Friday, 7 December 2007

afghanistan

a old friend of mine has just informed me that he moved to Afghanistan about a month ago for 6 months. although I tend to think I'm a relatively adventurous person who likes to travel and see new places, the first things that comes to mind is an exclamation of what?! and then why?
The weird thing is that this guys' actions don't seem to match with the personality you see when you meet him in person. he comes across as a rather dull fellow, with a sombre nasally voice, pleasant enough but not terribly amusing, yet his last adventure prior to this little desert sojourn was 2 years in Antarctica. I'm afraid I didn't understand that either. While I would love to see Antarctica and in particular understand more about it scientifically, the idea of of spending 2 years in a giant shed with the same 10 people in the freezing cold sounds like a nightmare which no amount of Emperor penguin sightings could make up for.
The afghanistan thing could in theory be a whole different, more interesting kettle of fish, given that its only 6 months and he's based in an actual city with no doubt a fascinating culture. but then he tells me he's working 85+ hours a week (for the military although he's not in the military), he doesnt leave the compound so he doesnt see any of the city anyway, they have a waste water disposal problem so showers must be under 30 seconds (and I thought our drought driven 4 minute limit was hard), he's going to be there over Christmas and New years and its a 'dry' base. which brings me back to why? why? why? Presumably they're paying him very well.

Monday, 3 December 2007

DNA

Travelling on the bus in Perth I noticed a rather strange sign. Instead of the standard no smoking, no eating kind of signs you tend to see on buses there was a sign stating that ‘Spitting on this bus will not be tolerated. Bus drivers are equipped with DNA kits to identify offenders who will be prosecuted’. huh? The first question that comes to mind is what kind of a person would be spitting in the bus anyway. I know the majority of the people travelling on these buses are Western Australians, but still. Is this really a problem to the extent that bus drivers carry DNA kits?! This would presumably mean that the Perth public transport body is also willing to go to the expense of providing training in how to use the kits. Assuming that someone would commit the terrible offence would they really be spending time and money on submitting swabs for analysis? Presumably they would require not only a sample of the expelled saliva but also a swab from the suspected offender for proof. My mind conjured up images of bus drivers attempting to tackle resisting youths in order to lightly scrape the inside of their cheek with one of those plastic swabs you see in police TV shows, while curious passengers looked on. I only noticed the sign on one bus, so I wondered if there are particular bus routes that are more prone to spitting offenses than others, are certain Perth suburbs more populated by spitting types? If so which ones, and was I inadvertently heading to a dodgy area full of the dangers associated with an excess percentage of the population being spitters? Fortunately I did not encounter anyone attempting to commit the offense either within a bus or elsewhere, although it would have been interesting to observe the consequences.

Perth

Visiting Perth this week I encountered a strange feeling whereby despite being within my home country, in a place where people speak the same language as at home, look more or less the same (fashion aside, oh dear – but that’s a whole other rant), have the same culture - relatively speaking, buildings, food, shops, banks etc are the same, it all felt decidedly foreign. Perhaps the fact that it took a longer than five hour flight to get there had something to do with it, and staying in hotels always makes things seem foreign, the beer was different (but that was in label only, in taste it was that same generic Australian beer) and the fact that the river was so wide we weren’t sure whether it wasn’t the ocean was a bit disorientating. But all this doesn’t seem to add up to enough. Spending time in the outback earlier this year where things (except for the beer) are vastly more different didn’t seem foreign at all, but perhaps that was because the people were so friendly. In the end I guess it all comes down to expectation and perception, I was expecting the Outback to be different to home and therefore it didn’t seem so foreign I was expecting Perth to be…well, I’m not sure really, but not what it was, perhaps more similar to Brisbane, and it wasn’t therefore it all seems a tad weird.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

reasons to love Brisbane part 9

Its common practice in Brisbane to call out thank-you to the bus driver when getting off the bus. This something I really like, I know I've paid my fare and the drivers' are getting paid for doing their job and don't necessarily do anything special that necessitates thanks, but adding a little bit of courtesy to your day can only be a good thing. Some people like to address the bus driver directly in their thank-you by saying 'thank-you driver' which sounds a little strange to me. I guess some of the bus drivers think its odd too since this morning when someone called out 'thank-you driver' the driver responded with 'thank-you passenger'. strangely, I think I was the only one to giggle.

