Thursday, November 29, 2012

theBoy and I do a scene

The other day theBoy wanted to play shops in his room. He opened the door. 'Hello, sir,' he said. 'Welcome to my shop'.

I was not expecting him to be in character and I launched into a great giggling fit. He made me re-start the game and off we went. As we developed the scene we decided I was trying to short change him and then he, the shop keeper, tried to short change me. 

And the entire time, apart from some whispers to me about what he intended to do, he remained in character; voice, mannerisms, the works.

It was totally awesome.

As the game ended he looked at me and in a hopeful voice asked if I was going to write what happened on 'the puter'. 

It took a while, Chooky, but here it is.

Part of me does wonder if he's older if he'll ever read these posts. Who knows? Blogging's only existed for like seven years. Will this still even be available as a platform in even three or one year's time? I guess I should start backing this stuff up, just in case.

The drive

As regular readers know theWife and I are a two car family. For when we elected to sign up for a lease plan to get a car through salary sacrifice, though we had intended on getting rid of our own car the utility and freedom a second car offered us meant we kept it. Largely because I could vary my start and finish times where my work and/or health impacted.

The old car is a shit box. It was sold to us on the cheap by my dad when we wrote off our previous car in an accident (1). That was some seven years ago. Since that time various capabilities have dropped off the perch on the shit box; the lack of air conditioning being one (indeed, the car is worth negative book value without a working air con). It also has a tendency to overheat and you have to make sure to top up the radiator now and then lest the car go into stop‘n’steam mode.

I was at work the other day when I needed to cross town to drop off some documents to a contractor. I could have used a work car, except booking then signing out/back in a work car is a pain in the butt and a massive time sink. So I elected to take the shit box.

This is that drive’s story.

There’s a slow climb of a hill on one of the arterial roads of Canberra between my office and the contractor. As the shitbox started the climb the temperature needle climbed as well. The ascent and the needle matched pace and as I closed with the crest it was touching the red. Of course on the climb there was a car in the slow lane ahead, its hazards flashing to indicate to go round. I managed to get out into the next lane just in time, and ahead of faster traffic behind me as I’d had to go slow to avoid the over heat.

Passed the obstacle then over the crest I went. I took my foot off the accelerator to let the car coast for a bit from downward motion, though I don’t know if that helped the engine or not to do so. Still it did mean all I had to do was tap the brakes now and then to stay within the speed limit and to match speed with the car ahead.

Eventually the road leveled out and I was the only car in the left hand lane as I came up to a set of lights. Though the lights were green for me a car pulled out in front of me from the slip lane off those lights. There were three people in the car and I could see their bodies moving with the slanting motion and light squeal of tyres from its sudden speeding up and pulling out, crossing my path about 10 metres ahead of me to get to the right-hand lane. After picking up to a decent speed it crossed back into my lane and zoomed off into the distance as I turned off.

What made the experience interesting was that the car in question was an early model Rolls Royce, powder blue in colour with a ’70-style chassis. The people within were grey hairs, or tufts in the case of the half-baldy on the back seat. The plate number was 13 000.

I made it to the contractor’s place, handed over the docs, then drove my ailing car to park in a shady spot to let it cool down as I had some lunch, eating chicken nuggets from the bonnet of my car as I surfed the web via my loaner iPhone.

After a long wait, with the car safely cooled, I headed back to work.

As I queued up behind cars waiting to turn onto an arterial road I could see a white car ahead of me, the window open and the driver—a woman based on the arm protruding from it—flicking ash from the end of her cig. On her car’s roof was a white box, like an ice-cream container. I thought it was an actual feature of the car until, that is, traffic started moving. As she turned off to the feeder road for the highway the box slid across the roof, bounced onto the road, and along the tar to land against the slant of a give way sign’s road island. The box disgorged its contents—a clear plastic tray like you get with take-away Asian food—the tray filled with some sort of curry-like substance given the reddish hue. Surprisingly the tray didn’t shatter or leak. It, and its contents intact, slid across the road to land near its former container.

Finally it was time to risk the hill again. Like an idiot I’d forgot to top up the radiator, even after I’d gone to the effort of parking to cool the car off so I could top it off if need be, and sure enough up the needle went. Once more I had to swerve out of a lane to avoid a parked car with its hazards, but I made the crest just as the needle went into the ‘Danger, Will Robinson’ red on the extreme right of the gauge. Fortunately, thanks in part to the cool of the air rushing up as I went down the hill’s slope, the engine cooled off slightly. I managed to make it back to work without the radiator blasting forth in a great steamy torrent.

Before I left the car I then grabbed the water from the passenger seat foot well and left it on the driver’s seat to remind me to fill up the radiator before I left for home.

Of course in order to do that I had to open the bonnet. The last several occasions I’ve opened the bonnet I’ve had to look up in the manual to find where the catch to release the bonnet can be found. Last time this happened, tired of the emasculation of having to do so I actually scored a location mark on the thick rubber of the bumper right where the catch could be found. So on this occasion, when I did emerge ready for the drive home and saw the memory prompt of the water bottle on my seat, I actually did successfully for the first time open the bonnet without the need to look it up; baby steps towards Aussie masculinity in other words.

Alas on the drive home once more the engine started creeping up in temperature towards the dreaded red on the right of the gauge. So when I got home I put the water bottle back on the front seat to remind me to have another go at filling the radiator the next time I took the car out. And when I did I put another five litres of water into the system. This time, though, the car remained at a steady just-past-the-halfway-mark on the temperature gauge and the threat of a steamy explosion from the front of my shit box had been averted.

