Saturday, January 30, 2010

Australia Day (part 2)

There were a bunch of dignitaries there.  The Mayor was the most bizarrely dressed, in his mayoral robes with ermine trim and gold chain.  Perhaps he was trying to impress the Honourable Kate Ellis, Federal Member for Adelaide and the current Minister for Earnest Intentions.  She gave a good speech actually, all about what an inspiration it is to see people make the decision to become citizens.

She was outshone though by one of the state members whose speech touched on many progressive topics, such as moving Australia Day to commemorate universal suffrage rather than the invasion of Sydney, changing the flag, and stuffing John Howard.  The poor old Mayor was almost having a fit in the background.  Earlier in the evening he'd begun proceedings by linking respect for Australian citizenship with love of the flag and abhorrence of the idea of a new flag.  He'd even read out a little poem and cried at the end of it when it described how the stars on the flag represent all of us under the Lord's sky, which I don't think is strictly accurate.

(I honestly don't understand the argument that "our soldiers fought and died for that flag".  The people saying this do realize that the flag is just a symbol, right? Soldiers didn't die literally for the flag. It's just a figure of speech. It's not like there are hordes of undead Canadian soldiers who rose from their graves in outrage when Canada changed its flag in 1965.)

So it ended up being quite a political affair, what with these opportunistic stump speeches being flung all over the place.  My Smaller Half and I staged our own little protest too.  After the new citizens were sworn in (or affirmed in, for the small few who didn't wish to take a religious oath) everybody in the hall was invited to join in for an "optional" re-affirmation of allegiance.  We independently and simultaneously decided that that sounded like a bunch of Seppo bullshit, but then the MC asked that everybody please rise and recite the affirmation.  So we rose, but we didn't affirm.  Fortunately we weren't asked to sign 17 copies of a Loyalty Oath before we were permitted to use the salt and pepper at lunchtime, but I can see where things are heading.

Here's the Australian Citizenship Affirmation:
As an Australian Citizen,
I affirm my loyalty to Australia and its people,
whose democratic beliefs I share,
whose rights and liberties I respect,
and whose laws I uphold and obey.
I really don't think of laws as being something you have to promise to obey.  They are rules, and if you break them you get punished, but you get to choose freely whether or not to break them.  You have that liberty - it's the law.  And those rights and liberties that I respect - I don't think promising to respect them is the best way to honour them.  Perhaps you should exercise them.  Exercise your rights.  Exercise your rights to wave sixteen flags from your bogan ute while you break the speed limit wearing your racist t-shirt.  You do that and I'll exercise my right not to participate in some half-baked loyalty oath crusade while also exercising my right to call you names in my courageous anonymous blog.

We can despise each other and respect our liberties, ignore the law and share the country.  I love Australia!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Australia Day (part 1)

I hate Australia Day.  It's my least favourite holiday.  If it wasn't for the fact that you don't have to turn up to work, I'd boycott it.  But this year Australia Day was rehabilitated for me.  It was actually okay.

First, what do I hate about Australia Day?  I hate the fact that sometime in the last ten years it changed from Let's-Take-It-Easy Day into some kind of Thuggish-Anglo-Pride Day.  I feel angry when I see people flying multiple Australian flags off their cars for the preceding week as if it's some kind of competition.  I feel incensed when I see people proudly wearing shirts saying things like, "Welcome to Australia.  We eat pork.  We drink beer.  We speak English".  I realize that idiots like that aren't (quite) the mainstream view and that there are lots of innocent Australians getting tarred with a big ugly brush by me, but I can't help it.  It's a visceral, immediate reaction.

But this year we did something we've never done before - we went to a citizenship ceremony.  It was held in one of the suburban town halls up in Adelaide.  About 45 people from a bunch of different places around the world were all taking Australian citizenship that day.  There were as many people there, friends and family, to watch and congratulate.  It was a great atmosphere.  It was warm, friendly, welcoming, excited, generous, proud and happy.  The closest feeling I can think of is the buzz you get at weddings.

