Online Insights on FIVEaa Sunday June 05 2011

June 5, 2011

This month on Online Insights we help out a neighbour or hire them, we try to help save a parent support service, cook a delicious breakfast treat and investigate smoking that is not smoking.

Parent Helpline

Top picture, great slogan at the Save Parent Helpline rally, bottom picture, my little girl doing her bit

When governments carve up the pie for spending OUR money, they face innumerable demands from many sectors. For example, having cut leave loading for public servants in this year’s budget, the government has now backtracked due to pressure (they will find it hard to reform this area because public servants are so used to dwelling in an alternate universe of cushy conditions and clock watching that any reforms will be met with intense bursts of pain).

But one decision that at best makes no sense and at worst suggest hyper hypocrasy, is the axing of funding for the Parent Helpline’s overnight operation.

If you have never raised children, you will not understand this issue because until you are alone, in the small hours of the night, solely responsible for the welfare of a child who is screaming or feverish or acutely distressed in some other way, you will not feel how existentially disturbing the experience can be. It is in these moments, when all other services other than emergency services are closed and friends and family sound asleep, that the Parent Helpline has been a godsend.

Anxious parents can ask “silly” questions and get guidance and reassurance from a calm voice on the other end of the line.

Our governments (state and federal) have wanted more people to become parents and yet just throwing a few bucks in baby bonuses around is disingenuous. I know there are other invaluable services offered to parents so I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. However, I believe that cutting the small blip in the budget that was the Parent Helpline 24 hour service was a heartless move. If we really want to support the nurturing of new generations then we must provide support at those critical, harrowing moments when fallible humans can snap in despair and take action with long lasting consequences.

Many generations before us existed without such help but in different times there were differing social structures in place to provide similar support. Today is a different reality.I urge you to add your voice to the petition set up by Belinda Jennings – I was number 1818 to sign about 10 hours ago and I just noticed the number of signatories is now (at time of writing) 1858. So it is alive and gathering momentum. Save the Parent Helpline in South Australia petition.

There is also a growing community around the Facebook page created by Tom Meschede, where the comments show the depth of need for this service. Here are some examples:

  • I have done three hours of ironing, just getting ready for bed, now the 1 year old is crying, making choking noises, I hate being alone for this!
  • I just happened the need the parent help line just 15 minutes after it closed, just my luck . At least my bubbys stopped screaming now.
  • Will it take something like a parent losing it, suffering from depression, injuring a child, causing themselves self harm or at the worst committing suicide for people to understand we need this service.
  • It’s 4:25am. Jesse has been awake with teething and settling issues since 3. Where are John Hill and Gail Mondy? Tucked up warm, snuggly and sleeping peacefully in bed no doubt. Because of them I just have to muddle through rather than getting much needed advice. My little guy is suffering unnecessarily and I’m at my wits end. Can’t call Health Direct coz its not a medical issue. John and Gail don’t think my son’s important enough to get the help he needs when its needed. Tell that to him. NOT HAPPY!

Visit the Facebook page here.


Have you ever needed some odd jobs done or dreamed of having a treat delivered to your office and then ignored your thoughts assuming they weren’t possible? Think again.

If and when Zaarly launches in Australia, it might be just what you’re looking for.

Zarrly is a neighbourhood marketplace, with the name derived from the word, Bazaar.

Here’s how it works. You have a need, such as having lawns that need cutting, you run out of icecream but can’t leave the house, you’ve brought home another Ikea torture challenge (whoops, I mean, piece of furniture to assemble), etc. These are needs that might possibly be met on the open market but could probably be done faster and cheaper by a next-door neighbour. So you create a listing on Zaarly with a description of the job and the price you are willing to pay, then the clock starts clicking. Other Zaarly members can see what is being sought and offer to do the job.

In essence, Zaarly replaced the noticeboard at the local community centre and the ads in local papers.

While the most common examples are domestic chores and people stuck in offices wanting coffee and bagels delivered, I saw in the comments someone said he just made $6.50 delivering two AAA batteries to a guy who didn’t want to leave a poker game at a casino in New Orleans.

Interestingly, the startup was only launched a few weeks ago but already they’ve found a way to apply their service in times of emergency. When tornadoes struck a nearby community recently, they allowed people to put up jobs like “I’d pay $50 for baby nappies in Joplin”, etc.

If you want an early taste of Zaarly you can visit their site. Here’s a link to their article on how to price jobs like this, which could be helpful to you if you already seek or provide odd jobs in your community.

Crunchy Oat Cereal

Goodbye sleep ins - I'd be up at crack of dawn to eat this!

I stumbled across this little recipe the other day for how to make your own crunchy oat clusters.

Now, I must confess, I do have a soft spot for those crunchy oat clusters in muselis and some other cereals but I’ve always wondered whether they are fine to eat, a little bit bad, or really bad.

This recipe answered two questions:

  • How are they made?
  • Is “oven baked” an actual health claim or not?

Making them is very simple and is on my list of things to do over winter. You take some rolled oats, chopped pecan nuts, some maple syrup or golden syrup and some melted butter, mix it together, lay it out flat on a baking tray and heat at 160 degrees Celsius until crisp and toasty, which takes about 35 minutes. While these ingredients in large quantities are not really ‘good’ for us, at least by making them ourselves we can make sure they are natural ingredients with nothing else added.

But the oven baked question was answered differently. Notice how these scrumptious items contain sugar syrup and butter (fat)? Just because they are oven baked does not mean they suddenly become health foods. I suppose you could argue that they are not deep fried, which is a positive step, but one wonders if extra butter is in this recipe to compensate for not getting the extra oil from other cooking methods. The take out for me is, just because “oven baked” limits how much extra fat is injected into the food during the cooking process, it DOES NOT mean the food has low fat to begin with. We still need to check ingredients lists.

What I love about this recipe, which keeps for a few days in an airtight container by the way, is that you can shake it around. The original writer substituted the pecans for pistachio nuts. How delicious would that be? I think the sky’s the limit here and in the hands of creative health freaks it could probably be transformed into something not only tasty with great mouthfeel, but also either healthy or nowhere near as bad as mass-produced cereals of similar style.

Enjoy this simple recipe. And I would love to hear what variations you experiment with.


I had this video link sent to me by Adam, a listener, because he thought it was particularly sleek marketing for a new product.


The product is a vaporiser that is set up to allow you to vaporise your herbs rather than smoke them.

And by herbs they mean, cough cough, legal herbs like tobacco, Horny Goat Weed, and sex herbs, although I suppose some people might find other herbs to use it with.

What caught my attention was the claim in the video that by inhaling the vapour produced by vaporising herbs you not only used herbs more efficiently (in the video they get 16 “hits” from half a gram of herb when smoked compared to 86 hits from vaporised herb) but they claim it is better for your lungs (they demonstrated that by exhaling every puff into a serviette – the smoked herbs befouled the serviette dramatically within the 16 hits, compared to the vaporiser serviette being clean as a whistle).

I don’t smoke and have no intention of doing so or enouraging others to. Where I see value in this device is for addicted smokers to wean themselves away from the most harmful side effects of smoking as a first step.

I have deliberated extracted this video from a website selling these units because I am not promoting them – I AM interested in hearing what others have to say about the concept, particularly those who study our biology and physiology and who may have interesting insights to add.