Oh the joys of driving a shitty car.

(1) My dad's adventures with car ownership are many, given the sheer volume of cars he's owned in his lifetime. But he's been a totally awesome resource for us in battling car issues, having found us replacement engines and even on-sold our old cars for us. Go theDad!


In my enforced gap year twixt high school and uni—I didn't get in 'cos of a score kerfuffle and spent a year living at home on the dole punctuated with occasional part-time work—I did a bar course via TAFE. The course was taught at the local ex-services clubs.

One of the course people was a dude I knew from high school. He was called "Hoppy" as he had a weird skipping-like run where he appeared to almost hop (1).

Anyway we had to practice pulling beers. The tilting of the glass, when to straighten the glass, the best way to get a good foamy but not too foamy head etc. When we were done we tipped the beer out down the spill tray.

After pulling his beer Hoppy then sculled it; an entire schooner. The teacher was aghast.

'That's waste beer, mate!' he shouted, 'you'll get crook!'

Yes, all the crud from said spill trays were cycled back into the one keg so they could use this stale, waste beer for practice pulls for barman class. It was about a week's worth. And Hoppy had drunk a whole whacking great glass of it.

I bet that night he hopped onto the toot more than once...

(1) During our high school lives we brothers had about three parties when our parents were out of town. At one of them Hoppy was bouncing on the fence at the front of our house—about 60m down the drive from the house as the house was on a battleaxe block
and Hoppy hopped so much on the fence the fence, and he, fell over. Apparently he got up then hop-legged it up the road in case he got in trouble. HOPPY! (shakes fist).

Mikey's problematic exit

I gave up Diet Coke back in August after a 20+ year habit started in 1989 after my mother in her clipped British tones asked why I didn't drink Diet Coke instead of real Coke given real Coke was full of sugar (1). I gave up the D.C. as a mad impulsive mutual exclusion pact with the now dearly-departed totes-awesome S--- who as her effort gave up chocolate (2).

So far I haven't faltered. The closest I've come is drinking a Pepsi Max as to avoid a caffeine headache as the only instant coffee in my house at the time tasted like secretion of wet dog.

Anyway I needed to substitute my Diet Coke habit for something else as plain water just doesn't cut it. And I'm staying away from artificial sweeteners as I think they've stuffed up my metabolism.

So I've chosen cordial; natural fruit juice kind. My current poison, located on the low-rise coffee table at the centre of my work pod, is Apple and Raspberry.

Only the walk to the chilled water tap at the mini-kitchenette is a long one. I don't need to have the cordial super cold; I just need to add water.

So I've been getting the water from the sink in the disabled toilet, located off the dark narrow corridor near my area. Since, with Mikey being semi-infirm, I can still legit-use that toot.

Except I realised as I exited the small room, with my blood-coloured liquid lapping just below the rim of the white mug, that anyone walking nearby would presume that to be a weird, weird sight; a heavy-set frost-bearded man with a cup of mysterious reddened fluid emerging unexpectedly into said dark narrow corridor. Especially since the door opens outward and can nearly clock a passer-by in the face (3). 

I think I'm going to have to get a fish-eye lens peep hole installed so I can exit without being seen...

(1) And once you make that switch you can't switch back. Also it gets pretty embarrassing at a bar ordering a scotch and Diet Coke. You sounds like Jack Black going through the drive-thru and asking the dude to take two nuggets out of the six pack 'cos you're trying to watch your figure...
(2) S--- folded a month later in spectacular style later confessing her return to the dark master of chocolate consisted of an entire 1 litre tub of Sara Lee's Ultra Choc, the best, most-intense chocolate ice-cream experience you can have. If you're going to blow out, that's a way to do it. It's like the comedian Franklin suggesting to Olympic athletes that if they know they're coming last, they should cross the finish line backwards so as to make it memorable; 'I came LAST!'.
(3) The other day I came within a couple of inches from slamming the door straight into a colleague's face as she went past. She had to leap against the wall to avoid the unintended portal-based attack.

A poster recollection

This is the tale of the lamest childhood poster ever. Its years of service were probably from when I was in year seven through to year ten.

It was a Garfield poster.

Not just any Garfield poster ... it was an industrially-copied given away effort with every 12 packs of Garfield-themed juice boxes. Yes, it was a Garfield juice box poster ... for surrounding the frame, like a dodgy border frame decorative art setting in Microsoft Publisher, were pics of Garfield ... sipping from a juice box.

In around year nine I went and saw a local high school production of Grease. They gave all the audience members cut-out cardboard mini-shields with a stylised RH on them for Rydell High, the high school the musical is set in. We wore them stuck to our chests with a knob of masking tape. They'd added red and white bunting to the mini-shield of curled red and white ribbons. You know, where you scrape an open blade of a pair of scissors along a ribbon so the ribbon goes all curly.

When I got home that night I stuck it on the big Garfield pic in the middle of the free-with-every-12-juice-boxes poster. It remained stuck there until we moved house at the start of year 11.

So you can keep your Dolly-sourced and/or hair-metal posters featuring strapping young men with tight pants and long tresses. For I have out lamed you all with my free Garfield-themed juice box poster complete with sketchy blinging via a Grease-themed vanity badge.

I semi-end this post with this; you have been earwormed with 'the Grease megamix' ...

... It's grease lightning...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

An understated presence

I was playing with theBoy in his room. He had a series of his assorted puppet-like soft animals lined up along the railing of his tall bed (1), the row ending with his toy elephant in the corner.