Everybody had little flags on their seats, and when we all waved them from time to time it was tangibly different from the way the teenagers wave their flags out of the windows of their revmobiles down at the beach, which sometimes feel like they are waving a club at you.

(This is a short post sorry - I've got more to say that I've been sitting on all week but haven't found the time to write it up.  So I've decided to just blast up fragments of it when I can.  Hopefully it'll all make sense when it comes together!)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bad advice freely given

I was sitting in a consulting session with a visiting specialist the other day.  It was one of those odd experiences where we both realized at about the same time that we were roughly the same age as each other.  It's strange because he's at the top of his game whereas I'm still trying to find my dice.

He asked me what I did before medicine so I was telling him how I used to be an engineer working for the defence department and decided that I really should use my powers for good instead of evil.  I then broke out the joke about how I chose a new career when I was talking to someone and they said to me, "You're a rocket scientist?  That's nice, but it's not exactly brain surgery."  (I freely admit that I stole this joke from this youtube clip.)

The specialist then said to me, "See, you're my age but you think like a Gen-Y.  What you need to do is get a shitload of debt.  Then you'll enjoy your job, because it'll be the only way you'll ever crawl out from under your mortgage."  I had to laugh.

He then asked me if I had any kids (I don't).  He started trying to convince me to have kids as soon as possible and he did it in typical medical style.  He said, "At age 25 you've got a 75% chance of conceiving in the next year.  At age 35 it's dropped to 25%.  So you'd better get started. Plus it's a great way to pull a lot of roots."

Now that's charisma.

Whilst watching the cycling at Willunga:

Smaller Half
What if the guy out the front took a wrong turn and got lost?
It happens to me all the time in my studies.  I'm so far ahead of the rest of the class that sometimes I head off in the wrong direction and make all sorts of new discoveries instead of learning what I'm supposed to be learning.

Smaller Half
Right.  That must be real tough for you.
That's the risk you take by being way out in front. 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Post-midnight lament

It's been a funny old week.  All the doctors at my practise are really nice (as are all the nurses and admin staff too), and on a day-by-day basis I have been having a good experience so far.

But despite this, on the way home today I was overwhelmed by a feeling of hopelessness.  I really felt as if I know nothing, that I'm a third wheel, that I'm a socially inept dope with a stethoscope around my neck who would be destined for a career in pathology except for that fact that (as previously mentioned) I don't know anything.

Is there a word in English for when something is less than the sum of its parts?  The opposite of synergy?  Because that's how my week seems to have worked out.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Fruit again

First, thanks to those of you who voted in the most recent poll.  I'm pleased that 71% of voters disagreed with the statement that I am needlessly proprietary about fruit.  When I triumphantly presented my research findings to my Smaller Half she said something along the lines of, "I can't trust that poll.  It was probably answered by a bunch of white people like you who know nothing about  fruit."

Well - you can't argue with that.  It's demonstrably true that most of my readers are Australian, most Australians are white, most Australians shop at Coles or Woolworths, and Coles and Woolworths sell garbage fruit. I get really cranky at the little signs at the supermarket giving blatantly misleading advice about fruit and when it is at its best.  "Cherries - best enjoyed when firm and crunchy" was one I saw recently.  Nonsense.  Crunchy cherries are flavourless and sour. Cherries should be dark, soft, smooth, glossy, and sweeter than a mother's embrace on Christmas morn. Clearly the supermarkets have an interest in selling you under-ripe fruit - it's easier to store and transport with less wastage.  So until Australians learn to appreciate good fruit they'll keep selling us bad fruit.

On the topic of fruit, my Smaller Half asked me to nominate my favourite three fruits.  I thought for a moment and nominated the cherry, the white peach, and the strawberry.  The cherry and the white peach earned me praise but the strawberry earned me condemnation.  Not because the strawberry is not an intrinsically worthwhile fruit, but because I had by its inclusion neglected the mango.

