Friday, April 29, 2011

The ex-pat wedding experience

My parents are British ex-pats. They've been in Oz longer than they ever were in the UK, and both are naturalised Australians. However they still have a certain "Englishness" about them. My mother for example has quite a pronounced "proper English" accent, a result I think of her selective schooling as otherwise she'd have ended up with a Birmingham tinge. They also retained a love of their cultural identity - for example, my Dad is in a church choir and he likes Welsh choir music.

So whenever there was a televised Royal wedding they'd get a bit English about it. They'd gather around the tellie with an array of English themed foods and like ex-pats and bathe for a while in memories of the mother country.

Only this time ... they're in hospital. Both in the same room too - my dad recovering from his illness, and my invalid mother also taking up a bed as there's no high-end respite care beds within two hundred kays of where they live. Hooray for senior resources!

Luckily help was at hand to help them regain that link to blighty through royal nuptials.

Their awesome friends - who already have done so much to help them out while they're bed bound - came bearing gifts: cucumber sandys and cheese biscuits.

But that is not all ... no, that is not all.

There's the attire.

Yes, attire. Mum got a necklace and a tiara. Dad ... a spotted bow-tie and a top hat.

Pure. West. I would pay good money for photos of them in their royal wedding watching tat. Good money.

Got to love a wedding ... and great friends that pull out all the stops when you're hard up.

TheBoy issues a demand for a story

Tell me the story about where … with Humpty Stumpty … I go delivering presents for Santa … we use shrink spray and get small … go down the chimney … deliver presents … then go … north pole … see Santa … and Santa gives me present.

I laughed and laughed and laughed. I tried to tell him that he’d just told the story but it was hard to get it out ‘cos I was so wrecked by what he’d just said. When I collapse in laughter at something he does during free range interactive story time on the big bed he jumps up and down, delighted, then tries to smother me with a pillow to stop me laughing.

It fully reminded me of this bit from Black Adder 2.

Raleigh: Oh. Maybe I could distract you with the tale of the time I fell into the water and was almost eaten by a hammerhead shark.

Queen: Yes. All right, try that one.

Raleigh: Well, Ma'am. [with a flourish] I fell into the water. [pauses for suspense] and was almost eaten by a shark... And the funny thing is, its head was almost exactly the same shape as a hammer!

Queen: [extremely annoyed] Ooh, God! You'd better come up with some presents, or I'm going to go off explorers completely!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A word you probably shouldn't whisper into another dude's ear

We were talking about sheet music at work. TLR complained about its complexity. As he was discussing it with L the mnemonic to remember notes came up.

Every good boy deserves fruit.

TLR wondered about the specificity of the fruit mentioned. 'Apple?' he said, mostly to himself. Which would be more accurate in terms of fruit but of course destroy the whole point of the mnemonic.

I was in chair-walking distance. You know, where you can walk your wheeled chair along the carpet while still seated. I was laughing as I came closer, like a rower paddling up stream due to the resistance of the carpet. I kind of fell forward as I whispered, barely able to articulate it from laughing, a single word. A word that also started with A should he need the mnemonic to be changed to that.

'Anal.'

I'm a lot older than TLR. I'm assuming having a dude whose physique is best described as a hetro-bear and breathing the word 'anal' into his ear was not a welcomed experience.

Still ... it was funny. And in the end, that's all that matters.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The perils of giving a shit

I have low-grade self-diagnosed OCD. For example in the putting away of sharp things and the picking up of litter in case someone slips on it and dies.

Part of this extends to being an OH&S busybody in the workplace. When stuff in the building breaks or stops working for the most part it gets put to one side (if mobile, like a chair) or ignored (like a dead light). Because, like a teen that thinks their dirty clothes will be picked up, laundered and returned neatly, people will assume someone else will organise it all.

I am that someone ... thanks to OCD!

Today I had to escort an Irish tradie around who attempted to fix several lights only to find all the ones he had were incompatible. He eventually left. It took half an hour of my time and likely cost the tax payer about a hundred bucks in lost productivity. What can I say? I'm very productive. Later I had to report four other dead bulbs on my floor and two lights on the ground floor because the guards didn't know how to report broken things. That or they did and they lacked the OCD to do so.

I am not community minded. I rarely engage outside work and home with anyone or anything beyond the bare minimum. But in the workplace where, like school, I have to spend my time I may as well spend it as safe as houses. Hence my reporting stuff.

Because if I don't ... well ... then people may die.

OCD is awesome!

When the robots take over and a minor case of Catch 22

I kill electronics. Not intentionally. It's just that they seem to die around me. I've had several computers die, numerous disks (floppy, zip), my irreplaceable work thumb-drive (1), phones, stereos etc. Once I even had a TV blow up (2).

It is magic thinking to suggest I actually have a cause-and-effect effect on electronics from my sheer presence though statistically I'd have to be somewhat aberrant. If as some futurists have predicted the robots will take over it is therefore likely they will destroy me as a threat solely based on those stats.

I love listening to NPR. I download a wedge of podcasts from The Morning Edition and All Things Considered in addition to the longer single-issue podcasts they have. I use those podcasts to blank out my owies from when I go for my daily walk.

Lately when I've been listening to podcasts then they've died part-way through and gone onto the next file. Given that my home and laptop PCs do not have this problem when I've used them to transfer the files to my Mp3 then that left my work PC or the connecting cable. As the PC is spanking new and seems to work a treat then I process-of-elimination determined it was almost certainly the cable.

I don't know the exact name of the cable type. I call it a USB to trapezoid cable based on the shape of the non-USB part.

Only ... where to get such a cable? The hunt was on! We pack-rat keep all manner of cables just in case. Alas none was to be found ... until P discovered one such cable lurking in the box for a work phone. So with joy I seized that and tested my theory the old cable was to blame. It was indeed.

Damn you cable! (shakes fist).

But ... there is a chance - albeit small - that someone using that phone might need the new cable. So being blessed with a sticky label machine I typed up then printed a small note saying I had it ... just like Milo Minderbender did with the morphine ampules in Catch-22.

I rule the school. God bless my sticky label machine, everyone!

(1) The manufacturer stopped making the ones we use ... two years ago. Apparently there's a working group studying the issue. Ah the Commonwealth Public Service...