'So who are those people?' I asked, pointing at Lamby and Forty, two of his sleeping aids placed side by side under a ice cream lid. 'They're you and mummy!' I pointed at another two and asked who they were—Nanny and Poppy, I think—and then I pointed to the elephant at the end of the row.

'And who is that?' I asked, excitedly.

'Oh that?' said theBoy of the elephant. 'That's nothing.'


(1) It's the height of a bunk bed but with pull out drawers where a lower bunk would be

theBoy collaborates with Sparkalus

In Storyverse Sparkalus is a wizard with a strong Strine accent—think Steve Irwin meets a '60s shearer—who tools around in slightly oversized sparkling y-fronts. theBoy decided he wanted do magic with Sparkalus and so he washed the glue from the base of his workshop and pushed it to the back of Sparkalus's tower.

'Now our back doors are connected!' said theBoy happily.

'Crikey!' said Sparkalus, 'we're like The Human Centipede of inspiration!'


theBoy had a haircut

Friday, November 23, 2012

Move over, Marie Antoinette

Food stamps were used in the 2012 election against Barack Obama. Because, you see, under his presidency more people were on them. Therefore he's the food stamp president. Even though the world economy went through 'the Great Recession' and Barack Obama took office even as the impact of the suddenly contracted world economy had yet to peak. 

To highlight what it's like to be on food stamps, Democratic rising star and mayor of Newark, New Jersey,  Cory Booker, has pledged that for a month he's going to attempt to feed himself on a food stamp allotment; a grand total value of $133. 

Naturally the reality-divorced creatures over at Fox had their fun with this idea.

Cue contributor Andrea Tantaros: ”I should try it because, do you know how fabulous I’d look? I’d be so skinny. I mean, the camera adds 10 pounds. I would be looking great.”

I say stupid stuff all the time. And in a cable news environment where it's 24 hours of TV to fill a day a lot of it is panels of talking heads with talking heads occasionally saying très goofy things. 

Except, of course, Tantaros is one of the 'Five'; a member of Fox's replacement show for Glenn Beck's racially-tinged conspiracy hour that got booted off the airwaves in 2011. Saying fetid stupid classist wealth-elitist crap like this is her bread and butter. Sorry, foie gras and caviar. 

I've been broke-arse poor in my life (1). I've lived on welfare, both from student assistance and unemployment benefits. I've gone without proper food for stretches at a time for lack of money. Hell, I had to ask for a food parcel once. However I at least could always beg assistance from my parents, even have moved back in with them if needing to. 

So, so, so many people—especially non-whites in the US who have been unable to bank family wealth that can be drawn on if need be—do not even have that option. They rely on government to put food in their mouths because their personal circumstances are such they lack either the capacity to look after themselves or their loved ones and because their families lack the built up wealth to do so without government help.

One hundred and thirty three dollars—and remembering the US and Australian dollars are at near parity—is not a fortune. It's a pittance. And it's to last someone 28 days. It's basically fuck-all. 

So the fact Tantaros thinks she can make so, so giddy by mocking the ill-fortune of the poor for their needing assistance is just beyond fucked. She is symptomatic of the sickness in the US on the right with their bizarre notions of 'responsibility' and 'pulling oneself up by their bootstraps' and decrying bare assistance provided to their working poor. A working poor that is poor because the US minimum wage is a complete and utter joke. So much so that those on the coalface of the service industry, waitresses, rely on tips to make up the difference. 

Move over Marie Antoinette, here comes Andrea 'I should do food stamps to lose weight!' Tantaros.

Just what an unpleasant piece of work. Oh wait, she doesn't really work, does she? She just blathers crap and adds nothing to the human experience that is in any way positive. 

Oh well, at least the majority of Americans just rejected her poisonous screeds and wealth-elitist malarkey in the form of roboto-to-life GOP candidate, Mitt Romney (2). And soon their audience will die off and the little miss princess will have to find a new way to parasitically leech off the rest of humanity. 

(1) Okay, technically that idiom doesn't exist in Australian English, so it should really be broke-ass. Except Broke-ass to me implies a malformed donkey...
(2) I was thinking just the other day how the words 'Mitt and Tagg' will no longer be seen in the every day and once more instead become unusual names to hear; like you'd find on a set of characters on a show for pre-schoolers on ABC3.

Where physics meets Mikey's biology

Newton's Third law: When a first body exerts a force F1 on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force F2 = −F1 on the first body. This means that F1 and F2 are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction.

Chances are, for guys at least, that when you go a standing number one you still end up breaking wind if you have wind within that needs to break. I like to think of it as biology meets Newtonian physics. More likely it's 'cos the muscles you fire up for a wee are interlinked with the ones that control that business.

The fart during a wee happened to me today. Only as luck would have it the audible component of this wind breaking sounding almost exactly like the noise a Transformer makes when a Transformer shifts states from vehicle to robot or vice versa.

It also probably explains the very small car that then shot out of the bottom of my pants leg and made a run for the door...

Gina has some recommended changes

In addition to exhorting people to give up the booze and durries and to make something of their lot in life like she did, Gina, famous for previous literary efforts like emblazoning her "... poetry ..." on slabs of Australian rock, has released a book; Northern Australia and then some. The sub header being "Changes we need to make our country rich".  

Use of red font on a darker background aside I have a recommended change for Gina.

If you're going to traipse about your vast chunks of Australian landscape that your family owns the mineral rights for then wear a fucking hat.