mystery

The other day I discovered some bright red marks on my hand. At first I thought I might have accidentally got red Texta on myself which would be typical (although I didn't remember using a red Texta) but I discovered on attempting to rub it off that it hurt quite a bit. Later the colour darkened and blisters appeared, so it seems clear that it is a burn.
but how I wonder did I mange to burn myself without even noticing?

Friday, 2 November 2007

cuff links

Is there any point, I wonder, in wearing wearing shiny proper business cuff links if you are going to have your shirt tucked into a pair of faded, high waisted grey stone wash jeans? grey stone wash are surely an iffy choice for 2007 anyway, although possibly suited the early 90's style shirt - thick blue and white stripes with red and white stripes on the inside of the cuffs, and I thought we science academics were meant to be the ones with bad dress sense.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

cycling

The other day I was planning on writing a post about the dangers and obstacles associated with riding my bicycle to work. The idea was it was meant to be vaguely amusing, featuring things like suicidal butterflies, those humps in the bike-path that you cant see in the dark, the oh so aggravating lycra brigade and overcoming the mental obstacles caused by thinking about the pain of riding up those steep steep hills and wondering why you dont avoid it altogether and just get in the car. No real dangers since I didnt think there were any, little did I realise.
On my way home I ride past a bridge under which lives an homeless wino, well I assume he lives there since he's always there whenever I go past. Anyway I never even considered him as part of my dangers and obstacles piece 'cos he didn't seem to present either one of those. He seems to ignore all who pass never even asks for money or says anything. As I was riding home on Tuesday he was standing next to the path apparently talking to himself, not uncommon for homeless alcoholics I would think. He seemed to be waving his arms a bit, I couldnt really tell since it was kinda dark, but also not uncommon. However, as I came up about to pass him a glass bottle came flying out of his hand, luckily smashing on the footpath just in front of me. One of the few times I've been glad I'm a slow bike-rider, since being in the semi darkness under a bridge with a broken bottle injury and a homeless alcoholic doesnt quite seem ideal.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

old

My mother is not yet 60 and thus is in my opinion a long way off being old, but in recent times I have begun to worry she's becoming old before her time and I find it very scary. Being the charitable and community minded type with something of a penchant for nostalgia she has often been in the company of older people, mostly ladies since men don't really seem to involve themselves in things like meal-on-wheels, the hospital guild and craft groups. Nothing wrong with that I know, but since she moved to the country I sometimes think she spends far too much of her time in those groups and not enough time with friends in her own age group and thus is becoming older faster. As a younger person my mother was the adventurous type being the only one of her siblings to escape their little country home town, travel the world and move to the 'big smoke'.
But when I lived in Europe for 6 years she didnt come to visit, yes it was largely financial, but she also said she was getting old and afraid to travel and I can't/couldn't understand it. Afterall its only Europe and I would have been there. She often tells my sister and myself how her funeral should be and whats to be done with her things once she dies.
I find myself getting very annoyed and short with her if I think she's talking as though she was old, for example yesterday she was complaining to me about people getting drunk at a party she went to. I guess I'm being unreasonable (dont we all do that when it comes to parents) and I shouldn't expect her to want to travel to the other side of the world by herself on a 20+ hour flight, or find the company of drunken 40 year-olds pleasant, but I'm afraid she's lost her sense of adventure. I feel like there's a certain extent to which we can control our 'age', my mother seems to be doing it in the wrong direction and I dont know how to encourage her to be her younger self again. I know that as soon as people start to think they're old they rapidly become older, less sturdy, less healthy and that just scares me, its way way too soon.

