I came, I swore, I gave a speech

Tonight I presented my fourth Toastmasters speech. It was CC#4 “How to Say It”, which means that it was meant to be on the theme of language and words. So, I thought it would be a nice twist on the topic to do a speech about swearing.

Turns out that swearing is a pretty interesting topic. There’s a good article on swearing at Howstuffworks, although I didn’t use it for the speech. Anyway, I wrote the speech last night, and all I had to do was remember it and deliver it alright. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember it clearly, didn’t deliver it in a punchy way, and ended up going seriously over time. The lesson is that if I’d practiced it to the point where I’d memorised it, it would have been fine.

For those who are interested in what I meant to deliver, feel free to read my speech on swearing.

Support Pink Ribbon Day, but don’t forget the men

This coming Monday (22nd October) is Pink Ribbon Day. As everyone would know, it is supporting breast cancer research, which is a good thing. People (ok, women) at my train station sell ribbons for this charity, but I’ve never seen anything at all comparable for any cancer associated with men. Now, I know that there are a small fraction of men who do suffer from breast cancer, but in the main, research and support for “female cancers” like cancer of the breast, cervix, ovary or uterus are discussed and promoted significantly more than for “male cancers” like cancer of the prostate or testis.

In the past, I’d just assumed that this was because these afflictions in women outnumbered the cases in men, and the attention on them was warranted because it was another case of women simply being shafted for being female. Men seem to get things easy, and all these cancers were the universe picking on women again, just like while Viagra was approved quickly in Australia, RU-486 isn’t really available anywhere, or like GST on tampons. However, in this case, the roll of the dice has favoured the women, and it is men whom the universe has picked on. Cases of some male cancers outnumber the females ones. By quite a bit.

Cancer statistics are tracked in a lot of detail in Australia. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare publishes a mountain of stats on cancer, although some stats are available up to only 2003 so far. So, in 2003, while there were 11,889 instances of breast cancer detected, and 2,720 deaths from it, there were 13,526 instances of prostate cancer found, with 2,837 deaths. Not that this is a competition, but instances of prostate cancer were 14% higher than for breast cancer. Why aren’t there guys at my train station selling ribbons for that? The Prostate Cancer Foundation should get a move on.

However, when all of the cases of “female cancers” listed above are totalled-up, they do outnumber the “male cancers”. Specifically, in that year, there were 14,164 instances and 2,854 deaths from “male cancers” and 15,311 instance and 3,956 deaths from “female cancers”. That’s almost 40% more deaths on the women’s team. So, there is a strong case to be made for emphasising “women’s issues” (particular for ovarian cancer, which looks pretty lethal from the stats). However, other types of cancer than breast cancer do need a look-in occasionally!

The cost of borrowing

Today was a very special day. Today, about a year after we first wrote the applications, we’ve finally received notice from the bank advising us that we now have the home loan we wanted.

Yes, we first met with our mortgage broker from Aussie on the 20th October 2006, and gave him the go-ahead to take out a loan for us with HomeSide (a division of NAB) on the 29th October. Everything had gone brilliantly up until then, and went disastrously from then on. In hind-sight, I’d never recommend anyone use HomeSide, and especially not when you aren’t dealing with them directly, i.e. through a broker. It has been a story of frustration and pain for us.

We’ve seen about half a dozen different loan documents, all with different mistakes in them (most were basic primary school maths mistakes). When the day of settlement came in December 2007, the lender’s solicitors demanded an additional payment or they wouldn’t settle. Then when we moved heaven and earth to make the payment, they waited a couple of hours, and demanded another payment. It was grossly unprofessional and made a stressful situation very unpleasant for us.

On the positive side, our broker from Aussie was caught up in the whole mess of the last year, and valiantly tried to fix the problem for us. In the end, we’ve managed to get a loan with a fixed rate component, using the rate that applied back in December, honouring the original deal, only nine months late.