Gina Rinehart; she may be business "smart" but she sure as fuck ain't sun smart.

Interestingly, according to Crikey her invite to the launch mentions the mythic discovery made by her father of the vast iron ore resources of northern Western Australia;

The date is special, being the 60th anniversary of Lang Hancock’s important flight in his Auster, together with his wife, Hope, when he first discovered the massive iron ore deposits in the Pilbara, on November 22, 1952.”

Aw, bless, it's lovely when a family gets to brag about a big event from their familial past. If only the story wasn't so tinged with apocrypha...

But then perception is reality, isn't it Gina? That ability to divorce oneself from reality is just such a special gift of the right-wing mindset. Hence all that recent business implying Australia should change its wages rules so they can compete with Africans on two dollars a day...  

We don't need more rich people. We need a lot more less poor people. But then that's typical of the rich, isn't it? When they climb the ladder of opportunity they then try and pull it up behind them.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Mikey steps up ... and hates it

theBoy has asthma issues. Asthma affects a lot of children in Australia—we have one of the highest rates in the world—and with hayfever it makes it so much worse. This means theBoy, often in spring or autumn, will end up in casualty and then hospital for a couple of days once or twice a year.

Recently it was my turn to stay overnight with theBoy, sleeping on a fold-out bed next to his in his room. A room we shared with another dad and son combo, the son also with the same asthma-related laboured breathing.

It was not fun. The night was a welter of IV and oxygen alarms firing off every 20 minutes and my groggily staggering to my feet to try and get his nose prongs back in—which triggered if his oxygen levels drop below 90 per cent of normal—lest the alarm wake up the other ward's occupants. In the end I fell properly asleep, where I either slept through the alarms that the nurses tended to or the alarms did not go off, until just before 6 am. theBoy, of course, then woke up just one our later.

Our night nurse was a lovely middle-aged lady, with short wiry grey hair and glasses. I think she was German based on her accent. The dad in the ward with us wasn't expecting the level of intervention—the nurses in addition to responding to alarms having to come in and give our children blasts of asthma medication every two hours. He got pretty testy at one point with German nurse demanding the alarms be silenced so his child could sleep peacefully (1). The nurse retreated in the face of his outburst of anger but later came back and had a quiet conversation with him about what he should realistically expect from the night. I folded my ears over so I couldn't hear the conversation as his previous outburst had made me feel pretty uncomfortable. Though I can totally see how he would have gotten so annoyed, even if his anger was misdirected; the angst and annoyance from having a sick child in hospital and your having to be there and endure the dreaded sleep-next-to is pretty horrible. 

But, of course, as my boss is fond of saying, what a first world worry. Here I am getting fee timely and expensive medical care for my child and I am kvetching about having to spend the night next to him.

I got to tag out with theWife the next morning. I staggered out into the bright morning sunlight, my green bags stuffed with the accoutrements of the overnight stay parent—pillows, myBeloved (2), spare clothes, books etc.—and walked the ten minutes to the car. I went home via McDonald's drive-thru, scoffed the tuck when I got in, then crawled into bed for proper actual sleep. 

So big ups to theWife for having done the overnight stay so, so many times before. I've done it the once and it sucked the wang. I can only imagine how much more wang-sucky it would be to have experienced that several times before. 

Oh, and of course big ups to parents and other carers of people who day in and day out look after loved ones who can't care adequately for themselves. You're all amazing.

(1) Later when I saw her she explained many of the machines were new and alarmed in odd manners. She wished she could defenestrate many of them. 
(2) Slates or tablets are the must-have (again, first world must have) for a hospital stay. theBoy was kept reliably amused by theWife's iPad and I could read my Toshiba tablet at three in the morning without a light, since the screen was its own light. Even without an internet connection I had a mass of loaded e-entertainment. I spent most of the time reading an e-book on my Kindle emulator.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Adios, newsletter

One of the duties I've had for the last few years was editor of an internal staff newsletter. I got handed it like it was leftover bait after a day's fishing; an unwanted thing by anyone. But, fuck it, I decided why not zhoosh. And I zhooshed the fuck out of it. I ran competitions. I did interviews. I crafted humorous sidebars; the works. And when theBoss arrived she zhooshed it further by creating an awesome Word-based template that had the full panoply of dedicated styles. At one point a contributor even got a senior politician to jokingly hand her a chocolate bar that she'd "won" in one of the contests—for winning the worst submitted cracker joke in the Christmas lead up issue—when she met him at a local event, getting a colleague to take a photo. She had to explain the concept, he laughed, and he agreed to do it.

In short I enjoyed the job. I got to be creative in the workplace. I took pride in it. I sweated on it.

But the decision was made to axe it. Instead theBoss and managers decided we'll run a newsfeed on an internal website instead. 

So it's not like I won't be producing or editing content. But will just be ... updates I suppose. And it will rely on people actively going there to read news instead of their receiving it as a link to a neat fun-infused package. A news feed also means less scope for fun sidebars or 'Did you know?' style facts I liked to salt the copy with. 

I sent the link out to the last edition, explaining how it would live on ... sort of ... in the new form on the internal website. And the last edition was an excellent one. It even ended with three POV pieces about doing one of those national event day things that people in the workplace club together to do; you know, like Movember. It also had lots of positive presentations of awesome stuff teams in the field did to help our clients as well as advice about how to run a good after-work assistance session.

It was, and I don't feel ashamed to brag, a fuck-off awesome fucking newsletter. Not boring; informative. Not staid; it was fun. 

