Friday, 28 December 2007

The Christmas Jitters!

Christmas means lots of things to many people, but for me, much of it has to do with meeting up with extended family, overeating, and playing lots of games. It also has to do with watching Dancesport and some terrible free-to-air Christmas movies, but those are avoided if possible, especially the latter.

Food was in abundance, and so were games. And relatives. Which meant playing in teams. We pulled out the first two games we could find, and wiped off the thick layer of dust which had acccumulated after possibly over a decade of neglect. One was Pictionary; the other Jitters.

We decided to try Jitters first.

Division was in four teams of two, and Mr Coffee and I were a team. Though most people found they were teams in name only, and much of the game was spent criticising each other's strategy and screeching at their teammate.

The game Jitters is thus named for its Jittery nature. You get a timer and have to make words with dice on cards - the more you make before the timer goes off, the better. And each card has a score according to difficulty. When you have decided you have completed as many as you can, you lock your point score in by switching off the timer. But if you take a card and don't finish it before your timer is up, you lose all your points for that round, including any cards you may have successfully completed.

Jitters was very successful as it was not only fun but brought out our character traits.

For instance, my cousin lazily let his fiancee do most of the work, but when she had finished a card, often frustrated her efforts, even though they were on the same team - which caused her to screech almost every round. Mr Coffee accused me of being bad at rolling dice and hiding cards from him (who, me?).

Now, perhaps that's not quite as deep as showing the relationship we all had with our mothers, but Jitters is on to something. Should be a compulsory accessory to every counsellor's kit.


World Knowledge

This man (Daniel Geale) just became IBO world middleweight champion. And he's Australian. But most people don't know about him.

He said in a recent interview:

"Am I Australia's least known world champion? Yeah probably." with a laugh.

I assure Daniel Geale that I don't know of any other Australian world champion that I know of less than I know of him. There, boy!

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Mismatched Sporting Opportunities

Before I start on a Christmas dissection, I just read a bit in the paper where a journalist was defending soccer (no, he wasn't the goalkeeper).

He was trying to explain that it really was a very exciting game, even if snobs in rugby looked down at it as a sport for the numerically challenged who couldn't understand the complexities of rugby scoring.

Huh?

Since when did difficult numerics come into rugby, either? This kind of reminds me of the Sixteen going On Seventeen song from the Sound of Music, where the pompous ass seventeen year old thinks he's great guns for being seventeen and not sixteen. Whoopie-doo! Rugby includes something like having to add fours, twos and ones (as opposed to having to just add ones, as in soccer). Which may be brain-bending for some rugby players, but pretty much a laugh for most of us who passed first grade.

Even slightly challenging mathematics isn't something often associated with rugby, so why even bother boasting about the difficult maths needed for your sport? It should be kept simple (for the life of me, I don't see why the 15, 30, 40 is needed in tennis).

Just the same way as chess isn't associated with boxing. But for some reason which boggles the brain, some people with a real sense of humour have put together the sport of chess boxing , combining the two popular competition activities, so while they're sitting down waiting for sudoku wrestling and Scrabble weightlifting to make its mark, I'm going to suggest Rugby Calculus Tournaments.

What sort of mismatched Sporting & Gaming Comps would you love to see - and perhaps get involved in?

Thursday, 20 December 2007

They Were Such Big-Spirited Reindeer, Weren't They?


I never quite related to the Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer song.

There's Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, see. And then there's Rudolph, see. The Classic odd one out. The school nerd. The one with the big fat red nose, the one who gets kicked around in the playground in the playground and teased by all his peers.

That part I get.

Then one day, according to the song, Santa comes along and says Rudolph is actually fantastic, and won't he be the Captain of the team and lead the other reindeer around by the nose, so to speak?

And the song says "Then all the reindeer loved him, and they shouted out with glee, 'Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, you'll go down in history!'"

That bit I don't get.

If the bullied school nerd goes one second from nerd to teacher's pet and gets to lead the popular kids around simply because teacher says so, do you reckon the popular kids would be loving him and jumping for joy?

I think not.

I think the popular kids would dump on him even more, and call him Mr-Suck-Up, and plot evil ways to do away with him. But no, the song goes, they loved him.

Such big-hearted reindeer.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Osama Got Run Over By a Reindeer

Inspired by TimT's post on Christmas Carols I thought I'd add a carol I'd heard on radio recently.

Usually I'm not big on carols that are Aussified versions of the original carol. Mostly they aren't that well sung, and not very witty.

On the other hand, this was a modern American version of a carol, and while it doesn't bring the "Joy to the World" that "Silent Night" or "Jingle Bells" does, the lyrics are worth a peek, I think.

(chorus)
Osama got run over by a reindeer
Walking out of his cave Christmas eve
You can say there's no such thing as Santa
But as for we in America, we believe

He'd been blowing up too many buildings
So we said he had to go
But he hid in his cave in Afghanistan
Defiant as he was, he said, "Hell, no!"
When we found him Christmas morning
It was clear he'd been attacked
There was a note stuck to his forehead
It said, "Either give up now or we'll go bomb Iraq!"

(repeat chorus)

Now we're all so proud of George Bush
He's been taking this so well
See him in the Oval Office
Knowing that Osama's really going to Hell
It's not Christmas with bin Laden
Nor for Saddam in Iraq
And we just can't help but wonder
Should we go bomb Baghdad in a sneak attack?
(Bomb Iraq!)

(repeat chorus)

Now the cards are on the table
See George W. dance a jig (Ah!)
And the red, white, and blue candles
(Gore thought that the election had been rigged!)
I warned all you stinkin' terrorists
Better watch out for yourselves!
They should not make hijacking weapons
Out of stuff that you would find upon the shelves!

(repeat chorus)

Sing it, George W.!

(repeat chorus)

Saturday, 15 December 2007

The Philosophy of Shopping: Need not Greed

I have done my Christmas shopping, and I'm kind of proud of myself, but it doesn't stop me shopping, especially when it comes to books.

I once read an old maxim "Need, not Greed" ought to be applied to shopping. Funnily enough, I can apply this to many things, food, clothes, whether to really pay uni fees or not. I manage to go about in unfashionable clothes - or fashionable clothes, so long as I wait 10 or 11 years, and fashion does the full circle, and pyjamas with holes in the knees, convincing myself that it's greed to lash out on more because the legs are still good. Or at least there is still a bit of fabric that covers me, anyhow. Or a bit of me.

However, the same maxim doesn't apply to two things: boooks, and useless odds and ends found in markets and discount shops. If there's a cool ceramic turtle going for a few dollars, certainly, it can be bought. Need? I just do. And besides, it's only a few dollars.

And books. Well, everyone needs three copies of their favourites, and besides, several bookcases of books you haven't read yet just makes you feel smarter.

Osaka ... Okinawa ... sounds (kinda) the same, looks (kinda) the same, feels (kinda) the same ...

My brother just left Australia for Japan. He'll be visiting Tokyo and Osaka.

Whenever I hear Osaka, I usually say, "Oh, where Mr Miyagi came from!"

This is embarrassing for two reasons.

Number one because it gives away that I watched the Karate Kid, enough to remember Mr Miyagi and have a vague recollection of some of the dialogue.

Number two, because Mr Miyagi actually came from Okinawa.

Well, they sound the same to me. They start with O's and end in a's and have k's in them, what else do you expect? They are also supposedly Japanese-ish, well that's what people get from the screen promotions.

I would be extremely humiliated if it weren't for the fact that I remember the old dictum - there's always someone more embarrassing than you. There was a much older man than me who believed that all real karate was taught to students by waxing cars and painting fences by short Japanese men. And other stuff was fake. He was very sincere in his convictions, and I'm sure he believed there were little Mr Miyagis in backyards all over the world looking out for bashed up young boys and ready to teach them the Way of the Catching Flies with Chopsticks.

Considering karate lessons don't exactly always come cheaply, if you could get a little band of car-waxers, fence painters and floor sanders for it ... nice job being a karate instructor ...

P.S. The pictures below are pure indulgence.


Friday, 14 December 2007

To State the Blinkin' Obvious

To state the blinking obvious, I haven't posted many blogs this December. Like ... one so far. Besides this.

This is partly slackness, and partly because I've been busy, and partly because I haven't had the urge to write a great deal - at least not blog-wise.

On reflection, some years you have shite years. While it seems superstitious, often you get this feeling it's moving in cycles. And some, you have excellent ones, and some are somewhere in between. I have been blessed. While this year hasn't been perfect - what year is - I can say that I think I've had a better than average year. And then I've been talking to friends and it seems that on average, unfortunately, some of them haven't had the best of years, so I can count myself fortunate.

And can just hope that for everyone, friends and family, things look up in 2008 - the very best is yet to come for them.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Goodie!

Each year, my Mum makes her Christmas pudding, and this is was my first taste of it today.