Monday, 29 October 2007

moody

I'm finding my self somewhat aggravated by Mr Hank Moody. As a character I'm afraid his appeal is well beyond me. I mean a disheveled worn-out looking middle-aged man with a black-eye and a bad haircut in a very beaten up old Porsche with only one headlight pulls up next to a young and beautiful girl in a city where everyone is obsessed with looks (and fame) and she throws herself at him? really? bearing in mind at this point she has no idea about his status as a previously well-known author. really? and his name is Hank, no offense to any Hanks out there, but its hardly a name that you'd associate with an über-cool ladies man is it?
As an aside - what is it with that haircut, surely David Duchovny can afford a decent hairdresser?
And the show itself, well aside from a few well-scripted and usually well-delivered amusing one-liners, there's nothing to it. Although much seems to be going on (from dog-nappings to vomited-on priceless art, to car theft, to nipples torn off in ill-fated threesomes) nothing ever really happens, its plain boring. I'm always left unsatisfied and annoyed. Just another disappointing episode in over-hyped commercial broadcasting. Of course the real aggravation point comes from the knowledge that despite the fact its crap, I have watched it several times, in fact possibly every episode since it started, and I will no doubt watch it again.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

britney

after getting kinda sweaty and stinky riding my bike to work, I went off to the gym to shower, only to discover afterwards that I had neglected to bring clean undies with me, sigh (although at least I remembered the other clothes this time). So, I'm being a bit of a Britney Spears today.

Friday, 19 October 2007

fear

I have developed a new fear, which some may consider an irrational fear but I think its perfectly rational: a fear of closed toilet lids. This situation has come about largely because of three icky facts: some of the people who use the women’s toilets on our floor of my office building (possibly on the other floors too, possibly the men’s too) are apparently quite gross; there are no toilet brushes in the toilet cubicles, or anywhere else for that matter; occasionally the toilets will not flush. I guess the fear is basically a fear of the unknown since you never know what might be lurking beneath that lid and, from experience, I can tell you it may well be very unpleasant. If the lid were open you would know what you were dealing with from a safe distance, but one must get quite close in order to open the lid which doesn’t leave much space between you and whatever is revealed.

Once whilst staying on an outback property with little open water about, I opened the toilet lid to have one of these fellows jump out at me. Disturbing as that was, its still far preferable to the above I think.

Friday, 12 October 2007

ask and ye shall receive

I must say I find the general idea that we are obliged to give people things or do things we dont want to just because someone asks us to quite annoying. Its not because I'm uncharitable or stingy, I regularly donate to worthy causes, and do volunteer work, but its just that, voluntary. I don't like the feeling of being bamboozled into doing things through guilt. This week a friend who we don't know very well, in fact I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen her, and haven't seen for months asked if we'd like to help out on a food stall a club she belongs is running at a festival this weekend. I said no I dont want to, why would I? but my boyfriend was annoyed at me (she's more his friend than mine) and said you can't just say flat out no when someone asks you something, but I just dont see why not. Firstly its going to be hot and the food will be stinky and messy and I no longer work in customer service for a good reason - it sucks. secondly its the weekend, work has been shitty and I want to relax on the weekend, go to the festival and enjoy it, not work, if I wanted to do unpaid work I would have volunteered. Thirdly, we are not members of this club and many other people are so surely its up to them to man their own stall, its got nothing to do with us. Fourthly, its not like its for a charitable cause. Fifthly, frankly I think she has a bit of a cheek asking us at all and finally, I'm not even the right nationality (its a multicultural festival with food stalls representing different countries). Is it really so unreasonable to say no?

Thursday, 11 October 2007

reasons to love brisbane part 8

the weather forecast for the weekend is 'dry and cool' but with temperatures of 26 degrees (Celsius of course in case you're still stuck in the world of weird non-metric measurements). I love that 26 is considered cool here. I remember working in a certain British city where people stayed home when it was s 26 because it was too hot to work. (OK it was one person and it might have been 28 instead of 26, but thats only a tiny tiny exaggeration)

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

The Queen

a friend of mine apparently sang for HRH The British Queen in London last night. Do you ever feel like you're not doing enough exciting things in your life?