I got five emails about the last edition. Four emails were complaints that the link didn't work for them—their team had not yet been granted access rights to the relevant chunk of IT land—and the last email addressed the final issue itself. One solitary email. The subject? Typo on page 14. 

And so it ends; not with a bang but a fucking whimper. 

UPDATE: I should mention that I did get a 'nice effort' email from M---. But M--- is one of those glue people who gives a fuck about her workplace and she goes out of her way to not only try and get things fixed but also to make people feel better. Plus she would say that every edition. Still I should mention it 'cos not to do so is a disservice to the truth of the narrative. 

Adios, cat one

L--- was just euthanased.

She'd been poorly for a while; pain-wracked yowling, dramatic loss of weight, incontinence and watery vomits often laced with blood. The culprit most likely failing kidneys. 

theWife stayed with the vet and the assistant while I talk theBoy for a walk. He was under the mistaken impression this all meant a new cat.

We got L--- in 1999. She'd always had a prickly personality. She was a nasty hisser if she thought you were getting in her grill. We also learned the correct way to pick her up lest she have at us. Indeed, as she was getting her leg shaved for the final needle she went for theWife. 

When we got L--- we were low-level public servants. We had no money. No money for a cat carrier. So to go to and from the vet she went in an old-style file box. The ones you origami together when they arrive. The holes either side of the box, we found out, were the perfect diameter for a cat to get their paw through. She when you transported L--- in the file box this arm would emerge like the proboscis of the brain bug from a Starship Troopers and flail around trying to claw anything in reach. 

She had a nicer box on the way out; a proper cat carrier.

Anyway, end of an era. I for one will miss doing pump action shotgun impressions with her cat person because despite her proclivity for the claw and the bite she somehow let me do that with her. 

Time for a single gun salute; Chk, chk BLAM!

UPDATE:  It's later.

As I was posting the original post some argy up the corridor was going on. It turned out theBoy had whacked the remaining cat with a toy sword. Perhaps theBoy thought it was prison rules and he had to reiterate the hierarchy? 

Later it was Humpty and Stumpty time, theBoy's preferred name for Storyverse. theWife had a good idea. To introduce L--- as a character in Storyverse. My instant mental pic was her on her hind legs wearing a Puss in Boots style feathered hat. She turned up at Rat's cafe demanding food, yowling away as she did in life. Rat attempted to fend her off from his portal with a broad broom. Then theBoy gave her something to make her feel better; a crystal heart. Because that way she'll know people love her. Later I decided that the crystal heart loved L--- and the heart meant she would always feel loved. As the story rolled on theBoy sent her more and more hearts and soon her little cat house was filled with tinkling crystal hearts she could toc with a claw to set a faintly vibrating. 

Oh, don't get all misty eyed about that. At kiss cuddle time, the coda to his day, he backed into my waiting embrace as I sat here updating this post. He then farted all over me, actually swishing his arse side to side like that guard casually pepper spraying passively resisting students. And with that ... he was gone. 

UPDATE: Later once more; the Soylent Green experience. In the dystopian Soylent Green Charlton Heston's flatmate seeks out officially sanctioned euthanasia; the world an over populated environmentally-ravaged semi-hellscape. As part of the checking out process, as the chemicals seep into his body the flatmate is treated to a panoramic surround sound vista of the Earth that once was; fields filled with flowers as classical music plays. You get the idea.

About six weeks ago we knew something was wrong with L---. The yowling being the main indicator. theWife thought then there was a chance soon this day would come for her so for the first time in over ten years we let her outside. We thought that might ease her pain or discomfort. I think she did find comfort in it. As the weeks rolled on we continued letting her drift outside, though often she was soon at the door asking to come back in. That likely being pain management on her part since cuddles soothed her yowling. But I think at least she did have a better quality of life that she had experienced  and being outside was for her a fun thing.  

I will miss her. She's been a background component of my life for a large chunk of it. Even if she was a sometime ornery cuss who you thought twice about crossing...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

More inspiration!

theWife was baking potatoes and I asked her permish to add a flourish. Permish granted I cracked open the combo convection microwave, withdrew the partially-crisped tubers and started the zhoosh. Subconsciously flushed at my previous aforementioned hooting of the A-Team theme song to inspire me the mount the good lady TPC, I elected to hoot the Mission Impossible theme as I efficiently pastry brushed the taters with a thin sheen of rice bran oil and pepper. I got those bad boys back into combo oven in just under a minute! Which, as luck would have it, is about the same durash as the actual proper theme for the original TV show as seen on the "... boob..." ah "... tube...".

Eat it, Reality (1).

(1) Reality in the endowed-with-a-persona sense and thus today gets to be a proper noun.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I finally de-lipped my tablet

I'd accidentally set as my wallpaper a giant pair of Barack Obama's lips after some fumbled fingers when navigating through a media site. It happened before the US election and given how close it seemed I indulged in some magical thinking and decided not to change the wallpaper until the election was done lest I hamper Obama's chances.The election came and went but by then I'd forgotten how to change my wallpaper. So the über lips stayed until today. 
Finally, thanks to being in a solving mood after doing some fine excel spreadsheet tweak-age, I re-worked out how to set said wallpaper and went hunting for a kewl image.

So the wallpaper is now a nice pic of a storm at sunset. So basically like you'd see in mass-produced motel art.

