Friday, 31 March 2006

Things I did as a kid #1

I was 12 when we left New Zealand for the UK. I was starting an entirely different school where no one knew me and I decided that this was my chance to be one of the trendy kids. I wasn’t unpopular at primary school but I was overweight and my worship of all things trivial placed me firmly in the “Geek” section of the Venn Diagram of my school’s cliques.

Somewhere in my prepubescent brain I hit upon the idea that I could shed my unwanted pounds and would increase my social standing if only I had the right cricket bat. So I pleaded and hounded and bargained with Mum and Dad until eventually they agreed to let me cash in an advance against three years worth of Christmas and birthday presents for a Slazenger V100.

As I was new, I arrived earlier than the returning boys so I could be given a tour of the boarding house. The housemaster, Mr. Wood, showed me to the dormitory I would be sharing with three others and then left. As soon as he was out of sight I dove towards my new trunk, threw it open, pulled out my cricket bat and made sure there wasn’t anyway you could enter the room without seeing the length of willow leaning against my bed frame.

The problem was that when I left New Zealand it was December and the middle of the cricket season. In England it was winter and the sport played that term was hockey. No one really cared about cricket bats and by the time summer finally did come around my classmates had had sufficient time to get to know me and realise that I wasn’t cool.

Wednesday, 29 March 2006

A slave to the clown

Originally posted 29th March 2006

I was on my way home from work and I got to the station with 12 minutes to kill until my train was due. I was kinda hungry and Robyn is at a training session tonight (for the Eating Disorders clinic she’s going to be volunteering at) until at least 9:30pm so on a whim I had a McDonalds Bacon Double Cheeseburger.

OK it wasn’t a spur of the moment thing. I maybe, might have planned to get one last night when I saw an advert for one during Survivor (have a huge man-crush on Jeff Probst FYI). I didn’t have any cash on me so I withdrew $20 from the ATM on the way down to the station displaying premeditation and then showed absolutely no hesitation when I got to the counter.

And yes I regret it now. The bun was too sweet, the burger too small and I have that slightly rancid post-fast food taste in my mouth (I feel like I’ve licked Ronald McDonald’s armpit). I wish I’d just held on and had a crumpet or a piece of fruit when I got home. I don’t think I’ve actually enjoyed something from the menu at McDonalds for at least five years now. The stupidity of it is that I know I’m not going to learn and I’ll be back complaining about a bad Krispy Kreme or a vomit-inducing chicken deluxe burger in a couple of months.

Tuesday, 28 March 2006

Do you have anything faster than first class?

Sometimes I try and remember what I used to do before the internet. First read this then come back:

I know, how cool is that? I love the fact that it wasn’t the idea of just one crazy German either. Russians, Americans and Indians have sat there and thought – “What would be a really fast and practical way of getting people their mail? I know, a great big rocket!” They obviously went to the Wile E. Coyote School of Engineering. And I love the fact that Zucker wasn’t having much luck in Deutschland so he moved to the UK and somehow convinced Royal Mail to let him blow up their letters.

UPDATE - The story gets better. Turns out Zucker was a bit of a Barnum. His first flights never went higher than 15m and when he moved to the UK he made excuses as to why his rockets didn’t work (My personal favourite is the lack of “a special secret German lubricant”). After failing in his attempt to deliver mail, the British government decided they’d rather not risk it and had him deported in case he was too much competition for Royal Mail. Without that xenophobic trade policy, Postman Pat might have become Rocketman Rob.

Monday, 27 March 2006

Australian Nextwave Rock beats French Ambient Soundtrack every time

Last Friday I listened to Air on the way to work. Sitting on the train into town, staring out the window I felt like I was in the opening titles of an independent film. Lots of long, wide shots to set ‘atmosphere’ and you leave the cinema wandering what you had done to deserve losing two hours of your life to such monotony. Think Broken Flowers meets Napoleon Dynamite, without the redeeming dance scene at the end. It took me about two hours to shake the funk off me and actually get some work done.

Today I put on the back catalogue of Powderfinger and suddenly I was the lead in a Hollywood blockbuster. I could have wrestled the terrorist to the ground and stopped the tram from dropping under 55mph if I needed to. I was John McClane, Tyler Durden and Maximus all rolled into one. The work just flew by and I more than made up for the distractions of Friday.