(2) The reason why is as a direct result of attending fire-warden training at my work. The compare - after spending 48 minutes cry-whining about arse-holes who deface helmets with graffiti (2a) - said that stand-by powered electronics were a possible risk and, when not in use, that stand-by power should be switched off. i.e. push the power button off. I took that advice. Only ... the button eventually got loose from over pushing and, one fateful day, when I pressed it in there was a rice-bubble (2b) moment in the back of the set and a nasty curl of smoke belched out. TV then off to the repair shop under warranty for six weeks while we had a 32 cm screen loaner.
(2a) Cassmalo has done her time as a warden as well ... though I suspect partially from perve-access for when fireys - Aussie slang for a fireman - turned up for alarm responses. She once spent hours carefully drawing a turtle on a dead helmet then mailed the helmet to the fire warden training compare. When I went on the course he held that up as an example of outrageous ill-treatment and his voice actually cracked with tearful anger at the 'Oh Humanity!' of her scribing. Bad Cass...
(2b) As in Snap, Crackle and Pop.

Dolly Downer has a hissy

Alexander Downer, the Billy Bunter of the former Howard government, is currently on the UN purse attempting to solve the Cyprus crises ... you know, the one that's been going for fifty odd years.

Recently Dolly decided to weigh in on the whole Hicks and Habib issue. David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib were the Aussie all-stars at Gitmo during the noughties until they were eventually released. Hicks - a trained militia fighter for the Taliban - via a shonky copping to a guilty plea of supporting terrorism and getting time served plus a few months. Habib - picked up as suspicious in Pakistan - released as being found to be innocent of any terror supporting activities.

According to Downer they were both "terrible people". Therefore it seems deserving of their incarceration and treatment.

During his time in detention Habib went via Egypt first. There he was tortured. Downer almost certainly knew about it. He certainly did nothing about it.

The Minister of Foreign affairs, in addition to heading the diplomatic corps, has as a duty the duty of care for Australians overseas and in trouble.

They did not get their duty of care from Downer. Nor did they get it from the Howard government. These men were abused and tortured into making false confessions - Habib even declaring under pain of torture he was involved in hijack planning and training.

It turns out torture is a supremely useless means of interrogation for effective intelligence because people will say almost anything to get the torture to stop. It's why they tend to recant everything when it does in fact stop. You know - 'Sorry I told you I was the sixth Beatle ... but you did dunk my head in a bucket several hundred times before I did and I kind of wanted you to stop.'

Alexander Downer got his slot, it's been argued, because he agreed to step aside for Howard just before the '96 election. He then presided over a series of disasters including the AWB scandal where 300 million dollars was creamed off wheat sales to Iraq by Saddam Hussein and his cronies and where his department manifestly failed to find out despite its role in governance. After the Howard government was booted Dolly stuck around for a few months then took his over-sized utterly undeserved pension and went off to suckle off the teat of the United Nations.

Now he's trying to defend his pathetic legacy of failure.

God, I'd wish he'd shut up. He irritates me now even though he's been out of federal politics for three years.

Pathetic excuse for a failed human being.

Speaking of pathetic excuses here's another conservative who can't keep his moronic trap shut. In this case his trap being his twitter fingers.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Karma

Perhaps my suffering DBB (Drive By Boganing) is a karmic realignment?

Today the following happened.

A long distance drive which the night previous too theBoy, now sick with a cold, spent the night half-awake with a nasty cough. Being a hotel room we were also kept awake. Then as we drove off my sister in law rang to say my Dad wasn't fully compos and she wanted to call an ambulance. With my mother an invalid that meant one for her too. We texted back and forth and eventually the ambo was sent for. TheBoy, now sicker, spent his time coughing unpleasantly. The noise lanced through whatever ear protection we had. Only frequent blasts of Ventolin did any good.

Twenty minutes from home there was a toilet emergency. Sigh. Then ... five minutes from home after a wracking cough spasm that lasted a minute he threw up.

At that point I lost it. I leaped heroically out of the car after shouting my standard refrain of annoyance ("Oh for fuck's sake") repeatedly then screamed long and loud at the sky 'THIS IS BULLSHIT!' then repeated variants thereof. TheWife had to get me to walk away and calm down. I did it by clamping my hands over my ears and squinting shut my eyes as if I could make the horrible world go away right now please. As the mess was mostly daubed up and we got back in theBoy, rightly still distressed, was doing gulp-wailing where his crying was interrupted by ragged intakes of breath.

When we made it into the house I was sent off to get uber meds, shopping, and have a great big ebbing away of all the filthy feelings I was expressing. Thanks to a combo of groceries, awesome counter people (the happily chatty Morgan at the check-out and the twin-pack of chemist staff at the chemist's), a drive, and a super organised wife who with precision sorted all the yuck back home I am now mostly okay. Just a little fragile and embarrassed as all fuck for losing it by the freeway.

I went for a walk after handing over the groceries. It was two minutes into that the DBB happened. Two carloads of P platers roaring fast down the hill and breaking for the T-intersection I was crossing. The gaily yelled whatever the fuck it was they yelled at me - Doppler and low education combining to make it unintelligible - then RRRRRTTTT'ed perpendicular for the nearby arterial drive and presumably the car park of whatever few fast food outlets are open on a public holiday for a productive sit and talking of complete and utter moronic crap that cockspanks like DBB producing bogans like to waffle forth.

I'm assuming it was a karmic kickback for the Heston moment I had an hour earlier. So yeah, by and large I am not a prick. But if I am a prick or lose my cool in a big way perhaps, just putting on my magic thinking hat here, perhaps this is the universe tweaking my fates a tad to keep the level spirited (1).

(1) I have heard - likely apocryphal - tales of new apprentices being sent to the local hardware for a replacement "bubble" ...or a left-handed screwdriver.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

It's the little things...

Today I went to a local markets. It was fun. I went with my nieces. We tooled around the local stalls and made fun of the wares on offer. Typos in signs, dodgy second hand books ("Pheasant breeding and care") - that sort of thing.

As I was walking around I saw an incongruous sight. A tiny late middle aged lady - she must have been under five foot - talking to a six and a half foot younger man. She was actually having to shield her eyes from the sun as she looked up at him to communicate. It seemed so odd ... this tiny woman and this tall man that I felt I needed to text mah writing bud about it. She thought I was at the circus or something.

