Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Sick of it

I’ve been sick the last week with a cold. Phlegm-filled sinuses, sweats followed by chills followed by sweats, a muddle-headedness that had me actually believing that England had a chance at retaining the Ashes. And how did I react? Like a heartbroken cheerleader from sitcom land. I wore tracksuit bottoms, shuffled around the house feeling sorry for myself and craved for nothing but ice cream. It would have been easier to hold up a big sign saying, “I want sympathy”. If nothing else, it may have got me served sooner when I went back to the shops for another tub of rocky road.

The thing that annoys me the most is that the weather has started to become a bit summery. The temperatures are up in the late 20s and I wore shorts on Sunday. When the gutters are blocked with leaves and Robyn and I have arguments about who should get out of bed to turn off the light I don’t mind being ill (not just because it’s a handy card to play when Robs claims that I’m closer to the switch). Coming down with the lurgy is part of winter. If there’s cricket on the tele, there’s something unjust about having watery eyes and a runny nose unless you’ve got hay fever or Pietersen’s just given away his wicket cheaply.

So I’ve decided that I’m not going to get sick in the summer anymore. I shall simply will my body to do my bidding and I will not succumb to any virus between the months of November and February from this point onward. Having said that, I seem to remember always being the one to switch out the light so if I can’t convince Robyn to kill the light now and then I don’t think I have much hope of conditioning my body against its tiny invaders using the “please tell them to call again when it’s more convenient” argument.

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

That’s you that is

There’s a new image up there in the top right. Phil came up with the idea, I took the photo and then combined it with Claude’s far superior original. I still don’t know what Reality Splinter really means but taking a great work of art and mashing it up with a holiday snap definitely falls within it’s jurisdiction.

Here’s a better look:

Monday, 13 November 2006

Bloc-notes? Non! C'est un Blog

I'm usually all for the proliferation of the English language but lately I’ve become annoyed every time I encounter a certain word. When I read it in the sports pages or hear the rich tones of Les Murray spoilt by its use, I just groan and curl up inside. The word in question is brace. I'm happy for sailors to brace themselves in high seas, carpenters can use a brace to help support a beam and Legolas wannabes can still wear a brace to protect their forearms. Dentists may still ruin teenager's social lives by fitting them with braces and I have no problem with couples (of either, both or many orientations) clasping one another in a loving embrace.

I simply wish that commentators (especially those of the Association Football persuasion) stop describing two goals, trys, points etc. as a brace. A dozen, score or century are all perfectly acceptable as they describe a number which is substantial enough that it warrant's being highlighted by the use of a specific term. Three wickets, penalties, aces is an event that needs the phrase 'hat-trick' to note the rarity of the occasion but one less is nothing to write home about.

What the hell is wrong with two? “Henri scored two goals,” is a fine quote but to elevate it as being something of mark, by replacing the number with a specific noun takes something away from those that achieve one more. I'm not some crazy Frenchie who wants the word banned. When we start forcibly removing words from the English language, we might as well start building bonfires and throw the books on as well but if this one tiny, little word were to have an ‘accident’ would anyone care?

Sudoku – From the Japanese meaning, “Not as hard as a crossword”

Last Friday I was riding to work on a packed tram. Normally I get on early enough into the route to secure a seat but because there had been a hold up there was a flood of commuters waiting and when the #96 finally turned up I had to stand. I was hanging swinging from a hand loop like a planter hanging basket full of fuchsias, when, just as we passed the casino, I glanced down at the lady seated to my right. She was busy at work on a Sudoku puzzle (difficulty: tedium) and after sucking on the biro for a moment she filled a ‘4’ into a box just off centre of the puzzle. It was too cramped to read in any comfort so was easily hooked by this woman’s scratches.

I studied the grid a little closer and realised that she shouldn’t have placed the “4” there. There was already a “4” in the bottom of the column and based on the answers she’d filled in so far, she should have in fact placed either a “1” or a “3” in the box. I had a huge compulsion to point out her mistake but then that opens a whole jockstrap full of crabs as it would reveal that I’d been spying at her puzzle over her shoulder.

What is the etiquette in situations like this? Should I point out the failings of a stranger or leave the status quo knowing full well that placing the “4” in the wrong place has thrown every other placement out of whack in a move similar to a butterfly beating it’s wings in China. At this point her mobile rang with a horrible polyphonic explosion of Kung Fu Fighting. I relaxed and let my staid, non-confrontational side win. If she thinks its amusing to inflict faux-Asian 70’s pop on the rest of us then fruitless repetition followed seething rage as she realises her mistake is far, far less than she deserves.