Speaking of Obama I realised yesterday I'd been missing seeing him in action what with the election '12 now done and dusted (1). So I dialled into YouTube and found a cut of his first post-election press conference. I then watched almost all of it. Lame!

(1) Check out this sweet, sweet, post about the conservative bubble and their post-election angst. Oh, yeah. This TOTALLY makes up for how I felt in 2000 and 2004.

Friday, November 16, 2012

I suppose it's one way

I took a cold call on the landline. I knew after not hearing a voice but clicks and so forth for a couple of seconds it would be. So I should have hung up. But it could have been theWife, as she was out, so I stayed on the line. Sure enough within another second came an Asian lady's voice. I could hear the bubble of activity of her cubicle farm around her as she started her spiel. 

'What ... no ... what?' I said over the top of her. 'Nah, mate, nah ... I can't ... I can't hear you. Call back.'

Then I hanged up the phone. To her I sounded like someone with a bad connection. For me I got to back out without further entanglement. And if she had called back then I simply would not have picked up.



I was having a work back-and-forth and the subject of 'Waterloo' came up. 'Waterloo' being the ABBA song which won them Eurovision.

I discovered I had a problem with the lyrics. Specifically this line; 'Waterloo—finally facing his Waterloo.'

The meaning of the word 'Waterloo' to mean an epic defeat only occurred because Napoleon was at Waterloo and then lost at Waterloo. So he didn't finally face his Waterloo because Waterloo as a synonym for epic failure had not been established. He established it with that defeat.

Really that lyric should be 'Waterloo—finally defeated at Waterloo ... leading to the rise of Waterloo as a synonym for an epic crushing defeat'.

Though I confess this amendment would have hampered the flow of the song and likely would have resulted ABBA's  loss at Eurovision had they done it. And thus would ironically have cr
eated a Waterloo of their own. 

I hazard this is the highest density of Waterloo you have read in a communique to date.

PS Waterloo. 

You take inspiration from where you find it

If you have a problem ... if no one else can help ... and if you can find them...maybe you can hire ... The A-Team

The other night I was in the shed facing the TPC, the exercise bike semi-purchased but not paid for from Casso. 

I really did not want to get on. Even though I had myBeloved—my Toshiba Android tablet—loaded with awesome TV to watch I really, really did not want to have a ride. My body ached, I ached, my mind ached.

So without thinking I started hooting the instrumental to The A-Team theme song to gee myself up. And it worked! I managed to get on the bike just before I ran out of music.

Later I burst out of the shed with improvised armour made from a fridge welded to my body.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Near-instant puts it in perspective

I was slumped in the seat at the movies, theWife and I on a typically-infrequent outing to the cinema, feeling a tad morose. Just an hour earlier I'd been to the doctor. Not only did I not lose any weight, despite daily gruelling bouts with the TPC, I needed more blood tests. That and my doctor said my fucked-up shoulder is likely frozen shoulder. My frozen shoulder experience is characterised by occasional bouts of excruciating pain that burst deep out of the arm like an exploding bubble in hot mud, general loss of strength and numbness in the finger tips. 

We were waiting for Looper to come on (1) when another couple came in. They were around our age. She had a broken arm; he was in a motorised scooter. She sat down and he parked next to her. They seemed happy, smiling as they chatted away.

Okay, so I have a bod that's never-worked-right and is suffering some early-system failures. But I'm still ambulatory and I can still use my hands. Sure, I'm in a never-ending haze of discomfort-thru-pain but I still have all my bits and they still work after a fashion. It is better than nothing. Besides, what's the alternative? Focus on what I can't do? 

I just have to give myself permission to accept my limitations (2) and grind the fuck on.

(1) I enjoyed it a lot. Except, of course, the moment any change occurs in the past, no matter how tiny, then it changes the future. You are the result of an egg and a particular sperm meeting. So for anyone "born" after the date of a future-incursion then chances are they won't be conceived as that egg and that specific individual sperm, the one of 100 000 odd thousand swimming, won't meet; someone else will be created in their place, if at all. And the future is utterly changed.
(2) In retrospect though I am remembering all those times in childhood of being sodden with aches or lack of capability in the physicality department. Feeling back then utterly useless and valueless because though I looked biomechanically-intact I was not and to all the world I looked like a skiving fat-body. Now, though, with the knowledge that it wasn't for lack of trying but for the cards genetically dealt, I feel almost vindicated. I know if I see an old PE teacher cruising along I'll have to restrain myself from wanting to say something. After-all a geriatric phys-ed teacher doesn't need some purple-faced middle-aged man screaming invective in their face. 

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Obama wins!

I just heard moneybags Romney concede. He naturally declared the only principles worth adhering to are those of the 'founding fathers' which to me translates as 'free market without the freedom'.  Which means of course the GOP are sticking to their moronic 'no tax of the rich' argument.

But still ... go Obama. 


UPDATE: Yay, wiki! (1)

(1) Though it should be noted that above the link to the Obama win is a link to an article about a fucked-up natural disaster that's just ruined thousands of lives. And thus the earth spins on...

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Misc. Other

The US election is hours away. I'm nervous. If Romney wins I'll feel pretty disheartened. I think the rest of the world will too. Like being told by the Captain it's not a drill and you really are sinking.

I put $5 in the office sweep and won $36. I was then banned from future sweeps. My fascinator was a 1:2 scale cut-out of Bart Cummings's head that I jury-rig mounted with cardboard and tape to the brim of my old red cap. I gave Bart an eye-patch and devil horns, too. I called him Cap'n Bart. Yarr. Perhaps 'twas the good cap'n who brought me my luck?