Now the mango is a nice fruit and all, but in my opinion it's over-rated. In particular, it's extremely annoying the way the little fibres get stuck in your teeth when you're raking your jaws up and down the inside of the skin and the outside of the pip to get the last little bits of flesh off.  Of course you could simply cut it up with a knife and not try to extract every last morsel of flavour, but if you do that I submit to you that you don't love mangoes enough to include them in your top three list anyway.

It's a Catch-22 situation.  If you like the mango enough to include it in your top three, you must eat it in such a way that it is excluded from your top three.

All hail the mighty strawberry.  What's your favourite fruit?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The tennis

The Australian Open is on again. Hooray! There's nothing I like better than staring at a blue screen in the wee hours of the morning, desperately hoping that the Aussies get thrashed.

It's not that I have anything personally against the Australian players - I am Australian after all and, all else being equal, would like to see them do well.  The problem is that all else is not equal.  I will give a name to my pain and that name is "Sandy Roberts".  Gee he annoys the heck out of me.

All  the other matches get commentary by people like Jim Courier.  Jim is great.  He knows heaps about tennis and he's also witty, subtle, and clever.  But whenever there's an Australian playing the network wheels out Sandy from whatever dismal stinking den he lives in for the rest of the year and puts him on MY television.

Sandy is the most blindly partisan commentator I have heard ever, in any sport.  He doesn't actual commentate at all, he simply barracks.  He whines, sledges, exaggerates and fantasizes.  For example, tonight as Alicia Molik was looking like she was about to win her match against a French woman whose presence on the court was somehow overlooked by Sandy during his prognostications of inevitable victory, Sandy came out with some claptrap like, "This would be the perfect time for a couple of aces".  Sure, why not just say, as the players walk onto the court, "This would be the perfect time for 147 consecutive aces, and maybe she could grow wings from her feet while she's at it."  Fascinating stuff.

And if that's not bad enough you have to put up with all the repetitive cliches that he churns out, point after point.  "She's asked the question!", "She's raised the bar!", "Just gotta get that train to the station!".


Monday, January 18, 2010


I am going to be an awesome doctor because my empathy and patient-relations skills are top notch*.  Today, on my very first day in my new practice, I had the following exchange with a cantankerous patient:
Did you see Doctor MacGroodle?

No!  I can't stand her.  The last time I saw her I wanted to punch her!

You can't punch the doctors - they aren't allowed to punch you back.  They'll get in terrible trouble if they do.

The patient scowled at me but the nurse laughed.  I think if you make the nurse laugh it means you've crossed the line.

* Sarcasm.  In case you hadn't figured it out, genius.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Acronym clash

I got pretty confused the other day when an acronym from my old life clashed with an acronym from my new life.

Having previous worked for The Government, I was familiar with people mentioning ASIS - the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (like James Bond - crikey!).  Now that my Smaller Half is working in psychiatry, she's been mentioning ACIS - the Acute Crisis and Intervention Service (a local mental health service).

The reason I got more confused than I needed to was that my Smaller Half was talking about some of her patients "seeing people from ACIS", which I took to mean that they were having delusions that they were being followed by secret agents.  Which is all well and good, but when she mentioned that she'd been talking to them herself to try to arrange some kind of follow-up I really did wonder what on earth was going on.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


The story I told in Monday's post about the silver boot reminded me of something that happened a long time ago in a city far, far away...

I was going to a "Space"-themed party as Darth Vader.  Having almost no money, I'd constructed a pretty decent helmet out of black cardboard.  I borrowed a black shirt from a friend, and bought 3 metres of black fabric to make a cape ... and trousers!

To make the trousers, I cut out trouser shapes in the black fabric and then, lacking sewing skills, stapled the fabric to my jeans.  It looked incredibly shit but I figured people would be looking at the awesome cardboard helmet so it wouldn't really matter.

When my Smaller Half turned up I proudly showed her my costume.  She peered immediately at the strange trousers so I explained how I had made them.  She looked puzzled and said, "Why didn't you just wear your black pants?"

Good thing I was wearing the helmet so she couldn't see the look on my face.