I do like these odd moments in life. I file them away for later use.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The NBN

I'm staying in one of the areas that had the NBN roll out. Wow.

Even with running off a wireless signal from a router that's connected to a phone line that is still copper to the node it's the quickest internet connection I've ever used. I can only imagine how awesome it would be to be fibre all the way. I for one cannot fucking wait.

Yay for the NBN!

A creature of comfort - and not delicious

I am a hobbit. Not in the literal sense - though I am short with large (paddle) feet and have a prominent tum. In the metaphorical sense. I don't like actual adventures - though I love reading (and occasionally writing) about them. I don't like the outdoors. I like comfort and indoor plumbing. I also like second breakfast - well, back when I ate long and large.

In addition to liking the Hobbit lifestyle of comfort, eating and comfort eating, I am a sedentary worker. I have a desk job. A messy disorganised desk yes, but a desk nonetheless. If you adhere to the collar concept of livelihood then I am as white a collar as you can be save for the fact I dress smart barbie (1).

If civilisation collapses - zombie plague, meteor after-effects, virus on the loose, nuclear Armageddon etc. - then I am well fucked. For not only would I be rudely ripped from my comforts of access to food and hot showers - I have no practical skills to offer other survivors.

I can't fight (2). I have no hands-on making or repairing skills. I have little in the way of scientific knowledge.

TLR lent me Dies the Fire. It follows the lives of two main protagonists following civilisation's collapse. Caused by "alien space bats" (the actual cause behind the event is not known but theorised to be inflicted by intelligent beings by those in the story), electricity no longer functions and nor does fast combustion. Adios then gunpowder and petrol.

Suffice to say the world turns to shit quick-smart. The clever ones realise what no leccy and no blowie-uppie means and head for the hills with supplies. In the aftermath of civilisation's fall the world shrinks. Not in the globalisation sense but in the actual sense. When travel is limited to foot, hoof or bicycle then your horizon is soon purely local.

It was a terrifying book for me. I've not seen or read The Road but I've read the plot outline. So there's elements of that. One of the elements is the rise of the Eaters. Those survivors that survive by eating the easiest game to hand - other people - and ending up as The Hills Have Eyes style mutant clans of mutual feeding on other humans. I had nightmares the night after reading some of the Eater scenes. Needless to say once people get organised after The Change the first need on the security front is the extermination of said Eaters.

Luckily even before he lent me the book, TLR, who lives on a farm with his extended wife's family, had promised me and my family a berth on their estate should the world fall over. They're the distilled essence of all the skills and resources you need to survive such an event. Which is lucky because let's face it, were I left to wander the world with just the clothes on my back ... all those worldly possessions would represent is the cellophane on a meat-tray.

I'm meat on the hoof when the world ends.

I did offer up that I am semi-okay at kid wrangling and story-telling by way of a possible CV line item if for some reason his word alone isn't enough to sway his family on allowing entry of mine. I also checked with him that should I take on this un-mannish role whether that would require gelding of my person.

So far he's yet to get back to me on that. I hope he does. All it takes is one fuck-off sized meteor to send man back to the stone-age, but at least, barring actual alien space bats, we'd still have leccy and guns to use when we pick up the pieces.

Civilisation may have its faults. But I'm all for it if it keeps me in food and showers and not as food in someone's pot instead.



(1) No, not like the doll or a more-than-likely Barbie version of Sarah Palin - who despite the glasses is not busting barriers in the smarts department. I mean I dress at work in smart casual - the sort of clobber you'd wear to a barbie at an acquaintance's house.
(2)
Though in school I wasn't afraid to go whirling-arms dervish on tormentors and scream like a mad fuck - as well as cultivate a mad fuck reputation so people would leave me alone. I like to think that I am no longer frightened of being beaten up. I've been punched in the face before - hard - and it didn't phase me that much.

Firsts!

We're visiting family for the Easter break. It's been good ... apart from unpleasant guts that flipped from bunged to loose in a rusty sludge down the back of the porcelain poo explosion lo this very morning.

TheBoy flourishes around his cousins. He wants to do what they do - like somersaults on the tramapoline (1) - though in that case it was more him shouting 'one Two THREE!' then throwing himself forward to land on his knees.

So far he's scored two firsts. First visit to the movies as an active watching little man (as opposed to as a baby in a mums and bubs session). He saw Rio - and loved it! His other first was climbing a tree. He sits, straddling the branch like a fully clothed Cher, his legs waggling while declaring to all that 'I am in my tree-house!'

Aw. What a little monkey.

In today's Humpty and Stumpty stories the lads were using the trampoline when they got snatched from the air by various mythological creatures - griffons, wyverns and manticores. TheBoy however grabbed his diminutive friends back from their talons, captured the evil critters then threw them into mountain prison ("PutPutPutPutPut") and locked them in ("LockLockLockLockLock"). Sometimes they escape for a round two attempt but they always fail. Later in the story theBoy gave himself and the lads wings and they chased after the griffons when they got away. Awesome stuff.

Hooray for holidays!

(1) Homer spelling.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Damn you, Will Ferrell

I love Will Ferrell. He is an awesome actor. He is an awesome comedian. He is an awesome writer.

Love him. I have a huge man-crush on him. If I was in a position to be part of some sort of bromance with him I would be in it. TheWife would understand ("Off to Will's place; back in two weeks" "Okay hon, have fun!").

I also love NPR.

Today those loves combined when I heard an in-depth interview with Ferrell on NPR from 2006 after Stranger than Fiction had just gone out.

It is an awesome movie.

I had to have an acupuncturist session today. Now I fully admit I may be a little suss on the whole actual physiological benefits it offers - though having a 20-40 minute world time-out likely has a placebo relaxation impact. So I freely admit that the main reason I go is because I can get my pain meds script there and I don't cop the same level of judgmental third degree I get from my GP when I try and get them from her.

You're meant to lie there and just, as the acupuncturist puts it, 'RELAAAAAAX'. There's piped in music and occasional delightful bursts of whiffery in the air as well.

Except I get bored. So much so I often end up trying to line up the donuts atop the needle's handles - the needles stuck in the back of both hands - so I can see through them like they're acrappy telescope. Then I use it to look around the cubicle like a pirate seeking land.