Unlike cheesecake, and lemon tarts, and chocolate mousse, which are just plain good, this is tradition, so it must be good.

It means lots of fruit (which is good) and rolled into a cakey mixture and boiled in a towel, so it comes out nice and round. Then it is eaten with ice cream or custard, which is good.

A lot of good heart and effort is put into it.

I am not a big fan of red and green gelatin bits, but Mum cuts down on these and concentrates on the raisins, and nuts, so that is another very good feature.

All in all, while I am not the hugest fan of fruit puddings, Mum does an excellently good job of her Christmas pudding.

Goodio!


Friday, 30 November 2007

FOUND: A sense of humour in Akerman

I have never credited Piers Akerman with any sense of humour whatsoever. A guy who spends all of the time before, during and after elections (is there any other time?) curling himself into a little ball of petulancy, hate, right wing flag-waving and self-righteousness usually doesn't have much time to laugh - at least not that I've noticed from his journalistic attempts.

But I was wrong.

I now award the honour of "Funniest Quote from an Article on the Australian Federal Election 2007" to Mr Piers Akerman.

Funnily enough, the quote was about an American Presidential candidate, but it was in an article about Kevin Rudd, so let's not get too fussy.

The quote: "... a new Western administration was Hilary Clinton when she became Fist Lady ..."

I'm waiting for other gems from Mr Akerman, like an article on Earwaxgate calling Mr Rudd "Picksy" and some jokes about Howard being the "Man of Steal". A YouTube of any of George W. Bush's speeches, with the caption "The Most Powerful Man in a Whirl".

And a signing off of his own articles as "Piss Akerman"

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Which Super Power Would You Have? What Superhero are you

Superman can fly and he has mastered the art of wearing his undies outside his tights. Batman has killer bat things to throw and he has a Batmobile. Spiderman can scale walls and throw webs.

What kind of Super Power would you most like you have?

I watched a movie on the weekend called Mystery Men where all the powers of the superheroes were as follows:

There was a guy who was an expert at throwing cutlery - mainly forks
A good Shoveler (basically a good fencer - with a shovel)
Mr Furious - who got really strong and good at fighting when he got angry - which he did a lot
The Bowler, who had a great bowling ball and could bowl really well
The Invisible Boy, who could become Invisible only when no one was looking
The Spleen - who could fart so badly that everyone got knocked out by his farts
The Sphinx, who could cut guns in half with his mind - but whose main role seemed to be in coming out with mysterious sounding, Mr Myagi-like cliches "You must master your rage, or your rage will master you"

Which got me thinking about superpowers I'd like to have ... and Which Superhero Would I be ... if I were a superhero ...

I watched the Incredibles once and I thought I would like to be like Elastigirl. To be able to bend and stretch like a piece of chewing gum! Yeeha!

Then I watched the X-Men and I wouldn't have minded being like Mystique, and be able to imitate anyone, except Mystique is a baddie so bound to end up in a soup someday even if having the coolest power ever.

But if I were described as a Superhero of any kind, I think I would be called the Double-Check-Fanatic. My definite specialty, the skill I have honed over years, is an anality about switching things off and doublechecking contents of handbags and where things are.

I am the only person I know who needs to check four times in a row in three minutes if the heater in a room is REALLY off. I leave every room going "Keys - mobile - wallet - tissues - peppermints - shopping list from three months ago - four used CityRail tickets - check!" Then I have to do that process again from the beginning.

There must be somewhere in the world for this kind of power but I haven't found it yet.

The law of the courtroom says, never ever admit it was you

Now, I was told the law would be exciting and fun when I was younger, and then I did several years of law school (more than several) and I found that I was misled.

I mean, who really thinks real life is like those shows Law and Order or Judge Judy?

It's nice to find a judge keeping the tradition of sensational and stupid court alive although, as they say, only in America.

Jailing 46 people because one wouldn't admit "My phone rang!" in that judge's court. And then the judge said later they were under stress in his personal life.

Uh, would that stand up ... in court?

This judge really needs to get a job as a primary school teacher when that kind of discipline is condoned - the "I'll keep you all in if no one admits to putting bubblegum on my seat" rule.

The judge really should've kept the people in to write out one hundred times "I will not leave my phone on in court" - or maybe SMS it.

I was given a lovely long speech about my duties and the standards of my profession recently. I can't wait!

Burdens


Oh yes, you only have to see him as Opposition Leader.

I have to put up with him as my local member.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Election '07: Dance Dance Dance!

Vote the Bastards in,
Vote the Bastards out,
Vote the Bastards in,
And shake them all about,
Do the votey-votey
And turn it around
That's what it's all about!

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Election '07: New Leadership, Fresh Ideas

Working Families ...

Working Families ...

Working Families ...

Working Families ...

Working Families ...

Working Families ...

Working Families ...

Working Families ...

Working Families ...

Working Families ...

Working Families ...!

It is somewhat poetic.

And as a poet would point out, poetic rhymes somewhat with pathetic.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Election '07: Campaigns I'd like to see

1. The Single Pensioners Campaign

Government: This election, I announce, a package for all single pensioners! $100 billion will be spilled into the wallets of valuable Australians who are stand proud - in the queue at Centrelink. And all the better if they don't raise squalling kids who unnecessarily put a burden on day-care centres. These citizens - a role model for abstinence, contraception, seniority and/or bludging, must be accorded the highest respect.

Opposition: We'll do that too ... but ... We're also giving a laptop to all over 75s and quadriplegics.

Government: Damn! We'll give a bonus to all singles - $600 for each baby you don't have - hang on ... how will that ....

Opposition: Gotcha!

2. Woo a Hobo Campaign

Every year we get the same tired play with kids in the school campaign, greet people in your electorate, maybe look a bit amused at a funny dog campaign. And smile, smile smile. Get photed with lots of hardworking Aussie families.

I would love to take Mr Howard or Mr Rudd on a walk in the city and video it, and keep a count on how many hobos they ignore, how many they don't give money to, and how many they toss a few coins at in utter disdain while they eager chat up someone who looks like a "true-blue-Aussie-battler" with a baby.

If only there could be a "woo a hobo campaign" where the leaders went about trying to talk to hobos about how they got on the streets, and what kind of ongoing care might help them, and tried to show a bit of empathy, and actually listened to some of their ideas.

Unfortunately this one might be a bit farfetched as hobos aren't as cute as blubbering kids and most pollies don't put them in the totally reliable at the polling booth category. not even at turning up, let alone how they vote. And tax cuts and low interest mortgages tend not to give them their jollies; nor are they interested in the Kyoto Protocol the same way other Aussies are.

Somehow a bit of government housing and a bowl of soup might help but neither Mr Howard nor Mr Rudd seems to think of it that way - oh, and what electorate are they in, anyhow?

3. The "Environment before Economy" Campaign

Government: This year, we could give you a whole heap of tax cuts, but we aren't. Instead we're spending heaps of your hard earned on cash on solar energy and we're raising taxes. And we're not cutting down more forests, which will mean a lot of people will lose jobs and money. However, Australia will be a better place because we'll have nicer air, better trees and fewer carbon emissions and I know you all will agree that making sacrifices is ...

Hey, rotten egg throwing is bad for the environment!

4. The Homosexual Kiss Campaign

Both Rudd and Howard decide to spice things up with a homosexual smooch at a campaign launch.

OK, maybe I don't want to see that one.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Killthemallnow

A former student has been charged for threatening students via a YouTube posting with the name Killthemallnow.

Kill The Mall Now?

A serious threat to all large shopping precincts.

The Plastic Cup Offensive

There's a debate brewing about beer in Sydney. Plastic or Glass Cups? After a series of glassings some wretched victims and enraged members of the public have been calling for pubs to use little plastic cups instead of glasses to serve beer.

Even if a plastic cup doesn't look nearly as flash as a glass schooner.

Well, high time, I say. Get rid of those glasses and bring in those plastic cups! And to the caterwauls of those beer drinkers who say it "doesn't feel nearly as nice as a beer in a glass" and it's "not quite the same" when you get served a piddling little plastic cup as opposed to a big glass schooner with the beer frothing over it, juuuuuust right - I say -

GROW UP - and think about what we Orange Juice Snobs have been through for years!

Non alcohol drinkers have suffered at the hands of publicans for too long, and it's high time the tables were turned, I say. Every time you go out with your alcohol imbibing friends, the beer imbibers get a large schooner with froth edging out of it, artfully done like it were in an ad, and your wine drinkers get shown a label, allowed to sniff, to taste, to spit even, and allowed to jump up and screech and send it back to the kitchen if they wish!

If not, it's poured into an elegant tulip bulb shaped glassy thing.

They're presented with a "Wine list". A red? There's an abundance of reds, m'dear ...

