mix out of the pot (about 1/2 a cup) and mix it into the bowl with the cream making sure that you incorporate it all; use a small whisk – it’s easier than a fork or spoon. Repeat with another 1/2 cup of soup, and maybe another. You want a cream mix that is quite liquid and that won’t separate when you add it to the soup, which is why you do this step.
  5. Drizzle the cream mix into the soup, stirring all the time.
  6. Let the soup *just* come to the boil again and turn off the heat. If the cream mix has separated, use a whisk to incorporate it again, or throw it into the blender again and blitz it.
  7. Pour the soup into hot bowls.
  8. Add a few cubes of cooked chicken to each bowl, then add a dollop of cream/sour cream/yoghurt and swirl it around; garnish with some chopped coriander.
  9. Serve piping hot with crusty bread (Californians – heat up some fresh crusty sourdough in the oven!)

This all sounds complicated and a lot to do, but it’s really very simple. The hardest thing for me was trying to write it down – I just make this soup so naturally that I never bother thinking about it too much!

Another margarita recipe to try…

13 08 2006

Come summer time when it’s more like margarita weather, I’m going to have to try this recipe for Frozen Margaritas:

Fill a blender with ice. Add 1.25 cups of fresh lime juice, 1 cup of good quality tequila, 1/3 cup of Cointreau (or Triple Sec – the Cointreau sounds good!), 1/3 cup of granulated suger. Blend until slushy!

Rim the glass with lime and salt, serve with a wedge of lime.


Wixing your mords…

13 08 2006

Well, “mixing your words”.

Heard a good one the other day when a two-finger keyboarder was trying to say “hunt and peck” – it ended up as “hunk and pet”, which I think is *much* more interesting!

Dockers make history!

13 08 2006

The Freo Dockers made history today in Adelaide! Woohoo! Here’s how:

  • They played like a team, kicking accurately and setting up passes for each other
  • They beat Adelaide, the top team in the competition, by 15 points
  • They won at AAMI stadium, where they’ve only ever won once before
  • This win was their 6th win in a row – the first time ever in their history they’ve achieved that
  • The win puts them at 6th on the ladder with only three games to go before the finals – they’ve never done that either
  • In reality, they are equal 3rd on the ladder with 3 other teams, but their percentage keeps them at 6th.

Three games to go and it looks like the Dockers are in the Finals for only the second time in their history! Way to go, Freo! More wins and we could have a home final against the West Coast Eagles – wonder how the AFL will manage the tickets for *that*…

Where would we be without Google?

9 08 2006

Back in 2002 at the STC Conference in Nashville I met two of *THE* gurus in the Help authoring world – my great friend Char, and MJ.

MJ lived in Nashville, and I spent some extra time at her house, getting some RoboHelp training from her, meeting her family, and generally hanging out and having a nice time (and some good food – she’s a great cook!). During the conference, we continued to meet up (as you do), and MJ and I kept in good email contact for a time. After the certified RoboHelp trainers got shafted by Blue Sky/eHelp as it was then, MJ dropped off the radar. She didn’t respond to emails, phone calls from concerned colleagues and friends, etc.

About 3 months later, just like a ground hog, she popped up again with anĀ  explanation, then as quickly disappeared again. We knew she continued to live in Nashville with her family, but after no response, I guess her old colleagues just gave up. But at every conference, someone would ask if anyone had heard from MJ. No-one had.

So, what makes me write about this connection now? Well, I had a few spare minutes the other day and decide to clear out some old emails in my Inbox. I scrolled down to 2003 and started there – and one of the first I came across was MJ’s explanation for her disappearance off our respective radars.

That was the trigger to go a’hunting on Google! And within a few minutes I had found her – what she was doing now (still writing a lot, but not technical writing any more), her current website, etc., and I decided to email her to see if she wanted to renew the contact from a few years ago. Some hours later (morning for me), in my Inbox was a lovely email from MJ, and over the past week we’ve exchanged quite a few more. She has headed in quite a different direction – and it’s all good for her.

Without Google (or similar) it would’ve been much harder to track her down, so thank you Google for providing the mechanism that allowed two people to reconnect.

BTW, I never did get back to clearing out those old emails!

A great writer does good!

9 08 2006

Some years ago I had the pleasure of working with Whitney – one of the best writers and editors I know. I had never met her, but we communicated well via email between our respective locations in the USA and Australia. Together we worked on a professional interest group’s newsletter and some articles, and I finally got to meet her at the annual STC Conference in Chicago in 2001. She was even nicer in person than she was in her friendly emails, so it was good to know that my gut feeling about her was right.

Anyhow, Whitney’s gone from being a lone tech writer to being part of a larger team on some important stuff for a military equipment supplier and I’ve followed her career with interest and a little envy! (though I’m not sure I’d want to be writing to MIL standards…) When I was in the US for the 2004 STC Conference, I stayed overnight with her, then we drove to Baltimore and spent a day meandering about that fair city’s harbourfront area prior to the conference. One of her passions is guinea pigs, and at the time she had 3 or 4 of them living with her. Very cute they were too – and surprisingly (for me), not at all smelly.

Despite working in a high-end tech industry, Whitney’s passion for her ‘pigs hasn’t abated, and she’s now involved in a rescue group, as well as writing about them on “Pig Notes” a blog/website she set up.

Which brings me to why I’m writing this post… Whitney’s articles on guinea pigs have hit the top 100 articles (#78 as at today) on Squidoo, a website that caters for people and their passions.

Great job Whitney – and well-deserved.

More conference feedback

9 08 2006

A week or so ago I received the feedback from the evaluation forms submitted by attendees at my session at the 2006 WritersUA Conference in Palm Springs. Considering there were about 50 speakers – many of whom are world-renowned in our field – I did good!

My average scores for this session (where 5 is the BEST), and my ranking against all speakers over all sessions were:

  • Presentation Skills 4.64; rank: 14th
  • Subject Knowledge 4.95; rank: 4th
  • Quality of Session Information 4.77; rank: 5th
  • Quality of Session Slides/Handouts 4.55; rank: 12th

Evaluations from the AODC Conference are here…