Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Annoying theBoy is fun...

Mister Maker had started and the theme song was playing. It basically goes 'La la la la Mister Maker ... La la la la he can make it ... ' (repeat a dozen times).

As it played I sang over top of it.

Me—La la la la Mister Baker.

theBoy—It's Mister Maker.

Me—La la la la Mister Baker.

theBoy—It's Mister Maker!

Me—La la la la Mister Baker.


Me—La la la la Mister Baker.


Me—La la la la Mister Baker.

theBoy—(screaming with panicked anger)—IT'S MISTER MAKER!!!

He then whacked me for added emphasis.

He only really calmed when his early-dinner of noodles arrived and Mister Maker's intensely-cheery antics distracted him.

Another daddy move parental fail.

theBoy recieves a lesson on intimidation through the medium of toys

theBoy had a bit of a Bumblebee™ birthday this year. In addition to a Bumblebee™ costume he received two Bumblebee™ cars that semi-transform into a robot. Bumblebee™ sometimes appears in Humpty and Stumpty time (1) as well, such as a recent Humpty and Stumpty outing in a Transformers-as-the-characters reenactment of a scene from Picnic at Hanging Rock ('Miranda! Miranda! cried Optimus Prime™ as he stripped of his camisole...).

In a recent daddy-theBoy toy play time I decided that Bumblebee™ wanted a name change; 'Bumblebee™ is such an effeminate wimp name! Call me The Wasp™'.

theBoy, naturally, took this on as a challenge. 'Bumblebee™, Bumblebee™, Bumblebee™, Bumblebee™' he chanted, pointing at the toy.

The Wasp™
tried to get theBoy, with daddy lamely attempting to brush at him with the partially extended arm of the robot, theBoy simply stepping out of reach and rendering me ineffectual. Like when tall bullies would keep me from striking their bodies through application of their palm to my forehead.

'The Wasp™ will get you back, Chooky,' I said gravely. 'You won't know the time. You won't know the place. But he will get you. What's that? Oh, he said he will get you tomorrow. But you won't know the time.'

theBoy just stood there through-out, watching me with a half-smile of 'what the fuck?!' on his face.

At that point the daddy-theBoy toy play ended. He went and got a set of less-intimidatory blocks and played with them instead.

In retrospect that daddy move was probably a parental fail.

Real time real life update: I am blogging. theWife is sifting through Facebook on her iPhone. theBoy is playing with his 'aren't mean to me' blocks and watching Aladdin on our ALDI-sourced Chinese flat-screen TV. Noice. theWife's recent freak on and lounge re-arrange has given us tremendous space for activities. It's also heaps more comfortable to use the laptop and watch TV and play with theBoy at his big blue cover table. It's awesome.

theBoy just came back from going to the toilet. He turned around to show us he hadn't pulled his pants up all the way and thus mooned us.

Classy move. Classy.

Post Update: theBoy came into range just as Aladdin ended. I retrieved
The Wasp™ from behind my arse then jabbed the toy repeatedly at theBoy's left butt cheek. 'There you go, Chooky! He got you. Now you don't have to worry.' I then held up The Wasp™. 'Now,' I said. 'What's his name?'. theBoy smiled and took three steps back. 'Bumblebee™' he whispered.


(1) Oh look it up through the search window. Top-left of screen.

An epihany

My son is standing on the couch behind me. He just sneezed ... all over my bald spot.

On with the post.

My recent discovery that I have had an always semi-fucked body of late has been giving me some comfort. It wasn't just a lack of will that cause me to fail at being athletic or "fit". It was also in having a deficient physiology (1). Of course the downside has been my being aware that other people don't suffer discomfort when moving around. It simply never occurred to me until now that being in constant discomfort your entire life was something other people didn't experience.

I know. It's moronic.

Anyway, today I was in the supermarket. I knocked a packet of biscuits onto the ground. I have low-grade self-diagnosed OCD about objects on the ground in high-traffic walking areas. I will pick up stuff even if I didn't drop it in case somebody slips on it. But instead of picking the biscuits up I soft-kicked the packet under the shelving, thus out of the way but alas not restored to its rightful place on the shelf.

Then I said, somewhat loudly, 'I can't pick that up ... I'm a disabled! and
strode off down the aisle and around the corner.

Area man clearly growing more comfortable with his appellation of 'person with a disability'(2).

(1) When I told dad about my Steven Bradbury (my fucked left-hip) and that my body had, in essence, 'always been fucked' and 'caused discomfort my entire life' I didn't get an apology from him. An apology for all the years of furrowed brows and prods and comments about my weight or level of activity. Instead ... he asked whether my Diet Coke consumption was an influencing factor. Old Mikey would have gone off in a blistering nasty attack. Well, maybe not that. But old Mikey would have gotten angry about it. Instead I simply said 'well coke is the second most drunk liquid on the planet after water and given a sample size of six billion people it's safe to assume any such health impacting factors would have been found by now.' Though I wimped out and added a rider by saying 'but it's true it doesn't exist in nature and clearly the body doesn't need it.' Hey, he's had a rough time. He didn't need me to get in his face about his near forty years of judgmental parenting.
(2) Technically 'disabilities' given my Viking horde of other physical and mental deficiencies. Morbid obesity is a big, fat beard-to-his-belt-buckle-Harry-High-Pants Viking that waddles into battle and, when he disembarks from the long ship, it noticeably rocks back and forth in the water in his wake.

The Purgatory Cart Enhanced

Yes, The Purgatory Cart, the anal-numbing evil possession of Casso, an icily beautiful witch-queen who lives in the north of my suburb and who presumably has legions of minions to call on.

The Purgatory Cart, an exercise bike also known as The Hell Wagon, is so named because with the ability to control the difficulty setting ... it's actually not that bad to ride. I mean I still feel I am exercising. And it's still not something I'd do if I had a choice in the matter. However, since I've had access to Casso's once-hated-possession (1), I have to admit that my hip doesn't seem to be hurting as much. Which is of course the whole point of the exercise (ho, ho).

Furthermore I have just found a means to get a decent target for time-on-the-saddle and thus enhancing the experience as a positive (2). I broke out Ole Mr Lappy (3), took out to our deathtrap-of-a-shed (4) and loaded in the latest episode of The Daily Show. Again ... I still noticed I was exercising but the fine, fine work from the team at TDS made it much less horrid. TheWife claimed she could hear me laughing from the lounge room.

There has been also another side-benefit of an on-site exercise medium ... I'm pretty sure I haven't left the precincts of my property since Saturday. And let's face it, I love my house. It's got everything I need in it. The rest of the world can get fucked! (shakes fist).

Indeed ... with the internet ... has there ever been a better time in mankind's history to be a shut in?! I think not. Of course the next leap of capability for a shut-in will be nearly-real sex bots ... and we're probably twenty years off that.

Anyway, The Purgatory Cart; now not as bad to ride since the day before yesterday (5).

(1) There's a good chance that Casso, like me, didn't realise the difficulty setting on her steed was fucked. I offered it back but, good egg as she is and taking pity on my 'would likely be self-employed by the sitting gates in a charity-fueled greeter position if in the Middle Ages' form, allowed me to keep it for now.
(2) I'm still trying my new behaviour of being more positive. When something happens that's bad or not as good as it could have been I say to myself 'what's the positive?' which usually means a lesson has been learned. Mikey, onward and upward!
(3) A non-wireless modem possessing circa 2004 laptop I bought for $200 about three years ago because I had delusions of writing more. It proved a God-send on a trip to Adelaide to see theWife's parents two Christmases ago because it meant I could stay up until 3 am playing Sid Meyer's Pirates. Only the DVD drive is a bit fucked which meant if the laptop laboured it switched itself off. That proved somewhat frustrating to say the least. Especially as I was in the middle of a formal dance with the Governor's daughter on the hard setting where the computer doesn't tell you which step she will do next save for a suggested come-hither-let's-fight combo romance (slash) martial arts movie gesture with her hand.
(4) It was technically constructed without approval. Likely, I think, because of the extensive power laid in for hydro-growing of pot. At any rate you're not covered insurance-wise if you hurt yourself so we don't let anyone that's not us in there. Also the electrics are a bit snakey because there's a nasty crackling sound and flaring of blue light from the light switch when it's activated.