A non-alcohol drinker?

"Soft drink? We got Coke ..." they mumble. They plonk a can in front of you - often no glass, no ice, and if you're lucky, perhaps a straw.

Perhaps a juice. "What juices do you have, please?" you inquire, as restaurants never seem to provide a separate "Juice List" in a lovely little folder.

"What kinds?" ponders the waiter, as if the thought never occurred to him. "I guess there might be ... apple?"

You give up on their poor selection, and order the apple, and find out that their version of apple was actually tomato juice. That was all they had, sorry. And your alcohol imbibing friends snigger as they sip their perfected to order cabernet sauvignons, and turn their noses up at your "red".

Enough with this Juice Humiliation, as we are ground into the tiles of a restaurant floor by the alcohol imbibing elite! Let the Revolution Begin! Plastic cups in pubs shall just be the beginning ... but it shall be a good beginning!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

My Kind O' Pencil

If there was ever an enticement for nibbling the end of a pencil, this is it.



THE ULTIMATE IN ORANGE JUICE SNOB DESK ACCESSORIES!!!

The Orange Juice Cocktail Pencil!!!

Featuring a rather saucy, and alluring, candy striped , purple-orange-red-and-yellow slim-line body, and topped off with a ripe orange slice, perfectly positioned at a nibble-abble tilt, this pencil is a must-have for orange-juice snobs everywhere. It's nibbly. It's juicy. It's chewy. And it doesn't get worms or go off aafter four days sitting in your pencil jar.

Not only does it mark you out as an orange-juice snob the world over, but it comes with all your standard pencil features. Made of wood, and sharpenable this pencil can:

Sketch
Draw
Scribble
Write
Take Notes
Cartoon
Edit
Graffiti

This remarkable multi-purpose instrument is a limited edition issue. Buy yours and be part of the fruity future!

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Ho, Ho, Ho, Halloween!

Despite there being no tradition of Halloween in Australia, you can't blame a few kids getting it into their heads that donning a witch's hat, a ghoul's mask or some such, and dashing about with a plastic bag screeching "Trick or Treat!" mightn't be such a bad idea tonight, if there's even just one apple and a tic tac to be made out of the venture. After all, Halloween's not an Aussie tradition, but begging and opportunism is well ingrained in the Aussie psyche.

So I wasn't surprised to find a ghoul, a goblin, a witch and some other creature - not quite sure what - turned up at Maria's doorstep with not-too-threatening giggles and a very Halloweenish chant of "Nice house you've got here!"

Y'see, the Aussie version of trick or treat seems to have been adapted to suit our culture even more - instead of threatening, suck up amazingly and it'll get you further.

Impressed I was; unfortunately, I wasn't prepared. Last year two boys in zomblie clothing had turned up and I gave them muesli bars and eucalyptus lollies.

This time I was lucky enough to dig up a nutri-grain bar (at least it's got a choc-topping) and a Cherry Ripe Bar for each of the kids. I thought I'd better come up with something sweet, because they were being chaperoned by a taller witch who, while she didn't beg for sweeties, might have not been so pleasant and calm had I not given her underlings sugarcoated treats.

I hope it were enough. If I never blog again, you'll know I've been mutated into something that can't blog.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Books, glorious books!

I don't know where it was first coined, but I first saw the word "biblioholism" in the book Biblioholism (whaddya know?) by Tom Raabe, describing the addiction of buying books. And of reading books. Hmm, that sounds like me, I thought at the time. Except I was a bit put off buying too many books at the time because I hadn't that much money and a big percentage of it had been locked down in my Commonwealth Bank Dollarmite account.

But I could well attest to many of the sensations and habits described by the author.

The feeling of headiness when you walked out of a bookstore laden with books?

The sneaking of books into class and reading them under the table?

The feeling of discomfort when you're caught on a train, in a restaurant, in a doctor's waiting room WITHOUT A BOOK? (nightmare nightmare nightmare)

So when I met Mr Coffee one of the most attractive things about this gorgeous figure apart from that sweet candystriped shirt and the fact he insists on wearing one green contact lens and one purple contact lens out to parties, was that he's afflicted with the same addiction.

We both can relate to it, which is great because we don't judge each other and we're perfectly understanding, and it's bad because we don't try to help each other, instead we feed each other's habit to buy lots and lots of books.

On the other hand, what's wrong with lots and lots of books?

Except for the fact that my bookshelves are showing a distinct curve where they aren't bearing the weight so well, it's all good.

We've been compiling lists of books we haven't had time to read because we're too busy buying more, and the list is rather long.

No matter, I say. Look, there's a 35% off sale! Can't miss out on that!

Besides, who'd want all your books READ?

Then you'd have to go out and buy more if you wanted to read! It's essential to have a large number of unread books on the shelf. Makes plenty of sense!

I'm planning my next romp on Borders for Thursday. Just for them to be warned.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Railing against CityRail


Now as a non-driver I've always relied on public transport and walking, much to my detriment.

My feet show huge sores that are mocked by car-drivers, and I have been psychologically scarred by exposure to inane meaningless mobile chatter while aboard rail.

Some people have asked me about my refusal to drive a fuel-chugging car. Is it environmental responsibility? The more cynical suggest it may be lack of money and me wanting to imbibe lots of alcohol on late nights out.

In fact it is none of these . It is sheer laziness and incompetence. I can't drive.

Oh and a bit of fear. Who knows what might mappen when you hit the accelerator? Doesn't that mean the car moves fast and then anything could happen couldn't it gosh you could die or worse still you could crash Mum's car and hit the neighbour's cat and never hear the end of it.

These kinds of fears keep me from ever testing the wheel.

So I ride the rail and the buses and let others take my life into their hands. At least they can have it out with Mrs Harris if they run over Mitzy and that is a load off my mind already.

Anyway this dependence on public transport means I am alert to the price of tickets, constantly.

Fares have gone up recently which is disgusting and outrageous stuff.

I am very much in favour of the low-cost ticket, or in fact free public transport.

I think there are many good arguments for this.

Actually there always are if you can get something out of it, however I believe this is a special case. For instance, we already pay taxes, unless your name is Jamie Packer and I think he owns his own private rail system so he doesn't count. So having very high tickets is unnecessary unless you're an incompetent and foolish government.

Oh well they've always got an excuse.

Also, the CityRail experience is not exactly a thing of beauty and a joy forever. In fact it is not even the basic standard I would expect from a Government.

The trains are always late and there is no government-supplied entertainment in the bleak waiting periods. John Watkins really ought to be strapped to a train and see what happens to him. It probably doesn't leave the depot, it stays there because that week was scheduled for trackwork and buses replaced trains "allow 30 minutes extra for travel time please".

After trackwork everything looks worse than when the trackwork started.

The voices which announce train timetables have irritating lilts.

The graffiti in CityRail is unoriginal and unamusing. I have read "Rave naked near a blue light" too many times now.

Train seats are not wide enough to accommodate Australia's obesity problem. Too many times I have got into a train to see a large person plonk down on a threeseater and take up most of the seat, and watch their flab expand over into the aisle. Then they chomp at a chocolate.

It is at the times when I watch this that I think about whether I ought to risk running over Mitzy.

P.S. I have been railing against the trains for awhile, but the writing of this post was prompted by a terrific post by TimT at Fastest Underwear in the West

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

"The Used Ink Tank is Almost Full"

Message from my printer.

Phew. And I was starting to get worried about all this artificial intelligence hype.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

The Biggest Number in the World

Column Eight (Sydney Morning Herald) mused a bit about what's the biggest number in the world. "There's no biggest number" said one reader ...

because you can always think of a big number, then double it.

And give it a new name. Like googolplexplex or something.

Column Eight suggest "Frank" to be one more than the largest number you can come up with; someone else suggested a "maximillion".

I suggest a "Jones". You can never quite keep up with the Joneses.

P.S. The Mathemagician and Milo were discussing this in The Phantom Tollbooth years before I came across it in Column Eight. The smallest number too - thinkof the smallest number you can think of - then halve it.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Election '07: I like worms

Mr Rudd has just agreed to an election debate with Mr Howard, and there's going to be a worm. At first Mr Howard didn't want the worm, but Mr Rudd said, "Why punish the worm? Everyone likes the worm."

Hmm. Well, there's a song about going eating worms, but I know lots of people who don't like worms. They haven't been given a good wrap in the past. All this stuff about being slurmy and slimey and grubby and dirty. Like that was a bad thing. However I was just browsing through some pictures the other day and I thought about how unfair a generalisation that was. It's a bit like the one the Liberal Party is spruiking about union leaders - they're not all grubs. There are some, in fact quite a few, who look quite down and groovy to get with.