Yarr.

Previously to counter this boredom I'd smuggled in a paperback to read - a Conan book most like - or even read the paper. Today instead I thumbed on the Mp3 to continue listening to the interview I'd started on the walk to the doctors.

It was a good decision. The quality of the recording and the ear-buds jammed into my years drowned out almost all the muzak from the surrounds - though towards the end I went to a single bud away from the door - secret service style - just in case he walked in when I wasn't ready for him.

The interview was as awesome all the way through as it was at the beginning. The only trouble is of course, even in a one on one interview situation, he is a piss funny man. That and the interviewer played a bunch of clips from SNL and his movies.

So I started laughing. I couldn't help it. One guffaw burst out over the top of the musak and likely startled all those within the complex. It is an unusual sound not typically heard I suspect in such a place. Conscious I'd let fly with a laugh I then stifled them. Only when I stifle I tend to jiggle. With my big tum out on display due to a needle placed above my mummy-connector there was nothing to synch it in or keep it from wobbling. So wobble it did. Generously, quiveringly, like a hastily placed jelly on the table. So much so that I feared the needle would pop out and then tumble down my stomach like a rocky hill rolling shot Nazi soldier in a World War Two epic, killed by partisans when the Germans attempted to storm the partisan's last-stand hill redoubt.

Luckily - this time at least - he forgot about me. So I was left for the full 40 minutes instead of the typical 20. Blessed with a script for three boxes of the fast-acting pills I trotted off into the gloom of near-night, went and filled the script (1), then celebrated with a soft-serve cone from McDonald's.

At any rate Will Ferrell nearly rumbled me to the acupuncturist that I was not treating his trade with the deference it deserves. Ah, who am I kidding? They know why I am there. I haven't been there since last year but as I walked in the receptionist, the acupuncturist's wife, not only called me by name she happily offered to fill a script for my tablets without my needing to even ask.

(1) At the prescriptions counter there are no less than four signs telling people they cannot make payments at that counter (the till is on the other side of the shop). So when it was my turn to be served I said 'I'd like to make a payment please.' The counter girl did the polite 'Um ...' starter for refusal before I lamely pointed at the signs and confessed to a sad, sad joke. What can I say, I love to impress counter-people. It's a sickness.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wikfin - fun with white supremacy

I have to admit I find organized bigotry amazingly interesting - in the manner of rubbernecking at a car crash. That people can find each other, the like 'hate other people' minded, and not only spew invective against another human being based not on the content of their character but their skin ... but - well - voluntarily attend meetings in order to do so.

Fuck me I do hate meetings.

I once read a book by an academic - who happened to be Jewish - who actually went and interviewed these people and asked why they felt they way they felt. For many it was feeling at a loss and watching a lot of late night teev where they'd show docos of World War Two or old war movies and the German military machine looked kewl or something (1). Still ... beats sucking yourself off with a vacuum I suppose (though why not tick both boxes and put a swastika on your hoover first?!).

So I was on a wiki-jaunt after pausing my watching an ep of The Daily Show when I came across this fine fellow - Benjamin Smith. A man who was so incensed by his worshiped master's failure to get his law license - not him, the man he idolised - he went 'fuck you world' and went on a spree frenzy.

Now white supremacy and guns have a strong intersect in US culture. The sort of people that go to gun shows apparently are all so some of the sort of people that buy Nazi tat and fantasy books about gittin' the government. Now a Venn diagram would rightly show this is a small sliver of the gun show audience, but nonetheless they have purpose stalls selling this crap for those people since they know those people are going to tool on up, presumably in their pick-up with a confederate flag proudly emblazoned and suitably sited for maximum offense.

Yee-haw.

So you'd think that people that go to gun shows and who love Nazi tat would be able to shoot straight.

In BS's case, and what marvelous initials, alas not so.

Smith also shot at but missed another nine people. On Sunday, July 4, while fleeing the police in a high-speed chase on a southern Illinois highway, Smith shot himself twice in the head and crashed his automobile into a metal post. He then shot himself again, in the heart, this time fatally. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

That's some fantastic crap right there. I wonder if on the chance he'd actually run out ammo before he topped himself he would have done the classic 'chuck the weapon at the target' frustration move?

Here's an awesome idiocy in the name of idiocy moment I prepared earlier.

(1) When I walk on gravel it sounds to me like goose-stepping by parading past German soldiers.

Awesome...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Stories with theBoy

Our stories are getting more and more complex. We lie on the king-sized bed for about ten to twenty minutes twixt PJs plus teeth and the last act before bed of final regular stories (i.e. from a book), telling free-range stories where theBoy and his cohort have adventures.

Last night for example Humpty and Stumpty (two hobbits that live in a tree down by the river) came around to play with theBoy’s number’s game (I’m not sure what that is). So they went to his room to go get it only … the room was gone! All that was left was a jagged hole in the wall.

They hopped into Humpty and Stumpty’s car and went looking for it. They found it on the road, atop giant striding chicken legs, loping along at a fair clip. They drove up beside it and saw it had eyeballs too. TheBoy decided Mr Potato Head was behind the theft. He jumped from the car in through the doorway of his room. There in the centre of the room – with cables snaking across the floor to a central control column - was Mr Potato Head. He was working levers back and forth to move the legs. TheBoy charged Mr Potato Head and knocked him aside. He hit the handy Big Red Button that had cancel on it and the legs retracted, causing the room to sink to the level of the road, then spread out under the floor. Mr Potato Head dived out of the doorway and was last seen running away across an open field.

The room was muscled on to the back of the car and driven back to our place where mummy – who does all the hardware tool using stuff in the house – proceeded to have a montage to put it back together (1).

Later in the story – and this happens a lot – someone got a birthday cake. After we sang Happy Birthday to that person – or people, I think it was Ellie and Dellie – and the candle was blown out the cake was served around.

‘What does the cake taste like, Noodles?’ I asked.

He thought for a second or two then grinned.

‘Numbers,’ he decided.

Gold.

I laughed and laughed and laughed. He dove at me yelling ‘No laughing’ then tried to tickle me to get me to stop.