(5) And theWife is now about to pad its seat with a sheepskin to take care of the anal numbing! (5a)
I suppose you could interpret that sentence as theWife is threading a sheepskin into my traditionally-exit-only exit. What delicious ambiguity!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Julian Burnside on the refugee issue

An excerpt:

The Tampa episode was the start of Australia's conspicuously harsh approach to boat people. The idea was to "send a message", and the message was: we do not want you asking for our help.

It is a melancholy fact that John Howard's government made political capital by its treatment of boat people. The 2001 election turned on the issue. But it depended on misinformation and dishonesty.

From Australians don't fully understand what is being done in their name by Julian Burnside; Sydney Morning Herald, August 26, 2011 [Found via a daily Crikey post]

The Hell Wagon gets an aka

I've just ridden The Hell Wagon—an exercise bike on-loan from looks-at-you-with-narrowed-eyes-over-her-glasses-when-you-point-out-a-rule-that-imperils-her-character Casso (1). Last night the bike was fixed by Handy theWifey (2) after she discovered the difficulty control wasn't working (see this post's update). So it turns out I'd been riding it at max-hardness all this time (3).

It was much easier to use. I still noticed I was exercising (4) but not as much, and the pain in my thighs from the horrid-makes-us-works-for-its was far less. I even at one point felt a bit 'glidey'.

Therefore I have decided that in the adjusted setting it can have an aka—an also known as.

Henceforth—when used with the easier setting—it shall be known as ... 'The Purgatory Cart.'

That is all.

(1) And likely accompanied by a 10 per cent amused 90 per cent exasperated 'Mikey?!'
(2) Handy Manny is the latest must-watch for theBoy. He's a Latino-American trades-boy blessed with animated tools (2a). Naturally, as with other TV show characters, he's appeared in Humpty and Stumpty story time. Along with his made-up cousins Handy Munny, a German piano-turner (slash) maintenance man and Handy Monny, who I think fixes cars and likely has an appallingly-stereotypical accent. I forget what it is. Handy Monny was a walk-on character who appeared for a couple of days when we were staying with my dad.

(2a) Yes, I laughed at "animated tools".

(3) Yes, I laughed at "max-hardness".
I wish there was a device that could make you switch off your active-brain and ignore things like pain messaging. I know, it's coming. And it will be a world society changer when it does. In fact the active-brain switch-off or adjustment concept is neatly foreshadowed and explored in Greg Egan's Quarrantine. A book I've tried to read twice now but gave up each time at the same point—during the extended examination of the nature of probability. It was too hard for dumb ole Mikey (sad emoticon).

That was an awesome Humpty and Stumpty

theWife is in bed recovering from a grueling night of sharing the big bed with a fevered little man. He's better but he's been on the go since 3 am. Which, as irony would have it, when I finally went to sleep.

So we're in the lounge room and we're doing stories together. Well, rather, I was and he was chipping in.

Lofty, from Bob the Builder, was driving along when suddenly ... he was possessed by the spirit of Mister Maker! Mister Maker, from the children's TV show of the same name, freed from his biological body was now in control of five tons of construction machinery. Needless-to-say this has an effect on the naturally caffeinated overly-excitable children's TV star of the making-stuff sub-category.

So Mister Maker started destroying things. Buildings, cars, lamp posts. Your typical atmospheric-setting damage when something large runs amok in an urban setting.

'Aha ha ha,' screamed Mister Maker as the carnage ensued.

theBoy found this upsetting. Especially when Mister Maker eventually left Lofty's body and he was done up for psychosis and bunged in the nut-house.

'It wasn't me!' screamed Lofty as they dragged his strait-jacketed body away up the wide over-lit corridor. 'It was Mister Maker.'

theBoy decided that he needed to prove Lofty was innocent. He went to see Bob the Builder to tell him that Lofty had been telling the truth. He then said Bob should fix the things Lofty broke while under possession.

'Crikey!' said Bob the Builder. 'You're right! We need to fix those buildings ... and get Lofty proved innocent! But I must warn you that proving someone sane can be a laborious process. It could take up to 18 months!'

They got to work. Eventually Lofty got his day in court. theBoy took the witness stand to say that he'd witnesses the possession and that Lofty wasn't psycho.

But how to prove it?!

'Lofty. There's only one way,' said Bob. 'You have to let Mister Maker back in!'

'Noooo!' shrieked Lofty in his high-whiny-voice. 'He will destroy things!'

'It's the only way, Lofty,' said Bob sadly.

Then ... 'Ha ha, I'm back!' shouted Mister Maker. He promptly swung the crane around and took out the courtroom windows. 'Aha ha ha ha!'

theBoy swung into action.

'I jump in Lofty and back Maker out!'

Yes theBoy thought Mister Maker had inserted himself some-how into Lofty, presumably in the Maker Mobile since theBoy was going to 'back him out'. I had to explain the concept of possession.

'Oh, Chooky, he's not physically there. He's mentally there. He doesn't have a physical form. You need supernatural means to get him out (1)'.

theBoy drank this in.

Eventually he shouted at the top of his voice 'GET OUT MISTER MAKER'.

Yes ... he'd gone the exorcism, powered by pure force of will.

Unfortunately this woke theWife up who shouted incoherently at us until theBoy silenced her cries by quietly sliding the door across to block out our noise.

Back to the story. theBoy wanted to tell Mister Maker off at his house.

'I don't know what you're talking about!' said Mister Maker with his almost-certainly-drug-assisted-enthusiasm. 'But I do suffer from inexplicable black outs!'

Yes, it seemed Mister Maker suffered a multiple-personality issue where he didn't consciously know he was possessing objects or people and/or what he did to them or with them.

'But if that's true then I need help!' said Mister Maker. 'Take me to hostipal (2)'

As they went out of the front of Mister Maker's house Mister Maker collapsed across the path and grass. Then an engine fired up and headlights turned on. It was the Maker Mobile!

Mister Maker's evil personality had asserted itself and in a last desperate bid for freedom from medical incarceration used his own purpose-crafted Maker Mobile to smash into the low stone wall the bordered Mr Maker's garden in an effort to crush theBoy!

'Quick, Chooky, you need to wrap Mister Maker's head in alfoil to break their connection! (3)'

'I do that! Wrap/wrap/wrap/wrap/wrap.'

The Maker Mobile's engine spluttered to a halt and the lights dimmed. Mister Maker, his head wrapped in silvered foil like a blinged-up concussion victim, sat upright.

'Oh no it happened again!' said Mister Maker. In short order Mister Maker was committed to an insane asylum and Lofty was declared sane!

I always end Humpty and Stumpy stories with 'wow, what a great story!' Even if it was a bucket of crap and it was me responding to an incessant demand for a story with 'Humpty needed to go to the toilet. He did a poo. He flushed it. The end. Wow, what a great story.' (4)

However in this case ... yes ... I think it was. Even if it did massively trample all over a range of intellectual properties in the process ... much like Lofty did when possessed by Mister Maker one grey August morn...

(1) Meaning both magic (slash) magick and/or ESPer powers (aka Psionics).
(2) theBoy's pronunciation of hospital. It's funny. As kids we as a family would call things by their kid-labelled names even when we were teenagers. For example one of us re-badged Restaurants with the word Astronauts... so as a family, when we went out to tea, it was to an astronaut.