What we need to do is divest ourselves of some of the common worm myths we have in society. Not all worms are scary worms, like this:


Some, in fact, are very hardworking, congenial worms, who contribute a lot to Australian society and ought to be celebrated. The fact that they wear rather cool hats helps a lot:



Speaking of cool hats, a worm with this hat on has to have a keen sense of humour:



Some worms just keep smiling and keep the whole world smiling too!



And some just are trying very hard to assimilate into the Aussie way of life ...



Truly give them credit. There are some very cool worms out there. Vote 1 The Worm!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

The whimsical contradictions of pollies pushing for power; or Election '07: now even I've started a diary

I just received an email from Senator Steve Fielding of Family First, urging us to put Family First. And to give him my telephone number so we can have a good natter about it.

Note to Senator Fielding - giving a pollie my personal number so he can pester me all day long, 'specially round election time, is not my idea of putting families first.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Ode to the dastardly less or fewer Coles Express Lane

When it's 12 Items or Less,
It's FEWER!
When it's Coles Express,
It's FEWER!
The signs are so meaningless
They should say FEWER!
What they garble is senseless
Why can't they write FEWER?
I shop in the fast lane less and less
I want them to write FEWER!
I'm getting more depressed
In God's name just write FEWER!
Please just put my mind to rest
How hard is it to write FEWER?!
And there'll be less poems like this I guess
FEWER! FEWER! FEWER! Damn it!

They got to me now.

Bastards.

Sweet Ever-child


Is it just me, or does the word "child" seem kind of incongruous here? Apparently she's a young, early-twenties inexperienced junior.
When I was that age I wore rounded glasses, a daggy T-shirt, baggy jeans and a Swatch watch, had a jagged thick fringe, pimples, and no hips, and thought joining the chess club was ultra cool. And I thought make-up was pretty cool - if you were a clown or a mime-artist. I had to put socks down my bra to fill out a Double-A bra. Actually, that hasn't changed that much except I finally threw the light-blue and white striped shirt away. I've changed it for a green T-shirt, it cost $5, which was a major outlay for me. It's so mega-hot.

Maybe I'm a Neverland kinda girl, but I get on buses, and I find girls on child passes who look more developed than me. Or so I think. Either school girls grow up quickly, or someone's cheating the transport system for a heck of a lot.

And then these young models who look ... erh, more worldly than me. Hmmm. Am I weird to say I feel rather inadequate in many regions?

If my child looked like that, she'd be using me for her Cabbage Patch Doll.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Politically Correct Comedy

There was an episode on Kath & Kim recently where the foxy ladies waded into the election debate. Brett gets fired from work under the new Workplace Relation laws, and Kath snaps "Bloody Howard!"

I was amused to read a comment from a reader in a newspaper that asked whether comedians knew that everytime they bought into a political debate, they lost half of their potential audience, and therefore they should stay away from it. It was bad stuff. His wife had tried watching Kath & Kim, but after the Howard comment she'd been turned off for good.

It's a pretty hard life out there for comedians. I guess some whiner is going to get there next and tell them that sitcoms which extol the virtue of the rounded happy family turn off all those people who are single or who had unhappy childhoods and don't agree, and that's bad stuff, and really shouldn't be done.

So I tried drafting a POLITICALLY CORRECT SITCOM scene:

Brett: I've just been sacked.

Kath: Bloody .... I mean, not as balanced as I previously would have thought of him before you were sacked, Howard!

Kim: Mum, that's not noice!

Sharon: I'd have to agree with Kim, Mrs D. May I please have one of those low-fat, sugarless muesli cookies that's good for your cholesterol and helps lower your calorie intake and battle obesity, Mrs D.?

Kath: Ok, Sharon.

Brett: Although I was disappointed with my lot I do think that there is a lighter side to this.

Kath: Philosophically speaking I think you may be right. Perhaps I was to harsh in my judgment. Howard may be a son of a female dog but he may also be one of those floaty white things that plays harps in heaven. It's all got to do with perspective, don't you think?

Kim: I think you're right Mum. It's perspective.

Brett: Either way you can't be bitter because as a useful Australian citizen I would have to contribute by finding gainful employment not being a dole bludger.

Sharon: Way to go Brett! Gee, these cookies are good, Mrs D!

Kath: How many have you had, Sharon?

Sharon: Ummmm ....

Kim: Never mind ....

(All put arms together and sing "mateship ... mateship ... mateship" with the sounds of panpipes in the background, and Sharon's chomping)

I would say this is definitely a .... joke.

Monday, 10 September 2007

I guess a case of do as I say, not as I do?

In today's Daily Telegraph:

Don't be selfish:
have kids

Pope's blunt message

Friday, 7 September 2007

Wonka Wisdom


I must say I must be the coolest person ever. Or at least close to.

I just received my Borders Shortlist (sign up at the Borders Book Webpage ) and I found out they were celebrating Roald Dahl's birthday, which is on the 13th September. And you know, that makes for a whole lot more interesting stuff in a newsletter than celebrating APEC.

F'rinstance, they listed four top Dahl books. Matilda, The Twits, The BFG and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. That's great, though I would have a hard time not squeezing in The Witches there too. I can also say I just read Esio Trot recently and I have a great image of tortoises all over a living room that is pretty darn cool.

Then there was the Wonka Quiz.

I got 100%. 10/10. I am officially a Wonka master! Unfortunately I don't win a Golden Ticket but I have my self respect and a huge ego now, even bigger than when I wrote my last post.

I can say I am one of those people who knew what Hair Toffee does and what happened to Prince Pondicherry and which flavour bar the last Golden Ticket was hidden in. I am officially Wonka Wise, Scrumptiously Sage, Chocaliciously, Scrumpliciously Cool!

This day is one I have been waiting for all my life. Joyous!

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Baby Games

Over on TimT's blog he's pining a bit for kids' game shows and giving us the latest rundown on the Einstein Factor for kids.

While there's Australia's Brainiest Kid, and the Einstein Factor For Kids, and It's Academic! (for schoolchildren teams), and Australian Idol for younger people who don't want to be kids and put on so much makeup that they look older than me, I think we're missing out on many of the fine possibilities in reality, game show and TV sport production that could be aimed at children.

What about "I want that Mummy!"

How many little kids have found themselves bitterly disappointed with their families and the parents they've been born to, and been absolutely sure there's been a mix up at the hospital? This is the Perfect Match for Kids. Children behind a door and ask several possible parent couples questions. Can Dexter the Robot pair up who is the more likely Mummy and Daddy for this child? Maybe there WAS a mix up at the hospital! At least they may be going home with a more suitable parent couple ... or at least out on one date with them to test them out ...

Or the Bratz model - "I want THAT, Mummy"

Select the 12 top tantrum tossers in the country, and bring them to a showdown in the local department store or supermarket. Trot them down the aisles and see who can wear down a professional actor, posing as a Mummy, the fastest. Who will give in first - Master Mummy, to the screaming fits for marshmallows and Lego and a baby Ipod? Or the Master Tantrum Tosser to threats of no Wiggles concerts for the next three hundred years ... stay tuned!

Baby Sumo Wrestling

If obesity is such a problem in this country, why not celebrate and take advantage of it rather than hide it and be ashamed of it? Ya know what I'm talking about.

Isle Of Ignoramus


Recently, the International Committee On Citizens And Immigrants came together to discuss a serious matter seriously, not just swap Iced Vovos and sushi recipes.

Previously, citizenship tests had been discussed. Some countries had them, and some hadn't. But many were thinking of taking them on. These included a test of random questions, which could include anything about the food and sporting history of the country to which were the Prime Minister's underpants of choice that day. Some countries accepted you if you got the latter question right, some expelled you if you did. Others included language proficiency tests, criminal history checks, and tests by large highly trained sniffer dogs. This was a matter for contention, as some countries did not think body odour ought to be a factor taken into account in whether you were a worthy citizen. However, an overwhelmingly number believed in it. "If a person stinks, the country sinks," chanted the supporters.

But this seminar, it was found that not only did many applying immigrants fail basic "sample answer" tests for citizenship, but the ones who had been born in a place failed miserably too.

The Australian representatives put forth their side:
While the committee was forced to accept multiple answers for some questions, ("Who is the Opposition Leader of Australia?" Kevin Rudd, Peter Costello, the ABC; "What does the "W." stand for in "John W. Howard"?" Winston, Wanker, Worst PM, "What is Australia's official language?" English, swearing, texting; were all considered acceptable, were some examples) applicants did terribly, and many citizens even worse.

The panel scratched through a bundle of tests who wrote that the Australian of the Year was "really cool - I watch each week - I will audition next year and make my dreams come true and by the way I love you Marcia and I hate Dicko!!!!!!!! xxxxxooooo!!!"

The International Committee showed several humiliatingly similar stories, such as people who had searched for Condoleeza Rice in the grains section of their supermarket.