(1) If I have a montage in a story then I shout ‘then they had a MONTAGE!’ and start singing the A-Team theme tune – the classic ‘80s show that defined the montage moment in action-dramas – which inevitably resulted in them bursting out of some sort of warehouse that had been surrounded by mooks in a vehicle that they jury-rigged armoured up by welding a fridge to it. TheBoy HATES the A-Team montage music and screams ‘NO MONTAGE!’

Monday, April 11, 2011

One falls another rises

In the US a figure of the crazed nut-bar right is hanging up his cap. Well, sort of. He's leaving Fox after nearly three years after plunging ad revenue. Oh he still had ratings ... third highest cable news show in fact ... it's just that the monied up corporate sponsors didn't want to be identified with him in his 20 minutes of ad time in the hour and went elsewhere. Which is why he got delightful sponsors such as Goldline, a company that convinces pensioners to buy gold coins which will only turn a profit for them if the price of gold later doubles, and some sort of survival seeds company where for the low price of $135 you can buy a packet of civilized food re-starters for when civilization collapses.

I speak of Glenn Beck.

Of course Fox and he announced it like it was an amicable 'drifting apart, separate lives' press-release from a celebrity couple so closely identified as a single unit that their name gets smashed together like ramming ships that they wish all the best for the other party who simply wants to go off and do other things. But the fact is that money is at the beating heart of News Corp and Becksy cost them a fair amount of dosh possibly as much as 40 million - with the walking away of corporations who didn't want to be identified with a crazy loon.

So he's leaving Fox, which only paid him 1-2 million a year but served essentially as a giant advertorial for his 30 million dollars worth of other business with his radio show, stand-up (yes, stand-up) tours, books, his website, and presumably Glenn Beck at the blackboard bobble-heads.

Media Matters, an admittedly left-wing media (1) watchdog aimed at right-wing media in the US, has noted the damage Beck did in his time under the nation's spotlight. That Beck pushed the discourse so far out to the fringe right that it made "normal" fringe right-wing concepts seem reasonable and thus greatly impeding the US to use time-tested economic responses to economic downturns like stimulus spending that much harder. As witnessed by the budget showdown in the states of late where despite shaky re-growth in the economy the Republicans demanded spending cuts - mostly aimed at programs they ideologically opposed like family planning (2).

Still, in addition to over 50-whitey who ended up as the core Beck demographic on Fox, one other group will miss him ... comedians.

But while in the US of A they bid farewell to Staypuff the ocular impaired nasty man, in Oz it looks like that the Da Vinci code-esq system that is the NSW Upper House electoral process has likely resulted in the red-headed stepchild of Ozzer politics, Pauline Hanson, to come screaming back.

For those of you not in the know a decade plus ago Hanson burst onto the political scene as a dis-endorsed Liberal candidate who won a Queensland seat at the '96 election. She proved deliciously divisive and went on about swamping Asians and nasty black people on welfare, as well as the flat-tax, making refugees only have temporary protection (later adopted by the Libs), and conspiracy theories that forecast that she would be murdered with the only clue being her draped in an Australian flag. Presumably one that people died under (like her). Her success led to One Nation, a kind of proto-Tea Party style conglomerate of aggrieved almost-all white people angry at the world no longer adhering to their status of being simply a white-man's burden and buying all our tat in exchange for all their resources, and consequently at the next Queensland election some of them got in. Like when you turn on the kitchen light and see a bunch of roaches on the floor. One of their number was a part-time Santa. Another thought Aboriginals should go back to being paid in tucker.

Since her eviction from politics in the '98 federal election she has tried numerous times to come back and suckle at the tax-payer teat by mostly standing for house-of-review chambers like the Senate and the upper house in the NSW state parliament.

Now it looks like she has succeeded. Still I'm not too worried. Her former partner and one time sexual partner, David Oldfield, had a turn in the upper house there as well post One Nation. He did mostly nothing for eight years then fucked off to do the midnight shift on Australia's leading angry 'white be victims' climate-change denying radio station 2GB. He also bizarrely has a smoking wife which both confuses and excites me.

The only thing I will really be sad for is the twenty odd equivalent average tax contributions from actual working Australians that will go to support her in her life of shrill boganinity. Apart from that she's in a minor state upper-house chamber that has little, if any, impact on the broader community of New South Wales. Apart from occasional publicity gained when she says something mind-bogglingly offensive in the chamber that is.

Still, to all of you who voted for her ... good one, fuckwit.

UPDATE: She didn't make it! In the final recount - even though she looked like she was golden - she got pipped at the post. Suck shit. This still doesn't change the fact that those who voted for her ... fuckwits.

(1) This is not to equate what they do with Fox - only from the other side of the political spectrum. All Media Matters does is highlight the crazy, in context, then refutre the bulk of that crazy with the actual facts or reasoned analysis. The left and right in the US are apples and oranges. The right punches with emotion and feeling and the left counters with facts and reason. Unfortunately, as evidenced with the demise of Air America the vaunted by failed attempt to have a counter to right-wing talk radio, those on the left are hampered by the choice of weapons. It's hard to be believed or listened to when your opponent is screaming spittle flecked invective and lies 24-7 to a captive audience who wallows unthinkingly in the fetid swill of the right-wing media landscape, while your audience are balanced intellectually curious types who are likely gainfully employed and thus unable to sit all day and listen to the radio in their trailer.
(2) i.e. Abortion access. One thing right-wing candidates do, especially the evangelicals, is go on and on about the total number of abortions since abortion became legal. In that there's 15 million or so less Americans as a result of said abortions. These saintly foetuses presumably all would have joined the army or other nation building endevours and thus the US wouldn't have to be all attractive to poor brown people who want to swarm over the border in order to ... er do landscaping or menial semi-skilled work others don't do. This is despite the fact that studies show that women who have terminations almost all have babies at a later date when in a position to care for a child and do so at births-per-woman rates equal to that of women who don't have terminations. Yes, that's right. There's no missing babies. They come along later when a woman is in a position to provide proper care for both themselves and for their child. Fucking right-wing fuckwits trading on the emotional pain and distress of women who choose to terminate because of those circumstances. And don't get me started on their blind ideology of abstinence only sex-ed which is probably best caricatured by America's favourite teen-mom 'look what happened to me' recruited as a spokesman for it ... Bristol Palin. Who I hardly think should be a poster-child for abstinence only sex-ed when she clearly is making a motza out of her circumstances.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Friday, April 08, 2011

Denied!