Work is insane, as usual. Budget cuts are forcing us to look and dropping away entire capabilities or embracing those with the least cost, no matter the efficacy. We live in irrational times.

theWife had her birthday recently too. Same age as me. Welcome to the 40 club! I wisely spent my Melbourne Cup winnings on augmenting her recent birthday gift supply with roses and chocolates purchased on the way home. 

I realised today, after doing some hilarious impressions of pre and post-race interviews that my Santa's elf voice and my jockey voice are one and the same. 

I had an interesting conversation with a sporting shooter about his views on gun control. As we chatted away—noting that he's an intelligent, non-right wing person—for about 30 minutes, covering that topic and many more, I had the stupid fucking fascinator on. Every time I talked the brim of my Bart Cummings-enabled hat jiggled causing Bart to jiggle likewise. I think it may have undermined my arguments.

I forgot I'd paid $5 to go in the champagne and chicken and bought lunch across the road. But then I only ate 30 per cent of the lunch so it evened out. 

theBoy is experimenting with trying to sleep without a nappy. theWife woke him up for a night wee, just to help him out as he's getting used to it. He stumbled out of the toilet, almost completely asleep, when I jokingly asked for a cuddle. He turned, without looking up, staggered across the dining room and lounge-room, climbed over the arm of the chair I was in, and flopped to fall asleep in my lap. I tried to extract him but failed. theWife lifted him up from my lap where he'd collapsed halfway to the floor and he then staggered once more but to the couch where he fell asleep on that. He was last seen being carried into bed. What a Chooky!

Off to bed. Crossing fingers and toes. But as Guy Rundle sez, Never Underestimate Barack Obama.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Out played by a cat

We have guests coming around so the cats are in the end room. I had to get their litter tray moved in there with them but prevent L--- from escaping forth as I did so. I exited the end room through the sliding door to the communal bathroom, drawing her attention, then darted out the bathroom door, closing it to cut her off, dashed to the laundry, grabbed the tray and went back in through the end room door. She was still in the bathroom when I entered. 

'Suffer in your jocks, L---,' I yelled in meaty triumph  as I placed the tray on newspapers down by the windows.

And then I realised. She's a cat; she has no jocks. 

Well-played, L---, well-played...

A giant dead arsehole

I happened upon it the other night. 'Twas a storm-filled evening as I headed off to death-defying, my in-the-community thing I've been gradually exposing myself to in the past few months, when up at the rise to where two arterial roads connect there was a massively large and massively dead roo by the side of the road. 

It's tail lay away from its body as it lay on its side as my car approached. My headlights then drilled deep into its massively-obvious arsehole as I closed upon it to then finally pass and finally spare me the sight of marsupial anal necrosis. 

On a slight tangent though it is a funny idea that one of the ways we can delineate from other lands is the nature and type of our road-kill. For us Canberra-based Ozzers then road-kill is likely a roo, a fox, a rabbit or a wombat. In the US I presume it's typically moose or deer. In New Zealand then it would be fat waddling kiwi-birds and jandals. It's rarely livestock, though, no matter where you're from. I guess farmers are pretty careful about making sure animals don't get out; money on the hoof and all that.

My hometown is in regional NSW. As such, though it's a large town with many facilities and regional-hub like business, it's very much still a country-town. Indeed it is surrounded by grazing country, interspersed with the occasional national park.

So, now and then, you encounter a mob on the road, of usually cattle or sheep. They're being herded along the verge, either to get them to another paddock or to feed them up on the plant-life between the road and the fence-line—Australia's longest paddock I think it's called. Often the mob is right across the actual road surface, a mass of wandering livestock looking like kids at a school fete drifting aimlessly between the stalls.

You have to ever so carefully inch your way forward, ever so gently creeping onward and tap your brakes now and then when an animal is yet to totter off the tar, though when they do the clatter and lift of their feet is oddly like that of a twenty-nothing on spiked heels outside of Mooseheads.

Then you're through and you go from crawling to zipping along.


Once more round the sun

My birthday celebrations roll on. I got a present—a free-standing hammock! It can take even my stoutish frame.

theBoy made me cards at either pre-school or day-care. They both said ‘Dadda (sic)’ on them. Unbelievable, I just sicked a (sic) on my own son.

I had to go out later and thus could not attend to my daily cycle. I hung out in the backyard with theBoy instead. We climbed onto the trampoline and had about 40 minutes of free-play and the space bouncer known only as Mr. Wobble. theBoy lets me fling him about while he clings onto Mr. Wobble, which allows me in turn to have sneaky cuddles. At several points in the play he rippled with hysterical giggles. We had to pause for a loo break and he insisted we return to action. By the time he left the arena his hair was standing on end from the static electricity like he was both hands on a Van Der Graff generator

I had a surprise lunch with theWife and we went to a favourite place near my work. We tried to bring in outside drinks and were told ‘okay’ by the first guy and then ‘no’ from the next guy. Then first guy offered we could pay corkage—five bucks for both drinks—and rather than drink pre-mix I agreed. Then next guy came back, said ‘No’ again, and said he’d refund us, but that we couldn’t drink them. I told him I hated post-mix because of its chemical make-up and that surely five bucks was more than adequate compensation for not buying his sugar hell fluid. He reaffirmed in the no, and claimed if he let me then he’d have to let everyone—as the word would get around I guess—and that anyway allowing me to do that sullied his thousand dollar post-mix machine. We accepted his no and let it slide but it was a somewhat wanky coda to an otherwise awesome surprise outing.