It was then that it was decided to set up an Isle of Ignoramus. This may take some time as it as realised this may have to be a rather large Isle.

Those who could not show basic knowledge of their homeland would be shipped to Ignoramus - unless they could apply successfully, meeting the standard requirements of a citizenship test, to some other country.

Ignoramians would be supplied with basic water and shelter. It would be a jungle isle, so they could easily pick fruit and hunt for food. There would be some nice yummy cockroaches to eat should they get the urge for something more substantial. They may find nuts and berries, and possibly, if they were lucky, a cocoa bean to sweeten the whole thing up.

Courtesy of the International Committee a library would be set up on Ignoramus. There would be a limited number of books, texts and so forth, on various countries and cultures, but certainly enough information to study and pass a sample answer test, should an Ignoramian wish to improve his or her status in life. It may be necessary to share or fight for such resources, but this would show the will to learn - or the ability for those on Ignoramus to learn civilised ways and negotiate win-win situations.

Twice a year, Ignoramians would be given the opportunity to resit a citizenship test for the country of their choice - if they wish. Should they pass they would be allowed to leave Ignoramus.

The Committee thought the idea a resounding success. Now, the only question remained - where should they put Ignoramus?

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Infuriating bits of technology

A laptop has been frustrating Mr Coffee lately.

Laptops are very good at that. They are very infuriating creatures, because just as you are getting cross, and dancing about the room screaming, "I'm going to kill you if you don't do exactly what I want you to do - now accept this password/load up again!" they remain very composed. They don't react. They don't even blush. They don't say a thing. They just keep waiting for you to get crosser. Unfortunately I fall for that trick a lot and start crying and say things like,

"WHY? WHY? WHY DO THIS TO ME? Say something won't you?" It increases my blood pressure no end and I often end up rattling the computer which doesn't do too well for its functioning.

This is not uncommon. In fact it is VERY COMMON.

There are, perhaps you are unaware, every day people who are dancing about their computers screaming at them, and the computers don't scream back and the people get cross at them for not screaming. On the other hand if they did scream back they'd probably die of a heart attack. So it's kind of like a Catch-22.

Jack Yardley, 27, was dancing about, screaming at his computer, when he could take it no longer.

"If you don't do what I want you to do I will throw you off the flipping Gap!" he screamed.

The computer considered Yardley mildly.

"Insolent beast!" Screeched Yardley. he pressed some more keys. He fiddled with more cables. He turned the computer on and off. Nothing more.

"I can't take this an more!"

Yardley grabbed the laptop, and ran off to the Gap, and with a bloodcurdling scream, he threw himself AND the laptop off it.

It was a first, and the story made headlines.

MAN JUMPS OFF GAP WITH LAPTOP HUDDLED IN ARMS.
MAN DEAD. LAPTOP STILL SHOWS SIGNS OF FUNCTIONING.
"INPUT PLEASE. PLEASE TYPE PASSWORD. LOGON OR CANCEL?"

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Abscond Responsibility: Give it to God

Fob off responsibility for violent actions and homophobic tendencies to the Work Of God (An Act of God). Or,

"Where God and Satan and Collaborate, and God gives the order to his henchman, Satan, and Satan indulges in some gratuitous but heavenly poofter bashing on Oxford Street"

(extracted from today's Sun Herald - August 19 2007)

Against God's Word

ANYONE who has been a committed Christian for a few years and who knows the spirit realm can reveal why it is that gays get a hard time ("Thugs targeting gay clubs and bars", The Sun Herald, August 12).

What they are doing is unscriptural (against God's word and his commandments) and by adopting the homosexual lifestyle, authority is given over to the evil spirit realm for Satan to kill, steal and destroy those he chooses to do so in that lifestyle (John 10:10). The solution is simple: dump the lifestyle and Satan loses his authority. Likewise if the young children are told Harry Potter witchcraft practices, Satan also loses access to the young children. It is all to do with legal authority. If God says "No", He means it. His No is only for our betterment.

Graeme Gibson
Sylvania

Isn't it so cool to have a letter endosing bashings of humans and then talking about God, Christianity and "legal authority?

"We don't kill people, we destroy demons." - Dad, "Frailty"

Free Trivets!!!!!!!!!

Now that the Borders Books Competition is coming to a close, another store is - or was - giving out freebies!

Woolworths!

If you happen to be something of a trivet fan, I have good news and bad news for you.

The good news:

Yesterday, my mother was hunting for some lovely metal trivets, and she found some strong and rather pretty ones too. With pictures of flowers in them. You can't really beat a metal-tulip trivet, well, not for my mum anyhow. And when she took them to the Woolies checkout they scanned in for $0.00!

I wish this would happen with large canisters of oil and so forth, but a free trivet is a free trivet. Yippee!

The bad news: My mother cleaned out all of the trivets at that Woolies that night. I don't know if there is a crisis-trivet shortage in Australia at the moment, but if so, we're holding them to ransom.

Sorry.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Panasonic Stuffs Up, and We Pay

Recently - like over a month ago - I purchased the SC-PM54 Panasonic HiFi system. It's a black shiny thing and it was advertised as being able to play WMA files and MP3's.

Whoopee!

So I burned a disk of WMAs and MP3s, mostly WMAs.

And guess what - the WMAs wouldn't play. There was a little message flashing up "ERROR" each time I tried.

I checked the Panasonic webpage. Lo and behold, the reference to WMAs had vanished. But there was a cached site from just after I had purchased the stereo confirming what I had seen - that the advertisements HAD been advertising the capacity of the stereo to play WMAs.

So I contacted Panasonic and explained that I'd been ripped off. And what's more, they'd tried to cover it off, not by apologising on their website or to previous purchasers, but mysteriously deleting their reference to it one day.

It took over a month for them to get back to me - and I had to call them and prompt them.

What did they offer me?

"You can take the stereo back to the store and exchange it for instore credit at the price you paid for it, and get something you prefer," said the lady. "That's all we can offer."

She tried to sound really generous.

Hang on - what does this mean?

I lose the time I spent burning WMAs and the disk I burnt.

My mother lugged a huge stereo down the street, and now we are expected to bundle it up again and lug it back.

And then to get instore credit - not taking into account whether we actually want to spend more at that store. I mean - they stuffed up, and that's why we spent money at their store. Should Panasonic dictate that we spend money at that store again and restrict our purchases again?

Totally uncool.

I thought so, and asked the lady on the phone for a contact-back number.

To add insult upon insult, I got a call soon after saying "By the way, the return back offer only lasts for 14 days after today ..."

Uh-yeah.

So what does Panasonic get out of this? If I return it, after I've done all the leg-work and am stuck with instore credit instead of the cash I doled out, and have to go hunting for ANOTHER stereo system, Panasonic simply has a stereo system returned to them, which was simply "refunded", and they can flog off to someone else at the same price with no fear of getting into the same pot of boiling water because they've now changed their ad. And since I only bought it recently, and the return offer only lasts for 14 days, they can bet their boots it's in saleable condition.

Oh, too easy.

It's time for these places to pay when they stuff up. May a WMA blow up in their face. Or something.

Friday, 10 August 2007

An Even More Time-Consuming and Mind-Numbing Way To Waste Your Time Than Browsing Blogs

I haven't been writing posts or commenting on blogs much lately or even reading them.

Why not?

I found this competition on the Borders site recently - World's Best Fabricator's - Win A Bookcase

Comp ends 20th August

You actually don't get a bookcase but there are lots of books to win, like 100 of them. Someone is about to win 100 books at a go, but there are 100 books to be won individually - actually a whole lot more practical if you wouldn't have room for 100 books and have read some of those titles already, but wouldn't mind getting a freebie. And six $100 vouchers, and lots of coupons for Borders buyers.

But it's a pretty time-consuming game if you want some of the better prizes like a free book. It can still be a bit time-consuming if you want a better coupon (On my first few go's I got coupons for reduced price manga titles, and I'm not a big manga title buyer, so that wasn't much good to me).

It can also be rather addictive, ieven if you're just like me and waste a lot of time staring at the bookcase and trying to decide what your next purchases would be if only you had a few extra few hundred dollars to blow on fiction, and then realising you were getting sucked into the whole Borders gimmick right along.

Anyhow, good luck everybody!

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

A Nerd, Nurd, Geek or Dork?


I read this story with Mr Coffee just the other day, about the guy who was called a Nerd online and he drove from Virginia to Texas and almost killed him. The victim lived near Waco, and seemed to attract guys of the Whacko type.

N.E.R.D. - darn those four letter words.

That led to a debate with Mr Coffee and his sister - what was the biggest, most insulting 4 letter word - GEEK, DORK or NERD? The words flew fast around the room and I thought I might just get killed.

Mr C's sister actually thought Nerd sounded not too bad and couldn't see what the whacko from Virginia was on about; Mr Coffee didn't think Geek was quite as insulting as Nerd. But what did they mean?