(3) Alfoil being the dominate brand of aluminum foil as sold in Australia
(4) I think I got it from Jimmy the stutter-afflicted and physically disabled stand-up character from South Park ('Wow, what a terrific audience!')

Now that's Paperus Interruptus

I was lying on my stomach reading The Good Weekend supplement from last Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald.

theBoy took his small chair over to me. He carefully placed it on my spread-out reading material.

'You know what, Chooky?' I said. 'It would totally add to the moment if you then sat on the chair.'

So he did.

Now he's interrupting my posting this by jabbing at the screen.

You can tell he's mine. Physically ... and behaviourally. As like me ... he is extremely annoying.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Why I hate the beautiful people

From Boot camp is best by Michelle Bridges in the SMH

Boot camps and other military-style training are not only highly successful, they are here to stay ... It's hard to explain why so many of us girls love boot camps. Granted, there is the appeal of a chiselled, heavy-duty bloke on your case, but you could be forgiven for thinking military training is not that girl-friendly. Well, think again ... Basic boot-camp exercises provide an amazing full-body workout that recruits all the major muscle groups and offers a butt-kicking aerobic and anaerobic workout ... The energy of boot-camp training is intense, but it's also supportive and just sufficiently tongue-in-cheek to make sure you have a good time ... If military training floats your boat, then you might like to try CrossFit ... Many of these [CrossFit] circuits are named after soldiers killed in action, so there is a serious undertone to the workouts. My 45-kilogram girlfriend is a CrossFit trainer and she swears by it ... My fitness philosophy is that there is no single correct way to exercise, and that variety is our best training philosophy. So try these methods to spice up your routine, or even if you're just starting. Either way, you won't regret it.

I regret having read your article.

No wonder my first thought when I see a fit athletic person is to say 'you c___' and assume they are likely one in real life as well.

I hate you fit athletic people. Hate (1).

Oh, and speaking of fitness, check out this update to a previous post. Mendoza!

(1) I don't really. This is simply reflected pain. However I am jealous of people with proper bodies and given my recent discovery mine has always been fucked I am kind of super sensitive about 'THE HUMAN BODY' in regards to my loathsome-self at the moment. That being said of late I've had a sudden burst of positive thinking. It's been building for a while now. I've been saying things like 'ah this will work' when trying to do something and being gratified when it does (e.g. working out a new appliance, finding my keys etc.). And also 'what's the positive?' in stuff I am doing. More on this later as it's bath-time!

I'm outside

It's the dying gasp of Winter and I am outside. I am tapping away on Mr Lappy while theBoy sits inside watching a Play School dinosaur-themed DVD. We'd just finished a bout of rolly-game and Humpty and Stumpty that went for about twenty minutes. He only cried twice. That's pretty good for me I think.

The trampoline is awesome. I know it's supposed to be one-at-a-time and the weight limit is less than what I am. But I don't bounce. I merely lie full-length on my stomach or back. I prefer back, though the sun remains in my eyes until about 4 pm when the roof shades the trampoline. If I am on my stomach my top tends to ride up and my flabby stomach presses flatly along the taut mesh. Like I am in some sort of S&M-wear shop and I am trying on one of those man-corset things designed to cinch in the gut.

Because nylon is used in the mesh-weave then there's a lot of static electricity. If you go near any of the metal bits of the unit then you tend to discharge it with an audible pop. theBoy's hair sprouts from his head like from when you mucked around with a Van de Graff generator in year nine science class (2).

My hair is nice and short at the moment. But I don't doubt that if I had gone the shaggy mad scientist balding in the middle but long around it look that I'd be sprouting like a! pet.

Anyway, the trampoline is an absolutely awesome outside item. And the pergola we had put in that I am tapping from under is likewise awesome.

However while it maybe the dying gasp of Winter this is Canberra. So the cold still has some bite to it. I'm going back in. Best rest assured I will return. Being outside is the shizzle! (3)

UPDATE: It's the day after the initial post. I'm back outside while theWife has her freak on going for a lounge room make-over. There's still a bit of glare under the pergola because the roofing material is transparent (with a UV filter). So it makes the screen a little hard to see. However I've just solved it as an issue. How? Wearing a hat. I rule.

(1) The rolly-game. I lie on my stomach and he stands at the rim of the trampoline. I then straight-body roll to try and catch him. It means rolling back-and-forth and angling my body so I can better target him. I grab him then pull into the middle for a wriggling cuddle. Then he either escapes or demands 'let's go to sleep' and he lies on me in the centre, his eyes closed, and we enjoy as momentary suspended-sunbathe.
(2) My science teacher kicked off sex-ed with a joke. 'What's got six legs and goes around in circles. A ewie!' Yes, I guess you had to be there.
He used to have a populated aquarium in his classroom. He suffered numerous incidents including chocolate milk poured in and a condom used as a net. The spermicide simply made the water cloudy and he had to clean it. Later some students bought him a bigger-than-the-other's fish. They gave it to him on a Friday. The next Monday when he walked in he found his tank empty of fish and the now-even-bigger fish lying on the floor. Yes, it had scarped all the other fish then suicide-leaped out of the tank. You can't make this shit up.
(3) When you have a most-excellent paving floored and pergola-covered area outside and a power supply you can plug your fucked-battery-possessing-laptop into.

A conversation with my child

'Sorry, Chooky, you can't put a cork in Mr Maker's bottom because his robot hand gets in the way.'

Yes, that happened.

I jump, Volume 2

I’m in my writing-clothes

For some reason, whenever a writer’s blurb mentions clothing it’s to brag that the writer writes whilst clad in their most comfortable clobber—pyjamas for example for the delightful Julie Powell of Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen; Boxers for Max(x) Barry—my hated arch-rival (1). It makes sense. Your ability to write requires zen-like conditions. Zen-like of course for yourself. Most of us are not comfortable in in tuxedos and/or spats. So most writers dress in their slobby clothes and presumably only spruce up for planned people encounters, readings or award ceremonies. I have heard of writers who, on suffering from a tendency for procrastination, end up locking themselves naked in a room with nothing but the tools of their trade. All they can do is write … after they masturbate furiously once or twice that is (2).

So I am in my writing clothes. Purely by accident since, as it turns out, my writing clothes are also my pyjamas. Girls' pyjama bottoms—since they lack the cock-hole of the men’s kind—and a t-shirt as a top. I detest pyjama tops as they have buttons. When you’re fat then you don’t like buttons and you feel cinched in. Hardly conducive torso wear for the sleeping-inclined.

However I am in fact writing as well. Because, well, I am trying to write more.

I was text-batting back-and-forth with Casso, my writing buddy, who revealed unto me the word count of her current project. I was flabbergasted at her number. She then politely asked if I was writing at the moment. I replied I planned to … then … then I declared and accepted a self-gauntleting (3)— ‘If I can ride fifteen minutes (4) a day then I sure as Fuck (5) can write for thirty minutes,’ I pompously declared. I then threw my brandy balloon of distilled Eloi-essence into the fireplace and watched as the flames flared with the spray of hyper-alcoholic rendering-of-the-beautiful and splinters of glass, the firelight’s flare reflected in the glasses upon my face.

On occasion I have ideas for characters, locations, situations, books, shows, short stories, sketches—all that jazz (waves hat). But I am a very lazy man and rarely write them down. This has now changed. I have a word doc simply file-named 1.Ideas. I had actually created the doc on a whim yesterday, having thought about writing more and jotting down some notes. But today I have actually gone through and organised it; breaking it down by writing subject—books, shows, locations etc.—and all gleefully labelled via use of header styles and the Ideas doc complete with its own table of contents. All inspired by the streaking-success of my writing buddy.