I got a birthday card from theDad with a neatly scribed message expressing much love for us all as well as texts from family and friends. Aw.

The boss+ and I had a joint birthday cake, a public service thing you do on Fridays near birthdays. So we cut the cake together, bride and groom style. The knife hit the bottom of the foil wrapped cardboard with a thud. 'Twelve!; that’s how many boyfriends I have!’ I shouted happily, referencing, you see, the apparent custom that if you touch the bottom of the cake tin with the knife you have to out your current romantic entanglement quotient.

Only I then added without thinking ‘… that’s the same number Jesus had.’

I said it right next to V---. She does overseas charity runs for her church.

Speaking of birthdays, a while back I was at someone’s 40th. They held it in a hall for a combo of friends and extended family. During the speeches someone asked the birthday girl what she’d learned about getting older.

‘Doing a poo is harder!’ I yelled across the well-attended crowd of ages eight to eighty.

Cough … coughcough.

All I can say is I was heavily medicated at the time.

It’s also true.

When I finally got home, and was safely medicated, I then got to watch an episode of The Daily Show with Jon Ronson as the guest that was so funny I literally nearly fell off my bike. I also had three bowls of Rice Bubbles and I am nicely full of sugary non-hurty-Mikey milk.

Not a bad way to see in a birthday.

On this day fun from Wikipedia

This is a screen shot of the wiki page for the 'On this day'.

On this day; a wiki-screeshot

Ooh, two things of interest. Some sort of 'Emu War' and a mention of an improbably-evil-name sounding South African gentleman called Magnus Malan who appears on initial viewing to be somewhat unpleasant. 

Here is the photo from the Emu War

The Emu War wiki-page graphic

And this is the graphic from the Magnus Malan wiki.
The wiki-portrait for Magnus

And this is them in a stare-out.

What an awesomely random wikfin.

The Hurricane

Hurricane Sandy; Jesus, what a storm. Its sheer size and its crashing into the world's most powerful country and deep against its most densely populated coastline is Hollywood-esque (1). Several days on from the storm's landing half of New York is out of power; New Jersey's coastline a riddled mass of flotsam and ruin. 

You can't but help see the power the storm has to impact on the presidential race. Some have theorised that whoever is Charles in Charge when a disaster hit takes a hit themselves at the polls, no matter their success or failure whilst at the helm in the aftermath of the event. But perhaps that impact takes time. In the meantime all that election guff is thrust aside whilst hundreds and thousands off full-time and part-time government workers saddle up and get on in to get people the fuck on out. Or the lights back on. Or the water pumped out. Or the sick tended to. The bodies to be found and tended to.

Government; working the fuck hard at it for the people they serve (2).

Meanwhile you have Romney rebadging a political rally as 'storm relief' and trying to look semi-presidential in land-locked Ohio. 

It must be a hard time for him. What with reality slapping the GOP across their swollen trough-faces when they're just a whisker away from rightly reclaiming the country from that weirdly exotic other whose currently the fisherman in the oval.  

The speediness and competence of the assistance and clean-up is a timely reminder of why government matters. As Barney Frank says 'Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together'.

So here's a shout out to all those in action, day in and day out, helping their neighbours as best they can.

(1) All it needs is a pair of hot climatologists. 'Brrr, it made me sizzle!' being a likely pun-header for a sugary review when the movie's released.   
(2) Speaking of antitheses of good governance, check out the views of this returned floater!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Are you wearing a tie to impress Laddie?

With thanks to the Simpsons.

I am on the cusp of 40. As a result I have to renew my licence as here in the ACT you have to renew on every birthday divisible by five. 

I've had the same haircut since 1997—when I took my ponytail off after discovering approaching baldness—and the cut basically consists of me picking a number between one and four and asking the hairdresser to just clipper it all back.

I'd let my hair get its shag on—for I find haircuts an unpleasant experience, what with tiny hairs going down the back of the neck to itch me the fuck up—but I figured I needed neat hair, or lack of it, for my licence photo. I didn't want for five years that semi-mad look of my hair sticking up from my bald plate which makes me feel like a crown roast.

So in I went and got a three. I got my beard taken off as well—clipped back to a zero. I'm glad I got the beard wipe out professionally done as when I tend to the moustache part I have a tendency to shoot shards of hair, spinning upward off the clippers, right into my eyes. 

I did miss out on having the post-beard-shave shower, which affords me the chance to scrape loose hair-speckled skin from my cheeks, forming a salt and pepper "paste" under my fingernails which I can then squeeze out and wash away; but you can't have everything.

As I had my pre-40 cut I couldn't help too but notice that my hair is now dominantly grey, with occasional white and brown.

I'll never be one of those dudes who dyes—it's somewhat noticeable on the old scalp if your bald you've had a dye job anyway—as I lack any masculinity to make pretending to be younger of any worth. Which, let's face it, is a boon; because who the fuck wants to have to go through all that maintenance business?

Well some people do I suppose. Chances are if you're the sort of person who tends to their nether hair or who bleaches their arsehole you're probably going to be careful about maintenance of head hair as well. After-all, how many people are going to see the downstairs efforts versus the hair on display?

Indeed. Something to think about.

Oh, and the whole turning 40 thing; is that a massive deal for me? 

No, not really; it's just a round number we've culturally gifted with meaning. 

Besides they say that 40 is the new 18.2516. 

Which sucks. I hated being 18.

Hey ... you kids ... get off my lawn!