I'd just finished baby-sitting for some friends. I told them I might go through drive-thru. Lo, they admonished me for my intended crime, knowing full-well, full-horribly-well, how gassy a mofo I'd be after I ate them and end up spending the night dropping some beats through my ring ring.

I went anyway. With the car heater blaring as I listened to the soft-nonthreatening tones of a beeb reporter on a feed through news radio discussing the whoopsie by the no-fly zone peeps of accidentally taking out some rebel tanks ("We ... er ... didn't know they were using them now"), I tooled along in the dark of night, rhythmically punctured by the soft burr of spaced street-lights.

Yummy. Soon to be yum in my exceedingly ample tum.

So I glided across the car park and turned into the drive-thru bay.

'What can we get you?'

'Two large hot fudge sundaes and a large caramel (1),' I burbled happily, comforted by the certainty of soon to be noshing on a more than fine dessert as I watched teev on the computer.

'Sorry, we turned off the machine.'

I was man enough not to cry.

'Ah,' I said. 'What time do you do that then so I know for next time?'

'It's on again at four (2).'

Now I like to think he simply misheard me. That it wasn't a pointed dig at someone he correctly assumed was a food obsessed chubbo.

'Okay,' I said and with a heavy-heart chucked the car in reverse to back out.

I couldn't back out. I was too close to a pole. Factoring in the likelihood of another sundae seeker coming in roughly from behind out from the dark in the time to do a nine point turn to depart I had no choice.

I went through the drive-thru.

'Er ... hi um ... I couldn't back out so I kept going through,' I said, a tad embarrassed (3).

He smiled ... then closed his window.

I did consider getting a fix from a 24 hour petrol station but well I had my heart set on that and well the heart wants what the heart fucking wants and logic need not apply. So I decided against it. I then texted my peeps I'd sat for to let them know I'd been machine-off-blocked and brmmmm'ed on home through the night.

I got home. Had some super meds. Then wrote this (4). Because after-all Mr King, this fucking counts.

(1) First two for me, latter for theWife who is far stronger than me and rarely eats sweet desserts.
(2) I originally posted this as 4. Except if it's less than 11 you're supposed to use words not numbers. So I changed it. I'm becoming that much of a pedant. That talking to I copped last year really did a number on me (2a).
(2a) I do a count down for theBoy before I pick him up and lower him into the bath. I go 'One ... two ... (insert not the number three, either a number or utter nonsense like "lion's nose")'. He counters 'No, one two three!' Then I do it again, then typically once more. Sometimes he lets me cuddle him when I do it. Finally I say the words and he dashes into my arms if he's not there already. I lift up his muscular little body and lower him in as he grins his cheeky devil-grin. Sometimes he does the random thing too. Tonight was 'One two penguin'. What a chooky!

(3) Yes, it's true. It does happen to me.
(4) I sent out a staff bulletin today. I had this horrid feeling there were mistakes I'd missed. I had. It was in the first ... fucking ... line - the result of a careless last minute edit without properly checking. Luckily I'd emailed a link and not the attachment and it only took thirteen seconds took for my boss++ to ping me the error. So I nipped in - yelling blue thunder at the fucking records management system we use which is mostly awesome but grindingly sluggish at times - tweaked it and re-published. Still it took the gloss off a mostly entertaining effort (which included an actual mention by me of He-Man's furry underdakers). Boss++ was in a good mood. He took the effort to cruise out of his office - splendid in his Carnaby Street-esq paisley dress-down-Friday shirt - and gave me a man-pat (4a) on the shoulder to say not to worry about it. 'It's Friday mate - and we all make mistakes.' Later I emailed my boss, who has Fridays off, and she was nice about it and we then both made delicious sweet fun of the records management system. Yes campers, that's right, that's what public servants do. They make fun of shit like that. We rock the fucking school.

(4a) As Dr Katz wisely once said when it showed two men hugging but patting vigorously. 'It's not hugging ... I'm hitting you!' which is a thing dudes do when hugging other dudes lest the other dude thinks you're hitting ON them instead.

UPDATE: Typo fixed. Damn you Patrick! (shakes fist)

Scratch fail

So I was in a senior person's office, having dropped off some corrected drafts, when I got a signal on the border of my conscious that I had an itch ... an itch ... down there.

Yes, there. In fact to be specific it was my left testicle.

I was in an office so I figured I could readily scratch away, including with a bit of sex-face grimacing. So I scratched ... with some gusto.

Whereupon Boss+++ walked in looking for the office's usual non-testicle manipulating inhabitant.

He didn't say anything ... but really ... what could you say to that?

Luckily he likes me ... though presumably with less ball-scratching.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Life lessons - missing taking your medication is bad...

I've been on happy pills since mid-2008 after a series of health meets life crap landed on me like a comedically large weight measure.

Artist's impression of mid-2008. Area Mikey metaphorically located under it.

After a false-start with Aropax I went on a new med which has done the trick in taking the edge off the dark. The edge mind. Happy pills don't actually make you happy ... they just make you less sad. Hopefully too also they make the occasional waves of utter going-fetal despair less frequent.

I've been on and off the happy pills since high school. This though is the longest period and it's because I suffer chronic pain, of varying intensity, that I stay on. When you're in pain all the time then you end up depressed. It's just how it is.

The other night I ran out of pills. Crap. So I put the empty blister pack tucked in my wallet to remind me to get my script and get it filled.


Didn't work. In the morning I must have been on auto-pilot and simply cast the pack away and pocketed the wallet.

Fast forward to the next night when I went to get a pill.
Fuck.

So last night I cleverly got the script and actually clipped it in my pass lanyard so I would not forget. At lunch I went and got the script filled. I told the chemist - who must have been a toddler when I left high school - that I was feeling pretty fucked up and he said to take one now then restore to usual taking time the following night.
This has been accomplished.

The trouble is of course that I went about 48 hours without one and the side-effects have landed with a thumping crash. Tearing up, waves of sadness, light farting, and general malaise. Though the light farting is probably just the IBS given I was doing some wickedly bad efforts last night and this morning. Eye-watering ones that smelled like a long cooked on wok that was left to go to seed in a student group house sink.