Indeed, I will even be so lame as to have the notepad by the side of the bed for when I am in the drowsy twilight to record ideas on. Because I just know that a man who has not left the precinct of his property in forty-eight hours (6) is not getting out of bed armed only with a half-baked thought to go through the effort of jiggling his mouse to wake up his computer and peer mole-eyed one inch from the monitor to see what he is doing because he couldn’t be fucked going through the glasses-fumbling-for-reaching-around (7). So armed with a trusty pad and assuming I managed to bother in the morning, I can simply update the doc … presuming I can read the mental-patient-like scrawl I would have made ... I'll likely feel like the confused character of a passery-by in a Saw movie trying to decipher a message from a victim who only had toilet paper and a toe-stump available to write with ... who then gives up and goes on their merry way leaving the victim to howl silently through the ragged remains of their vocal chords.

And, although it pains me to make the self-gauntleting that much more painful (again, see 3.), I will declare that blogging does not count towards the thirty minutes. Don’t get me wrong, I love blogging. Blogging gives me purpose and makes me feel better. It’s a catharsis. It’s also excellent practice. However as far as the thirty minute challenge goes … no, it doesn’t count. Because the plan is the thirty minutes needs to lead somewhere concrete … as opposed to merely being added to my ‘I still exist’ e-shriek ledger.

It’s either that or sit around and being sad and pain-wracked and bitch and moan and woe-is-me about my semi-failed, crappy body.

So, for the second time in three years, I jump.

(1) He’s not really. I’ve never met him. All I know of him is that the books of his I have read—Syrup, Jennifer Government and Company—are all awesome and make me blaze green eye until I could use the emanating beams to bore through steel. When I first read Ben Elton’s books I fantasised about being able to write like that. Max(x) Barry writes like Ben Elton. And, spitefully, Max(x) Barry is younger than me. But if I am going to pull my finger out, more on that later, I need to mentally tape up a picture of an admired figure in the field. Like a boxer might tape to his punching bag (1a).
(1a) Although to stand up to wear-and-tear the boxer would need to get the photo printed on some sort of robust flexible surface. I have this mental image of him down at a copy shop, in his silken boxers and with gloves on, trying to explain through his mouth-guard filled mouth exactly what he needs from a clearly unsettled skinny copy shop attendant, who likely has glasses and deluded hair. You know, where the person with the hair thinks it makes them look awesome when in fact they are deluded and it does not. Which explains why I had a ponytail from 1995 thru to July 1998. Although I confess the decision to go from arse-long to a hint-of-stubble in length was not an epiphany that I was suffered from deluded hair all this time but because I started to go bald and my stroke-afflicted boss kept point it out (‘Yes, there, through those strands. You’re BALD!’)
(2) This is with the presumption the writer is a male. I don’t know how lady writers operate, but I am presuming that the anecdotal evidence on drive is such that they can resist the lure of ‘I’m naked and alone…’ If only—and again, this is presumption, because the circumstances of female self-pleasure requires a more convivial environment than a chair, desk, and word-processor. Unless, that is, they just e-penned a particularly saucy scene involving a werewolf-vampire-supernatural hunter three-way and everything has kind of misted on up down in lower-lady-land (2a)
(2a) Casso swore blind to me she has a read a supernatural thriller(?) where that actually happened. I also am in love with the fact that bookstores now have a section dedicated to Supernatural Teen Romance.
(3) I can’t believe that gauntleting is a word. Anyway by self-gauntleting I don’t mean pleasuring myself with hand armour (because, at the very least, you wouldn’t want to turn up at casualty with a story about showering and improper stowage of protective gear. That and it would be hard to explain condom rolled over the extended middle digit). I mean throwing down a gauntlet; a challenge.
(4) Actually, I am up to sixteen. But one of the first things I learned in my abortive grad. dip. was that by all means use reality to fuel your writing … but change things for the benefit of the story. That’s why you end up with composite characters in movies because to have the 28 actual people involved in it requires more than 90 minutes to tell the tale. That’s when you need HBO to step in and do its magic. Sopranos, Deadwood and Game of Thrones. Need I go on?
(5) Title case? Seriously? It’s not my fault. My phone predictive text didn’t start with fuck loaded. I had to embed it in through use. Alas, for me, it embedded in title case. I have learned you can fix it by going edit word, restarting the word two characters in then deleting the first two characters. Voila—sentence case! But most of the time I can’t be fucked.
(6) For three years, two months, and eight days (but who’s counting?) I went for a daily walk. Rain, hail, fucking-shine. Then … Steven Bradbury. So yes, in the last 48 hours I have not left my property. I rode The Hell Wagon instead.
(7) For a second I had reach-around. Then I realised ‘oh no, that’s not right’.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Steps for dealing with The Hell Wagon

The Hell Wagon (1). A demon-spawned machine of medieval horror ... a purchased-from-Big-W exercise bike on-loan to me from the exquisite Casso.

With my hip well-fucked, as I politely describe it (2), I am now supposed to do non-load-bearing exercises like cycling, swimming, or using an elliptical trainer.

Mikey being Mikey, and, like physics, who takes the easiest path chose the bike. Since I can literally walk two-dozen steps to reach it, hop on, and start peddling.

But it's laborious. Walking, until that is my hip became well-fucked, was easiest of all. Clothes, shoes, Mp3 then off I went. As far as pain and effort went it was largely minimal. Cycling on an exercise bike however is not largely minimal. There's more exertion and you're far more acute of the knowledge that you are exercising and not enjoying it.

So steps are needed to drain this message of not-like out.

Enter the steps!

Step one. If you have meds, take them. Yes, pain killers. I am in pain when I use the bike, because I have a skeleton that could be best described as 'renovator's delight'. So if you're on pain killers then that dials back the pain you're getting from exercising. Thus drowning that nasty message out.

Step two. Music. Or, as my son calls it, Muse-gick. No, that's not right. Sound. That's better. For me my preferred sound poison is a long-play interview-style or subject-discussing podcast. If I can concentrate on that then less pain message coming in.

Step three. Pad the seat. Exercise bikes for some reason have uncomfortable seats. Perhaps they're designed by flagellants or members of Opus Dei? Whatever the reason you need padding. I have an old strangely-silky-to-the-couch hall runner that I use to pad mine.

Step four. Text a friend during the ride. Today I managed to blank out nine minutes, thirty seconds of the ride by texting a friend. Then lazily adapting that text and sending it to my boss minus all the emotional sentiments. Hey, I am a writer (3). Writers recycle.

Step five. Take it the fuck easy. If you go hard core you won't want to go back. Well, you never want to go back. But hard core then return the next day makes it that much harder because you remember the effort needed. Start slow and only speed up towards the end. Maybe the last thirty seconds go flat out so you have a bit of a heart race at the end when you get off.

Oh, a tip. If you have a fucked hip do not treat the bike like a regular cycle and stand in the saddle to give extra power. Because when your leg hits the end of the pedal turn your full weight will drop on your bad hip. You will experience some discomfort. You may even get some nausea and/or nearly topple off like a US cavalryman shot from ambush in the first volley by Native Americans.

UPDATE—Monday 29 August

A discovery! theWife had a go on The Hell Wagon. Being more mechanically minded and generally all-around more perceptive she noticed that the difficulty control wasn't working at all. She dismounted and ferreted around. Aha! She was correct. A short fiddle later and the control was restored. It turns out I'd been riding The Hell Wagon on highest difficulty the entire time. No wonder I found it grueling! I just assumed that my life curse of semi-shitty body flowed on in to yet another exercise medium. You know ... on account of how shit I am (according to those people with such concerns).

On a related note I just did an e-translation of The Hell Wagon into German, since I'd developed a background for a graphic novel concept of the same name where the novel follows the non-Nazi crew of a German tank during World War Two. The translation is Die Hölle Wagen. Awesome.