Fruit ombudsman

You may have noticed the new poll at the right.  (If you're reading this after January 2010 then it's now an old poll and has probably been deleted.)  A brief word of explanation...

We eat fruit every night after tea (or, as some people like to call it, dinner).  I casually enquired of my Smaller Half a few days ago how the plums had been coping with the heat.  She said they were doing just fine, so I asked why half of them were gone, and she said she had eaten them.  I replied that such unilateral eating of fruit really wasn't the done thing.

She said that I was free to eat fruit any time I liked.  I said that on the contrary I felt that she was in charge of fruit in the house and I would wait politely to be allocated my fair share.  She then asked why it was that I always ate all the apples, to which I said that I stood corrected, that she was in charge of all fruit except for apples and I was in charge of apples.

And then she said, "You're needlessly proprietary about fruit".  I disagree.  I think I'm being needfully proprietary.  Without a clear chain of command over the deployment of fruit, there will be chaos.  People will gobble up the stonefruit willy-nilly, while the slightly wrinkled grape slowly sags and decays.  I think the GFC has shown us the perils of rampant competition with inadequate regulation in an environment of crisis.

Do you agree or disagree?  Vote now - only Democracy can resolve this stoush.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Because I have a postgrad degree in electrical engineering, I am preoccupied with avoiding electrocution.  Not because I am more aware of the dangers, but because I just know that if I did get electrocuted, people would say, "well that's ironic!" and I would be turning in my grave because it's really not ironic at all, because I did my best to avoid the subjects about electricity.

Which probably goes a fair way to explaining why I'm not an electrical engineer.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monopoly on foolishness

Huh - typical.  I write a post about how determined I am to smash through my writers block by writing more and then stop writing.  Seems to have worked though.

Went to a great party on Saturday night.  It was a 40th birthday party.  Monopoly theme.  Some of the costumes were very inventive.  People generally dressed up as various components of the Monopoly board game.  My Smaller Half and I didn't realize it was fancy dress until about an hour beforehand so we had a costume fail.

There was a Water Company, an Electric Company, lots of policeman and prisoners, a few money-dresses, a house, and various of the playing pieces including the battleship, the car, and the iron.

One chap had a small silver Wellington boot around his neck, representing the boot.  He told me it was his daughter's and he had requisitioned it and painted it silver.  She's only four years old and she cried because it was half of her favourite pair of pink Saddle Club boots and her mean daddy took them away. 

He said that if I could find another pair in the same size he would pay me five times their worth. He asked me if I thought he might be able to get the silver paint off, and I sadly shook my head.

Then I asked him why he didn't just wrap up the boot in aluminium foil instead of painting it.  The look on his face was priceless.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


By now you've probably figured out my problem.  Blogging just isn't working out for me at the moment.  It's annoying because I actually really enjoy it, but at the moment I'm unsatisfied with what I'm coming up with.  Perhaps it was a mistake, but I went back and read some of my posts from the latter half of 2009, and what I saw was way more interesting than anything I can think of now.

I was a bit alarmed a couple of nights ago when reading Larry McMurtry's book Books, which is mostly about his life as a dealer of second-hand books.  He asserted that writers and artists have a finite amount of creativity to burn and once they are done, they are done.  I certainly don't consider myself an artist, but it did make me ponder the ageing process once more and whether or not this blog will capture my inevitable decline and decay. Perhaps that was as good as it gets.

Alarmist thoughts aside, I suspect that my lack of creative juice is simply a reflection of the relatively smooth and unchallenging life I have at the moment.  Most of the year I am caught up in the willy-nilly of studying medicine and the constant impact and friction of new concepts and ideas can't help but generate some heat.  But at the moment I'm cooling off after an interesting holiday so things seem pretty bland.  I can feel a bit of tension starting to build up about the year to come because I know it's going to be pretty intense.  Perhaps in one or two weeks time the fireworks will start.

Until then, I'm at a bit of a loss what to do.  Previously when I've lost the magic I just stopped writing.  I usually intended to stop for a couple of weeks at least, but I always found that after 4 or 5 days I was raring to go.  This time it's different - I want to write, and I'm coming up with ideas, but the end product just seems lacklustre and diffuse.  I want my writing to be shiny.  I want the curve of my ideas to gleam with bright specular highlights.