Each time the waves come and the tears well I have to talk myself down. 'Side-effects, side-effects, side-effects'. Over and over and over again. It's like dropping a hallucinogenic and it having largely worn off apart from the occasional apparition of an angel of death floating through a wall and across the room and you being compos enough to say 'hey man, that's just the last of the acid, right on.'


Still, a life lesson for you all.
If you're on anti-depressants ... don't forget to take them for 48 hours ... or that will fuck you up.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Wikfin from my idle watching

Like many, many, many people out there with a computer in reach when they watch TV I like to look up shit about subjects that come up on a Teev prog. Sometimes I will do this while the prog is still happening, other times if it's just me then I will pause the prog and go for a quick wiki-jaunt to know more.

Last night I watched the second ep of Boardwalk Empire, set in Atlantic city on the cusp of the 1920s. A gangster epic. Proper gangsters, not "gangstas" who fire their guns sideways in drive-bys then vomit up a rhyming dictionary up at five syllables a second to celebrate it in exhaustive detail ("and his guts spilled ... like a movie reel ... over the floor ... on an apple core" etc.).

Lucky Luciano popped up in the ep - one of the original heads of the five families that agreed to split up New York, mafia style. So I paused the ep and went on the wiki-jaunt.

Two awesome Wikfins popped up in the jaunt - Mustache Pete and Defenestration. I never knew the latter actually had a technical name for it. Now I do. Since it's semi-on-topic then check out Trepanning as well.

Wikipedia. Just the most fun a book loving boy could have.

Fantasy ruined by horrid reality

If modern commercial TV and other alleged popular culture drivers are to be believed then Tradies are the new Lady Black of attractiveness. As in the epitome of masculinity and carnal desire that gets the humidity rising in a girl's lady parts. You can see it in reality shows. You can see it in contests like "Hottest Tradie". I see it occasionally stories about it on the SMH website.

I can understand it. Women represent 55 per cent of university graduates and have been steadily approaching parity of proportional representation in the white-collar workplace. A workplace were notions of masculinity and overt display of muscle and physical power are by and large utterly disregarded in one's day-to-day ability to do one's job. If women were not the default person to take time out for family their proportion in the workplace were higher. In fact you can look at nations like France and Sweden with dedicated societal constructs in place to maximise participation of women in the workplace to see how this can work in their favour when government steps up to tackle this disparity.

This is all as it should be. We’re a modern technological society where machines take up the dross and drudgery—at least, in the west—and white-collar technocrats dominate the middle-classes.

Unfortunately for the ladies in the white-collar world, the eye-candy of men around the office … not so good. Being sedentary workers they will have sedentary habits. Unless, like Astronauts, they actively fight muscle wastage by performing dedicated exercise solely for the benefit of maintaining physicality they will go to seed. In other words … they fug up.

Tradie men on the other hand, who by dint of actual physical labour get the required exercise and physical maintenance simply by working, and who may even enhance their physical stature at the gym or in other ways like communal sport. Thus their eye-candyage is maintained, even bolstered when presented as a likely comparison to their white-collar pudgy floppy kin.

As a man, I can hardly complain. At least women are lusting after men who are manly. Not only can a Tradie look good strutting around naked, they can fix stuff, hell make stuff. Where-as someone like me has a hissy if the computer takes too long to boot up and has on one occasion actually called Tradies in to his workplace … to turn on a light switch. Men too have their share of niche lady segments they lust for—school girls, college girls, cheerleaders, women in uniform, women who are hairy/not hairy, women with large/medium/small breasts, women outside, women clothed, women who are a different colour, women who are the same colour. Oh fuck it, women, let’s face it, are wanted by men pretty much always.

Alas ladies are the gate-keeper. To paraphrase John Howard circa 2001 they decide who comes to their country and the manner in which that person comes. Given the disparity in desire and control of access to the fun parts then let’s face it if a dude wants some sweet then he has to do things to be in the running for those parts access.

Advantage: Tradies.

Tradies as I understand it do occasionally get offers for purely physically fun nookie. It’s probably a rare event—and it probably only happens to those within the Tradie niche that are a cut-above the average Tradie. I’m thinking guys in their twenties to late thirties who likely buff on up even outside their day-to-day buffing from lifting things and moving them around. Still hope is a powerful narcotic and drives us to do things we wouldn’t do in a pink fit if we actually looked at the probability of success (hello Lotto), so perhaps that possible perk of a covert nooner with a good lady wife of a saggy white-collar dude or a free offer of some chase around the bed from an attractive single young technocrat lass in her singleton palace is something they can cling to when their job is getting them down. As in ‘well at least I may get a fuck out of this.’ White collar lads cannot say the same.

So where is this leading?

Well … today I may have spoiled that fantasy of hope that a Tradie has that they can be called on to put down their mechanical drill to go the biological one.

TheWife told me there were tradespeople coming. She did. She said it last night. When I heard them this morning I forgot they were the inside types. I thought they were the outside types. So I was wandering around in just a towel.

I was coming out of the toilet, the towel not around my waist but just bunched up in front and casually concealing my junk, when I went past the open door where the buffed tradie was standing, tools in hand near his ladder. So he got a side profile of my great apple-tum thrusting forward like the bow of an ice-breaker, my groin cast into deep shadow by the over hang of flab, then a retreating glance of what could best be described as Sean Connery’s chest-thatch transplanted on an entirely too ample arse.

I’m sure that Tradies when knocking one out from their spank bank have a variety of similarly themed fantasies of hot’n’heavy ladies wanting some secret nook-nook while they do their manly making and fixing of stuff in the house that said lady’s actual man is utterly useless at. Or indeed lacks a modicum of interest in when in fact they could be playing FreeCell all day instead of moistening up an exertion lather from providing basic hierarchy of needs requirements for their mate. These fantasies needing logic likely call on some sort of scantily cladness for kick-off of romance—such as the person just getting out of the shower and stumbling into their manly muscled arms.

Today … today I likely forever ruined a wide swathe of that man’s spank bank files.

Still … that’s what he gets for being buffed.