(1) So named to the owner, Casso, by text by me. I decided The Hell Wagon would also make a dandy graphic novel which follows the non-Nazi crew of a World War Two German Tank. Their core aim is to survive the war and look after each other (I suspect that's probably a common passion of many soldiers in mass conflicts). They have to endure many privations—bad food, poor sleep, exposure etc. as well as the enemy (soldiers and minefields) and of course incompetent or fanatic superiors (1a).
(1a) As a side note my favourite tank-themed comic as a kid was The Haunted Tank; the plot being the ghost of J.E.B Stuart looking after a descendant who commands a US Army Tank during World War Two. It was kewl. However it would have been better in retrospect for a Union general to have been the ghost but I can see why from a character viewpoint they chose Stuart.
UPDATE: Oh their tank was an M3 Stuart ... named for the general. Hence why he was ghost guarding it. Noice.
(2) Aka the Steven Bradbury.
(3) Not...

The wrong stitch and its ability to give the snooty a joy burst

It is said by some that the carpet weavers of Persia would make sure each carpet had at least one wrong stitch. That way it would not seek to be perfect and thus an affront to God as only God is perfect.

Or it could be that is complete hokum and I have been saying something wrong for yours (1). Oh well.

I have noticed that when I spot a mistake made by others that I get a joy burst from it. Sometimes I will even go as far as to share the mistake with others. Such as today when I texted the 'grammar girls' (2) after I saw a marvelously sexist sign at the newsagent, the sign placed above copies of New Idea and Women's Weekly (3); a sign that read 'Woman's Interest'.

I also get that mistake-spot-thrill from when I see an ad for the very TV program I am watching (Dr House looks in the patient's eyes. There's no response. Fade to black—(Commercial) UP NEXT, HOUSE TRIES TO FIGURE OUT WHY A WOMAN IS IN A COMA!' ).

You know what? I think there should be intentional mistakes put out there. So many of us are white collar types nowadays so there should be little thrill moments embedded in print or on TV of minor mistakes that allows smug snooty types like me to bray when the intentional error is spotted.. Plus it can even be a money maker. For spotting an error will likely to cause me spit shards of food over the mistake laden-medium because chances are I am stuffing my gob when I spot it. Which means if they ran a 'tired of braying crumbs over your fat tum; Sucktum™; the dust-buster for your gut!' ads in the ad segment near where the mistake happened, why I might just be tempted. Yes, Sucktum™; the dust-buster for your gut.

Ha! Mikey gold. Ha Ha–cough, splutter cough.

Excuse me a moment.


(1) I swear that was an unintentional mistake! Anyway, apparently the legend of the intentional error is true!
(2) My boss, my colleague L, and Casso—all of whom work in the public service as word police.

(3) [Recycled Joke] It's called Women's Weekly but comes out once a month. Why isn't it Women's Monthly? ... oh ...

Very python

It was once said of Monty Python that they could be best described as men who dressed up as women who dressed up as men.

In Humpty and Stumpty time (1), theBoy (who is currently wearing his Bumblebee costume), decided that Lightning McQueen, the animated car as voiced by Owen Wilson, was dressed in a Bumblebee costume. Which means he's a car disguised as a robot ... that can turn into cars.

He's four!

(1) Improv story time between theBoy and myself.

He said it!

'I'm not sure I should have gay robot sex (1) in Humpty and Stumpty stories...'

UPDATE: theBoy has a range of schtick he defaults to because he's learned it makes us laugh and/or achieves an outcome for him. One is his fake farting, complete with head turn and butt waggle, to stop me from squeezing his tushie or cuddling him. The sound he makes is horrible—I'd best describe it as being a very liquidy (2) raspberry. Any-hoo I was cuddling him. Still seated he "blew off". I was just enjoying the cuddle since all his efforts were put into fake-farting instead of wriggling away. Eventually I released him.

Cue parent utterance fail.

'Noodles, you gave me quite the anal-hosing!' I said.

(1) Obviously the word "feature" should feature in the sentence at this point. Alas because it was missing then present within the sentence was an unintentional other meaning. Though armchair psychologists—as opposed to the frontier kind—would likely go on about Freud at this point given the sheer number of anal mentions in this blog.
(2) Why isn't liquidy a proper word?! Oh, because it's a semi-synonym for
semifluid (1a)
(2a) Say that ten times very fast. Okay, once you're done saying "that" ten times fast say "semi-synomym for semifluid". Sounds like an actor's voice-warm-up exercise.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yeah ... a little bitter

Ever since I found out my left hip is fucked it's felt more fucked. Maybe it's a subconscious thing? Maybe it really was a case that it was actually fucked at that point (and thus this point) and that it's hurting more because, well, it's fucked. And more fucked because I am still walking every single day while away because to organise an exercise bike or to go swimming each and every day I am here visiting is more trouble than it's worth.

First up, thanks for the permission to feel a little bitter. Part of me thinks 'well, I could me so much more fucked than I am. Fuck, look at my mother.' But most of me is someone pissed off about it all.

I think it's because I put so much esteem into walking each day. Because I could look at that as a continual success ('At least I am still walking') and that this was a sign of hope. That if I could do that then I could build on that to other things (1) . That I would then finish and finish well my various projects. That I would then actively try and pitch myself for better things. To gaming companies to write. Pitch books. Pitch sketches. All that crap. My walk gave me that hope because I did that.

And now I can't do it anymore. And ... and furthermore my doing it actually made it all worse and simply sped up the degradation. The last fucking whisper of cartiladge that prevented bone grinding on bone, gone after three years of dedicated doing that one small thing. Even as the pain ate at me. Even as I wanted to just blob under a blizzard of pain meds and gobble myself into White Goodman as per the end credits of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.

Because I wanted to do something. To have that done something to hold on to. To have that hope.

And I don't have it anymore. That makes me sad. Especially when the pain lances up my fucking left side if I merely step wrong.

You know what? My left hip is now Steven Bradbury (2). Because it just coasted along behind all my other moronic body-fail crap (IBS, eating-problems, depression, chronic pain management, assorted other mobility issues) then suddenly won the contest of most fucking annoying and impacting body problem of the moment.

Tonight I went for a walk with my dad. He took his doglet out around near the oval near his house. He's in his mid-seventies. He suffers gout and has stiff joints. He has arthritis in his hands now, and he finds it difficult to grip with his left hand. He hobbled out into the star-dazzled sky (3). We made quite the pair. He stiff-walking. Me alongside, far shorter and much squatter, with a similar gait. Only he has the "benefit" of age to justify his reduced agility. I just have me. Failed fat 'mid-old' me.

As my friend Emma would say ... Kif-sigh.

Still, I had one victory. I made my dad laugh. I told him how I got worried whenever I crossed the path of someone with a limp or mobility difficulty and I was in a moment of reduced agility myself that I worried they would think I was taking the piss and that I would either stop or try really hard not to appear afflicted just in case. He laughed richly at that.

Indeed despite everything I've noticed my dad is more ready with a smile now since mum went into permanent care. He's less prone to reacting with the grumps, which, when he was stressed, was his default mode. He would literally stride the full length of a house to tell you when you'd left a light on in an unoccupied room. Swearing or conversations of salty subject matter would typically earn you a glower. He generally was pretty uptight a lot of the time. And for the last ten years he's been the sole carer of a proud, fiercely bright woman who sucked the marrow from life but who got afflicted with one shitty disease that crimped her independence (MS, eventually taking away her mobility altogether) then another one that took away her brain (dementia). That is a burden that even the toughest of us would struggle with. And he bore it. He had some support through it but the burden was largest on him.

Now that burden has been largely lifted. Largely. The emotional pain and crap is still there. His wife of fifty odd years is now in the room where she will live out the last of her years—and it could be years—and he's not in it with her. Her journey through life has essentially ended with her inability to recall the present but his journey still carries on. And now he has far greater freedom to do things.

I hope, like mum did, he sucks the marrow too. He deserves to.