I know that music can affect your mood – you don’t try and seduce someone with the musical stylings of Rolf Harris in the background – but I’ve never personally had such a weighty demonstration before. The closest I’d come previously was when I first got my MP3-player not long after I moved to Melbourne. I used to cue it up so that the first track that I played as I left my flat every morning was Bohemian Like You. I’d like to say that it was because I hoped to meet some rising musician waiting tables, who would take a shine to my hair and would invite me back to her place but the truth is that I just needed something to put a spring in my step and help me forget that I was separated from Robyn.

Steve Bracks owes me an hour

Robyn turned the computer on today around lunchtime and said something along the lines of "What time is it?"; I don't wear a watch - the strap on my watch broke sometime in early 2003 and as we were living in Russell at the time I couldn't find a replacement strap that I liked. I will wear a watch again at some point but I'm fine without one right now – so I checked the video and then remembered that Robs had said something earlier in the week about daylight saving kicking in today. The computer clock had gone back an hour and the calendar said it occurred today so I went around the house and altered the time on the VCR, cell-phones, alarm clocks…all the while trying to decide whether to use my bonus hour to watch another episode of Deadwood or trim back the bougainvillea like I had been meaning to for about three weeks now.

Later, Robyn got a phone call from Neil (her friend and co-investigator on a research project she's working on) to ask what the time was as they were supposed to catch up for a coffee at 3:30 and he couldn't work out whether it was currently ten-to-four or ten-to-three. Robyn felt like a coffee regardless of the time so she went down the road to meet Neil for coffee (a place called Pepper, excellent food if you're ever in the area). She got back a while later (at least an hour as I'd watched an episode of Deadwood in the meantime) and had discovered that we were indeed supposed to have put back our clocks an hour but the state of Victoria had decided to delay the implementation of DLS by a week so that it didn’t mess with the Commonwealth Games.

Not only do I feel like I have somehow lost an hour of my weekend but I have also lost the time wasted going around the house adding an hour to the VCR, cell-phones, alarm clocks…

Better living through horticulture

Ladies and Jellyspoons, I give you… the KiwiBerry.

I spotted these in the supermarket last week and continue to be weirded out by them on an almost daily basis. If someone had sent me a link to these I would have dismissed them as a hoax.

They are about the same size as a gooseberry and a little squishy to the touch. When sliced in half it looks exactly like you want it to – a miniature kiwifruit. Following in the tradition of the cherry tomato, they are an improvement on the original in every way: smaller, sweeter and, most importantly hairless.

IMHO Kiwifruit have always been held back by the need to have a knife and a spoon to eat them (that is if you ignore the plastic spoon/knife things that get given away with kiwifruit from time to time). Apples, mandarins, bananas – all successful fruit because, in part, they do not demand that you have a tool in order to enjoy them. I can see real potential for the KiwiBerry unless, of course, the strong pro-cutlery lobby decide to enter the fight.

Saturday, 25 March 2006

Is this thing on?

I got a shock a couple of weeks ago when I realized that I don’t think the people I consider myself close to really know me. I doubt my parents could name my top five films, I don’t think Rupert could tell you what I like to do when I get home from work, Jo can't name what I drink when I go out. This isn’t a failure on my or their parts, it's just a side effect of having family and friends spread over multiple timezones. I haven’t lived in the same place as my family for close to ten years and there’s only so much you can get across in a fortnightly phone call.

This isn’t going to be "Robyn and I woke up this morning and had breakfast and played with the cats and went to work and came home and ate dinner and watched TV and went to bed."; It's not a diary or a journal. I’m going to try and make this about the things I’d tell you if we were sitting around the table after Sunday Lunch before someone brought the Pictionary board out. I’m going to try and talk rather than just communicate.

I didn't want to send out a daily group email as I think it assumes that you actually want to listen to me rant about the latest thing I saw on the way to work or whatever. I like the idea of a blog as it's a two way street: I have to choose to write it and you have to choose to read it. Totally obligation free. My aim is to put up something on the Intarweb every 24 hours for the next 30 days. After that who knows? Maybe I'll get bored and stop. This is me throwing a starfish back into the sea.