power

summer seems to have come early this year and with it this week a spate of very exciting electrical storms. I do love a good electrical storm once I'm undercover at home or somewhere else dry where I can watch the sky light up and feel wind whisk away the hot humid air in relative safety, that Gangajang song always playing in my head. The other night it was even more exciting, the dark clouds were quickly amassing as I walked from my office to my car and I got home and inside just before it all started up. I was watching the brilliant display from the kitchen window when with a huge clap the house, and in fact the whole street, suddenly went dark. I suppose a blackout in Australia isnt really much of a big deal, I remember many of them as a kid, but I still found it kinda cool, getting out all the candles, which really do make the house looks pretty and realising I had the perfect excuse not to do all those planned tasks like the work I'd brought home to do on the computer. Luckily we've got gas cooking and hot water so getting some food ready and a candlelit shower was still possible, and then there's nothing to do but relax. The neighbours started playing the piano and singing which was quite sweet, and I could just enjoy the light show from the well covered verandah and contemplate life.

pride

as we were coming home from a camping weekend on Sunday I was stopped at the lights when I saw the guy in the car behind me get out of his car and come towards my window. I felt a certain amount of panic as my mind flashed back to the car park a few minutes ago when this guy had had to stop suddenly to avoid hitting me. but as it turned out he was just a good-willed citizen coming to inform me that my brake lights weren't working.
sigh. I admit I do love having my car, even if it might sound contradictory to being an Ecologist - but living in Australia you need one every now and then, especially if you ever want to go outside of the city, really you do. However, I do so hate all the little problems and costs that cars will give you. Such a little thing might require having to find a mechanic, make an appointment get the car there early then get to work, get back and get the car before they close, and worst of all having to deal with the bullshit, rip-offs and condescending spin the mechanics seemingly invariably dole out to women. So I was especially proud of myself (especially given I've got zero ideas about cars, beyond how to drive one) when I managed to open up the light casing figure out what the problem was and fix it all by myself. OK so it was only blown light globes, but still I got my hands dirty - it was amazing how much filth was inside those light casings, and felt a fair sense of accomplishment, as well as saving me some time and money. yay! once again, its the little things.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

library

The library these days is much less of a place of "shhh!", musty smells and stern glances, and more of a open place for communication and information sharing with lots of books where discussion is now allowed, or at least thats what it portrays itself as, and thats all good as far as I can see. but surely theres a limit. I must admit that while I very much appreciate the fact that libraries exist and I can get books, info and sometimes even DVDs for free, I dont really like to spend much time in them, they make me tense, even with their new more relaxed atmosphere. Nevertheless today I felt kinda shocked and not quite outraged but something akin to that, to see students lounging at the library computer terminals with their feet on the desk and telling someone loudly 'you can shove it up your arse' and seemingly no one else raising an eyebrow. Perhaps I'm a bit of a fuddy duddy, but surely the particular sanctity of the library still needs to be retained, at least to some degree.

reasons to love Brisbane part 7*

I am often walking or riding along the river before work or on my way to work. In the morning the water dragons come up the banks and sun themselves by the path, seemingly watching you and cheering you on as you go by.