Tonight, as my son carried on like a cut of meat that has been taken from a pig, dad smiled and grinned where once he would have thundered. So I think for him that journey has began.

So maybe, just maybe, when Steven Bradbury is transformed via the fucking Catalina Wine Mixer—the name I have given my impending hip replacement—and that body burden is lifted ... I too will get a mood bump? That when I am walking again then the esteem boost will happen and the hope will return?

I better. Or someone's going to get a bunch of fives (waves fist).

(1) The other day I was looking at theBoy in action and I couldn't but help think 'what will he be like in 20 years?'. As I aged him ... I aged me standing there looking at me. Instinctively I gave myself baldness, chest long beard, a large girth and a zimmer frame. But then ... then I said NO! And fuck it, I gave my +20 self a fucking six-pack. Rock hard abadabas. Because why not? I could do that? And then I laughed at the very idea that I'd ever be blessed with a body approaching normal and/or appealing. Oh Mikey ... you and your stories.
(2) This is not to hang shit on Steven Bradbury, the man. SB the man is awesome. He's an olympian for fuck's sake, and a medal-winning one at that. He has achieved more than almost anyone can in today's society when it comes to achievement-of-actual-worth (2a). I mean in the context of what Steven Bradbury represents in terms of the manner in which he won his gold medal. Performing, I might add, a tried-and-true speed skating technique of skating behind the front pack in the event of an opportunity presenting itself to get past them. Steven, if you end up here, I hope you read this in the spirit is intended.
(2a) As opposed to overpaid celebs, many of whom gained their status through either reality stardom or heirdom.
(3) TheDad lives on the outskirts of town. Literally maybe fifty metres as the crow short-flies. The street lights are far-spaced and the tree cover between the house and the road up the long driveway filters out that light. So when you walk along their long drive and look up you see a ribbon of stars framed by the crinkled outline of the canopy either side of the gravel.

It had to happen eventually

TheBoy had an accident. As theWife went to the car to fetch clothes he was dancing around (1) half-naked in his aunt's kitchen.

'Wah, wah, wah!' he shrieked in penile freedom.

On the counter was a pen. He grabbed it then placed it against the tip of his nob.

'I got a giant penis!' he announced, the joy of comedy beaming from his face (2).

He now knows that poo, wee, fart and penis are funny words.

There's really only one level he can go now.

Twenty years later, theBoy approaches the light. He's at an open-mike night. He adjusts the microphone stand then taps the mike. A crackle, followed by a short whine, fills the room and drowns out for a brief moment the happy chatter of the babbling diners.

'Good evening ladies and c___.'

(1) He kind of flicks his legs out in front of him like a really lazy Cossack dancer. Then he will march-dance off to parts unknown.
(2) His cousin S, who is eight (I think; I know, terrible!), used a wad of tissues to pick the pen off the floor when theBoy lost interest and he discarded his comedic prop. That all then went in the bin. Comedy added on gold.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The noisy toy

Noisy toys—ones that emit sounds like snatches of dialogue or short bursts of musak—are a mixed blessing. On one hand a child's interactive play is perhaps enhanced by the presence of an auditory component. On the other hand the parent of that child may wish to dash the toy against the wall after a short but intense activation and play period.

TheBoy got a Toy Story 3 Rex Torch. It's pretty kewl. It's Rex—the T-Rex toy—and there's a torch in its mouth. You press a button that's along the inside of its tail and the torch is revealed. At that point the torch 'roars'. It's the same roar Rex uses in Toy Story where he's trying to be scary and then asks for notes ('Were you scared?') like a fellow actor in a local drama improv class.

TheBoy had the torch in the car. He was gleefully pressing it on ad-nauseum. 'Roar! Roar! Were you scared? Roar!' (1)

TheWife and I had given up and asking him to stop so we were talking loudly over the top of the roaring and actor feedback sesh about various developments (revolting or otherwise) when from the back theBoy complained.

'You are talking too loud!' he said. 'I cannot hear my toy!'

Yes, that's right. We were told off ... for talking over the top of his noisy toy sound.

Area child has high regard for self-worth.

(1) The most annoying noisy toy would be owned by Miss J from when she was two or three. It was a riding push along scooter who had a diarama mounted under glass (plastic) which rotated when a button was pushed. Then in a tinny voice would come a sacchrine-sweet Mid-West voice of 'Where's my prince? Where's my prince? (insert rest of song here)'. It was painful. It probably had an "accident" at some point. Noisy toys end up like the heroic small businessman that refuses to pay protection ('You annoyed Ronnie by not payin'. No one annoys Ronnie...').

The waterfall story

Humpty and Stumpty were headed along the beach when they saw a waterfall. They headed over to it. There, through the water, they could see a cave!

Me—What's in the cave, Chooky?

theBoy—A waterfall!

Me—Okay ... um ... they headed over to the waterfall inside the cave inside the waterfall. Oh my goodness! Behind that was another cave. And in it was a...


Me—Um ... okay then. So they crawled through that waterfall and into the cave behind it. It's like the deleted scene VIP nightclub within a VIP nightclub sequence from Zoolander. So they're in that cave and they see a...


Me—Yes. Right. So they go to that and they see behind that waterfall there's not enough room for a cave. Instead, there's a message scrawled on the rock. It says...

theBoy—There is a waterfall!

Yes, that's right. Denied the chance for a waterfall he'd simply had the message be the words 'there is a waterfall.'

I was defeated.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Right on comrades

It looks like Gaddafi is gone. Or going. But he's not going to be around anymore which, let's face it, is a broad good thing.

He's not exactly a fuffy kitten that's been oppressed.

But wow. Just wow. The power and the courage of people in the Middle-East who've taken part in the Spring. They have my complete admiration. Especially those who take on the power and machinery of an oppresive state with all that entails. And who do so in the early days when momentum for change is not yet assured of mass support.

He's got my number

The other day we had KFC for dinner.

It's a rare event for us, the KFC tea. Maybe 1–2 times a year (1).

At any rate theBoy was allowed to sit at his over-table near the teev while having his tea.

I wanted one of his nuggets.

So I kind of crept forward. He'd turn and then I'd stop. Eventually he shouted 'hey!' in that 'you're trying to do something that affects me' way and guarded his dinner by shielding it with his arms and demanding I retreat to the doorway to the dining room.

That happened a few times. Because annoying theBoy is an intensely amusing experience for me.

Finally theWife broke the cycle by offering him a drink.

‘Okay!’ she said when it was ready. ‘Come and get it!’

theBoy looked at his dinner. Then looked at me.

I grinned.

He took his dinner with him.

UPDATE: Today he came up with a new rule. One of many. It involved kisses and cuddles. I can no longer inflict them upon him during the day. 'It's day so you can't kiss or cuddle me!' So I spent the rest of the day telling him how close to night it was getting. Then, when night came, I reminded him it was no longer day and thus I could now kiss and cuddle him. He thought about this for a moment then yelled 'SHOT!' Yes, he'd shot me. 'I shot you and you died.' he announced solemly. Well ... you can't argue with that logic.

UPDATE2: In improv story-time theBoy and I develop a scenario ('Humpty and Stumpy looking for a fight and find an egg!'). I then bleat out some descriptive text ('Humpty and Stumpy couldn't believe how big the egg was. The size of your head and maybe a fat slice of partial head') and then ask him what he does. A lot of the time he cheats though and tries to easily resolve the situation through either tipping ('I tip it all up—tip/tip/tip/tip!' (essentially use gaffer tape) or gunplay. He's like spiderman packing heat. He will also give me a scenario for me to resolve and, during that, he will change the rules. For example the other day he caught one of the characters in a net. I said the character cut himself free. TheBoy, who was casually leaning stiffly against granddad's leather couch whilst sipping a cordial through a sippy-straw, decided that wasn't right and the net was more robust than it seemed.

'No, he didn't, because it was too strong!' he declared.

