Friday, June 08, 2012

He built his wife a nest on the ground

The power of true love: a stork goes against instinct and builds a nest directly on the ground, because his partner can no longer fly.

The couple met in the Fedaczynski Rehabilitation Centre in the Carpathian Mountains in Poland. She came in with a broken wing; he with severe poisoning. Although the birds were emaciated and had very little chance of survival, the doctor managed to save them, and through the long months of rehabilitation they slowly fell in love.

"The love of storks is great," says Dr. FedaczyƄski. "Birds are very attached to each other and when they couple, it is for life.”

When it became clear that the female would never fly again, her fully-recovered partner chose to remain with his new wife and spend the winter in Poland, not departing for warmer climates. And then in the Spring he began to build a nest, collecting sticks and laying them directly on the ground, so that his wife would not have to suffer. Mrs Stork sits by patiently and clatters her bill in happiness while their new home grows bigger every day, and in a few weeks it should be home to a couple of chicks.

The unusual pair have become a great attraction in the area. People are watching the behaviour of the birds in disbelief; nobody has ever seen a stork building a nest on the ground like a duck.

And now there are signs that the pair's inventive solution is being adopted by other couples. The clinic is home to other sick birds, including those who had lost the ability to fly years ago. To date not one of them had made attempts at building a nest, but seeing the actions of the devoted couple they too have begun to tackle the construction of nests directly on the ground.


Monday, June 04, 2012

An open letter to the Australian Child Support Agency

This is a letter a friend of mine sent to the Australian Child Support Agency today, after years of frustration and heartache at the hands of this government organisation. He is a good man, and a good father, and if he were treated in a similar way by any other corporation he'd have numerous options in terms of getting support and protection.

However, in this case, he had to take matters into his own hands.

I write this note with a heavy heart. 
Thanks for your note detailing my new income amount from 31st December 4000 to the 1st January 2001. I can only assume you’ve spanned these dates in reverse chronological order to give us lowly minions some idea as to exactly how long you plan to keep us in your grip.

Let me be the first to say I’ve been a huge fan of the work you’ve done in protecting the children of the 21st century. I do understand that some men feel it is unnecessary for them to raise and protect the children that they have fathered. I am not one of them. Yet repeatedly I’ve found that your tone in our correspondence indeed doubts the commitment I have to my children.

With this latest letter, and given my recent experiences with your organization (as a father who has custody of one of his two children and looks forward to seeing both of his children become fine young men), I had a teensie inkling that your systems may be letting you down. So, rather than take yet ANOTHER vapid and accusatory phone call from you, I took it upon myself to build a time machine and do some digging of my own. 
Fair warning, you are not going to like this. But let me assure you that I first checked my facts with Google (he’s a real person now, quite a nice fellow actually; we play darts and pool and drink Meta-beer of a Friday. That’s a drink here now).
Using your letter as a guide, I decided to visit the times mentioned.
My first port of call was to be the year 2001, but since I was childless then (unless you’re seeking support of pre-children? Ahh it’s SO confusing!) I decided the year 4000 was a better bet. So there (then?) I went. And what a time I had! I mean, I have a bionic freaking body now! (We could high-five but I might inadvertently crush you so let’s not and say we did!) 
Suffice to say, in the year 4000 everyone knows everything about everyone. But back in 2011, people did not. And by people I mean you. And by everything I mean anything. Case in point: A week before Christmas in 2011 one of your forensic accountants (do they wear goggles and labcoats? Please say they do) called and informed me that after careful consideration of the line items on my company credit card, he had concluded that many amounts were personal expenses and he would be adding these amounts as personal income. Ho ho ho! Was he ever wrong!? (The answer is Yes, but for future reference the tax office usually sorts you out if you try to buy, say, ANYTHING untoward on your corporate card! But you government agencies must collaborate right? Right??? *crickets*). Here’s something else that’s wrong: my kids had fewer presents that year. But, c'est la vie (French is still big here, except for vol-au-vent, as carbs are out.).  
Then, in April 2012, something ever more wonderful occurred. After taking custody of my seven year old I called to let you know of my changed circumstances and was told as this was such a tricky situation (2 kids, 2 parents, I know right!? Sometimes I just CAN NOT divide by 2 either! It’s meta-weird!), you needed to check with Barry in accounts (or whomever) and get back to me.

After no response you called me 3 weeks later not to give me Barry’s summation but rather to demand I make full payment on the spot or risk “harsh penalties” and would I like to have any of this information “reinterated”. Now, given my relationship with Google and the heady arguments we have over darts I was almost certain that the word was “reiterate” however after cheekily educating your staff member on this point the atmosphere became rather icy indeed (not unlike the ice-age of 3024 come to think of it!). 
I have actually given up attempting to have you provide a fair and accurate assessment of my income and the subsequent months of miserable torment you’ve inflicted on myself and my family (without a single meeting face to face) have left me feeling helpless. 
That said however, I don’t want you to worry too much (worry enough to just, you know, not ruin someone’s life or something). With my new time machine our worries are a thing of the past, and furthermore should you ever wish to break bread while we visit the moons of Saturn (Mimas is delightful this time of year!) then I have two Virgin galactic tickets at the ready (the meta-beer still isn’t included in the ticket price though). 
All that I ask is that for the sake of other fathers who may not be bad blokes, you simply look at your systems. Perhaps, one of the reasons your staff are so unhappy is that the policies and systems you’ve given them to work with are wildly inappropriate. That you start each conversation ready for an adversarial exchange because you don’t have THE FACTS (but rather a shoddily crafted depiction of them) is chiefly why you have such a poor reputation.

I do hope you get to visit us here someday. All I can say is that we’re happy to be safe and sound here in good ol’ year 4000. 
Yours (for the next one thousand nine hundred and eighty eight years), 
Ben McFly, Lachlan McFly & Thomas McFly