* the other parts were on my original blog whose host decided to give up


Monday, 8 October 2007

avoidance

This morning, in a reply to one of my readers' comments (possibly my only reader) I made a more or less off-handed remark about my tendency to avoid situations. I suppose I didn't really mean the comment, but after further contemplation, in a work-avoidance manner, I'm beginning to wonder if this isn't actually a larger problem for me.
This morning has been a good example: I came into work kinda late as per usual and then I try to avoid the possibility of accusing looks from my co-workers, and particularly avoid my boss observing my tardiness, so I take the lift to avoid working past as many office doors as possible. When I get to my office I am very happy to notice the door to my boss's office is closed, meaning he's not in, so I relax and, instead of getting stuck into work that really needs to be done, waste some time on the internet. Later I have to go downstairs and as I exit my office I spy one of my students at the end of the corridor talking to someone. Don't get me wrong, this girl is lovely, very nice indeed, its just that she's too nice, she gushes a lot, agrees with everything you say and thanks you incessantly and its a little hard to take. So I try to avoid her by walking down there very quickly so she'll still be in conversation with the other person and I can sneak past. It doesn't work.
On the way back to my office from the canteen I notice up ahead a colleague who I don't know very well. I start to walk slower so I wont catch him up and then have to come up with something to talk him about all the way back to the office. but he seems to be going slower and slower and I'm impatient and no good at walking slowly, plus its really hot outside. Luckily he turns aside and I can quickly go past without him noticing.
Back in my building I keep my head down as I walk and take the back stairs to my office to avoid going past the office of another colleague who if he sees me will undoubtedly engage me in a long-winded conversation largely about the weather (yes it is very hot for this time of year).
and now I avoid work by writing this post.
Of course with exception of the last point (which is likely symptomatic of bigger problems which I will avoid thinking about) this is all largely trivial and of no real consequence isnt it? Or perhaps this behaviour is a mirror to one aspect of my flawed character.

Friday, 28 September 2007

easily pleased

After that rant I felt the need for a pick-me-up in the form of baked, sugary goodness. After reaching for a piece of the same old hedgehog slice I usually have (good but same as always) I noticed that the refectory was offering gorgeous little plates of mini-cakes today. Six cute little cakes ranging from carrot cake to cheesecake to tiramisu and other stuff I haven’t identified yet, And all for the bargain price of $1.50! Variety, aesthetic appeal, plenty of sugar and cheap, cheap, what more could you ask for? And with my love of a bargain, even if they tasted bad (and they don’t) that’s all I need to make my day.

I'll kill him

Argh, why is it that some people just grate, even just the most minor little thing they do or stupid comment they make can wind you up so tight and put you in a bad mood for a week. The fact that you know you’re so irritated over such a little thing only makes you more annoyed. Just when I was finally over the last bout of petty, misguided, arrogant and ignorant behaviour he pops up again with some pompous comment directed at me which was both wrong and delivered to a mass audience. Worst of all, not even knowing that at least its Friday provides much relief, as I’m quite sure he’s going to feature at an event over the weekend. grrrrrr. If only there was a way to permanently remove him from my life without facing the possibility of legal action, or gaining the bitch reputation.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

redemption?

Many years ago, as a primary school child I had a friend with whom I spent all of my school hours, and much of my weekends if I remember rightly. For a variety of reasons (e.g. acute shyness, red hair, general awkwardness, a parents desire for separation from RE classes - it was a state school afterall, and total lack of sporting prowess) we weren't exactly the most popular kids but we had each other and we had to stick together. Of course like all kids we wanted acceptance and during the last month of primary school the playground dynamics changed (i.e. new kids) some arguments broke out and although I attempted diplomacy for a while, I'm ashamed to say that in the end I shunned her.
No need to be so dramatic about words uttered as an 11 year old you might think, and indeed that's a convenient excuse I've used to try and forget the whole thing. But dont they say events in the lives of children can have long term and significant repercussions? Truth be told I've often felt quite guilty. Strangely more guilty than about other crap things I've done that may or may not be worse.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, through the magic of that massive timewaster facebook of all things, she got in touch. My golden opportunity to apologise and make amends. It still took me a while to do it mind you (an some internal debate over whether I should do it), not knowing what to say or how to say it. She forgave me (or so she said, although I think it would still be weird to see her in person) and we had some enjoyable reminisces about our childhood, but nevertheless I still feel bad about the whole thing. better that I apologised, but still. I guess no amount of words change actions.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