Lacking any idea for what is broken or how to fix it, I'm going to resort to brute force, an underutilised method in the arts.  I'm just going to keep throwing my fingers at this keyboard and eventually something will break.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Whograss! Yougrass!

I'm excited!  Yesterday I impulsively bought a Steve Martin album called The Crow.  No, it's not a comedy album.  I don't really like comedy albums much.  They are (sometimes) funny the first time you listen to them but after that what's the point?  No, this Steve Martin album is a bluegrass album of songs that Steve Martin wrote himself and also plays on the banjo.  Awesome!

Apparently he's played the banjo for 45 years now, so I guess he started when he was -3 or something.  It's a good album, I've listened to it twice already.  Most of it is instrumental, there are a couple of guest vocalists, and one track where Steve himself kind of yells out these wacky lyrics in a very stevemartinesque way.  That one is a little surreal actually but the rest of the album is quite beautiful.

I really like bluegrass and have slowly accumulated a few CDs, mostly by chance and happenstance.  It all started way back around 2000 or so, before we had much electricity here in Australia, when I bought an album called Smoke by the great Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly and a bluegrass band called Uncle Bill.  It's a fantastic album mostly of bluegrass versions of Kelly's own rock songs.  He released a follow-up called Foggy Highway which is good but more inconsistent and a bit disappointing actually.

A few years later I went to the Woodford Folk Festival and saw the Sensitive New Age Cowpersons for the second time, in their final show.  Afterwards I ended up watching a four-piece bluegrass band I don't remember the name of now (tragically - although I am sure there was some connection to Uncle Bill).  Afterwards they divided the audience into four groups and taught us how to sing a song in four-part harmony.  It sounds so awfully nerdy but it was great fun.

Shortly afterwards, I was discussing this with an acquaintance that I ran into in an antique store in Brisbane and he recommended that I should get hold of some Old Crow Medicine Show.  So I did.  And then I got hold of some more.  They're a bluegrass-slash-oldtimey band from the US, basically self-taught.  And you have to love a musician called "Critter Fuqua".  They play pretty chaotic and abrasive bluegrass that I was initially appalled by, but I came to love it.  It was their 3rd album that I was considering buying yesterday when I noticed the Steve Martin album in the next slot over and bought that instead.

I also found about a banjo player called Béla Fleck while watching a documentary on SBS and got hold of the first two of his Tales From The Acoustic Planet set.   They are both great, especially the 2nd.  There's something about minor key banjo playing that is indescribably wonderful, like musical salted plums or scratching a bad sunburn.

That was about it for my bluegrass buys for a little while.  I took a short diversion through oldtimey stuff like Steven Foster that I heard at my parents' house.  My dad had bought it impulsively off Amazon in one of those 2 for 1 deals when he was after some Willie Nelson (I think).

But then about two years ago I was watching RocKwiz and there was a questions about Dolly Parton's bluegrass albums.  This was news to me.  I knew Dolly from when she was in the film 9 to 5 when I was a kid, which I really liked, and from her songs on the Country Music Hall Of Fame volumes I and II, such as Harper Valley PTA, Jolene, and The Carroll County Accident.  I was intrigued, especially because the people on RocKwiz were being quite complimentary about her bluegrass stuff.  So I ran out and bought Little Sparrow and was very very happy with it.  Go Dolly!  I really must pick up some more of her stuff.

And last year I was surprised to listen to an album by a group called Cornbread Red, who specialize in doing bluegrass covers of famous pop songs.  (Alarmingly enough, on their website they claim to "the Steely Dan of bluegrass.)  An Esteemed Colleague of mine lent me their album of Franz Ferdinand covers and I actually ended up liking it much more than the originals.  I liked it so much that I made an offsite backup copy in case her house burns down or something.