He then took a loud triumphant slleeewwwwwkkkkkk through his straw.

So now and then when he says something awesome I can't but help say 'but it was too strong - sleeeeeeeeewwwwwk!'

I end this second update with a can't-but-help-brag statement.

I am gaming with my four-year-old.

Suck on that other would-be nerd parents.

(1) Okay ... maybe 3–4.

Alan Jones has a hissy fit

He gets asked a more than legitimate question—especially given Jones' history with fees—about whether he accepted a fee to appear at either miguided or utterly moronic protest wankfest in Canberra and Jones calls the reporter a grub. Then he proceeds to incite the crowd against her.

What a ghastly little oik he is.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Trip

This isn't about The Trip. But you should watch The Trip because The Trip is awesome.

On with my trip.

We're away for a few days and back "home" for a visit. "Home" being the old home town even though my time in Canberra is nearly that in duration as to what it was back "home".

It's the first time I've been back since my mum went into permanent care. Last night was the first time I'd seen her in her new digs.

Her room is nice. It has large windows with a view over a paddock out the back (though it was night and I was told of it). She has a couple of items from home, but not that many as yet. She has her quilt she made of reclaimed squares of cloth carefully selected from her rag bag as her covering for her bed. She looks great, too. She has short, straight hair. The same hair she had that I've seen in fade-toned polaroids from the '70s of her standing there, curvy figured, in a one-piece mini-dress of the period. A smile on her face, Jackie O glasses perched in her hair.

She knew who I was. though I said who I was just in case. She remembered enough about me to follow a conversation for a little spell. But her brain tries to fill in the gaps if she falters ... or almost resets if she sees us if the conversation lapses. She returns to default modes of experience. If she sees my dad at night and sees she's in a hospital-like room she just assumes he's visiting on the way to church ('so you are going to church then?' was said every two to three minutes.). Or she fills in the gaps with other things. Like she's convinced she was just in town and had seen various people, or that her bed control works on the TV. Sometimes she also drifts into the deep past and talks of people from the '50s as if they'd just been and gone.

But what gets me is her general nature is still there. When she thinks dad is going to church and sees he's watching TV she offers to tape the rest of the show for him. Tells him to take a jumper ('Oh it will be so cold!'). She offers her food or drink ('Here, I can't finish this. Would you like it?'). She's genuinely outraged if you tell her something outrageous ('Oh Michael!') and she laughs with much mirth.

It could all be so much worse. There's dementia-afflicted people that are frightened, agitated. They don't know what's happening and they panic. My mother just kind of drifts along like a feather in the breeze. Stopping for a spell here and there before the wind carries her away again.

I don't know what the hereditary component is, causation-wise. Though I confess the fact that three generations of her side of the family have gone 'doolally' as she calls it (I didn't know my great grandmother had it as well until last night) makes me a tad concerned for my own noggin'. My brain is the one thing I have that almost works properly.

But then when I worry about that status of brain maintenance and care thirty years hence I just remember one thing.


The future rules (1)

(1) I passed the dining room on the way in. It was like The Retirement Castle from The Simpsons. Only much more real.

She said it!

'I can't see how my mum would have been allowed in a choir. Unless she was told to stand at the back and hum very quietly.'

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Obama on unions

From Salon (1)

The right of workers to come together and join a union is part of what built America's middle class. It's the reason why we've got a minimum wage. (Applause.) It's the reason why folks have weekends. It's the reason why you have basic protections on the job from an abusive employer. There are a whole range of things that people take for granted, even if they're not in a union, that they wouldn't have had if it had not been for collective bargaining.

(1) I know it's a bit of a cop-out to have a snippet of something someone else said and point it to where they said it as the guts of a post. I don't usually do that. But this is such a succinct way of saying why being in a union is a good thing and why, broadly, unions are a greater good for being here than not. Even when they get a tad snaky. Indeed, if anything, unions seem to get increasingly moribund and undemocratic the fewer members there are. Largely I think because leadership to control a union can boil down to a small network of the like-minded who hold rigidly true to certain views and/or have the capacity to be influenced by others.

Dan Savage at Salon

Dan Savage is a columnist in the States. Avowedly and advocate'dly (1) gay he talks about sex and society, hetro and not.

And this is Savage at his best at Salon.

(1) New word. Suck it, Casso.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Costco comes to Canberra

Costco has come to Canberra. Like tens of thousands of other Canberrans we signed up to join at a cost of $50 for the household.

TheWife had already taken theBoy and theNan on an expedition but on the weekend came my turn to go.

Teaming up with Team Casso we breached the defences at the door—a queue of would-be members lining up with their line stretching across all the doorways—and headed on in.


I felt like I'd walked into mid-west America. A vast space filled with an array of anything and everything (1).

What got to me though was the size of everything. The size of their meals—for example 2.6 kg apple pies. The size of their roof. And ... the size of their trolleys. The trolleys made anyone that pushed it look like a tiny person. They were stupidly large. And speaking of stupid their toddler seating compartment meant that if you had a pair of tots in like we did, Team Casso and Team Mikey seating their sprogs within the double-seating arrangement, then when said tots kicked their legs ... their leg-enders went into my groin. In the end I had to push the trolley along with my butt sticking out like a white person driving.

I did admire, as it was later pointed out, the fact that their food court sold foods that were actually available in the store for purchase. That was cool. What was less cool was their giant tyre room being situated at the left of the food court and thus the overpowering smell of industrial rubber kind of masked any odours the food gave off. I was also somewhat miffed that their $0.70 a can (330 ml versions) coke machine was out of order.

Still ... it was an experience.

Monumental buildings have often been symbols of a country's might. The Reichstag in Germany. The House of Parliament in the UK.

But for the US ... I think it's stores like these that best represent America. They're the perfect distillation of the free market—bringing maximum sized items in a maximum large shop to people ... who, let's face it, are quite large.

And, should your circumstances be such that you're forced into single life, you could outfit your new digs in a single visit. You can even see a set up display of a lounge, table, chair and light ... that's mounted on a shelf above the boxes that contain their clones.

Verdict? Worth joining. Or at the very least ... going along with a friend who's a member to scope it out.

(1) A couple of months ago we ran into a stall spruiking the incoming Costco. The vendor said that in the US Costcos there not only on occasion sold cars ... but guns and coffins too. I like that. Cause and effect in the one shop. In fact as I told Casso that one of the tasting station gents, a fair distance from us, yelled out 'the jewellery section has a one hundred and sixty thousand dollar thing for sale!'. We thanked the strange taster, his body fully encased, save for the oval of his face, in protective Costco food handling gear, then moved on. Keeping a wary eye out for him should he pop up with other proffered examples of Costco's largesse...

Mandatory training pwned

In our org every couple of years we have to complete mandatory training. If we don't ... we don't get our salary progression.

I was about to go on leave and the training needed to be done before I left.

I had three courses left to do and one afternoon to do it.

Fortunately I found I could rapid click my way through the info screens and reach the assessment pages fairly quickly. Multiple choice, multiple attempts allowed. Process of deduction then elimination.

Within 30 minutes all three were done and dusted. Only once did I ALT-Tab out to the internal web system to find an answer I couldn't reliably guess on. Hooray for me!

So it was with great triumph I ALT-PrtScn'ed the pic showing my completions and pinged them to my boss.

With these courses done it meant I could then get on with actual proper work instead of this administrivia we have to deal with as part of the glorious occupation it is to be a servant of the public.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Run, Rick, run

Rick Perry has thrown his hat into the presidential race.

Oh boy.

Rick Perry, aka Governor Goodhair (1), has been governor of Texas since George W Bush left office to assume and abuse the presidency. Perry, believe it or not, was once a Democrat. But in the late '80s he made the switch and never looked back. In fact he's now hard core right. So much so that recently he brought up secession.