Friday, 10 November 2006

You've (always) got mail

There's a website called FutureMe that allows you to write a message, address it to yourself and then specify a date for it to be delivered anywhere from one day to 30 years into the future. When you compose the letter, you have the option of giving FutureMe permission to publish the letter on the site for others to browse. It makes for some interesting reading. Most are letters of encouragement - “You should have achieved X by the time you read this. If not, why not? YOU CAN DO IT! You just need to believe in yourself. You are a TIGER! Master of the Jungle! Grrrrrrr!” - letters to the writer's newly born child - “Hey Kido. You're all grown up now. I hope I haven't screwed you up too much. Can I borrow your flying car?” - or excited birthday wishes to theirself - “Dude, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to me from me. I hope your day ROCKS! Have we banged Kelly Kirkpatrick yet?

The thing that amazes me (other than how much people abuse CAPS lock and exclamation points!!!!!) is that its likely that the majority of these little 'pearls of wisdom' from the past will arrive at their destination. Five years from now, (hell, one year from now) I don't know if I'll live in the same house, hold the same job or answer the same telephone numbers but unless Google falls down, I can't see why I wouldn't be using my Gmail. Seeing as I'll most probably won't change my name, I could easily keep the current email address until I die, Hagrid wipes the InterTubes by mistake or I get too old to care about communicating with other people; whichever one comes first.

We live in a throwaway society where products have a built in obsolescence of about 11 minutes, you can divorce people by txt message (we're all looking at you Ms. Spears) and every other summer blockbuster has a plot based around new and interesting ways that the planet is going to destroy vast tracts of highly populated areas. You can buy disposable cell phones, underwear, petwear, urinals and even camcorders but at least there is now a third certainty to add to death and taxes; your email address. So please think carefully when you choose yours, you don't want to be stuck with kisseyboy88@genericmail.com for the rest of your life.

Thursday, 9 November 2006

At least Three’s Company had the sense to call it a day after seven years

The term Jumped the Shark is used to describe a piece of pop culture that is past its use-by date. At first it applied only to television shows as the episode that had the Fonze (on water-skis) jumping over a shark is usually pinpointed as the moment when Happy Days started to go down hill (I’m amazed that the term isn’t The Moment Joanie Stepped on Screen, but that’s just me).

It’s a useful idiom that one customize to many situations; Tom Cruise (Jumped the Couch), The Sopranos (Jumped the Gun) and even your aunt’s annoying spaniel (Humped the Bark). However, if anyone has jumped the proverbial shark it has to be the American Republican party.

At the time of writing, the GOP has lost the House and are within spitting distance of losing the Senate as well. And yet they are using phrases like "the headwind was just very, very strong this year” and "This just was a little too steep of a mountain to climb." No, you lost because the Monkey-Boy you have as president has finally got the country into such a bad place that the populace has decided, “Enough!” Unfortunately, they can’t easily get rid of him so instead they’re taking it out on you.

Now if only instead of jumping the shark, Bush just rode straight into it. I think a lot of people would tune in to see that and that’s about all that the Republicans can hope for if they are to save their show from cancellation in two years time.

Monday, 6 November 2006

I want my aioli

In today's 'on demand' consumer climate, it's quite a shock to find something unavailable. “You want it your way? You got it!” screams the marketplace. I can now order trainers that are made to measure, credit cards with my pets on them and bespoke 4x4s. Even politicians are thrown into a spin because the spectre of designer babies is (apparently) at the foot of the slippery slope that is stem cell research.

So imagine my disgust as a consumer when I discovered as I did my household shopping this evening (yes, I chose to visit my grocery store at 9:15pm on a Sunday) that I couldn't buy the garlic aioli dip I wanted. It wasn't merely sold out or temporary out of stock; the price tag was no longer on the shelf, there wasn't anything else available from the range and the space among the other dips was now occupied by something called Tasty Trout Seasoner. I felt outraged and wanted to complain. How could the store not have the item I wanted. Whatever happened to the customer is always right? When did Flemington become Communist Russia? What next? Replacing bread with Nutritious Wheaty Slice?

Before my fury could start curdling the dairy section, I stopped asking a pottle of nouveau riche fish paste rhetorical questions and let my anger subside. The world hadn't fallen over when the Malaysian-spiced chicken fillets I liked had been cancelled, nor had anarchy reigned following the non-availability of Bubble and Squeak Veggie Patties. I realised that I had become so spoilt by the variety of choice available to me I took it personally when one of the options had been removed. What had I done to pull down the wrath of the Ǚber-Marché? I can change, I can be a better shopper. I'll redeem my coupons, make full use of the Christmas savings plan and put my trolley back in the bay instead of leaving it at the foot of the car park like I had that one time I just popped in for milk and then rushed home so I wouldn't miss the start of House.

At this point I realised I'd started bargaining with an imaginary God of the supermarket. I was scared that I would begin grieving over my lost Aioli or denying that I even wanted it in the first place so I skipped ahead, accepted that it was gone and moved on to the next item on the list.