Which brings me back to Steve Martin and The Crow.  When I took it up to the counter in the record store, I was served by a young lady with numerous piercings and tattoos.  She scanned it, then looked closely at it and said, "Oh wow, I saw him play on Letterman the other night and he was great!  I think I might have to get this."  That's what I love about bluegrass - it's so far outside the normal boundaries of cool/uncool that it can appeal to anyone.

Listen to some bluegrass today - I dare you.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Darwinism in Adelaide

I had an interesting conversation recently with my Smaller Half's uncle.  He's a big-wig hot-shot top-banana doctor and scoots all over the world examinating other doctors for entry into whatever country it is's Medical College of Bananaology.  (I don't mean to be disrespectful to him but I'm trying to disguise his identity.)

We were talking about exams and I was having my customary moan about the quality of exam questions that I've been getting at this cut-rate bottom-tier two-bit university that I attend.  (I don't mean to be disrespectful to it - just trying to disguise its identity.)

What really tees me off in exams is ambiguity.  A good example would be the true/false question: "PTR is awesome".  Does this mean "PTR is always awesome" (false) or does it mean "PTR is sometimes awesome" (true)?  It depends who wrote the exam.  Similarly, I tend to get into trouble in exams because I interpret the question very literally (I once had a psychologist explain to me that this is very common in engineering/computer types).  For example, in our recent OSCE I was asked to take a patient history to determine the cause of anaemia.  So that's what I did.  And I got pissed off when I lost a heap of marks for not asking about the various symptoms of anaemia.  Well excuse me.

Anyway, I've gotten a little off track here.  The point is, he (the top-banana doctor uncle) agreed with me that questions need to be very carefully written.  Then he said something that was very interesting.  At first it seemed to make sense but the more I think about it the stranger it seems.

What they do is they have a small number of "trial" questions on each exam which don't contribute to your final mark.  They are used by the examination board to try out questions for future years.  A successful question will be done well by the people who do well on the test and poorly by the people who do poorly on the test.  Otherwise, it's a bad question and they'll throw it out or try to rewrite it.

At first, this seems eminently sensible.  You want to select questions which discriminate between good doctors and bad doctors.  But here's the problem: what is a good doctor and a bad doctor?  A good doctor is one who does well on good questions and badly on bad questions.  A bad doctor is one who does badly on good questions and well on bad questions.  The best students are those who are best at answering the questions that are best answered by the best students who answer the best questions best. 

The whole thing is a horrible rats-nest of circular definitions and recursive functions.  If we're not careful, not only will we end up with dodgy doctors, we'll also cause a stack overflow error and the universe will crash.


Please correct your records to read "the dedicated Senator Nick Minchin" instead of "the desiccated Senator Nick Minchin".  We apologize for the confusion.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Country town + medicine = yum!

Two posts in one day, AGAIN!  Man, I am on a roll.

Anyway, I just wanted to gloat about how awesome my life is.  Everything is coming together like the pieces of a jigsaw, revealing a delightful village picnic scene or perhaps a cute picture of some little puppies or some such jigsawish thing.

The reason I feel like this is that studying medicine while living in a country town has proven to be a valuable aid to eating delicious meals.  We'd been tooling around various delis and supermarkets in search of ham hocks or bacon bones to make my famous (famous in my house) Asturian bean stew with, but we'd had no luck.  Everywhere we went people said to us, "No we don't have them.  Only in winter."

That makes no sense to me.  People want to eat soup all year round, not just in winter.  At least we do.  What happens to all the leftover hocks from making the Christmas hams?  Do they get thrown out?  Or perhaps they are exported to the northern hemisphere where it is cold now.  Or maybe they are frozen and stockpiled by sinister giant lizards from outer space.

Anyway, we ended up wandering into the little wurst-haus down by the sea and explaining our woes to the lovely people who run it that we always chat to whenever we go there.  Since they found out we are medical students they always give us an update on their health and also on their daughter who is studying nursing and, by all accounts, absolutely loving it.  And they went and got a hambone from their fridge and gave it to us for free as a Christmas present!  How nice is that???