Yes, secession. He was idly musing about Texas fucking off from the union.

So Mr Secession, whose words I would think should be contrasted to the 600 000 dead of the US Civil War which was ensuring states didn't fuck off willy-nilly, is running for the highest office in the land. And, if you can believe it, he's going to run on jobs. Yes, jobs. Because that's the only metric he's got that he can be positively judged on. All others, with Texas being riven with environmental and societal decay, not so much.

Jobs then. Does he have a good record on jobs? Apparently he does. Employment did go up in Texas. Except ... not good jobs. You see what Perry did to encourage companies to move to Texas was basically lower taxes and charges, reduce regulations, and otherwise ensure that workers were paid less and had less conditions of service.

Now Perry presumably wants to take that concept countrywide.

Perry is a good old boy. He's a good politician. He's won pretty much every election bar a couple he's gone for. He plays well down south where that concept of limited government being an ideological good even as it's a practical bad is a rigidly held belief for many, many people.

But compared to Obama on an intellectual, policy front, and who has a determination to protect the greatest number of people and give them the greatest opportunities possible given the political circumstances of an ideologically-held-captive Congress, Obama kicks his arse all over the block.

Assuming Perry (2) wins the nomination will the US people elect Governor Goodhair who says lots of motherhood statements about the evils of regulation then puts it into practice by inflicting on his own people what a near pure free market can do when unconstrained by law or even ethics? Or will they elect Obama, recognising that the economic climate was not of his making and that his plans and attempts to address it have been stymied for political purpose by the right, who (with Congressional Democrats) has a proven record of success and who managed to improve health care access for a number of people?

I think once the people get a better handle on Governor Good Hair they will reject him as the empty suit and shill for corporate America he so obviously is.

Indeed, Perry reminds me of Governor Ritchie, Bartlet's opponent for re-election in The West Wing. At the end of the third season, in the episode titled Posse Comitatus, Bartlet has a chance meeting with Governor Richie at the performance of a play. Richie, when told of a recent death of a secret service agent, responds with 'Crime, boy, I don't know.' After Bartlet gives some advice on preparing for debates—like have two-hour daily tutorials on foreign policy, Richie gets snarky and then proceeds to attack Bartlet for having a superior attitude, that Bartlet is weak, and that he's a "Liberal".

Bartlet's response?

'In the future, if you're wondering: "Crime. Boy, I don't know," is when I decided to kick your ass. '

Let's hope Obama does that to Perry. I don't think America, let alone the world, can take another four years of 'Bush, now with extra-strength formula!'

(1) So named by the late (and awesome) Molly Ivins.
(2) Perry is a firm believer in the right to bear arms. So much so that he goes packing when jogging. Indeed he proudly announced to the world he'd killed a coyote menacing his daughter's dog. He shot the coyote ... with a laser-sighted handgun. A gun that he takes when he goes jogging. I know when I go jogging that I need to have a laser-sighted weapon ... just in case.

The end of an era

My habit of a daily walk—which I performed under US mail delivery conditions—is at an end. It lasted three years, two months, and eight days (1).

I didn't give up through apathy—which has been the case with all forms of self-improvement in the past—but rather bio-mechnics. In that my left hip was discovered this week to be ridden with arthritis and it needing a fairly urgent hip replacement if I am to avoid unpleasant pain. Until that happens then if I am to do exercise it needs to be non-weight bearing. The options given were swimming or cycling.

I am an okay swimmer, despite having no flexibility in my left leg (2). However swimming entails showing your body to others. And when your body image is almost cripplingly awful to the extent that you cannot even look at yourself in a mirror without getting a stab of pain about how you look ... it's not really an option.

So ... that left cycling. We'd just off loaded our piece-of-shit exercise bike, purchased some 12-years before, and needed a new one. Fortunately friends could help out and, last night, we retrieved a loaner, muscling it into the car in a semi-disassembled state with theWife then reassembling it upon getting home.

Today was launch day. After a day of nerding at a friend's place literally on the outskirts of town I finally made it back home to begin the process of swapping out my daily walk for a daily ride.

First things first. Entertainment. That was courtesy of On the Media, the weekly podcast via NPR. I had my portable speaker jacked into a USB-to-power plug and my Mp3 into that. I had it balanced on a cobwebbed tyre that was leaning against the shed's wall. Then there was the adjusting of the seat ... it taking a while to find the optimal spot ... and fixing up of the pedal straps.

Then, with a heavy heart (and heavy body), I began.

It sucked.

Now it sucked because it was different and because it was harder. The beauty of walking for exercise is that it's minimal effort if you want it to be. And it's just so easy to do. You pretty much have to be clothed and that's about it. Off you go. But the bike ... the bike was harder. My legs ached from pedaling within about two minutes., I got puffed pretty quickly, and sure enough a patina of sweat beaded then dripped down my newly trimmed head.

The bike offered numerous metrics to measure by. The key goal setting ones being I suppose distance travelled, calories allegedly burned, and of course time. I decided initially to try for 10 minutes. That was hard, so, so hard. To take my mind off it I texted the evil vixen who'd long-term-loaned my the devil's bike and called her horrid names. Well ... actually I didn't. I did text her to moan about it like a giant beardy-sook. She was nice about it. Then the 10 minutes passed and I figured I'd go for twelve minutes or 100 calories—as far as you can trust that metric of course—whichever came first. Then ... then I kept going. Finally I decided on eighteen minutes as my cease point. Why eighteen minutes? Because when I started walking three years, two months and eight days ago I was initially just trying for a geographic goal—walking around the large block near my house. When I was getting into serious walking and started worrying about times then I found I could typically do the block in eighteen minutes if I walked fast enough.

So 18 minutes was the goal. And ... I made it. In fact, because the metrics was set on rotate (i.e. the display has 10 seconds on distance then 10 seconds on time-taken etc.) then when it finally kicked back to time I had cracked eighteen minutes and twenty five seconds. Hooray!

Will a shaking body, aching legs, and mysteriously tingling butt, I awkwardly dismounted the bike, retrieved my entertainment tat, then closed up the shed and went on in to immediately sit on my fat can.

So ... that was about an hour ago. How do I feel? Sore. But probably not as sore from walking. Towards the end of this week walking did become pretty agonising. Even going the mirror-image for increased comfort only helped a bit.

It's also a tad disheartening to see the metrics scroll by when you realise what noshing on neck up foods does to you energy wise. Eighteen minuted on the bike equated, according to the metric, to about 130 calories burned. That's about one and a half fun-sized snickers bars ... or a Weis bar—the daily dessert treat I'm supposed to have instead of the large hot-fudge sundaes I get once or twice a week (3). Indeed a McDonald's large-sized hot-fudge Sundae is about 500 calories ... or 69 minutes on the exercise bike.

Sigh. No wonder people like me put our heads in the sand when it comes to crap like this. It's just too depressing to contemplate. I think I am going to set it so I don't see the calorie count metric as it's just a reminder of how big I am and how very, very, very, very far from the body norm I really am.

Still ... onward and upward. I may have a shitty hip that causes mild to extreme pain depending on the exertion ... but it hasn't stopped me from doing something. It's not the something I prefer but it's still a valid something.

So ... here's to a valid something. It gets us through in the end.

At any rate ... let's take off our hats and bow our heads for a moment.

RIP daily walk. 2008–2011.


(1) As noted before I only failed to have a purpose walk on one of those days—but on that day had massive scads of incidental walking so I generally consider it to be a pseudo-missed day.
(2) My default swimming style is breaststroke (2a). But with a stiffened left leg it means the kicking aspect is largely redundant and I basically rely on arm power to get me through the water.
(2a) The same as Lara Croft! But, let's face it, there's a reason why the programmers chose breaststroke for Lara Croft...

(3) TheWife is away for two days. On the way home from nerding I got four for the freezer :(