the rabbit

I'm not having much luck with members of the animal kingdom lately. Shortly after the bat episode I visiting my mother who lives in the country. Standing outside with my mother I noticed something sort of waving at the bottom of the garden:
whats that?
just a bit of grass in the wind
no I don't think so, I'll have a look.
Indeed, it was not a bit of grass but rather a rabbit's ear flapping.
The ear was connected to a head and body that seemed OK but with legs that looked a bit worse for wear, in fact kinda deformed. (Australians don't like rabbits too much and tend to release nasty viruses into their population in an attempt at control - one of those viruses was the likely culprit we realised later). What to do, what to do? He didnt seem to be suffering but it was clear with no useful legs he wouldnt survive. Starvation and or exposure are surely cruel deaths and its not his fault he's a pest (and rabbits are still quite cute afterall) so the humane thing to do must be to put him out of his misery. But despite determinedly grabbing the shovel and raising it, I knew I just couldn't do it. My mother tried to pull together some conviction, but it wasnt in her either. The idea of his little head crushed at my hand was enough to make me imagine the nightmares I knew I wouldnt be able to take well. We moved him somewhere he seemed more comfortable and when I checked on him later he was happily munching away on some grass. but of course with winter nightfall it wasnt a happiness that could last long.

Its clear I wouldnt make much of a farm girl.

Bärendreck

Liquorice is one of my favourite lollies, especially the chocolate covered kind, or liquorice bullets. In fact anything aniseedy is generally good - those Christmas biscuits with aniseed in, ouzo, sambucca and as a kid I had a thing for liquorice ice cream (although I've gone off that a bit now). So I was kinda upset to find out that the Swiss German for liquorice is Bärendreck, which means bear poo - all wrong I tell you.

pessimistic

every silver lining has its cloud - feeling a bit that way today. Looks like summer is finally on its way. Beeee utiful day today, but it seems the dreaded lurgy has waited 'til now to get me - stuffed up sinuses, watery eyes, throbbing head, aching muscles, sigh. and being the sucker I am, I'm still at work (although clearly not being overly productive) double sigh.

Monday, 27 August 2007

home

I'm going home tomorrow evening for a few days, back to my home town that is. Going home is always something of an emotional rollercoaster for me (and I guess most people). I'm sure if I went more often it would be less of a big deal, but I don't go so often largely because it is always big deal (although I always cite expense and lack of time as the reasons). I always feel kinda nostalgic and sentimental before going back but inevitably full days with family makes me grumpy and irritable. I often leave in a melancholy fug, feeling guilty and annoyed at myself that I wasted time not being cheery, given I'm not sure how long it will be before I see them again.
This time I think (hope) it will be better, since I know I'll be back again for Christmas which isn't too far away, and my parents are not making such a drama about it (although perversely, but naturally, thats rather disappointing, don't they appreciate me making the effort to come and see them?).
so, I'm quite looking forward to it, a few beers with Dad, hanging around in Mum's kitchen, dinner and gossip with old friends, cause to wear my winter coat and revelling in being present in the fantastic city of Melbourne.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

the bat

Not so recently a bat was killed by the powerlines in our street. It took a considerable amount of time before the poor thing came unhooked from the wires and fell down to the ground. This, according to learned colleagues of mine, is a very common occurrence because bats are very clever and as such their claws are clamped shut when the muscles are relaxed, to avoid them having to expend huge amounts of energy on tightening muscles when they sleep hanging from trees etc, as they do. Therefore once dead its very difficult to loosen their grip on something like a wire. Anyway, coming back to the point, once he’d eventually fallen from the wires he was left lying in the gutter. After some stormy days he is now outside our house in the gutter. I wonder, is it acceptable for me to sweep him up and put him in the bin? I mean bats are pretty cool creatures and binning him is somewhat insulting and kinda devalues his life, but surely its better than lying in the gutter? I guess the only alternative is digging a hole and burying him, but that seems like going too far for a long dead disintegrating bat. Besides I don’t have a shovel.

Friday, 24 August 2007

start over

I've been contemplating giving up on this blogging malarky, and when the host of my blog said they were shutting down in a few weeks, I guess it was the perfect opportunity with the perfect excuse. but somehow, despite the fact I'm totally hopeless at keeping up with this, I can't let go. I blame my mother who never allowed me to give up on anything as a child, but thats a whole other kettle of psychoanalyst fish. So, here I am setting up a new blog, which may or may not be more successful that the last one. wonder if I can figure out a way to put in all the old posts without copying pasting them individually, to beef this one up and make me look more productive.