Once I had the hambone home and the beans were on the boil, I went to pop the hambone into the pot.  But the bones were all sticking out at funny angles and it wasn't going to fit.  So I took a small paring knife, cut through the joint capsule so I could rotate the head of the femur freely in the acetabulum, then found and cut the transverse acetabular ligament, and the hambone(s) now fit in my pot very nicely.

Who'd have thought that watching videos of hip replacements would ever be useful?

By the way, my apologies for the ongoing ham theme of this blog.  It's really not intentional.

Sweet salt

When I was in Malaysia with my Smaller Half, we got an el-cheapo internet booking in a hotel in Georgetown which had a partner resort on the tourist strip in Penang, Batu Ferringhi.  The resort would have been cripplingly expensive to stay in, but we were allowed to jump on a free bus at our cheap hotel and tootle up there and lounge around under the palm trees beside their expensive pool all day and pretend we were rich bastards.  It was awesome.

Every now and then the staff would wander by and ask if you'd like any drinks (which were really expensive so we refused), foot massages (which were really expensive so we refused) or yummy little fruit platters (which we free so we gobbled them up).  Whenever anybody got up from their deck-chairs to go for a dip in the pool, the staff would have to scurry over and clear up the wreckage from whatever food the rich bastards had been eating because there were some really clever crows which would swoop down and make off with chips, corn cobs, noodles, and anything else that was going.  I saw one of them dipping its beak in a milk jug.

It was an odd experience because the beach that we were about 3 metres from was a public area and was swarming with touts trying to get you to go horse-riding, camel-riding, parasailing, jetskiing, snorkelling, and so on.  There were security guards standing on the paths to and from the beach stopping the riff-raff from coming into the pool area, but if you glanced towards the ocean someone would invariably catch your eye and call out, "Watersports?  Horse-riding?" - so it was less hassle to sit with your back to the ocean and face the hotel, which felt wrong.

In the late afternoon the wind picked up and the staff ran around picking up the towels from the empty deck-chairs, so we assumed that there was some rain coming in from the sea, even though we had our backs to it.  It was getting gusty and we could see and feel some ocean spray pitter-pattering onto us.  Actually, it felt odd, it wasn't wet at all.  I looked down at myself and saw that I was being delicately sprinkled with fine white crystals.

"Hey look!" I said to my Smaller Half, "the wind is blowing salt crystals off the palm trees!  The sea-spray must evaporate on the leaves and leave a crust of salt!"  We marvelled in astonishment at this for a moment and I decided to taste the salt.  "My taste buds must be going crazy", I said, "because this tastes sweet, not salty."

It continued to sprinkle down on us from the tree, so I looked up to see where this mysteriously sweet sea-salt was coming from.  And that was when I saw a big fat crow above me trying to eat the sugar out of a packet that it had stolen from someone's coffee-cup and spilling most of it on me below.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Here's a great website - the Resolution Generator!  It generates resolutions for people like me who are too cynical, lazy or unimaginative to think of their own.  Mind you, it's not perfect.  I got the following resolutions in this order:
  1. Tell him that I love him.  (I'm wriggling out of this one...)
  2. Friend a person with the same name as me on Facebook.  (I am already friends with 4 other people with the same name as me on Facebook.  One of them even mailed me some of his art prints from the USA!)
  3. Solve the Rubik's Cube.  (Oh great - guess I'm stuck with this one.  Anybody got a Cube to lend me?)
I'd be curious to know if any of you come up with slightly more plausible resolutions from this thing.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Night club

Walked past a shop today which had a set of multicoloured revolving flashing lights for sale in the window.  The box had a handmade sign under it saying, "Bring the nightclub home!"  To my mind, that is the second least appealing advertising slogan I can imagine, after "Bring the plague home!"

Can you imagine if owning those lights really did bring the nightclub home?  For a start, there'd be some beefy neanderthal at your front door refusing to let you in.  People would be snorting coke off your toilet.  You'd have to hose the vomit out of your bathroom every morning.  And you'd be deaf.

On the plus side, you'd save heaps on taxis.