"Dork means socially clumsy and pretty dumb around people," I pronounced, hoping no one was reading my eyes and thinking about how I was seeing my ninth grade years flash before me - and that awful outfit I wore for three years religiously in Uni ... and my ...

"And geek is kind of like being a specialist in one very narrow area of knowledge, but not having a rounded knowledge," explained Mr Coffee. "That's not too bad. I like that."

"But what does "Nerd" mean?"

"Suspenders," said Mr Coffee.

"And socks with sandals," I added.

So what did the Macquarie Dictionary say?

Dork revealed social clumsiness and ineptness.

But Nerdiness? "Also can be spelt "Nurd". That's strange, I'd never seen that. "Means: an idiot, fool." Nothing about suspender or socks with sandals.

And Geek? Nothing about specialised knowledge there: "An idiot fool, someone who holds themselves up to ridicule and indulges in such activities as biting the heads off chickens," Mr C's sister read out. "You like that?"

Nerd, Nurd, Geek, Dork - what's your favourite 4 letter word?

Mr Coffee is cheating on me!


I am convinced Mr Coffee must be cheating on me.
He has won about the last 4 matches of Uno from me, all by a massive margin, and one by over 500 points!

You only need 500 points to win Uno.

There is something in that.

What shall I do?

I read a book on 100% predictable things men will do when they cheat, and the top two things are they will deny it, and they will express disapproval in cheating.

Mr Coffee has already said he doesn't think it's good to cheat at Uno!

AAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!

He then denied cheating when confronted.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!

Can I keep the Uno relationship with him if there is no longer trust?

You Take The Greatness, I'll Take the Get Out of Gaol Free Card

I read this great letter in The Daily Telegraph today, contributing to that fiery debate where people try to defend either private or public schools, mostly trying to either validate which one they went to in the hope someone will look not snub them at the next social function, or to get the Howard Government to direct funding to their kiddies' school, not realising Howard is saving it up for a big all-expenses-paid-by-the-taxpayer holiday for himself and a fully furnished luxury bunker in the case of nuclear war:

"Unwanted" Underrated

Selective Schools are selective because they can select who they want, but more importantly who they don't want. Not for them the poor and unwashed, nor the behaviourally challenged, although I know that some Catholic schools do try to take all comers.

Those unwanted children are the responsibility of the general public school system. Have any beneficiaries of these special expensive educations achieved worldwide recognition for their contributions to mankind? I know of many strugglers who achieved greatness.

If you are protected from the realities of life how can you appreciate the problems that some people are forced to contend with?

K. Manning
Tamworth

1. Is K here talking about selective or private schools? Last time I looked, selective schools weren't that expensive, it's the private ones that shoot through the roof. Back to school!
2. .... depending on selection process, selective schools do take "poor" people. Selective schools' method is usually based on talent/intellectual capacity/skills/performance etc, not money. Is this the mix up of Private and Public again?
3. It's a great leap to assume that someone who has had a private education has lacked compassion, or doesn't have problems or troubles that they can share with others. This sounds like K here has made an easy separation "There are strugglers - nothing goes right for them - they understand the real world - they go to the general system - then there are the people on easy street - they are rich and everything goes right for them and they are protected and live in an illusory world".
Ever thought that people who may go to a private/selective school may not have things like the extreme lower end of income to deal with in their family, but may:
Struggle with budget anyway because lots of it goes to school fees?
Have split families?
Have image problems?
Struggle with discrimination, social violence, bullying, and crime?
Have academic difficulties, or difficulties keeping up with expectations?
Have health problems?
Suffer from tragedies, pressure and so on?
Have to make difficult decisions, and have both good and bad luck at different stages of their lives?
Get mixed up with drugs, not quite sure about their bodies, about sex, about employment, about what they're going to do with their lives?

and so on?

Plenty of people from everywhere face these things every day - that's real life.

4. You know strugglers who achieved greatness - good for you. I know people from exclusive schools who are compassionate and who have worked for the community selflessly, and some real ratbags from public school who despite their struggles tend to trample on everyone else and have a belief in their right to gain without work. The point being, your school doesn't determine whether you have compassion, and being at a public school won't make you a community achiever, nor will being from the private/selective sector make you a snobbish, aloof bum.

5. Despite the implication of this letter that there is a need for people to mix with the "behaviourally challenged" to achieve social greatness, if you don't want your kids to, all power to you. If behaviourally challenged means bullying, disruptive and violent, I can see good reason to get the heck out of there.

It reminds me of when I was talking to a man who was in custody - for 8 criminal charges in a row. He told me about some of the gaol culture, and said to me, despite the shock and disgust of some of the doings of inmates, "You know, it's [gaol] is a real learning experience!"

"You know, I don't think I'm in a hurry to become an inmate and get that learning experience!" I replied.

There are some experiences in life that being 'protected' from - well, who cares if someone uses it as an insult?

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

You Know, Uno Anonymous

I think I should start an Uno Anonymous Society. There would be one member right here, me. But with a name like Uno Anonymous, that number is about right.

I'm addicted. It's dire. Lately, Mr Coffee has won several matches of Uno by massive margins, and I'm desperate to win them back. It's a matter of pride, I tell you. It's a matter, of you know, Uno.

My desperation has made me do some silly things. In my wild fever of sorting my hand out so I'd have the Mr Snuffleupagus's all ready in a row to defend, I failed to note that Mr Coffee didn't say "Uno!" - and I got hit with a menacing Draw 4 and he won over 200 points from me in one game. A cruel blow. That's what happens when cards make you throw caution to the wind, and my Uno Society is determined to cap that.

The more I lose, the more I play, like a pokey machine addict, or Pauline Hanson.

I beg for help.

The Tale Of The Control-Freak Office Manager

I have just recovered from a weekend of irreverent slobbish lazying, DVD-watching and honey-macadamia nut gorging, and reluctantly crawl out to the real virtual world.

I am glad to report that I have indeed finished the 75 days of Law placement - hurrah! I walked back down Liverpool Street with my fellow law clerk on my last afternoon, having an emotional farewell every few steps, and then reminding myself I had a celebratory Japanese dinner awaiting me (early booking) so I couldn't keep doing this, so I dashed off after the 473rd hug and promise to keep in touch by mobile, SMS, email and to pop in at lunch times for no particular reason.

Some things, though I won't miss about work:

1. Waking up early by my alarm
2. Waking up again by my second alarm because I dozed off after my first
3. Running to catch the bus
4. Running to catch the bus in the rain
5. Chain smokers
6. No time to blog
7. This one pop song that I don't know the name of but I know the tune by heart and I know one line by heart. It must come on the radio at least four times a day, and every time it does, my office manager starts singing it out loud. Badly. And shrieks out one line piercingly. Help!
8. My office manager

Yes, my office manager is one of the chain smokers.

Perhaps my Office Manager can best be explained through a little, dare I say, moral story?

The Tale Of The Control-Freak Office Manager

Once upon a time there was an Office Manager who managed a little office where there were some animals working for her. They were not stupid animals, but she treated them as though they were stupid, and she gave them rather confusing orders, which made them look stupid.

At least to her.

One day an iguana came to work for the Office Manager.

"You must not answer the telephone, unless I am too busy to answer it," said the Office Manager.

The iguana ignored the telephone. "Why aren't you answering the telephone, I am busy!" screamed the Office Manager, getting rather red.

The iguana was rather confused, as the Office manager had been playing solitaire on the computer and having a smoke. But next time she answered the phone. "Put it down, I told you not to answer it!" shrieked the Office Manager.

Poor Iguana!

It was like this for the Pretty little Hen upstairs, and the horse, and even the Lion was cowered even though he was supposed to be king. The Office Manager shrieked and confused them all. A rabbit gave her resignation, and a giraffe proudly walked out the door - or would have looked very proud if he hadn't had to bend his neck a lot to get out.

Very soon it was just the Office Manager sitting there with her solitaire and her smokes.

Wondering what she - how she - did manage.

P.S. I rather liked to be an iguana, at least just once in my blogging life!
P.P.S. Yes, Mr Coffee and I did watch 'Miss Potter' as our celebratory end of Law Placement DVD. Recommended.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Dear Maria: Actually, Ask a Statistician

The fretfully in love, and sexually embarrassed on Ask Sam
(previously known as Sam And The City) were confronted with the statistic from wherever Sam gets her stats, which was that the average man has had 7 sexual partners, and the average woman has had 4 sexual partners, which "doesn't add up" complained some, and bewailedcertain others, "women must be lying, where are all these extra women that men are sleeping with???" ('Course, couldn't be the men who were exaggerating their sexual prowess.)

Of course the stats could add up.

The average (whoever "average" is) man has had 7 sexual partners. The average female has had 4 sexual partners.