I hate him.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Teaching him the sad walk

TheWife and I are firm lovers of Arrested Development, one of the finest US sitcoms of the last 20 years. Another victim of fuckwit TV execs that use short-term ratings as their guide instead of long-term revenue from DVD sales for a series that has more than two and a half seasons in it. Hello, just look at Two and a Half Men! It's been on so long - current SheenAttack! issues aside - that we've literally seen the half rounded up to a full.

Like with lines from The Simpsons as part of our special couple shorthand language (1) Arrested Development moments have entered our life. For example if one says something that momentarily confounds the other said other can rightly say 'I don't understand the question and I refuse to respond'.

Another is the sad walk. It's the walk George Michael does when he gets dumped. It becomes a recurring gag through the series.

So when one of us gets sad a nice way to let the sad inducing party know - but in a fun way - is to croon softly and sad 'doo doo doo ... doo ... doo doo doo' and walk off with our head downcast. It's very cloyingly sweet and likely to induce you singletons to gag into your late night drink.

Tonight theBoy was being a bit of a handful. He did something to annoy his mummy and mummy told him off. So he got sad. So I tried to teach him the sad walk. 'Like this noodles! Doo doo doo ... doo ... doo doo doo!' He grinned happily at the thought of doing something he knew we'd like. So he did it - or tried - he couldn't actually keep a sad face (2). It was too much fun. 'Doo doo doo,' he'd say as he walked along, his happy little mouth a grin. That and we were laughing and when we laugh he repeats exactly what he did to make us laugh again and again and again to squeeze out every little drop of glorious fun attention (unlike bad attention which he doesn't like "you hurt my feelings!" or "stop it, I don't like it!").

It's funny. He's entering our world now and picking up the same short hand theWife and I have.

It's glorious. Just remind me of that during the crappy parts that are not fun like tantrums, toilet stops by the road literally five minutes from home when the portable potty collapses and you have to hold him fast above the road while he decides whether he actually needs to go or not, and of course the dreaded medical crap like emergency room night stays and rasping breathing that chills you at its thickness.

(1) Too many to count. But from The Simpsons we developed Rowdies as short hand for newspapers. Because of the HardCopy piss take in the sexual harassment episode where Willie is profiled in a peeping tom report titled 'Rowdy Roddy Peeper' - a pun on a wrestler's name (1a) - and Peeper sounded like Papers so Papers became Rowdies. See?
(1a) Wikfin - Job and KayFabe
(2) TheBoy is a lot like Martin Short in Clifford with his inability to keep a normal facial expression. It's either a happy grin or a 'grr'-frustrated one. Or an out an out scream of pure annoyance-rage because I've irritated him to the point of near explosion. I probably shouldn't do that.

FreeCell and work crap

Don't you hate it when your smarmy SigOther is better at FreeCell than you? Our winning rating is 60% and I know that I fail more games than I succeed at.

I once had a winning streak of 38 in a row. 38! Except of course I failed to screen capture the winning result to prove it. So you just got my word for it.

I know it's such an arbitrary thing to care about.

So how is HM? Well today I had a set of pain at the nine level for about 50 minutes. I had to try and walk it off. I started light blubbing in the far car park from the three weeks of wrecked sleep and pain before I made it back through the door.

Poo bum wee.

Still ... walking helps. I just told my boss I'd head on out for 15 minutes on a walk. I think the having a health case manager at work has helped with my feeling okay to take extra time in the morning to make it into work or go for walks during the day. As long as I get my work done then it's all good. And with a report from a case manager stating that 'to be almost literally full of shit for much of his waking hours causing pain and discomfort and he may need to have non-traditional hours and occasional stepping out on a brisk walk' then I can do those very things without feeling that people are disappointed in me.

Despite all this actual work hasn't been too bad. I decided against following through with my hissy fit of last year and letting them do the next big report - because I'd copped some mostly deserved negative feedback. So I stayed and I did it - and it's awesome - and we got it near perfect in four drafts instead of ten. I felt good about it. So much so that as I went past the boss at the lunch table I couldn't but help crow about it to her in front of the others.

The other day I heard a recently promoted colleague talking about age. She couldn't believe she was turning 26. Wow. She was like in kindy when I graduated - or pre-school - from high school and she's already a rank higher than me. It's one of the big step off points too - lots more money and gravitas.

Except as I told A, my former awesome desk-bud from the old building - I then had a realisation that I don't want to be a higher rank. That extra step you take is a big one. There's a lot more pressure on you and chances are you have to be a supervisor. I was a supervisor once for about six weeks about nine years ago ... and I hated it. The other main thing is meetings.

We have a lot of meetings in the public service. Far more, I suspect, than is needed. I think too a lot of meetings are held more as a justification for existence than anything else. I like being a technical person. I like doing stuff, achieving stuff, actually making a thing that was largely a result of me - and a thing that is of value. To be the higher rank and to no longer have that and instead spend my time ... going to fucking meetings ... argh, shoot me in the face with a cleaver catapult right now. No thanks. The pay just isn't worth it.

Then there's the stress. Case example is my boss. She's had a rough trot of late. Piles and piles of work and she's part time. Today she had to spend 90 minutes walking Ranty - an older colleague who while a passionate committed and skilled person is a tremendously precious personality who will take a slight at the smallest thing and yell at people or cry in an 'you all hate me' manner - through the basics of report writing. Each time Ranty would come close to tipping point the boss would use tone and topic change and even shameless praise to bring her back down. I admired her skill in application on that. It would be a tough gig. It's the sort of thing you have to do in middle management.

I can barely manage me. I don't want to have to manage others. That would suck the wang.

I feel for my friend W. He had a year off on unpaid leave to explore doing uni again. He's come back to work part-time while he tries to find something else to do. He realised a short while back that he'd never had a position in our org that fulfilled him. That he was passionate about. He's the same level as me but he was in a generic policy area. The sort of place where his managers thought nothing about blithely moving people around like the queens in a game of three card monte. Stop starting various projects. So now he's back on that treadmill, but actively looking for something that gives him a sense of purpose.

I know that I am not a career minded person. I recognise that I've reached the level I'm going to stay at for the rest of my professional life. But on the flip of that acceptance of middling mediocrity I have a job on balance that I enjoy doing, that has a purpose, and ultimately helps people.

A job ... with minimal meetings.

And in the public service that's a fucking gold job to have.