Doesn't say that those partners are all of the opposite sex.

Or for that matter, even human.

--

Postscript:

Jerry Springer's team read the above paragraph and has started storyboarding:

My hubby is bi, homo, gay, queer, experimental, and every othe not-that-there's-anything-wrong-with-that word you can think of!

My boyfriend bonks aliens!

I found my partner bonking a squirrel and now I'm experiencing insecurity problems and furry fantasies!

My man has ghost fetishes and it's driving me nuts!

My father likes it with ... well however you'd describe it you can't call my piano teacher human!

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Brought to you by The Sydney Morning Herald's Sunday Life, and D. Morgan, Esquire

The article "The Best Mates I've Never Met" disturbed me. We mistake these confessions and narcissistic displays for intimacy. We're treating each other as freak shows and fleeting entertainment. Everyone is too busy delivering their opinions and emotions to reflect on anything at length or listen attentively to anyone else or check the facts. If blogging makes you part of a community, why are bloggers sitting in front of computer screens alone? I can understand why it is a lifeline for people who are isolated by geography. war, age, illness, disability or carer's duties but I wonder if we should spend less time talking about ourselves to strangers and more getting to know our neighbours.

D. Morgan
Wollstonecraft, NSW

(Watch out, Wollstonecraftians, there's a D. Morgan out to get to know you all. That is, if John Howard, your friendly neighbourhood politician, doesn't get there first with some hefty hand-shaking.)

I found this in a Letters to the Editor section of the magazine, and the following thoughts tumbled out:

1. "If blogging makes you part of a community, why are bloggers sitting in front of computer screens alone?" - This sounds like "if those girls are having fun why don't they go to nightclubs, instead they stay at home and read books?" question. Answer - because they're having a different kind of fun from you. Doh!

2. WE mistake ... WE'RE treating each others as freaks ... What the heck are you doing D. Morgan? Don't automatically include me in it! - You need my explicit permission! - While I'm not high on my orange juice, chocolate binge or a good blog post!

3. It's so nice to know that blogging is what makes you a narcissistic pontificator, incapable of listening, rather than your personality. And no other medium does this - not even a Letters Page to the Editor.

4. And my neighbour couldn't be a complete stranger. (or a narcissistic pontificator who doesn't listen.)

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Men Don't Understand Me! Waaahh!

And I thought I just didn't get the romantic life.

Perhaps we'll start a little "What Shall I Do With My Love Life?" column, right here. All responses welcome. As a long time contributor to the hugely entertaining, highly addictive, often turning-into-jelly-wrestling-type-lowbrow banter blog, Sam And The City (if that offends anyone, please let me know and I'll ignore your complaints - I'm sure even the most ardent fans will agree that Sam's blog doesn't exactly massage the highest of their cerebral functions, or if it does, then ... oh dear) - the topic now turns to romance. Or lack of it.

I head to the streets, and turn my attention to the distressed Pinky.

Maria: Pinky, let me guess. Man problems?

Pinky: Isn't it always? My boyfriend is an idiot. He doesn't know what I want!

Maria: Hmmm, neither do I. What do you want?

Pinky: Boyfriends are jerks! The last one didn't stay long enough to be a boyfriend. He just has sex for a week then he disappears!

Maria: Ummmm ... welll ... Pinky: *glares* I AM NOT A SLUT!

Maria: Errh, I wasn't going to say that. *thinks: next interview I will bring a bodyguard/bulletproof vest/at least a heavy baseball bat*

Pinky: Then the next one gets all gooey eyed and wants to have kids and be my husband - can you believe it? My husband?

Maria: *thinks of glaring eyes* I definitely can't.

Pinky: I just want a gorgeous hunk of spunk who I can use for sex when I want and who'll spoil me rotten and adore me and never look at anyone else but won't marry me and doesn't expect commitment - is that too much to ask?

Maria: Errh ...

Pinky: Men are idiots aren't they?

Maria: *thinks: you'd better hope so* Thanks Pinky, good luck.

There's always someone with a pressing problem. Plenty of those unlucky in love out there.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Err hmm - Taxpayer Funded Intelligentsia, Aussie style?

I came across this government report, enticingly titled: Report: Link between head injury and serious violent offences .

My first thought upon reading the title was, "several years of research and tens of thousands of taxpayers' dollars spent to come to the conclusion that when someone beats you repeatedly on the skull with a crowbar, it causes damage?"

Now that's money well spent.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Emergency Post

If an ambulance hits you as it's speeding to someone in need, will it stop to assist you, or call another ambulance and go to the person who called it?

Actually, this question has been bothering me for some time about the emergency services, so much so that I think about it every time I hear the emergency siren. I was almost crossing a road when a truck with a siren ran the red light and I thought "Oh, I could have jumped in front of it, got knocked over and tested what would have happened!" Oh dear.

Then I realised it was a fire engine.

I heard another today, but it was an ambulance motorcycle (it's the first time I've seen one of those). It's not quite the same thing, is it?

This is really getting to me. It's like, if doctors get sick, do they write their own sick notes to say they're too sick to go to work? .... or come to hospital?

I've never been a doctor before (or for that matter, an ambulance) so I don't know.

Guilty, Guilty, Guilty

Ahh heck. It seems only recently I was writing a whole lot of agonised posts about job interviews, and soon I may be writing them all over again, because this li'l job at this 'ere place is coming to an end pretty darn soon. Or maybe it only seens pretty recent because I've been lazy about updating this blog, so it's only been a few posts ago, but quite a while ago?

Anyhow, news from this job: We lost. I mean the court case. A lovely farewell card to this job.

I felt terribly nervous when the jury came in with the verdict, and when they finally said it "Guilty. Guilty. Guilty." - I wasn't sure how to react.

I'm glad I didn't react like one man in the court, who for some reason got so excited he started cheering at the guilty verdict and rushing about with glee, which didn't make anyone feel any better, and didn't impress the judge too much.

The accused's mother broke down and started screaming, and they had to call an ambulance.

The truth is, you spend so much time preparing for this and talking to the families, and in the end you will never know if he was guilty or if he was not. Maybe he deserved to go to gaol, or perhaps he is an innocent man who will be locked away. There is just a lump inside you when you remember, especially, his crying mother, his laughing children.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

I'll just have the platelets, hold the blood ...

Has anyone ever been inspired by one of these posters (found outside the Red Cross, in Sydney's Clarence Street), to burst into the donation centre, and say,


"Hi, I'd like to donate a large number of platelets, you can take a moderate amount of plasma, but no blood. Cool with you?"?

Monday, 4 June 2007

Frostbitten Mittens

I have recently taken to singing Christmas songs, and it's driving Mr Coffee crazy, not just because I can't hold a note to save my life, but because I'm really early or really late for Christmas, depending on whether you're a cup half-full-or-half-empty type of person.

But it's not my fault, it's because of all those mulchy Christmas symbols with snowmen wearing Christmas caps and houses covered in white. My hands are getting frostbitten, and I'm beginning to think it's a whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiite Christmas. I'm also wondering at how I'm actually going to get to the end of this post. Every so often I have to sit on my hands and hope this warms my hands up just so I can type a few more letters, otherwise there would be no more post.

I don't know how the Eskimos can stand it. They say they had 42 words for snow or something, but what's the use of them if your fingers are so frozen you can't write any of them down?

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Little Zeno

I just received something that's just like an ipod, only it's cheaper, and smaller. The cheaper makes it a great deal more lovable in my eyes, and I've been jumping about with glee for the past few days. Oh, happy bargain electrical goods! There is never a better day when you can spend a whole lot of money knowing you've given a large corporation more money to do so! I've been ecstatic ever since.

My little object of affection is called a Zen Neeon, or Little Zeno as I call it, partly because I think it sounds cute, but mostly because I'm suffering temporary dyslexia, or somefing.

I'm welcoming my little Zen. It gives me piece of mind.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Happy Birthday Lexicon Harlot!!!!

On this day, long ago - or at least, err hum, some time ago, Lexicon Harlot was born, and the world was not the same ever again. Turmoil. Chaos. Political Protests. Puns. Dog Photo Galleries. Turquoise scarves. Mushroom growing kits. Which is why there is much celebration going on this end of town. I'm in Sydney right now, and Ms Harlot's in Melbourne.

This is time to reflect on Ms Harlot's eminent earlier years. I met her when she was much younger and shorter and actually ate chunky beef bits that weren't made of vegetable, they were made of meat. I also knew her when she had a whole lot more hair.

I remember birthday numero twenty five when a drastic haircut was her celebrarion and she went from long-haired maiden to cropped, and I told her she looked like Young Einstein.

That was rather cruel, but it was even crueller when she soundly beat me at Scrabble that day so I guess we're even.

Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Congraduations To Me!

For those who've been wondering where I've been - the one of you (um, mainly me) - I've been basking in the glory of my post-graduation phase. That's right, I've joined the ranks of those who can officially say that they've paid a stupendous amount of money on top of their Uni course and compulsory union fees to have an hour or so poncing about in a black tent and a flat topped hat to celebrate their liberty from librariness and their relief that they've now got to go out into the workforce and contribute most of that to HECS fees for the next few years to justify their existence.

Yippeee for me, I say!

I was told by so many how proud I looked, as I left the stage clutching my testamur. Mostly it was because I had managed not to fall flat on my face wearing those new heels I'd bought for the occasion.

Mr Coffee bought me some purple roses - my fave colour - for the event, to prove that I have a significant audience on my blog, reading my biography. One is a very significant number in quite a few cultures.

Mum got her share in the flowers too - a fair smack - literally. Ready - aim - strike - see photo. After all, my graduation was just before Mother's Day so I had to take advantage of the time before the day where I was obliged to be perfectly nice to her. A lesson I learnt in University is that you should never miss an opportunity. Actually I learnt that in kindy when I really wanted a great book on witches and this girl with a long plait left it alone for a minute while she was fiddling with her hair, but that's another story.

There is a lovely photo of my father and I. He is grimacing - or smiling with his mouth shut, because he's gappy. I tried to sing him the gappy song, but after several verses, I feared for my life. It's a pity because there are so many advantages to being gappy - he can do a great whistle now that he couldn't do before. I'd show the photo but I've been "requested" not to. Usually little Maria here would rebel, but since Dad has developed the gap-toothed temper to go with the tooth, I'll humour him.

Now it looks like I have no excuse to sit around as an unemployed bum, or student, as the polite term may be. Perhaps I'll take up another degree.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Your Choice In The Skinny Dip

Here's a letter I read in that bastion of unsensationalism, The Daily Telegraph :

Seeing pictures of thin young models makes me wonder why designers would want such people to model their clothes.

I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but does anyone find beauty in skinny models? It may be natural, as they claim, but to me, models such as Jennifer Hawkins or Elle MacPherson are more attractive and would show off the designs to the best advantage.

It is probably unrealistic for most women to have such beautiful bodies as those of Jennifer and Elle, but does anyone want to look like the thin models?

Bev Martin, Mona Vale - Tuesday, May 8, 2007, p18



Does anyone want to look like the thin models? Um, try asking any of the people diagnosed with anorexia nervosa or bulimia.

Truly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Recently, comments such as "Megan Gale looks like a horse" "Angelina Jolie - doesn't do it for me" - "Jennifer Hawkins - pretty ordinary" - "I can't stand big breasts" "I'm a boob man" "Redheads!" and so forth, I've read and heard all over the place. There's a company that wanted all "ordinary bodied-woman" - plumper, round-figured women to model.

Why would a designer put clothes on a skinny model?

Honey, if it works for their clothes business. That's why.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Sonata To A Gappy Man; Or, When You're Gappy And You Know It

Recently my Dad had a tooth removed. This has given him a whole new perspective on life, or, has given others a whole new perspective into his mouth. He's kept tight-lipped, literally, on the topic, but it's a life-changing time for him. Mum's softening him and his meals up, but apart from chew really savagely on a large bone with the right front side of his mouth, there isn't a lot he can't do. When you've lost a tooth, you can still do many things - wiggle your hips, say hurrah, stomp your feet, save the environment and I'm sure you could run for PM too. And there's no reason why you shouldn't put passion into it, and broadcast your new life's purpose - or recycled old life's purpose - with music.

Despite Lexicon Harlot's endearing comment, "Music is not Maria's pianoforte", I hope you'll bear with my joyous little ditty writen in celebration of my Dad's missing tooth. You never know, it may become the anthem for the Paralympics one day, and you'll be able to say you sang it here first. Sing along!

Generic Gappy Happy Opening Verse
When you're gappy and you know it, stomp your feet!
When you're gappy and you know it, stomp your feet!
When you're gappy and you know it and you really want to show it,
When you're gappy and you know it, stomp your feet!

Next verse for the Environmentally Aware Gappies, who can do anything
When you're gappy and you know it plant a tree!
When you're gappy and you want to grow it, plant another three,
When you go to the loo, don't flush unless you've done a poo,
When you're gappy and you want to slow it (really slow it) take public transport too!

Next verse for the shopaholic gappies
When you're gappy and you know it, max out your credit card!
When you've got someone else's do it double, c'mon it's not that hard!
Dentures these days cost so much, it's not as if going into debt is difficult as such,
When you're gappy your credit card is your crutch!

Put your gap to use, gappies!
When you're gappy and you know it you can whistle a darn good tune,
When you're gappy and you use it that gap's a boon,
When you make it work to a tee, you'll be whistling do-re-mi delicately,
When you're gappy and disciplined that day'll be soon.

For the sadists out there
When you're gappy and you know it you can make people cry,
When you're gappy and you're sadistic you can curl your lip and look them in the eye,
People get distraught and their faces they all contort,
When you're gappy and you practised you could make them die.

Gappies - the world is your oyster! Be prepared for many more verses ...

Sunday, 29 April 2007

Stupid Question, Stranger...

Why is it with spam email, it's always someone with a stupid name like "PINKYBOO" or SPOTTYUMBRELLAQUEEN" from an email address you've never heard on who sends you a forwarded group email telling you something along the lines of:

WARNING! This is REALLY IMPORTANT! If you receive an email from [UNKNOWN EMAIL NAME, USUALLY A STUPID SOUNDING ONE] at [UNKNOWN EMAIL ADDRESS] then delete it at once! It is a hacker! They will have access to your address book, IP address, all your details, everything, and they will be able to send out harmful viruses to everyone! This is VERY IMPORTANT for the security of your computer! Forward this email on to everyone in your address book so they don't get caught out either!

???

Saturday, 28 April 2007

On A Serious Note ... ANZACs, Turks, and Japanese

On the day after ANZAC Day, I watched Andrew Denton's ANZAC Day special, in snippets. He'd been to Gallipoli; his father had written a book on the Boer war and he had taken a significant role in ANZAC ceremonies and made a documentary on it.

In the documentary, he said his response was not sadness but anger at the waste of lives. But what was more poignant to me was when he asked one man whether he was aware of the difference between respecting the flag and having national pride, and the dangers of wrapping oneself in the flag and being driven by nationalism.

The man recounted a story about listening to a young man from the Allied Forces, having been told that the Turks suffered so many more tragic deaths than the ANZACS, said proudly, "Yeah, we really kicked their butts, didn't we?" The man said this was a rather dangerous attitude, and pointed out that these people, too, were people with real lives who had suffered as well.

Too right.

When it comes to ANZAC Day, I'm not quite sure how I feel about it. One of the reasons I am not too eager to get involved in much of the marching hype is because I'm not too sure about how what it is meant to represent. There has been some confusion about whether it is more meant to represent the futility of war or the glorification of the military. For instance, the marching of conscientious objectors has been prevented, which puts forth the notion that it is more about the honour and glorification of the military.

While I acknowledge that people in the military suffered terribly, this does not mean I really feel that they were the only ones who did suffer - nor that we should see them as the foundation stone of Australian history.

But even more importantly were the mixed feelings about nationalism I have about it. The comment about the "nationalism" that the man on the documentary made brought back some memories.

When whaling began as a hot topic in the news, I read a few letters to the Editor saying that it was just typical of the Japanese to whale, and what could you expect since they'd tortured Australian Prisoners of War. I also read a few letters suggesting that Australia not give any aid to Japan should there be a natural disaster (such as a hurricane or tsunami) and no Japanese person was deserving of Australian help, considering the way "they'd" treated Australian Prisoners of War.

Will people never get over a wartime grudge? When I even called it a grudge, (and I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking it sounds like some petty playground grudge) some people got mad as hell at me and told me to "read my history books, march on ANZAC Day and be proud". Proud of what? That I can hate someone a bit more?

Yes, people did some awful things in war - it's pretty disgusting. Every side does some pretty awful things in war. You look back at the deaths and destruction and it's an indictment on both sides - humanitarian-wise.

(Note: When you say "well, plenty of innocent people in Japan died horribly from atomic bombs dropped by the Allies" there's always a large number of people who will jump up and tell you that these were necessary to be dropped to end the war and gain peace, and therefore somehow 'more humane', whereas torturing PoWs was unnecessary and therefore brutal.

Note to those people: Dropping atomic bombs was not more necessary in itself, it just happened to work. The Allies' technique happened to work and the Japanese technique did not, but there was no agreement "If I bomb you, you will surrender, but if I torture your Prisoners of War, you won't". Both sides simply heaped on brutalities - upon people with real lives - with both sides suffering terribly, and waited for one side to give in.)